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Andersen seeks to expand with $35 million addition to Cottage Grove-based window replacement division

Renewal by Andersen employees work on the line. File photo

Contingent on grant funding, Andersen Corp. plans to build a $35 million addition to its Cottage Grove-based window replacement division, which the company said is increasingly profitable.

The Bayport-based corporation, which employs 8,000 across Europe and North America — including 700 in Cottage Grove — opened its Renewal by Andersen location in Cottage Grove in 1998. Since then, it's become one of the company's fastest growing divisions, said spokesperson Eliza Chlebeck. The addition, pending state approval, will add 125 jobs over three years, with an average hourly wage of $21.81, she said.

Having gained approval from the Cottage Grove City Council, Andersen now has to secure $450,000 from the Minnesota Investment Fund and an $800,000 Minnesota Job Creation grant, both from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. A public hearing for the grants is scheduled for July 8. City Council approved a resolution supporting the company's request for grant funding at its June 19 meeting.

If Andersen is awarded the grants, Opus Development Co. is set to build a 350,000-square-foot warehouse and office on 28 acres.

The multi-million dollar endeavor began, Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said, when the company approached the city about adding more room to park their trucks at the city's business park.

"Well, normally we would not want that," Bailey said he told them. "We appreciate you guys being in town though, so let's work to see if we can purchase this property next to you."

Andersen was on board, Bailey said, but the move would require some minor tweaks to zoning ordinances, such as lowering landscaping requirements and permitting the loading docks to face a public street.

No problem, the city said.

"When you have those good relationships ... where the city isn't putting up roadblocks, it makes expansion a lot easier," Bailey said.

The city acts as a broker for the landowner, WAG Farms, Inc., Bailey said. The portion of money the city receives after the deal will be reinvested into the park. For example, the city is adding a light-controlled intersection with turn lanes at 95th Street and Jamaica Avenue, in part to address concerns from residents regarding increased traffic from semi-trucks, Bailey said.

"We're using money generated by these developments within the business park to be able to do that now, versus having to wait a couple years," he said.

Andersen credits the growth of its window replacement division to its streamlined customer service process, filling a niche the company identified in the '90s. Customers have a main point of contact, and Andersen provides an installer, rather than requiring them to find a contractor, Renewal by Andersen spokesperson Adam May said.

"In this day and age where people are busy and juggling jobs ... we've seen really great growth and demand for our products and services," he said.

At the same time, customers are increasingly concerned about making their homes energy efficient, he said. Andersen Corp. received the 2019 Energy Star Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and has a variety of products recognized by the EPA as Energy Star efficient.

"That is a big feature on our product," May said.

The addition would come amid a time of company-wide expansion: Anderson Corp. spent $40 million expanding its window extrusion factory for its "100 series" product line in Bayport last year, Chlebeck said.

It's also spent $45 million expanding its factories in North Branch and Cottage Grove, and recently broke ground on a new, $105 million plant in Goodyear, Ariz., as part of its fibric space products division, Chlebeck said.

Meanwhile, the city welcomes the chance to broaden its tax base and add jobs — especially ones that allow employees to live in the city and increase daytime crowds, supporting area stores and restaurants, Bailey said.

"Secondly ... they are a company that does truly live and breathe giving back to their local community," Bailey said, pointing to the company's track record helping with projects such as cleaning parks. "They go above and beyond what maybe a typical business might do.

It's always nice to have a company that comes to town and wants to become part of the community."