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Innovative Surfaces teams up to help Marine

Most of the time spent at Innovative Surfaces in Hastings is spent making beautiful countertops for kitchens. Corian, Cambria and stone surfaces are designed, fabricated and installed by the Hastings firm, located in the industrial park.

Day in, day out, the 85 employees at Innovative Surfaces come and go. It's been this way since 1994.

But what the firm helped with over the past couple months was anything but the norm.

Innovative Surfaces made a substantial donation of time and resources to help Kyle Anderson, a U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal. Anderson, a state champion wrestler from Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, was seriously injured in October 2004, while serving in Iraq. He had enlisted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.

Anderson spent a year in the hospital, then lived with family until buying a home in Inver Grove Heights in the summer of 2006. That home, though, needed some work to be comfortable and accessible for Anderson.

That's when the Builders Association of the Twin Cities stepped in. And that's when Innovative Surfaces got involved.

It all started with the hope that Anderson could get a new kitchen. It evolved into an effort that included donations from 167 companies. Finally, in late March, Anderson's new home was unveiled. Included in that new home were new kitchen countertops, three new bathroom countertops and a stunning Corian shower with an inlaid U.S. Marine Corps logo.

"In this country, we have so much," said Innovative Surfaces owner Bruce Akins. "I think it's important we stop and think about the people who put their lives on the line every day for us. We thought this project would be a good opportunity to express our gratitude and give back."

Outside sales representative Shawn Mullarky got the company involved with the project from the outset, and then every department got involved in one way or the other.

"Once the ball started rolling, everyone here got really involved," Akins said.

Substantial donations of materials were supplied by vendors, and Innovative Surfaces got to work with design, fabrication and, finally, installation.

In the end, the extensive remodeling project was worth about $300,000.

Anderson's home was recently featured as part of the Operation Dream Makeover, presented by the Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase. He has now moved into the home and was apparently stunned by the Marine Corps logo in the shower.

"This had nothing to do with what your views are about the war," Akins said. "This had to do with this injured man and the Marine Corps heritage in his family."