The Iron Mining Association of MN (IMA) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The association represents Minnesota’s iron mines and more than 150 businesses that supply goods and services to the industry.
Up until 1992, the only members of the IMA’s predecessor associations were the mining companies themselves.
“Which was just fine when there were 75 red ore operations from Grand Rapids to Babbitt,” said Jerry Fryberger of Hallett Dock Co. “They had great representation at the State Capitol in St. Paul.”
But after the red ore was depleted to secure Allied victories in both world wars, those mines were closed, and the Minnesota iron mining process evolved to the taconite industry we know today. In 1992, the IMA was founded to include vendor members like Hallett Dock. Co, a company that handles and stores bulk commodities in the Duluth Harbor.
Seventy to 75 percent of the commodities Hallett Dock Co. stores are for the iron mining industry, including limestone, coal, and bentonite clay. The mines don’t have storage space for the millions of tons of these materials they use each year. For one facility alone, the company sends 57 rail cars a day – “through rain, sleet, or snow,” Fryberger said.
“We are dependable,” he said. “We can’t miss a delivery. We have to produce.”
IMA membership, then, was a natural fit for Fryberger who was one of the IMA’s original vendor board members. He called the first meeting “eye opening.”
“The producers were very welcoming,” Fryberger said. “And they were some heavy hitters.”
Through IMA membership, Fryberger said he became more informed about what was happening in the industry, though at that first meeting, vendor members were more timid in their involvement than they are today.
“We were just vendors,” he said. “We weren’t paying the same horrendous taxes or facing the same regulations as the mines.”
Eventually longtime friend and then-Northshore Mining General Manager David DeLeo encouraged Fryberger to ask questions and start a dialogue which helped others relax. Today, vendors participate much more, Fryberger said.
“I’m very pleased with how the association has progressed,” he said.
Membership has given Hallett Dock Co. more exposure and a higher profile within the iron mining industry. Through the IMA, Fryberger has spoken on behalf of the iron mining vendor community in St. Paul, served on numerous committees, and sat on the IMA board many times.
“It’s been a wonderful, enriching experience,” he said.
Thank you to Jerry Fryberger for sharing his experiences with the IMA. The IMA will be posting profiles on the different founding vendor board members throughout the year to celebrate the association's 25th anniversary.
Posted: Oct 4th, 2017