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A timeline of Ed Russell and Allete

Since Ed Russell came to Minnesota Power in 1995, annual operating revenues increased from $673 million to just over $1.3 billion in 2000. Net income rose from about $65 million in 1995 to $118 million in 2000.

Since Ed Russell came to Minnesota Power in 1995, annual operating revenues increased from $673 million to just over $1.3 billion in 2000. Net income rose from about $65 million in 1995 to $118 million in 2000.
His successor Dave Gartzke was already on board, having started with the company in 1975.
In May 1996, Russell was named president, CEO and chairman of the board. That year, the firm expanded in all divisions as he launched Minnesota Power's "Drive Toward 2000" strategy to take the company into the new century.
In MP's 1997 annual report, Russell said that the automotive services group had begun to demonstrate its potential, and the company was operating 25 auctions in North America.
He also announced a strong alliance with Manitoba Hydro to jointly deliver low-cost power across the Midwest. MP Telecom was also established that year.
Early in 1999, to the delight of shareholders, Russell announced a two-for-one stock split. This followed a year of significant earnings and dividends. But at the 1998 annual meeting, he portended the economic cloud that would soon move over the Iron Range.
In his 1998 letter to stockholders, Russell cited effects of steel dumping on MP's taconite producing customers, the domestic steel industry and related employment.
During 1999, MP acquired Palm Coast Utility Corporation, property in Cape Coral, Fla., and acquired an auto auction in Vancouver, B.C. It also increased its investment in MP Telecom, a fiber optic network.
Also in 1999, MP and its subsidiary Superior Water, Light and Power announced plans to construct a new natural gas-fired power plant in Superior. It was a project that would slip out of the news until this summer.
At the 1999 annual meeting, held in May 2000 in Duluth, Russell rolled out "Horizon 2005," a strategy designed to significantly grow the size and profitability of the company. He also addressed the company's lagging stock prices. He predicted that would change once Wall Street took a harder look.
In August 2000, Russell announced Minnesota Power was changing its name to Allete to better reflect the company's diverse operations.
Though not its most profitable arm, Minnesota Power remained Allete's highest profile operation in the Northland and took an active role in many economic development initiatives.
Last May, Allete again held its annual meeting in Duluth. It attracted about 1,000 stockholders and a handful of protesters. There were groups opposing the Arrowhead-Weston power line and Andrew Slade supporters.
Russell used the occasion to announce a new stock issue and recounted Allete's successes in 2000. He defended the proposed power line by pointing out the need to improve the state's energy infrastructure.
"I see the need in the state of Minnesota and the state of Wisconsin," he said. "If we do not complete the project, we will not provide the same level of service we are providing now."
Russell said he believed Allete would continue to progress regardless of the economy.
His confidence was justified by the company's most recent earnings report and Allete's involvement in several major Northland energy projects.

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