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A family tradition

July 1, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

BARAGA -Van Straten Brothers and Sons is introducing a low-cost storage solution ideal for any application.

"They're steel shipping containers that would be great to use as a portable workshop, extra office or storage space, a shed, or even a deer camp," co-owner George Van Straten said of the large metal structures. "They're affordable and the nice thing about it is you don't get taxed on them."

The newly painted portable containers, displayed outside Van Straten Brothers off U.S. 41 in Baraga, are 8-feet by 8-feet by 20-feet, however additional sizes are available. They are wired by MTM Contracting of Houghton with 110 and 220 single phase power hook up and come with three screened windows and an exterior door. Standard containers are also available.

Article Photos

Shown are Van Straten Brothers and Sons employees, from left, Eric Van Straten, Peter Van Straten, Josh Van Straten, Mike Delich, Chris Van Straten, George Van Straten, Ray Van Alstine and in front, Eric Kinnunen. The guys are seen standing in front of shipping containers for sale at the business in Baraga.

"Standard containers come without windows or you can get a revamped one that you can transform into a hunting camp, workshed, sauna ... whatever you want," George said, adding the approximate weight is 5,100 pounds. "We can deliver them to any job site, residence or other location.

Van Straten Brothers specializes in custom metal fabrication, machining and welding. Additionally, Van Straten Brothers just recently picked up a substantial contract to manufacture all of the Johnson brand wood boilers and has become the tri-county area's authorized Johnson dealer. Based in Ogdensburg, Wis., Johnson is a leading manufacturer of outdoor wood boilers.

"There's three new models available. There's two different sizes on the conventional outdoor boilers and we're getting into the state-of-the-art gasifier, it's a catalytic converter type of stove," co-owner Peter Van Straten said. "It's a state-of-the-art stove that burns 50 percent less wood compared to other heating alternatives and there's no smoke so any yard can have them."

Johnson Stoves eliminate the need to carry wood through the house or stoke the fire. They also allow multiple buildings to be hooked up simultaneously, which means customers can heat their home, garage, workshed, pool or barn.

Van Straten Brothers also specializes in custom bridge fabrication. Standard or custom bridges are available. Bridge features include: highway loading factor H-S25; 32,000 pounds per axle for small 40-foot bridge with double overload factor; add bottom stringers for 94,000 pound capacity; and 300 pound to 200,000 pound weight load bridges available. Portable bridges can be used in a wide variety of applications including: logging operations and timber management, home/recreational access, construction, mining, emergency access, among other uses.

Additionally, Van Straten Brothers is an authorized dealer for Indiana-based B & B Trailer and Big R Bridge out of Colorado.

More recently, Peter said they've been getting into structural steel fabricating with railings, stairways, trusses and furniture.

"We've done a lot of custom fabrication for a number of local businesses and bars," he said.

George and Peter's parents, Pete Sr. and Lil Van Straten, started the business back in 1964 and worked hard to establish a good business reputation. While the business is still family owned and operated, George said they just recently changed the name to include their sons.

"We bought the business from our parents 14 years ago. Back then it was just Van Straten Brothers," he said. "Now, we have my son Chris, and Peter's sons, Eric and Josh, working together with us so we changed it to Van Straten Brothers and Sons."

Recalling previous hardships in business, George added, "We've weathered some recessions before but this seems like it's the worst. It's kind of nice to weather this one with our sons so they get an opportunity to get out there and find customers. Anyone can survive in a good economy. We have been through this experience before with our father and learned early on to become more creative in hard times. You have to come up with new products and customers and create new opportunities."

Van Straten Brothers and Sons is located at 14908 U.S. 41 in Baraga. For more information, call 353-6490, email or visit

Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Van Straten Brothers and Sons of Baraga. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.



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