On August 9, 2007, St. Cloud Refrigeration celebrated the company’s 50th anniversary with an open house, dinner, and refreshments at the company headquarters at 604 Lincoln Ave. NE, St. Cloud, MN. Present and past employees joined customers, vendors, and friends to reflect with pride on the company’s accomplishments.
It was a family-type gathering for a company that celebrated 50 years as a family.
At the celebration, employees, customers, and guests had a chance to share a video of the company’s history that documents the many stages of its development.
“This is a family organization,” Mike Fitch says. “With good people, it works well treating each other as a family.”
Founded in 1957, St. Cloud Refrigeration has evolved from a small firm with a handful of employees to a full-service mechanical contracting and workspace environment systems company with more than 140 employees and affiliate companies across the state of Minnesota.
Owners Mike Fitch and Pat Welty bought the company from Mike’s father Don, the original owner, in 1984. Since that time, they have focused on three fundamental company strategies.
First, they’ve developed and nurtured a pool of highly skilled, dedicated employees.
“We haven’t felt the crunch of not being able to find employees,” Welty says. “We’ve taken an active role in promoting this industry.”
Secondly, they’ve continually embraced new technologies and engineering solutions that save energy and improve management of workspace and production environments.
Finally, they’ve kept an ongoing commitment to customer service. Their flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile have earned them customer loyalty and respect from their peers.
“We pride ourselves on doing it right the first time,” Welty says. “Profitability is not the most important thing. Being proud of what we do, and getting it right for the customer is.”
In 1968, the land for the original building was purchased, and the first building was constructed two years later.
Since Fitch and Welty took over, they’ve continued to expand the business, including two affiliate locations in the Brainerd Lakes area (Baxter) and Rochester.
“We go where our customers go,” Welty says.
In 1991, they expanded their storage facility and added a work area to service the fleet of vehicles. A second warehouse was constructed in 1994, and in 1995 the main building was enlarged to house additional office space and to upgrade the sheet metal shop.
The company has also opened a Metro Division, to allow quicker service to the Twin Cities metropolitan and suburban areas.
A major milestone for St. Cloud Refrigeration was its 1997 Small Business of the Year award from the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce.
Through all of St. Cloud’s growth, the focus has always been on employees and customer service. The rationale is simple: employees with high work satisfaction will generate positive encounters with customers, and this ultimately results in the highest level of customer satisfaction.
“We never settle for anything less,” Mike Fitch says.