Our company culture is inspired by small town, upper-Midwest values like honesty, integrity and hard work. Smart, articulate and willing to take on any challenge, our employees seize upon each day’s opportunities to improve upon yesterday’s successes.
All 50 plus individuals are fully trained, and for our cell-based manufacturing process to work, the majority (98%) are cross-trained in multiple disciplines. This layered expertise allows for an easy transfer of manpower when schedules and circumstances dictate.
The Cell Leaders bring over 80 years of combined glass experience to the floor every day, and they are all eager and willing to share this knowledge with their team. With a workforce as solid and polished as this, everyone should feel extremely comfortable leaving even their most difficult glass jobs in the more than capable hands of the employees of IRD Glass.
A U.S. Naval Academy graduate in engineering, former Navy pilot, instructor and Naval Reserve Captain, Denny Rutledge retired from the Navy after 26 years of service. After leaving active duty, he entered the corporate world in a big way, founding Heartland Components in Alexandria, MN. He and partner Keith Anderson started Heartland doing engineering, machining and assembly for Fortune 500 companies throughout the upper Midwest. In 1982, they sold Heartland to ITW, the worldwide leader in functional gear inspection and gear burnishing. About the same time, Denny Rutledge transferred to Chicago to head a defense-related division of ITW, which he managed from 1985 until 1991.
After 6 years in Chicago, Denny was named Vice President and General Manager of a large and progressive West Virginia-based manufacturing company. He took control of a division that was losing $1 million a year and within 2 years had it completely turned around, netting $1 million a year. He also increased sales from $15 million to $50 million with plants in West Virginia, Nebraska and Mexico. This job helped him to hone his entrepreneurial and management skills while formulating a customer-based business philosophy which would eventually become the core of IRD Glass.
In 1997, Mr. Rutledge and two partners purchased Industrial Research and Development, a small glass and ceramics manufacturing company headquartered in Litchfield, Minnesota. Under Dennis, IRD has grown to become a recognized force in the manufacturing of optical and industrial glass components, which are used extensively in the machine vision, sensor, medical, pressure transducer, defense, aerospace and process control industries. Denny brings experience, leadership, manufacturing expertise and good looks to IRD.
Dirk Kvale (Kwallee) grew up in Battle Lake, MN. After high school, Dirk left home to attend college at the United States Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in four years with a degree in Engineering Physics, and entered the Army’s Military Intelligence branch. While in the service, Dirk was fortunate to lead an electronic warfare platoon, in addition to holding several intelligence planning positions. It was in these high profile positions that Dirk honed his ability to work with people and plan strategically to achieve specific goals.
After five years of service in the Armed Forces, Dirk took a systems engineering position with Avtec Systems in the Washington D.C. area, helping to design and troubleshoot space-born communications systems software. In the fall of 2000, Dirk left Avtec and returned to Minnesota where his background in Physics and Engineering helped him earn an Engineering position with IRD Glass.
Since starting with IRD, Dirk has been involved in product design, process design, and process improvement engineering efforts. These efforts have focused on improving company productivity by reducing process variation and defects. He has implemented a tracking system that enables IRD to determine how well production is performing in any given month, and on any given product, enabling them to see and react quickly to the slightest of trends. This also helps IRD focus their ongoing improvement efforts on any specific part, with a goal of reducing scrap and improving cycle times.
Dirk was promoted at IRD into the Operations Manager position, and quickly advanced to General Manager. Dirk now serves as President of IRD Glass. From day one, Dirk has also been focused on customer intimacy – getting to know the engineers and purchasing agents. This direct interaction helps the customer to design their product with an eye on manufacturability, improved production flow, and meeting unique customer shipping requirements. He enjoys working within the customers’ process to better understand how IRD can help solve the issues that are most important to the customer.
Keith Anderson graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1966 with a BS degree in Industrial Engineering. He worked for Univac division of Sperry Corp. from 1966 to 1969 as an Industrial Engineer. Initially, Mr. Anderson’s responsibility was in methods and development of predetermined standard times. His last year at Univac was spent in Systems Analysis and special projects such as methods work on thin film memory.
In 1969, Mr. Anderson moved to Control Data Corp. (CDC), as a Manufacturing Engineer. He was promoted to Manufacturing Engineering Manager at a new facility in Tucson, AZ. He was one of seven management people chosen to start up that facility to manufacture peripheral products. During his time in Tucson, he went from Manufacturing Engineering Manager to Production Manager and then Manager of Scheduling, Production Control and Customer Spares. In 1973, Mr. Anderson moved back to Minneapolis with CDC as Manager of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering.
Later in 1973, he left to join Wagner Spray Tech Corp., a manufacturer of paint spray equipment, as Manager of Manufacturing. While at Wagner Spray Tech Mr. Anderson was promoted to VP of Manufacturing and had total responsibility to grow the operation from a $1.5 million service and limited assembly capability to a full manufacturing company with $22 million in revenue.
In 1976, Mr. Anderson started a new company to do assembly and machining. From 1976 to 1982, this company, Heartland Industries, grew to be a $2.8 million operation. In 1982, Illinois Tool Works Corp. (ITW) purchased Heartland and Mr. Anderson served as VP/GM of the Heartland Division with total responsibility for all areas of the business including sales and finance. Heartland grew to a $20 million-plus revenue company prior to Mr. Anderson’s retirement from Heartland in 1999.
Since 1999, Mr. Anderson has been President of IRD Switches and IRD Ceramics, two small manufacturing companies.
Mr. Anderson currently serves on the Board of Directors for Alexandria Industries, IRD, Thawzall, The Unity Foundation and the Northstar Christian Academy. Keith is also very active in the Jail Ministry program in Alexandria.
John graduated in December 1993 with a degree in Communications Arts and Sciences from Western Illinois University. After graduation, he started working for a manufacturing rep firm selling manufactured electronic components, such as bare circuit boards, DC to AC inverters, LCD displays and membrane switches. John initially covered the Minneapolis area, then after a year was given the Iowa territory, and relocated to Chicago in 1995.
John joined IRD in 1998 as a field sales engineer working out of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. In 2000, John moved to Alexandria, MN. to work at IRD ceramics as the production manager and engineer for the start-up company. He now holds the responsibilities of VP/Operations Manager for IRD Ceramics.
John also studied electronics at DeVry Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL. and Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park, MN., completing a two-year, post-grad program. He recently finished a Technical degree in Electronic Ceramic Manufacturing through the American Ceramic Society, earning a title of Ceramic Manufacturing Technologist.
John spends his spare time playing lead guitar for the hillbilly rock group – No Recognition.