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Doboy, Grevich were the godfathers of job creation

John Grevich (at right) demonstrates a Doughboy packaging machine during the company's heyday in New Richmond.

With all the talks of job creation and the need for new business, John Grevich has one thing to say: been there, done that.

"I really don't think this town realizes what this packaging and machinery division did to New Richmond," he said.

Grevich, who worked at Doboy (formerly Doughboy) from 1948 until 1986, said the company only employed a handful of people when he started. By the time he retired, 600 people had jobs at the New Richmond factory.

"And that's just New Richmond. We had plants in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan," he said. "To go from six or seven guys to 600 employees in a town of 3,000 - that's huge."

Grevich came to New Richmomd to design packaging machinery and manufacture them. He worked his way up to first vice president and during this time, developed quite a few machines. He holds 20 patents signed over to Doboy.

"I have four personal patents and one pending. Patents are good for 14 years and nobody can copy or manufacture them during that time," he said.

Grevich said he started inventing things at a very early age. A native of Mount Iron, Minn., which is in the heart of iron ore mining country, Grevich said one of his first inventions was a tractor he created from a 1927 Dodge when he was just 15 years old.

"Most people think you need to be an engineer or a scientist to become an inventor," he said. "Anyone can be an inventor."

Grevich said one of his favorite examples is the young girl who invented the "Makin' Bacon Dish," a contraption that allows bacon fat to drip off the bacon while it's being cooked.

"Is she an engineer or a scientist? No. She's just one person who had an idea," he said.

Grevich said he didn't have many expectations for his future while growing up on a farm in Minnesota's Iron Range. He attended junior college at Eveleth Junior College and eventually won a full scholarship to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. After graduating, he joined the U.S. Air Force in hopes of flying. Instead, he was asked to work in a government-run Air Force factory manufacturing hollow steel propellers for airplanes.

"I had forging experience and they were getting behind so they asked me to make some changes," he said. "It was the No. 1 priority, making these hollow steel propellers. Within two weeks I had changed production tooling and got them back on track."

Before starting at Doboy in 1948, Grevich held well-paying jobs at various places, but hated city life. He hired a head hunter and took the job in New Richmond because of its farm town location.

"Doboy wanted someone to design packaging machines," he said. "I had the experience."

In the case of his patents, Grevich said most were built out of necessity.

"A guy would come to me with a problem and say, 'Can you make a machine for that production?'" he said.

With each of Grevich's patents, more employees were needed at Doboy, he said.

The addition of more than 600 well-paid jobs does not happen in many small towns, he said.

Grevich said that while he was the one inventing the machinery and getting the patents, he had the help of the engineers and hard-working people to make it happen.

"I was surrounded with good workers, workers with good attitudes," he said. "They produced. They gave 100 percent."