Family business carries on after fire


December 30, 2022

Brady Slater

Andrew Hansen, left, and Toby Hansen unload garbage from a bin into the back of a trailer in Cloquet on Tuesday. North State Services experienced a fire last week that took its trucks and maintenance shop, leaving the family-owned business to its own ingenuity to complete its routes. The garbage was picked up throughout Cloquet by 8 p.m. Tuesday, the company said.

A fire in rural Cloquet has left North State Services garbage haulers - often referred to as "the one with the pink bins" - scrambling, but determined.

"We take it day by day," said Lynnette Hansen, who owns the company alongside her husband, Gerald. "We're trying to do the best we can. We're trying to service our customers. We're not concentrating on anything else but our customers right now."

The fire to the company's shop and garage at 7018 Maple Grove Road started at 10 p.m. Dec. 21, and was such a strong blaze it rekindled the next evening, requiring another fire call. A handful of area fire stations responded to the fire, which took the whole building, including the company's three garbage trucks.

The Hansen couple lives on the property, and their home was not damaged by the fire. They started the company in 2011, serving customers in Carlton, Cloquet, the Chub Lake area, Esko, Hermantown, Proctor, Saginaw and parts in between.

By midday Tuesday, the company's workers - all family members - could be seen emptying bins in Cloquet using a pickup truck and trailer.

"We've been doing this since Thursday last week," said Andrew Hansen, Gerald and Lynnette's grandson.

"We've got to get that garbage dumped somehow," added Toby Hansen, the couple's 16-year-old son who has worked in the family business since the company was founded.

"It's a small, family-owned business," said Lynnette, who wanted to give a "huge thanks" to longtime friend and senior district manager Jim Borash and his team with Waste Management, which offered a truck and driver on loan to help the family supplement its service.

"Praise God they were willing to help," she said. "It shows the humanity of a large company to step up and help out a nobody."

The family was hesitant to publicize its plight. They don't seek attention, Lynnette said.

But the community is taking notice. On Saturday, the Lakehead Harvest Reunion Hayride will conduct a special fundraiser 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for North State Services. There will be hayrides, fire pits with hot dogs and treats, and a silent auction. All proceeds will go to the Hansens.

The fundraiser will be held at 70 E. St. Louis River Road in Esko.

In the meantime, the company had its first visit from an insurance adjuster this week.

"We're not giver-uppers," Lynnette said. "We do what we can until we just can't. That's who we are."


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