Four join Superior Business Hall of Fame

If you pair vision with tenacity, you get a rough template for the four men who were inducted into the Superior Business Hall of Fame on Thursday during a Superior Business Awards luncheon.

If you pair vision with tenacity, you get a rough template for the four men who were inducted into the Superior Business Hall of Fame on Thursday during a Superior Business Awards luncheon.

Whether designing ships, selling furniture, developing the first synthetic motor oil or founding a trucking company, they made a lasting impact on Superior's economy.

"What an extraordinary group of individuals," said Andy Lisak, executive director of the Development Association. "Each of these men represents an important part of Superior/Douglas County's economy and heritage."

The men honored were Capt. Alexander McDougall, Harry A. Lurye, William D. Vinje and Albert J. Amatuzio.

Harry Lurye


Lurye was born in Russia and came in Superior in 1900. He earned his living repairing stoves, but in 1909 went into business with the Lurye & Sons store on Tower Avenue. Four generations later, Lurye Furniture remains a cornerstone of Superior's downtown.

"I'm sure when Harry started the business he had no idea we would still be here today," said his great-grandson, Harold Grossman, owner and president of Lurye Furniture.

But family members have stepped up from each generation to sustain the business and shift with the times. The furniture store has been an anchor on Tower Avenue for 100 years, Tenerelli said.

Albert Amatuzio

When Amatuzio meets with AMSOIL Inc. dealers in the U.S. or Canada, many just want to get close enough to touch him.

"Al is a rock star," said Judy Greely, Amatuzio's executive administrator. Yet the energetic AMSOIL owner doesn't put himself on a pedestal.

"He remembers his roots," Greely said. "He goes over to the plant and says 'Hi.' They love him."

Even after flying over the entire U.S. as a military fighter pilot, Amatuzio returned to Superior to formulate and market AMSOIL, the first synthetic motor oil.


"This is my home," he said.

The first can of AMSOIL 10W-40 appeared on the market in 1972, changing the face of the lubricants market.

"[Amatuzio] could have put his business anywhere," Lisak said. "But he chose Superior and grew it from a one- or two- person shop out of a garage to now over 250 employees occupying one of the largest buildings in the city of Superior, and his AMSOIL products are sold throughout the world. And every box and every bottle has the name Superior, Wisconsin, on the bottom."

William Vinje

Vinje was one of five partners who started Halvor Lines Inc. in 1968. He bought out his partners' interest in the company in 1977 and moved it to Superior in 1983.

"Bill Vinje was a fantastic guy," Amatuzio said. The AMSOIL founder remembers renting a 1964 Mack truck from Vinje to haul items in. Vinje showed him how to use the truck before he headed out, and he refused payment from the new businessman.

"I cleaned it up, washed it and brought it back and asked: 'How much do I owe you?' " Amatuzio said. "You know what he said? 'Nothing.' "

The friendship led to a business relationship. All Halvor Lines trucks use AMSOIL, Amatuzio said.


Vinje was known for being loyal to his drivers, owner-operators and customers. He grew Halvor Lines into the largest trucking firm in the Twin Ports, now employing more than 400. His business helped establish Superior as a trucking hub for the Midwest. And, like Lurye, family members have stepped up to carry on his dream.

"The impact that one man has had on this community is pretty significant," Lisak said.

Capt. Alexander McDougall

McDougall came to the Twin Ports via Scotland and Canada, beginning work on Great Lakes steamers at the age of 16. When he retired from sailing, he designed the "whaleback" barge and began turning out ships at America Steel Barge Co. in Superior. The site is now part of Fraser Shipyard. He also was awarded

34 U.S. patents and built the town of Riverside in Duluth and its shipyard, which launched more than 50 ships during World War I.

"As a community we sometimes forget those roots," said Dave Minor, president and CEO of the Superior/Douglas County Chamber of Commerce. "Too often, young people say there are no jobs for them in Superior."

"There's an awful lot of opportunity; there's a lot of good, solid businesses," Minor said. "We just need to continue telling their stories."

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