Le Sueur, Incorporated Through the Years
After W.W. II, in 1946, Adolph and Ed Mueller started an aluminum sand foundry in Le Sueur Minnesota. The Company’s beginnings were humble; merely a handful of employees manufacturing simple sand castings and as a side line selling Studebaker motorcars.
Adolph and Ed were the father and brother of Ervin Mueller. “Erv” served in the Merchant Marines through the end of W.W. II then he too joined the company. Adolph passed away and Ed, although still a partner, pursued other ventures. Erv continued to grow and expand the foundry. His daughter, Janet and his Son, Mark Joined Erv in the family business. Today LSI is still closely held, family operated and managed. Erv’s son, Mark, and daughter, Janet, are now the company’s top executives.
1946 From it’s roots as a Blacksmith shop on Bridge Street in Le Sueur, The Le Sueur Foundry Company, Inc. was incorporated on January 9th 1946 by A. C. Mueller and son E. A. (Butz) Mueller to produce aluminum sand castings for customers in the Twin Cities. The foundry employed 4 people and had 2 to 3 customers from the Twin Cities area.
1949 Land was purchased and Le Sueur Foundry Company moved from Bridge Street to 1409 Vine. Construction began on the north side of the building for an automobile display. A. C. Mueller, owner of the Le Sueur Foundry, had recently been appointed the Studebaker representative for Le Sueur. When completed, the display room and large garage would offer spacious and complete facilities for the sale and servicing of automobiles.
The new building greatly increased the size of the foundry’s facilities. The large shop in the new building was 85 feet long and contained an oven with three times the capacity of that in the former shop.
1959 An early customer was hand tool maker Sioux Tools, of Sioux City, Iowa. Le Sueur Foundry also manufactured parts for barbeque grills, but the big-volume account was a company that sold children’s pedal tractors. “We made hundreds of thousands of those,” Mark Mueller grinned. “It was all pretty basic stuff.”
Permanent mold equipment was purchased to allow production of permanent mold casting’s and sand casting’s increasing potential customers
Erv was a believer in diversification and Ed was a member of the American Foundry Society. In 1959 they acquired Sheldon Die Casting Corporation, a small die cast company in St. Paul which they moved from St. Paul to Le Sueur. The owner, Sheldon Cooper, came with the business, relocating to Le Sueur for several years. Initially, the Le Sueur Foundry kept two sets of books, using the Sheldon Die Casting name for letter head, and invoices and payroll checks for die cast employees, but as time went by, Sheldon Die Casting became part of Le Sueur Foundry.
1962 Adolph (A. C.) Mueller passed way at the age of 67. Adolph was active in the business until his death and is buried in Mound Cemetery Le Sueur.
In the late ’60s and into the mid 80’s, the Defense Department drove business with orders for Perm Mold tank engine cylinder heads, resulting in a large increase in business.
1974 The original blacksmith shop was torn down to make room for the City of Le Sueur Urban Renewal Mall Project.
1976 With 230 employees, the company had grown, producing castings for armored vehicles and tanks as well as castings for several hundred customers nationwide, including Thermo King and Graco.
During the period of 1976-1979 LSI expanded rapidly, adding 6 new additions to the facility, including what today is; Final Operations, Maintenance, The east side of Die Cast, the south side of Perm Mold, The Boat House, and a new office addition in 1977.
1978 Now with 240-250 employees, foundry expansion prompted a historic financing step. With the industrial bonds concept approved by the City Council for plant expansion, a new addition of 90 x 100 feet (projected to cost $150,000, equipment projected to cost $430,000) was erected. Total project cost was $510,000 and added 25 jobs.
The foundry acquired the Mexican Village on North Commerce Street from Minnesota Valley Fertilizer Co. The old buildings were demolished and the area was used as a parking lot.
1981 By this year the facility had grown to 130,000 square feet and employed 275 people.
“What really changed this company,” Mueller said, “was a flood of orders from Minneapolis-based computer companies in the early ’80s. We literally made millions of different types of disc drive housings, covers, and control panels for Control Data, Digital Equipment, MPI, IBM, and Hewlett Packard. We became very good at controlling internal defects within the aluminum. All this gave us a lot of attention from businesses all over the world.”
1983 With Le Sueur County unemployment rate at 10.1 percent, Le Sueur Foundry offered the city the possibility of bringing 100-300 new jobs to the area by establishing a plastics molding division here. The city of Le Sueur applied for a federal grant to aid in that effort.
1984 City of Le Sueur received $735,000 in Urban Development Action Grant monies to help fund a major expansion, an 18,000 square-foot thermoplastics molding plant added on the hill, east of the foundry. The new facility featured state-of-the art injection molding machines and several robots. This expansion allowed the company to grow to 410 employees.
1992 Expanded to 450 employees.
In June of 1992, the Le Sueur Foundry changed its name to Le Sueur Incorporated because of the diversification of products being produced.
Mark said, “With a family-owned business, there’s a face that goes along with the decisions being made. We want to continue to grow. We want to do things better and broaden our customer base. The future is very positive.”
1995 Leadership rented out the mall and brought all the employees down. Management even put together a theatrical stage play to help explain why ISO certification was so important to our future. – March 1, LSI was awarded ISO 9002: certification.
1998 February 4th – Le Sueur, Incorporated gained certified as QS9000; less than 25 foundries in the United States have achieved the same certification. Le Sueur, Inc. become one of the first in Minnesota to be both ISO 9002 and QS 9000 certified.
February 6th – Ervin A. Mueller, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Le Sueur Inc., died at age 75.
On May 8, Henry Prevot was promoted to president of Le Sueur Incorporated
November 28th – Create a link to this page
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Edward E. Mueller, chief executive officer of Whirl-Air-Flow Corp., and 50% shareholder of Le Sueur Incorporated died at age 80.
Ed Mueller bought Whirl-Air-Flow founded in 1946, which made pneumatic conveying equipment, in Chicago in 1957 and he moved the company to Minneapolis. Starting with only one employee, Mueller was responsible for building the fledgling company into one that had annual revenues of more than $8 million and employed 65 people, said his son, Edward T. Mueller.
“Dad was still active in the company until the last couple of months,” his son said. “He just loved work. If he could have gone in seven days a week, he would have been happy. …
Ed Mueller, Jr., who with his sister Patti Hedke, continue to own and operate the Whirl-Air-Flow plant in Big Lake Minnesota
The Children of Ervin Mueller, Mark and Janet Mueller purchased Ed’s 50% share of Le Sueur Inc from Ed’s Mueller’s surviving family.
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LSI produced about 600 transmission housings a week for GM trucks.
One of Le Sueur’s newest plastics customers was a company called Sunglass Display Inc., which was locally based and owned by the Seaver Company of Le Sueur.
1999 With 550-570 employees, LSI was “Turning away customers due to an insufficient number of employees.”
WCCO filmed community service campaign entitled “Making It in America Starts Here.” The goal of the campaign was to show how skilled men and women keep a company running and build the future for a region.
Most people within LSI recognized the machining department as “the warehouse across the street” and indeed it was. As Tony Zwart created the push, work started flowing into the department and it became very obvious that first shift was going to need support. Machining added both a second and third shift to meet the 400-hour workload backlog.
2009 LSI had 600 employees before the recession and 390 employees afterward.
December 7, Dick Seidenstricker hired as Executive VP.
2011 LSI “Lean Kick-Off” event at Le Sueur Henderson High School
2012 Dick Seidenstricker was appointed President/COO.
2013 Wellness plan pilot was initiated between Rivers Edge of St. Peter and Le Sueur Incorporated in a first of-its-kind pilot program. The plan offered employees no cost preventive care and discounted premiums.