40th Anniversary Feature Article: Meeting the Governor


Phil Peterson, Berntsen International founder

"Meeting the Governor"

Phil Peterson, co-founder, became aware of a Governor’s New Product Award to be given by the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers in 1975.  Having established a revolutionary new type of survey monument, the W-1, Phil thought it might be worth a shot.  Without telling co-founder Peter Berntsen, he sent in the application paperwork and busily continued working on marketing this new product.  Because the concepts were so new it was also an education process, helping potential customers understand these groundbreaking concepts:

Light-weight aluminum (weight of only 8 pounds and easy to carry)

Metallurgically matched (to minimize dissimilar metal corrosion)

Breakaway (magnetic remnant remained if disturbed)

Magnetic (detectable with magnetic locator)

Extendable (when pavement overlay occurs)

Apparently the engineers who reviewed the product understood the uniqueness and value of this new innovation.  Phil received notification in the mail that Berntsen Cast Products had indeed won the award!  Phil was pleased to tell Peter about the award.  While they were both pleased, they were not surprised. Because this monument grew out of customer requests and feedback, they knew that there was demand for this type of product.  This award was further confirmation that their ideas for making a better monument were sound.

The award was invaluable in helping Phil and Peter market this new concept.  As Phil tells it, “we didn’t have much money to advertise.  We told people about the award at conventions.  Word of mouth, especially at the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyor Annual Institute, helped to encourage prospective customers to take another look at this new product.”

On October 3, 1975 Phil and Peter proudly drove to the Wisconsin State Capitol to accept their award from then Governor Patrick Lucy.  Phil’s birthday happens to be on that day.  Not a bad present for a very determined and hopeful entrepreneur! 

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