Doug Knese Honored As Community Hero With New Furnace

Doug Knese Honored As Community Hero With New Furnace

A very special hospice employee in St. Cloud received the gift of a brand new furnace for being recognized as a Community Hero by his employer, Finken Companies and Bryant. Doug Knese, house manager for Quiet Oaks Hospice House in St. Augusta, MN, was nominated by Quiet Oaks Executive Director Linda Allen, to receive the Finken Companies & Bryant Community Hero Award, which includes a brand new two-stage Bryant furnace, installed by Finken just in time for the Christmas season.

Linda said Doug is a Community Hero because of the respect and kindness he shows to every hospice resident.

“It’s inspiring to witness him work,” Linda added. “He is tireless, and always goes above and beyond . . . his genuine love for his work is evident at a very intimate level as he cares for our residents and their families during an incredibly fragile time.”

Doug began his role of House Manager at Quiet Oaks Hospice House in 2014, after serving for several months as a personal caregiver for one of the residents. During his time as the resident’s caregiver he had the opportunity to build relationships with other Quiet Oaks residents, families, staff and volunteers. In Doug’s position as House Manager, he utilizes previous experience in maintenance, repair, and construction to continue to maintain the “home-like” feel of Quiet Oaks.

As a testament to Doug’s worthiness as our Community Hero, he has chosen to donate his prize to Quiet Oaks. “It’s a perfect fit, because the furnace we have in the main part of the house is 23 years old!” Doug noted. “I figure it can benefit so many more people here.”

Doug is always giving like this. He makes a point to be present for each resident, assisting them in wrapping up their work here on Earth. Given the nature of hospice care, sometimes these tender relationships last only a few hours or days, and sometimes they last for months. But they are forever in Doug’s heart.

Doug was surprised to hear he had won the Community Hero award, but not surprised about Linda’s nomination of him. “She has such a warm heart . . . she cares about people,” Doug said.

Finken Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in St. Joseph, joined forces with national furnace manufacturer, Bryant, and Minneapolis-based distributor, Auer Steel, to give away a brand new Bryant furnace to a deserving local hero. The Bryant Community Heroes program honors ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their community. A qualifying hero is anyone who demonstrates how a person with passion and determination can use his or her life to make a difference in their community.

“We are honored as a company to have the opportunity to take part in such an important, thoughtful program,” said Tom Finken, owner and president of Finken Companies which includes Finken Plumbing, Heating and Cooling and Finken Water Treatment. “We are so happy to do this for Doug and everyone who benefits from the care at Quiet Oaks Hospice House. For all Doug and the rest of the Quiet Oaks team do for others, we’re happy to be able to do this for them.”

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

New Home for MN DNR

When the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources decided to consolidate their Sauk Rapids and Montrose facilities, they looked to Dale Gruber Construction’s team, including Finken Plumbing, Heating and Cooling and Finken Water Treatment, to get the job done.


New location for MN DNRThe new DNR location at 1035 S. Benton Drive, is about one block from the former Sauk Rapids office. The move consolidated staff, equipment and supplies and now houses the divisions of fish and wildlife, parks and trails, ecological and water resources and enforcement.

The original structure had been built by Jim Feneis in 2006 as an investment property that contained several suites for businesses. The DNR also stored some boats and other equipment on site since it was so convenient to their offices. In 2014, plans were begun to create a new space to better suit the DNR’s staff and equipment needs, and the Feneis building was selected to be renovated to suit their purposes.


The 19,200 square-foot project was completed in 120 days. “With the help of our dedicated staff and our great subcontractors and suppliers, we were able to meet the deadline,” Dale Gruber said. The building has 7,000 sq. ft. of office space including private offices, a quiet room for mothers, a lab, several bathroom areas — some including showers, an air lock vestibule and a large open cubicle style work area. There is also 6,700 square feet of heated shop and 5,200 square feet of cold storage. Finken did the plumbing including the structural plumbing, bathrooms and breakrooms, commercial water heater, eye wash station, six floor trench drains and a wall-hung water cooler for safe, delicious drinking water. “A facility of this size requires a six-inch main water line to supply all the domestic water needs plus the fire sprinklers,” said Mike Blaskowski, Finken plumbing and heating manager. “In comparison, a typical house is supplied by a ¾-inch water line.”


Heating units for MN DNR“We also did all the climate control for the space including installing all the duct runs, three Ruud rooftop units on stands, a Frederich mini split for the server room and two suspended natural gas heaters for warm storage,” Mike said. “The HVAC units were also upgraded to the highest efficiency as possible to save energy and add comfort to the staff,” Dale said.

“We also included carbon monoxide detectors in the storage areas that have motorized fans that will automatically turn on if the alarm is tripped,” Mike said.


Water heater and eye wash station at MN DNR“It was nice was that Finken was able to take care of all the plumbing, mechanical, HVAC, and the water conditioning needs,” Dale said, “It worked out great for scheduling and since this was the first time the fisheries had a facility that was using city water instead of well water, we needed to install a charcoal filter system for the water. Finken came through with a great system that will save money in the long run for all involved.”

“The Hellenbrand activated carbon filter system that we installed was custom engineered for this project and will safely remove all dissolved organic chemicals from the water supply,” Mike said.


“The walls and attic were insulated with additional insulation above the minimum code requirements,” Dale said, “All the exterior lighting, and all the office lighting are LED type fixtures to save operating cost and reduce the carbon footprint of the building. Both the DNR/Fisheries and the owner were very happy working with the entire construction team to provide a quality product on budget and delivered ahead of schedule.”


A big thank you to Dale Gruber Construction and the Minnesota DNR for including our Finken team on this innovative project.

Energy Saving Tips

Energy-Saving Tips And Upgrades To Make This Winter

Strategies To Make Your Home Heat U-Smart This Winter

Frosty LeavesDecember is here and winter’s chill has shown up with it!

Do you cringe every time you turn up your thermostat? Do you reach for a blanket and shiver your way through the winter for the sake of preserving your pocketbook? Do you tell your kids to put on slippers and sweatshirts and tough out the chill? Actually, those things are all pretty smart and free ways to deal with winter’s cold. There are some other things you can do to make your home heat-smart.

Try these energy-saving tips:

  • Open your curtains and let the sunshine heat things up, but be sure to close them again at night to keep heat in.
  • If you have a fireplace, close the flue.
  • Put down some rugs to make hard surfaces a little more toe-toasty.

Bryant Gas Furnace

  • Keep your spot heating to a minimum. Those little electric heaters take a lot of juice!
  • Don’t block air vents with drapes or furniture.
  • Change your furnace filters monthly. Dirty filters make your furnace work harder. Replacing your filters is one of the easiest, most economical things you can do to enhance your furnace’s efficiency.
  • Your furnace needs room to breathe. Don’t stack anything near it or on it.
  • Little leaks can be a big problem and will let your precious heat seep right out. Leaky windows and loose pipe or electrical openings that lead to your attic can be filled with caulking, foam or insulation, depending on their severity. Leaky front doors can be helped a lot with the addition of a storm door.
  • If you are an Xcel Energy customer, you can qualify for a discount-rate energy audit of your home. Check out this link for more information.

Hiring a professional HVAC contractor (like Finken) can help you make your home more efficient in many ways:

  • We can clean and repair your ducts.
    • Having gunk and grime in your air ducts makes your furnace work harder which means it takes more energy to have the same heating effect. Cleaning your ducts opens up the airways to your home so your furnace can breathe efficiently. Cleaning your ducts also contributes to the health quality of the air in your home. Many household ducts contains dust mites, mold, mildew, pollen and pet dander – things we’d rather not breathe in when circulated through our house every time the furnace kicks in.
    • Gaps in forced-air ducts are pretty common and can cut your home’s heating efficiency by a whopping 40 percent. There could be gaps that you can’t see pouring heated air into an attic or crawl space.
  • We can make sure your furnace is operating at maximum efficiency with our furnace check-ups starting at $79. See our website, for a coupon.
  • StearnsElectric2xcel-energy-logoWe can install a new, energy-efficient heat pump that could cut your heating costs in half. Several local energy companies offer healthy rebates to help you upgrade. If you are an Xcel customer and want to learn more, click here. If you are a Stearns Electric customer, click here.
  • Get your furnace filters from Finken! We have pretty much any size you could possibly need.
  • We can install a HouseWise energy-wise thermostat that you can program with your phone to work optimally for your family’s needs. No more wasted energy with this smart little appliance! Here’s a little video to show you more. Plus, if you purchase a  95.5% efficiency or better furnace before January 1st, we will give you a free HouseWise thermostat!
  • We can install a new high-efficiency furnace or boiler and take your outdated, energy-guzzling units away. The up-front cost is a small price to pay for the priceless long-term savings and reduced effect on the environment. Here’s a link to Xcel for a rebate on a new heating system.
  • We can help you with dual-fuel solutions too! Learn about the cost-savings program through Stearns Electric here.
  • Install a whole-house humidifier. Adding safe levels of humidity to your home not only feels warmer than chilly dry air, it’s better for your health too. Humidifiers add moisture to the air which raises your indoor humidity level to 45 to 50 percent. At that level, your indoor environment may feel warmer and moisture-sensitive furnishings are better protected from dry-air damage. Humidifiers also help prevent the uncomfortable physical effects of dry, Aprilaire whole-house humidifierwintry air such as dry, scaly skin, sore, scratchy throats, bloody noses, cracked lips, dry sinus passages and respiratory irritation. Studies also show that properly humidified air can help prevent or ease the symptoms of the common cold, the flu, upper respiratory infections, and sinus infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of humidifiers around young children and infants who may have difficulty clearing breathing passages on their own and to treat upper respiratory infections. Humidifiers are also effective when used to alleviate allergic conditions and to ease asthma flare-ups.

At Finken, we’re happy to help you have a healthy, comfortable, affordable heating and cooling system for your family. For more energy-saving ideas from Finken, please give us a call at 1-877-FINKENS or check out our website at Thanks for thinkin’ Finken!

Bad Habit Brewing Co Logo

Bad Habit Makes Good Beer

The best beer starts with perfect water, from Finken of course.

Bad Habit Brewing Co  in  St. Joseph, MN

Bad Habit Brewery in downtown St. Joseph makes beer out of tap water.

Hard tap water.

Sound like a tough place to start when you’re making beer this good? Well, it is. If you’d leave it that way. But at Bad Habit, they use carbon filtration from Finken Water Solutions which helps them turn tap water into the perfect water for beer brewing.

The Finken carbon filtration system filters the water but leaves behind some trace minerals, such as calcium and sodium, which you do want in good beer. The system then removes the chemicals in the water, such as chlorine, which you clearly don’t want in your water – especially not in your beer!

Tap Room at Bad Habit Brewing Co in St. Joseph, MNDon’t get us wrong, there’s nothing really bad about city water. Cities work hard to make their water safe and drinkable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s pure. For one thing, it’s still hard. Hard water is just water that has minerals like magnesium and sulfate from the earth still in it. It won’t hurt you, in fact some people like the taste. If it’s too mineral-rich over too much time however, it can gunk up your appliances, get stuck in your hair and on your skin, and coat the insides of your pipes and water heater with a whitish almost calcified collection of hardened gunk. But actually, when it comes to making beer, a few trace minerals are not such a bad thing. Those natural minerals, in certain quantities, can taste pretty good and are essential to the flavor profiles of beer. There are six main water ion components that need to be balanced when brewing beer: Carbonate, Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate, Calcium and Magnesium. Bad Habit’s new filtration system from Finken helps monitor the ion and hardness levels in the water that they use in order to brew the perfect beer.

It does help that Bad Habit Brewery’s owner is Finken Water Solutions’ own water expert, Aaron Rieland. A commercial and residential water treatment specialist for more than a decade, Aaron knows his water as well as he knows his beer. “Water is obviously the primary component of beer,” Aaron said, “If you don’t have balanced water, you don’t have good beer.”

Taps at Bad Habit Brewing Co in St. Joseph, MNIn addition to the filtration products, Finken supplied Bad Habit with all new plumbing to supply the brewers, bar and spankin’ new sinks, ran a trench down the center of the brew area floor, installed a tankless water heater, ran all the glycol refrigerant lines, installed all new ductwork and class A super heat-proof venting for the brewers and fired up the monster walk-in chiller.

“It turned out really great,” Aaron said. “We wanted an atmosphere that is comfortable and casual and our climate control in here will be really great even when the brewers are cooking.”

Rolling Ridge Wedding and Event Center

Rolling Ridge Renovation

119 year old barn at Rolling Ridge Wedding and Event CenterFinken Plumbing, Heating and Cooling had the honor of being part of a unique barn-raising of sorts this summer at our neighbors down the road, Rolling Ridge Wedding and Event Center. Also the home of Scenic Specialties landscaping, the Rolling Ridge Wedding and Event Center is situated on a picturesque 14-acre woodland in St. Joseph, MN and is comprised of three major structures, one of which is the historic 119-year-old barn.


“We were involved from the planning phase,” said Mike Blaskowski, Finken Plumbing and HVAC Manager. “Our actual hands-on work got underway at the end of June and we wrapped up the project on September 28.” The biggest challenge the team faced was in the timber framed barn where they needed to incorporate all the plumbing amenities and climate comfort of a modern structure, but maintain the rustic integrity and appearance of the 1896 building. “We were careful to conceal as much of our systems as possible,” Mike said. All of the plumbing and ductwork was run through the basement, and there are both interior and secondary exterior walls in the barn so the air returns could be run inside the cavity. “I’ve never seen that before,” said Jesse Moulzolf, one of Finken’s HVAC techs on the project, “The runs are all boxed in so you can’t even tell they are there from the inside or the outside.” Even the thermostats are tucked behind logs so they can’t be seen.

Private bridal suite inside Roling Ridge Wedding and Event Center

In addition to the overall plumbing and ventilation of the fully-renovated buildings, Finken installed seven commercial-grade, 2-stage, 95-percent efficient variable speed gas Frigidaire furnaces and seven 13-SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) commercial-grade Frigidaire air conditioners to completely climate control the two main buildings on site. Finken also installed fixtures for the catering kitchen, bridal suite and roosters roost wedding party prep rooms, multiple pressurized power flush toilets, urinals and stainless steel faucets, a twin alternating water softener and two water heaters; a 96-percent efficient commercial-grade gas water heater plus an on-demand water heater unit.


Frigidaire A/CJesse, who has been an HVAC technician at Finken for almost 11 years said, “This is one of the most interesting projects I’ve ever done. For one thing, there is a 1½-inch inch main gas line supplying the site. That’s one of the largest gas line we’ve ever installed.” That hefty line is necessary to power the 1.3 million BTUs generated by the seven furnaces. Finken also ran the gas line for the outdoor grill and fireplace. Another challenge the crew ran into was keeping the ductwork level in the barn. “Because it is an older structure made with rough-cut lumber, there were not very many square corners to work with,” Jesse said, “So we had to work a little creatively to suspend and balance the ductwork properly.”


Finken also had a hand in the structure’s new fire prevention measures. “We installed 6 fire dampeners, which are essentially mechanisms that prevent fire and smoke from spreading through the ductwork and penetrating the walls in the event that there would be a fire,” Jesse said.

When Jesse was doing a compressed air test to make sure the gas lines were safe and tight, he discovered a previously installed gas line that had become corroded and could have potentially caused a major malfunction in the gas system. “Randy was pretty happy that we found and fixed that!” he said.

Randy Schmitz, owner of Rolling Ridge, is very happy with his choice to use Finken on the project. “We chose Finken because we wanted to work with a local contractor that was willing and capable of designing and installing an efficient system that blended with the unique architectural value of our historic building,” he said, “It was important to have someone local so we could get quick service if we found ourselves in a pinch.  Jesse, Aaron, Steve, Mike & Tom did an excellent job achieving our goals on our exciting yet complicated project.  The work was neat and orderly and I’m very happy.”

“We worked hard to meet his deadlines and specifications,” Jesse said, “We wanted it to be perfect.”