Thirty-nine years ago yesterday Ed Kittelson--with grinder in hand--spent his first day working at a fab shop in Anoka, Minn., northwest of Twin Cities. It was a homecoming of sorts. His parents had moved south to escape the cold, but Kittelson never felt quite at home. So the day after high school graduation, he packed his 1971 Chevy Vega hatchback and, long hair and all, headed back north to Anoka.
For years he spent time on the floor working the fabrication equipment of the day, punching sheet metal using a traditional duplicator stylus. He climbed the ladder to night shift supervisor, and then moved on to other manufacturers, working in sales and shop management; some jobs were great, others weren’t. In the early 1990s he found a two-person fab shop for sale, and he needed a $50,000 down payment on the loan to buy it. Where did he get the money?