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Business Briefs, Sept. 29

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Baker joins Fentra Insurance

WILLMAR -- Mitch Baker has joined the staff at Fenstra Insurance, 2800 First St. S., Suite 110, in Willmar. After working at Little Crow Country Club for the past 10 years, Baker has taken a full-time position as an insurance agent handling home, auto and business insurance for Fenstra Insurance.

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Nelson joins Farm Bureau Financial

WILLMAR -- Chad Nelson has joined Farm Bureau Financial Services in Willmar. Nelson has received training in home, auto, life, health and commercial insurance.

He and his wife, Melany, were both born in Willmar, where they currently live. They have a 5-year-old son, Logan.

Peart acquires safety vehicle service company

WILLMAR -- Peart & Associates of Willmar has acquired R&D Safety Inc., a company specializing in high-end public safety vehicle equipment.

R&D Safety was founded by Dodd Lambert in 1998 and specializes in safety equipment sales and service and high quality upfitting installations. Lambert will become a master installation technician, along with sales and mobile service. He has more than 25 year of vehicle servicing and upfitting experience, and is an ASE master technician and emergency vehicle technician.

As part of the acquisition, R&D Safety will become part of Peart & Associates' ProAction Sales division, which sells uniforms, tactical equipment and supplies to Midwest law enforcement, security, public safety and medical professionals. The division will be renamed ProAction Safety & Sales.

The transition will be operational at the Peart & Associates headquarters at 500 Industrial Dr. S.W. in Willmar by Oct. 1. Jim Butterfield will continue as ProAction's sales director. The new vehicle safety equipment component will be overseen and managed by Terry Clark, Peart's operations director.

Corval Group acquires AIR

ATWATER -- Corval Group Inc. of St. Paul announces it has acquired American Industrial Refrigeration in Atwater.

Chris Novak, vice president of industrial division/IR at Corval, has been named president of American Industrial Refrigeration. It will continue to operate its engineering and construction under the current AIR brand.

He said the Excelsior office, which is the current location for all engineering and project management, will be relocating to Plymouth. All fabrication and construction will continue operations from AIR's current location in Atwater, he said.

Jim Andrie, vice president of construction for AIR, said. "I'm excited about Corval Group's commitment to keeping AIR in Atwater. The acquisition represents a big opportunity to provide expanded capabilities to better service our customers.''

The Atwater office has approximately 30 employees. AIR was founded in 1978 by John Larson, a steamfitter in an Atwater plumbing and heating company; Morris Eisert, an engineer for a food equipment and refrigeration maker; and Jerry Jacobs, a supervisor at a large food processing plant in California.

Production was done at a small Watsonville, Calif., plant for two years, and was moved to Atwater in 1980 to reduce production costs and to pursue Midwest market opportunities.

In 1992, AIR built a facility in Excelsior for the sales and design staff. In 1993, the Atwater plant added 24,000 square feet of production space. AIR has more than 100 customers and employs about 70 people.

Awards

* Michael Schow was honored recently for 20 years of service to Christianson Systems Inc. in Blomkest. He is international sales manager in charge of domestic and foreign sales of pneumatic conveying equipment, management of the U.S. distributor network, and supervision of shipping, receiving and service departments. Schow began his career in 1989 selling parts and equipment in the Midwest and was promoted to international sales manager in 2006. Christianson Systems Inc. is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of pneumatic conveying equipment. Grain vacs produced in Blomkest are operating in more than 25 countries. In the last 12 months, Christianson Systems has shipped pneumatic conveyors to Romania, China, Egypt and Israel.

* Daryl Winkelman, an American Family Insurance agent in Atwater and Willmar, has been recognized for customer satisfaction excellence under the J.D. Power and Associates Distinguished Insurance Agency Program. Winkelman joins other American Family agents who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to outstanding customer service. The service excellence distinction was determined through a two-part evaluation process conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. Only agencies that perform in the top 20 percent of all agencies nationwide based on customer satisfaction surveys are eligible to become a distinguished insurance agency. Winkelman has been an American Family agent since 1982. His offices are located at 106 Atlantic Ave. W. in Atwater and 2015 First St. S. in Willmar.

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