July/August 2023

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Quite the honor!

A prestigious recognition of this talented team

Congratulations to Karl Nikodym Wealth Management Group on being named a Forbes America’s Best-In-State Wealth Management Team for 2023.

The Forbes rating is compiled by SHOOK Research and awarded annually in January, based on information from a 12-month period ending March of the prior year. Eligibility is based on quantitative factors and is not necessarily related to the quality of the investment advice.

This team has been recognized for leading the way in providing exceptional experience for their clients. This recognition is a testament not only to their talent but also to their ability to collaborate and problem-solve, always putting clients first and empowering them to pursue what matters most to them. We invite you to explore what this level of dedication could mean for you and your family.

UBS Financial Services Inc.

4150 Second Street South, Suite 500 Saint Cloud, MN 56301


800-444-3809 toll free


For more information on third-party rating methodologies, please visit ubs.com/us/en/designation-disclosures. As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, UBS Financial Services Inc. offers investment advisory services in its capacity as an SEC-registered investment adviser and brokerage services in its capacity as an SEC-registered broker-dealer. Investment advisory services and brokerage services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate arrangements. It is important that you understand the ways in which we conduct business, that you carefully read the agreements and disclosures that we provide to you about the products or services we offer. For more information, please review the client relationship summary provided at ubs.com/relationshipsummary, or ask your UBS Financial Advisor for a copy. © UBS 2023. All rights reserved. UBS Financial Services Inc. is a subsidiary of UBS AG. Member FINRA/SIPC. CJ-UBS-1217894151 IS2300078 Exp.: 05/31/2024

Cover Story


If Regional Diagnostic Radiology’s Mary Hondl agrees to a task, consider it done.



• Turn your critics into advocates

• Strategies of successful women

• The importance of customer experience

• Got grants?

Main Phone: 320-251-2940 / Automated Reservation Line: 320-656-3826

Program Hotline: 320-656-3825 / information@StCloudAreaChamber.com StCloudAreaChamber.com

President: Julie Lunning, 320-656-3804

Director of Finance and Operations: Bonnie Rodness, 320-656-3806

Director of Programs & Events: Laura Wagner, 320-656-3831

Director of Marketing & Communications: Emily Bertram, 320-656-3809

Director of Downtown Planning & Development: Tyler Bevier, 320-656-3830

Director of Member Engagement: Antoinette Valenzuela, 320-656-3834

Administrative Assistant/Network Administrator: Vicki Lenneman, 320-656-3822

Administrative Assistant: Shelly Imdieke, 320-656-3800


Main Phone: 320-251-4170

Executive Director: Rachel Thompson, 320-202-6728

Director of Sales: Nikki Fisher, 320-202-6712

Sales Manager: Craig Besco, 320-202-6711

Sports & Special Events Manager: Mike Johnson, 320-202-6710

Marketing Manager: Lynn Hubbard, 320-202-6729

Information Specialist: Olivia Way, 320-251-4170

JULY/AUGUST 2023: 6 Editor’s Note / 20 Network Central CONTENTS GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT EXPLORING CENTRAL MINNESOTA’S BUSINESSES. 40 THE GIVE AND TAKE OF HYBRID WORK With the wide array of benefits and downfalls of hybrid work schedules, central Minnesota companies get creative. 42 SHE MEANS BUSINESS Women entrepreneurs are doing big business in Central Minnesota and beyond. 48 WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY 8 UPFRONT Valuable information designed to guide and educate 22 BUSINESS TOOLS Useful tips and intelligence on how to continue to grow your business 58 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT Sandra and Dan Meer, Clear Waters Outfitting NETWORK

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© 2023 Bremer Financial Corporation. All rights reserved. Bremer and Bremer Bank are registered service marks of Bremer Financial Corporation.

Expectations: Exceeded!

In mid-July, I celebrate my one-year anniversary as director of marketing and communications for the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, and one year as editor of Business Central Magazine. Looking back on the last 12 months, I need to start by saying … WHEW! This organization is busy. As soon as one event, initiative or publication ends, another three are waiting in the wings. I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been overwhelming. But it has also been incredibly rewarding to learn more about the St. Cloud area business community, meet so many inspirational people, and accomplish such great things together.

provides access to legislators through a variety of engagement opportunities. I have loved getting more involved with advocating for the small business community, from the monthly meetings to the annual Washington, D.C., trip. We are lucky to have a Chamber that is so well connected to elected officials.

There are so many volunteers who give their time and talents to the Chamber. Behind the scenes of all our events and initiatives are individuals who devote hours of their time –on top of working their actual jobs.

I knew the Chamber was all about networking and growth – but I learned that it’s much more.

There are so many volunteers who give their time and talents to the Chamber. Behind the scenes of all our events and initiatives are individuals who devote hours of their time – on top of working their actual jobs. Getting to know the volunteers better has been beyond rewarding. They are smart, driven, and determined to make a difference. They are the power behind our Chamber. Without over 20 committees, the Chamber could not function.

The St. Cloud business community is full of bright minds who are working to help small businesses succeed. I have been humbled by these smart leaders’ willingness to share what they know. From Lunchtime Learning speakers to Business Central authors, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really brilliant people who are making a difference in Central Minnesota.

I have loved getting more involved with government affairs, an area I have avoided in the past. The Chamber

Above all, I don’t think that I really understood everything that our Chamber has to offer. From the leadership program to professional dialogue groups, there are so many opportunities to engage, learn, network and grow. Behind the scenes of all of this is a network of incredible volunteers, as well as staff who are driven to serve members and small business in every initiative they work on.

I have had so much fun learning about the Chamber this year, and there’s so much more to come! Mary Hondl, CEO of Regional Diagnostic Radiology considers herself a lifelong learner. Me, too! Mary has been with RDR for 22 years and she’s still ready for more. You can read her story on page 34.

I’m nowhere near that 22 year mark, but people like Mary are an inspiration. If these last 12 months are any example, I can’t wait to see what I learn in the next few years. Thank you for allowing me to get to know you better and tell your stories. Here’s to another year of connecting, learning, and growing!

Until next time,

6 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 EDITOR’S NOTE
Left: Emily Bertram, Editor, and Mary Hondl, CEO of Regional Diagnostic Radiology, share stories St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce staff at the 2023 Business Awards (from left): Antoinette, Emily, Julie, Bonnie, Shelly, Laura and Vicki Staff photo by Yuppy Photography; Emily and Mary photo by BDI photography

Publisher Julie Lunning // Editor Emily Bertram Founding Editor Gail Ivers


Emily Bertram, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

Julie Braun, Smart Organizing Solutions

Whitney Ditlevson, Stearns Electric Association

Dr. Fred E. Hill, St. Cloud State University

Ari Kaufman, freelance writer

Clint Lentner, Northland Capital

Lynn MacDonald and Sabrina Nuwera, St. Cloud State University

Jeanine Nistler, freelance writer

Alexa Sandbakken, Stearns History Museum

Chad Staul, Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A.


Associate Publisher/Sales

Melinda Vonderahe, Marketing Consultant

Ad Traffic & Circulation

Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media


Design & Production

Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media

Cover Story Photography

Joel Butkowski, BDI Photography


Vicki Lenneman, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

1411 West St. Germain Street, Suite 101, P.O. Box 487, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0487 Phone (320) 251-2940 Fax (320) 251-0081

BusinessCentral Magazine.com

For advertising information contact Melinda Vonderahe, (320) 656-3808

Editorial suggestions can be made in writing to: Editor, Business Central, P.O. Box 487, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0487 or emailed to ebertram@ stcloudareachamber.com

Submission of materials does not guarantee publication



Marilyn Birkland, SCTimes/LocaliQ

Ron Brandenburg, Quinlivan & Hughes

Doug Cook, Headwaters Strategic Succession Consulting LLC.

Tanja Goering, Board Vice Chair

Joe Hellie, CentraCare

Ray Herrington, Pioneer Place on Fifth Patrick Hollermann, InteleCONNECT

Hudda Ibrahim, Filsan Talent Partners

Kevin Johnson, K. Johnson Construction, Board Chair

Matt Laubach, West Bank

Bernie Perryman, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Past Board Chair

Laurie Putnam, St. Cloud School District 742

Paul Radeke, BerganKDV

Brenda Sickler, Theisen Dental

Donella Westphal, Jules’ Bistro

Dr. Jason Woods, St. Cloud State University

Colleen Zoffka, Park Industries

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 7
© Copyright 2023 Business Central, LLC. Business Central is published six times a year by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, 1411 West St. Germain Street, Suite 101, P.O. Box 487, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0487. Phone (320) 251-2940 / Fax (320) 251-0081. Subscription rate: $18 for 1 year. Your spine and brain matter. Nothing is as vital to a full life as a healthy spine and brain. CentraCare neurosurgeons are specialists you can trust. Expertise makes the difference. Talk to your doctor about CentraCare for spine and brain care.

The Fourth “R”

The gift and purpose of this book is in its subtitle: Create a More Meaningful and Satisfying Life. The principal conclusion made by author Robert Waldinger is that “good relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us live longer. This is true across the lifespan, and across cultures and contexts, which means it is almost certainly true for you, and for nearly every human being who has ever lived.”

Daniel H. Pink, noted No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, says of this book, “Waldinger and Schultz have written an essential – perhaps the essential – book on human flourishing. Backed by extraordinary research and packed with actionable advice, The Good Life will expand your brain and enrich your heart.”

This book has 10 chapters and a conclusion:

Chapter 1. What makes a good life?

Chapter 2. Why relationships matter

Chapter 3. Relationships on the winding road of life

Chapter 4. Social fitness –keeping your relationships in good shape

Chapter 5. Attention to relationships – your best investment

Chapter 6. Facing the music

– adapting to challenges in your relationships

Chapter 7. The person beside you – how intimate relationships shape our lives

Chapter 8. Family matters

Chapter 9. The good life at work – investing in connections

Chapter 10. All friends have benefits

Conclusion. It’s never too late to be happy

There are many things that can contribute to being

happy. However, there are fewer things over time. Even fewer over a lifetime. Waldinger and his co-author, Marc Schulz, conclude that “few things affect the quality of our lives as much as our connections to others. As we’ve said many times before, human beings are primarily social animals. The implications of that fact may be vaster than many of us realize. Basic education is sometimes referred to as the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Because early education is meant to prepare students for life, we believe there should be a fourth R in basic education: relationships.” We can care and share, and care again.

St. Cloud Hospital earns honors

Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospital

In an independent quality analysis, PINC AI™ evaluated more than 900 U.S. hospitals and singled out 50 that achieved superior efficiency, clinical outcomes and patient experience for cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular hospitals that rank in the top 50 have significantly higher survival rates, fewer patients with complications, lower readmission rates and reduced costs.

Hospital Partner of the Year Award

St. Cloud Hospital received LifeSource’s Hospital Partner of the Year Award on April 15 at Donate Life Day for nurturing a culture of organ, eye and tissue donation over the past year. In 2022, St. Cloud Hospital collaborated with LifeSource to care for 19 donors and their families, more than any other previous year and nearly doubling from 2021. Because of the generosity of these donors and their families, 71 organs were donated and 59 lives were saved.

8 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 NEWS REEL INSIDE THIS ISSUE : People to Know / Digging History / Do It Now! / The Trouble with Business
Dr. Fred E. Hill is an emeritus professor at St. Cloud State University.
Over the course of a lifetime, there are few things that contribute to happiness more than our connections to others.
The Good Life, Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness; Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, PhD; 2023, Simon & Schuster, New York, ISBN 978-1-9821-6669-4


Leaders Among Us

Get to know these influential people in your community

Jeremy Salzbrun

H & S Heating, A/C, Plumbing and Electrical

(320) 654-1522


Chair: Waite Park Chamber

The Waite Park Chamber, a division of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, is a place where business, education and government come together for the betterment of the community. Programs include the Waite Park State of the City address.

Jason Miller Premier Real Estate Services (320) 761-8500 jason@jason millerhomes.com

Chair: Star Celebration

The Star Celebration is the Chamber’s annual volunteer recognition celebration. Committee members are responsible for planning the event and soliciting sponsorships.

Tommy Traeger

BerganKDV (320) 251-7010

Thomas.traeger@ bergankdv.com

Chair: NEXT-Chamber’s Emerging Leaders

NEXT-Chamber’s Emerging Leaders provides networking and educational opportunities designed for the NEXT generation of business leaders in Central Minnesota.

Sarah Forystek

Vye Marketing Agency

(320) 230-1223 ext. 201


Chair: Sauk Rapids Chamber

The Sauk Rapids Chamber, a division of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, promotes a healthy business environment in the community of Sauk Rapids. Volunteers and committee members work in cooperation with member businesses, local government, the public school system and other community organizations. Programs include the Sauk Rapids State of the City address and the Rock the River Business Expo.

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JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 9
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Metro Bus takes home awards

Daniel earns 'Most Admired CEOs' title

Metro Bus CEO Ryan I. Daniel was named one of 2023’s 10 "Most Admired CEOs" by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. The award recognizes the professional accomplishments, outstanding leadership, and community involvement of top leaders in Minnesota. Daniel has been the CEO of Metro Bus for 10 years.

Mobility & Training Center


The Metro Bus Mobility & Training Center was named the first winner of the TripSpark Community Partner of the Year Award at the annual TripSpark Ignite User Conference in April. The award recognizes “the transit agency among TripSpark and Routematch customers that is most proactively improving community access and implementing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives.”

Important Conversations

The annual St. Cloud Area Washington, D.C., trip addressed many challenges and questions.

Metro Bus CAO recognized

Metro Bus Chief Administrative Officer Sunny Hesse was named as the 2023 Minnesota Public Employers Labor Relations Association’s (MPELRA)

Excellence in Labor Relations Award winner at the association’s annual conference in February. The award recognizes “an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the management role in public sector labor relations during their career.”

Workforce, immigration, and housing topped the lists of concerns when Central Minnesota Business leaders headed to Washington, D.C., in April. Members of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity to meet and share their concerns with House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, Rep. Pete Stauber, and Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar. Participants also heard presentations from the Tax Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Workforce: Business leaders shared their struggles with hiring and retention. In meetings with Smith and her staff, the group learned about the Youth Workforce Readiness Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation with Sen. Lindsey Graham that would promote partnerships

between afterschool providers and businesses allowing young people to explore career paths and opportunities that help them get jobs and thrive in the workforce.

In meetings with The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, participants learned that “The Great Resignation” should really be named “The Great Reshuffle,” as the national quit rate is around 2.6% where the national hiring rate is closer to 4%.

Childcare: Tied closely with workforce issues is the challenge of finding child care. According to the United Way of Central Minnesota, the St. Cloud area has over 4,400 children in need of child care. When parents are unable to find care for their children, they are unable to work. The group met with Klobuchar, who recently introduced bipartisan legislation with

Sen. Dan Sullivan to address the nationwide shortage of affordable child care. The Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act would provide grants for states to train child care workers and build or renovate child care facilities.

Immigration: An H1-B visa “applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent,” according to the Department of Labor. In 2022, there were 308,613

Left: The St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce group outside House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s office Above: Meeting with Timothy Vermeer of the Tax Foundation

applications for H1-B work visas in the United States.

131,970 H1-B visas were granted, which means that 176,643 fewer highly skilled and qualified workers were allowed to enter the U.S. job market. Business leaders shared concern at the visa lottery cap, stressing that immigration reform should be a priority. During the meeting with the U.S. Chamber, it was discussed that the last time any major immigration reform took place was in 1986, with a smaller bill in 1990. The group agreed that 33 years of relatively stagnant immigration policies is far too long.

Taxes: Always at the forefront of any business discussion, the group met with Timothy Vermeer of the Tax Foundation for an overview of Minnesota’s current tax structure and the future of taxes in the state. According to its 2022 State Business Tax Climate Index, Minnesota ranked 45th overall out of all 50 states. The index looks at how well states structure their tax systems and provides road

maps for improvement. In individual tax categories, Minnesota ranks as follows:

zoning updates. Peter also said a walkable downtown would entice more housing demand in that area. —EB


D.C., I want in!

The annual Washington, D.C., trip with the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce is an opportunity to share your voice on a large scale and learn more about the challenges facing business nationwide. If you have any questions about joining the trip next year, contact Chamber President Julie Lunning at 320-656-3804 or jlunning@stcloudareachamber.com.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 11
Ask for Don’t let bone and joint pain get in the way of putting yourself first. Take your orthopedic health and wellness back with care from a team of nationally-recognized local specialists and physical therapists. Choose St. Cloud Orthopedics, live better. sctimes.com #ChooseSCO StCloudOrthopedics.com Sartell & South St. Cloud

Magnifi Financial lenders named Top Producing Loan Officers

Tonia Zimmer, Adam Hess, and Michael Edenborg were named Top Producers by Minnesota Housing for their homeownership program loan production volume during 2022. Minnesota Housing supports and strengthens homeownership by working with local loan officers like those at Magnifi Financial to provide affordable homebuyer loans.

Stearns Electric Association finalizes board

The following have been elected to Stearns Electric Association’s board of directors: Scott Dirkes, Osakis, will serve a three-year term representing District 7; Greg Blaine, Little Falls, and Eric Peterson, Grey Eagle, were re-elected in District 1 and District 8, respectively, and will each serve a three-year term.

Bragelman receives award

Mark Bragelman, CEO of Liberty Bank Minnesota, received the LEAF 742 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Bragelman has been with the bank for 48 years. He has given back to his community in many ways, most notably through his work in organizing the annual Liberty Block Party, his service on the St. Cloud City Council, as a Salvation Army past board member, and as founding director of the Downtown Council. The LEAF 742 Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes outstanding District 742 alumni who live in St. Cloud and have made a positive impact to the community.


The Candy Man

Walter C. Jones and the Jones Candy Company brought sweetness to St. Cloud

Walter C. Jones holds the honor of making the first ice cream sundaes ever served in St. Cloud. He made it with ice cream he manufactured in his store using sweet whipping cream.

Jones was born in 1873 in Philadelphia. He began learning the candy business while working for companies in Fargo, ND; St. Louis, MO; Peoria, IL; and St. Paul. In 1893, Walter married Anna E. Jones in Hudson, Wisconsin. In 1897, he and Anna opened a candy store in St. Cloud.

To draw in customers, Anna would sit at a table in the doorway and dip chocolates. As soon as people tried Jones’ candy, they were loyal customers. In 1899, he moved from 522 St. Germain Street to a larger space at 506 St. Germain Street. By 1907, Jones needed even more space. He moved again to 510 St. Germain Street where he could manufacture 95% of the candy sold in his shop. In the heart of the business district, the Jones Candy Company found its niche.

In 1907 the new candy shop could seat 66 patrons, and Jones installed a modern soda fountain. One year Jones sold 800 pounds of candy canes in addition to 987 pounds of “old-fashioned broken mix” and other candy. Jones became known as the Candy Man. He even gave tours through his production facility and explained how sanitation and quality ingredients were part of his success.

Jones had a recipe file with more than 40 types of candies. He sold candies not just in the United States, but around the world, with customers as far away as Italy and France. People would even bring their favorite candies to Jones Candy Company for him to replicate. He once recreated a Chicago pecan bonbon for a local man, who then transferred all his candy orders to Jones.

While chocolate mints and English toffee were his best-known candies, Jones had other specialties as well. Around Christmas, Jones

specialized in peanut brittle, spun sugar Christmas tree ornaments, and sugar sticks spun into candy canes.

Jones’ bookkeeper’s son, Ray Galarneault, wrote how he used to watch Jones make candy. They would dip each kind of chocolate differently so you could tell the candy apart by the design on top. For example, a curl could mean caramel while a different finish meant maple cream. Timing was very important for making taffy and candy canes, so the candy makers had to do things at exactly the right time.

Anna Jones passed away in 1940 and the Candy Man’s saga ended when Jones retired in 1941, selling his business space to the owners of Klock’s Tick Tock café. Walter C. Jones died in 1948.

12 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Alexa Sandbakken is the managing editor at Stearns History Museum. Courtesy of Stearns History Museum 1907: The interior of the Jones Candy Company, St. Cloud; company advertisement

Business Central asked: Who has been the most influential woman in your life, either personally or professionally?

DeAnn Burns, Terebinth Refuge

"I really respect my close friend Gloria Rajkowski, the owner of Cornerstone

Steve Nusbaum, St. Cloud Technical & Community College

“I have known Mary Swingle with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota for years, and worked with her in a number of capacities, and she has always been a great leader and mentor."

Jim Gruenke, Mark J. Traut Wells Inc.

"Mrs. Garding was my English literature teacher in high school. She taught me the proper way to write, and I enjoy writing today because of the appreciation I gained from her English literature class."

"My former area director at Applebee’s, Jenny Barkmeier, was more than a boss – she was a leader. No job was too big or too small, and she wasn’t afraid to work hard. We went through a lot together, and she helped me see things from a different perspective."

Self Storage. We talk about business ideas and high-level business strategy. I help her, and she encourages me. It’s fun to have a friend who you can enjoy personal and professional time with."

Carol Copeland, cabi by Carol Copeland

"My mom. She had a great sense of humor, and I still miss her giggles."

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 13
Craig Besco, Visit Greater St. Cloud
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Catholic Charities acquires Granite City Counseling

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud has acquired Granite City Counseling. Catholic Charities' Behavioral Health Clinic will become Granite City Counseling, a Program of Catholic Charities. Counseling services will continue to be provided at 911 18th St. N, St. Cloud, as well as through telehealth. As a result of this change, Catholic Charities will be better able to serve the mental health needs of the community.

St. Cloud State recognized as a top broadcast school St. Cloud State University has once again been nationally recognized by the Broadcast Education Association for being one of the top broadcast schools in the country based on the creative achievements of students. In Sports Production, St. Cloud State was ranked No. 4, followed by a ranking of No. 33 in News and No. 21 in the overall list.

McKinley-ALC Staff receive award

Kathy Lyerly and Mike MyersSchleif have been recognized by President Joe Biden as recipients of the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer service at the St. Cloud Veterans Administration. Lyerly and Myers-Schleif have led student volunteers from McKinley-ALC at the St. Cloud VA for over 25 years. The award is bestowed on those who contribute more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service in their lifetime.

Gallegos joins AIS Planning

Miguel Gallegos has joined AIS Planning as operations manager. Gallegos has been with the company since May of 2023.


Coordinate the Chaos

Organizing your workspace helps reduce stress and increase productivity.

phone wires, folders, scrap paper, and other distracting clutter from view.

Containerize. Use trays or stackable file holders. Put pens, scissors, and other office utensils in a pen holder or drawer. Numerous products are available to fit your individual needs.

Label everything. Don’t just label your file folders, but also label the outside of your filing cabinets to describe the contents in each drawer. Consider using clear plastic sleeves for each project in your inbox to keep documents separated and easily found.

Aclean workspace not only gives a positive impression to visitors, but it also increases productivity. Additionally it offers fewer distractions for the task at hand, reduces stress, increases mental stability, and improves concentration. It also enhances your mood at work, and helps you feel more relaxed at the end of your workday.

When contemplating reorganization of your office, ask yourself the following:

What is or isn’t working?

What are your pain points?

Is there too much, not enough storage, or both?

Do you prefer things out of sight or in plain view?

Do you understand the source of the disorganization?

If your office was organized, how would it feel?

What needs to happen for this to be a successful effort?

Once you’ve thought through it, it’s time to begin.

Start with your desk. Only keep items on your desktop that you use every day. Hide computer and

Develop a system. Use file cabinets and develop a filing system that works for you. If your desk doesn’t have much storage space, consider a rolling file cabinet for easy access when you need critical files. Consider colored file folders:

• Blue for employee documents

• Red for permanent documents

• Green for financial documents

• Yellow for client files

Organize digitally. Saving invoices and other records digitally reduces a crowded file cabinet and also reduces paper waste. Plus, creating folders and

14 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Contributor Julie Braun is the owner of Smart Organizing Solutions (SOS) and the SOS Treasure Chest.

subfolders in your email reduces time when searching for a particular email.


Only keep the things you need and throw or shred the rest. Stacks of unread magazines or other materials will most likely remain unread if you haven’t used or read it in the last year.

Manage your time.

Keep your calendar up to date and have a to-do list for each day. You can also ritualize your workday to prepare for the next day before you leave the office so that you feel more relaxed when you go home, and more motivated to begin the next day.

All of these tips are helpful to declutter and destress. But how do you get started?

Start small – do one area of your office at a time.

Remove all contents from your desk and other workspaces, sort it all out, and then reintroduce what you are going to keep.

Clear away the trash, including old software, unused cables, and those unread magazines mentioned earlier.

Downsize unnecessary or excess items, including old office supplies that you don’t use.

Consider rearranging the furniture for a better flow and feel in the office.

An organized office is going to benefit you for many reasons, but finding the time and energy to create a better workspace is easier said than done. Invite a coworker or a friend to assist. We tend to get acclimated to our surroundings, and a second set of eyes is helpful and may provide some great ideas.

Touring St.Cloud

Lt. Governor visits Great River Children’s Museum

Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan visited the future home of Great River Children’s Museum in April as part of a state funding request project site tour. Great River Children’s Museum (GRCM) received $7 million in state funding. The funding allows the museum to begin construction, which will take approximately one year. They anticipate the grand opening in late 2024.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 15

Stop Playing Telephone

Effective internal communication is key for a thriving company culture.

one person to misinterpret the words or tone of an intended message and create internal confusion, misinformation or even resentment. Internal communication is hard.

But it is also extremely important.

Keeping all employees on the same page (or email, or Zoom message, or Teams board, or intranet site, etc.), with appropriate internal communication is key. Company culture, reputation and success may just depend on it.

Communication and Culture

Successful and effective internal communication directly impacts company culture and leads to engaged employees, better collaboration and increased productivity.

Quick Tips for Effective Internal Communication

Members of Forbes’ Communication Council developed a number of suggestions for ensuring crystal clear internal communications, including:

1 Implement an internal relationship management (IRM) strategy

2 Focus on internal communication just as much as external communication

Imagine you’re back in first grade, giddy with excitement as you sit in a circle with your classmates. You were picked to go first, and you excitedly whisper a message into the ear of your friend sitting on your right. You wait in anticipation, watching the message travel from ear, to ear, to ear. Finally, the person on your left shouts, “Alligators wear purple rain boots!”

Uh… what? That was definitely not your starting message.

In today’s business world, especially as our companies offer more virtual and hybrid workspaces, communicating internally is similar to a giant game of telephone. Messages travel across multiple circles made up of coworkers, departments, office locations, states and countries. It takes just

“Communication is probably the most critical cultural imperative contributing to employee satisfaction, connection, growth and opportunity at ATS,” Marti Reisinger, marketing support specialist, Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), emphasized. “It is central to helping us achieve our mission to help people –including our internal people – succeed.”

With its headquarters in St. Cloud and locations nationally and internationally, ATS is no stranger to the importance of internal communication. It has become even more important,

3 Think of your employees as stakeholders – be clear and concise and use visuals, when possible, to draw employees to the main message

4 Don’t assume everyone will understand the meaning within your message

5 Be direct, honest and authentic

For additional tips on effective internal communications, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com.

16 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Contributor Whitney Ditlevson is communications and marketing supervisor at Stearns Electric Association.

thanks to the recent pandemic. “Internal communication took on a whole new role during the pandemic. At one time, we had 50 percent of our employee population working from home for social distancing purposes, so the day-to-day connection between people that we are accustomed to here at ATS needed to be reimagined,” Reisinger said.

ATS is not alone.

Organizations and employees everywhere continue to face internal communication challenges, even post pandemic. According to a report by The Harris Poll and Grammarly, nearly 3 in 4 business leaders struggled with communicating

effectively over the last year. Most of those leaders and employees indicated they were concerned about effective communication in remote or hybrid working models. In the same study, 9 in 10 business leaders recognized that poor communication impacts employee morale and productivity, and erodes company reputations.

Methods Matter

Finding the right internal communication methods prove just as important as communicating the actual messages. With so many options, it’s important for businesses to recognize their organizational

structure, know their employees and choose communication vehicles that will work best for them.

“At ATS, email, video and posts to our internal intranet are pretty effective for in-office audiences, but we supplement those communications relevant to drivers on the road with live social media events, messaging through our driver app, and sometimes, just good old correspondence mailed to driver homes,” Reisinger explained. “We have had a printed, quarterly newsletter for many years. While it seems like an antiquated form of communication, our drivers and their families, who are key stakeholders in our company,

love to receive it and it is widely read.”

Effective internal communication is vital to the success of any organization, especially in today's reimagined workspaces. It helps keep employees engaged, fosters better collaboration and increases productivity. Poor communication can have negative effects on company culture, reputation and employee morale. Ultimately, investing in internal communication is investing in the success of your organization.

Robotics Personalize Knee REPLACEMENT


We’re happy to announce that St. Cloud Surgical Center has partnered with VELYSTM Digital Surgery to help personalize the knee replacement journey. Led by Orthopedic Surgeon Eric Green, MD, VELYSTM assists with preoperative patient engagement, surgical planning, surgical implementation and post-operative support.

The St. Cloud Surgical Center is the first free-standing surgery center in the world to have the VELYS robotic system installed for clinical patient use. It is a gift to surgeons to enable us to provide better care to our patients.”

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 17
Better Care, Better Costs, Better Recovery… Better YOU. 1526 Northway Drive, St. Cloud, MN 56303 | PH 800.349.7272 | stcsurgicalcenter.com



Vertex Home Inspections, home inspections, 311 12th Ave. S, Cold Spring. Pictured: Jason Miller, Colby Homer, Chase Larson.

N2 Company, creates private social magazines, 1109 Providence Lane, Sartell. Pictured: Jason Miller, Matt Westlund, Donna Roerick.

Midland Credit Management, helps in servicing accounts that fall behind in payment, 16 Mcleland Road, ste 101, St. Cloud. Pictured: Julie Forsberg, Bonnie Trigg, Josh Knebel, Kristi Kranz, Rick Badeaux, Kirsten Voller, Austin Delap, Anna Bialka, Eric Johnson.

Central Minnesota Dementia Community Action Network (D-CAN), improve access to dementia care in the community, 3701 12th Street N, ste 103 St. Cloud. Pictured: Jason Miller, Tami Kolbinger, Patrick O’Rourke, Dr. Patrick Zook, Sheri Moran.

Indigo Signs, full-service sign company, 1265 Kuhn Drive, ste 200 St. Cloud.

Pictured: Donna Roerick, Kathy McMillan, Kathy Otte, Eric Gibson, Angela Dahl, Aaron Brom, Josh Vraa

Back row: Matt Brasel, Kari Nuteson, Mark Richards, Dan Combs, Erik Bagley.

Sobriety First Treatment Center, chemical dependency treatment, 266 33rd Ave S, St. Cloud. Pictured: Jason Miller, Caren Yurek, Summer Roth, Tim McLean.

Ann Daniels Healing Salon, hair care and body sugaring, 304 third St N, Waite Park. Pictured: Jason Miller, Rebecca Ann Peterson, Debbie Clausen, Kristin Hannon.

Resiliency Coaching, business, leadership and individual life coaching, 223 third Street NE, Waite Park, MN 56387. Pictured: Brady DeGagne, Kelly Doss, Donna Roerick.

Lifeflow Massage & Wellness, massage, 80 37th Ave S, St. Cloud. Pictured: Brady DeGagne, Tamara Mathies, Donna Roerick.

Building Controls Group LLC, HVAC controls and building automation, 120 Osseo Ave N, St. Cloud.

Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, John Zappa, Susan Zappa, Paul Ravenberg.

18 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
familiar with new business, a remodel, expansion, or new ownership around town.

Innate Healing Craniosacral & Bodywork Therapies, myofascial, craniosacral and biofield therapies, 225 N Benton Drive, ste 204, Sauk Rapids. Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, Danielle Palmateer, Paul Ravenberg.

PeopleReady, employment agency, 637 second Street S, Waite Park. Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, Nyachang Thuok, Aaron Heath, Jenn Engen, April Diederich.

What Would Bri Do dba Bri’s Lodge, nonprofit working with families grieving the loss of a loved one, Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, Bruce Powlish, Tami Kruzel, Jason Miller.

Wyndham Garden- Otsego, MN LHR Management LLC, hotel, waterpark, full restaurant, 9200 Quaday Ave NE, Otsego. Pictured: Carl Newbanks, Nathan Jans, April Diederich.

Allied Blacktop Company, contractor in asphalt maintenance construction and rehabilitation, 10503 89th Ave N, Maple Grove.

Pictured: Brian Jarl, Michael Capistrant, Jason Miller.

Jupiter Moon, hand-crafted, artisan ice cream, 15 E Minnesota Street, ste 108, Saint Joseph. Pictured: Eric Johnson, David Boyer, Julie Forsberg.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 19 NEW MEMBERS

MORE ON EVENTS: For information on these or other business events, call 320-251-2940 or visit StCloudAreaChamber.com and click on “Calendar.”

Grow! Network! Profit!

20 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Jodi and Rich Erkens, Audio Video Extremes, the 2023 St. Cloud Area Small Business Owners of the Year with their family Tina and Jay Mrozek, Blacklight Adventures, the 2023 St. Cloud Area Emerging Entrepreneurs Michelle Henderson, BadCat Digital Marketing, 2022 St. Cloud Area Emerging Entrepreneur (L); Lyndsey Stram and Cathy Mehelich, City of St. Cloud Mary Hondl, Regional Diagnostic Radiology, the 2023 Business Central Mark of Excellence: Women in Business Champion Larry Logeman, Executive Express, 2015 St. Cloud Area Small Business Owner of the Year Christy Gilleland and Bill Knoblach, Gilleland Chevrolet Cadillac Jeremy Johnson, Frandsen Bank & Trust (L); Troy Lenarz, Regional Diagnostic Radiology and Doug Cook, Headwaters Strategic Succession Consulting Wendy Haus, Catholic Charities (L) and Betsey Lund Ross, Lund Ross, P. A. Rep. Bernie Perryman, Batteries Plus, 2019 Athena Award Recipient and Julie Lunning, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce president St. Cloud Area Chamber’s Business Awards Luncheon recognizes excellence in business. Photos courtesy of Jeff “Yuppy” Yapuncich, YuppyPhoto

For additional photos visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 21
(From Left) Business Central Mark of ExcellenceWoman in Business Champions: Melinda Tamm, Ms. Melinda’s Dance Studio, 2020; Brenda Eisenschenk, InteleCONNECT Inc., 2019, and Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation Inc., 2012 Nick Bischoff (L) and Jim Schoon, Design Electric Steve Paasch, GLTArchitects, 2002 St. Cloud Area Small Business of the Year Melissa Kelley, J. F. Kruse Jewelers, 2014 St. Cloud Area Small Business of the Year Jenna Binsfeld, Newport Healthcare (L) and Tricia Schelper, Schelper Coaching Kevin Johnson, K. Johnson Construction, chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and 2017 St. Cloud Area Small Business Owner of the Year
Nor-Son is an awarded contractor for Sourcewell and AUTHORIZED NUCOR BUILDER. Nor-SonConstruction.com NOR-SON CONSTRUCTION DELIVERING EXCELLENCE IN EVERYTHING WE DO.
Stacy King, Gabriel Media (L); Paula Capes, Falcon National Bank and Donna Roerick, Advantage Chiropractic


Keep Your Money

Using a mix of tax deductions and credits can reduce your tax liability.

community development program that encourages long-term investments in low-income and urban communities nationwide. There are 128 Opportunity Zones in Minnesota, as designated by the Governor. Companies are eligible to receive several tax deferrals and exclusions as it relates to capital gains if funds are invested into an Opportunity Zone.

real estate taxes, investments, foreign-earned income and professional service fees

• Personnel: Salaries and benefits, retirement contributions, medical expenses, education and child/dependent care

• Operations: Advertising and promotion, startup expenses, moving expenses

If large and small businesses have one thing in common, it’s the desire to reduce tax liability. This can be done through tax deductions as well as tax credits. It’s important to understand the difference between the two as you plan for your organization’s financial responsibilities.

Tax Credits

Think of tax credits as essentially a tax gift card. Tax credits directly lower your tax bill by the amount of the credit. For example, if your company owes $15,000 in taxes, a tax credit of $1,000 would reduce your bill to $14,000.

Examples of tax credits include those related to the Family Medical Leave Act, disability, and health insurance. These are some tax credits that

are specific to the state of Minnesota:

• Greater MN Job Expansion Program: This provides tax benefits to businesses located in Greater Minnesota that increase employment by a minimum of two full-time equivalent employees or 10% of current employee numbers, whichever is greater, within three years.

• Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credit: Companies that incur certain R&D expenses like supplies, wages, and nonprofit contributions are eligible for this credit, which is equal to 10% of qualifying expenses up to $2 million, and 4% for expenses above that level.

• Opportunity Zones: Opportunity Zones are a

Tax Deductions

More in line with a percentageoff-coupon, a tax deduction reduces your total taxable income. For example, if your taxable income is $100,000, a tax deduction of $5,000 would reduce your taxable income to $95,000. Come tax time, that would be the income amount you are taxed on.

Deductions are typically expenses that are related to business operations, such as:

• Travel: Business meals, travel expenses and car usage, client and employee entertainment

• Overhead: Home office expenses including office supplies and internet and phone bills

• Banking: Interest, bank fees, depreciation, mortgage interest,

• Other: Charitable contributions, energy efficiency expenses

Which is better?

It is not so much which is better between credits and deduction, but what is the right mix of the two to benefit your bottom line. Businesses can claim both credits and deductions on their taxes, but cannot claim both a tax credit and a tax deduction on the same expense. If you’re stuck debating between the two, it’s best to calculate whether a credit or deduction would give you more tax savings. However, most often, credits result in more savings than deductions. Consulting a qualified tax professional can help to best minimize your tax liability.

Compiled by Emily Bertram

22 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Working Well / Management Toolkit / Tech Strategies
Central by Falcon Bank

Bye Bye Barcode

With more and more stores and shoppers using self-checkout lanes, it’s becoming increasingly important to streamline the checkout process. Enter: SeeWare, the new technology produced by U.K.-based SeeChange Technologies and Cincinnati-based checkout manufacturer Diebold Nixdorf. The new artificial intelligence powered technology uses machine learning to recognize produce and other non-scannable items during checkout, eliminating the need to scroll through lists to find avocados and bananas. According to SeeChange CEO Jason Souloglou, SeeWare is expected to increase self-service checkout use by 33% and self-checkout speed by 67%. Source: WinsightGroceryBusiness.com


Heart Month Donation

St. Cloud Toyota donates $9,600 // In honor of Heart Month, St. Cloud Toyota donated $100 for every car sold during February to the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 23
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A Culture of Trust

Creating a workplace that encourages positive mental health starts with building trust.

at your employee handbooks, internal emails, and even break room literature, she said. Does it feel safe for all? It should use people-first language, like saying “adult with depression” versus “depressed adult,” Doss explained.


A culture of trust comes from the top-down, according to the panel members. If leadership is consistently working over 40 hour weeks, working while on vacation, and clearly not prioritizing mental health, that sets a precedent for the rest of the employees. Managers need to pay attention to their current work behaviors and reflect upon whether they promote positive mental health and wellness.


Mental health is part of everyone’s reality – it’s impossible to leave it at the door when you cross the threshold into work. That was the message delivered by a panel of mental health experts at a recent Lunchtime Learning sponsored by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

Step one is creating a culture of trust, according to Laura Holtzheimer, vocational specialist at Central Minnesota Mental Health Center. “What it comes down to is building

relationships with your employees from the get-go, so that there is trust, and so you notice if something seems off,” she said.


Whether in marketing or internal communications, your language should be inclusive and welcoming. “It’s the person first, not the diagnosis,” Kelly Doss said. Doss is the owner of Resiliency Coaching in St. Cloud. “Language does shape our reality.” For instance, look

Having open and safe conversations is also one of the easiest ways to build trust, and it’s easy to do. The panel outlined some tips for effective conversations:

Acknowledge how hard it is. These types of conversations are tough. Acknowledge your employee’s bravery in sharing their struggles with you, and make sure they know how much you appreciate it. Make sure employees know what they share with you is private.

Keep questions open-ended. Instead of yes or no questions, encourage employees to share

more by leaving your questions open-ended. Also remember that you don’t need to have answers, you just need to listen.

Remind them of your goal. Remind employees that your goal is to help them be successful. Share mental health resources with them, and make sure they know you’re willing to be flexible if it means they get the help they need.

Remember that everyone is human. While we’re all busy at work, we also need to remember that we’re all human. “Everyone has a life outside of work,” Holtzheimer said. “Try to take an individualized approach to every situation.”

It’s helpful to remember that trust is a two-way street, DeAnn Burns said. Formerly with Functional Industries, Burns now works at Terebinth Refuge. “When those conversations happen, two people are thinking about trust. As a manager, the role is to be a curious, compassionate observer,” she said. “You don’t have to be the therapist – you can listen and then offer the right resources.”


When business leaders have mental health resources front and center, it says that they see mental health as a priority. “It’s not just giving it to employees at orientation and saying ‘here’s a list of stuff,’ but really bringing it

24 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 WORKING WELL

to the forefront,” Doss said. Send out weekly email reminders of local resources. Include hotline numbers in break room signage. Create safe spaces for employees to ask for help in private, she suggested.

Walk the Walk

It can be a challenge to demonstrate that your company supports your employees’ mental health. The panel offered these ideas to truly become an advocate:

• Sponsor mental health related events and initiatives.

• Provide adequate pay, PTO, and health insurance to allow employees to take care of themselves.

• Start a wellness committee that focuses not only on physical but mental health for employees.

• Allow employees time to volunteer during work hours. “We know that volunteering and doing good really does help with how you’re feeling,” Doss said.

• Budget for professional development to promote growth and give employees a reprieve from daily tasks.

Reducing the stigma of mental health is key to getting individuals the help they need to be successful, according to Doss. And we can all play a part in continuing this important trend in small but impactful ways. “It’s good to see that there’s a shift going on with mental health having prominence in the workplace,” she said.

Emily Bertram is the editor of Business Central Magazine and director of marketing & communications of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

It’s a place where heroes gather, work and train; where volunteers risk their own lives to save property and their fellow citizens; where everyday people become extraordinary. 320.363.7781 wgohman.com

At W. Gohman, we have been creating environments where people work, play, and learn for more than 70 years. From renovation and historic rehabs to large and technically complex projects, our mission is the same: to create beautiful, functional gathering places that bring the community together. Because it’s not just a fire station. It’s our future.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 25
not just a fire station.

Employers, employees, & the use of marijuana

Minnesota’s evolving marijuana law has impacts on the workplace – do you know your rights?

Minnesota is steadily becoming a state that both legalizes and normalizes marijuana use. To help navigate that reality, it’s important to understand Minnesota’s evolving cannabis law and related employee protections. As we move forward, it will be crucial to balance the need to maintain a productive work environment with the rights of employees.


On May 29, 2014, Minnesota legalized medical marijuana under the Medical Cannabis Act (MCA). In general, the MCA allows patients suffering from one or more of certain enumerated conditions to

register with the Minnesota Department of Health to use marijuana for medicinal purposes provided it was delivered in liquid, pill, or vaporized form.

Edible Cannabinoid

On June 2, 2022, the Governor signed House File (H.F.) 4065 into law. As a result, Minnesota allows the sale and consumption of certain edible cannabinoid products to those age 21 or older. Under this law, recreational marijuana is still illegal in Minnesota, and only the THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana) derived from hemp in the amounts noted within the law, can be legally consumed.


On May 30, 2023, Governor Walz signed a bill into law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Minnesota. Under the new law, Minnesota residents who are 21 years and older can possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana in public, and 2 pounds at home. The law goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2023.

Marijuana/THC in the Workplace

Minnesota law provides considerable protections for employees and applicants who use marijuana or cannabis products, either medically or recreationally. Those protections are found explicitly in the MCA, as well as implicitly in several laws, including Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (“DATWA”), and Minnesota’s lawful consumable products statute.

The MCA explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against or otherwise penalizing an employee or applicant based on:

1 The employee’s status as a patient enrolled in the medical marijuana registry program

2 A registered patient’s positive drug test for marijuana; unless the patient used, possessed, or was impaired by medical cannabis on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.

Although both protections are important, the second protection creates a noteworthy exception for employers who choose to test employees under DATWA.

Issues arise under DATWA where employees, who have the right to explain a positive test result, inform an employer that the positive test was due to lawful use. In that situation the positive test result, standing alone, is likely not enough to act. Rather, employers need to show the employee used, possessed, or was impaired while at work or during the hours of employment. While it may be easy to determine use or possession, the challenge lies in showing impairment. To that end, there must be additional objective evidence. For this reason, many employers choose not to test employees, relying instead on other management tools.

Minnesota’s position on marijuana also implicates its lawful consumable products statute. This statute prohibits employers from taking adverse action against a job applicant or employee for consuming lawful products outside the workplace, which now includes medical marijuana and edible cannabinoid products, with recreational marijuana likely to soon follow. Although this statute prohibits employers from acting because an employee lawfully consumed marijuana, it does not protect employees if consumption negatively impacts the employee’s job duties or has some other adverse impact on the work environment.

Employer Considerations

Below are a few things an employer may want to consider in

26 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Contributor Chad A. Staul is an attorney at Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A., and sits on the employment, medical malpractice, and trust litigation teams.

the short term when thinking about marijuana/THC in the workplace: Update the drug-free workplace and workplace testing policies to clearly define illegal drug use.

Have discussions with medical professionals to understand testing methods and what level of THC in the body is indicative of impairment.

Before taking any disciplinary action, ensure the reason for that action is grounded in objective evidence of impairment and/or how the behavior impacts the employee’s job function or work environment.

If a test result comes back positive, have a discussion with the employee to allow him or her to provide an explanation. That explanation may highlight other potential issues.

Marijuana and THC in the workplace are important topics that deserve further detailed consideration, especially as legislation continues to change in the state of Minnesota.

Hot Topic

According to Pew Research Center surveys of U.S. adults about legalizing marijuana:

81% think marijuana should be legal for recreational or medical use

79% of those who oppose legalization feel it would cause more car accidents

66% favor releasing people from prison who are held for marijuana-related offenses only

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 27
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Protecting Yourself in Cyberspace

Security basics are still effective in staying safe online.

older brother Esau by dressing in his clothing and covering his arms in lamb skin to fool his blind and dying father into giving up his blessing of the firstborn. Again, we can see similar tactics being used in phishing emails. Thousands of years have passed, but the core of this technique remains the same – albeit without the lamb skin.

Emerging Cyber Attack Tactics

Protect Yourself & Your Organization

Now that we’ve pulled back the curtain a bit, you may notice some familiar security recommendations:

Take a moment before responding to any calls to action. Were you expecting a file attachment or shared file? Do you normally sign in after clicking a link? Were you expecting to provide information to the person requesting it?

This past year has seen significant growth in, and adoption of technology advances due to the popularity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. With all this growth, there are significant benefits. However, when placed in the hands of threat actors, how does AI affect our ability to protect ourselves?

A Brief History

Before we attempt to predict the future, it’s helpful to revisit the past. In our connected world, one of the most common and successful methods of cybercrime starts with impersonation—an age-old concept used to mislead by pretending to be something you’re not.

In early human history, the Greeks left their wooden horse outside the city gates of Troy. As the story goes, the Greeks chose to build a horse, as it was the symbol of Troy and left it outside the city gates as a gift. They selected a desirable object to impersonate, which allowed them to gain access inside the city gates. Sound familiar? For years, we’ve been told not to open files or attachments (“Trojans”) we weren’t expecting, as this same method has been used successfully to bypass computer security defenses (city gates).

Another story of deception includes twin brothers Jacob and Esau from the biblical book of Genesis. Jacob, the younger son, impersonates his

Fast forward to today and the explosion of AI-generated content. We can expect more improvements in both AI-powered viruses and security solutions, continuing the cat-and-mouse game of security. Although things may look different, the methods of delivering malware and stealing credentials will still heavily rely upon what works—phishing and impersonation.

Knowing the core elements of impersonation attacks will mostly remain the same, the methods threat actors use to gather and process information about their victims will be greatly amplified through AI and machine learning. Expect more accurate phishing emails, improved password brute forcing, and AI-generated videos, photos, and phone calls. It’s nothing we haven’t already experienced, but now implemented at a much faster pace and available to a broader audience than ever before.

Implement strong, unique passwords for each account— use a password manager to make things more manageable.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) wherever possible. This way, if your password is compromised, you have another safety net before your account is stolen.

Be mindful of what you and your organization share online. Google yourself to understand how it could be used against you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If something seems off, or you accidentally clicked a link, entered your credentials on a suspicious website, or opened a file you weren’t expecting, please let your trusted IT person kno w as soon as possible. Often, IT can minimize damage when notified early before it balloons into a much larger issue.

28 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Contributor Clint Lentner is the director of information technology at Northland Capital and a Microsoft-focused technologist. FAST TIPS

Picturing Weeds

amount of herbicide in the environment, but also saves on herbicide costs for the farmer. The system currently works with corn, soybeans and cotton.

For farmers, weeding their crop fields is just part of the gig. But what if there was an easier way to kill weeds that was also more efficient and environmentally friendly than current methods? Now there is, with the John Deere See & Spray

Ultimate. It looks like a regular boom sprayer, however each nozzle is fitted with a camera that uses AI to instantly detect what is weed and what is crop, then only spray the weeds. By spraying just the weeds it not only reduces the

Another company, Precision AI, uses drones to fly over farm fields in the Midwest to target weeds. The drones fly about 10 feet above the ground and spray weeds based on an AI powered database of crop and weed imagery it uses for comparison. Stay tuned for when the garden version is available.

Source: BBC.com

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JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 29
Photo John Deere.
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The Minimum Wage Debate

There is a delicate balance between increased wages and decreased job opportunities.

felt in the restaurant and retail industries. In Minneapolis, retail trade showed job losses of 28.8% and limited-service and fullservice restaurants showed losses of 29.9% and 40.5% respectively in 2021. Similar results are appearing in St. Paul as well.

are lost in low-skill roles. While some studies have shown alternate results, those studies tend to relate to unusual scenarios or the use of specific statistical techniques. According to labor economist, David Neumark, “the debate about whether the minimum wage costs jobs is over.” It does lead to job loss. This doesn’t necessarily mean the higher minimum wage is bad, but it does point to a cost associated with the minimum wage.

As of May 2023, the minimum wage rate in Minnesota is $10.59/hour for large employers. This reflects a 26 cent increase in January 2023. Recent legislative proposals have recommended gradually raising the minimum wage. While no federal legislation has passed mandating a $15 minimum wage, some states and cities have been adjusting minimum wage upward toward that mark. In Minnesota, both Minneapolis and St. Paul have been using a phased implementation to push minimum wages higher. This plan will raise their minimum wages

through the summer months until it reaches $15 by July 2023.

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis are currently exploring the effects of the continual increases in the minimum wage in the Twin Cities. While the research is still underway, several important preliminary findings stand out. First, on average, businesses are experiencing approximately a 6% increase in labor costs. Additionally, in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, rising employee wages have contributed to job loss and fewer hours worked –the effects of which are most


A team of economists led by Jacob Vigdor, professor of public policy studies at Duke University, developed a new model for understanding how the minimum wage affects the service sector. They look at how businesses respond to the higher minimum wage rates during differing levels of demand. Their work suggests that the minimum wage might be tipping the scales when businesses are experiencing moderate demand. Even during times of moderate demand, the higher wage seems to be encouraging firms to reduce operating hours.

Economic theory tells us that setting a minimum wage that is above the market wage will result in fewer low-wage jobs available to workers. This basic understanding from economic theory has been repeatedly validated by research. Most data shows that the higher minimum wage has a negative effect on jobs. Moreover, unemployment is more prominent when looking at jobs that require the least number of skills. In other words, more jobs

Understanding the impact of minimum wage increases is complicated. There are both costs and benefits associated with minimum wage increases. In Seattle, Vigdor found evidence that increasing the minimum wage increased earnings for more experienced workers and made it harder for teens to get jobs. While increasing the minimum wage won’t increase job opportunities for inexperienced workers, it may help assist the most vulnerable workers.

One reason to have a minimum wage is to help the most vulnerable workers. This is not the only way to help those who are in poverty. There are federal and state policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that help to improve living standards and that directly address poverty. These policies, along with the minimum wage, all work together to support low-income earners.

As minimum wages increase, there will be job losses. Ultimately, finding a balance between promoting reasonable wages for workers and maintaining a healthy business environment is crucial.

30 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 Economy Central presented by
Sabrina Nuwera is an applied economics masters student at St. Cloud State University; Lynn MacDonald is associate professor of economics at SCSU.

Residential Building Permits


TOTAL: $ 17,093,306

Compiled by Shelly Imdieke, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

Totals represent data reported as of 6/7/2023

Commercial Building Permits

TOTAL: $21,129,140

TOTAL: $215,772,443

Unemployment Rates

TOTAL: $153,245,951

Non-Farm Jobs

Source: positivelyminnesota.com

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 31 $0M $20M $40M $60M $80M $100M December November October September August July June May April March February January 2023 2022 2021 Residential Building Permits 6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $0 $500k 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 2023 2022 2021 Home Sales Closed ST. CLOUD $0M $50M $100M $150M $200M $250M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan 2023 2022 2021 Commercial Building Permits 6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH TOTAL: $84,561,804 TOTAL: $88,202,416 TOTAL: $215,772,443 TOTAL: $21,129,140 TOTAL: $153,245,951 TOTAL: $ 17,093,306 $0M $20M $40M $60M $80M $100M November October September August July June May April March February January 2023 2022 2021
6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $0 $500k 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 2023 2022 2021 Home Sales Closed ST. CLOUD $0M $50M $100M $150M $200M $250M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan 2023 2022 2021
St. Cloud, MN MetroSA Minnesota United States -2.0% -1.5% -1.0% -0.5% 0.0% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% 2.0% A M F J D N O S A J J M A M F J
2022-23 -% CHANGE St. Cloud Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota United States
2022-2023 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% A M F J D N O S A J J M A M F J
Building departments
the following cities: St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Waite Park, St. Augusta, and St. Joseph. BUILDING PERMITS BY COMMUNITY Commercial 2021 2022 2023 #/$ #/$ #/$ St. Cloud 282 275 93 $105,238,005 $139,287,507 $12,138,715 Sartell 158 174 79 $18,230,359 $31,707,799 $2,488,739 Sauk Rapids 56 65 13 $12,310,906 $11,765,992 $1,627,153 Waite Park 122 170 82 $11,691,421 $21,617,182 $4,684,453 St. Augusta 12 10 6 $2,774,220 $300,363 $129,380 St. Joseph 44 96 9 $3,001,040 $11,093,600 $60,700
COMMUNITY Residential 2021 2022 2023 #/$ #/$ #/$ St. Cloud 777 612 295 $31,498,210 $24,252,325 $8,994,5478 Sartell 477 1,350 186 $28,930,350 $15,624,339 $1,793,465 Sauk Rapids 252 994 165 $9,116,510 $21,072,914 $5,433,328 Waite Park 54 49 7 $2,766,805 $1,155,337 $352,648 St. Augusta 113 110 10 $11,360,899 $12,380,467 $259,718 St. Joseph 162 181 27 $4,529,642 $10,076,422 $259,600 $80M December November October September August July June May April March February January WAITE PARK, $0 $500000 $1000000 $1500000 $2000000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 1500 2000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Home Sales Closed in St. Cloud Area 6 COMMUNITIESST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $200M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan WAITE PARK, $78,621,465 $63,885,721 $137,532,948 $12,581,424* $178,724,272 TOTAL: 1868 TOTAL: 182* TOTAL: 1823 TOTAL: $1,287,691 Data not released at time of print TOTAL: $1,604,677 $3,716,523* Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec COLOR KEY: Economy Central presented by
Source: positivelyminnesota.com Sources:

Building Permits

Housing/Real Estate sources: St. Cloud Area Association of Realtors, http://stcloudrealtors.com/pages/statistics.

Source: Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud


Travel is Big Business

Summer is in full swing and according to the Minnesota Office of Tourism, we plan to enjoy every minute! Here’s a look at traveler's plans for summer in Minnesota.

37% of traveler's plan summer trips about one to three months in advance

What are traveler's planning?

Top 4 Travel Destinations:

70% - Northeast Minnesota

47% - Metro Area

45% - Southern Minnesota

43% - Central Minnesota

Top 3 Events/Attractions:

74% - parks

56% - historic sites

50 + %

Over half of traveler's say time availability/scheduling and affordability are key factors in planning and destination selection

43% - community fairs and festivals

Top 3 Types of Dining:

70% - establishments with a patio

70% - restaurants, dine-in

57% - family friendly dining

Top 3 Overnight Accommodations:

62% - hotel or motel

39% - campground

26% - AirBnB or other short-term rental


70% 43% 45%

For the full report, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com

Source: Explore Minnesota Tourism April 2023 “Summer Traveler Plans Survey.”

32 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 GROW BUSINESS TOOLS
GROW $60M $80M $100M February January $0 $500k $1M $1.5M $2M 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 $100M $150M $200M $250M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan
CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, TOTAL: $215,772,443 TOTAL: $21,129,140 TOTAL: $153,245,951 TOTAL: $1,587,656 TOTAL: NOT REPORTED TOTAL: $1,420,811 $0 $500k $1M $1.5M $2M December November October September August July June May April March February January 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2023 2022 2021 Home Sales Closed in St. Cloud ST. CLOUD TOTAL: 1569 TOTAL: 284 TOTAL: 2010 TOTAL:
Lodging Tax Dollars ST. CLOUD $0 $500k $1M $1.5M $2M 2023 2022 2021 TOTAL:
Source: Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud
s’ Foreclosure Auctions STEARNS AND BENTON COUNTIES 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 2023 2022 2021 TOTAL: 69 TOTAL: 8 TOTAL: 31 SHERIFFS' FORECLOSURE AUCTIONS Residential 2021 2022 2023 Stearns Co. 17 55 6 Benton Co. 14 12 2 Benton County Sheriff's Civil Process; Stearns County Sheriff's Office ECONOMIC INDICATORS & TRENDS $80M December November October September August July June May April March February January WAITE PARK, $0 $500000 $1000000 $1500000 $2000000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 1500 2000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Home Sales Closed in St. Cloud Area 6 COMMUNITIESST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $200M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan WAITE PARK, $78,621,465 $63,885,721 $137,532,948 $12,581,424* $178,724,272 TOTAL: 1868 TOTAL: 182* TOTAL: 1823 TOTAL: $1,287,691 Data not released at time of print TOTAL: $1,604,677 $3,716,523* Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
WOMEN IN BANKING St. Cloud | Foley | Richmond | Ham Lake | Isanti | Maple Grove Soaring to great heights WE CELEBRATE OUR AMAZING WOMEN IN BANKING! FalconNational.com


AAsk Mary Hondl to do something and she’ll get it done, whether she knows how to do it or not.

That was Hondl’s modus operandi as a teenage nursing assistant in her small town’s nursing home, and during an array of jobs in various private and public venues over the years. And she’s stuck with that MO through her 22 years with Regional Diagnostic Radiology (RDR).

Hondl is RDR’s chief executive officer. But she says, “You can call me the janitor or whatever it is. The title means less to me. It’s important that others know what they can count on me for.”

Tereasa Simonson, MD, and Hoang Nguyen, MD, recruited Hondl late in 2000 to manage RDR, a practice that provides services to hospitals and clinics across the region. “Mary initially

impressed me for her common sense, unfailing cheerfulness, excellent interpersonal skills and ability to follow through on assignments unfailingly,” said Simonson, who now practices in California. “If Mary agreed to do a task, you could forget about it and consider it done. Even if she did not know how to do what was asked, she figured it out. As the years went by, she continually grew in knowledge and experience. She developed a nationwide network of helpful contacts that she could learn from.”

Hondl herself notes that lack of knowledge or experience has never prevented her from taking on even extremely complex projects. “I tend to be the person that, if you need something, it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll help you if I can, and if I can’t, I’ll find someone who can,”

34 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
If Regional Diagnostic Radiology’s Mary Hondl agrees to a task, consider it done.

Sound bite:



Personal PROFILE

Mary Hondl, 62 in August, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Diagnostic Radiology, Sartell, MN

Hometown: Mapleton, MN

Education: Undergraduate degree, St. Scholastica, 2007; MBA, University of St. Thomas, 2016

Family: Husband, Rick Hondl; four children, 11 grandchildren


Involvement: YMCA, CentraCare Foundation, New Beginnings, the Minnesota Radiology Society, and the national Radiology Business Management Association


1975-1979: Mapleton Community Home

1980-1982: St. Joseph's Hospital in Mankato

1982-1984: Naeve Hospital in Albert Lea

1987-1989: Moved to Sauk Rapids, worked at what was then Franklin Manufacturing and Stearns Manufacturing both in the HR Departments

1989-1992: Stearns County Sheriff's Department

1992-1997: St. Cloud HospitalRehab Department

1997-2000: St. Cloud HospitalImaging Department

2000-2001: CentraCare Clinic - supervisor over appointments and scheduling

2001-PRESENT: Regional Diagnostic Radiology - Practice Manager to CEO

Hondl said. “I think that most all of the radiologists would say, ‘We know Mary will take care of it.’ ”

She recalls being honest with Simonson and Nguyen when they asked her about joining Regional Diagnostic Radiology. “I told them about the things I didn’t know a lot about. I didn’t have a finance background. They assured me that they would help me get comfortable with that through education.”

Hondl remembers starting at RDR in January 2001 and jumping into a project to bring billing in-house. She spent six to 12 months learning how billing was being handled, understanding how the radiologists wanted it to work, hiring staff, and transitioning billing from CentraCare to RDR. “It was very successful,” Hondl recalls. “We bill all of our own services, and we bill for other people now.”

RDR had only two other staff members when Hondl joined the practice. Now there are 45. The number of radiologists has more than doubled, to 20. “We grew really quickly,” Hondl said. RDR added clinical, information technology and billing staff – and expanded the number of hospitals and clinics served. “It’s been a whirlwind of growth. Fun. Really fun for me. Super challenging. I don’t have one day that’s the same ever. I love that. I thrive on that sort of thing.”

RDR’s growth has included launching new services: the Vein Center in 2005, MedSpa in 2010, and Alliance Imaging with CentraCare in 2021. Fostering strong working relationships with other health care organizations is essential to RDR’s success, Hondl said. “We’re independent because we want everyone to know that it doesn’t matter that you belong to CentraCare or you belong to Essentia or whoever you belong to, we’re here as radiologists to help you and if there’s something we can do for you, that’s what we’re going to do.”


Hondl started and likely will end her career in the health care industry, but she took a few side trips over the years. When she was very young, she wanted to be a nurse. She loved working at the Mapleton, Minn., nursing home, and she listened in-

36 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023

tently to the stories her mother shared about working nights there while raising nine children during the day. Her mom, she said, was the quintessential caregiver. “I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to know what that felt like.”

Hondl moved to Mankato after high school and worked a couple of years as a secretary for a business, until the health care bug bit again. She was thrilled to get hired to work in switchboard, admissions, and the emergency room at the hospital in Mankato. “I loved everything about it,” she recalled. “I loved, loved, loved the health care arena.”

She married her first husband in the early 1980s, moved to Albert Lea and worked for a time in scheduling and admissions at the hospital there. Moves to Arizona, Minneapolis and St. Cloud necessitated job changes outside of health care, including several years with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, working first for Sheriff Charlie Grafft, then Sheriff Jim Kostreba. She eventually left county employment because she missed health care.

In the early 1990s, Hondl worked for two physiatrists at St. Cloud Hospital, then spent a few years as administrative assistant to Mary Super, who at that time was the hospital’s director of Imaging Services. “Mary was a good administrative assistant,” Super said, “but you could tell she didn’t feel challenged.” Hondl moved to CentraCare’s River Campus clinic as scheduling and appointments supervisor. She was in that role when Simonson and Nguyen approached her about managing RDR.

Business PROFILE

Regional Diagnostic Radiology (RDR)

1990 Connecticut Ave. S Sartell, MN 56377 (320) 257-5595



“She worked hard for what she got,” Super said, adding that Hondl has “played a strong role in making RDR what it is today. She earned what she has today. There is no doubt about it.”

Joe Klaers has worked closely with Hondl since he started as senior director of Imaging for CentraCare 6.5 years ago. “She’s genuinely a good person and cares about people,” Klaers said. “Whatever she does, you can see that in her.” Klaers also noted, “We are able to challenge one another respectfully and in the end we’re always in a good place.”

When Hondl started at RDR, she had not completed an undergraduate degree. She took evening courses at the College of St. Scholastica in St. Cloud and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2007. She followed that with a mini-MBA in finance from the University of St. Thomas, then took a health care class or two.

“I always wanted to get my master’s,” she said, and launched that effort in 2013. She earned that MBA from St. Thomas in 2016. “That was really, really a great experience for me. I feel like I learned more being in this business and being in a leadership role by going back and getting my master’s. Everything really clicked and made sense.” And, of course, the MBA has been helpful as she has grown in the CEO role.

Hondl can’t say enough good things about RDR. “We really have a wonderful operation,” Hondl said. “It’s fun. It’s exhausting sometimes and really stressful.” But she loves it and finds that “it’s hard sometimes to just let go of it” when she’s not at RDR. “If I truly want to be off and focused

Business description: Independent private physician practice, specializing in radiology; owned by 16 local radiologists. Physicians who join RDR must complete a two-year partnership track before becoming eligible to be a shareholder.

Staff: 20 radiologists; 45 other employees

2022 revenue: $21.1 million

2023 projected revenue: Similar to 2022

JANUARY 2001: Hondl joins Regional Diagnostic Radiology; within nine months she successfully transitions the business to an internal billing department.

2005: Opens the Vein Center, treating deep, superficial, cosmetic, and vascular anomalies

2009: Opens corporate office in Sartell, moves Vein Center to that location

2010: Opens the MedSpa, providing medical grade cosmetic treatments and injections

2021: In partnership with CentraCare, RDR opens Alliance Imaging, an outpatient imaging center on St. Cloud’s south side

JULY/A UGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 37 Business TIMELINE

Award Winner


RDR’s Mary Hondl has found success by creating relationships and building trust. It’s her leadership, relationship skills, and ability to learn on her feet that earned Mary the 2023 Business Central Mark of Excellence: Women in Business Champion Award.

Mary Hondl always wanted to be a nurse, and she began working as a CNA as soon as she turned 14. She moved to Sauk Rapids in 1987 and worked a few different jobs in the healthcare industry. It was her position of executive assistant in the imaging department of the St. Cloud hospital where she got to know the radiologists, including the leaders of Regional Diagnostic Radiology (RDR), Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Simonson.

A few years later, she was approached by Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Simonson, who asked if she would be interested in managing RDR. Mary recalls doubting herself, at least at first. “I remember thinking, if Dr. Simonson and Dr. Nguyen asked me to do this, they must think I can do this, so clearly I can do this.” She has been with RDR since 2001, when there were three employees, eight radiologists and three contracted hospitals.

Her first task and one of her proudest accomplishments in her role as CEO was to internalize the billing for RDR. By internalizing billing, RDR saw a 30% increase in revenue. Since then, RDR has added even more capabilities to better serve their patients. The Vein Center opened in 2005, MedSpa opened in 2009, and Alliance Imaging –a partnership with CentraCare –opened in 2021.

Mary earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Scholastica in 2007 and her MBA from St. Thomas University in 2016. “I’m a lifelong learner,” Mary said. “I think it’s super

important to keep yourself connected.” She prides herself on the ability to build relationships and meet people from all walks of life. “I love bringing on staff and growing and seeing what people are willing to bring to the table.”

RDR has always been a local group of physicians who live here and care about local causes. RDR has sponsored the new RDR Arena at the Scheel’s Sports Complex in Sartell, the local Boys and Girls Clubs, and new YMCA building. Mary has sat on the finance committee for the YMCA and the CentraCare Foundation. “We try very hard to keep our donations in the community and supporting the things that mean a lot to the community,” Mary said.

If you asked her back when she was an executive assistant, Mary would have said she never saw this career coming. “If I think back on the things that I’ve learned and what I’ve gotten to do, then it feels like 22 years,” Mary said. “I’ve worked in a lot of healthcare areas where there are women leaders – physicians, nurses and more –so I feel like I have a really good support system.” RDR now has 18 radiologists, three physician assistants, 54 employees and services 10 hospitals and multiple clinics.

Mary’s daring leap into leadership, constant desire to learn and grow, and ability to recognize the strengths of others has earned her the 2023 Women in Business Champion award by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

on what I’m doing, it’s usually when we’re on a bigger trip and I’m just not home.” If she’s simply hanging out at home on a day off, Hondl is happy to take work calls. “I’m pretty available to the radiologists because I think it’s important and I need to be, and I want to be available to them.”

As a leader, Hondl strives to cut people some slack. “Everybody gets grace. And I need grace because I’m not perfect. None of us is ever going to do everything right or have the capacity to do everything that needs to get done on some days.”

Her vision of good leadership means hiring the best people, letting them do their work, and building trust by taking time to understand and learn from them. “I’m only as good as the people that I lead,” she said. “If you have good team players that trust you, believe in you, then they’re going to work hard. The smartest thing any leader can do is hire someone smarter than you in an area, because why wouldn’t you? It’s the best thing in the world to be surrounded by people who care and are super smart.”

Hondl wanted to ensure that someone who cares and is super smart would follow her as RDR’s CEO. “This group of physicians has been great and really understands the importance of a good transition. They have a great deal of trust and faith in me to bring in someone who the staff is going to be comfortable with and like.”

They welcomed one of Hondl’s St. Thomas classmates as executive director in August 2022. Mark Laliberte is learning the operation and “has done just a fantastic job with the team, building trust and building relationships,” Hondl said, adding that he is data-driven, experienced in process improvement, and has successfully worked with the Legislature. Hondl has no specific long-term plans, but says that in a couple of years, “I’ll either be done or I’ll be cutting way back.”

38 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023

She has been delighted with her RDR job. “It’s been 22 years of really good opportunities and relationships. Even though I didn’t become a nurse like I wanted to at one point in my life, being in health care and working for RDR, which is truly in the business for the community and for the patients all the time, that’s what keeps me close to the actual patient care,” she said. “It makes me feel like I still am in health care providing a really good service, because the radiologists are.”

Between now and Hondl’s retirement, there is plenty for her and the Regional Diagnostic Radiology team to do. Their biggest current challenge is staffing and recruitment. “It’s a tough market right now,” she said, “the toughest in 22 years. We’re getting really creative. We need to get serious about what we can do differently. What’s the new market? What are the new trends? We are really working hard on retention, making sure we’re listening to our current staff and our current physicians to say, ‘What do we need to do differently? How does this look for you?’ As much as a challenge, it’s also an opportunity.”

Radiologist Simonson said Hondl is skilled at handling the tough stuff. “Mary can find humor in difficult situations, which is very effective at defusing tension. We often laughed together over frustrations, which made it easier to navigate problems,” Simonson said. “Mary is the type of person who makes people feel uplifted just to have her present, an incredible asset to an organization. Mary is an exemplary team member. We were lucky to hire her and benefit from her skills. I consider her a dear friend.”

Jeanine Nistler is a St. Cloud-based freelance writer whose career has included daily newspaper reporting and editing, as well as communications work in health care, higher education, and state government settings.



Many experts believe the 2020s have so far witnessed the biggest workplace transformation since the aftermath of World War II. Just three years ago, roughly one in six people worked from home. Less than a year later, that number soared to one third of the workforce working from home.


As the working world mends itself in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, depending upon your industry, you’ve likely noticed the office environment has changed. “Hybrid work” is now a common topic. A typical hybrid work model has employees in the office three days per week and two days at home.

Many people, especially those in white collar companies, believe the ability to work remotely is beneficial. It reduces the stress of a commute, employees are sometimes more productive at home, it allows greater flexibility and fewer distractions.

On the other hand, remote work schedules can have drawbacks, especially when it comes to a company’s culture and workflow. When companies realize that some core activities are no longer needed in-house, they can outsource those roles. The mental health of employees can suffer from the lack of social interaction, which includes intangibles like decreased ambition. In a


2022 survey conducted by Qualtrics of more than 3,000 workers and managers, 1 in 3 said their overall career ambitions had waned since COVID’s onset, and an even higher number — almost 40% — declared work to be less important to them than three years prior. Plus, fewer employees in service industries has led to price increases, supply chain bottlenecks, and downtowns – like Minneapolis – becoming emptier and more dangerous.

With this in mind, Business Central recently explored what

40 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023

local employers are doing to handle the transition, engage remote workers, and maintain a strong culture with fewer people in office.

Career Solutions in St. Cloud assists new job seekers and adults in established careers. After being fully in office prior to when the COVID-19 outbreak sent employees offsite, the company learned the value of in-person connections with clients. “Clients that we had a relationship with prior, maintained their commitment and engagement to the programs they were involved in,” Executive Director Tammy Biery said. “However, new clients who we started the relationship with virtually did not net the same results. Without the personal connection with their career planner, they were less likely to respond or follow through. But, I must say, we were glad we were able to find ways to serve job seekers during the pandemic, even if our results were not as strong as they traditionally were.”

Since some duties require detailed paperwork and documentation that’s easier to complete in a quiet place, Career Solutions realized that it’s important to identify tasks that can be better performed while working from home. However, longstanding benefits of inoffice work remain. “Now that we are back in the office three days a week, staff have shared that they learned new things by listening to a phone or in-person conversation their coworker has

with one of their clients while in the office,” Biery explained. “It’s also very easy to ask a coworker a question when you are in the office rather than when working remotely.”

With her experience, Biery believes that companies whose employees are 100% remote “will need to put extra effort into helping employees connect and build relationships in order to maintain their culture.”

For job seekers, Biery believes it’s important to find out if working at home is an option. “It can vary by position and employers know best what will work and what won’t in their organizations,” she said. “If you desire to work from home, make sure your definition of flexibility and work from home is the same as theirs.”

Jackie Bauer is associate director for employment and internships at St. Cloud State University. She said that, from the beginning of the pandemic, SCSU Career Center staff and counselors stayed updated on companies who changed their working environments. Changes were most noticed because "the world has moved forward either in response to moving past COVID or in response to employees wanting more flexibility in remote work opportunities,” Bauer said.

Their Employer Advisory Council — made up of local, metro, outstate, and central Minnesota employers — provides the current state of hiring and

helps students navigate what to expect from interview formats or hybrid, remote, or on-site work options, depending on industry, location or size. “We work really hard to connect employers to our students so that they are receiving coaching or feedback directly from employers. I think that’s something that SCSU Career Center does that is unique from other colleges in Minnesota and across the United States,” Bauer said.

SCSU brings several employers from various industries onto campus every week to coach students on resumes, interviewing and their LinkedIn pages. “Students can just drop by the Career Center any Wednesday and receive help, as well as talk to the employer about internship or job opportunities,” Bauer said. “But we also offer these coaching appointments in virtual format as well, so a student or employer who is out of state or out of the United States could attend and meet for a networking opportunity, too.”

Bauer is confident that “by staying flexible and nimble and quickly adapting our formats to employer and employee trends, we stay up to the minute and current.”

As a century-old company based in St. Cloud, Stearns Bank boasts a turnover rate well below industry standards, according to Pam Bjerke, the bank’s chief human resources officer. One of the reasons is because the bank regularly asks for feedback

from its team regarding work preferences. For those working offsite in recent years, Stearns offers a virtual benefit for team members and their families to visit with mental and physical health providers through telemedicine at no cost.

Stearns also encourages team events to connect face-to-face outside of work, and schedules all-company, in-person events bi-annually, where employees and their families can travel to St. Cloud to connect with peers and department teams. “We continue to perform significantly ahead of our peer group when it comes to retention,” Bjerke said. “We’ll continue to evaluate remote work periodically to ensure it’s the right fit for our team and that we can continue to perform at a high level.”

Pat Plamann believes remote work has its place, especially for the several Schlenner Wenner employees who make long commutes to the office.

“Remote working is very helpful for these employees, especially those with children,” the managing partner said.

With half its staff still working offsite in some fashion, the central Minnesota CPA firm engages remote employees with daily meetings via Microsoft Teams. Schlenner Wenner also regularly schedules time where supervisors check in “to ensure our staff stay connected,” Plamann added. “I believe as long as we work effectively as a team and our work is done timely and accurately, there will be an option to work at least partly remote,” Plamann said.

A former schoolteacher and historian, Ari Kaufman has worked as a journalist in various roles since 2006. He has published articles in a dozen newspapers and written three books.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 41
“Now that we are back in the office three days a week, staff have shared that they learned new things by listening to a phone or in-person conversation their coworker has with one of their clients while in the office.”


Being a successful entrepreneur takes grit and passion. It takes vision and faith. It takes an undying devotion to a mission, and a clear understanding of goals. And perhaps, a little bit of arrogance.

Take the first step. For some people, entrepreneurship is in their blood. Melinda Tamm is the owner of Ms. Melinda’s Dance Studio. “I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur. I always had that instinct, that drive,” Tamm said. She founded the dance studio in 2006, has since moved to larger spaces twice, and currently employs full- and part-time staff and regular dance instructor

guests. “Knowing where the weaknesses were in our industry at that time gave me the confidence that there was a need for something different.”

Brenda Eisenschenk, owner of InteleCONNECT Inc., had that same desire. “When I first met my husband when we were in college, we talked about being entrepreneurs, but we just didn’t know what,” Eisenschenk said. After working for several telecom companies, she found herself craving the freedom and flexibility of owning her own business. “When the opportunity came up to start my own business, I decided that there was a better way to do telecom in the area,” Eisenschenk said. She started InteleCONNECT

in 2007 as a solopreneur and now has four employees, as well as a partnership for wireless services with Intelligent Wireless Management.

For Michelle Henderson, her company grew more out of a need than a deep-rooted desire. “I did not grow up in an entrepreneurial family and it didn’t even occur to me as an option until all of the other options seemed to be limited or exhausted,” Henderson said. When she moved from Minneapolis to the St. Cloud area, she wasn’t able to find a position at an existing agency that really fit her needs. Plus, she saw the need for more digital marketing in the area, so in 2017 she started BadCat Digital Marketing.

42 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Women entrepreneurs are doing big business in Central Minnesota and beyond.

Have a plan.

Just as the most important part of a house is the foundation, the most vital tool in starting a business is having a plan. “Write it down on paper,” Eisenschenk said. “If you write it down on paper and have a really good map or plan, that’s a good start. And then present that plan to someone.” Understanding your business at its core is vital. “When you start with a good foundation, it’s really going to help you to stay focused and grow within the business,” Eisenschenk said.

According to a 2018 Forbes article, competition is one of the five most common reasons small businesses don’t succeed in the long term. That’s why it’s so

important to understand and communicate what you have to offer that differentiates your company. “Truly I think that in order to start a business, you have to have vision, an idea, something that you’re aiming for,” Henderson said. “Even if you can’t quite articulate it, you have to have an understanding of what you’re going to do that’s going to be different than the next person, so that you have a reason to exist as a business.”

Christine Skoog founded Christine’s Cheesecakes in 2012, selling cheesecakes out of her van to local restaurants and businesses. She has since opened a retail location and operates mobile locations in the summer. She echoes the planning sentiment. “You have to talk about it,” Skoog said. “If you verbally communicate with somebody that you’re going to do something, there’s a 99 percent chance that you’ll make it happen. If you don’t


share your dream, then nobody will ever know.”

Brace for challenges. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. According to a 2018 report from the Small Business Administration, only 50 percent of businesses will make it to five years of operations. The challenges that entrepreneurs face come in all shapes and sizes,

Story continues on page 44.


As someone who has been empowering women throughout her entire career, Michelle Pape, is this year’s ATHENA Award recipient. The ATHENA Award is a lifetime achievement award recognizing exceptional women leaders who inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives. Michelle was chosen for the ATHENA Award because of her dedication to mentoring women professionally as well as through personal mentorships and community partnerships. ATHENA Award recipients are women who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession. They provide a valuable service by contributing time

and energy to improve the lives of others in Central Minnesota. Lastly, ATHENA recipients actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential. Since 2004, Michelle Pape has been the Founder and Owner of Next Monday. Next Monday is an executive coaching company that focuses on personal and professional growth. Along with her work at Next Monday, Michelle is also a philanthropist. Notably she’s served as a Board Member on the Capital Development Project Committee for the YMCA. Michelle Pape will be honored with the ATHENA Award this September at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s Annual Celebration of Philanthropy event.•

Sponsored by

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 43

from capital to employees to competition and more. “As the owner of the company, you’re the one who takes the greatest risks,” Eisenschenk said. She notes that, while InteleCONNECT is always prepared for hiccups, when those do happen, it most greatly affects her as the owner. “It’s risky, but it also gives a great reward.”

Some hurdles disproportionately affect female entrepreneurs. Henderson addressed the double-standard

that exists in men versus women when it comes to processing stressful situations in business.

“I don’t get to have a human emotional response to something without it being considered hysterical,” Henderson said.

“That double standard exists at an amplified rate when you are in a position of leadership as a woman.” She noted that she’s seen a shift in the right direction when it comes to this challenge.

“We have these learned behaviors that we are currently unlearning,

and I’m really excited that we’re unlearning them,” she said.

“Women carry a lot of guilt, usually because they want to be a mom, a friend, this and that,” Melinda Tamm said. She admits that, while she loves what she does, there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t feel bad about not spending more time with her kids. She believes that a work-life balance just isn’t realistic when you’re a business owner. “It’s how you balance them together and make it work together,” Tamm


said. Her kids often come to work with her, and she sees them learning and asking questions about the business. “My oldest listens a lot and he understands and knows what’s going on,” she said. It’s been a great opportunity to teach her children, and she can’t imagine doing anything else.

“Even on the hard days, as long as you’re passionate, the hard days aren’t as hard, but the easier days are so much better.”

Find your support.

Building a support system of people who can mentor you in times of need is crucial. When Eisenschenk was in the early stages of her business, she used

Story continues on page 46.




the Stearns History Museum connects everybody in our community through the power of history and culture. The Museum strives to offer programs, exhibits, research opportunities, and more, creating a premier cultural experience in Central Minnesota. These strong women encourage all to share their histories; and shine a light on the voices and stories of people who may not have previously been heard.

the Stearns History Museum connects everybody in our community through the power of history and culture. The Museum strives to offer programs, exhibits, research opportunities, and more, creating a premier cultural experience in Central Minnesota. These strong women encourage all to share their histories; and shine a light on the voices and stories of people who may not have previously been heard.




Development Director, has served our community for 4 years. She drives community participation, relationships and engagement, securing annual funding to operate the museum.

Development Director, has served our community for 4 years. She drives community participation, relationships and engagement, securing annual funding to operate the museum.


the Stearns History Museum connects everybody in our community through the power of history and culture. The Museum strives to offer programs, exhibits, research opportunities, and more, creating a premier cultural experience in Central Minnesota. These strong women encourage all to share their histories; and shine a light on the voices and stories of people who may not have previously been heard.



Executive Director, recently celebrated 5 years as Executive Director. She leads the nonprofit museum and is a proud member of the St. Cloud Rotary Club, the St. Cloud Reading Room, and the Forum of Executive Women (FEW).

Executive Director, recently celebrated 5 years as Executive Director. She leads the nonprofit museum and is a proud member of the St. Cloud Rotary Club, the St. Cloud Reading Room, and the Forum of Executive Women (FEW).

Executive Director, recently celebrated 5 years as Executive Director. She leads the nonprofit museum and is a proud member of the St. Cloud Rotary Club, the St. Cloud Reading Room, and the Forum of Executive Women (FEW).


Development Director, has served our community for 4 years. She drives community participation, relationships and engagement, securing annual funding to operate the museum.

Program Manager, celebrates 5 years at the museum in September. She creates programming and events to help educate and entertain audiences throughout Stearns County and Central Minnesota. These women inspire people to think about our past, our present, and our future through the lens of history. They all believe that the only way to understand who we are today, is to know where we came from.


CARLSON Program Manager, celebrates 5 years at the museum in September. She creates programming and events to help educate and entertain audiences throughout Stearns County and Central Minnesota. These women inspire people to think about our past, our present, and our future through the lens of history. They all believe that the only way to understand who we are today, is to know where we came from.

Program Manager, celebrates 5 years at the museum in September. She creates programming and events to help educate and entertain audiences throughout Stearns County and Central Minnesota. These women inspire people to think about our past, our present, and our future through the lens of history. They all believe that the only way to understand who we are today, is to know where we came from.

For Hours, Events, or to join our HISTORY MAKING MEMBERS StearnsHistoryMuseum.org


When it comes to being a C-Suite leader at one of the leading renewable energy construction companies in the nation, Kristen Miller, chief human resources officer at Blattner Company, prefers a supporting role. “Growing up in Becker, Minnesota as the seventh of eight children, I was typically the one who helped others in my family see what they wanted to achieve,” she said. “What I discovered then still rings true. We’re successful when everyone wins. This is the heart of who I am. I love to be the shoulders others stand on to give them the vision they need to see.”

As the CHRO at Blattner, Kristen is in a vital position. Since entering the wind energy construction market in 1997 and expanding into solar energy construction in 2009, Blattner has skyrocketed to success in the renewable energy realm, installing 25% of all wind and solar energy in the U.S. - and it’s not slowing down. Human Resources touches all aspects of the growing company, from hiring and training to benefits and overall employee experience. With roughly 5,000 employees, that’s a big - and growing - responsibility.

“At Blattner, we have a solid base and a culture worth cultivating. From the day I joined the company, I felt welcomed and like I belonged,” Kristen said. Maintaining that culture is her mission.

At the start of Kristen’s career, she worked hard to make positive systemic

change at her first job which was in the foster care system. “After graduating from St. Cloud State University with a degree in psychology, I worked in crisis intervention with Anoka County, helping families with Title IV foster care,” Kristen said. While there, she had an opportunity to apply new laws and

interpret them to practices in the social services industry. “I was writing job descriptions and developing policies and procedures,” she said, “I felt like I was making a difference that could be sustained.”

The ability to inspire and create systemic change led Kristen to follow an HR path. She joined Honeywell International where she worked in compensation and labor relations before moving into an HR generalist role. Next, she spent nearly a decade wearing multiple HR hats at Pentair Technical Products before joining BioTechne as their senior director of HR and then VP of HR.

“Connecting people and ideas is my superpower,” Kristen said, “It’s all about the network of listening to people’s ideas and planting them with the right people in the right places where they can take root and grow.”

She says some of that stems from being raised in a small town. “It’s like going to the grocery store and people know your name, and your parents’ names,” she said, “That’s not inclusion, it’s belonging. I felt that when I came here to Blattner. This is a big company, but people feel like they belong, and that doesn’t mean assimilating. I want people to bring their authentic selves and feel like they can thrive.

“Blattner Company is a special place, and I am honored to be a part of this team.” •


Blattner Company is Leading America to a Clean Energy Future. With more than 115 years of construction experience, the company has played a vital role in building America’s critical infrastructure, ranging from railroads and highways to dams and mines. Since 1997, Blattner has focused on renewable energy solutions and is responsible for the construction of some of the most significant solar, wind, transmission and energy storage projects in the U.S. and Canada. Blattner has installed more than 25% of America’s total solar and wind energy capacity. Blattner Company is the parent company of Blattner Energy and D.H. Blattner & Sons, of which all are members of the Quanta Services family of companies. Company headquarters are in Avon, Minnesota.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 45 SPONSORED PROFILE
What I discovered then still rings true. We’re successful when everyone wins. This is the heart of who I am.
392 County Road 50, Avon, MN 56310
320-356-7351 //


Women-owned businesses are on the rise, according to the 2022 Annual Report from the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC).


The number of womenowned businesses with employees in the United States


The percent of all businesses with employees that are women-owned


The increase of womenowned businesses from 2012 to 2019, compared with 5.2% for men-owned businesses


The growth in gross receipts for women-owned companies from 2012 to 2019, compared with 34.2% for men-owned businesses


The percent increase in workers employed by women-owned businesses from 2012 to 2019, compared with 10.8% in men-owned businesses


Annual revenues for women-owned businesses – which is 4.3% of the total private sector annual revenues

the resources of the Small Business Development Center as well as finding a mentor. “I met my mentor through SCORE,” Eisenschenk said. SCORE is the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a group of volunteers who share their time and expertise with up-and-coming entrepreneurs. “To this day he’s still my mentor. I can call him up if I need to and run ideas by him.”

Tamm has spent her career using the connections she has built along the way. “A lot of it was word of mouth marketing, and it was based off of relationships that I grew,” she said of the early days of ownership. She didn’t hesitate to seek advice wherever she could.

Story continues on page 48.

46 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023


opened “the doors” to the adventure of being a new agency business name, but not new to the marketing industry. Carrie Karki, owner and founder, had previously been in the agency world for more than 13 years when the opportunity to purchase part of her former employer’s agency was presented. Never one to shy away from something with amazing potential, she accepted the challenge and rebranded to WhiteBox Marketing. Five years later, she—and the fun-hearted, hardworking company she built—hasn’t skipped a beat.

“We weren’t new to the world of

Karki started the agency with just two main contractors (one of which is now Creative Director) in a rented coworking space in St. Cloud and quickly grew—both by clients, and by full time employees. Now with more than a dozen marketers and creatives officially on “Team WhiteBox,” as well as a few part-time contractors, the company has enjoyed considerable growth. Physically, she also grew the company’s presence with a brick and mortar building on West Saint Germain Street (a renovated alignment shop)—an undertaking she took on during the uncertainty of 2020.

“When we opened the physical building, it was important to me to show how connected we are to the community our business is in, and that we call home,” said Karki. “At the end of the day, it’s all about people; I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing team and to work with equally amazing clients.”

Karki’s vision of seeing opportunities for improvement and acting on them has proven successful. She is excited to see what the future holds for her small independent agency. “Five years in, we continue to be good people trying to do good things for others—that is who we are at our core; I look forward to what is yet to come.”

2018 2023
#TeamWhiteBox—not pictured, Madison Milne and Brian Berget. Carrie Karki, President & Founder (right) with Rachael Witt, Creative Director (left), who has been with WhiteBox Marketing since the beginning and with Carrie at their prior agency of employment.

“I reached out to Jeff Gau when he was at Marco because I used to babysit his kids,” Tamm recalled. She instills that lesson of nurturing relationships in her students, because you never know when you’ll need to call upon them, she added.

Henderson has found great value in peer groups. “They really helped me clarify what I was trying to do and gave me time to work on my business while I was working in my business,” she said. Throughout her business journey, Henderson has also cultivated what she calls her “board of directors,” a small group of people who she can call with questions, for advice, and to bounce ideas off.

Skoog does not have any employees aside from the

occasional help with deliveries or shop coverage. As a solopreneur, she manages everything. “It’s not easy, I wear many hats,” she said. She stresses the important role that networking has played in her business, and that it’s connected her to the resources she needs to succeed. Not only that, but she’s been able to build a network of support as well.

“That is what is so nice about being in a business here in St. Cloud, Minnesota,” Skoog said. “We’re not huge, we’re local, we’re small – kind of like a mom-and-pop community.”

Seek advice.

As for the next generation of entrepreneurs, the advice boils down to this:

1 You can’t do it alone.

“Know that you don’t have to do

it all,” Eisenschenk said. “You can learn when to outsource. Outsource a bookkeeper, align yourself with a good accountant and financial advisor.”

2.Give yourself grace.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make a decision and stick with it,” Henderson said. “Recognize and understand that you are going to change your mind, you are going to fail, you are going to make decisions that you’re not happy with and have to correct, you are going to make mistakes and you are going to pay for them.” Do what you have to do to survive and turn those things into opportunities.

3 Check yourself.

“Get yourself an accountability partner,” Skoog said. “A friend, a family member, someone from your church that you can share

things with.” By confiding your plan in someone you trust and don’t want to let down, you’re more likely to keep working to achieve it.


“Small business owners like myself are always willing to help others with questions or advice, so don’t be afraid to ask,” Tamm said. “If people are having challenges, even in a different industry, reach out to someone – we all have the same challenges, just a different take on them.”



ust over 100 years ago, there were approximately 8.2 million women in the workforce. As of 2022, there are over 74 million women in the workforce, and counting. Women make up 46.6 percent of the workforce in the United States, and Minnesota boasts the third highest labor participation rate of women at 63.9 percent. Across the nation and right here in Central Minnesota, women are making a difference in the workforce with fresh perspectives, diverse skill sets, and transformative leadership styles.

In our annual Women in Business Directory, we introduce you to some of the women who are leaving their mark on business in Central Minnesota and beyond. Keep on reading for more information.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

2023 48 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023
Emily Bertram is the director of marketing and communications at the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce and the editor of Business Central Magazine.
JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 49 2023 WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY
50 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 2023 PEOPLE. PRIDE. PURPOSE. We’ve installed a quarter of all renewables in America, making us the country’s leader in building renewable energy — a distinction made possible by the integrity, grit and expertise of our employees and clients. Cleaner air, healthier lives and a brighter, greener future starts with us. BlattnerCompany.com Wind | Solar | Storage WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY
WE ARE CREATING CONFIDENCE IN SCIENCE. 66% of Microbiologics team members identify as female. We are proud to give them space to innovate, create and contribute to making our world safer and healthier for all.
52 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 2023 Remarkable women. Dedicated attorneys. FIRMLY COMMITTED. HANNAH SCHACHERL Attorney BETHANY CROSS Attorney TONYA HINKEMEYER Attorney ASHLEY BUKOWSKI Attorney STEFANIE BROWN Attorney CHRISTINA HOPKE Attorney RinkeNoonan.com 320.251.6700 WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY
JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 53 Granite.com GROWING COMPANIES ENHANCING COMMUNITIES Inspiring and celebrating Granite talent. Granite Partners is a private investment and holding company founded in 2002 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, with a mission to grow companies and create value for all stakeholders. As trusted partners, innovative leaders, and responsible stewards, we are committed to 100-year sustainability, and we aspire to world-class wellbeing for all people in and around the Granite community. We’RE PROUD OF THE GREAT WOMEN OF
54 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 2023 St. Cloud Financial Credit Union CELEBRATES WOMEN IN BUSINESS. 52% of our Leadership SCFCU.org Your Story. Our Passion. Experience Uncommon. Are women. & Executive Teams... Because all the research shows that investing in women is a good investment. This venue is a great fit for events such as: Team-building / Team offsites / Board meetings Corporate lunches / Up to 40-45 people Celebrating Company Milestones MILLCREEK BARN / 25772 COUNTY RD 17 / FREEPORT, MN 56331 Outside catering is available for your event. WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY

Proud to Support

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 55 Women in Business. West Bank’s experienced team is dedicated to helping women achieve financial success through tailored banking solutions and expert guidance. Together, we are West Bank Strong. 320-342-2400 • 1800 Bellin Drive • St. Cloud, MN 56303 westbankstrong.com • Member FDIC
Back: Jessica Riley (NMLS# 2312537), Principal Banker; Melissa Muehlbauer (NMLS# 1166383) Principal Banker; Front: Elizabeth Statsick, Senior Credit Analyst; Lisa Koster, First Vice President
56 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023 2023 We Fix It! ONLINE APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE YOUR DESTINATION FOR Batteries, Light Bulbs & Fixtures, Phone & Key Services POWER IT Camera Batteries, Cordless Tool Batteries, Laptop Batteries, and Wheelchair & Mobility Batteries LIGHT IT LED Bulbs, Flashlights, Fluorescent Bulbs, and Smart Lighting FIX IT Car Battery Install, Key Fob Programming, Phone Services, and Watch Battery Install SAUK RAPIDS 27 N Benton Drive 320.230.2332 ST CLOUD 2710 2nd St South 320.240.2332 LBCARLSON.COM GOING BEYOND WHAT OUR CLIENTS EXPECT AND WHAT OUR PROFESSION REQUIRES ACCOUNTING SERVICES ASSURANCE & ATTESTATION MANAGEMENT CONSULTING TAX SERVICES Discover what we can do for your business. MINNEAPOLIS | 763.535.8150 Dea Johnson, CPA djohnson@lbcarlson.com ST. CLOUD | 320.203.0254 Jacquelyn Bistodeau, CPA jbistodeau@lbcarlson.com MARKETING SOLUTIONS THAT GET RESULTS Marla Warner, Marketing Expert mwarner@localiq.com | 320-249-3515 WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY


Eunice Adjei

Eunice Adjei is joining St. Cloud Financial Credit Union as director of multicultural services. She brings more than 10 years of community leadership to the organization, and is a licensed, qualified administrator of the “Intercultural Development Inventory” that promotes and provides corporate and professional development training, including anti-racism and cultural humility training.

Adjei is the founder of the Jugaad Leadership Program, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in social responsibility, and was the administrator of Create CommUNITY for ten years.

She also serves as a board member for TriCAP, the City of St. Cloud Charter Commission, Minnesota Governor’s Council on Martin Luther King Junior Day Holiday, St. Cloud Technical and Community College Foundation Board, the African Women Alliance, and Stearns County Human Service Committee, among others.

“I look forward to building formidable new relationships through trust and strengthening existing collaborations with our community partners, members, and staffgrounded in the inclusion framework at St. Cloud Financial Credit Union,” Adjei said.

Award Winner

Baby’s On Broadway recognized by U.S. SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Baby’s on Broadway the Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year for the Minnesota District. Baby’s on Broadway has been in business for around 10 years and has locations in both Little Falls and downtown St. Cloud. Owner Adelle Starin founded the boutique when she became a mother, and was surprised by the lack of product availability for new parents in Central Minnesota. In addition to selling baby supplies and equipment, Starin also provides consultation services as a certified safety technician and lactation counselor.


Schreiner named director of athletics

Holly Schreiner has been named the director of athletics at St. Cloud State University. She was the interim director since June of 2022, when Heather Weems left the school to become the commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Schreiner is a St. Cloud State University graduate and has worked in various roles in the Athletic Department for the past 18 years.

GSDC hires new CEO Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC) has hired NeTia Bauman, an experienced economic development leader familiar with the region, to succeed retiring President Patti Gartland. Bauman was most recently the CEO of Greater Fergus Falls Corp., and will begin as head of GSDC on July 10. Gartland retired on June 1 after 10 years as GSDC’s president and CEO.

Plamann, Smith chosen for new leadership roles at CentraCare CentraCare announced that Cindy Firkins Smith, MD, will lead development of the proposed expansion of the University of Minnesota Medical School in St. Cloud. Joy Plamann has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer for CentraCare. She will retain her current responsibilities as president of CentraCareSt. Cloud Hospital. Both leaders assumed their roles in March.


Backlund named Central Division Student Council Advisor of the Year

Shannon Backlund, language arts teacher and student council advisor at Tech High School, was named the Minnesota Association of Student Councils' Central Division Student Council Advisor of the Year. Backlund also runs the concession stand at Tiger Stadium and student activities social media sites for the school.

JULY/AUGUST 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 57
Eunice Adjei


Outfitting the Outdoorsman

Clear Waters Outfitting owners Sandra and Dan Meer are the resource for paddle sports rental, retail and repair.

Business Central: What made you want to open an outfitting operation?

Dan Meer: Coming back from Iraq was a different perspective on life; you value things a little differently. Working in the printing industry during the time of the 2008 recession was stressful. Sandra’s cousin planted the idea in our minds since there weren’t any outfitters in this area. Finding this property located on an easy, long stretch of the river, the quality of the river here – it seemed meant to be. Plus, with the recession, people were tending to recreate closer to home and do more small-ticket items, which benefited us.

BC: Have you always loved spending time outdoors?

Dan: I’ve been doing Boundary Waters trips since I was a kid with Boy Scouts, so it’s always been a part of my life.

Sandra Meer: It’s not just paddle sports. Hiking, biking, camping, running — we like to do all of it.

BC: What challenges have you faced recently?

Dan: Trips and rentals are about 20% of our business. Repair work is about 20-30%, and the rest is retail. During COVID, we were unable to do much for river trips, but our retail side of things increased. Then we ran into supply chain issues, so that was a challenging time.

Sandra: Our business is very dependent on the weather, but people also make assumptions about the river based on weather. People will often assume they can’t do a trip because we’ve gotten a lot of rain, but that’s not always the case. Call us first!

BC: Do you offer any unique experiences aside from the river trips?

Sandra: We outfit and transport people up to Lake Itasca who are doing source-to-sea trips of the Mississippi River. People fly in from around the U.S. to do it, and we’re helping them get all the gear they need.

Clear Waters Outfitting Company

Dan: The river out here has been ranked top 10 in the country for smallmouth bass fishing. Due to the conditions and lack of public access, it’s hard to fish the river unless you’re in a kayak or you have special equipment, so we sell a lot of fishing equipment and do guided fishing trips.

Sandra: Clear Waters Outfitting also purchased Northwest Canoe in 2018 to run the repair operations. Part of that business is also selling parts, plans and materials to people who want to build their own boats.

BC: What do you like best about owning Clear Waters Outfitting?

Dan: Our customers are fun. We’re dealing with people in their leisure time, they’re here to have fun and be outdoors.

Sandra: We love promoting the paddle sport industry. We deal with a lot of different people, but they all want to be outside, experiencing nature, and paddling.


Sandra Meer Hometown: Sauk Rapids, Minn.

Education: University of Wisconsin Stout

Work History: Krain Township, Albany Area School District, City of Holdingford

Dan Meer

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisc.

Education: University of Wisconsin Stout

Work History: United States Army, Nahan Printing, Bliss Direct Media

Family: Four children - Nathan, Zach, Elizabeth and Simon Hobbies: Camping, biking, paddling, spending time outdoors

Advice To Other Business Owners: Expect change, be flexible, and persevere



Dan Meer establishes Clear Waters Outfitting (CWO)


CWO begins first summer of operations, offering paddle trips, classes, and other services.

2011 through 2014

CWO expands into paddle sport retail sales with a large emphasis on kayak fishing


CWO hosts Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith for a fishing excursion during the Minn. Governor’s Fishing Opener


CWO purchases Northwest Canoe to expand business into repairs, installs, cedar strip canoe building and additional online sales


Sandra Meer begins working for CWO full time along with one other full-time, yearround staff member

100 Pine Street, Clearwater, MN 55320 // cwoutfitting.com // (320) 558-8123 // Opened: 2009 // Joined the Chamber: 2010 //

Business Description: Offers paddle trips, rentals, company outings, equipment repair and retail sales from a historic location on the banks of the Mississippi River. // Owners: Dan & Sandra Meer // Number of Employees: 2 full-time, 3 part-time, 12-18 seasonal part-time

58 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // JULY/AUGUST 2023

Speak Volumes.

To all the movers, shakers, and difference makers — JLG Architects takes your story beyond the building to empower the people who reflect your passionate journey. We’re talking about dynamic design that speaks volumes about your mission, your culture, and your community. See how JLG is redefining workplace well-being at JLGarchitects.com.

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