Handberg's Marina offers new services

CRANE LAKE, Minn. — Four generations strong is the legendary family-owned Handberg’s Marina on Crane Lake at the end of Lake Country Power’s northern service area.

“It’s always kind of been a two-fold business,” says co-owner Lori Sanborn. “There's the marine aspect, with boats and motors, sales and service … and in the store we have clothing, gifts, ice cream cones, coffee, boat rentals and RV sites, with boat storage and marina slips.”

A short distance from the Canadian border, Handberg’s is a household name throughout a region rich in outdoor recreation. Although not as remote as it once was, Crane Lake is still a destination where folks come to “get away,” relax, and enjoy the serenity not easily found in today’s fast-living.

In the beginning

It all started in 1913 when John G. “Jack” Handberg came to the undeveloped area as a ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. Some years later he would launch Handberg’s Northwoods Lodge which would begin an almost century-old business that continues to keep up with today’s marine needs.

Jeff and Lori Sanborn, current family owners who took over in 1996, recently expanded the popular Northwoods business, in part by securing a loan through Lake Country Power. That capital has enabled Handberg’s Marina to upgrade their services, which included constructing a new sales and service building.

Reinvesting in the business

During the planning process, the Sanborns learned about the loan assistance through the co-op business newsletter. “We were thinking about this project, and there was this article,” about a loan available for new construction, Lori explained. “The gap loan really made the difference, there's no doubt about it.”

The program is called the Lake Country Power Revolving Loan Fund, and may provide “gap” assistance through a direct loan for business projects up to $100,000, at an interest rate as low as 3 percent for up to 10 years.

“We are very supportive of business growth, community improvements and economic development in our region,” said Jeff Sheldon, manager, energy services and business development at Lake Country Power. “Through the Revolving Loan Fund, we’re able to re-lend federal funding to businesses that meet a set of loan qualifications.”

Sheldon adds that by assisting LCP-powered entrepreneurs in new or expanding businesses, the program is good for the entire co-op membership because it promotes stability and creates jobs.

The family future

The Sanborns are excited about their new offerings, and Lori says that customers are responding. “Obviously the economy is good, but it seems like there's an excitement about the new building ... it seems like we're selling a little bit more product, and it might be in part due to the new building.”

And, it appears that the fifth generation of the family business may be on the horizon. “Jeff and I have two boys and they both have said they'd like to come back,” said Lori. “So we're super excited about that.”

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