Rice Industries, Inc. (RII) was started in October of 1977 by Bill and Carol Rice as Rice Foundry Supplies. The first office was in their home and they used public warehousing in downtown Minneapolis. Bill was selling in both Minnesota and Wisconsin while Carol handled the office. In 1979 a salesman was added to cover Wisconsin and in 1981 a third salesman was added to help cover Minnesota. In 1982, Rice Foundry Supplies incorporated and the name was changed to Rice Industries, Inc. to include a wider variety of industries. In 1983, the move was made to Roseville, Minnesota to a leased warehouse and office space. In 1986, RII and Ashland Chemical’s Foundry Products Division joined together as a team. Due to a rapid increase in sales, the need to relocate to a larger facility became apparent in 1989. The company moved to a new leased facility in Shoreview, Minnesota. In 1994, more space was needed and RII took over an adjoining bay. In 1995, the fourth salesman was hired, followed in 1997 by the fifth, and in 1998 the next salesman was hired bringing the sales staff to six. The sales team has a support staff of five people in Minnesota including one customer service person for every three salesmen and a public warehouse in Milwaukee. Once again, the need for a larger facility became apparent and RII built their own 10,000 square foot warehouse and office building.
The sales team has extensive foundry experience. Bill Rice began with Foseco in 1965 and then managed a distributor of foundry supplies from 1971 through 1977, before starting RII. Ross Vass has been in the industry for 18 years, starting as a pattern making apprentice and then as laboratory manager and instructor for the AFS/CMI. He then managed an investment casting foundry. Ross joined RII in 1993 as a salesman in Minnesota, Western Wisconsin and Iowa. He was promoted to Vice President of Sales/Technical Director in 1996, and promoted to President in 2000 when Bill retired. He works extensively with the other salesmen while maintaining his territory.
Rice Industries, Inc. plans for substantial growth in the future. The current site will allow for an additional 12,500 square foot warehouse and manufacturing facility.