In September of 1970 Dick Boquist and Warren Smith formed a company named Research Aquatics Inc. Combined, the two owners had 47 years of experience in the water treatment industry. The goal of the company was to provide individual solutions to manufacturers with water pollution problems and build and design equipment for fish hatcheries and live bait transport. Harm Rand was hired to provide installation and service of the equipment. During the next two years a gravity flow regeneration system to regenerate exchange-tank deionizers was built and the exchange-tank deionized water business was initiated with a small number of accounts, one of the earliest being The Peavey Company. Research Aquatics did a few iron filtration systems for bait dealers and started to get into the residential water softening market. However, the business did not grow fast enough and the company began to fail. Mr. Boquist then left the company, leaving Mr. Smith in charge.
In 1972 Warren Smith proposed a way to continue in business. The proposal was that he would start a company called Smith Engineering and Harm Rand would start a company called Deionization Service. These two companies assumed the debts incurred by Research Aquatics. The two companies operated with Mr. Smith doing the sales for Deionization Service Co. and Mr. Rand doing installation and service for Smith Engineering Co.
In 1974 Mr. Smith and Mr. Rand agreed to put the two businesses together as a corporation, and became partners, taking the name Smith Engineering, Inc. The philosophy of the company from the very beginning has been to build systems that solve specific water problems for the customer and provide the very best service possible with a dedicated group of employees.
The company continued to grow the deionized water exchange-tank business. It also designed and built residential swimming pools and provided swimming pool service, designed and built water systems to solve specific problems for our customers. Early employees of the company were Rita Smith, Charlotte Rand, Mike Bauer and Bob Wickenhauser. Some of the early customers were: Peavey Company, FSI Corp., Kallestead Labs, Minnetonka Labs, Soft Soap, Cargill, Koch Refining, Magnetic Peripherals, Control Data, Honeywell, Upsher-Smith Laboratories, UNISYS, AACRON Inc., Tiro Industries, Pioneer Metal Finishing.
The company continued to grow in sales and add employees. Warren Smith passed away in August of 1981. Smith Engineering then purchased Warren Smith’s stock from Mrs. Smith and Harm Rand became President of Smith Engineering in February of 1982. Rita Smith continued as head of the accounting department until her retirement when Charlotte Rand took charge of accounting. Under Mr. Rand’s direction, the Company started a Profit Sharing and 401-k Plan and provided a generous Health Insurance program for employees and their families.
Smith Engineering, Inc. gradually grew and, made changes, due to the changing business climate of the Twin Cities and elsewhere. The swimming pool business was sold. The company then focused on increasing the exchange-tank deionizer rental business. Smith Engineering began to design and build skid-mounted water systems to solve specific problems for customers, using pre-filtration, water softeners, Reverse Osmosis, Deionizers and Ultra-Filtration. Systems were built with PLC controllers and Modems to monitor and troubleshoot equipment at remote locations. Mike Bauer developed high purity closed-loop systems for Pharmaceutical and Medical device companies. He also developed systems for waste treatment and heavy metal removal.
In 1990 Tom Devereux joined Smith Engineering and initially helped to increase sales of exchange tank deionizer rental systems. Smith Engineering developed the Aqua-System Recirculating Deionizer. This system was designed to be used by contract manufacturers to clean surface mount circuit boards and Tom was very involved with sales of the system.
In 2008 Bob Lucas joined Smith Engineering and added a distribution arm to the company, focusing on consumable supplies for customers. The business has experienced significant growth over the past few years and has increased its presence nationally and internationally. Smith Engineering Inc. customer base now extends across the United States and also reaches Canada, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore and Ireland.