Category Archive: Uncategorized

The Best 19th Hole in Minnesota

In this blog back in October, we discussed the championship golf courses that in the area of the state where Stern Rubber has its plants.  Those golf courses included Deacon’s Lodge, 4 courses at Madden’s Resort including the Social 9, Pine Beach East, Pine Beach West, and The Classic, 45 holes at Cragun’s Resort including the Reversible 9, Bobby’s Legacy, and Dutch’s Legacy, and the three courses owned by Grand View Lodge, The Garden and The Pines in Nisswa, and The Preserve in Pequot Lakes.
One of the local news stations out of the Twin Cities, WCCO Channel 4 does a segment each week, where they let the viewers vote on their choice for “The Best Of Minnesota”.  Last week, they asked the viewers to vote on their choice of, “The Best 19th Hole in Minnesota”, and the winner was The Preserve in Pequot Lakes.

The panoramic views from the clubhouse are like no other in the area.  From the clubhouse and 19th hole, you can see two tee boxes and two greens, so it is a wonderful place to enjoy a beverage or a meal, and watch some golf.  There is a large 2 tiered deck, as well as a huge wall of windows, so everyone has a great view.
Adam Haugen, the new Head Golf Professional at the Preserve said, ”We’re lucky to have a great clubhouse, a fantastic golf course, and even better 19th hole.”
Come to The Preserve to experience the “Best 19th Hole in Minnesota” and to the Brainerd area for some of the best golf in the state and in the Midwest, and possibly in the entire country!

Stern Rubber Completes Audit to TS 16949:2009

Stern Rubber completed its Registration Audit for registration to TS 16949:2009 on June 23rd.  The company has been registered to ISO 9001:2008 for 3 years, so also went through its annual surveillance audit for that standard.  This audit was completed by Eagle Registrations, Inc.  Completing this audit was a relief as it came after many months of preparation.
The audit found several minor findings, but no major findings.  The company is in the process of submitting corrective actions for the minor findings, but fully expects to be registered to TS 16949:2009 by the fall of 2016.
Getting registered to TS 16949:2009, was the first step in the company’s journey to enter the automotive industry.  Stern Rubber was purchased by Zhongli Corporation in October of 2015.  Zhongli is a leading global provider of vehicle parts that is based in Shanghai, China, and does all of its manufacturing in China.  Their purchase of Stern Rubber is the first step in their strategy to establish a manufacturing presence in North America, and to expand their customer base to the North American automotive industry.
Zhongli currently has a Technical Center in Madison Heights, Michigan, and a parts storage and re-packaging warehouse in Troy, Michigan, from which they support customers in North America with parts that are produced in China.
The next steps for Stern Rubber include expanding their facilities in Aitkin, Minnesota and Staples, Minnesota to add space for additional equipment and processes.  The Aitkin expansion is in process, with ground breaking planned for July.  The Staples expansion is also being planned and is expected to be kicked off in the fall of 2016, or the spring of 2017.

Stern Rubber Announces Expansion in Aitkin, MN

With the recent purchase of Stern Rubber by ZhongLi Corporation, things continue to change and expand at both of our locations.  Most recently our company just approved a $1.26 million dollar building addition to our Aitkin facility, expanding our current plant from 10,000 square feet to 20,000, and adding 10 new positions within the facility.  The new addition will be used to expand the manufacturing capabilities of Stern Rubber’s already established gate valve production ability, in which we do for companies such as American Valve and Hydrant, and Waterous Co.
With the expansion growing our production capabilities, we also plan to increase the staff size at the Aitkin location.  The addition of employees, led to a great grant opportunity to help cover some of the cost of building.  The State of Minnesota Job Creation Fund which was proposed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in 2013, offers companies like Stern some financial assistance, if they create new jobs in the local community.  This amazing program led to our project here at Stern, receiving nearly $80,000 to put towards expanding our facility and workforce.  Here is the official news release from the State of MN Department of Employment and Economic Development:
The expansion of the Aitkin facility will begin in early July and is scheduled to be completed this fall, with the ability to begin production right away.

Tubing the Crow Wing River

With temperatures continuing to rise here in northern Minnesota, there are many fun ways to stay cool in the hot summer sun.  There is boating, water skiing, and swimming.  Yet one thing that is unique to the Staples area is river tubing.
Located about 12 miles northeast of Staples, is a small village, with nothing more than a cozy bar and grill called Wahoo Valley.  Although the town is small, hundreds of Minnesotans flock to this off-the-beaten-path bar to enjoy a day on the water.  The staff at Wahoo will bring you up river, and even supply tubes if you need them.  Your river journey begins about 4 miles upriver from the restaurant itself, and from there, all you have to do is sit back, relax, enjoy the water, a cold beverage, and the next few hours of floating down the beautiful Crow Wing River, with a group of family or friends.  The river only reaches about 5 to 6 feet at its deepest, and offers the opportunity to park on a sand bar and swim for a while, enjoy a few snacks, or just float along and relax.  At the end of the trip, you and your river floating crew, return to the shores of the Wahoo Valley Bar and Grill, where you can stop in for great appetizers and burgers.  The experience you will have while maneuvering down the river is one you and your friends will never forget.
So the next time you are in Stern Rubber’s back yard, check out the beautiful Crow Wing River and enjoy all that the Wahoo Valley has to offer.

Meet Our New HR Coordinator: Rick Soder

Rick was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in several different places including, California and Washington.  Although Rick spent his time all over the country, he returned to Minnesota and graduated from Staples/Motley high school.  After graduating, Rick joined the US Army, and from December of 1995 to December of 1999, he was deployed on active duty.  He later became the assistant HR manager for battalion S-14, Specialist E-4 Promotable, as well as a Corporal in the National Guard.  Along with his time in the military, Rick also expanded his knowledge at Rasmussen College in St Cloud, MN.
Rick is one of our newest team members here at Stern, and has joined the team as the new HR coordinator. Although Rick is new to Stern, he has over 23 years of experience in the HR field, with even some emphasis in manufacturing and production.
Although Rick is a key part to our team here at Stern, he also has a busy life away from work. Rick is recently engaged and has 4 children, one son, Tim (22) and three daughters, Rikki (20), Hayley (14), and Libbi (13).  Rick and his family enjoy many hobbies together including football, camping, traveling, going to amusement parks, comic books, and most of all bass fishing.  In the Soder house, bass opener is a huge family holiday.  Every year, he and his kids wake up at 4am and head out for a day on the lake that is full of bass, a little gambling, and a lot of fun family time, that Rick cherishes a great deal.
Rick has already proven to be a great asset to our team here at Stern, and with his previous experiences in the military, as well as HR, is a great addition to our already established team here at Stern Rubber.

Meet Our New Employee Shelly Maschler

Shelly is one of our newest team members at Stern Rubber Company, and has joined our customer service department, and works as a project coordinator.
As project coordinator, Shelly has many different responsibilities.  She works directly with many of our customers to ensure the service and quality Stern strives for, meets their standards.  Along with that, she also does some work with inside sales, as well as managing and organizing new projects.
Shelly was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota and grew up in St Joseph, Minnesota, both located about 70 miles south of where Stern Rubber Company is located.  Shelly and her family now live in Browerville Minnesota, not far from Stern’s Staples location.
Shelly’s experience in project management, expands beyond her new position here at Stern.  Before joining our team, Shelly worked for a sign company as the permit technician, and project manager.  Her previous experience and expertise in project management made her a clear fit and a great addition to our team here at Stern Rubber.
For hobbies, Shelly enjoys many outdoor activities.  She is an avid snowmobiler, and also enjoys getting out on her ATV’s.  Along with these high speed activities, Shelly also enjoys deer hunting, working with and making crafts, as well as gardening and spending time in her eleven flower beds.  Along with all of this, she most of all likes spending time with family and friends. Shelly is married to Bill, and she has six children, three step children, and ten grandchildren, as one was just born in May!
Shelly is a great asset to the Stern Rubber team, and her prior experience in project management is extremely beneficial. Along with that, her excitement and passion to work with, assist, and get to know all of our customers, adds to the great team already in place here at Stern Rubber.

Stern Rubber Goes Platinum with Arctic Cat

One of our largest customers here at Stern Rubber is the recreational vehicle manufacturer, Arctic Cat.  Best known for their snowmobiles, ATV’s and Side X Sides, many don’t realize that some of the parts on their machines come from our plant here in Staples.  Although many Arctic Cat users don’t connect the dots between their machines and Stern Rubber, Arctic Cat definitely does.
At this year’s Supplier Conference, Stern Rubber received the Platinum Status Award for 2015 for our great job in several categories.  The first category we excelled in was the amount of our product that was rejected by Arctic Cat in the 2015 year.  Arctic Cat uses a PPM (parts per million) scale to track rejected parts, and of the millions of parts we send them every year, only 0.07% (727 per 1 million) was rejected.
Of the 0.07% that was rejected, these were from only 3 shipments over a whole year that had a notice of rejection written.  There were 2 corrective action reports written, and there are not current correction action requests.
Yet, the score that all of us here at Stern were most proud of, and always strive for, was the delivery compliance.  Our on time delivery score was 100%.  This means that our orders were always on time, and contained exactly what Arctic Cat had requested.  All of these categories combined, added up to our team here at Stern being awarded with the Platinum Status Award for 2015.
Although we were given this great recognition from Arctic Cat, our team here at Stern, continuously strives to do even better, by working to ensure on time delivery, top quality products, and great customer service.  Stern Rubber constantly focuses on building strong, lasting relationships with all of our customers, while working hard to meet their needs, at the best price possible.

Leadercast 2016

Leadercast Live is the largest one-day leadership event in the world.  It is held in Atlanta, GA, and is simulcast to 100,000+ people in hundreds of host site locations all over the world.  This year it was simulcast in nearly all 50 states, and in 20 countries.
There has been a Leadercast host site in Staples for many years, and this year’s event was held on May 6, 2016 and was hosted by NJPA, with about 300 people in attendance.  It is a great opportunity to have local leadership training, and Stern Rubber takes advantage of it each year.  This year was no exception, with 10 employees in attendance.
This year’s theme was Architects of Tomorrow, and they examined what it means to be a visionary leader by looking at four unique perspectives that every “Architect of Tomorrow” must explore.  Those four perspectives included Creativity & Innovation, Communicating & Creating a Shared Vision, Engaging & Motivating, and Mobilizing a Team & Progress Without Deviation.
This year’s speakers included Andy Stanley, Kat Cole, James Brown, Nick Saban, Chris Barez-Brown, Dr. Henry Cloud, Steve Wozniak, and CMDR Rorke Denver, and was emceed by Tripp Crosby.
Leadercast 2017 will be held on May 5, 2017, and is definitely worth attending.  We would highly recommend that you find a host site and join in next year!

American Valve Annual March of Dimes Golf Tournament

On Sunday, May 1st, a group from Stern Rubber traveled to Texas to take part in the American Valve & Hydrant Golf Tournament that supports the March of Dimes.  It was held at Wildwood Golf Course, which is about 40 miles north of Beaumont.
2016 was the 20th annual AVH golf tournament, so it was a special day.  The weather forecast was foreboding for the weekend, as there was an 80% – 90% chance of storms and rain.  On Friday, April 29th, 7 inches of rain fell in east Texas near Palestine, TX.
Saturday, Beaumont woke to rain, and predictions for rain for the remainder of the day.  But, about 10:00am, the sun came out, and it was hot and humid for the remainder of the day.  While the prediction for Sunday was for 70% to 80% chance of rain, we were hoping that it would turn out like Saturday, and it did!   It was raining in the morning, but by 9:00am,  it quit raining, and the sun came out, and it turned out to be a great day, with the partly cloudy skies, and temperatures in the high 80’s.
American Valve invites many of their suppliers to this event to help raise money for the March of Dimes.
The tournament includes several games within the game.  One hole has a second “hidden” hole that does not have a flag.  Before you tee off, you can pay $10 for the team and can use either hole, once you get to the green.  Another game, that is a favorite of the players, is the toilet hole.  By paying $10, everyone on the team gets to hit a ball while sitting on the “throne”, and you do not have to count the stroke!
Making the trip from Stern Rubber this year was Garry Bultinck (Sales Engineer), Mark Pfeifer (QA Manager), Shelly Maschler (Customer Service), and Bob Jackson (General Manager).  It was a great day visiting and networking with our largest customer and other suppliers.

Landscaping With Rubber

With this early spring here in northern Minnesota, many of us begin to think about sprucing up our yards and doing some landscaping.  Well one way to get a good start on this, is with rubber.  I know it may seem crazy, but recycled rubber products, made mainly from tires, can be used to improve the look of everybody’s property this summer.  From mulch to pavers, rubber has become a leader in landscaping materials.
One of the first landscaping products to come on the market made of recycled tires, was rubber mulch.  This product was initially used as a safe alternative to sand, and wood chips on playgrounds.  Yet today, it has multiple purposes in the landscaping industry, and is mainly used in flower beds, at the base of trees, and around homes.  Another recycled rubber product that has taken the landscaping world by storm, is borders.  Rubber borders are popular, due to their ability to flex, and bend, unlike their stone competitors, and most of all they are lighter and easier to install than many other forms of borders.  Along with these rubber products, another that is becoming more popular is rubber pavers. These pavers are fairly inexpensive, soft on your feet, and most of all, easy to install.  Using an almost puzzle piece like, quick lock system, rubber pavers can be installed within a few hours, with much less prep-work than stone.  With these three popular here in the Midwest, there is a fourth form of recycled rubber, and that is poured patios and pool surrounds.  Although there are not many outdoor pools in Minnesota, this rubber product is still used all across the United States.  The patios are made of a mixture of a glue or epoxy and ground/recycled rubber, that offers a soft, yet durable material that is also fairly slip resistant.
With all of these great recycled rubber products available for landscaping, as summer fast approaches, take a less traditional route with your yard work, and add some rubber to your lawn!