Business View Magazine September 2018

260 261 AMERICAN SURPLUS & MANUFACTURING / ICE CASTLE FISH HOUSES AT A GLANCE ICE CASTLE FISH HOUSES, AKA AMERICAN SURPLUS & MANUFACTURING WHAT: Largest manufacturer of ‘fish hous- es on wheels’ in the world WHERE: Montevideo, Minnesota WEBSITE: fas, recliners, fireplaces, big screen TVs. You name it, we’ve got it. That’s getting more families out there and more women involved. You all know about Minnesota winters… they’re cold. People don’t like them. The weather hurts your face. But now, with Ice Castle, it’s giving people the oppor- tunity to go out and enjoy the weather without being stuck in the uncomfortable conditions.” Today, Ice Castle Fish Houses is known as an innovative leader in the recreational vehicle industry, but its roots go back to simple begin- nings as American Surplus & Manufacturing (AS&M)., “It started in 1993 as just a basic surplus store,” Drexler relates. “But my Dad, Jeff, had a lengthy background in manufacturing. He moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin to work at Friend- ship Homes, which is a mobile home plant. From there, he started building wishing wells and stor- age sheds as a side business.” Milaca Unclaimed Freight was a dealer for the sheds, and one day in 1997, one of their manag- ers asked, “Why don’t you build us a fish house?” With that single request, the line was cast. Drex- ler continues, “So, we built a 6 ½-foot-by-12-foot, wheeled fish house. Just a small one, very basic, and it sold before it even hit the store. From there it started snowballing.What really set us apart was when we started putting in full RV packages four of five years ago. The complete water system– the shower, running water, toilet, sink– so, now our product is used in all seasons.” To date, Ice Castle has built over 25,000 units. Drexler notes that 80 percent of the models they are building now are pre-sold; retail orders re- ceived at the plant by email from a 32-dealer network. Clients are spoiled for choice with 43 different models to choose from. At present, the