TEAM Industries History

TEAM Industries started as Motek Engineering and Manufacturing in Cambridge, MN. It was founded by Don and Bea Ricke. Don grew up near the town of Bagley in northern Minnesota, working on the family farm and at his family’s blacksmith shop. He served in the Navy during WWII, married Bea in 1948 and had three children; Debra, David, and Mary.

After Don received his engineering degree from North Dakota State University, he took a job as a mechanical design engineer for General Electric in New York. In 1956 he moved back to Minnesota to work at Honeywell as an aeronautical engineer working on guidance systems for NASA's pre-Apollo program. His work so impressed Honeywell that they asked him to move to Florida.

Rather than move out of state again, Don took a job as a machine shop engineer and began planning his own engineering and machining company. Motek opened in 1967. His goal was to bring good paying manufacturing jobs to rural Minnesota.

Don believed in innovation and technology; Motek began using some of the first pieces of CNC machining equipment in Minnesota. The snowmobile industry was booming at this time and Don developed several innovative, custom-designed machines to gain a competitive advantage in this market.

David began working as a janitor at his father’s shop while in the 9th grade and developed a keen interest in manufacturing and machining. He ran machines, worked in shipping and receiving, and supervised night shift operations. In the early 70’s, David moved to Roy Lake, Minnesota and started a company called Buckboard Enterprises. Here he continued to hone his skills with innovative machining processes and custom designed machines.

In 1980, David closed Buckboard Enterprises and returned to Cambridge working the night shift and supervising the engineering staff.  Working on the new CNC machines was a real learning experience that David would utilize as the company grew; TEAM now operates more than 300 pieces of CNC equipment.

In 1984, David and his father decided to expand TEAM Industries and settled on Audubon, Minnesota, because of its proximity to their major customers. This would give the new facility a good labor force, easy transport of products and materials, and would bring jobs to a rural location.

Audubon began manufacturing components for CVTs (continuously variable transmissions) for the snowmobile and golf car industries and other contract manufacturing. Don helped design some of these early CVTs and today CVTs are an important core product, with TEAM holding several patents for CVT designs. Don and Dave continued to embrace state of the art machining equipment; TEAM-Audubon had the first CNC gear hobber in Minnesota. 

In the winter of 1985, Polaris came to TEAM with a request that they develop a transmission for their ATVs. The newly designed transmission went into production and by 1987-88, TEAM Industries was busy building transmissions for Polaris. They were awarded additional work from companies like Dana, IBM, Toro, Fairmont Railway Motors and others.

In 1992 a third facility was opened in Bagley with David as President. Don’s dream had finally come home. TEAM Industries was asked to design a better shifting, quiet transmission; one year later, they were making 60,000 transmissions.

TEAM Bagley became TEAM’s corporate and design engineering headquarters. During this period, TEAM grew its business more with design engineered product and relied less on make to print components. TEAM rapidly developed, tested, and began producing dozens of drive train assemblies; CVTs, transmissions, differentials, advanced 4wd systems, and gas and electric transaxles for customers such as Polaris, Bombardier, Arctic Cat, Yamaha, John Deere, Club Car, and EZ-Go. Through rigorous field and bench testing, TEAM has developed duty cycle and product knowledge that many of its customers rely on and brings another dimension to its reputation as world class manufacturers. Its strong R & D and product development staff have landed 10 US patents, with many more in application.

Don Ricke passed away in 1997.   David Ricke took over as President and CEO of the company and continues the family goal of bringing jobs to rural locations. In 1994, TEAM Industries-Park Rapids opened and in November 1995, TEAM-Detroit Lakes opened, devoted to aluminum die-casting. In 2005, TEAM-Andrews (Andrews, North Carolina) was added, bringing a strong expertise in right angle gearing.. Under David’s watch, TEAM Industries has gone from competing locally to competing in the global marketplace. Growth is assured by focusing company resources on new products and applications such as electric vehicle drivetrains and by understanding the needs of its customers and their customers.