MNS began operations at our original Wyoming facility in 1957, the second business to operate at that location. In the 1890s, the Alabastine Mining Company, had begun open-quarry mining the gypsum found in the area, and in 1907 sunk a shaft 85 feet into the earth to exploit the rich gypsum deposits that spread underneath West Michigan. This endeavor continued until 1943 when the mining company went bankrupt. The property sat idle until 1946 when it was purchased by Bert Kragt who saw potential in the buildings and above-ground property that remained from the mining operation.
Over the next decade, Bert developed and sold some of the land while trying to put the old buildings to use. Fortunately for him, a new idea came about when the local wholesale produce market was moved from downtown Grand Rapids to a location just a stone’s throw from the old mine. He thought the mine—with about 6 miles of tunnels and a natural temperature of 50 degrees— would make a great storage and distribution center for the new produce market. He and his son Paul rebuilt the elevator shaft and began clearing out the tunnels to create a natural, underground warehouse. They added some cooling units in the mine to expand the range of products they could store. and before long were handling almost everything from (frozen) soup to nuts.
By the early 1970s the volume of frozen products they were handling exceeded the capacity of the old elevator and they built a freezer above ground in 1973. Additional freezers were added in 1975 and 1977. After the first freezer was built above ground, the warehouse space in the mine was used exclusively as a cooler. As that portion of the business grew, they added a second, larger elevator shaft on a different part of the property to expand the capacity underground. The new shaft became the basis for another freezer in 1982 with further expansions in 1986, 1991 and 1993.
During this time, Bert’s grandsons took on full-time roles as the third generation in the family business. After 50 years of operation at the site of the old mine, growth in the business made it necessary to add a second location. An existing refrigerated facility was acquired in Comstock Park on the north side of Grand Rapids in 2008. The knowledge gained from operating two locations brought the confidence to add a third in 2014, somewhat coincidentally in the former produce market nearby, and a fourth in Holland in 2017.