Thomas Haglin

Thomas Haglin

A native of Brainerd, Minnesota, Mr. Haglin is a graduate and Hall of Fame inductee of Brainerd High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in Management from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota in 1987.  Upon graduating college, Mr. Haglin began his professional career in sales with Acrometal Companies – LARCO Division in Brainerd, was promoted to Plant Manager and quickly demonstrating his versatility, business acumen and keen eye for opportunity, was entrusted with identifying potential acquisition targets for his employer.

In 1993, Haglin eyed-up one such company:  a small thermoforming business – Shovel Lake Industries (Remer, Minnesota) – which among its modest product offering manufactured outdoor air conditioner covers, with annual revenues of approximately $650,000.  After in-depth analysis of the company’s margin performance and growth potential proved too good to pass-up, Haglin and his wife, Ellen (nee Darkow), who’ve been married since 1988, made the bold move of acquiring Shovel Lake Industries themselves, secured financing through a local bank, and in the summer of 1993 found themselves the owners of a thermoforming business.

As the acquisition was completed, the nascent entrepreneurs changed the company name to Mid-State Plastics and in May 1994, purchased land in the Baxter Industrial Park. By August 1994, as their new, 12,000 sq. ft. facility was built and fully operational, the Haglin’s decided once again to change the business name, this time adding a more personalized touch by combining letters of their last names – HagLIN and DARkow – to create LINDAR Corporation, which graces the business to this day.

As LINDAR settled into its new surroundings, the company employed 21 people, was powered by a handful of Gibson and Sencorp thermoforming machines and began to rapidly outgrow its 12,000 sq. ft. facility.  Another 12,000 sq. ft. expansion was added to the initial Baxter facility in 1995, which coincided with the birth of the Haglin’s first son, Garrett, who joined LINDAR in 2018 in the capacity of Purchasing Manager. In 1998, Haglin’s second son, Connor was born, and coincidentally, a second expansion of the original LINDAR facility was implemented.  By 2001, the year the Haglin’s daughter, Alissa, was born, LINDAR had grown beyond its footprint and broke-ground on a new, 65,000 sq. ft. at the site of present day LINDAR operation in Baxter, Minnesota.

In the ensuing 18 years, LINDAR has since grown to 175 employees and operates nine (9) roll-fed machines, eight (8) sheet-fed formers, six (6) CNC routers, four (4) robotic routers, one (1) label line and one (1) extrusion line in its state-of-the-art, 165,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, driving annual revenues exceeding the $35 million mark.

Fueling this exponential growth is Haglin’s unyielding commitment to innovation, including a number of patented products and technological breakthroughs:

Single Serve™ cupcake and dessert packaging: LINDAR was the first to produce individual cupcake containers and single-serve muffin packaging, which catalyzed a market trend for individually packaged food items. Single Serve™ containers are available in traditional and large sizes include a built-in freshness seal and are manufactured with recycled and renewable materials.

Simply Secure™ tamper-obvious containers: LINDAR pioneered tamper-obvious, two-piece pie and cake containers, bringing intuitive design and easy-to-handle packaging to the market. Featuring tabs that snap into place to secure products on store shelves, the tabs can be simply torn-off by the consumer, making Simply Secure™ user-friendly and readily identifiable as opened.

Good Natured™ products: LINDAR’s Single Serve™ and Simply Secure™ packaging are also offered in Good Natured™ bioplastic materials, which are biodegradable, reduce carbon emissions and minimize the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment.

Optica™ lenticular lens extrusion: lenticular lens extrusion of the optical lenses in the plastic sheet creates a parallax—making an object’s appearance change when seen from different positions. Optica™ provides vivid, 3D motion graphic images, creating eye-catching labels for use on salad containers, cereal boxes and other consumer products.

And driving this innovation is an engaged, collaborative corporate culture, which to this day has retained many employees from its earliest days of incorporation. Further, LINDAR’s customer-centric, value-added mindset has driven significant investment in secondary operations (including part trimming, product assembly, etc.), product design capability, captive tool-building and maintenance, inventory management programs and complete supply chain solutions – all of which LINDAR leverages to drive unique, cost-effective solutions to its customer base.

Throughout his years at LINDAR’s helm, Mr. Haglin has maintained a strategic focus on diversification of its manufacturing capabilities, product offering and customer base, alongside whom LINDAR has steadily grown and prospered throughout the past 25 years. It was this desire to diversify that led Mr. Haglin to partner with Daniel and David Fosse of Innovative Packaging to create the Intec Alliance, which eventually was fully absorbed into the LINDAR business.

Prior to establishing this partnership, LINDAR’s manufacturing capabilities revolved primarily around heavy-gauge, sheet-fed thermoforming for its OEM customer base; the Intec Alliance connected LINDAR with a new market opportunity: a proprietary, thin-gauge roll-fed food packaging product line now marketed under the LINDAR brand name.

Concurrent with the rapid growth of LINDAR’s proprietary food packaging product line, Mr. Haglin made a significant investment in roll-fed thermoforming equipment, and currently operates nine (9) machines, numerous routers and ancillary equipment to support its food packaging business. Further, in-house grinding and recycling of trimmed, unused and scrap material, widespread usage of bio-based materials and proprietary extrusion capabilities help address environmental sustainability while optimizing manufacturing cost-effectiveness.

Throughout his professional career, Mr. Haglin and LINDAR have received numerous accolades, awards, and certifications, which include:

– 1994 Initiative Foundation Outstanding Enterprise Award for Community Service;

– 1998 College of St. Scholastica “Blue Chip Enterprise” Award;

– 2010 SPE Thermoforming Division Roll-Fed Gauge Food – Gold Medalist;

– 2012 State of Minnesota Office of the Governor Certificate of Commendation;

– 2014 SPE Thermoforming Gold Award Winner Parts Competition, Roll-Fed Category;

– 2015 Crenlo Elite Level of Quality Performance Award;

– 2015 Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award Finalist;

– ISO 9001-2015 certification;

– AIB (American Institute of Baking) certification.

As he has built a world-class thermoforming business, and consistent with his deeply engrained desire to give back, Mr. Haglin is closely connected and involved with the Brainerd Lakes area, serving the community in numerous ways:

– School Board Director, Independent School District (ISD) 181 (Brainerd, MN) since 2010;

– Board of Directors: Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Council (BLAEDC);

– Board of Directors: River Wood Bank;

– Past Board of Directors: Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce;

– Past Board of Directors: Mid-MN Federal Credit Union;

– Past Board of Directors: Essentia Health;

– Past Board of Directors: Brainerd Lakes Catholic Churches Tri-Parish Council.

Further underscoring his commitment to his hometown community, in 2012, Mr. Haglin acquired the then-Lakeland Mold Company (now Avantech) in Brainerd, Minnesota, a pre-eminent supplier of tooling for the rotational molding and thermoforming industries.  With a desire to keep jobs in the community, provide continued career opportunity for employees, and add a qualified tool-builder to his business portfolio, Haglin has since made a significant investment in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Baxter Industrial Park (opened in 2016), CNC machining equipment and highly skilled personnel to drive the Avantech business forward.

This investment in Avantech, combined with LINDAR’s product design and thermoforming capabilities, has since spurred the development of several new proprietary product lines, as well as the establishment of in-house rotational molding capability at the recently launched Tri-Ven (also located in Baxter, MN).  All told, Haglin’s businesses employ more than 250 people, and provide an innovative, single-source product development solution to the global marketplace.

In building a world-class thermoforming organization and overseeing exponential growth of his business portfolio, Haglin has maintained the sense of humility and gratitude instilled in his youth, and through a lifetime of service and sacrifice, has generously shared the fruits of his substantial success with his family, his employees, and his community.