Featured Stories 10 Betty Kuffel
12 Kathy dunnehoff
career 16 Molly Schmidt
development 18 Mountain Meadow Herbs
22 Business Succession
24 Investing Lessons
26 Tax Terms
28 Alan Satterlee
406 Profiles 30 Glacier Quilts 32 Elke Govertsen Cover Girl
E l ke G o ver t sen
Elke Govertsen is the publisher and founder of Mamalode (r) Magazine. She has been featured in Real Simple, Where Women Create, Ad-tech, entrepreneur.com and more. She speaks on a range of topics (Marketing, social media, creating opportunities and overcoming obstacles.) She lives in Missoula, MT with a couple of amazing sons and a darling husband. Photo by: Nici-Holt Cline
WOMAN 4 â€Żâ€Ż
note} from the editor
It’s Spring. Like the certainty of death and taxes, April welcomes in the changing of the seasons for most of the country. Or in Montana, it is more like the realization that the body you packed away under the winter parka back in November is not the same one that revealed itself in all its pale, “comfort food”-padded glory at the beach during Spring break. And much to your accountant’s chagrin, liposuction is not a legitimate tax write-off as you try to persuade him it should be (of course, my accountant has a coffee mug with the words, “Be Audit You Can Be,” printed on the side).
Spring isn’t all mud season and finances. There’s an uplifting, positive side like the longer days, flowers budding, birds chirping and that realization that change is in your hands. It’s a time of transition. Much like many of the articles in the second edition of 406 Woman Business, there’s a chance to start fresh and take charge of your future. This month, read about a couple from Bozeman who discovered alpacas to be the key to their personal and financial freedom. Read about the launch of Mama Lode magazine by one entrepreneurial mother and the growing successes of Mountain Meadow Herbs. There are also surprising places to make a living, such as epublishing or by playing—yes, throwing a party can be big business. As graduation nears, become inspired by the path of young up-and-comers like Molly Schmidt entering the world of science. And finally, get advice on how to leave your businesses in competent hands and of course, taxes. Dust off the cobwebs, clean out the closet, and fire up the barby. Spring is here. Catch the fever! Sincerely,
406 Woman Business Editor Alison Pomerantz 5
Tara Rot h
Raised in a family of educators in the Deep South, Tara Roth was born and bred to share her family’s passion for education. After moving to the Midwest where she worked for retail giant Lands’ End promoting the company and its apparel to our nation’s top-tier media, she ventured out west to Montana and FVCC where she serves as director of communications and marketing. Tara and her husband Ben are the proud parents of 3-year-old River and his baby sister, Arbor. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jul i a W i l l i amson
is currently an active senior at the University of Montana – Missoula majoring in Print Journalism with minors in Political Science and Southwest Central Asian Studies. She moved to Whitefish when she was 16 years old, completing her high school career at Whitefish High School, from southern California. Julia loves to be busy and enjoys the fast pace of being a journalist; aside from writing and reading she enjoys being outside no matter the season and traveling around the world. Julia’s latest adventure was to Guatemala City where she worked at an orphanage. Before her trip to Guatemala City, she had traveled to the Dominican Republic for two months teaching English as a second language to poor native children.
Kar i n Ho lder
is a limited Partner and Financial Advisor with Edward Jones Investments. Karin along with Daved, Her husband of 19 years, and her two boys, Warren age 15 and Easton age 10, live in the surrounding Whitefish area. Originally from Virginia, Karin and Daved made Montana their home in 1996 after realizing that they needed to be in and near the great outdoors. City life was not for them! Karin is a fully licensed Financial Advisor who is not only didicated to helping her clients in the local area but across the nation as well. Being a mom, wife and a career woman has given her the insight to help women of all walks and ages to plan for their individual and business financial goals. Karin can be reached by phone (406)862-5454 or at her convenient location 807 Spakane Ave, suite 500, Whitefish, MT.
Kr i sten Hami lt on
wears many hats these days. As founder and co-owner of Ham It Up Strategies, she and her husband, Bob, work with many clients on various projects to help them grown their business. Recent projects have included event planning and execution, magazine project management and sales, operations management, electronic newsletters, website development, and freelance writing. She particularly enjoys writing these days and is working on a novel in her spare time. She has lived in the valley for over twenty years and has an extensive background in tourism and working with non profit organizations. Kristen is grateful to her friends and colleagues who have supported her throughout the years. She knows the importance of giving back and therefore volunteers her time and services whenever she is able. In her free time, she enjoys the arts and concert offerings in the valley and tries to play outdoors as much as possible. Kristen is blessed to have a happy marriage and two terrific teenaged children who make her smile every day!
Kat y C r oft
is a Certified Public Accountant and a shareholder at Swiftcurrent Consulting & Accounting, P.C. She has an Associates degree from the University of Montana College of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree from Devry University. Her areas of expertise are income taxes, payroll taxes and bookkeeping. After running her own bookkeeping business in Missoula, she and her husband Dan relocated back to Kalispell to start a family. They have since welcomed Kyler, 4 and Adilyn, 1 to their family. Katy is a true Montana native, born in Kalispell, and has spent the last 30 years in northwest Montana. To find relief from balancing work and life as a busy mom, she finds solace in riding her bike and playing on the lake. Katy can be reached at email@example.com.
Kat ie Fr ies
is the newest addition to the marketing and communications team at Flathead Valley Community College. With a passion for education, community, and public relations, she has found her home at FVCC. Her marketing career includes specializations in branding, corporate identity, and communications. Born and raised in Kalispell, she only lived away from the Flathead while pursuing a degree in business marketing at Montana State University in Bozeman. Their love of the area and family ties brought Katie and her husband back to Kalispell where they have enjoyed remodeling their cozy 1930’s farmhouse-style home northeast of town. In her free time, she takes advantage of the area she feels so fortunate to call home – camping and fishing with family and friends, waterskiing, and taking in the beauty of the Flathead.
has a background in Photo and Video Journalism. Potter owned and operated a valley wide newspaper in Whitefish from 2003 through 2006. In 2010, Potter attended the University of Hawaii, Leeward Campus as a Digital Film and Audio Major after a brief enlistment in the regular U.S. Army from 2007 - 2009. His experience at the University of Hawaii allowed him to perfect his craft in the Digital Media Arts and Sciences. He sincerely has a strong passion for all things digital. Potter moved back to Whitefish, spring of 2011, and is a third generation Whitefish resident. Potter currently runs and operates his own digital media business for social media advertising and truly loves his job.
Kel l y O’Br ien
works for Measure Law Office, P.C. in Kalispell, MT. She is licensed to practice law in Oregon and Montana, and focuses on estate planning, probate, business, real estate and natural resources law. Kelly earned her J.D. at Lewis & Clark School of Law in Portland, with a certificate in natural resources law. She also has a B.S. in Business Administration & International Business from the University of Montana, and a minor in German. Kelly is originally from Kalispell and recently returned to the area to work with Measure Law Office. Prior to returning to the Flathead Valley, Kelly worked in private practice with law firms based in Portland and Bend, Oregon. She now lives in Whitefish with her husband and son where she enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities. Contact Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-752-6373
Betty Kuffel By Mike Potter
Betty Kuffel is no stranger to taking risks, being successful and being a survivor. She was forced to use oxygen on her first sailplane lesson soaring above 20,000 feet at airliner flight levels over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She climbed Mount Rainier on her first date with future husband Tom. In 2004, she survived a plane crash and in 2009, breast cancer. She said, “You have to remain positive and take a few chances to experience life.”
Raised with three sisters in rural Minnesota, she was the first in her family to attend college. After nursing at a Seattle trauma center, she became one of the nation’s first nurse practitioners. About this time she met her husband Tom when taking sailing lessons from him. They later married and lived in Alaska where she raced sled dogs and taught nursing in Bush villages. At age 38, they returned to Seattle and Betty entered the University of Washington School of Medicine where she graduated with honors. 406
Mountains, skiing and friendly people brought Betty and Tom to Whitefish. After three years in private practice, Dr. Kuffel transitioned to work in Emergency Medicine. While directing the ER in Fallon, Nevada, she began taking flying lessons and at the same time began recording scenarios from flying and medical experiences which have provided a basis for the many books she is working on today. Betty and Tom have owned and flown many airplanes. After the life-changing crash, they are not only still flying, but are building a Glastar 2+2. Working at the factory in Arlington, Washington, they built the structure under airplane mechanic oversight. With the wings folded back, they are finishing the construction in the garage at their home in Whitefish. Tom is a specialist in computers and electronics. Along with building the engine himself, he has developed and installed a panel of instruments with many fail-safes. Since carburetor ice resulted in their crash, Betty really likes the fact that the new plane engine is fuel injected and not subject to icing.
It was on April 17th, 2004, while flying with friends in two other planes that Tom and Betty crashed in mountainous terrain on the south side of Lost Trail Pass in Idaho after their engine quit. Her husband was trapped in the nearly inverted wreckage. Their uninjured frightened year-old dog Valkyrie, a German shepherd mix, climbed out and remained near her owners. After crawling out of the plane with shattered leg bones, Betty was able to get through to 9-1-1on her cell phone.
All the years of working in Emergency Rooms really paid off for Betty. With no feeling in her left leg and several broken bones, she realigned the foot and lower leg bones using wires from her own pilot headset. Neither Betty nor Tom lost consciousness but feared hypothermia. Covering herself with flight maps to block the wind and snow, she finally quit shaking and feeling returned to her legs. Six hours later, a team of rescuers from Salmon, Idaho found them. Frightened off by rescuer’s snow machines, Valkyrie disappeared into the dark forest of moun-
tain lion country. Ten days later she was rescued half a mile from the crash site by volunteer searchers playing an audio tape of Betty and Tom’s voices calling her.
Betty has worked in medicine for 50 years, recently retiring from North Valley Hospital where she founded and directed the hospitalist program. During her work at the Benefis ER in Great Falls, she began researching her recently published book Eyes of a Pedophile. The true crime book is about pedophile cannibal Nathanael Bar-Jonah. It is written in an educational format to help people identify child predators and keep children safer. Betty is an active member of Authors of the Flathead. All her current information can be checked at www.bettykuffel.com. Available at: www.amazon.com/kindle-books Paperback: www.CreateSpace.com/3817124
Photo on opposite page: Betty and Tom. Top left: Tom, Betty and Son standing in front of their 1952 A Model in 1978 near a Wasilla grass strip in Alaska. Top right: Antique Moony at Mammoth Mountain in 1995. Bottom left: Brand New Moony 2005 fresh from the factory. Bottom right: The Aerostar 700 at an airstrip in California.
Author Kathy Dunnehoff
S e r v e s U p S u c c e ss
Written by Alison Pomerantz Photo by Mike Potter
Kathy Dunnehoff topped the best-seller list with more than 70,000 readers eagerly awaiting her next novel. Yet her publishing company, Blue House Publishing, prints no books, ships no boxes to stores and promotes not a single author signing. Impossible? Welcome to the new norm— the world of electronic publishing. The paradigm shift has writers, agents and publishers moving away from the world of hard covers and shelf space to quick, inexpensive downloads on digital readers such as Kindles, Nooks and iPads.
Dunnehoff didn’t set out to be ground breaking. She wasn’t a techie with a dream of transforming the industry. She dreamed of being a writer. When she was a student, e-publishing didn’t even exist. So years later when she founded her own publishing company based out of her East Kalispell home to take on the brave new digital age, she named it Blue House Publishing. It wasn’t just because of the obvious blue color of its exterior, but the exhibition of its two distinct architectural styles. Like other art forms, architecture often reflects societal changes in fashions, religion, or the emergence of new ideas and technology. At any time, it is often possible for several styles to be fashionable at once as architects, like writers, learn and adapt to these changes. “The house is a lot like me and my experience in publishing, bridging two distinct styles,” Dunnehoff explains.
Dunnehoff cut her teeth in the traditional print world. Throughout high school in her hometown of Whitefish, she honed her craft by writing a column for the Whitefish Pilot. When she went off to college, she majored in journalism at the University of Montana thinking it would be a more practical path to achieve her dream. “I think my parents were afraid for me to do creative writing,” Dunnehoff admits. She explained that her
newspaper days led her to study print media initially, but after she discovered radio, she switched to broadcasting, as it was something she could actually envision herself doing for a living. However, working for a Top 40 Station during college where they played the Top 10 songs every hour made her question that decision. When she moved to Seattle seeking a change of scene, Dunnehoff deliberately chose work outside her field. She took a number of odd jobs to keep from getting derailed. One such position was as a barista for Starbucks back when it was just a small start up and everyone knew everybody, including then chairman and CEO and Seattle SuperSonics owner, Howard Schultz.
“It helped tremendously,” Dunnehoff says. “A novel is such a large structure. If you don’t have the big picture in mind, you run out of steam and it dies. Most people stop around 50 to 100 pages.” Foley uses an analogy of a train, where each scene is a car. The project is much more doable if a writer can break up the novel by just completing one “car” at a time rather than concentrate on the whole thing at once.
In her second year of graduate school, Dunnehoff became a teaching assistant, although she admits she assisted no one. Instead she taught a section of college composition and thought, “Now this is a job.” She discovered she loved teaching and the idea of talking about writing all day. She went on to pursue a second masters degree in literature in order to expand her breadth.
Instantly she had her choice of agents, but she still wasn’t having success getting her manuscripts published. “It was unbelievably frustrating,” Dunnehoff remembers. “I would revise and rewrite, but still nothing. It seemed to go on forever like that.”
“It was oddly smart of me at such a young age to know that I could get stuck,” Dunnehoff acknowledges. After three years in Seattle, she returned to Missoula to pursue a Masters in Fine Arts, opting for poetry over fiction, because she didn’t care much for the short story format.
After applying for teaching jobs all over, Dunnehoff landed a job as an adjunct composition instructor at the Flathead Valley Community College. On her very first day, she met her husband, Thom. Serendipity struck again. Dunnehoff abandoned plans to pursue a doctorate degree to advance her teaching and instead, started a family. In the process, she gave birth to her original dream—becoming an author.
“It was insane to start novel writing with small children at home,” she admits, “I had no training, but I did it anyway.” Enrolling in fiction classes at FVCC with Dennis Foley, a retired army colonel, screenwriter and novelist, gave her the foundation she needed to get started.
Dunnehoff completed her first novel, Plan on It, by cramming in scant hours of writing while caring for her own two girls and swapping babysitting with a friend a few hours a week. One day a little blurb in the paper caught her eye about a writing contest and she decided to enter it on a whim. Months later, she received a phone call. Dunnehoff’s manuscript had won a Zola Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.
Then there was a breakthrough. Dunnehoff was attending the Flathead River Writers Conference when she ran into Roxanne McHenry, who gave her a business card. Dunnehoff had known McHenry for years when they both would be trying to slurp coffee with their kids running around, but she didn’t assume there was a professional connection until McHenry asked her to do a Podcast. She discovered that McHenry possessed a wealth of experience in Internet marketing and her company, BumbleB Media, Inc., was “Helping Writers Get Settled in the Wild West of epublishing.” McHenry wanted to help Dunnehoff get published—but by a different means than she’d ever imagined. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, an e-book is "an electronic version of a printed book, but e-books can and do exist without any printed equivalent. Dunnehoff’s books would fall into the second category.
The Do-Over, was promoted as the No. 2 Kindle bestseller for “Romantic Comedy” and top 100 for “Romance Contemporary.” Her second book, Plan on It, made the top 5 for “Modern Romance,” top 20 “Funny Romance,” top 30 “Award Winning,” and top 50 in “Contemporary Women.”
In roughly six months, McHenry helped Dunnehoff successfully launch her three previously unpublished manuscripts online. Her first e-book, The DoOver, was promoted as the No. 2 Kindle bestseller for “Romantic Comedy” and top 100 for “Romance Contemporary.” Her second book, Plan on It, made the top 5 for “Modern Romance,” top 20 “Funny Romance,” top 30 “Award Winning,” and top 50 in “Contemporary Women.” Her latest release, Back to U, became available online in February and is already receiving rave reviews in a category she calls, “midlife lit,” appealing to women who sometimes fantasize escaping their everyday lives. “I had no idea it would do this well,” she says. “I am really happy.”
Today, you can hardly visit a coffee shop, airport, or waiting room without seeing someone pull out a digital device instead of a book or a magazine and start reading. While epublishing is unlikely to completely take over the print world, there are many attractive advantages for new authors to explore it as a delivery mechanism.
“For an indie author like me, you don’t have to sell as many copies of an e-book as you would with traditional publishing,” Dunnehoff explains, and adds that at Amazon, writers receive between 35 and 70 percent of the sales price compared to less than 10 percent through traditional publishing. If you self-publish the traditional way, the cost is up front. You end up with a stack of books in your basement with the stress of how to get them into your readers’ hands. With epublishing, readers can get copies of new books the instant they become available—and often at a much cheaper price. Dunnehoff prices her books on the low end of Amazon’s required range of between $2.99 to $7.99 per download. The downside of epublishing is finding ways to break through the clutter and get noticed. Since many customers exclusively shop the Best Seller list, a higher rating generally means higher sales. With more than 1 million books in the Kindle store alone, it is easy to get lost at the bottom of the pile. As a way to avoid this, McHenry turned Dunnehoff onto an online tool available on Amazon where members can take advantage of periodic free downloads. Inde-
pendent authors take advantage of this opportunity as a way to gain exposure even if that means giving the book away for free on select days in exchange for the ratings bump that generally follows on subsequent days.
When she isn’t busy marketing her current books or beginning to craft her next novel, a follow-up to Plan on It, Dunnehoff can often be found at home reading in a hot bubble bath, her Kindle safely wrapped in a Zip-lock bag. Or she might be stirring up something delicious in the kitchen for her husband and two daughters, Ava and Grace. Turkey chili is her specialty. It should come as no surprise—it is also award winning. To read more about Kathy Dunnehoff or to contact her, visit her on Facebook, Twitter or her blog at www.kathydunnehoff.com. To reach Roxeanne McHenry, go to www.eroxanne.com.
Sarah and James Budd Invest in Alpacas In the 1967 movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s character was given one word of advice that was supposed to be the key to his financial future: plastics.
destiny might have taken a different turn if, like
Sarah and James Budd of Bozeman, that word had instead been alpacas. Tired of the rat race, James spotted an article eight years ago in a Costco Connection magazine about a couple touting the many rewards of alpaca ownership as a second career—an investment with a good return, great tax rewards, freedom to travel and enjoy life, the ability to live in a setting close to urban amenities and light physical labor.
“Like most Montanans, we came here to enjoy the outdoors, the environment, the solitude and the ability to take a deep breath,” said James. “We’re resourceful people. We would do whatever it takes to stay here.”
Written by Alison Pomerantz Photos by Shelly Saunders
What James read resonated with him as an alternative to living in the city and “working for the man.” When he broached the subject with his wife, Sarah quickly responded, “What’s an alpaca?” followed by an unequivocal, “No.”
However, anyone who’s had the opportunity to speak to James knows he can be very persuasive. He did his due diligence and enthusiastically presented research and financial spreadsheets showing her that people were indeed making money in the alpaca business. Alpacas are the fuzzy, wide-eyed, South American cousin to the camel domesticated 6,000 years ago by the Incas for their prized fleece that can be spun and woven into fine garments rather than raised for their meat or their milk. However, they didn’t make their way into the U.S. until 1984 when Americans became interested in utilizing them for textiles. Some of the benefits of raising alpacas over other livestock is that they are relatively low maintenance, costing just $100 a year apiece to keep. They also require very little space. Up to eight animals can live in a one-acre plot of land.
Sarah still wasn’t convinced enough to want to toss away two viable careers to become farmers, but when an unsolicited letter arrived in the mail from James’ sister with a note, “Doesn’t this sound fun?” attached to a clipping about the many benefits of raising alpacas, it seemed it was destiny. After visiting many farms and talking to other owners, they wrote a formal business proposal to acquire the necessary $100,000 start-up capital from the bank. Just six months later, the Budds were already showing a profit.
“We really entered into this venture as a true business, not a hobby,” Sarah explained. They began with eight pregnant females and one free breeding with a herdsire with the initial goal of selling the offspring as the primary source of revenue. Baby alpacas, or cria, could sell for as much as $20,000—with fabled stories floating around of investors paying upwards of $500,000 for some coveted animals! While farmers look to the animals themselves or their fleece for revenue, one of biggest benefits of ownership has come in the way of alluring tax breaks. In May
2003, Congress passed the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act to spur the economy, allowing all small-business owners to write off 100% of newly acquired assets in the first year, rather than depreciate them over several years. The maximum write-off for those assets quadrupled to $100,000 and rises with inflation. If alpacas are raised for profit, Sarah explains that essentially Uncle Sam will pay for a portion of the cost of acquiring a herd as well as other expenses—feed, fertilizer, veterinarian care and even barns and fencing. The considerable savings may explain why the number of alpaca farmers roughly doubled the first year after the new tax laws were passed, according to the Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association. Today, Sarah and James have expanded their “Alpacas of Montana” farm to 120 alpacas. The Budds protect their investment from predators such as mountain lions, bears, coyotes, foxes and even elk with the help of their two Anatolian guard dogs, guard llamas and good fencing.
Sarah believes the future of the alpaca industry is in the fiber side of
the business. Alpaca fleece is as soft
as cashmere, warmer than wool, hypoallergenic and almost com-
pletely waterproof. “It outperforms
Merino wool factor,” she
without the ‘prickle explains, and
paca is much more environmentally friendly.”
wool to achieve a
similar softness, it must be chemi-
cally treated with acetones to get the lanolin out.
Born, shorn, and worn in Big Sky Country, Alpacas of Montana markets premium clothing including socks, hats, baby booties, saddle pads, scarves and alpaca yarn. All but their socks are hand-knit right in Bozeman using 22 natural colors, without dyes or chemicals. In addition to specialty knitwear, Alpacas of Montana sells alpaca compost, fertilizer and potting soil. While James and Sarah attend numerous auctions, shows and farmers’ markets to pro-
mote their products, 90% of their worldwide sales are online.
Besides being a business venture, alpacas actually make great pets. “They are a very calming” James says, mentioning that he and Sarah sometimes take a glass of wine out to the fields and just watch the herd at sunset. “A lot of people use alpacas for therapy animals, and they’re terrific around kids.” He and Sarah invite the public to celebrate “National Alpaca Day” with them at the farm September 29-30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fun for the whole family, visitors can get an up-close and personal look at the herd, the farm and even witness some shearing. Despite all the positives, James and Sarah acknowledge that in today’s volatile economy, alpacas certainly aren’t recessionproof. “In 2005, we were selling about 3040 alpacas a year, but we’ve taken a hit like every other industry has,” Sarah said. “Today, you would need a different business model in order to be successful.” The Budds are currently exploring opportunities with investors to expand the alpaca garments beyond niche boutiques into an industrial line, but that is still some months off. For naysayers worried that the alpaca business will succumb to the same fate as the ostrich, emu, or other speculative agriculture ventures, Sarah points to some distinct differences.
“The problem with the meat-based products (buffalo, ostrich) is that there is only so much room on Safeway's shelf for meat, and the cattle lobby is one of the strongest in the world, making it difficult to break in. Emus can be used for meat or their oil, but they are extremely difficult to raise and you have to kill them, not giving you a lot of product for the cost and risk involved,” she says. “With the alpaca, it’s a textile animal that has a viable, in-demand product for a large majority of the population. Since they are easy and inexpensive to raise, you can make a profit.” Plastics? The next gold rush? Maybe not, but James and Sarah Budd would surely attest that the investment in alpacas has made them rich in lifestyle dividends.
A Profile of Success at a Young Age: Molly Schmidt By Katie Fries
measures did you take to
set yourself up for future success while you were still in high school?
I considered myself a pret-
ty ambitious student, and, if you’re like me, perhaps you took some advanced level classes, participated in a leadership group or internship, or maybe even took a few college courses before graduating from high school.
At first glance, Molly Schmidt is your typical driven, goal-oriented high school student who chose to get a jump-start on her college education through the Running Start program at FVCC.
However, upon further investigation, I realized just how extraordinary this girl is. I learned that Schmidt, a senior at Whitefish High School, is on track to graduate from FVCC with an Associate of Science degree this spring— 22 days before she will receive her high school diploma. Then, when I later found out about the perfect score she earned on her ACT test, I was understandably impressed. I sat down with Schmidt to find out about the steps she took leading up to these exceptional accomplishments. Born and raised in Whitefish, Schmidt’s first love was dancing. She started ballet at the age of three and continued through her freshman year in high school. Even as a dancer, Schmidt was highly committed and consistently at the “top of her class,” earning a number of lead roles. “I pretty much lived at the studio,” said Schmidt. “I was actually thinking of becoming a professional dancer at that time.”
However, things began to change for Schmidt. She took a step back to look at what she really wanted to accomplish in her life, and she also had concerns about the difficult lifestyle of a professional dancer. As a high school freshman, Schmidt made the tough decision to give up dancing, which gave her more time to focus on her studies.
Schmidt’s dedication to her school work was apparent in her choice to get a jump start on her college education by enrolling in the
Running Start program at FVCC the summer after her sophomore year in high school.
“I knew Running Start would help me challenge myself and explore different subjects that aren’t available at the high school level,” said Schmidt.
Through the program, Schmidt took Fundamentals of Biological Psychology, instructed by Ivan Lorentzen, and discovered a new passion for the science. She credits Lorentzen’s passion for the subject for inspiring her to want to learn everything she can about the brain. “I kept coming home from his class with fun facts to share with my family,” she said. “Did you know that if the brain is removed from the skull and placed on a table at room temperature it will melt because the bonds that hold it together can’t withstand gravity without floating in liquid?”
In anticipation of applying to college to continue her education, Schmidt took the ACT national admissions test. Sure, Schmidt calls herself a perfectionist, but a perfect score of 36 was only achieved by 704 (0.04%) of the 1.6 million graduating high school students across the nation who took the test in 2011. Did she know right away that she’d nailed it? “I thought I did well, but I didn’t think my score would be perfect,” she admitted. “I’ve always paid close attention in school and have done my best in everything I do, which I really think helped me prepare.”
Schmidt’s future looks bright. After applying to a number of top schools, she has decided to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston to study brain and cognitive sciences. Schmidt is looking forward to her fall departure to Boston and says she feels much more prepared for what lies ahead because of the college experience she got on the FVCC campus. Schmidt’s story is truly inspiring, and I am glad to know that our future workforce will be comprised of talented individuals like this young lady. I certainly wish her all the best, and I look forward to seeing what her future holds! For more information about FVCC’s Running Start program, contact Elizabeth Romain, Running Start coordinator, at (406) 756-3847, or at email@example.com and www.fvcc.edu.
Mountain Meadow Herbs
Another Flathead Gazelle Leaps Ahead Mountain Meadow Herbs By Kim Morisaki, Montana West Economic Development
Just off the highway near the airport in a non-descript building is one of the Flathead’s “Gazelles.” No, we are not talking about some exotic cousin of the antelope that wandered in from east of the mountains, but a fast-growing, second-stage business that is getting ready to make its next leap in growth. The Kauffman Foundation says that these gazelles create a disproportionate number of new jobs in the nation.
Mountain Meadow Herbs was started by Kathy and Nathan Garber in their kitchen in 2001. In 2008, the company was bought for seven figures and this summer, the 15 employees will be tripling their manufacturing and retail space when they move to the former Wall2Wall Tile building in Somers.
When Montana West’s VP of Finance, Tina Oliphant, met with current CEO, Serena Miller, and Operations Manager, Cricket Sparks, to discuss their possible expansion last year, she was unsure what to expect. I had shared that it was an herbal extract production company started by a soft-spoken woman from Amish Country, recently sold to a Swiss national, and currently being run by two rather young women. She might have wondered what type of Alice in Wonderland adventure I was proposing, but once she was inside the facility at Pioneer Business Park, she was as impressed as I had been the first time I visited. Whatever preconceived notions she might have had about the business were dispelled when she saw their conference room with its floor to 15-foot-high ceiling, wall-to-wall whiteboard. It is covered in Key Performance Indicators, net margin percentages and quarterly sales goals. Their values of caring and respect for each other and their customers is spelled out in the center of the board for all to see.
It never gets erased. The spotless, pharmaceuticalgrade production facility and regimented shipping department were impressive. The beautifully decorated and comfortable area where the customer care consultants work is the icing on the cake of this top-grade facility. The entire organization speaks to a level of commitment to quality and performance that is inspiring, and Tina was unexpectedly exposed to the secrets of a highly effective organization. In 2001
as a result of extensive research,
was able to create natural extracts as a remedy for their young son’s severe kidney damage due to an undetected, rare birth defect. In 1997, the Garbers had been told that their child’s options were dialysis or a kidney transplant in the future and hope and prayer in the immediate present.
began to look in earnest for something more.
of a mother's desperation and love for her only child, she seriously studied and applied the traditional uses of herbs and nutrition.
sponded wonderfully, and within a year, his kidney function was well within the normal range.
of their son’s remarkable improvements spread through family and friends.
ized solutions for specific health concerns began to pour in.
worked to meet their needs,
her lifelong dream to do something about suffering became an amazing reality, and a profitable enterprise emerged.
The Garbers, who had both grown up in the Amish community and only had formal education through the eighth grade, worked together to increase and improve the business. Nathan owned Rocky Mountain Builders and would come home from work to help create the supplements and design the much-
needed equipment for the proprietary processes that Kathy had developed. As the company and the Garbers’ family grew, Kathy decided that she wanted more time with her children and did not want to work full-time. She started looking around for a way to continue growing the company that would allow her to work “on” the business while not working 40 hours or more a week “in” the business.
The same skills Kathy used to research herbs and create supplements served her well as she looked to create a vibrant and growing company. When I met Kathy in 2008, I was immediately intrigued by the confidence she placed in two books that she attributes to helping her remain in “control” of the time she spent working on the business. I asked her to share her story with our monthly Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur group. She presented “Create a Business, Not a Job,” now the name of her new website scheduled to launch in April, www.CreateABusinessNotAJob.com. Having breakfast with Kathy and Nathan just last week, they both referred to the books again and assured me that these two slim publications were an important part of their success. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm by Verne Harnish, gave them the map to create a one-page strategic plan for the business. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do about It by Michael E. Gerber, helped them put into place the systems that would empower their employees, ensure quality control, and keep customers satisfied. A two-day workshop in Mastering Rockefeller’s Habits was the first step toward success, but the discipline to implement the plan was the true key. Implementation required a great deal of time and thought and to do that, they included their whole team in the planning, the setting of goals, and the
Team Photo: Back Row (left to right) Zach Poole, Kindy Nelson, Shane Stansberry, Doug Miller, Tricia Lake, Kathy Garber, Lorene Sederdahl, Al Miller, Cricket Sparks. Front Row (left to right): Serena Miller, Erica Cook, Tracy Sweder, Linda Dutton, Ashley Schultz
development}Mountain Meadow Herbs
celebration of achievements on a quarterly basis. She feels that “with clarity of purpose and communication, the entire team can pull together and can achieve anything.” Over the years, the team has set quarterly goals for their divisions as well as the entire company and then celebrated achievements together with spa visits, rafting trips, and bowling. Kathy also feels that when a company is hiring, they should look for smart people who want to keep learning and have the right attitude. The rest can be taught. These basic tenants combined with the values that the Garbers brought to the company created a very successful business.
Enter David Amrein, founder of the Dr. Clark Research Association (DCRA), a San Diego firm. Most products sold through DCRA were produced by third parties, but the company strived for product purity and aspired to have maximum control over the production process in order to guarantee the highest standard. This appreciation of purity and high quality prompted Amrein to purchase MMH in 2008 because of their very dedicated production department. Their quality standard has received praise even from the FDA inspectors. Serena Miller
has internalized the les-
sons she learned from
for really knowing the company’s
numbers and focusing on the company’s
Key Performance Indicators. She says that
they spend a lot of time on numbers because
when you measure progress, the results teach you about the business.
These two I think is the most fun part of the company. Next to Miller’s desk is a small bulletin board with measurthings blend into what
able quarterly goals that the company as a whole has chosen.
is usually a
theme and always a celebration detailed as part of the reward for hitting the goal.
Kathy and Miller had a great time reminiscing about their past celebrations. One quarter the theme was “Looking Good,” with the goal of changing the company logo. When the marketing committee met all of the tasks, they spent an evening at the spa getting massages and pedicures. Another time after a particularly grueling expansion that doubled their space, the team noticed that they needed better communication skills and less grumpiness. Each member of the staff was given a card to play “Communication Bingo” where every effort to communicate to one another was rewarded with a bingo ball. There were prizes for every bingo won until the team got in the habit of communicating clearly and the ultimate goal of making change fun was achieved.
Recently the team undertook a new goal, “Mission Possible,” for the team to focus on reaching new markets, attracting new clients, and moving into a new building. Sparks even including the theme song from the movie Mission Impossible as a ring tone. MMH built into the quarterly budget incentives that are to be given to the team when the measurable goals are achieved, including resort stays, gift cards, gas cards, spa visits, and cash bonuses.
Amrein said that despite the recession, MMH has been very successful these past few years and in 2011 had nothing short of an "annus mirabilis," or “year of wonders,” thanks to the dedication of a strong team and the savvy that Kathy still brings to the company as a consultant. As a result of their success, the current workspace is extremely tight, especially the production area. In order to keep growing and comply with many FDA requirements it was clear that MMH needed to buy their own larger building. The building in Somers is more than three times as spacious as the current location. It will enable MMH to further improve production with faster and larger machines such as a new labeler and new tincture cookers. The capacity to produce capsules will increase, which will allow MMH to produce all the encapsulated products for DCRA and for some other parties as well. The team at MMH has many creative ideas for the expansion, including a beautiful storefront to welcome local clientele and passing tourists. The building also has space for seminars and presentations by naturopaths and health professionals, a café, and ten acres surrounding the building to plant a botanical garden. During our recent visit, Amrein shared, “When a company moves forward like MMH does, it is important to have good partners. In the current economy, support from financial institutions can't be taken for granted. We were lucky to get the project off the ground. The support from Montana West in turn enabled Glacier Bank to provide their portion of the financing. This big step forward would have been impossible for us without the help of Montana West. We, in turn, are quite dedicated to the Flathead Valley and MMH will create many jobs in an innovative, healthy industry in the years to come.” The Flathead Valley will benefit from the growth and long-term investment that this homegrown gazelle of a company will bring. MMH employees will benefit from the efficiencies and good management practices and their customers will benefit from the quality of their products and the commitment to caring that the entire staff demonstrates. It is a winning situation for all.
Business Succession Written by Kelly O’Brien, Attorney at Law
Business Succession Planning- Passing Your Business to the Next Generation
Montana is a place where family values are reflected in our business practices and many successful businesses here are completely family-owned. However, many small- or family-owned businesses do not have an adequate plan in place for passing on the business. Whether considering passing the family farm to the next generation or planning for retirement, business succession planning is essential to a smooth transition for your business and your family.
What is Business Succession Planning?
Essentially, business succession planning is longterm planning for the transfer of your business assets; either to the next generation or to other business partners. Business succession planning is the process of planning for the unexpected occurrences, or the “what ifs,” in business such as an unexpected death or retirement of a partner or manager. It allows the business, and its owners, to agree in advance to issues such as what consent is required to transfer business interests, to whom may an owner transfer business interest to, or how to determine the value of those interests. The end goal of the business succession planning process is to have a solid agreement in writing that reflects the long-term strategy for the potential transfer of ownership in the business.
Why should you consider business succession planning?
Every business should consider business succession planning both at the initial start-up of the
business, and periodically throughout the life of the business. Mainly business succession planning allows the business and owners to have more control of the unknown and unexpected that may come up with the business. Perhaps it is more important to consider what happens without business succession planning. Without it, the business may incur significant losses or the owners may even lose the business due to issues such as liquidity problems, family conflicts or tax issues.
Initial Considerations in Business Succession Planning.
First, if you have not already done so, consider a separate entity for your family or small business. A Limited Liability Company (LLC), Family Limited Partnership (FLP), or other corporate entity is an essential step in easing the transfer of your business to the next generation.
Next, review and discuss the long-term business goals with all of the owners, managers or officers; evaluate the current status of the business and where you want it to be in the future. The most important aspect of business succession planning is clear communication between all involved, which means the business partners, owners, managers, directors, and family members. A major consideration in this process is deciding and agreeing on who will be the successors. Will it be family members, existing owners or third parties? Especially if you own a business with partners whom are not members of your family, it is essential to make clear, and agree upon issues such as whether or not you may transfer your interests to your children. If a transfer to your children is permissible, then discuss what role your children
play in the business and whether or not additional training may be necessary.
In addition, it is important to consider the timeline for transferring interests. If the business owners have agreed to allow transfers to children or other family members, then determine whether or not transfers will take place all at once or incrementally over time. Within this timeline also discuss what training may be required, and how involved family members will be at each phase of the transfer.
During this process, always be mindful of estate and gift tax issues. Speak with your accountant or attorney to determine whether a sale of your business interests is preferable to a gift or bequest. Make sure you understand the tax implications for everyone involved.
Planning for the Unexpected Death or Incapacity of an Owner or Manager
While most individuals do not want to think about death, planning for an unexpected death or incapacity of an owner or manager will enable the business to carry on even if a key individual in the business may no longer be able to manage the business.
When discussing how to plan for an unexpected death or incapacity of an owner or manager, consider the following:
Buy-out: Do you want the business to buy-out the heirs or family members? Financing: What resources are available upon
death? How to finance the buy-out of family members? Some options may include: installment payments, life insurance or the creation of a separate fund.
Price: How do you establish a price to buy out?
Price can often be calculated as book value, multiple of annual earnings, by appraisal, or otherwise by agreement of all owners.
Control & Management: If the business decides to buy out heirs, does it want those heirs to have an active role in managing the day-to-day operations of the business or simply receive income from the business?
Planning for Transfers of Ownership Pursuant to Retirement
While retirement may seem to be a long ways off for many small business owners, planning for retirement of an owner or manager will ensure that the business has both the funding available and capable individuals in place to handle retirement. Some of the same considerations discussed above also apply to retirement, and in addition the business should consider the following:
Who Will Take Over Leadership: Decide who will be the successors will be. Identify key individuals who may already have a role within the business. Discuss whether family members may have a role in the business and the potential role of current owners, managers and third parties. Timelines & Transitions: Discuss the ideal
timeline for retirement and what gaps in management may exist upon retirement. Discuss what training may be necessary and how to accommodate the different skills and interest of those taking over.
Communication is the Key to Successful Business Planning
The most critical component of successful business succession planning is communication. Communication between business owners, managers and all family members involved will facilitate a smooth transition. The business succession planning process does not have to be complicated, a simple discussion of these issues and a basic plan is better than waiting for the unexpected to happen and then trying to come to an agreement about what to do next.
If you have questions about business succession planning, contact Kelly Oâ€™Brien, Measure, Sampsel, Sullivan & Oâ€™Brien, P.C. at (406) 752-6373 www.measurelaw.com.
Investing Lessons from the Vineyards As an investor, you can get plenty of advice from financial experts on the evening news or cable financial shows. But you may actually be able to learn some deeper truths about investing by observing other professionals — such as winemakers.
At first glance, you might not see what these “guardians of the grape” can teach you about building an investment portfolio. After all, they’re shaping Sangiovese while you’re seeking stocks, they’re bottling Burgundy while you’re buying bonds, and they’re mastering Malbec while you’re monitoring mutual funds. Where’s the connection? Start by considering the life cycle of wine and the concept of “vintage.” For example, a particular wine is labeled a 2005 vintage if it is made from grapes that were predominantly grown and harvested in 2005. Yet given the requirements of wine production, this 2005 vintage may not actually hit the markets until 2008 — and some aficionados may think the wine won’t taste its best until 2018. If you translated this type of scenario to the financial world, you could say that the 2008 investment “vintage” was not promising, given that the value of almost all investments — even the quality ones — fell last year. But if you were to hold these quality 406
investments for the long term — as you should, because investing is a long-term activity — you might find that the 2008 vintage investments may eventually become productive vehicles that can help you achieve your financial goals. So, what lessons can you learn from winemakers? Here are a few suggestions:
• Be patient. Winemakers put a lot of time, effort and money into planting today’s grapes — for which they will not see one penny of profit for many years. Yet they have the discipline to wait patiently until the products of their labors come to fruition. Are all their wines successful? No — and all your investments may not be, either. But given enough time, quality investments can usually help you work toward your financial goals.
• Have faith in your strategy. Wine drinkers’ tastes can change from year to year. Yet winemakers don’t rip out their vineyards and replant them with today’s “hot” varietal. Instead, they cultivate the grapes they’ve planted, make the best wine they can and maintain their belief that their products will find a market. As an investor, you can’t allow yourself to be swayed by today’s hot tips and trends. Instead, build a portfolio of quality investments that can stand the test of time.
• Adapt your goals to your situation. One of the most famous winemaking regions in the world, Napa Valley, contains a number of microclimates that vary by temperature, rainfall and soil. Napa Valley winemakers know which grapes will do best in which microclimate, and they concentrate their efforts accordingly. And you, as an individual investor, should make your investment decisions based on your own “microclimate” — your risk tolerance, family situation, time horizon and other factors. In other words, you should choose those investments that are best suited for you and that have the best chance to help you meet your goals. Investing, like winemaking, is filled with challenges. But by observing how winemakers work, you may learn some things that can eventually help you raise a glass to your own success. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor
Contact Karin Holder, your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor at (406) 862-5454 Or stop by at 807 Spokane Ave, Suite 500, Whitefish, MT. www.edwardjones.com
Tax Terms You Should Know Written by Katy Croft, Certified Public Accountant The Internal Revenue Code is famously convoluted and every year it gets a little more complicated. The Code is made up of millions of words, thousands of pages, and hundreds of chapters and subchapters. How on earth is one to read, let alone understand, something so lengthy and complex? As you get your tax returns completed this year, make sure you know at least a few key terms and concepts so you understand your individual tax return.
AGI Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, is your total income you receive throughout the year, including your wages, interest/dividend income, business income and more. AGI is reduced by certain “above the line” deductions, such as student loan interest and selfemployed health insurance premiums. Your AGI is the first step in figuring your taxable income. AGI also is a driving factor for many other tax calculations, primarily for use in determining phase-outs for certain credits and deductions.
Filing status is a seemingly simple concept. Your options are Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualified Widow(er). Filing status can become more complex to define in certain circumstances, such as when a separated couple wants to file separately but their divorced isn’t final, or when parents share custody of dependent children and the children live in both homes throughout the year. Even if your ex is claiming your child this year that doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from claiming Head of Household status, which generally requires you to claim your dependent children on your return. Be sure your tax preparer understands your unique situation to ensure the correct filing status is selected.
Standard vs. Itemized Deduction A standard deduction is available to each and every person that files a tax return. The deduction amounts are adjusted every year for inflation and vary depending on your filing status. For 2011, the standard deduction for married taxpayers filing jointly (MFJ) was $11,600. This deduction is available to all MFJ taxpayers no matter the type or level of income. Itemized deductions include specific deductions, such as medical expenses, property taxes, mortgage insurance, and charitable contributions. If a taxpayer’s itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction, the itemized deductions are used to reduce taxable income. Thankfully when determining which deduction to use, standard or itemized, we take the greater of the two. Most states have similar provisions for standard vs. itemized deductions, although each state is a little different. Itemizing on your federal return will not preclude you from itemizing on your state return as well.
Credits vs. Deductions
Within the Code there are tax credits and tax deductions. But what’s the difference? A tax deduction is an item that will reduce your taxable income. As mentioned above, your itemized deductions reduce your taxable income. Deductions can also be “above the line” deductions, which reduce your AGI. A tax credit on the other hand, reduces your tax bill, not your taxable income, dollar for
dollar. Your total tax bill is calculated by applying the applicable tax rate to your taxable income, which is your AGI reduced by your deductions and exemptions. Finally, there are refundable and non-refundable credits. Non-refundable credits will only provide you with a credit enough to bring your tax bill to zero. Any non-refundable credits in excess of the amount you owe in tax will be disallowed. A refundable credit will generate a refund for you even if you owe no tax. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit, from which you will receive a refund even if no tax has been paid. I challenge you all to learn these concepts and understand how they apply to you personally. Having a basic understanding of how your tax return is prepared will help you appreciate why we ask the questions we ask when trying to look at the big picture and long-term tax planning. We rely on you to make sure we have all the information we need when preparing your tax returns, so having a grasp on what items are considered income and deductions will help you help us in making sure your tax return is filed accurately.
Circular 230 Disclaimer In accordance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we must inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication, unless expressly stated otherwise, was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matter(s) addressed herein.
N o t e : G l ac i e r S y m p h o n y & C h o r a l e ’ s
Written by Gail Jokerst Photo by Brenda Ahearn for Glacier Symphony and Chorale
fortunate, indeed. When he was hired six
years ago as Executive Director of the Glacier Symphony & Chorale (GSC), Satterlee not only landed his dream job in the Flathead, he received a golden opportunity to support an organization that enhances his community.
“I was humbled by the ability to make a decent living in the art world in a place like this,” says Satterlee, whose path to overseeing this popular nonprofit was—to say the least—circuitous. After graduating MSU with a degree in geology, Satterlee embarked on a 19-year career with Texaco. That job took him as far away as China, Burma, and Indonesia and though it held a promising future, it came at a high cost. “I loved being a geologist but found the travel overwhelming. I felt like I was leading a double life. When my kids were young I was gone so much, I knew I needed to make a change,” he recalls. When Satterlee finally took the leap, he was amazed to hear several co-workers say, “I wish I had the guts to do that.” “So many people get trapped in corporate jobs they dislike and won’t take the risk to leave. Although I would have been set for life if I’d stayed, I gave up my retirement security. You get chained to that stability if you allow yourself to,” says Satterlee, who grew up in Whitefish. “I was uncertain where my career would lead but it wasn’t hard to find something meaningful. It’s especially nice to be back in the Flathead. Stress here is on a whole different level. Instead of an hour-and-a-half wait on a freeway you have three cars in front of you.” After leaving Texaco, Satterlee began exploring the non-profit sector looking for the right fit for his talents and interests. He eventually chose the humanservices arena where he could use his well-honed business and people skills. “Much of what I did previously prepared me for working with GSC. For example, when I was Texaco’s country manager in Burma, I was the only ex-pat in the office and the only person who could handle certain problems,” remembers Satterlee.
“Our guest artists play with the world’s major symphonies. After performing here, they want to return to the Flathead. They recognize the passion our musicians have to play their absolute best,” he observes. “Time and again, I hear them say it’s one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve had to make music together.”
“On any one day, I’d deal with politics, direct the secretarial staff, and fix the toilet. In a situation like that, you’re on your own. You have to work with the resources at hand and be creative with how you do things.” While he may now reside in America rather than a third-world country, he finds things haven’t changed all that much. “People would be surprised to learn the different things I do in this job, from raising money; to finding volunteers to mow the lawn; to dealing with last-minute venue changes. Sometimes it seems like I shift from one thing to another every five minutes,” says Satterlee, who also trouble-shoots any audience-related problem that arises during concerts. One time, he watched warily as a concertgoer with tear-glistened cheeks headed towards him during intermission. Thinking the woman might have gotten hurt, he steeled himself for bad news. Instead, he discovered she had targeted him for an entirely different reason. After explaining that she was attending her first Glacier Symphony performance, she told him she never dreamed the music would hit her so hard, that it would be so moving. “Classical music is that important to people,” says Satterlee. “It adds a richness to life. Our mission is to promote a cultural capacity so people understand that.” With his warm smile, calm demeanor, and business savvy, Satterlee is as adept at his behind-the-scenes job as YoYo Ma is at bowing his cello. During his tenure as Executive Director, Satterlee has seen GSC’s budget almost double and helped the organization grow into a year-round attraction. Now music aficionadas can attend the week-long Festival
Amadeus in the summer, performances of Handel’s Messiah in the winter, plus a wonderful range of concert and chorale programs in between. “Our musicians are passionate about their craft. They do what they do for the love of playing music not for money or recognition. We’ve created an organization, which allows them to do that. Since they want to play as much as they can and be challenged,” he explains, “we put on twice as many orchestral concerts as other symphonies of our budget size.” Satterlee has also been pleased with how enthusiastically GSC’s professional guest artists have responded to the local musicians. “Our guest artists play with the world’s major symphonies. After performing here, they want to return to the Flathead. They recognize the passion our musicians have to play their absolute best,” he observes. “Time and again, I hear them say it’s one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve had to make music together.” On his days off when he’s not outdoors skiing, hiking, or fishing, Satterlee relaxes by creating pen-and-ink and acrylic paintings. His first public showing will be during May at the Colter Coffee House. Stop by to see his whimsical designs and discover yet another facet of this local gem. For information about GSC, visit www.gscmusic.org or call 406/2573241. Festival Amadeus kicks off with a free outdoor concert at Whitefish’s Depot Park on July 22. Mark your calendar! 29
Susan Gilman & Coni Bjelland Glacier Quilts
by Kristen Hamilton - Photo by Mike Potter
From the outside, one might think that quilting is a passive, quiet hobby reserved for the older generation. After meeting with the owners of Glacier Quilts, Susan Gilman and Coni Bjelland, I’m convinced that it is quite the opposite.
“Quilting is a very social activity,” says Susan. After 14 years in the business, they have built a community at Glacier Quilts and welcome new members with open arms. Susan and Coni are a mother/daughter business that through the years has had just about every member of their family contributing with personal areas of expertise. Even Coni’s two young children help by being stars of the bi-monthly newsletter that outlines class schedules and quilting events for their customers.
Susan’s mother taught her to sew when she was nine years old. She was involved in 4-H and generally grew up around sewing. A friend introduced her to quilting and she hasn’t looked back since. Seeing the need and following her passion of quilting, she decided to open Glacier Quilts. They started in a much smaller location with only 350 bolts. In quilting, a bolt is a long piece of fabric that’s usually wound on a flattened cardboard tube, making it easy to stack for display. They moved to Hutton Ranch four years ago to a much larger space and now have 14,000 bolts as well as a large classroom. Susan said, “I like sharing my love of fabric with the customers. It’s very satisfying when I can help them create a heirloom." At Glacier Quilts, the customers become friends and family in a happy and supportive environment.
Coni started as the bookkeeper and over the years has taken on more and more responsibility. She learned to quilt by making a simple table-runner and has evolved her art into long-arm custom quilting. She also designs stencils that can be purchased internationally. “I love ordering the new fabric and seeing it before it’s on the shelves. I also really enjoy helping customers with the different fabrics,” she said.
Owning the business means a lot of work, but it does offer Susan and Coni flexibility in their schedule, which is very important to both of them. “It’s almost a 24/7 job and we wouldn’t work this hard for someone else,” Susan said. Thankfully, they have a great staff that comes from a wide variety of backgrounds, but the common thread is a love of sewing and helping others. Being a family-oriented business and their customer service is what sets Glacier Quilts apart from other stores.
I witnessed an example of this when a customer was able to purchase a special-sized table that Susan had purchased. Often products are added which they don’t normally carry for the benefit of their customers. It is an extra service that is appreciated.
When you walk around the store, you’ll notice beautiful quilts hanging on all the walls. Many of the display quilts are either available to purchase or the staff can help you make one for yourself. Susan said, regarding quilts, “We can teach you to make, we can make one for you, or you can get one that is already done." They offer classes throughout the month for beginners to advance quilters. With the recent downturn in the economy they are seeing a larger variety of quilters who want to learn to make a quilt
for a gift. Not only younger ladies, but even a few males, are now hooked on quilting.
Glacier Quilts are also dealers for Baby Lock and Elna sewing machines, which are the top of the line in the business. Susan’s husband, Marty Gilman is the certified repairman for these machines. Stressing the community spirit of quilting, the shows in the area are a must for Susan and Coni. They are active in the Bigfork Quilt Show in June, the Whitefish Quilt Show held every other July, the Eureka Quilt Show held every August, and the Flathead Guild Show in September.
When asked what they did in their limited free time, the answer was “sew." They did say that they also try to enjoy our wonderful area as often as they can with fishing, hiking, boating and the usual activities that bring so many of us to the Valley. Whether you are a quilter or just enjoy looking at beautiful handiwork, I encourage you to stop by Glacier Quilts and say hello to Susan, Coni and the rest of the staff!
Glacier Quilts 125 Hutton Ranch Road Kalispell, MT 59901 406-257-6966 www.glacierquilts.com
Open Monday-Friday from 10:00am-5:30pm and Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm. Please check website for monthly class schedules.
spotlight} Mama Lode C onversations with I nspiring M ontana E ntrepreneurs
Elke Govertsen Mama Lode® Magazine Written By Julia Williamson Photo By Athena Photography
“It’s not how to be a mom, it’s about being a mom,” said Elke Govertsen, publisher and editor of Mama Lode® Magazine.
Elke first launched her business career in Alaska at the age of 16. “I built my mom a hot tub,” she said smiling. After building her mom a hot tub, Elke and a friend started a welding company. She said that is where her business sense started.
Eventually Elke headed back towards Montana where she spent her summers growing up. She attended Bellingham College where she studied Therapeutic Recreation. “My dream was to be a camp director,” she said laughing. Today she feels her life is like being a camp director.
After Elke married her husband Paul, she found out she was pregnant. None of her friends were having kids yet, they were all simply working on step one – getting a dog. “I didn’t know anyone with kids.” She couldn’t find any answers, and the realm of motherhood seemed quite foreign. “Everything was airbrushed and about finding the perfect birthday party or how to lose weight,” she said. At that moment, in 2008, Elke created Mother’s Day Eve Bash®; where mother’s get to enjoy themselves for an evening. The first year had 45 mothers, and over the past four years it has grown to over 400 mothers. "I woke up, 'We need to do something. The local businesses need this,'" she said. On May 9, 2009, at the second Mothers Day Eve Bash®, Mama Lode® Magazine was launched. Mama Lode® Magazine, based out of Missoula, MT, is a community where real-life stories of children, families and mothers are shared. The magazine first went out to the airports. “It was us or Sky Mall,” Elke said smiling.
Now, three years later, Mama Lode® Magazine print subscribers reach to all 50 states and nine other countries.
The magazine’s online presence is continuing to grow. Mama Lode® socially can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The next issue will be on iPad. “This is our first on purpose national product,” Elke said. The iPad version will have the greatest hits, the new issue, a special role from the contributing ‘kiddos’ and local advertisements.
“Montana is a great place to have the magazine” she said. “We can grow, but keep it here,” Elke said. “We never do ‘how to’ articles, we do first-person stories”. She described the magazine as a magazine that includes all stories; there are pieces for mothers and grandmothers of all ages. “I tend to think really big,” Elke said. She plans on continuing to grow Mama Lode® in various other avenues over the years. “I have discovered I am very entrepreneurial,” she said.
Elke described her life as a win-win. When she launched the magazine her oldest son Boone was in preschool. That year there was two issues and an online presence. Then, once both of her sons Boone, 9, and Dimitri, 7, were in school full days, more issues came out. “More time has opened up, and I have more than filled it,” she said. Elke lights up when she talks about her sons, and how every morning she gets to drop them off at school, read in their classrooms, pick them up from school and help them with homework, eat dinner with them and put them to bed. “It redefines the working mom." Elke said and added that she appreciates being able to be with her kids so often and have the magazine. “I don’t feel limited by my gender,” she said. Elke feels that if people underestimate her as a woman, then it gives her a great opportunity to surprise them.
The Spring Issue of 406 Woman Business Vol.4 No. 24