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Expansion plans for company building luxury ice fishing houses

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A Minnesota company that builds luxury ice fishing houses is expanding, thanks to help from the state of Minnesota.

The Star Tribune reports that Montevideo-based American Surplus got a $107,500 loan from the state to help increase production of wheeled ice fishing houses called Ice Castles. They come complete with bunk beds, kitchens, even satellite dishes. The company currently makes 60 a week in its Montevideo facility.

The new manufacturing line will be at housed at a former Chrysler dealership in Pine River, Minn., where 20 workers will be hired. The company will seek electricians, carpenters, trim and metal workers and plumbers to build 10 of the ice castles a week at the new facility.

"We are pleased to help the company bring more jobs to Minnesota,” Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development said. The state’s loan was issued as part of the department’s Minnesota Investment Fund.

The Brainerd Daily Dispatch notes the Ice Castle units are mounted on wheels and can be pulled from one site to another for use as ice fishing houses, hunting shacks and summer cabins.

A feature story published in the Pioneer Press last December detailed the company's history. It began as a storage shed manufacturing company in 1997, then the sheds were adapted as fishing houses. They have become top sellers with ice anglers across the region.

"In one of the worst economies in generations, the brand continues to grow," the story said, nothing that the brand claims 56 percent of the market share in Minnesota. According to A.C. Nelsen RV World, the top-selling travel trailer recreational vehicle (ice house or not) in Minnesota is the Ice Castle.

American Surplus sells its luxury ice shanties to 30 dealers in five states. In 2012, the company produced 1,422 ice houses, and that number increased to 2,040 in 2013. Prices start at $5,900, but can top out at more than $40,000.

One model, the King Castle, comes complete with a furnace, air conditioner, stereo, kitchen, wooden cabinets, bunk beds, bay window and eight fishing holes for the angler looking for a luxury surroundings on a frozen lake.

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