Industries Incorporated celebrates with Oct. 12 open house

What started as a group of concerned parents looking for opportunities for their children with disabilities has grown into a company that has taken the hands of hundreds of parents, over the past 50 years, to create a better community for their children.

Charlie Champion works hard to complete his lighthouse inspired by the Minnesota Wild lighthouse at the Excel Energy Canter. His recreation of the lighthouse reminds him of a game back in 2003 where he sat in the upper level and was able to witness the lighthouse flash and the fog roll out as the Wild scored. Photos by Tiffany Kafer

Industries Incorporated was founded in October of 1966 by a group of parents, including, Tom and Margaret Lindquist, Everett and Doris Taylor, Ralph and Fanny Warriner, Kenneth and Caroline Peterson, Morris Besser and Harold Johnson.

The goal of the parents was to create a program that focused on those with developmental disabilities and allow them the opportunity for success in the real world.

After a year worth of hard work, the Kanabec-Pine Activity Center opened at the Calvary Lutheran Church in Mora, where the program remained in operation until April of 1970. The center was then moved to its own facility in Mora and was known as the Brighter Day Activity Center. It wasn’t until April 1986 that Industries Incorporated took shape, and with a great amount of support from the community their services expanded to Cambridge. Then in 2016 Industries merged with Phase to offer their services to even more of those people in need.

Industries will be hosting their 50th anniversary open house from 1-6 p.m. Oct. 12 at their Cambridge location, 601 Cleveland St. S., where they will highlight some of their most prized barn wood designs and guests will be registered to win a number of prizes. The event will also offer guided tours, refreshments, and the opportunity to watch participants in action. For more information on Industries Incorporated and the work they do visit or follow them on Facebook.

Industries offers a variety of employment and support options to those with disabilities, and through their programing, many participants who may have been overlooked for jobs now have a chance.

Industries provides two main services to its participants, vocational service programs which include both center based employment as well as individual placement and retention, and adult day programs, which offer day training and habilitation along with prevocational services.

Co-Executive Director of Programming Denise Johnson contributes the success of their vocational service programs to Industries own business ventures which include a retail outlet, thrift store and barn wood deconstruction and re-purposing opportunities.

Andrew Martin (left) and John Forster, known as the poster child for his barn wood work, spend time perfecting their barn wood signs before the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration.

“It is because of our retail opportunities that our independent integrated employment has just taken off,” Johnson said. “The work that has been done at the thrift store has given people the opportunity to gain the skills they need to be employed.”

Included in the retail opportunities that Industries operates, there is a lot of emphasis on their barn wood creations that transform old, rustic, collapsing barns into re-purposed products that are being marketed at a professional level.

“We were doing barn wood before barn wood was a thing,” said Mike Walker, Heritage Barn Wood production supervisor. “The things that these guys can create are amazing, and we’ve even been asked if the work is laser cut when it is really done free hand.”

Since the transformation of the barn wood products has so many layers it requires a variety of talents to produce, and with that comes a number of opportunities for clients to participate in making the final product.

Jeff Zieman (left) puts some finishing touches on a few pieces of wood for a custom order rustic barn door.

“There are so many skills needed to complete the process for our products, from demolishing barns, loading and unloading the wood, cutting, designing and wood-burning, that no matter what a person is good at they can help to create in some way. The job skills that are being taught through the barn wood work can be transferred to real life situations, for example, a worker needs to be on time to work and ready to go, they need to be wearing the right clothing and have a lunch ready or they won’t be going out with the crew, and they need to attend the required safety meetings” Walker explained.

It is through these expectations that the skills are gained by clients to be ready for the employment world. Not only are clients learning how to manufacture a product from start to finish, they are also learning how to work as a team, how to support one another, and most importantly they are realizing that they are a part of something and the work they are doing matters.