HACKENSACK -- What started out as part-time summer work for a young man in the Coast Guard at Duluth and a Hackensack teenager in 1985 evolved into a year-round successful full-time Hackensack business.
Rick Hughes and Dean Garoutte, owners of Northwoods Dock and Service north of Hackensack, donated $15,500 worth of new docks to the city of Hackensack and installed the two docks April 20 shortly after the ice left Birch Lake.
While taking boats out of Birch Lake last fall, Hughes said he noticed Hackensack's city docks were ready for replacement. He told council member Chris McKeown that he and Garoutte would like to donate new docks.
The ShoreStation docks likely will last longer than the old city docks because they are built from powder-coated aluminum with cedar side rails and neither will rust, nor rot, Hughes said. They come as snap-together sections for easy installation and removal.
When Hughes and Garoutte started working together in 1985, Hughes was spending his free time away from his Coast Guard assignment at a family vacation home in the Hackensack area. He earned extra money doing yard work and taking boats in and out of lakes seasonally for neighbors.
He hired 15-year-old Garoutte as a helper. Demand for their services grew.
City's new docks
One dock has two finger piers besides the 8- by 48-foot main dock to accept boats. It sits next to the public landing boat launch ramp at the city park.
The other dock is a swimming dock by the park picnic area and has steps enabling young and old to enter and leave the swimming beach with ease.
When Garoutte graduated from Walker-Hackensack-Akeley High School he went into the armed services for two years. He and Hughes decided when his tour was done that small engine training would help their enterprise, so Garoutte enrolled at Brainerd Technical College to learn that trade.
While commuting to Brainerd, Garoutte discovered Illinois native Brent Foster, who was staying on Woman Lake east of Hackensack, also was enrolled in the class. The two car-pooled to Brainerd and became friends, with Foster joining the company after graduation.
Foster now is their chief operations officer, overseeing a crew of six employees who install and maintain products Northwoods sells and service boats for customers who store their boats at Northwoods over the winter.
The trio continued to work out of Hughes' garage until they found property for sale along Highway 371 in 1991. Hughes and Garoutte bought that and built a boat storage building where they also started winterizing boats for customers.
In 1994, they decided to leave the lawn care business and focus on waterfront services. They now have three boat storage buildings.
In 2000, they installed a large outdoor ShoreStation display and remodeled their main building into an indoor showroom, shop and office.
Selecting ShoreStation products for their sales line was a natural, because the Godberson family that started Midwest Industries in Ida Grove, Iowa, in 1959 also had vacation property on Ten Mile Lake north of Hackensack.
Midwest Industries, also manufacturers of ShoreLander trailers, continues to be run by the late original owner Byron Godberson's son and sons-in-law, Hughes said.
Hughes and Garoutte said they see the new city docks they provided as the finishing touch to Hackensack's new chamber of commerce building and city park improvements.
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