When Norhart Apartments experienced the rising costs of lumber – and other supplies – in the early months of the pandemic, CEO Mike Kaeding knew it was time to flip a switch, one he’d been working toward since he took over the family business in 2014. Norhart Apartments bought a facility in Forest Lake off 11th Street in the summer of 2021 to create a “steel stud factory” to manufacture its own materials and pre-construct wall panels for the apartment buildings the company owns and manages.

The creation of the Forest Lake factory, which doubles as its headquarters, was one of many steps Kaeding had envisioned to not only improve the workflow and efficiency of apartment construction, but to eventually drive down the cost of housing, helping to solve a piece of the puzzle of the affordable housing crisis, starting in the Twin Cities metro area. (Forest Lake is home to about a dozen Norhart properties.) His endeavor recently was highlighted as a part of a tour stop by U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, who represents Forest Lake. Stauber toured the facility, following a tour of Forest Lake-based manufacturing company TeamVantage, on Friday, March 17.

Hannah Davis is the Area Editor at the Forest Lake Times. You can contact her at hannah.davis@ecm-inc.com or (763)233-0709

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