In the Spotlight

News & Features
The Technimar Fallout
By Amy Radil
April 20, 1999
Click for audio RealAudio 3.0

One losing investor has referred to Technimar as "The Titanic. " The Cohasset-based business filed for bankruptcy last year after Minnesota investors poured millions of dollars into the project. Some residents hoped the new owner, Davisco, might still open the plant and provide local jobs making a synthetic countertop material called "Stonite. " Now, it appears Davisco intends to remove the Stonite-making equipment and set up shop in a new location. The decision is the final blow to the town of Cohasset, where residents are stuck paying off their town's investment in the failed venture.

DAVISCO AQUIRED TECHNIMAR'S STONITE-MAKING equipment for $6.7 million in a bankruptcy auction last month. Negotiations were said to be underway between Davisco, a food-products company based in Le Sueur, Minnesota, and the owners of the plant building to see about keeping the plant in Cohasset. The owner of the plant is Blackwater Properties, a joint venture between Minnesota Power and Mortensen Construction. Minnesota Power says Davisco received "deeply discounted" offers to rent or buy the property. But Blackwater attorney Michael Marguelies says rather than reaching a rental or purchase agreement on the plant, Davisco has instead filed a motion in Itasca County court to gain access to the equipment. Marguelies says in filing the motion, Davisco essentially is seeking to keep its equipment in Cohasset rent-free for the next 90 days while it looks for a new location, possibly closer to its current operations in southern Minnesota.

It's bad news for Dennis Groshens, one of the Technimar employees who has been keeping an eye on the empty plant while legalities were sorted out. Groshens was hired as production manager of the $35 million plant, but financial


"It's a situation where if they had won they'd be heroes. Since they lost it's going to leave Cohasset and we have no returned revenue, so that's the bottom of the pit."

David Wilson

mismanagement kept the plant from opening. Long after the original Technimar backers had left, Groshens says he's identified with the plant's failure in the eyes of locals at his neighborhood gas station.

David Wilson runs a fuel-oil business in Cohasset. Taking a break during a delivery at the local gas station and supermarket, Wilson says his home and business property taxes will likely increase, but he's not bitter at the city officials for trying to bring in a new business.

To some in Cohasset, there's a sense of corruption hovering over the whole Technimar enterprise, where so much money was invested for nothing. Former Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board Commissioner Jim Gustafson says there have allegations of criminal misconduct raised in the community against Technimar founder Roberto Contreras Sr., but no charges have been filed.