Industrial Lubricant Co., Iron Mining Association reflect on 25 years

Posted June 28, 2017

Industrial Lubricant Co., Iron Mining Association reflect on 25 years

The Iron Mining Association of MN (IMA) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The association represents Minnesota’s iron mines and more than 100 businesses that supply goods and services to the industry.


Jim Hoolihan, of Industrial Lubricant Co. in Grand Rapids, Minn., was one of 11 founding supplier members chosen to serve on the IMA board in 1992. He has been re-elected to serve on the board multiple times and is currently closing out a second consecutive two-year term.


Industrial Lubricant Co. was founded in Grand Rapids in 1943 to supply lubricants and associated products and services to the iron mines in Minnesota.


“We got started in business because of iron mining, and it has remained a core of our business and our focus,” Hoolihan said.


Membership with the IMA provided an opportunity to simultaneously support the industry and his business – and to strengthen relationships with the individual mines and their decision makers. Since joining, Industrial Lubricant has expanded to serve other mining operations and heavy industries in Canada and across the country.


“We remain connected to the Range and our mining industry here because taconite mining is a critical and growing piece of our business,” Hoolihan said. “Today, our company ownership, leadership, and management continue our connection to the mining industry by living here, contributing to our region’s communities and striving every day to provide the most value added cost effective services and products to the mining companies in Northeast Minnesota.”


The IMA has also grown and evolved. Minnesota’s iron mines had been represented by the Lake Superior Industrial Bureau since 1913. In 1992 that organization became the Iron Mining Association of MN  and expanded to include supplier members following the model of other Midwestern trade associations.


“As the IMA opened up their membership base to suppliers it was a very  effective way for us as one company in Grand Rapids – and all suppliers – to be able to effectively and efficiently add our voice and support to policies and legislation that would support mining and communities  in Northeast Minnesota,” Hoolihan said.


In the past 25 years, Hoolihan has watched the association grow its membership substantially – as well as its voice, credibility, and effectiveness.


“Twenty five years ago the IMA was more of an experiment than anything,” he said. “Today, the model and its effectiveness is proven and accepted….The communication about the industry and its importance to the state has dramatically improved in many ways, including communicating to folks in the metro. The IMA is a credible and trusted voice among Minnesota lawmakers.”


This year, the IMA also expanded to include businesses and individuals not directly connected to iron mining but who want to show their support for this vital Minnesota industry. For more information on the IMA, visit


Thank you to Jim Hoolihan 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.