"The VHEDC is a private, non-profit organization established to further economic development in the City of Vadnais Heights, MN and surrounding areas." 

The goal of the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation is to provide leadership, direction, coordination, and any other services to advance the cause of economic development activities in Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas.  

The VHEDC has the expertise and resources to help you grow your business in Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas. Browse our website for more information about our confidential services.

 2015 Keith Warner Memorial Golf Tournament

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Annual Keith Warner Memorial Golf Tournament features 18 holes of 4-person scramble golf, a welcome reception luncheon, and team photos. Our day is capped-off with a social hour and silent auction followed by a dinner program with a brief awards ceremony. This event has grown into one of the premier events of the VHEDC and a fantastic opportunity to interact with fellow Vadnais Heights Area Businesses. This year we are excited to have this event at the newly remodeled Dellwood Country Club!

Register HERE

VHEDC:  What's in a name?

The VHEDC was founded in 1984 by a group of community and business leaders concerned about the economic growth of Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas


  • Offer opportunities to network, gain business education, and serve the community
  • Lead partnerships with other economic development partners
  • Serve as a conduit for business resources at local, regional, and state levels
  • Advocate for local business concerns, speaking as a unified voice
  • Provide insights into real estate, financing, marketing/business trends
  • Facilitate business expansion and retention
  • Promote Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas
  • Encourage improvements in infrastructure necessary for economic growth
  • Support workforce and training efforts that benefit the area
  • Listen and respond to local business concerns with confidentiality
  • Celebrate business achievement with annual business awards

It's Not About the Metal, 

It's About the Mettle

Meaningful work means a meaningful life.In one sentence, DuFresne Manufacturing Company (DMC) of Vadnais Heights answers the age-old question of why human beings work and how innovation comes about.The reason for being at DMC has become the foundation of its success. Give your employees the fulfillment of meaningful work today and tomorrow they will turn around and stun the world with innovative ideas, superb precision and a superior product -- resulting in an even greater sense of fulfillment that will lead to even more eye-opening technology. 

According to the company's president and CEO, Robert DuFresne, self-actualization of the employee through meaningful opportunity is what makes the company successful -- not the other way around. Because meaningful work leads to innovation, DMC has been stamping out sheet metal components faster and better anyone else in the industry. As an industry model, DMC accepted the coveted MN Performance Excellence Award (Baldrige Criteria) this April.

Character building during a time when the company almost went out of business is what turned DMC from an ordinary company into a model company. When DMC began to claw their way out of the 2008-2010 recession by embarking on a journey that followed Malcom Baldrige Business Criteria, DuFresne coined the word “oblitunity” to emphasize the obligation he felt to provide opportunities for DMC employees.

DMC quickly evolved into a precision sheet metal Company where its employees could start out as 

temporaries performing the most basic of tasks with their hands to one day running the most advanced state of the art equipment in the nation with their minds.

Employee Dave Kuehl, who has been with the company for more than 13 years, started with virtually no experience in sheet metal fabrication – and with a hearing and speech impairment. “He progressed his way very quickly in each opportunity we presented to him,” DuFresne said. “He works more overtime than anyone else in the company and is now running and programming the most high performance piece of equipment in North America.” That equipment is the Amada HG-1003 ATC press brake that bends sheet metal into various forms. 

“We never trained anyone this fast before,” said the equipment manufacturer's trainer from Amada. “It took Dave only two days.” “We owed Dave oblitunity and we provide it for him in a machine that doesn't simply bend metal over but also designs and builds, leading him to a new level of human development,” DuFresne said.

In an ongoing quest for self-actualization of its employees and the streamlining of its manufacturing, DMC has also trained metal cutters on its state of the industry fiber laser cutter and will soon add an even more advanced laser cutter to its plant floor.

Employee Nick Deberstrom started with DMC two years ago as a machine operator, Vice President of Operations Mike Rosenthal said. He has had four different positions at DMC, including the pem setter single machine, the pem setter multiple machine, the panel bender and the standard press brake. Now, he operates the most sophisticated press brake in the country, Rosenthal said.

“Nick also had no experience in sheet metal fabrication, but has capitalized on every opportunity 

presented to him,” DuFresne said.

Employee Lori Engquist started out in the shipping department at DMC and moved to entry level pem work. Now she sets up and operates the Salvagnini panel bender. She is also on a training plan to learn the standard press brake. 

DMC also provides oblitunity to future metal workers by promoting the industry in the White Bear 

Lake School District and providing “shadowing” opportunities for students, said Jim Stephan, 

Vice-President of Sales and Marketing. Employees have paid oblitunity forward by providing it to the recipients of their charitable causes. 

Even after days filled with spot welding kits for elevator kiosks, employees at DMC take time to raise money. Six teams within the company compete with each other to raise the most money for their chosen charities, whether it's the local food shelf or Caring and Sharing Hands. 

In 2013, the members contributed over $10,000. In a notable example of mettle, charitable giving was at an all time high during the great recession of 2008-2010 when the company was in danger of folding, said Kris Diemer, Vice-President of Human Development.

For its first 18 years until work started moving to China in 2008, DMC was a significant business that paid out $84 million in wages, based on revenue of more than $200 million.

When the DMC hit bottom in October 2010, however, the company checkbook fell $20,000 short of 

meeting payroll. DMC had to let good people go. Office staff and executive officers put in shifts on the plant floor assembling parts. Still, employees paid back the $500,000 in personal loans the company had lent them.

“I felt like I was letting my family down,” DuFresne said. "Remember, these were my people – my 

employees' spouses, my extended family members -- whose pay checks were in jeopardy."

At that 2010 low point, DMC started a new way of doing things. “I didn't want to ever go through that again,” DuFresne said of what he calls the “Rite of Passage” period of 2008-2010. Aware of the Baldrige Criteria since the company's beginning in 1991, DuFresne realized that the National Baldrige Criteria would give DMC an opportunity to develop a level of trust with the employees, which would then open doors to a transformation journey for the company.

Recovery didn't happen over night, but the work slowly came back. To encourage workers during the difficult recovery period, DuFresne ordered a brass bell installed in the plant to ring every time a new purchase order was received. This was the best way to remove tension with the members.

"Our entire organization was poised to take on the world when the work came back," DuFresne said. In changing the rules during difficult times by focusing not so much on metal but on human 

development and character, DMC will achieve its own self-actualization by becoming a 2014 MN 

Performance Excellence (Baldrige Criteria) model for the manufacturing industry.

Invest in the Future TODAY! 

The Board of the Directors of the VHEDC is proud to announce changing our supporters from members to INVESTORS.  Focusing on the long term vitality of the business environment of Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas, we invite you to be a be a part of the future by investing today.

Invest in Your Business

Invest in Your Community 

Invest in the Future

Invest Today

Upcoming events

03 Jun 2015 7:30 AM • TBD
04 Jun 2015 5:30 PM • Vadnais Heights Commons
09 Jun 2015 7:30 AM • Country Inn and Suites, Vadnais Heights

Featured Investor

2014 Keith Warner Standards of Excellence Award Recipients

This annual honor is bestowed on area businesses who have shown a singular degree of excellence in the areas of business success, philanthropy and community spirit.


This annual honor is bestowed on area businesses who have shown a singular degree of excellence in the areas of business success, philanthropy and community spirit.

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Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation
Address: 800 East County Road E
Phone: 651-485-9532
Email: lingbecker@vhedc.com
Copyright © 2015 Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation

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