Elbert family loves outdoor life in Forada

Brad Elbert, Aagard Group

It was 2009, graduation time for Brad Elbert and his fellow mechanical engineering students, and the unthinkable was happening. Hardly anyone was hiring engineers. The Great Recession was well underway and only 10 percent of his classmates at Minnesota State University-Mankato had landed jobs.

Brad might have been equally as luckless had his father not happened to shoot the breeze with a stranger at an Alexandria volleyball game – a stranger who happened to be the engineering manager at the Aagard Group, a Douglas County company that designs, engineers and manufactures automated packaging machinery.

The encounter led to an interview for Brad, an Olivia native, and then a job offer as a controls engineer. It also led to meeting Chantel, who also worked at Aagard. She had grown up in Carlos and started there as a temp after high school.

Each has found success at work and in daily life. Brad has traveled the globe for Aagard, including Malaysia, Brazil, Amsterdam and throughout the United States. Chantel worked her way up to a position as a lead in shipping and receiving. They dated for a few years, married and are now raising two daughters in Forada, near Alexandria.

“We love the location,” Chantel said. “We live outside of Alex, far enough to have a quiet spot to call home, and at the same time we have a quick commute to work.”

They see the area as another major plus for them. The change of seasons gives them something to anticipate year-round, whether it’s getting outside in the spring, hitting the beach in the summer, hunting in the fall or cuddling up in the winter.

Brad, an avid hunter and fisherman, spends time in the woods looking for wildlife. Their two-year-old gets excited when wildlife wanders through their back yard. Summers are spent playing in the water, grilling or having campfires.

“If it’s nice out, we’re outside doing something,” Brad said.

Steve Henning