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Bob Coughlan of Coughlan Companies. Photo by John Cross

Giving back

Corporate giving strong, growing

Also in this issue • Graf ‘s Home Furnishings • Allen & Allen Painting • Jim Hepworth’s Door Solutions

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MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 1

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F E A T U R E S July 2014 • Volume 6, Issue 10

12

Mankato’s leading corporate donors offer advice on how to give effectively by relying on employee involvement.

20

Graf’s Home Furnishings has had a long successful career in Amboy by centering on quality, custom-made items.

22

Jim Hepworth travels the world overseeing installation of giant doors in sports stadiums and other projects.

26

Mike Allen tried other jobs but came back to his first work and the kind he loves best – home and commercial painting.

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 5

■ july 2014 • VOLUME 6, ISSUE 10 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE EDITOR Tim Krohn CONTRIBUTING Tim Krohn WRITERS Pete Steiner Kent Thiesse Heidi Sampson

PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman John Cross COVER PHOTO John Cross PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Ginny Bergerson MANAGER ADVERTISING sales Jen Wanderscheid Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey CIRCULATION Denise Zernechel DIRECTOR For editorial inquiries, call Tim Krohn at 507-344-6383. For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail mankatomag@mankatofreepress.com. MN Valley Business is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South 2nd Street., Mankato MN 56001.

■ Local Business memos/ Company news................................7 ■ Business and Industry trends.........9 ■ Minnesota Business updates....... 10 ■ Construction, real estate trends.. 29 ■ Agriculture Outlook...................... 30 ■ Agribusiness trends..................... 31 ■ Job trends..................................... 32 ■ Retail trends................................. 33 ■ Greater Mankato Growth.............. 34 ■ Greater Mankato Growth Member Activities ....................... 36

6 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

From the editor

By Joe Spear

Business growth can be a pain

B

usiness activity can often be measured by the amount of construction one can observe driving around town. Unfortunately for some Mankato area businesses, the construction may not be a sign of business growth. Local businesses on Mankato’s busiest commercial district near River Hills Mall, Adams Street and Madison Avenue are dealing with what can arguably be called one of the biggest road construction projects in years. Two major roundabouts are being constructed at Highway 22 intersections with Adams Street and Madison Avenue. Detours have been set up and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has gone to great lengths to communicate how to navigate the detours and get to those businesses. Still, many are seeing significant traffic declines. But the road construction is clearly a sign of Mankato progress. Traffic levels have reached a point where better traffic management was required. Creating the infrastructure for commerce falls to government. But growing pains always come with growth. To MnDOT’s credit, they are holding weekly meetings with the business owners to hear their concerns and resolve any issues. Already, they’ve agreed to modify signage letting people know that they clearly can access the businesses behind the construction. Perception may be as big a problem for the businesses as reality. Large orange signs that say “road closed” are sometimes easily and wrongly translated as “business closed.” People sometimes translate the word “detour” as a bigger deal than it is, if they remember the worst detour they were ever on. But a quick run through the detours shows many can be navigated in a matter of minutes. So, hopefully the word is getting out. In any event, when the project is done, those businesses are likely to gain from improved traffic flow. People will also avoid business if

regular traffic is a headache. Meanwhile, in downtown Mankato, one of the tallest structures in years is slowly rising, steel beam by steel beam. The Profinium tower by Tailwind Group will change the downtown Mankato skyline. It will soon be one of Mankato’s signature buildings. Another smaller office building will be located on the same block to house longtime Mankato animal feed company Ridley, formerly called Hubbard Milling. Hubbard once occupied a place as the center of Mankato manufacturing and commerce. It’s fitting that its successor will now return to downtown to occupy a place of prominence. Downtown eating and drinking establishments will also benefit from the new developments that are likely to bring hundreds of diners within walking distance of many of the establishments. But the businesses will have to endure a little construction of their own as the $1 million plus streetscaping project takes hold on three blocks of South Front Street. Still, with all the construction one can’t avoid the idea that the Mankato area is moving to the next level of a bustling regional center. There are very few signs of business distress. The next level can often push a regional center into growing pains that can include traffic congestion. But local governments and MnDOT have done a good job of careful planning of development and regional road systems. We are a long way away from any thing resembling metro traffic congestion. That will remain a major attraction. You can still get almost anywhere in the Mankato-North Mankato metro statistical area in 10 or 15 minutes, and there’s not a lot of waiting. People may be surprised on how the roundabouts reduce waiting time further. In any case, you might say Mankato is on the road to growth. MV Joe Spear is executive editor of Minnesota Valley Business. Contact him at 344-6382 or jspear@mankatofreepress.com

Local Business People/Company News

Kato Insurance a top growth agency

Kato Insurance was named one of the Top 10 growth agencies for 2013 by Auto-Owners Insurance. Kato Insurance has represented Auto-Owners since 1975 and this is the third time they received the award.

Agri-Systems recognized

Agri-Systems of Waterville has been recognized by Sukup Manufacturing Co. for outstanding sales and customer service for 2013. The company received the Bronze Sales Award during the recent dealer meetings at Sukup headquarters in Sheffield, Iowa.

■■■ ■■■

Froehlich wins U.S. Bank award

Christina Froehlich, U.S. Bank commercial lending relationship manager, vice president, in Mankato, has won U.S. Bank’s annual Pinnacle Award, the company’s highest employee achievement honor. Froehlich was among the top performing employees nationwide to win U.S. Bank’s award for outstanding achievement and superior performance.

Dr. Sierra joins Madelia clinic

■■■

West earns distinctions

Warren “Buster” West

Warren “Buster” West, of the Minnesota business center of the Principal Financial Group, has earned membership in the Million Dollar Round Table in addition to qualifying for the company’s Premier Club. West is an 18-year qualifier of the MDRT, an international, independent association of 38,000 life insurance and financial services professionals from 74 countries.

Dr. Joseph M. Sierra

Dr. Joseph M. Sierra has joined the clinic practice at Madelia Community Hospital & Clinic. Sierra has provided care to patients in the Emergency Room at MCHC since 2011, and is now seeing area patients in the clinic. Sierra graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He completed three years of a general surgery residency in Milwaukee in 1982 and completed family medicine residency training at Hennepin County Medical Center in 1992. ■■■

Meyer, Norland merge

Rod Meyer and Matt Norland merged their independent practices to form Meyer & Norland Financial Group, an independent financial services firm located in Mankato serving a select group of investors throughout the United States.

■■■ ■■■

TBEI hires Weinberg

Truck Bodies and Equipment International hired Kurt Weinberg as Information Technology manager for all TBEI brands and plants. Weinberg’s new role will encompass IT management functions at Lake Crystal and locations in three others states.

Kurt Weinberg ■■■

Wittenberg promoted at U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank in Mankato promoted David Wittenberg to manager of business development, in addition to his current role as vice president and wealth management advisor. President Todd Loosbrock said Wittenberg will lead efforts of the Private Client Group of U.S. Bank for south central Minnesota. Wittenberg has been with U.S. Bank for nearly four years. He will continue David Wittenberg to work at the office located at 115 E. Hickory St.

Emerald Travel & Cruises earns status

Emerald Travel & Cruises has been inducted as a member of the Funjet Vacations 500 Club. The program, established more than 30 years ago, recognizes travel agencies that are top supporters and producers of Funjet Vacations. ■■■

■■■

Two join Pioneer Bank

Travis Elg has joined Pioneer Bank in St. James as an ag/business banker. Micah Larson has joined Pioneer Bank as an ag banker in the bank’s Mapleton location.

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 7

Owen named private client rep

U.S. Bank in Mankato named Carrie Owen a private client representative. Owen’s responsibilities include serving clients in the Private Client Group, managing lending and depository compliance, and establishing client depository accounts and services.

Carrie Owen ■■■

Nelson wins SBDC honor

The Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network announced that Julie Nelson is the recipient of the 2014 State Star Award. The annual award recognizes an SBDC top performer who makes significant contributions to their state, demonstrates exceptional performance, and embodies a strong commitment to small businesses. Nelson is program manager of the Julie Nelson south central region SBDC located at Minnesota State University, since 2009. ■■■

Scroggs promoted at U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank in Mankato promoted Jackie Scroggs to manager of the Private Client Group, which focuses on professional practices, business owners and higher net worth individuals and their families. Scroggs has been with U.S. Bank for 15 years. She will continue to work at the U.S. Bank office at 115 E. Hickory St.

Key City Insurance honored

Jim Spenger of Key City Insurance Agency in North Mankato was presented with a 2014 President’s Club plaque from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company. The plaque recognizes the agency’s achievement, ranking among Grinnell Mutual’s top 50 agencies and 12 farm mutual companies for outstanding achievement in the insurance profession and for superior performance. ■■■

Jackie Scroggs ■■■

Brekke named Pioneer Bank VP

Alissa Brekke has been named vice president at Pioneer Bank, specializing in mortgage lending. Brekke began working at the bank in 2003 as a loan assistant. In 2006 she earned a promotion to loan officer, and began work as a mortgage lender in 2008.

Alissa Brekke ■■■

Lindvall new GM at Marriott

Boe Lindvall is the new general manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel & Event Center in Mankato. He has more than 14 years of hospitality experience and was most recently the assistant general manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Lincoln, Nebraska.

Boe Lindvall ■■■

8 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

JBeal adds Realtors

JBeal Real Estate Group announced the addition of two new Realtors to their brokerage: Kevin Regan and Candee Deichman. ■■■

Cambria opens Rochester store

Cambria has opened the Cambria Gallery - Rochester, located on Broadway and Fourth Street in downtown Rochester. The gallery features kitchen, bath and commercial installations, unique fabrication techniques and full 4.5’ x 10’ slabs. The gallery is open seven days a week and will host various Cambria and local community functions on a regular basis. ■■■

Condux Tesmec promotes Smuder

Condux Tesmec announced the promotion of Jeremy Smuder from marketing manager to director of sales and marketing. Smuder will be responsible for all Condux Tesmec equipment and rental sales efforts in North America. Smuder is charged with strategic planning duties and market development, in addition to all marketing and trade promotion activities. Condux Tesmec offers a full line of stringing equipment including pullers, tensioners and puller-tensioners, as well as productivity-enhancing conductor stringing tools and accessories.

Business and Industry Trends

Agriculture

bbl/d in 2014 and 9.2 million bbl/d in 2015. The 2015 forecast represents the highest annual average level of production since 1972.

Mankato area cash corn prices hit a yearly low of $4.18 a bushel in June, after hitting a high of $4.54 in April. Prices are far lower than last year at this time when corn was selling for more than $7.

Natural gas average $4.74

Corn prices slide

Soybeans holding up

While corn has been slipping, soybeans remain relatively strong compared to last year. June prices were $14.23 a bushel, about $1 lower than a year earlier.

Hog prices stay strong

Iowa-Minnesota hog prices have been holding fairly strong and outperforming last year. A 185-pound carcass was selling for about $110 in June, $11 higher than a year earlier.

■■■

Energy

Gas prices up from last year

During the April-through-September summer driving season this year, regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average $3.61/gallon, 3 cents higher than last year, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. The projected monthly national average regular gasoline retail price falls from $3.72/gal in May to $3.51/gal in September. EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.48/gal in 2014 and $3.39/gal in 2015, compared with $3.51/gal in 2013.

Crude holds steady

Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $108/barrel in April. This was the 10th consecutive month in which the average Brent crude oil spot prices fell within a relatively narrow range of $107/bbl to $112/bbl. New pipeline capacity from the Midwest into the Gulf Coast helped reduce inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub to 25 million barrels by the end of April, the lowest level since October 2009.

Oil stocks at record high

Total U.S. commercial crude oil stocks at the end of April reached a record high of nearly 400 million barrels, which is expected to put downward pressure on crude oil prices. Brent crude oil prices should average $106/bbl in 2014 and $102/bbl in 2015.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices over the past few months, increasing from $3.95 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on January 10 to a high of $8.15/MMBtu on February 10, before falling back to $4.61/MMBtu on February 27, and then bouncing back up to $7.98/MMBtu on March 4. Thhe Henry Hub natural gas spot price, which averaged $3.73/MMBtu in 2013, will average $4.74/MMBtu in 2014.

Coal use to fall

Total coal consumption is projected to decline by 3.2 percent in 2015, as retirements of coal power plants rise in response to the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, and generation from renewable resources (wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal, and solar) grows by more than 3 percent.

Ethanol prices easing

Railroad delays because of extreme winter temperatures in the Midwest contributed to sharp ethanol price increases across the United States in February and March, especially on the East Coast. These rail constraints have since eased and ethanol prices fell as ethanol production increased from an average of 890,000 bbl/d in March to more than 910,000 bbl/d in April. Ethanol production is forecast to average 911,000 bbl/d during 2014 and 922,000 bbl/d in 2015.

Biodiesel production falling

Biodiesel production reached 104,000 bbl/d (135 million gallons) in December 2013, then fell to 54,000 bbl/d in January following the expiration of the biodiesel production tax credit at the end of 2013. Biodiesel production averaged 89,000 bbl/d in 2013 and is forecast to average 84,000 bbl/d in 2014 and 86,000 bbl/d in 2015.

CO2 to fall next year

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased by 2.2 percent in 2013 from the previous year. Emissions are forecast to rise 2.3 percent in 2014, followed by a 1 percent decline in 2015. The increase in emissions in 2013 and 2014 reflects growth in coal consumption because of its higher use in electric power generation. Coal emissions are projected to decline by 3.3 percent in 2015 with increasing coal plant retirements.

U.S. oil production soars

Estimated U.S. total crude oil production averaged 8.3 million barrels/day (bbl/d) in April 2014, which would be the highest monthly average production since March 1988. U.S. total crude oil production, which averaged 7.4 million bbl/d in 2013, is expected to increase to 8.5 million

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 9

Minnesota Business Updates

■ Twin Cities the place for grads LinkedIn released a study on the migratory patterns of recent college graduates to find the most attractive cities for those entering the workforce. The professional networking site’s analytics team looked at where its users moved after their 2013 graduation. The top spot was given to Paris, France, with 42 percent of its 2013 new residents being recent grads. LinkedIn found that companies like L’Oreál and BNP Paribas, a major French financial services company, were the big draws for recent grads. Paris was followed closely by Washington, D.C., and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with recent grads making up 40 percent of their new residents. LinkedIn reported that they were not surprised that Paris and Washington, D.C., ranked in the top two, but were surprised by the Twin Cities ranking above places like New York City and London, that took sixth and seventh respectively. According to LinkedIn’s findings, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s appeal came in the form of Target Corporation, 3M, General Mills and Wells Fargo, all of which hired most of the new residents.

■ Xcel boosts green power Electric and natural gas provider Xcel Energy and solar cell manufacturer SunPower Corporation have decided to extend their ties by developing yet another solar photovoltaic plant in Colorado. The companies will develop a 50-megawatt solar PV power plant in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Earlier, the companies had jointly developed a 19 MW Greater Sandhill plant in operation since 2010 and a 30 MW San Luis Valley Solar Ranch operational since 2011. Xcel efforts to boost its green generation will help meet the state of Colorado’s renewable energy standard of 30 percent by 2020. The new plant will come online in 2016. The expected total power generation from the three solar plants will be capable of providing electricity to 26,500 Colorado homes. Once online, this new solar unit will offset almost 127,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

■ Ameriprise a social media all star A m e r i p r i s e Financial has been ranked as an industry leader and “All-Star” in social media by DALBAR, Inc. In its first-ever social media rankings of financial services firms, DALBAR cited the number of likes, comments and shares Ameriprise generates through its Facebook presence. DALBAR compared the social media presences of 60 financial services firms and deemed Ameriprise to have an edge on the competition in terms of embracing social

10 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

media to provide relevant, engaging content tailored to the interests of followers. In a statement announcing the study, DALBAR wrote, “Ameriprise was the only firm in the study to receive a 5-star rating on Facebook. Those posts that were meant to engage and actually did engage came together to form a superstar of social engagement. The firm asks questions in nearly all posts and succeeds at having many followers react by liking, commenting or sharing the posts.” The social media rankings were derived by calculating the engagement rates for each firm across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube throughout the first quarter of 2014.

■ Target, General Mills using ‘promoted pins’ Minnesota companies Target and General Mills are among a select few that are paying for “Promoted Pins” on Pintrest, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Pinterest announced it would begin using promoted pins back in September. Promoted pins will be marked as such, similar to how Twitter tags promoted tweets. The Minnesota companies are among 12 that will be featured while Pinterest tests the idea and gathers user feedback. Target has also taken a liking to Pinterest. The Minneapolis-based company partnered with top pinners to get exposure for its part collections. It has its own Target Awesome Shop website that rants Target products most frequently pinned. The partnership also makes sense for Golden Valleybased General Mills, whose food products can often be key ingredients for recipes shared on Pinterest. Ad Age wrote that Pinterest was asking companies for commitments between $1 million and $2 million.

■ More layoffs at Hutchinson Tech Hutchinson Technology announced that it is taking actions to further reduce costs and preserve cash. The company expects to reduce its U.S. workforce by approximately 100 positions by the end of July and estimates that its fiscal 2014 third quarter financial results will include approximately $1.3 million of severance charges related to the action. “As we’ve progressed through our consolidation effort, additional opportunities to improve our efficiencies and reduce our costs have been identified,” Rick Penn, Hutchinson Technology’s president and chief executive officer said in a statement. The company expects cost savings of $2.5 million per quarter through consolidation of its operations and the shift of more assembly production to its Thailand plant. Combining those savings with the layoffs will save the company approximately $4 million per quarter.

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Gaylord 507.237.5521 MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 11

Bob Coughlan in the Capstone Literacy Center at the company’s headquarters in North Mankato.

Doing well by doing good Corporate philanthropy requires planning, employee involvement By Tim Krohn | Photos by John Cross

B

ob Coughlan has seen many of the substantial rewards the community has received from the donations given by his family’s company over the decades. But it is the individual stories of inspiration he remembers most, such as from those – mostly kids – who go through an innovative literacy program housed in the basement of Capstone, the company’s book-publishing business in North Mankato. “There was a 28-year-old guy who never read and book and he came through our program. He did lawn mowing for a living, a great guy,” said the 60-year-old Coughlan. “His mom wrote us a letter telling of how much it changed his life that he could read. That’s very rewarding.” The scope of corporate philanthropy in the Mankato area has helped launch everything from the wildly popular

Kiwanis Holiday Lights to the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. “This is an incredibly generous community for corporate giving,” said Nancy Zallek, executive director of the Mankato Area Foundation. “I have a broad array of peer community foundations, and when we get together, I’m constantly impressed by the level of corporate giving in this community.” Denny Dotson, retired chairman of Dotson Iron Castings and a longtime leader in community giving, thinks the potential is even greater. “There’s a huge generational shift of money happening right now. The more we talk to younger leaders about charities and the good they do, the better. I think the philanthropy in Mankato could be doubled,” Dotson said. While approaches to charitable giving by business

Cover Story

12 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

Capstone produces a wide variety of books for children and donates many around the world. owners and leaders varies, those experienced in corporate philanthropy said there are a few keys to getting the most bang for the buck and leveraging time and talent to produce results.

Where to focus philanthropy

Whether a business chooses to focus its giving on a specific area, such as youth literacy or helping the aged, or whether it evaluates requests from the full spectrum of charities, the important thing is to ensure the giving is effective, say corporate philanthropists. “Some organizations decide corporately what’s the meaning of their giving,” Zallek said. “They pick what they want to focus on. Sometimes that makes it easier for them and for the groups looking for places to get support,” she said. “Others stay more fluid and wait for the latest initiative that can be supported. The Kiwanis Holiday Lights, the sculpture walk, the VINE program, the Children’s Museum – those are things you couldn’t have predicted happening — so it’s nice to have those corporations who keep their dollars available for the latest and greatest needs in the community,” Zallek said. “Both styles are valuable.” The Mankato Foundation is 40 years old but has been revitalized in recent years when a full-time director was brought on and major businesses rallied to support a permanent endowment fund for it. “We have over $4 million in assets. It’s doubled in size,” Zallek said. “A good stock market certainly helps, too.” Coughlan said no matter the causes, a business needs to understand what it’s trying to do with its philanthropic program.

“You have to have a mission. A lot of people approach you to give, but you have to have a mission and a strategy. There has to be enough substance behind it to make it meaningful.” While Capstone’s mission is literacy, a new Coughlan business – Jordan Sands, a silica sand plant – is focusing on a sustainability mission. “With Jordan we want to have the lowest impact on the environment and the safest work environment.” They are working with a prevention and remediation company to guide them. “They’re working with us on what to do and what not to do.” He said reclaiming the site the best way possible after portions of it are mined out also will be a major part of doing the right thing as a corporate citizen. When a company decides how it wants to target giving, evaluating who to support becomes the major decision. Where to give can involve a formal board serving as a company’s foundation or be decided by the sole owner of the business. “The hard part is analyzing. They all need money and all have a good cause,” said Tony Frentz, who is involved in several businesses, including construction, property management, a bagel shop and a startup telecom business. Unlike the older, formal foundations in many corporations, Frentz uses his experience on several charitable boards and a gut instinct to make philanthropic decisions. “You have to decide how good of a cause it is. I want to hear what their goal is and how they’re going to spend their money. Are they going to hire a person to accomplish a specific thing that’s missing in the community? They

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 13

Denny and Carole Dotson, owners of the Dotson Company, have donated $500,000 to the construction of the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum. Free Press file photo need a well-purposed reason,” Frentz said.

Enventis matches any employee gifts of more than $25, up to a total of $1,000 per year. The foundation spends Employee engagement key about $20,000 annually on employee matching gifts. Local business leaders say that while the size of The company also hosts a volunteer time match. When corporate financial giving is in itself powerful, harnessing employees volunteer 40 hours to a nonprofit, Enventis the power of employee involvement is the key to leveraging Foundation gives that group a $250 donation. the most from philanthropy. “Through our foundation and corporate giving as well as That employee involvement plays out in three ways for employee volunteerism and our matching gift program, we most businesses: Businesses often are making a difference in our match financial donations of communities and the lives of employees up to a certain amount; others,” said John Finke, president Largest Minnesota donors employees can be given paid time and CEO of Enventis. to do volunteer work; and The telecommunications employees with a passion toward company that traces its roots to 1) Target $146.1 million a certain cause can lead the the local phone company, is a 2) General Mills $102.7 million company to throw added Minnesota Keystone business, a resources behind it. program that recognizes 3) Cargil $63 million “When things are brought businesses that donate at least 2 4) UnitedHealth Group $58.4 million forward by someone in the percent of their pre-tax earnings. 5) Medtronic $55.2 million company who gets excited about Since its founding in 1963, the it and gets behind it, that is Enventis Foundation has given powerful,” Coughlan said. millions of dollars to local Source: Minn. Council on Foundations (2013) E nve n t i s , fo r m e rl y charities. This year, the foundation HickoryTech, recently celebrated announced 40 grants totaling the 50th year of its corporate $131,000. foundation, which gives traditional grants to local causes At Coughlan Cos., a zeal for community involvement is but also supports an active employee program. part of the corporate culture, Coughlan said. “The foundation has an employee matching gift He said they learned from their parents’ generosity, program,” said Jennifer Spaude, director of investor which included donating Kasota stone from the family relations, public relations and marketing for Enventis. quarry to places such as St. Thomas University in St. Paul. “Employees can double their gift to a nonprofit “They gave us the idea that you could do very well by organization.” doing good,” Coughlan said.

14 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

Tony Frentz outside the Twin Rivers Center for the Arts, a building he purchased to provide a home for artists and art groups. He said he and other family member leaders in the company use a quote a friend offered to direct their approach: “I don’t want a family business, I want a business family.” “It’s fun to collaborate with ambitious and creative colleagues. We want everyone in our group to have a sense of giving, that’s just the type of people we want to work with. It’s the pay-it-forward idea,” Coughlan said. He points to a program, spearheaded by Andrew Johnson, which created an innovative literacy center in the Capstone basement. “Our employees volunteer to use materials to work one on one with students who want to work on their reading abilities. And MSU and Gustavus educations students come in to help,” Coughlan said. There have been about two dozen kids in the program at any given time with their reading progress measured through a data-driven system. The company is rolling out a larger communitywide version of the program, using e-readers to allow students to read material they are interested in. The e-readers feed information back to instructors who can use it to determine when students are struggling and when they mastered something and can move on. Dotson said he and Dotson’s President and CEO Jean Bye have increasingly focused on employee engagement as part of the company’s charitable strategy. “We’re moving more and more toward encouraging employees’ charitable giving, whether it’s direct giving or matching their time,” Dotson said. On the Friday after Thanksgiving the plant is closed and if an employee wants to work at one of four or five charitable activities, the company has arranged they can

volunteer and the company will cover their wages for the day. “Our guys helped tear down walls at the new VINE building. And they make things (a charity) might need. Our employees are very talented, so there’s almost nothing they can’t make,” he said. “We have a lot of employees volunteer and what’s so encouraging is we have employees who say they’ll volunteer, but they’ll take it as vacation time because they don’t want the company to pay for it,” Dotson said. The company also has monthly events that recognize employees who volunteer. And, he said, the company encourages employees to serve on boards even if on company time. “The most effective dollars we can spend is when our employees are volunteers or on the board of directors of charities. You know someone is watching the dollars.” “Encouraging that employee involvement and making it a part of the company, there’s nothing but pluses there,” Dotson said.

Budget for giving

Business leaders actively involved in philanthropy say setting aside a specific amount of money or percent of earnings for charitable work is necessary. “At the beginning of the year we budget a certain amount for charity for the year,” Frentz said. “You have to budget for it,” Coughlan said. “Every year we have a significant piece of our budget to it. Some call it tithing in religion. Basically that’s what we do but not as an organized religion. Some company’s also have investment funds built up, using interest earnings from the fund to help with

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 15

Left: Nancy Zallek of the Mankato Area Foundation at one of the new sculptures on the Art Walking Sculpture tour, which the foundation helped start. Right: Enventis employees help out at a Backpack Food Program event as part of the company’s employee volunteerism program. charitable work. Some companies, such as Enventis, announce all the major grants they are going to give for the year at one time. Others, such as Frentz, look at proposals throughout the year. That, he said, allows him to respond to current needs. But he said it also means at some point in the fiscal year the money budgeted for charity will run out. He said that doesn’t mean charities shouldn’t look ahead to the next year. “I’m on a number of boards and we talk about timing being very important. If a company has a set amount of money for the year and you apply at the end of their fiscal year, you might miss out,” Frentz said. “But it’s important to reach out to the business at the end of their year for their planning the next year. Certain companies need to know before they start their budgeting.”

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MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 17

Jerry and Sandy Graf, owners of Graf’s Home Furnishings.

Custom made Graf’s Home Furnishings an Amboy staple for 64 years

W

By Heidi Sampson | Photos by John Cross

hen a customer walks into Graf’s Home Furnishings of Amboy they are not going to find 50 sofas or 50 recliners filling the store or stacked to the ceiling waiting for purchase. What a customer will find, is Jerry and Sandy Graf, owners of Graf’s Home Furnishings and a business that specializes in floor coverings and custom chairs and sofa’s created to fit the specifics of a home’s décor. “Everybody has different tastes, styles, and preferences in comfort,” said Sandy. “We don’t want to look like a warehouse. We try to visual the finished product for them but what is really unique, is that even though we are part of a small community, you won’t find the same chair or design in Amboy.” Graf’s also carries a broad range of floor coverings, dining sets, bedroom sets and mattress samples, which they believe will aid in the creation of a unique living space. Jerry and Sandy have also maintained the legacy of Jerry’s father, Bob Graf, by supporting and displaying handcrafted, American manufactured furniture throughout their store.

“I’d say our niche is special order,” said Jerry. “We deal with great companies who have speedy service. Our customers can special order the covers, cushions and styles particular to their home.”

Profile

20 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

World War II to home furnishings After serving in the Navy during World War II, Bob Graf started to look for something he could do post war. In 1948 he’d located an available pool hall for sale in Amboy. Deciding to take a chance on a new start, Bob moved his parents and siblings from Caledona to the living quarters above their newly purchased pool hall. For the next two years, Bob and his father, Joe, ran the pool hall, a place that focused on selling hamburgers, pop and beer to active pool players in the community. “The pool hall used to be a place where people would go to hang out,” said Jerry. “From the start, Dad wanted to make furniture but they ran the pool hall until they could change the business over to a retail store, which took about two years. In the end, he realized selling furniture for retail, rather than creating it himself, was more efficient.” Bob and his wife, Mary, would operate Graf’s Home

Left: Graf’s focuses on custom made furniture with lots of options available. Right: Graf’s has been in the same downtown Amboy building since 1986. Furnishing for more than 50 years. Jerry, their only son, would find himself at the business after school and on weekends, as he assisted his parents with the store. After high school, Jerry attended Minnesota State University, earning a degree in accounting and business. In 1978, he went full time at Graf’s Home Furnishings, having finished his degree. By 1979, Jerry and Sandy were married. Sandy assisted the family business on a part-time basis. Graf’s Home Furnishings moved to their current location when Jerry purchased an old hardware store located a few stores down in 1986. When Bob became ill, Sandy began to help Jerry full time. Jerry took over ownership of the business after his father passed away a few years ago. Hardwoods to Carpet Flooring Graf’s Home Furnishings provides floor coverings ranging from hardwoods, linoleum, vinyl, ceramic, porcelain and carpet. Their floor covering lines consist of Mohawk, Shaw, Mannington and Congoleum. Graf’s also carries porcelain and vinyl tiles for use in the kitchen or as a backsplash accent, as well as bathroom wall tile. “Congoleum and Mannington are our most popular floor coverings,” Sandy said. “But Jerry tries to keep a little bit of everything on hand for our customers. Vinyl is also becoming very popular. It’s more flexible for the do-ityourselfer.” U.S.A. Made Furniture A distinctive attribute of Graf’s Home Furnishings, is their insistence on selling handcrafted, manufactured furniture created in the United States. “When Bob got out of the service,” said Sandy, “he believed in USA-made products and supporting those who created it. When businesses started to create things overseas, finding USA-made products became difficult for many years. Bob’s original belief is a tradition that we continue today. We work hard to sell and back up products made in the states.” As a result, Graf’s carries Marshfield Furniture, a handcrafted upholstery company produced in Wisconsin, since 1944. They also carry Best Craft Furniture, known for its “bench made” product, which was a tradition of early furniture craftsmen. “Bench made” means that all components of a piece of furniture come together and becomes the responsibility of one individual who creates the final product. Another popular selling item at Graf’s are the chairs, bar stools and hutches from Door County Furniture, created by Amish craftsmen. “When I call to make an order for a customer,” said Jerry, “I know the person on the other end of the phone

with whom I am speaking too, as well as the owners of that company. I also know they are as dedicated to quality products as we are.” Custom Sofas and Recliners Graf’s Home Furnishings carries a wide variety of fabric samples, sofas, recliners and ottomans to give their customers a range of options when considering style, design and comfort levels in furniture for their homes. The ability to mix and match fabric styles, textures and cushions creates furniture unique to an individual’s preference for home décor. “The most unique feature of our furniture is that it is custom made,” said Sandy. “With Marshfield our customers can create their own style. Sometimes they can decide what kind of arms they want, what cushion they want and which particular backing they’d like. They can have three different colors, or three different fabrics, or only one design or color. It’s really up to them.” Small town quality service The majority of Graf’s Home Furnishings business comes from surrounding towns. However, a lot of customers also come down from the metro area to purchase furniture and floor coverings. “I think one of the reasons why we stay in business,” said Sandy, “is Jerry’s honest approach to customer service. He backs all of his products. He makes sure whether it is furniture or floor coverings that we have the kind of quality our customers have come to rely on.” Graf’s also offers free delivery within 50 miles of their store. Since their delivery truck goes to the Twin Cities area once a week, it’s also not uncommon for items to be delivered within the metro area at no extra charge. “It’s just the two of us,” said Jerry. “We are the sales, delivery and service people of this business. Our customers know who they are talking to when they call. We have always done whatever we could to help. It’s not uncommon for our customers to keep their furniture for 20 or 30 years. We’ve had customers who purchased chairs from us 20 years ago. If they bring that chair in and we can, we will repair it for free, if it is possible to repair it.” MV Hours: Monday through Friday 9-5 Saturday 9-4 Open evenings by appointment. Location: 124 E. Maine Street, Amboy

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 21

Hepworth is paid to travel the world, including here in Saudi Arabia.

Doors of opportunity Hepworth travels the world for jumbo door projects By Pete Steiner Photos submitted by Jim Hepworth

I

n Jim Hepworth’s world, new doors are always opening. One of his biggest projects has taken him frequently to Saudi Arabia. Another might soon lead him to Brazil. Having reached full retirement age, he’s busier than ever, and each new door that opens seems to keep the retirement door shut. If you ask directly what he does, Hepworth is succinct: “Construction consultant.” But that doesn’t begin to tell the story. Door Solutions Corporation, owned entirely by Jim and his wife, Judy, can supply a construction consultant, a project manager, an installation

supervisor, or a concept designer – and each and every one of those functions is filled by the company’s sole fulltime employee, Jim Hepworth. He specializes in work at large stadiums, often charged with making massive sliding doors and retractable roofs operate properly. And someday, when he’s done with construction, maybe he can write a travel book about the places he’s seen. The list of major projects in which the Lake Crystal resident has participated is impressive indeed: a decade ago, Hepworth helped install 7,000 motorized, moveable seats at RFK

Spotlight

22 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

Hepworth’s multicultural crew in Riyadh Stadium in Washington, D.C., so the stadium could be reconfigured for various sports. He had to make sure the baseball alignment would leave the foul pole within an inch of allowable variation; an umpiring crew armed with lasers came in to verify. He has worked in China and Hawaii, as well as at the Kennedy Space Center. He did work at an Air Force NORAD base north of the Arctic Circle. For security reasons, he can’t reveal much about what he did there, except to say, his work had to test out at 40-degrees below zero. •••• After getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Hepworth worked for a time with emotionally disturbed children in Chicago. He eventually moved to this area with Judy, who’s from Lake Crystal. He began working as a fabrication manager for Door Engineering of Kasota, while taking engineering and business courses at Mankato State. In 2001, at 53, he started his own company. His first big job was renovating a massive hangar door to accommodate C-130’s and other giant aircraft at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. That led to more jobs for the military, including work at Diego Garcia, the base in the Indian Ocean where the U.S. carrier fleet is resupplied. The job at RFK Stadium provided a launch pad for work at other big sports venues. Hepworth subsequently was hired to work on the retractable roof and operable wall at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. When the retractable roof at Miller Park in Milwaukee leaked, Hepworth was brought in to redo the seals. And in 2009, he became project manager for the retractable end zone doors at Jerry Jones’ Dallas palace, Cowboys’ Stadium. He had to figure out how to assemble, lift and align what would become the largest operable glass doors in the world, at 180 feet wide and 120 feet high. Subsequently, he also helped design the

cable and drum system that could move the 1.2-millionpound video scoreboard that hangs above the field. “Those are some substantial cables!” he grins. •••• Hepworth rarely wants for work. That stellar resume over the past decade helped him develop a solid reputation with “several major players.” Thus he has become a world rover. He spent Christmas working in Miami Beach, New Year’s in Saudi Arabia, and most recently travelled to Cartagena, Colombia. His biggest challenge is cutting back. “My wife wouldn’t mind if I retired,” he muses. The project that has taken him to Saudi Arabia five times is a bit different. He and his cohorts are building 40-meter-high wind towers to enhance a fan-assisted air circulation system that cools the courtyard of Princess Noura University for women in Riyadh, the capital. They’ve succeeded in dropping the inside temperature by 30 degrees, using wind, a misting system – and no electricity. It’s much more efficient and cheaper than airconditioning. Still the interviewer wonders why the Saudis, who are the world’s biggest oil producers, worry about alternative energy systems. Hepworth gives a look that says the answer should be obvious: “The Saudis are investing a lot in alternative energy. They want to be the owners of the next technology.” While Saudi Arabia’s culture is vastly different from America’s, Hepworth has enjoyed his time there, especially the food: “It’s tremendous. There’s so many guest workers that there’s unbelievable diversity – Italian, Indian, you name it.” He smirks a bit, “Of course they have D-Q and Dunkin’ Donuts, too. (But) you see a different (view) than if you’re a tourist.” He says he has developed interesting friendships there, as well. There’s the Pakistani from Taliban territory in the Swat Valley: “We hang together on

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 23

Top: The wind towers at Noura University in Riyadh. Right: The massive glass door at Cowboys Stadium our days off.” (The work week in Riyadh is usually six days – they take off Friday, the Muslim holy day.) A Syrian co-worker inquires why the U.S. has not done more to intervene in his country’s civil war. He tells Jim, he has lost two cousins to the dictator Assad’s chemical attacks. By the way, who are they all working for? The general contractor on the Noura University project is Bin Laden Construction, the giant family business that Osama abandoned. “The family basically disowned him,” Hepworth observes. •••• Hepworth has recently embarked on a new venture: “I’ve been working with Unisystems to develop a retractable awning. (The challenge is) how to make it retractable and yet super strong, so it is resistant to wind and flying debris in hurricane territory.” The awnings use a thin but incredibly strong fabric called “Tenera.” They’re designed to be used by restaurants and clubs, as well as other public venues. Hepworth is generally on the road about 150 days a year. He insists, “I’m trying to cut back.” He now makes an effort never to be gone for more than a month at a time. He’s proud of the fact that, “I don’t work 12 months a year anymore.” Still, the travel aspect remains alluring: “I enjoy meeting new people and learning about different cultures…. It’s a weird job. I get to travel all over the world. And people pay me to do it.” He’s paid either an hourly rate or

24 • July 2014 • MN Valley Business

a flat fee. An Internet listing estimates company revenues at up to $200,000 a year. He describes his key skill as “adapting to situations and visualizing the problem in 3-D. I’m a problem solver.” Though he has worked on numerous famous stadiums, he does NOT expect to be hired to work on the Vikings’ new $1 billion facility, because it has no big hangar-type doors and no moveable roof. At 66, he figures he might work another 10 years. Reflecting on all the places he’s been, Jim Hepworh exhales and says simply, “It’s amazing.” MV

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MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 25

Keith, Makenna and Mike Allen work together on a job for Allen & Allen Painting.

Painting with passion

Allen & Allen growing it’s family business By Heidi Sampson Photos by John Cross

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ike Allen, owner of Allen & Allen Painting, began painting for a relative when he was 18. He continued to paint for a few years before moving onto other jobs, but in the end he always came back to painting. “I enjoy painting. I’ve been a framer. I’ve been all kinds of things but painting is my kind of thing.” In 2012, the Mankato Rockers, a sheetrock installation and mudding company, approached him. They were in need of a painter. “They told me to get my affairs in order for starting my own business,” Allen said. “They

gave me a great opportunity and this is what I’ve been doing ever since.” Allen & Allen Painting, is primarily run by Mike. He also works with a couple of subcontractors who assist in his many painting projects. Mike’s five children help out during the summer months when school’s not in session. Although Mike’s wife also has a full time job, she’s very supportive of the growing business and has helped paint as well. Mike participates in both residential and commercial painting, but focuses primarily on residential, in particular new construction. He also stains woodwork, paints garage floors,

All In The Family

26 • july 2014 • MN Valley Business

Taping off around the woodwork before painting. fences, decks, interior and exterior projects. “I’ve always gone back to painting because I like it,” said Mike. “I’m inside a lot of different houses. I am able to see the project when it’s bare, once the painting is completed, as well as at the end of the project. It really is a remarkable process.” MVB: What’s the best part about owning your own business? Mike: Being able to pick the jobs I want to complete. Two years ago I started with nothing, I had no equipment, but in the last year-and-a-half I’ve bought a lot of equipment. In fact, I have enough equipment that I could potentially send out three different crews to painting jobs. I think my favorite part of starting this business has been watching it evolve. MVB: As a new business, what are your goals for the future? Mike: I want to grow but I don’t want to grow too fast. I would like to accumulate a good business base here in Mankato and then grow from there. I would also like to be able to hire employees for the development of paintings crews when we do expand. MVB: How far does your business extend? Mike: The furthest I’ve gone so far, is Forest City, Iowa. I also work in the cities from time to time. Really, I go all over but I do the majority of my business in Mankato and St. Peter. Overall, my radius of business is generally within 100 to150 miles.

MVB: Is there a lot of competition in this line of work? Mike: Tons. Tons. All I can say is, do a good job and people will call you back. Yes, there are a lot of painters in town but everybody’s got work as long as they are doing both residential and commercial projects. MVB: What is a normal day like? Mike: I can end up at three different sites on any given day. MVB: How long does it generally take to paint a room? Mike: A room with no trim in it? About 15 minutes. MVB: When is the busiest time of year? Mike: The last two winters have been very busy. Before that they were pretty slow. Last winter I think I only had three weeks or a month where there wasn’t work. Right now, everyone wants to get their painting projects completed before graduation. Contractors are a bit behind this year because they couldn’t dig. It was too cold. So when the weather cleared, everyone came out of the door swinging. It’s been a crazy start to the year but I’ll also be busier in a month from now. So, I’d say the busiest time of the year is right now till October, November. It slows down a bit by Christmas but starts to pick back up in March. It really depends upon the weather. MVB: What’s your approach to customer service? Mike: Give the customer what they want. Show up. Work hard. Get done. Make their life as easy as possible.

MN Valley Business • july 2014 • 27

A small roller does the trick on floor board trim. MVB: What are some current trends of the painting industry? Mike: I’ve glittered walls, which basically means that over the paint color, we rolled a layer of glaze and glitter. When you turn the lights on in the room, it shimmers. It’s really pretty cool. I’ve found people are still using orange peel on their walls or they tend to go entirely smooth. I’ve also noticed a trend towards white painted woodwork again. MVB: What’s the biggest challenge in painting projects? Mike: The hardest part is color. People may think they know how they want a house painted. But once the paint is

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MVB: What would you recommend when customers are deciding on color? Mike: Put a full gallon of that particular color on the wall. Then look at the wall. You’ll get a better idea of what it’s going to look like, rather than relying on the paint chip sample at the store. I think it helps to see what it is you are working with, rather than once a whole room is completed and now you have to start over. MV

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28 • july 2014 • MN Valley Business

on the wall, a lot of them change their minds on the color. The sample never looks like it does on the wall.

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www.ummc.co New Hope 877.535.4914

Faribault 866.332.8211

Construction/Real Estate Residential building permits Mankato 8000

(in thousands)

- 2013 - 2014

- 2013 - 2014 (in thousands)

3000

$2,392

6000

Residential building permits North Mankato

$3,693

$826

$1,262

2000

4000

1000

2000 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato Information based on Multiple Listing Service and may not reflect all sales

- 2013 - 2014 250

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

- 2013 - 2014 15

30

150

Includes single family homes attached and detached, and town homes and condos

Housing starts: Mankato/North Mankato 40

149 107

200

22

20

100

10

50 J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota

20000 18000 16000 14000 12000 $2,865 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 J F

(in thousands)

- 2013 - 2014

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Commercial building permits North Mankato

- 2013 - 2014 (in thousands)

$6 $100

1500

$9,885

1000 500 M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

— 2013 — 2014

5.5 5.0

3.5%

4.5 4.0 3.5

4.3% M

Source: Freddie Mac

0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of North Mankato

Interest Rates: 30-year fixed-rate mortgage

F

J

2000

Source: City of Mankato

J

0

Source: Cities of Mankato/North Mankato

Commercial building permits Mankato

3.0

J

Source: City of North Mankato

Existing home sales: Mankato region

0

0

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Foreclosures: Third Quarter of 2013 County Blue Earth Brown Faribault Le Sueur Martin Nicollet Sibley Waseca Watonwan

2012

2013

Percent change

24 11 14 23 12 13 13 11 6

19 6 7 22 6 18 8 7 4

-21% -45% -50% -4% -50% +38% -38% -36% -33%

Source: Minnesota Foreclosure Partners Council C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • july 2014 • 29

Agricultural Outlook

By Kent Thiesse

Erratic weather patterns impacting ag

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n recent years, farmers in the Midwest have had to deal with more frequent severe storms during the growing season, more heavy rainfall events, catastrophic winter storms, and other erratic weather events. The debate regarding the cause of these erratic weather events continues, with some scientific evidence pointing to climate change as the culprit, while others point to the natural long-term changes in weather patterns that have existed for centuries. As recently as this spring, many farmers have dealt with the impacts of severe weather. Frequent heavy rainfall events throughout this past spring lead to thousands of prevented planted crop acres in portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. A major early June wind and hail storm in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa destroyed thousands of square miles of crop land, and caused significant property damage. Frequent heavy rainfall events in late May and into June have led to flooded farm fields, and considerable damage to private property. In 2013, the Midwest experienced large areas of prevented planting, several severe storms and the October blizzard in western South Dakota and surrounding states, which caused catastrophic livestock losses. Of course, 2012 featured one of the worst droughts since the 1930s. Continuing droughts in Texas, Oklahoma, and other Plains States have caused cattle producers to reduce their herds, which has resulted in very tight cattle supplies and record high consumer beef prices. Continued drought in California has led to very tight water supplies for agricultural production, and extremely serious wild fires. The highly volatile weather patterns are causing agricultural producers, researchers, and industry officials to re-think ag production practices. Seed companies have been developing corn hybrids and seed varieties that are more tolerant to stress from cold soil temperatures in the spring, as well as having greater

drought resistance, and more overall weather flexibility. Based on many yield results during the past few years of volatile weather patterns, it appears that some good progress is being made. Many crop producers now plan for replanting some crops each year as part of their ongoing farming practices. They also pay much more attention to prevented planting and replant clauses when they purchase their federal crop insurance each year. Livestock producers are changing their facilities and feedlot designs, as well as reviewing their management practices, in response to the more frequent erratic weather events. Farm operators also are aware of the impact that major weather events can have on grain prices, and are building this into grain marketing strategies. Not all news related to shifting weather patterns and climate adjustments has been negative for agricultural production. Scientists estimate that the growing season in the northern areas of the Corn Belt has been lengthened by nearly two weeks since 1950. National climate assessment In May, the latest version of the “National Climate Assessment” was released by the federal government. This year’s Assessment report is the third such report to be released, with earlier reports issued in 2000 and 2009. The 2014 Assessment report focuses on the hotter and longer summers across many areas in recent years, frequent severe storm events, longer and more severe seasonal allergies, as well as the presence of changing plant species and types of birds in many locations. In response to concern over climate change and increases in volatile weather patterns, the (USDA has created seven “climate hubs” across the U.S., to conduct research and lead outreach efforts on the issue. The hubs are also intended to provide linkages to other private and public partners related to climate

30 • july 2014 • MN Valley Business

change research and education, including land grant universities, other federal agencies, state governments, and farm organizations. Other efforts being taken by USDA to assist agricultural producers with the impacts of erratic weather patterns and potential changing climate patterns include: • Awarding $6 million to ten universities to study the impacts of climate change on future ag production, and to develop strategies for producers to adapt to those changes. • Continue to support efforts for more development and greater usage of renewable energy resources. • Partner with other federal agencies, as well as with state and private partners to reduce food waste, which currently totals 3040 percent of all food produced. • Continued efforts with the dairy industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a target of reducing emissions by 25 percent by the year 2025. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030. The proposed regulations will specifically target the nearly 600 coal powered electrical plants, which supply much of the electricity to rural communities. This will likely result in higher energy costs. There are concerns about the impact that the proposed EPA regulations may have on farm operators and the agriculture industry. Both the crop and livestock industry rely heavily on electrical energy, as does the agricultural processing and ethanol industries.

MV

Kent Thiesse is farm management analyst and vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal. 507- 381-7960; kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com

Agriculture/Agribusiness Corn prices — southern Minnesota

(dollars per bushel)

— 2013 — 2014 8 6

— 2013 — 2014 20

$14.23

8

$4.18

4

J

F

Source: USDA

M

A

M

J

J

A

Iowa-Minnesota hog prices

108

S

O

N

D

0

J

F

Source: USDA

M

A

M

J

Milk prices

185 pound carcass, negotiated price, weighted average

— 2013 — 2014 120

25

$110.16

J

A

S

O

N

D

Minimum prices, class 1 milk Dollars per hundredweight

— 2013 — 2014 27

96

$26.27

23

$99.81

84

$19.56

21

72 60

$15.25

12

4

0

(dollars per bushel)

16

$7.08

2

Soybean prices — southern Minnesota

19

J

F

Source: USDA

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

18

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: USDA. Based on federal milk orders.

Corn and soybean prices are for rail delivery points in Southern Minnesota. Milk prices are for Upper Midwest points.

C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • july 2014 • 31

Employment/Unemployment Initial unemployment claims

Minnesota initial unemployment claims

Nine-county Mankato region Major May Industry ‘13 ‘14 Construction Manufacturing Retail Services Total*

143 126 43 291 603

Percent change ‘13-’14

211 126 44 284 665

+47.6% 0 +2.3% -2.4% +10.3%

Major Industry

May

Construction Manufacturing Retail Services Total*

‘13

‘14

Percent change ‘13-’14

2,978 2,405 1,352 6,335 13,070

3,191 1,926 1,132 5,426 11,675

+7.2% -19.9% -16.3% -14.3% -10.7%

Services consist of administration, educational, health care and social assistance, food and other miscellaneous services. *Categories don’t equal total because some categories not listed.

Services consist of administration, educational, health care and social assistance, food and other miscellaneous services. *Categories don’t equal total because some categories not listed.

Local non-farm jobs

Minnesota Local non-farm jobs

- 2013 - 2014

Nine-county Mankato region 123,416 124,885

30000

(in thousands)

2000

10000

1000

00000

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

Local number of unemployed

O

N

D

- 2013 - 2014

Nine-county Mankato region 7,761 7,355

10000

0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

Minnesota number of unemployed

O

N

D

- 2013 - 2014

172,040

200000

8000

133,805

150000

6000

100000

4000

50000

2000 0

2,787.7 2,844.1

3000

20000

- 2013 - 2014

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Mankato/North Mankato Metropolitan statistical area

Unemployment rate Number of non-farm jobs Number of unemployed

2013

2014

4.5% 55,529 2,629

4.2% 56,881 2,472

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

32 • july 2014 • MN Valley Business

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Unemployment rates Counties, state, nation

(includes all of Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties) April

0

County/area Blue Earth Brown Faribault Le Sueur Martin Nicollet Sibley Waseca Watonwan Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota U.S.

April 2013 4.7% 6.1% 6.9% 8.6% 5.8% 4.2% 6.2% 6.9% 6.7% 5.3% 5.7% 7.6%

April 2014 4.3% 6.1% 7.3% 8.3% 5.7% 4.0% 5.9% 6.4% 6.8% 4.9% 4.5% 5.9% C. Sankey

Retail/Consumer Spending Vehicle Sales Mankato — Number of vehicles sold - 2013 - 2014

684

1200

- 2013 - 2014 $332.2 $383

400

800

300

600

200

400

100

200 0

(In thousands)

500

739

1000

J

F

M

A

M

J

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

J

A

S

O

N

D

Lodging tax collections Mankato/North Mankato

0

J

F

M

40000

$29,345

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

$3.79

4 3 $3.56

2 1 M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Gas prices-Minnesota — 2013 — 2014 $3.71

4 3 $3.50

2 1 J

N

D

- 2013 - 2014

F

M

A

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato

— 2013 — 2014

F

0

D

Gas prices-Mankato

0

O

17000

Source: City of Mankato

5

S

34000

10000

J

A

51000

20000

0

J

68000

30000

5

J

$48,903 $81,410

85000

$27,680

M

Mankato food and beverage tax

60000 50000

A

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

- 2013 - 2014

0

Includes restaurants, bars, telecommunications and general merchandise store sales. Excludes most clothing, grocery store sales.

Sales tax collections Mankato

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Stocks of local interest

May 15

June 9

Percent change

Archer Daniels

$43.89

$45.11

+2.8

Ameriprise

$108.51

$117.51

+8.3

Best Buy

$25.29

$29.50

+16.6

Crown Cork & Seal

$48.34

$50.46

+4.4

Fastenal

$12.16

$13.75

+13

General Growth

$47.72

$50.57

+6

General Mills

$23.48

$23.63

+0.6

Eventis

$53.55

$55.05

+2.8

Hutchinson Technology

$2.16

$2.19

+1.4

Itron

$37.89

$40.13

+6

Johnson Outdoors

$24.03

$26.27

+9.3

3M

$140.45

$144.98

+3.2

Target

$58.40

$56.83

-2.7

U.S. Bancorp

$40.71

$43.31

+6.4

Wells Financial

$25.00

$25.30

+1.2

Winland

$0.65

$0.80

+23

Xcel

$30.48

$30.77

+1

Source: GasBuddy.com C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • july 2014 • 33

the 2014 LEGISLATIVE

session learn more about new legislation passed this year that may affect your business

Greater Mankato Growth

Minnesota’s Legislature adjourned in May after passing a series of significant pieces of legislation that will impact business. Read on to get an overview of some of the key pieces of legislation that businesses need to know about. SESSION OVERVIEW The 2014 legislative session marked a dramatic departure from the last 15 years where legislators often confronted large budget deficits. This year, lawmakers gaveled into session with news that the state had a surplus of $1.2 billion. Ultimately, the Legislature passed tax reductions totaling $550 million, new cash spending of $500 million, a bonding bill totaling $846 million, and put $150 million into the state’s reserve fund. The Legislature also enacted a number of policy measures including an increase in the minimum wage, a bill providing new workplace protections for women and a bill legalizing medical marijuana.

34 July 2014 • MN Valley Business 1 •• JANUARY 2013 • MN Valley Business

TAX The Legislature enacted several significant tax measures including: Business Tax Changes • Repeal of the three business to business sales taxes enacted in 2013 (storage and warehousing, equipment repair labor and telecommunications equipment). • Elimination of the need to businesses to maintain separate records for their federal and state income taxes. • Delays enactment of the up-front exemption for sales tax on capital equipment from September 2014 to July 2015. • June accelerated sales tax was modified so that fewer retailers are affected and the advanced payment is smaller. Personal Tax Changes • Federal tax conformity. • Repeal of the gift tax passed in 2013. • Increase in the estate tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million and elimination of the estate tax “bubble.” • One year increase in the homestead credit, renter property tax credit and agricultural homestead market value credit.

CAPITAL INVESTMENT The Legislature approved a pair of capital investment bills that spend more than $1 billion on a variety of projects across the state. Several key regional projects were included in the final legislation including $14.5 million for the Verizon Wireless Center expansion/ renovations; $25.8 million for Minnesota State University, Mankato to construct a Clinical Sciences building on campus; $63.7 million for facility improvements to the St. Peter Security Hospital and Sex Offender Program; and $2.4 million to repair/rehabilitate the Rapidan Dam.

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS Business Community Members Attended Greater Mankato at the Capitol in March to get their voice heard on issues that matter to them.

EMPLOYER REQUIREMENTS One of the first bills passed by the legislature increased the state’s minimum wage, which will be phased in to $9.50 per hour by August 2016. Starting in 2018, the wage will increase with inflation.

Additionally as a reminder, effective January 2014, the “Ban the Box” regulation went into effect. This means that employers cannot ask for an applicant’s criminal history on an employment application. The employer must wait until later in the hiring process, at the interview stage or when a conditional job offer has been extended, before asking the applicant about their criminal record or conducting a criminal background check.

LEARN MORE You can get additional details on all of these issues and more by visiting Greater Mankato Growth’s website greatermankato.com/get-engaged For legal or financial counsel on these issues visit the Greater Mankato Online Business Directory for a list of regional businesses. greatermankatobusinessdirectory.com

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 35

Greater Mankato Growth

The legislature also passed the Women’s Economic Security Act, which provides additional protections for women in the workplace. This new law presents employers with a number of significant implications and will require many to update their HR policies and practices.

The legislature shortened the amount of time it takes to secure an environmental permit. Permits that do not require public comment must be completed by the state within 90 days and those that do require public comment must be completed in 150 days.

Growth in Greater Mankato NEW BUSINESS

NEW BUSINESS

Songs on the Lawn Bradley’s on Stadium 1600 Warren Street, Suite 17, Mankato

Handi Medical Supply 1400 Madison Avenue, Suite 336, Mankato

NEW BUSINESS

NEW BUSINESS

Marco’s Pizza 551 Belle Avenue, Suite 300, Mankato

Starbucks Coffee Company 1872 Madison Avenue, Mankato

NEW BUSINESS

30th ANNIVERSARY

Another year of success for the popular event Songs on the Lawn proved to be a hit once again this summer! Hundreds of families, co-workers and friends gathered every Thursday in June from 11 am to 1 pm in front of Civic Center Plaza to enjoy live music, engage in activities with their children, buy food from area restaurants and relax in their lawn chair or on the grass. This year’s new lineup of bands provided a good combination of folk, country and up-beat jam band stylings. Thank you to all attendees, our generous sponsors and presenting sponsor, Xcel Energy, for making this annual event a success.

Greater Mankato Growth

LEARN MORE

LIFE Wellness & Training 302 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato

CAB Construction Co. 1532 1st Avenue, Mankato

NEW LOCATION

NEW LOCATION

Imperial Plastics Incorporated 101 Power Drive, Mankato

Visit Mankato 12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 1645, Mankato

36 July 2014 • MN Valley Business 1 •• JANUARY 2013 • MN Valley Business

For more information on the event and to view more photos as well as an event video, visit greatermankato.com/songslawn.

Vendors, business men and women, community members and children alike all enjoyed this year’s Songs on the Lawn.

Lawn

CityArt and your Business Every year, the City Center Partnership installs the CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour for yearlong enjoyment. After that year, the CityArt sculptures can stay in the greater Mankato region permanently with options for private sales or purchase for public donation. To date, the Partnership has arranged nearly a dozen sales, cooppurchases, leases, or lease-to-own options between artists and interested businesses or individuals. To discover how to keep your favorite piece local, contact Noelle Lawton at 507.385.6671.

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. July 1 August 5 September 2

Pioneer Bank Thomas Tree & Landscape Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery

2014 Business After Hours Sponsored by:

May Business After Hours hosted by MRCI WorkSource

7:30 - 9:00 a.m. July 16 August 20 September 17

Hilton Garden Inn Jake’s Stadium Pizza Primrose Retirement Community

2014 Business Before Hours Sponsored by:

April Business Before Hours hosted by Mayo Clinic Health System

Greater Mankato Growth Business After and Business Before Hours gives representatives from GMG member businesses at the Engaged Level or higher an opportunity to get together with one another to exchange ideas and learn about each other’s businesses. For more information on these and other member events, visit greatermankato.com/events.

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 37

Navigating through greatermankato.com

resources available on Greater Mankato Growth’s website, greatermankato.com

BUILDINGS & SITES Are you looking to expand your business or know of someone interested in bringing their business to Greater Mankato? If your business is looking to relocate or expand into the Greater Mankato marketplace, there are a number of vital resources on Greater Mankato Growth’s new Buildings & Sites webpage that can be of help. Whether you are interested in available properties, population, household income, education, job numbers or other profiles and demographics, this page can point you to helpful resources.

LEARN MORE on Greater Mankato Growth’s website:

greatermankato.com/buildings-sites

Cavalier Calls on the Newest Greater Mankato Growth Members

Greater Mankato Growth

CoBank cobank.com

Old Country Buffet 1861 Adams Street, Mankato oldcountrybuffet.com

Kato Ballroom 200 Chestnut Street, Mankato katoballroom.com

Cavaliers Gardner Financial Services Sleep Number by Select Comfort 530 North Riverfront Drive, Suite 300, 1850 Adams Street, Suite 328, Mankato Mankato sleepnumber.com gardnerfinancialmn.com

38 July 2014 • MN Valley Business 1 •• JANUARY 2013 • MN Valley Business

website:

embers

Photo Courtesy of Sport Pix

Get into the Spirit for Vikings Training Camp By Paige Schuette, Public Relations Manager for Visit Mankato

For the past 48 years, Mankato has been flooded with thousands of guests donning purple, gold and even horns during a few glorious weeks of summer.

This year Visit Mankato is offering a Vikings Businesses Package including Training Camp posters, window clings, beads and more – in addition to the T-shirts that are always provided for businesses at a reasonable price. There will be a Vikings Spirit Contest for local businesses throughout Training Camp. Participating businesses will be judged by Viktor the Viking at the end of camp. The winning businesses will get a Jake’s Stadium Pizza Party for 20 and Vikings autographed memorabilia.

The Vikings Training Camp and the fans it brings has huge economic impact on greater Mankato. Thousands of fans come to Mankato and spend their money in our restaurants, hotels and retail shops. Those fans spend an average of more than $5 million each year in greater Mankato, a huge impact on a community of 50,000 people. Aside from the obvious benefits listed above, there are several other reasons to extend a welcome to our Vikings visitors. There are immeasurable, intangible benefits to Vikings Training Camp. Thousands of people experience greater Mankato for the first time when they visit Training Camp. We are confident these initial visits result in many bounce back visits in the future. Once people get to know greater Mankato, the possibility of a return visit is high.

Minnesota State University, Mankato, plays host to the Vikings every year. With thousands of potential students visiting Vikings Training Camp each year, this can serve as a tremendous recruiting tool for the university. Training Camp has attracted a great deal of media attention over the years. This year there will be even more buzz with talk of hosting the 2018 Super Bowl and with the 50th Anniversary of Training Camp in Mankato right around the corner. All of the media attention has put greater Mankato on the national map. This exposure is immensely valuable to the tourism industry. Come July and August, wear your Vikings garb with pride and welcome the players, coaches and fans to our community. Their short stay has a huge impact on our community! Show your business’ Vikings Spirit. Contact Paige at pschuette@ visitmankatomn.com or 507.385.6666 for more details on the Vikings Spirit Contest and the Vikings Business Pack, or visit www.visitmankatomn.com.

MN Valley Business • July 2014 • 39

Greater Mankato Growth

Vikings Training Camp is coming back to Mankato from July 24 to August 15 and calling greater Mankato its summer home for the 49th year. Last year, fans came from more than 100 different Minnesota cities, 28 states, Canada and England to watch daily practices and take part in all the fun and fanfare in the Vikings Village.

As a community, it is important we embrace these fans, jerseys and all, and make them feel welcome in greater Mankato.

Professional resources to help grow your business AUTOMOTIVE Jerry’s Body Shop, Inc. 1671 Madison Avenue Mankato, MN 56001 507-388-4895 www.asashop.org/member/jerrys

MEDIA The Free Press Media 418 S 2nd Street Mankato, MN 56001 507-625-4451 www.mankatofreepress.com

For information on including your service to this directory, please contact

507-344-6390

40 • july 2014 • MN Valley Business

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