Not long after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Walter Bjorkstrand fought for economic freedom by founding his own company. Throughout the years, future generations of Bjorkstrands picked up the mantle, which currently resides in the knowledgeable hands of family members Mark and Jesse. Mark made his foray into the home improvement industry in 1968, soon becoming an exclusive dealer of Gutter Topper in the Twin Cities. Likewise, Jesse has been installing gutters, siding, and roofing for more than 20 years. As an authorized Gutter Topper installer, Jesse skillfully fits gutters with covers and guards that prevent leaves and debris from clogging them as water trickles freely through uninhibited downspouts. Mark and Jesse's techs each possess at least 11 years of experience, performing gutter work on all matter of houses and buildings throughout the years. When they aren't installing and cleaning gutters, the team armors homes with siding, fits walkways with heated snow mats, and guides unruly rain drops to the earth with decorative rain chains.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
It was a hot summer day in Burnsville, Minnesota, when Henry walked into Christy's Dry Cleaners, dragging his feet as his mother tugged him along.
“Don’t dawdle, Henry,” his mother said, digging her long, red nails into his arm. “Mummy has to pick up her dress in time for the cocktail party tonight.”
The doorbell tinkled as they entered the shop, its chime barely audible over the whirr of laundry machines and dryers lining the back wall.
“Wait here, Henry,” his mother told him, plopping him down onto a plastic chair by the dryers. “I’m just going to pick up my things from the nice lady.”
Henry watched as she walked over to the dry-cleaning counter, licking the orange popsicle that was rapidly melting all over his shirt and clutching the grubby, dog-eared fantasy novel he’d been reading and re-reading for years. He knew his mother’s cocktail party meant being babysat by his Aunt Patricia, who always made him watch Lifetime movies while she sat on the couch eating cold tuna straight from the can. He wished he was old enough to be on his own so he wouldn’t have to suffer his smelly aunt or follow his mother on her boring dry-cleaning errands. He wished he was old enough to go places on his own—like the movies, or Disneyland, or the fantastic, snow-covered worlds of his fantasy novel, where talking snow leopards roamed the forests, reindeer-pulled sleighs traversed the streets, and kind-hearted queens granted well-behaved boys up to three wishes.
As Henry pouted and slurped on his popsicle, he noticed that one of the empty dryers had lit up. He crawled closer, swearing he heard the faint strains of piano music coming from within. Cautiously, he stuck his head through its opening. Inside, a long tunnel curled down, spiraling out of sight.
Henry looked back at his mother. She was busy chatting to the woman at the counter. His heart began to thump with anticipation—at last, here was his chance for heroic adventure. Placing his melted popsicle on the floor, Henry crawled into the dryer and pulled himself through the tunnel with his elbows. The music grew louder, the light brighter, and the temperature colder. Puffs of frozen air began to redden his cheeks, and flakes of snow speckled his red hair, until finally Henry pulled himself out, knocking over a bag of frozen peas as he tumbled out onto the linoleum floor.
He looked up. His Aunt Patricia looked down at him, her hand holding a forkful of tuna in front of her mouth. Heart of a Stranger, starring Jane Seymour, flickered on the television set behind her.
“Henry?” she said, stunned. “What were you doing in my ice box?”
Henry paused for a moment and then quickly hoisted himself back into the freezer, hastily making his way back through the tunnel. He stuck his head out through the dryer’s opening, where his mother stood waiting.
“Stop playing around in that dryer, Henry!” she scolded. “Look—your popsicle has melted all over the nice lady’s floor!”
“Sorry…” Henry sputtered as she dragged him along. As they walked, Henry turned back for one last disappointed look at the dryer. The woman behind the counter was mopping up his popsicle. She looked up at him, giving him a wink just as his mother yanked him from sight.
The founders of American Workshop describe their public workspace as a ?health club for woodworkers." Much like a gym, the shop is a place where members gain access to specialized equipment that would otherwise take over their entire garage or spouse?s side of the bedroom closet. American Workshop?s experts also assume similar roles as fitness coaches as they lead classes, workshops, and one-on-one training sessions that help participants achieve personal goals.
American Workshop?s array of classes strengthens students? grasp on woodworking essentials through hands-on practice drafting out ideas, measuring out board stock, and exploring the structural and aesthetic qualities of various projects. Students can also learn decorative techniques, such as applying an even finish with stains, dyes, and embarrassing stories that make wood blush. Safety-oriented courses, such as Woodworking 101 for beginners or Intro to Furniture and Cabinetry Design, are designed to boost confidence in using woodworking equipment, and private one-on-one sessions match students up with an expert to clarify lessons covered in classes.
Few people can say they started in their profession as a teenager. Jacob Servais of Pine Ridge Landscaping & Tree Services is one of those few: he interned at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center when he was just 14 years old, when most kids are just climbing trees or dismembering them for slingshot parts. The passion he discovered in that internship led him to give landscaping a shot as a career, and, in turn, to venture out on his own as an entrepreneur.
From the company's founding in 2006 onward, Jacob and wife Jennifer have run their landscaping outfit as a full-service company, complete with two crews of specialists in landscaping and tree handling. Homeowners can look to the landscapers for jobs that span their outdoor property and the seasons, from installation of trees for an envisioned landscape to removal of snow from driveways and sidewalks in the wintertime.