The History of Minnesota Diversified Industries | MDI

You are here


In this section

Throughout the decades, MDI has served as a Social Enterprise pioneer, touching the lives of so many by providing jobs and job support to people of all abilities.

1960's - The Beginning
Sister Anna Marie Meyers has 14 high school students with disabilities about to graduate without job opportunities.  She founds The Occupational Training Center as an extension program of Christ Child School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

John Durand, Founder

The Training Center amicably separates from the school, appoints John DuRand, Executive Director, and the first Minnesota supported work program begins.

1970's - Developing Concepts
In 1973, manufacturing contracts with the United States Post Office and 3M begin and remain in place today. Over the next decades these and other business opportunities create hundreds of jobs for people with disabilities. Projects use a mixed work force of craftsmen and people with disabilities. In 1976, The Occupational Training Center becomes Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI).

1980's - Gaining Momentum
Electronic assembly capabilities attract new customers growing employment to 600, while a capital campaign raises $2.3 million for building/equipment renovations.

1990's - Years of Growth
Growth continues throughout the decade with the opening of two Northern Minnesota locations - Hibbing (1992) and Grand Rapids (1993). The decade wraps with MDI moving its headquarters to the newly renovated St. Paul facility.

St. Paul, MN Headquarters Until 2014

2000's - Changing Times
Employment is at over 400 and the focus is on growing commercial business. In 2004, ground is broke to triple size of the Grand Rapids facility, and MDI receives a three year grant to expand career opportunities for people with disabilities. In March 2008, John DuRand, MDI Founder, passes away, and current President & CEO, Peter McDermott, takes office in August

2010's - From Lows to Highs
The decade starts slow, with no USPS orders, and despite the growth of commercial business, employment drops to 120. But in 2011, a "surge order" and new commercial business expands employment to 440.  MDI celebrates the 75th millionth plastic USPS "flat tub".

In 2013, Deer River Hired Hands is acquired providing daytime training and habilitation for over 50 people with disabilities in the recycling business. Later that year, MDI receives ISO 9001:2008 certification. 

MDI Cohasset
Cohasset, MN Facility

In 2014, MDI celebrates 50 years and moves from St. Paul to its current facility in Minneapolis. And in 2016, MDI purchases a building in Cohasset, MN to improve the working conditions for the Hired Hands employees.

MDI continues to drive forward with new opportunities, breaking ground on a new $4.7 million facility in Hibbing, and offering controlled environment production services in MDI's newly constructed "White Room".