Hutchinson’s newest manufacturer is burning for businesses.
After 40 years in Dassel, Firelake Manufacturing moved its operation to a cozier fit at 25 Michigan St. S.E., Hutchinson. The change was part of the company’s recent downsizing.
“Essentially what happened is we sold the building,” company president Kent Wischmann said. “We had moved a few products to other locations out of state and sold off some product lines and equipment, so we just did not need that large of a building. So we scaled down and this was a good option.”
With a smaller and more streamlined facility, Wischmann says the company wants to concentrate on growing its incinerator products.
“We really want to focus on this product line, incineration, cremation equipment and looking to expand,” Wischmann said. “There’s a lot of market segments we can tap into, so right now we’re looking primarily at this industry and this product.”
It’s also continuing operations globally. Firelake Manufacturing has products operating in at least 90 different countries. Recently the company sent a technician to the islands of Micronesia off of Guam and Japan to install an incinerator at a hospital.
“That’s literally halfway across the world,” Wischmann said.
When it first opened for business, Firelake Manufacturing was known as Storm Industries. It developed poultry egg collection equipment and sold it to farms, and Wischmann’s father came to work at the company after the Korean War ended.
“In the late ’70s, my father and partner ... purchased the company,” Wischmann said. “They grew the product line and expanded it from there.”
His father continued with that product line until 2000, when the company switched with one of its distributors. Today, Wischmann and his business partner are the owners of Firelake.
“That’s where we switched away from the poultry equipment and got into the incineration equipment,” he said. “Along with a line of waste oil furnace equipment, which we have since sold and moved that off.”
Currently, Firelake makes incinerators and crematoriums for farms and agricultural operations, veterinary clinics, medical companies and municipal waste management.
“In the animal world, daily mortality is a topic that needs to be dealt with,” Wischmann said. “So this is a way to dispose of that clean without contaminating the ground, without contaminating the air, without contaminating the water. It’s a clean process to dispose of, and you end up with sterile ash.”
Farm industries and veterinary clinics are a couple of the top buyers of Firelake’s incinerators. Another increasing customer base, according to Wischmann, is the rapidly growing medical marijuana business, which uses incinerators to destroy leftover debris.
“When they do their cultivation and harvest, they just have some leftover plant stem materials that they want to incinerate and get rid of,” Wischmann said.