In the business history of Duluth an enterprise that has the distinction of being the oldest in its line in the city is the sash and door factory of E. G. Wallinder. During the thirty years of its existence it has developed and prospered materially under the well-directed management of its proprietor, and with the enterprise has grown also the man, who is now justly accounted one of his community’s reliable and public-spirited citizens.
Mr. Wallinder was born in Sweden, November 16, 1864, and as a youth attended the public schools. The engineering profession had been decided upon for him by his parents, but their early deaths put an end to these plans, and after their deaths, on May 1, 1880, when he was not yet sixteen years of age, he came to the United States alone and located first at Burlington, Iowa, where he secured employment in the master mechanic’s offices of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. After one year he became a designer for Wolf & Company of Burlington, and in 1882 went to Minneapolis, where he remained six months, during which time he was foreman for the Saint Louis Hotel. During the next year and a half he made his headquarters at Brandon, Manitoba, employed in the work for the engineering department of the C. P. R. R. Leaving there, he went to Fargo, where he superintended the construction of the Fargo High School and the court house and jail in Traill county, North Dakota, which he completed in two years. On July 10, 1886, Mr. Wallinder came to Duluth, and here continued to be engaged in construction work until March 1, 1890, when he founded his present business.
At that time his capital amounted to $400, and his first rough roof sheltered a little group of wood-working machines, operated by four men and driven by a 15-horsepower engine and crowded into a space of 36×40 feet. Today the E. G. Wallinder Sash and Door Factory represents an investment of $85,000, and the main factory, two stories and basement, 70×100 feet, houses two complete machine sets for turning out sash, doors and moulding, about fifty skilled workmen being employed and the plant being driven by an 150-horsepower electric motor and steam plant. The plant occupies two solid blocks, facing on Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth avenues, West, between Nicollet and Main street. The first floor of the main building embraces in its equipment planers, ripsaws, cut-off saws, jigsaws, tenoning and mortising machines, moulders, turning lathes, polishers and other machines common to such a plant. The second floor is taken up by the glueing and veneering rooms and store rooms for finished products, while the glazing room and shafting for the power plant take up the basement. The dry lumber shed, covered by galvanized iron, is 70×180 feet in size, and a shed 18×150 feet on the opposite side of the building covers a complete stock of moulding in both 764hard and soft woods. A fireproof dry kiln, 38×70 feet, is equipped with the latest moist-air drying system, and a fireproof engine room contains a 150-horsepower Atlas engine and two boilers of 170 horsepower combined capacity. Not only is all equipment strictly up to date, but so far as possible it is labor-saving and provided with modern safety devices. A barn and garage, 18×24 feet, shelters the teams and automobile trucks used in transfer and delivery of local business. A spur of the Northern Pacific Railroad runs between the main building and the dry lumber shed, and raw material is brought in and manufactured products are shipped out in carload lots. The local trade is heavy and a goodly percentage of business is drawn from Upper Michigan, Wisconsin, Southern Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Montana. Of the raw material used to make the finished products which have gained such distinction for this pioneer plant the oak comes from Saint Louis, the yellow pine from Missouri, the Douglas fir from Washington, the birch from the same state, and the white pine from Northern Minnesota.
Mr. Wallinder is one who has been the architect of his own fortune and he has builded wisely and well. Today he is not only at the head of a large, profitable and substantial enterprise, but is highly regarded in the business world as a man of sound. integrity, one whose plant has been shut down only eighteen days during the entire period of its existence, and an enterprise that has never missed a payroll. He has always had faith in West Duluth and has manifested his confidence by giving his sound support to its institutions and civic enterprise and by investing his means in its realty. He is a valued member of the local lodges of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Loyal League and Modern Samaritans. Primarily a business man, he is interested in civic matters, in which he is inclined to lean toward progressiveness rather than to passiveness and conservatism. Mr.
Wallinder belongs to the Duluth and Commercial clubs, and since 1910 has been president of the Kamloops Copper Company.
Mrs. Wallinder died in 1912, having been the mother of six children: William, Arthur, Dan, Esther, Ruth and Vera, of whom Ruth is deceased. William and Dan are associated with their father and Arthur is superintendent of the Kamloops Copper Company in British Columbia. Esther and Vera are at home.