100-year Park Rapids lumber business enters new era

Hilltop Lumber, with locations in Alexandria, Glenwood and Ottertail, purchased the former Northland Lumber in Park Rapids in January 2023.

Northland Lumber in Park Rapids was purchased by Hilltop Lumber on Jan. 2, 2023. Team members before and after the sale include, from left, sales rep Zach Miers, former co-owner Tiny Blanchard, sales rep John Linkowitz, former co-owner Mark Delaney and location manager Bruce Hanstad.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

The signage may still say Northland Lumber, but the lumberyard at 1001 1st St. W. in Park Rapids is now officially Hilltop Lumber.

Northland Lumber owners Mark Delaney and Stephen “Tiny” Blanchard sold their business to the Alexandria-based company, effective Jan. 2. It is currently the fourth Hilltop Lumber location, joining lumberyards in Alexandria, Glenwood and Ottertail.

Blanchard retired from the business in February and said he looks forward to doing “whatever I want to, when I want to.”

Delaney will continue to work for the new owners “for as long as it works for us all, in a sales capacity,” he said.

The pair bought what was then one of 15 Robertson Lumber stores out of bankruptcy court in 1991. Operated by Robertson since 1933, the business started in 1923 as Borgerding Lumber.


“It’s been an amazing run,” Delaney said of their 30-plus years as Northland Lumber, noting that they moved from downtown Park Rapids to their current location in 1997.

The partners had worked at Robertson Lumber before it went into bankruptcy.

“At that time, we saw the opportunity,” said Blanchard. “We knew that it was busy. We knew that we were doing OK, so we decided to take the plunge.”

Asked how he felt about their years in business, Blanchard said, “We couldn’t do it without the support of the community.”

“We really feel that we founded our business on relationships with our builders and our customers,” said Delaney. “We feel like we made a lot of friends along the way.”

“We’re really happy with the new owners, too,” said Blanchard. “They’re a good operation, good people.”

Bruce Hanstad from Hilltop’s home office will be managing the location. “At some point down the road, we will try and find a manager,” he said. “We just felt it would be important to have somebody with Hilltop background to come up and make a nice, smooth transition to the way Hilltop does business. It’s worked out really well, so far.”

A lake country business

Hanstad traced Hilltop’s history back to 1988, on a hilltop in Glenwood overlooking Lake Minnewaska. It is co-owned by founder Paul Klimek and his son, General Manager Brian Klimek. They built up the Alexandria lumberyard from a trailer house and a small warehouse in the mid-1990s, operated smaller locations in Brandon and Parkers Prairie that are now closed, and acquired the Ottertail location in 2014.


Hanstad described a family company, involving not only Paul and Brian Klimek, but also two of Brian’s sisters: Tonya Thorson in accounting and Teresa Simonson in administration.

Last fall, Hanstad said, when Northland Lumber was listed for sale, a group from Hilltop came up to look around.

“It was ironic, but it was very much lake country, like what we have in our other locations,” he said. “Maybe smaller yards. But we’ve had tremendous growth at Ottertail, and we think we can do similar things here.”

Another thing they noticed was that “Tiny and Mark did just a great job of taking care of their contractors, customers. That’s another thing we felt very comfortable with,” said Hanstad. “It’s very important to be involved in the community also, as they have been.”

For now, Hanstad said, Hilltop will keep operating the 4,000-square-foot store the way it is, except for some minor facility upgrades. “We’ve already made some small changes along the way, and we’ll just see where it takes us,” he said.

He added that the distances between Hilltop locations means they can share resources such as vehicles, delivery equipment and inventory.

The Park Rapids location has hired two new employees since January and currently has 15 employees selling windows, millwork, doors, siding, roofing – “basically anything that would pertain to building supply,” said Delaney.

According to Hanstad, Hilltop can also provide architectural drafting services. “We can work with the clients, either contractors and/or customers, on designing their home, estimating it and supplying materials for it from the ground up,” he said.


Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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