Benson Electric Company was founded in 1912 by Myron B Benson and 3 partners. It began as a manufacturer of MarineEquipment.Winches, steering gears and a myriad of other pieces of equipment
have been produced over the years. Benson Electric Company still supplies winches, list-o-meters and other equipment to the marine industry as well as the Coast Guard.
In 1920, after attending the UW-Madison, Frank Mahan Sr. began working at Benson Electric and by the 1940’s was the firm’s President and owner. The 1960’s brought the next generation into the business, Harris and Frank Jr. and with the advent of the 1990’s Blair and Anna assumed the helm. Benson Electric now completes over 15 million dollars of work per year.
In the early 1900’s the local utility companies got out of the premises electrical wiring business and Benson Electric Company stepped in. Over the years we have wired whole town’s distribution systems, laid
under water cable, wired industrial plants, commercial and residential projects as well as working steadily on the
Great Lakes Marine vessels. During WWII sixty machinists could be found in the plant producing marine equipment.
As the number of vessels decreased so did the need for marine equipment. Benson Electric Company manufactured and rebuilt “pigs” for Lakehead Pipeline for several years, devices for cleaning and separating goods in the pipelines. A subsidiary electrical supply house was also given birth. Over the past 50 years Benson Electric Company as evolved into a full service electrical contractor handling design build, plan and spec, time and material projects as well as producing those hard to get pieces that keep the projects moving forward. Our machine shop still produces a varied range of winches and other marine controls as well as UL listed control panels.
Over the past 15 years we have done work at Midwest Energy, Enbridge, Great Lakes Gas, Calumet, Harvest States, General Mills, Gavilon (formerly Peavey), ME Global, Compass Minerals (the salt dock), Graymont, University campuses, hospitals, clinics, schools, multi-family housing and residential as well as a variety of commercial and manufacturing concerns including Moline’s, Northwest Airlines Maintenance Facility, Ikonics and Exodus. Indeed we still provide service work on the Great Lakes vessels and foreign ships that call on the Twin Ports. We operate ten service vans for all types service work and smaller jobs while operating a full time stockroom for delivery of material, tools, and equipment. Our normal operating area is from International Falls south into Wisconsin. In the past we have completed work in North Dakota, Michigan and Illinois.
2001 brought the return of the motor repair shop. Tony Machaj, operating as TM Electric, has been operating the shop for 10 plus years. Tony worked out of a shop in Chicago for 25 years prior to moving up north. There are three men working in the motor shop. Tony retired in 2009.
Over the past several years, 2014 and 2015, we have had several of Great Lakes Fleets that we move into servicing and selling Navigation and electronic systems for their vessels including Sperry equipment, radar and other systems such as SAT TV. This is due to the aging population of serviceman on the great lakes as the number of great lakes vessels has decreased and the market has shrunk. We have agreed to move into the market with Sperry as one of our suppliers and provide service. Rick Mutschler has agreed to come on board as the manager of the new Division, Marine Navigation and Electronics, also serving as a field technician. Don Masa, most recently manager of Marine works at Air Services, has agreed to help us with this transition serve as technical advisor. We also hired Dave Reynolds as service technician and are training local servicemen to fill the gap.
We offer infrared scanning, motor balancing and aligning, generator service, repairs to welders, hoists, winches and other mechanical electrical devices.
Safety has always been of the utmost concern to Benson Electric Company. Nathan Sapik is our safety director. Nathan is certified to instruct OSHA 30. We have a DOT approved random drug testing program. We have personnel trained in E-rail and near track areas for railroad work, MSHA, ISN net world and OQ training for pipelines, OSHA 10 for all electricians and OSHA 30 for several. In 2013 Gordy Edgette came on board as our Safety Manger spending most of his time in the field.
Benson Electric encourages its employees to be active in the industry. Sandy Mahan served as President and Governor of the local NECA chapter, Blair is following in his footsteps by currently serving as Governor of the chapter as well as serving on the national Management Development Committee (training for electrical contractors), prior to that Blair served as chapter president for 10 years, still serves as a trustee on the pension and health committee, and the past 20 years on the negotiating committee. Dave Horvath, Michael O’Rourke, Ray Larson, Todd Anderson and Dave Solberg are 6 of the 7 union members serving on the E-board, governing board of the union. Dave Solberg was the Chairman of the apprenticeship committee for 6 years for local 242.