TwinCities Business | Minnesota Family Business - Industrial Lubricant Company

Twin Cities Business "Minnesota Family Business Awards"


To the winners and finalists of the 2015 Minnesota Family Business Awards, the business is as much about love as it is about money.

Maintaining and growing their companies has been an expression of caring for the next generation, to be sure. But it’s how this is accomplished that makes these companies so special, not only to the families who work there, but to the employees, customers and communities that have come to trust and appreciate them over the years. This covers everything from how they treat their employees and their families to how much they give back, whether that’s by helping fund a local kids’ baseball team or donating a percentage of profits to help free people from slavery in India.

On the following pages, Twin Cities Business looks at the lives and accomplishments of five notable Minnesota companies maintaining family-owned, family-run businesses. How do family members work together in the business? How do these families prepare the next generation for leadership? How do they keep their businesses not just surviving but thriving?

At the same time, small and midsize businesses of all kinds, family-led or not, can learn from the ways these family companies confront challenges and changes. How can they translate family businesses’ sense of mission to their own business models? What lessons can their leaders impart to their “next generation”?


Industrial Lubricant Co.
Headquarters: Grand Rapids
Inception: 1943
Family name: Hoolihan
What the company does: Sells and applies lubricant-related products and specialty steel to the iron-mining, coal-mining, railroad and oilfield construction industries

In the early 1980s, Jim and Kathy Hoolihan wondered whether they should move the headquarters of their family business from northern Minnesota to Wyoming coal country.

Jim’s parents, Jerry and Alice Hoolihan, had founded Industrial Lubricant in Grand Rapids to distribute what Jim Hoolihan playfully calls “grease” for use on mining-company steam shovels....... read more