The Northwestern Steam Boiler & Manufacturing Company, which now has a big plant on Garfield avenue, was started in a modest way by M. A. Ryan in 1894, near the site of the present plant. Duluth was not particularly prosperous in those days, but it was getting better than it had been, and there was every assurance of industrial development. Mr. Ryan was satisfied with the outlook, however. He kept on turning out good work and increasing his market until times got right and he was in a position, with his associates, to go in for the larger development that the importance of the business and the field it was working in warranted. At first the payroll of the concern contained the names of but ten or fifteen men. The business was largely limited to boiler making. With the growth of business and the demand for extending operations, the equipment of a machine works was added to the boiler shop, and in 1903 the business had so far developed as to warrant the organization of a corporation for its handling, and operations in a very much larger field were undertaken. Under the incorporation Mr. Ryan became president and general manager, and J. H. Opperman, who had long been associated with Mr. Ryan, secretary and treasurer. This combination of practical and financial capacity has worked out so satisfactorily that the company now has on its payroll 150 men, and its equipment is housed in one of the most complete and largest boiler and machine shops at the head of the lakes.
The Northwestern company is operating in an extensive field and supplying some very large contracts in the West and Northwest.
The work turned out includes everything in the general machine line and boilers, stacks and other products of the boiler-maker’s trade. The big brick edifice that has been built and equipped by the company is one of the busiest places in the manufacturing district.