February 9, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Hans Andersen

In 1870, 16-year old Hans Andersen arrived in Portland, Maine to start a new life. Bringing with him his only possessions - a set of drafting tools and a diploma from night school in Copenhagen - his goal was to get to the Midwest. Heading west, he purposely sought work from employers who did not speak his native language so he would have to learn English. Andersen learned his first three English words while helping a team of field hands clear tree stumps: “All together boys.”

He ended up in Spring Valley, Minnesota, and by his early twenties, he began operating a lumber yard. Shortly thereafter he was hired by the largest saw mill in LaCrosse, Wisconsin to dispose of a huge surplus of lumber that was the result of low demand during the Depression of the 1880s. Hans harbored retail experience that served him well in this endeavor. He was so successful that when the project was complete he was able to buy his own sawmill in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

In 1886 Andersen learned of another major lumber surplus - about one million board feet - just south of a town called Hudson, Wisconsin. He began managing the sawmill in town and brought along some of his best men from St. Cloud.
But when fall came, the mill’s owner insisted these laborers be laid off during the slow winter months. Andersen refused and resigned on the spot. He started his own retail lumber yard and hired the men to work for him.

At the time there existed no accurate window frame on the market. So, the Andersen Lumber Company began to manufacture standardized window frame units made of durable white pine. By standardizing a few basic dimensions the company gained the advantage of mass production. These window frame units were made with such precision they surpassed the quality of any frame available to home builders at the time of their introduction.

The actual manufacture of window and door frames began in earnest in 1904. By 1912, production reached 132,455 frames. Andersen developed the “two-bundle” method of packaging knocked down window frame units. Eleven sets of both horizontal and vertical members, packaged separately, cold be assembled in a variety of combinations that fit together perfectly without cutting or trimming.

In 1913 the Andersen Lumber Company moved into a new 66,362 square-foot facility in what would become Bayport, Minnesota. The next year Andersen died at the age of 60 with the family business established as the leading innovator in the window business.

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