Anderson Millwork has been serving the discriminating home owner of the greater Twin Cities area with Fine Custom Cabinetry since 1935.
History of Anderson Millwork
Early in the last century, brothers Carl and David Anderson learned the cabinetmaking trade as boys in Sweden. After immigrating to the United States, they worked in cabinet shops in Rockford, Illinois, and in Minnesota’s Twin Cities until going into business for themselves.
In 1935, they formed Harriet Millwork on Harriet Avenue South, just north of Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Some of the employees at that time were Claus Johnson, Carl Larson, Dave Ryberg, and Jonas Oberg. Harry’s Cafe at Nicollet and Lake was their favorite lunch spot.
During the war years, around 1942 and 1943, the shop ran two shifts and worked exclusively on war-related projects. The company had a contract with the US Navy, together with the JR Clark Company, to produce dummy powder charges for training purposes. The charges were solid maple barrels the size of 30 gallon drums.
Lumber came on train cars to the stop at 4th Avenue South and 29th Street. David’s sons, Dean and Bryan Anderson, both recall unloading the train cars by hand. One car could hold more than 30,000 board feet of lumber. It would take several days to unload, transport it to the shop, and stack it up.
In the post-war period, the shop remained busy producing residential cabinetry for returning GIs who built two-bedroom bungalows for their families. Richfield and St. Louis Park were built up during this time. A typical house job required just one sink base cabinet and two upper cabinets. Dean Anderson recalls being able to deliver two house jobs on one truck, where today, a single house project may require several truckloads of cabinetry. A little later, around 1950, there were more built-in ovens and cook tops that required cabinetry.
During the Korean Conflict, Dean was called to service in the Army and Bryan worked in the shop while attending the University of Minnesota. In 1954, David and Carl bought out a remaining partner and put up a state of the art shop and showroom in Hopkins. Bryan recalled helping to clear the land for the building site. Dean supervised construction of the facility while David and Carl traveled in Sweden.
A New Name and a New Location
Upon their return, David and Carl moved the company to their Hopkins facility at 8604 Excelsior Boulevard and renamed the company “Anderson Millwork.” Carl’s new son-in-law, Wayne Johnson, came to work at the company. One of the first employees hired to work in the new facility was a 19-year-old farm boy by the name of Ray Haagenson. Ray has worked his entire career at Anderson Millwork, where his skills and calm, reserved demeanor became widely known and appreciated. In 2005, Ray is in his 49th year with Anderson Millwork.
A major project at that time was producing benches for the new downtown Minneapolis Public Library. Most of the benches were a combination of wood and steel. However, the center piece of the project was an all-wood bench with hand carving created as a memorial. The library was torn down and, in 2005, a new central library is being constructed. The library staff reports that the benches were saved and will be used in the private staff spaces in the new library.
Generations and Another Move
In 1961, Dean Anderson and Wayne Johnson took over the company from their father and father-in-law, respectively. In the later part of these years, the long-retired founders died and the third generation joined the company. Wayne’s son, Steve Johnson, joined the company in 1978 and Dean’s son, David Anderson (namesake of his grandfather), came aboard in 1982. Both quickly became integral parts of the business. Dean’s daughter, Beth (Anderson) Johnson, came on for a time in the late 1980s and 1990s, doing both office and shop work.
About 1993, as Wayne neared retirement, Dean bought out Wayne and incorporated the business. In 1997, Dean’s oldest son, Tony Anderson Solgård, joined the company.
On August 1, 1998, Dean retired and turned the keys over to his sons, David and Tony. The company experienced its greatest changes at transitions from one generation to the next, including to the third generation. During this time, the decision to move the business was made. David managed the build-out of the new space and planned the move. The move to the new shop in Eden Prairie happened in August of 2003.
A New Family
In 2004, Tony and David decided to pursue other interests and the company was listed for sale. Shortly after listing the company for sale, an interested party by the name of Dennis Johnson began discussions . He is a mechanical engineer by training, who had spent most of his career in sales and marketing. Dennis had a 19 year career with Honeywell in manufacturing, and many varied positions in marketing, sales and management. His last position was V.P. of Sales and Marketing for a company producing gas products for the very competitive gas range industry, with his major clients being General Electric, Maytag, and Viking. Dennis and his wife, Mary, were born and raised in northern Minnesota and raised their three sons in Burnsville, MN.
Dennis saw that there was much to build on considering the company’s long and successful 70 year history plus the very skilled workforce it had. The agreement was finalized in December and the transaction closed on January 7, 2005. It continues to operate as Anderson Millwork. Dennis is excited about this endeavor and the GREAT Anderson Millwork tradition!