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Venture Center tours I-S businesses

Two local businesses were included in a Fox Valley Technical College tour on Nov. 21.

The tour celebrated the success of FVTC’s Venture Center by visiting businesses that participate in the program’s educational services.

The tour included Ebel Woodworking, Scandinavia, owned by Dan Moldenhauer; and The Millstone at Iola Mills, Iola, owned by Tom and Melody Fucik.

Modenhauer became the third owner of Ebel Woodworking when he purchased the business in April 2014. He had worked at Ebel’s since 2004.

Ebel Woodworking produces unique high-end wood interiors for 11 major marine manufacturers.

“The name ‘Ebel’ has become synonymous with boat interiors,” Moldenhauer said.

The local manufacturer is one of the few that will do high gloss finishing on wood products. The finishing is difficult and expensive to apply.

Ebel Woodworking currently processes an average of 4,000-5,000 square feet of product per week. The business has 12 employees with plans to hire about four more within the next six months, Moldenhauer said.

He noted it is hard to find people with the right skills, so they will need train them.

“We need work-oriented people with attention to detail,” Moldenhauer said.

“We can help you get them to skills very affordably,” said Venture Center Director Amy Pietsch.

Jeff Ebel started the woodworking business in his garage in 1989. He continues to serve as a Venture Center instructor/mentor.

Tom and Melody Fucik purchased the Iola Mills in 1996 and began restoring the historic buildings that date back to the 1850s.

“This mill would not be standing here today if not for Tom and the Strands (Bob and Stella) before him,” said Clifford Mishler, president of the Iola Historical Society.

In 2007, the Fuciks opened The Millstone, a restaurant inside the old mill. Its specialties include coffee, pizza and gelato.

In appreciation of being included on the tour, everyone was treated to lunch at The Millstone, which is currently closed for the season.

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