Closers

Taking Advantage of the Minnesota Cold

Minnesota Ice Sculptures duo shows us the art of ice sculpting

By Alli Peters
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started building what would become Apple in a small garage in southern California. Founders of Nike, Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight, didn’t even have a garage — they sold shoes from the trunk of their car. The situation was similar for Robbie Harrell and Stu Lombardo.

The two saw a demand in the market when they were helping out a man who made ice sculptures by hand. With the combination of their engineering and entrepreneurial minds, some leftover textbook money and a little bit of garage space, they designed the first CNC machine in the Midwest that creates ice sculptures but eliminates the possibility of human error — reproducing a logo or sculpture that includes every small but important detail. Bootstrapping the whole way, they bought new and refurbished mechanical pieces from 26 different suppliers to create the final machine they would use.

Since designing the machine, the business has taken off and captured the interest of many people. With investors, (such as former Vikings player Cullen Loeffler) Minnesota Ice Sculptures is ready to continue growing. But Harrell understands the tricky back-and-forth process of growing a business, and growing at the right pace so they can satisfy customer demand. So right now they are going to continue offering reasonably priced ice sculptures to all kinds of people — in Minnesota, and hopefully someday, nationwide.

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