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CONTENTS GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

E X P LO R I N G C E N T R A L M I N N ES OTA’ S B US I N ESS ES .

Cover Story

PROFIT

34

40 INNOVATION BORN OF NECESSITY

STILL A START-UP

Central McGowan may be a 70-year-old company, but owner Joe Francis sees so many growth opportunities, it could be a start-up.

NETWORK 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 Mike Lyon, Precise Heating A/C Plumbing and Refrigeration

COVID-19 has changed almost everything about the way we live – including the way area health services provide care.

GROW

M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 : 4 Pr e s i d e n t ’ s Le t t e r / 6 E d i t o r ’ s N o t e / 2 0 N e t w o r k Ce n t ra l

ONLYONLINE BUSINESSCENTRAL MAGAZINE.COM

• Developing strategic agility

• Become a better negotiator

44 PIONEERS

• Memorable Travel

Women are making inroads into traditional male careers, but there is still plenty of room for change.

• Ditch the Slide-deck

Photos

46 WOMEN TO WATCH 52 WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY

© Copyright 2021 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.


PRESIDENT’S LETTER

Celebrating Gender-specific Leadership!

I

have often mused on why we separate leaders by Then I became president of the Chamber in 1998. gender. I am the oldest of three daughters with a daddy My first board chair, friend and mentor was Sandy who told me, “Teresa, you can do anything any man can do, Neutzling, owner of Jennings Insurance. As a significant so don’t let anyone hold you back in this world.” He was my leader in our community, Sandy herself has graced the dad, and I believed him unconditionally. cover of this magazine (July/August 2002). We had many I LOVE being a woman. Women are special. They discussions about the importance of bringing women to socialize in different ways than men. They touch a lot more the Chamber and the benefits our Chamber would receive than men. They tend to “put it all out from a gender-balanced board and there” more than men. They show volunteer base. I LOVE being a woman. their cards to one another. They Since Sandy, our board has elected Women are special. dive in and get to the heart of issues seven female chairs to lead our organization: They socialize in different faster. Most women I know do not Kim Poganski, Diane Hageman, Melinda Gau, ways than men. fight over who has the biggest toy in Bernie Perryman, Kris Nelson and Chriss the sandbox. They tend to put their Wohlleber. Their leadership has enriched toys together and share more readily. and strengthened our organization in every way. I am so Some of you may think those statements are sexist. thankful to have served with these strong women and They are strictly my opinions and not positions of the count each one in my circle of friends. Chamber. However, I am hard-pressed to think of a As you read this issue and review the women leaders situation or meeting that has not been made better by the featured in our special advertising section starting on input, presence, and leadership of women. page 44, you will most likely meet people who will sit in Our Chamber has been deeply enriched through the a leadership chair in the future. years by women leaders. It still amazes me that it took until I will bet many of their dads told them they could 1985 for our Chamber to elect a female board chair. Ruth do anything, too! Leigh, a leader in education at SCSU, is the first photo on our conference room wall wearing lipstick. It took another nine years before Diane Gohman was elected to the role in Teresa Bohnen 1994. Bev Berg followed Diane in 1995. Publisher

2020-21 BOARD MEMBERS ____________________________

Main Phone: 320-251-2940 • Automated Reservation Line: 320-656-3826 • Program Hotline: 320-656-3825 information@StCloudAreaChamber.com • StCloudAreaChamber.com ST. CLOUD AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE STAFF ____________________________ Special Events Coordinator: President: Teresa Bohnen, ext. 104 Laura Wagner, ext. 131 Vice President: Gail Ivers, ext. 109 Director of Administration: Judy Zetterlund, ext. 106 Communications & Workforce Development Coordinator: Kelti Lorence, ext. 130

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CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU STAFF ____________________________ Main Phone: 320-251-4170 Executive Director: Julie Lunning, ext. 111

Membership Specialist: Antoinette Valenzuela, ext. 134

Director of Sports & Special Events: Dana Randt, ext. 110

Administrative Assistant: Vicki Lenneman, ext. 122

Sales Manager: Nikki Fisher, ext. 112

Administrative Assistant: Shelly Imdieke, ext. 100

Social Media & Marketing Specialist: Emily Bertram, ext. 129

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

Sales Manager: Rachel Thompson, ext. 128

Marilyn Birkland, LocaliQ Ron Brandenburg, Quinlivan & Hughes, Chair John Bryant, Geo-Comm Christy Gilleland, Gilleland Chevrolet Cadillac Tanja Goering Jason Hallonquist, AIS Planning, Past Board Chair Ray Harrington, Pioneer Place on Fifth Joe Hellie, CentraCare Patrick Hollermann, InteleCONNECT Willie Jett, St. Cloud School District Kevin Johnson, K. Johnson Construction Bernie Omann, St. Cloud State University Bernie Perryman, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Board Vice Chair Brenda Sickler, Theisen Dental Allison Waggoner, DCI Inc. Chriss Wohlleber, Courtyard by Marriott-St. Cloud Colleen Zoffka, GB & Company


EDITOR’S NOTE

Joe Francis, Central McGowan, with Editor Gail Ivers

A 152-Year-Old Entrepreneur

W

hen Governor Walz issued the emergency “Stay at Home” order in March 2020, my first thought was “All right! No more 6 a.m. alarm clock!” My second thought was: “What are we going to do to keep everyone busy?” On our last day in the office, we sat down as a staff and everyone went through their action plan for the next two weeks. We brainstormed work activities and discussed communications and check-ins. Then we went home. My action plan included cleaning out files. I try to get to that annually, but in the last few years I haven’t been as diligent as I might have been, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to catch up. Same with my email…maybe I could take it down from 1,000 to a few hundred. I was soooooooooooooo naïve. Little did I realize that we were turning from an organization of habit into one of entrepreneurship. No more Business After Hours? How about Curiosity, Cocktails and Conversation. No more in-person meetings? How about Zoom. All Zoom meetings look alike? Let’s make them look different. Members desperate for information?

Let’s coordinate information sessions … not in two months, but tomorrow. No opportunity for major trade shows? Let’s create an online conference. No Business Awards Lunch? Let’s host a reception. No Leadership Program Graduation dinner? Let’s celebrate with a Champagne toast. One of the things that startles me about our response to all these changes was the speed at which we adjusted. The Sauk Rapids Chamber never missed a meeting. The Waite Park Chamber missed only one. Chamber Connection only missed two. One of the things that thrills me was the enthusiastic and creative response of volunteers to the challenges we were presented. Chamber Connection was the first to institute small group networking. The Sauk Rapids Chamber created a “Secret Square” competition to help separate their meetings from other networking experiences. We completed our Supervisor Development Certificate Program via Zoom within weeks of the original plan, thanks to instructors who were willing to learn the software along with us. Joe Francis, president and owner of Central McGowan, (see the story on page 34) calls his organization a 70-year-old start-up. He approaches every new experience with an entrepreneurial eye – a new product opportunity, a new location, a new way to serve the customers. A year ago, I would have envied that attitude, but now I see it everywhere. The Chamber may not qualify as a start-up, but at age 152 the entrepreneurial spirit is stronger than ever – inside and outside the office. Regrettably, with the work and time involved in creating new programs and reinventing old stand-bys, I never did clean out those files. Oh, Darn. Until next issue,

. Gail Ivers, Editor

Publisher Teresa Bohnen Managing Editor Gail Ivers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Teresa Bohnen, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

Anna Nelson and Lynn MacDonald, St. Cloud State University

Alicia Chapman, Bluebird Creative

Steve Penick, Stearns History Museum

Kelly Cook, Cook Counseling Amy Fisher, Optum Michael Hemmesch, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University Dr. Fred E. Hill, St. Cloud State University Gail Ivers, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Kelti Lorence, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

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Jeanine Nistler, Freelance writer James Ringwald, BerganKDV Jackie Schuh, Engelmeier & Umanah Dawn Zimmerman, Marco

ADVERTISING Associate Publisher/Sales Melinda Vonderahe Ad Traffic & Circulation Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media

ACCOUNTING Judy Zetterlund

ART Design & Production Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media

WEBSITE Vicki Lenneman

Cover Story Photography Joel Butkowski, BDI Photography

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1411 West St. Germain Street, Suite 101,P.O. Box 487, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0487 Phone (320) 251-2940 / Fax (320) 251-0081 BusinessCentralMagazine.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. Submission of materials does not guarantee publication. Unsolicited materials will not be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope.


JOE KRUEGER

FR ANZ VANCUR A

Joe Krueger has been practicing law for 18 years. His practice focuses on the following areas.

Franz Vancura has been practicing law for 8 years. His practice focuses on the following areas:

Estate Planning • Business Law

Business & Real Estate Law

Municipal Law • Civil litigation

Family Law • Estate Planning

Quinlivan & Hughes is excited to be adding talent and further reach to our organization by merging with the Brown, Krueger, & Vancura firm based in Long Prairie. We look forward to better serving our clients with the addition of such great talent to the Quinlivan & Hughes team.

5 LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOUR LEGAL NEEDS St. Cloud | Long Prairie | Monticello | Little Falls | Walker

Learn more at Quinlivan.com or by calling (320) 251-1414


UPFRONT GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

N E WS & P EO P L E T H AT M A K E U P T H E C H A M B E R N E T W O R K

I N S I D E T H I S I S S U E : People to Know / You r Vo ice in Govern me n t / Dig g in g H is to ry / T h e Tro u b le w it h B us i ne ss BOOK REVIEW

NEWS REEL

More than Big Data

Vye named top agency for 2021

Today’s managers need more than intuition and data to make good decisions. Reviewed by Dr. Fred Hill

When it comes to improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. They discover that intuition, experiences, and big data alone don’t work. What does? Running disciplined business experiments. And what if companies roll out new products or introduce new customer experiences without running these experiments? They fly blind. —Stefan Thomke, Harvard Business School

D

espite being awash in information coming from every direction, today’s managers operate in an uncertain world where they lack the right data to inform strategic and tactical decisions. Experimentation Works is your guidebook to a new way of thinking and innovation. As the author explains, in order to create a company that relies on more than intuition, you must first develop “an experimentation organization that prizes the science of testing and puts the discipline of experimentation at the center of its innovation process.” This book consists of seven chapters and an epilogue: 1 Why Experimentation Works. 2 What Makes a Good Business Experiment?

3 How to Experiment Online. 4 Can Your Culture Handle Large-Scale Experimentation? 5 Inside an Experimentation Organization. 6 Becoming an Experimentation Organization. 7 Seven Myths of Business Experimentation. Epilogue: A Brief Look at the Future. There are five stages of becoming an experimentation organization: 1 Awareness – understand that experimentation matters. 2 Belief – adopt rigorous framework and tools. 3 Commitment – allocate resources and change organization. 4 Diffusion – widen scope and access to tools. 5 Embeddedness – democratize experimentation.

There is also an experimentation wheel: 1 Generate testable hypotheses: Review existing data, observations, and prior experiments; generate new ideas through brainstorming; formulate hypotheses. 2 Run disciplined experiments: Build physical or virtual models, which can take many forms. 3 Learn meaningful insights: Gather evidence and analyze and compare it against the expected outcome; adjust your understanding based on the evidence. Predictions are difficult, especially when the future seems so uncertain, as we have seen in the past year. But it’s not difficult to see where the business world is heading if one connects the dots.

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

Chief Marketer 200 list. Vye was also named the 2020 Grow Better Website Design regional award winner for HubSpot Q3 2020 Impact Awards. This international award recognizes members of HubSpot’s Solutions Partner Program for exceptional client work.

SPIRE announces new St. Cloud location SPIRE Credit Union recently purchased land for a new branch building on the southeast corner of the Crossroads Mall parking lot, between Red Robin and Panda Express. This will be SPIRE’s 21st branch location in Minnesota, expected to open summer 2021.

Falcon Bank hires Cusipag, promotes staff Franco Cusipag has joined Falcon National Bank as the controller. Cusipag will provide oversight of the bank’s finance, accounting, and regulatory reporting activities, and will uphold and implement bestpractice financial processes for the bank. ––––––

Dr. Fred E. Hill is an emeritus professor at St. Cloud State University.

Ex p e r i me nt at i on Wor k s; T he S ur pr i sin g Power of B u si ne ss Expe r i me nt s, Stefan H. T h om ke, H a rva rd B us in ess Review , Bo sto n , 2 02 0, IS BN 9 78 -1- 6 3 3 6 9 -710 -2

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For the second year in a row, Chief Marketer named Vye (formerly Leighton Interactive) a top 200 agency as part of the 2021

The bank also promoted Brandon Voit as the new market president of their Foley location.

Send News Reel items to Gail Ivers, givers@businesscentralmagazine.com for possible inclusion. News Reel is compiled by Kelti Lorence.


Banking POINT OF VIEW

and

What is one way you’ve developed confidence professionally? Kris Nelson, Premier Real Estate Services

––––––

Getting very clear on my personal values has made me more confident in every area of my life. Because I am clear on my values, when something does not align it’s very apparent and my decision-making becomes clearer as a result.”

Imagine friendly service, local decision making, quick lines, and endless possibilities. That’s what it’s like to partner with Farmers & Merchants State Bank. So go ahead and shoot for the stars—bank, borrow, and save with us.

Dr. Mark Roerick, Advantage Chiropractic

––––––

May 1st marks our 25th year of business here in St. Cloud. I attribute much of our success and confidence to the many patient encounters we have had over those years, and that we work with purpose.”

Ann Thelen, Falcon National Bank

––––––

Find a company that aligns with your growth goals. Falcon National Bank helped me with a total career change! Working for a company that is well known for their community relationships gave me the confidence to succeed in business development!”

Jeff Udy, Agency North Real Estate

––––––

What helped me most to develop confidence professionally was volunteering with the St Cloud Area Chamber. By joining the Chamber Connection Location Committee and becoming vice-chair and then chairperson put me in front of hundreds of people every week. This gave me the opportunity to speak in front of large crowds with confidence and grow professionally.”

Because friendly still counts. FMPierz.com

M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com

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NETWORK

UPFRONT

NEWS REEL

PEOPLE TO KNOW

St. Cloud Area Leadership Graduates Congratulations to the following people who graduate from the St. Cloud Area Chamber Leadership program in May. If you are looking for volunteers to serve on boards and committees, these individuals are a good place to start. APH Acquires Weaver Auto Parts, Sturdevant’s Automotive Parks Headquarters (APH) has acquired Weaver Auto Parts, owned and operated by Mark and Mary Weaver in Sauk City, Wis., since 1972. APH has also acquired Sturdevant’s. The

2020-2021 Leadership Class John Abress, Franz Hultgren Evenson, P.A.

Jon Hazen, Bluestem Brands Inc.

Brandon Anderson, Viking Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Shelby Hedtke, Powder Ridge Winter Recreation Area

Michelle Arnold, Catholic Charities

Mike Heen, Central Minnesota Credit Union

Aimee Asp, Coborn’s Inc.

Jessica Houghton, Minnwest Bank

Jason Baszler, American Heritage National Bank

Loni Jacobsen, Marco

Joe Betzold, BerganKDV

Carrie Karki, WhiteBox Marketing

49 Sturdevant’s corporate stores

LEADERSHIP

will be rebranded as Sturdevant’s Auto Value and the independent customers will transition to the

Kimberlee Zetocha Halvorson, St. Cloud VA Health Care System

Auto Value brand.

BerganKDV in Top 100 BerganKDV was listed as #58 on the list of Top 100 Accounting Firms, published annually by Accounting Today. The firm also ranked #5 in growth for all Top 100 firms nationwide, and fourth largest in the Midwest region.

Jacobs recognized by Weichert Real Estate Jason Jacobs was honored by the national franchise organization, Weichert Real Estate Affiliates Inc.,

Jeff Clancy, Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A.

Rachel Lolmasteymaugh, FaceTime Business Resources

Aaron Cosellian, U S Bank

Kimberly Magnuson, Bremer

Ryan Coye, Gate City Bank

Ismail Mohamed, Stearns County

Kelly Doss, Central MN Mental Health Center

Kelly Northway, St. Cloud VA Health Care System

Chris Duke, AIS Planning

Austin Ruehle, Inventure Properties Inc.

Kayle Ellison, Anna Marie’s Alliance

Kayla Ward, Doctors Park Mental Health Center

Paul Ravenberg, Central Minnesota CouncilBoy Scouts of America Chair, St. Cloud Area Chamber Leadership Program

________ (320) 251-3930 Paul.Ravenberg@scouting.org

as a 2020 Office Award Winner. Jacobs received the Executive Club level honor, which is given to those who achieved specified production requirements in gross commission income or units closed in 2020.

Rasmussen College, now a university Rasmussen College has completed its transition to Rasmussen University. This transition is another step in the evolution of the 120-year-old institution’s

Jodi Gertken, CentraCare Vice Chair, St. Cloud Area Chamber Leadership Program

________ 320-251-2700, ext. 77526 gertkenj@centracare.com

history that reflects its leadership in the rapidly changing highereducation marketplace.

For more information about participating in the 2020-21 St. Cloud Area Leadership program, call Gail Ivers at 320-656-3809 or givers@StCloudAreaChamber.com. 10

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1


Ask for P RO G R A M D E TA I LS

St. Cloud Area Leadership Program St. Cloud Area Leadership is designed to help current and emerging leaders understand the dynamics of the community and the role leadership shares in building healthy communities. This program brings together men and women of diverse backgrounds who share a common commitment to the future of the St. Cloud area. St. Cloud Area Leadership: Grooms leaders who

Reinforces skills and

will contribute to your

imparts new knowledge

company

to employees

––––––––

––––––––

Provides professional

Provides greater

networking

understanding and a

opportunities and

broader perspective

enhanced community

of key issues in Central

connections

Minnesota

––––––––

––––––––

Helps employees

Encourages networking

develop greater personal

among emerging and

vision and confidence

established leaders

––––––––

––––––––

Applications for the Leadership program are available online at StCloudAreaChamber.com, select “Programs” then “Leadership Development.” Applications must be submitted to the Chamber by May 15.

––––––––

For Care That’s

FLEXIBLE Flexible yet specialized, St. Cloud Orthopedics offers a variety of treatment options aimed at helping you live better. From non-operative therapy to state-of-the-art surgical care, our specialists and physical therapists will set up a personalized care plan just for you. For expert orthopedic care that keeps you moving forward, ask for St. Cloud Orthopedics.

No referral necessary. 320-259-4100 Meet our team at StCloudOrthopedics.com Clinics in South St. Cloud & Sartell

#LiveBetter

For more information about participating in the 2021-22 St. Cloud Area Leadership program, call Gail Ivers at 320-656-3809 or givers@StCloudAreaChamber.com.

IN THE NEWS

Deerwood Bank promotes Templin Jacki Templin, Deerwood Bank, has been promoted to central market president. In this position, Templin will lead Deerwood Bank’s central market branch locations in Waite Park and Sartell. ___________ M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com

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NETWORK

UPFRONT

NEWS REEL

YOUR VOICE IN GOVERNMENT

Gruenke aids state water quality program

Speak Up

Water Treatment Manager Jim Gruenke, Traut

Understanding what our elected officials are working on has never been more important.

Companies, is the new technical advisor to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Smart Salting Assessment Tool (SSAt) program. The goal is to provide Minnesotans with data to inform critical decisions for managing salt use.

Kramer attains designation James Kramer, III, MBA, CFP, president of Kramer Financial, attained his Certified Exit Planning (CEPA) Designation through the Exit Planning Institute. In this role he specializes in helping business owners formulate exit strategies that increase the transferrable value of their companies.

Stearns Bank receives designation, adds staff Stearns Bank was designated as a multi-state lender by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Al Doering was hired as chief M&A officer, a newly created executive level role; Rebecca Kronlund was hired as general counsel; Brian McCarthy was hired as chief credit officer, and Donn Nunn was hired as vice president, commercial lender.

Express Employment recognized

L

egislators and the Governor’s Office need to hear from us more than ever. At a March Zoom meeting, Chamber members learned important information about the work our local legislators are doing and how the 2021 session is, in many ways, as frustrating for them as it has been for those of us on the sidelines. This particular meeting was a mid-session update with six area legislators. We were able to discuss issues of importance to our participants that may have been overlooked due to the critical work

happening around the pandemic recovery. It was beneficial for our legislators to hear that even though this is a unique time in our history, taxes, childcare, transportation, and education are still very much on the minds of our Chamber members. The March Zoom meeting substituted for our popular “Evening at the Capital,” which was canceled this year. In a normal year, this annual event is in a St. Paul hotel adjacent to the Capitol Building. We invite legislators from across the state to meet our Chamber

members and community leaders to learn what issues are most important to business people in Central Minnesota. Do not let the pandemic limit your access or input with our elected leaders. Plan to participate in the Chamber’s Legislative Wrap-Up Session on May 26 and let your voice be heard.

For contact information for all our elected officials, visit StCloud AreaChamber.com/ Advocacy

Express Employment Professionals received the Circle of Excellence Award at the firm’s 38th annual International Leadership Conference. This is their 4th year being recognized as one of the company’s top producing offices.

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BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

IN THE NEWS

DeZURIK acquires Red Valve Company DeZURIK Inc. recently acquired Red Valve, a global leader for innovative elastomers, pinch valves, check valves and engineered mixing systems. ___________


TO P H ATS

NEW MEMBER Edward Jones, financial service firm that serves investment clients, 1311 2nd Street N, Sauk Rapids. Pictured: Christa Boone, Jordan Olson, Bernie Perryman.

NEW MEMBER Best me 360, have your own clothes professionally styled, 49 3rd Street NE, Waite Park. Pictured: Amanda Groethe, Sarah Mueller, Christa Boone.

NEW MEMBER Gerhardson Chiropractic, chiropractic services, 3333 W Division Street, ste 122A, St. Cloud. Pictured: Jason Miller, Dave Gerhardson, Lacie Gerhardson, Kristin Hannon.

NEW MEMBER Runnings, home, farm and outdoor store, 501 US Highway 10 SE, St. Cloud. Pictured: Josh Vraa, Dennis Reed, Chase Larson.

NEW MEMBER Parman Energy Group, employee-owned petroleum company, 3341 Southway Drive, St. Cloud. Pictured: Carl Newbanks, Jamie Morford, Scott Rademacher, Josh Vraa, Julie Forsberg.

NEW MEMBER Bethlehem Lutheran Church, church of the ELCA, 4310 County Road 137, St. Cloud. Pictured: Debbie Clausen, LaNae Cobb, The Reverend Chad Peterson, Lisa Barton, Mary Swingle.

NEW MEMBER The Park Event Center, meeting space, catering & bar service, 500 Division Street, Waite Park. Pictured: Amanda Groethe, Purva Watten, Mike Russell, Tasja Hoffert, Katie Walton, Cory Schueler, Jeff Lamont, Tim Cullers, Nate Kessler, Chris Lamont, Erik, Bridget Janski, Kendra Love-Gack, Bernie Perryman.

NEW MEMBER Gate City Bank, community bank serving customers and community, Cash Wise East, 1001 4th Street SE, St. Cloud. Pictured: Jason Hallonquist, Bruce Powlish, Patrick Hollermann, Alison Peters, Ryan Coye, Megan Bistodeau, Josh Vraa, Jack Saldana, Katie Morrow, Lexi Purdy, Brady Jameson, Rachel Henning.

WE BUILD PROJECTS AND PARTNERSHIPS THAT LAST We work as a dedicated partner with each and every client. You have our promise to be here long after the job is done to ensure and maintain the integrity of our work. Perhaps that’s why many of our clients call on us again and again to expand their facilities and build new ones. Do you have an upcoming building or development project you’d like to discuss? We would be happy to sit down with you and learn more about your business.

Architecture Construction Management General Contractor Self-Performing Field Services Real Estate + Brokerage Maintenance Services

320.252.0404 / ricecompanies.com Sauk Rapids • Glencoe • Mankato • Fargo

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NETWORK

UPFRONT

NEWS REEL

DO IT NOW!

St. Cloud Hospital on 2021 best list

Untangle Your Mind

CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital

A brain dump is the art of letting go in order to find your best ideas.

was named one of the top

be done as a team effort. If you want to engage your full team in this exercise, consider having each team member try a solo ‘dump’ on paper, then bring their notes to a full team meeting to begin the brainstorming process.

hospitals in the United States by Newsweek in its 2021 “World’s Best Hospitals” list. The hospital ranked #45 in the nation and #2 in Minnesota.

Falcon Bank promotes staff Falcon Bank promoted Kourtney Piepenburg to chief digital officer, Rebecca Kempenich to chief marketing officer, Alex Cameron to assistant vice president of business banking, and hired Alex Wolter as a business banking representative.

CLA promotes employees CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) recently promoted the following employees: Ty Nimens, Principal, Manufacturing & Distribution Group Alex Hengel, Principal, Non-Profit Group Chloe Leinen, Manager Jasper Asplin, Manager Carly Spoden, Senior Justin Braith, Senior Rick Welch, Senior

Foster joins Challenge Match Chief Compliance

A

brain dump is as simple as it sounds: the act of dumping all the contents of your mind onto paper. Imagine how you might dump out a purse or bag to organize it. Both activities help you see what you have, evaluate what you need, and help you feel clearer on the future. Here’s how it works: What: As you “dump” all

your thoughts onto paper, don’t worry about how they sound, how inconceivable they seem, or how they make you feel. This does not need to be a strictly businessfocused activity. Exploring personal life thoughts can help you grow your skills or

How: Pretend you

interests into professional abilities. Why: Releasing the

thoughts in your head, releases stress from your entire being. The process allows your body to let go of the weight of these thoughts (ideas, questions, concerns, etc.), and can lead to better planning and organization for your goals because you are able to physically see the various pieces of thought in front of you, all in one place. When you capture all your abstract thoughts in one location, intense brainstorming and new creative processes can begin. Who: Brain dumps are best practiced solo, but can also

are turning on a water line, and let the words flow from your mind to your pen. Let any ideas, annoyances, questions, or other curiosities come out. Don’t stop until you feel like any pressure in your head and body are gone. The goal is not to achieve a specific task. Simply allow whatever is weighing on your mind (good, bad, ugly, or beautiful), to come out of your being and be set on the page before you. When: Brain dumps

should be practiced as needed. Consider doing it once a month for personal stress relief and quarterly for team cohesion.

Officer/Financial Advisor at Laraway Financial Advisors, Kimberly Foster and her husband, Nicholas, came together with 19 others to form the GREATer Together Challenge Match, a community-wide effort to help the Great River Educational Arts Theatre (GREAT) survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge will match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $290,000.

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CALENDAR

Tending for a Cause and Bags & Brew Join us at Beaver Island Brewing Co. from 5 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26 Enjoy a cold beer while supporting our students! $1 from every pint purchased and ALL tips will be donated back to our Chamber Foundation, which supports our summer high school internship program, scholarships, and additional workforce development initiatives in the St. Cloud area. ___________


N E W AT T H E TO P

Wanda Schroeder Executive Director for the Central Minnesota Builders Association, Age 50 BC: Previous employer? Marco (and before that was Cellular 2000, ages me ) BC: What will you miss most about your previous position? In any position change you always miss your great colleagues, but fortunately I have made

some great friendships over the years and we stay connected. BC: When did you start in your current position? September 2020 BC: What are you looking forward to the most in your new position?

Being in a local organization where we won’t ‘outgrow’ Central Minnesota, and we can keep the personalized service delivery. I love getting to know our members and working with others to help strengthen our community for our businesses and consumers.

BC: Where did you grow up? Foley on a chicken ranch (Gold’n Plump Chicken farm) BC: What are your hobbies? I love skiing, biking, spending time on the lake, quality family time at the cabin, traveling, and hanging out with friends.

Fun fact: When I was growing up, I wanted to be in law enforcement. That was a path I didn’t end up taking, but about 10 years ago I had the opportunity to go through our local Metro Citizen Policy Academy program, which was amazing. I’d highly recommend this for anyone with an interest in law enforcement; it really gives you appreciation for everything they do.

Quest for Affordable Surgery Dr. Joseph Belshe worked as an anesthesiologist in rural Minnesota before founding St. Cloud Surgical Center in 1972 – the 2nd outpatient surgical center in the US and 1st in Minnesota.

The surgeons I worked with were searching for a less expensive and better way to do simple surgeries outside of the hospital. With modern anesthesia, I knew it was possible,” said Dr. Belshe. From finding a facility and acquiring licensure from the State to convincing insurance companies to come on board, Dr. Belshe diligently followed his calling. As he celebrated his 100th birthday this year, Belshe continued to credit the “good people around him” for his success.

We hired and worked with only the best – excellent surgeons, exceptional nurses, and top-notch administrators,” recalls Belshe. One of those exceptional nurses was his wife, Mary.

Founder – St. Cloud Surgical Center

The Belshes hope to travel from their home in Florida to celebrate St. Cloud’s Surgical Center’s 50th Anniversary next year. Known for exceptional customer service and quality assurance, St. Cloud Surgical Center is AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care) accredited and serves approximately 10,000 patients every year.

Better Care, Better Costs, Better Recovery… Better YOU.

1526 Northway Drive, St Cloud, MN 56303 800.349.7272 | stcsurgicalcenter.com

PH

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NEWS REEL

DIGGING HISTORY

SBA recognizes Central Minnesota lenders

Shaping Downtown

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota District recognized nine companies for their commitment

The Flat Iron and its triangular design have been a fixture in downtown since the late 19th century. By Steve Penick

to helping small businesses

Interior of Flat Iron 1975

succeed at local branches around the state. Local recognition includes Central Minnesota Credit Union, BankVista, Bremer Bank, U.S. Bank, Minnwest Bank and Minnesota Business Finance Corporation.

Stearns Electric supports local organizations Stearns Electric’s Operation Round Up® Program contributed $74,100 to 66 area organizations in November and $60,750 to 71 area organizations in March, including $2,000 each to 20 area food shelves. Through the Operation Round Up® program, Stearns Electric Association gives its member-consumers the opportunity to give back to the community by rounding up their electric bill to the nearest dollar.

CMCF Women’s Fund grants $74K The Women’s Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation awarded $74,000 to 13 area organizations, all focused on improving the lives of women and girls in Central Minnesota. Recipients included Anna Marie’s Alliance, GREAT Theatre, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, Career Solutions, Girl Scouts of MN & WI Lakes & Pines, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota.

Quinlivan & Hughes merges Quinlivan & Hughes, St. Cloud, and Brown, Krueger & Vancura Law Firm in Little Falls have merged. The firm will now have locations in St. Cloud, Long Prairie, Monticello, Little Falls, and Walker under the name Quinlivan & Hughes P.A.

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“St. Cloud in earlier years wasn’t always kind to old buildings. But I like when we preserve old places. And the Flat Iron is one of the older buildings in town.” — John Herges, Falcon Bank CEO, St. Cloud Times, 2014

T

he story of the Flat Iron has always been linked to the railroad, not only by its proximity to the tracks, but for those employees who frequented the establishment. The building has survived auctions, additions, alterations, and demolition plans. Owner perseverance enabled its preservation. And, for the most part, residents have rallied for decades for its existence as a community landmark. The Flat Iron had a rather quiet beginning. The St. Cloud Times in 1884 reported that T. C. Scallan would open his new building’s lunch counter, A No 1. “He will have everything first class in

the line of refreshments,” they wrote. Little is known of its financial success. The building proved to be an asset though, serving multiple uses for nearly 140 years. Over the years, owners recognized two well-defined reasons that helped market their businesses. One was the defined space. The wedgeshaped structure created an intimate atmosphere that allowed patrons to personally interact with each other. The second focused on integration into the community fabric, from sponsoring softball

teams to watching a Vikings game. That intersection created many fond memories for patrons. Several proprietors played key roles in developing the Flat Iron’s historic status. Arnold Schwegman took control in 1940, operating a café that showcased his last name. His son Don followed, and changed the name to the Flat Iron, a nod to its railroad past. Patrons during the postWorld War II period flocked to the place. Don commented years later in a Times article, “You couldn’t get near the bar after work. Saturday and Sunday were even worse.” Schwegman figured out a way to attract this loyal clientele, whether it was affordable drink prices or simply as a neighborhood hangout for card games. “It was good beer, and we knew just about everybody in

Flat Iron Bar, Darrell Peterson cooking hamburgers, Cour tesy of SCSU Archives, St Cloud (Minn), 1979

Courtesy of the Stearns History Museum

NETWORK

UPFRONT


Exterior of Flat Iron, 1975

there at the time,” Wally Burczyk, a post office employee said. The tiny space had seats for fewer than 20 people. The rest crowded in wherever, and as

conversation levels rose, so did the fun. Local residents, downtown workers, and decision makers mingled at the Flat Iron. LaVerne Reginek, a bartender from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s, recalled how television played a role in drawing crowds. “It would be wall-to-wall people just watching wrestling,” she said. But the clientele went beyond a good time. “I think there were a lot of deals made at the Flat Iron,” she added. When financial numbers began to slip, Schwegman decided to sell after decades behind the bar.

Darrell and Ginny Peterson owned the Flat Iron for nearly 20 years. They started in 1975, and believed food was another way to build their business. The Petersons crammed a petitesized kitchen in about 6 feet of space. There, the legendary Darrell Burger was prepared. “This isn’t no fast food. Each burger takes about 10 minutes to make,” Darrell Peterson explained in a 1988 St. Cloud Times article. On a busy day, nearly 100 burgers left the grill, served with topping choices from sauerkraut to Ginny’s Chili. “It took 11 years, but I finally got my name on something,”

she said. In 1982, St. Cloud Times readers voted the Darrell Burger as the “best damn burger in town.” Darrell claimed several years later “that was probably our biggest accomplishment.” The Flat Iron built its reputation on people who passed through its doors. Owners fostered these relationships in a space that encouraged conversation. Who knows? Maybe the Flat Iron will find a way to shape the community for the next 140 years. Steve Penick is the head archivist at the Stearns History Museum in St. Cloud.

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NETWORK

UPFRONT

THE TROUBLE WITH BUSINESS

Leading Virtual Teams Great leadership is a challenge. Great leadership in a virtual setting takes that challenge to a whole new level. By Amy Fisher

does not expect an immediate response. –––––– Put everything important in writing, since virtual employees may not be part of every conversation that takes place in the office. 2 Coaching and Feedback

T

he foundation to great leadership is trust. We need the people we lead to trust us, and as leaders, we need to trust the people we lead. The best way to instill trust in a team is to let them do their jobs. People want to do a good job – let them. Understand that current circumstances are going to put different stressors on people (home life, childcare, distance learning, etc.). What are the must haves? Start there and get creative. When team members feel trusted, they feel appreciated and give more than when they don’t feel trusted or feel they are being micromanaged. When virtual employees earn your trust, rely on that trust. Don’t attempt to micromanage or wonder if they are being productive. We trust people who are transparent, authentic and trustworthy. Here are some tips for leaders in the brave new virtual world.

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1.Communications

A virtual environment removes the casual “hallway” interactions, so we need to make them happen. Connect with virtual employees each day with a quick call or a greeting via text/IM. It is critical that you touch base with your virtual staff to discuss their work environment, any challenges they are facing, and how they are adjusting. –––––– Encourage the use of webcams! It can be uncomfortable at first for some, but the benefits of seeing non-verbal cues can be significant. Even when it’s just a 1:1 conversation, the visual connection makes a big difference. –––––– Make a habit of responding to team member emails, texts or instant messages in a timely manner – remote staff cannot walk to your desk with questions. If you are not available, clearly communicate that so your team

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When considering individual situations involving a virtual employee, a best practice is to ask yourself what your decision/ guidance would be if the employee were in the office – and strive for consistent managing whenever possible. –––––– Provide feedback and coaching in a timely manner, preferably via phone or webcam to ensure complete understanding and allow

principles: Be respectful of others’ time, and be present. –––––– If there are virtual attendees and co-located attendees in the same meeting, consider skipping the conference room and have everyone attend virtually. This puts everyone on equal footing. –––––– Take a few minutes at the start or close of a virtual meeting for small talk – just as you would when you gather in a physical conference room. –––––– Periodically invite comments from virtual employees to draw them into the discussion and ensure they share their perspectives. –––––– At times, virtual employees can feel that they are missing

Even if you’re in a virtual meeting and it’s possible to be disrespectful, it’s unacceptable. If you wouldn’t do it in person, don’t do it virtually.

time for a robust dialogue. –––––– Always follow up the conversation with a brief email. 3 Virtual Meetings

As leaders, we need to establish a standard. In virtual meetings, civility and respect must be the norm. There must be inalienable, ethical rules that you follow during a virtual meeting for it to be truly successful. And that means adhering to two fundamental

information discussed in the office, so meeting minutes are critical. –––––– Kill the mute button. In a colocated meeting, there are social norms. For example, in a physical meeting, you would never make a phone call and “check out” from the meeting. Virtual meetings are no different. In a virtual meeting, you shouldn’t press mute and respond to your emails or take other calls. This is not only rude, but it also eliminates any potential


TO P H ATS for lively discussion, shared laughter and creativity. –––––– Ban multitasking - Multitasking was once thought of as a way to get many things done at once, but instead it’s a way to do many things at less than 100 percent. Leaders should set a firm policy that multitasking during meetings is unacceptable, as it’s important for everyone to be present. Here are three ways to make sure the ban on multitasking is followed: a Use video. It eliminates multitasking because your colleagues can see you. b Have the meeting leader call on people to share their

thoughts. Since no one likes

to be caught off-guard, they’re more apt to pay attention. c Give people different tasks (minutes, action items,

timelines, leave, etc.) in the meeting; rotate regularly. Trust your teams to do the right thing, and most important of all, remind yourself to maintain a sense of humor. We are all in this together and have a great opportunity to do things differently. Embrace it and enjoy the ride! Amy Fisher is vice president of client solutions & delivery for OptumRx.

NEW NAME ConnectAbility of MN, provides assistive technology, transportation, chore service, and home modifications to individuals with disabilities, 24707 County Road 75, St. Augusta. Pictured: Amanda Groethe, Sheri Wegner, Bernie Perryman.

NEW LOCATION Rapids Alterations & Repair, wedding, and formal alterations as well as anything from baptismal gowns to boat covers, 621 N Benton Drive, ste 101, Sauk Rapids. Pictured: Julie Forsberg, Cindy Battleson, Carl Newbanks.

40-YEAR MEMBER Park Industries, manufacturer of stone fabricating equipment, 6301 Saukview Drive, St. Cloud. Pictured: Josh Vraa, Joan Schatz, Mike Schlough, Bernie Perryman.

30-YEAR MEMBER Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, serving youth by creating supportive relationships with screened and trained mentors. 203 Cooper Ave. N, ste 162, St. Cloud. Pictured: Tim Schmidt, Jackie Johnson, Kara Tomazin.

Dine again Miss your favorite restaurant? Get your COVID vaccine — it’s safe, and it works.

Protect yourself and those you love, and live again!

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NETWORKCENTRAL GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

E V E N T S A R O U N D T H E ST. C LO U D A R E A

M O R E O N E V E N T S : Fo r i n f o r m a t i o n o n t h e s e o r o t h e r b u s i n e s s e v e n t s , c a l l 3 2 0 -2 51 -2 9 4 0 o r v i s i t S t C l o u d A r e a C h a m b e r. c o m a n d c l i c k o n “ C a l e n d a r.” GROW!

The inaugural Central MN Farming Today online conference drew over 90 participants. Topics ranged from digital safety to soil health and estate planning to agricultural policy development. Jeff Evenson, Compeer Financial: “Cybersecurity on the Farm”

Andrew Geil, Compeer Financial: “Cybersecurity on the Farm”

Chris Clayton, DTN-The Progressive Farmer: “What today’s Ag Policies Mean to You”

U.S. Representative Tom Emmer: “Washington’s Approach to Agriculture Policy”

Susan VonBank, Minn. Department of Agriculture: “Minnesota’s Farm Safety Programs” Jim Salfer, University of Minn. Extension: “The Future of Small Dairy Farms”

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Jim Zwaschka, South Central College: “Grain Bin Safety”


NETWORK!

NETWORK!

The St. Cloud Area Family Y hosted the Sauk Rapids Chamber in January. They provided the perfect blend of organizational information and group fitness.

Pantown Brewing Company hosted the February Waite Park Chamber meeting, which was followed by the Waite Park State of the City address.

Heather Sabin, associate executive director, St. Cloud Area Family Y

Brenda Sickler, Theisen Dental, chair of the Sauk Rapids Chamber and Sam Lieser, Edina Realty, Chamber vice chair, follow along on the group stretching exercises.

Christine Stoeber, group exercise coordinator, St. Cloud Area Family Y

Behind the scenes with Kayle Ellison, BadCat Digital, vice chair, and Brady DeGagne, Boys & Girls Club, chair of the Waite Park Chamber.

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BUSINESSTOOLS GROW

| NETWORK

|

PROFIT

R ES O U RC ES T H AT H E L P YO U R B US I N ESS G RO W

I N S I D E T H I S I S S U E : Management Tool Kit / En t rep re n eu ris m / Te c h St rateg ies / Eco n o my Cen t ral by Falco n B a nk MANAGEMENT TOOL KIT

Start Talking A little preparation will give you confidence when talking to the media. By Michael Hemmesch

T

he phone rings and it’s a reporter asking for an interview. Your blood pressure rises as the thought of doing a media interview makes you nervous, but you understand that earned media can be a positive opportunity for your business or organization. What’s your next step? Depending on the size of your business or organization, you might have a communication staff or an external agency that can help with interview preparation. For others, interview preparation might fall solely on your shoulders. Through proper preparation and practice, you can feel confident about succeeding during a media interview.

Preparing for the Interview Respond quickly to the request. Unless the story is a feature about your business or organization (which will likely have a longer lead time), the reporter probably has multiple people they can call for comment. Reporters will quickly move on to other sources if they do not hear back from you. –––––– Gather information about the purpose of the interview. The reporter will likely not give you the specific questions in advance, but you can expect to know the focus of the interview. –––––– Do research about the journalist and media outlet. Read some of the most recent

stories by the journalist. This is especially important if you think the interview might be on a controversial topic or related to a crisis situation. –––––– For larger organizations, decide when the CEO/president conducts the interview, and when you put another employee in that role. –––––– Determine the three key points you want to highlight during the interview. This will allow you to stay on track and keep you from answering hypothetical questions. No matter what questions are asked, you can always bring the answers back to those three key points. –––––– Practice, practice, practice. This is doubly important if it is a live radio or TV interview. If possible, record yourself practicing the interview questions. Also, remember your non-verbal actions. Audiences often remember your tone, body language and other non-verbal actions more than spoken words. Participating in the Interview Use short sentences and clear

Contributor ________ Michael Hemmesch is the senior director of public relations at Saint John’s University.

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language. Try to stay away from acronyms – the audience will not understand, and the reporter will likely not be able to use that part of the interview. –––––– Let silence be your friend. If you answered the question completely, stop and let the reporter move on to the next question. The reporter might use silence, especially in controversial interviews, to get you to say things that are not part of your key points. –––––– It’s OK to say, “I don’t know the answer to your question.” Don’t be ashamed to say that, but get the answer and follow up with the reporter. –––––– Avoid saying, “no comment.” There are ways to reframe the question. Always remember that whatever you say can be used in the story, even if you think you are “off the record.” If media relations is a central part of your marketing and communications plan, you and your organization can also proactively reach out to media outlets and share your expertise instead of waiting for the phone to ring. Effective media relations is about two-way communication and developing good relationships with reporters and media outlets.


TECH NEWS

LOOKING FORWARD TO SERVING OUR COMMUNITY IN THE COMING YEAR

Humanizing Self-service Self-service automation can improve efficiency, but in retail, the human touch is as important as ever. What many retailers are learning is that self-service technology helps support a humanized environment while offering consumers the choices they demand. How does it work? Fast casual restaurant chain Saladworks introduced “Sally,” a robotic salad maker that allows guests to select from 22 toppings. The Ontario Regiment Tank Museum in Ontario, Canada, repositioned its digital concierge avatar, Lana, to provide contact tracing information and to screen visitors before they enter. Lana also has facial recognition, so she can tell if you’re an employee or a visitor. It’s not cheap, but it is innovative.

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CALENDAR

Business Awards Lunch Each year the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce presents three local businesses or organizations with hard-earned Business Awards. ––––– Join us on June 3 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. to celebrate our 2021 honorees! ––––– Details available at

Business-Awards-Lunch.com

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BUSINESSTOOLS

ENTREPRENEURISM

Metrics Matter As a business owner you can overload on data. Tracking a few key financial metrics can mean the difference between success and failure. By James A. Ringwald

Profit margins.

A measure of income compared to expenses provides an indication of financial efficiency. These margins can focus on the gross, operating and net profits, but may also provide insight when done by business line or even an individual item within that line. Turnover.

S

tarting a business is no simple feat. It requires making constant financial decisions that could greatly impact your operations. With this in mind, it’s crucial to have meaningful data to guide your decisions so that missteps are avoided. For a new business owner, these metrics are important to track: Burn rate.

How quickly are cash, hours, or other factors being used? These measures will highlight break-even points and efficiency. Churn rate. The number of customers that leave over time should at least be in balance with the replacement rate.

Days outstanding.

What is the average number of days it takes the business to pay its vendors and collect from customers? The more you control these measures, the more cash flow can be optimized. Employee productivity. There are three primary methods to measure productivity: objectives (specific targets), quantitatively (e.g., the number of tasks performed), and profitability. A simple start to this analysis would be calculating the revenue per employee – total revenues divided by total employees. This may be further focused by looking at particular business lines and/or employee groups.

These ratios provide an indication of the effectiveness of a business’ use of individual or total assets or liabilities. In relation to sales, generally a higher ratio is preferable for asset classes and conversely for liability classes. Working capital.

Subtracting current liabilities from current assets gives you a view of operating liquidity.

Understanding these measures will allow you to optimize decisions by pinpointing areas of excellence and those that need improvement. However, keep in mind that you want to tailor the analysis to your business and

James Ringwald, CPA/ABV, is director of business valuation for BerganKDV. He specializes in business valuation, estate, fiduciary, and gift taxation.

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

A Comparisons. While many of the items discussed so far are effective, the data becomes more relevant after completing a comparative analysis. The results may be shown side-by-side with prior periods to glean trends occurring over time within the business. Performance also can be measured against that of the industry, made relatively easy with information from your financial advisor, trade association, or subscription service. B Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog. Many business owners focus on reducing the income tax burden. While providing short-term savings, it can generate excessive

In relation to sales, generally a higher ratio is preferable for asset classes and conversely for liability classes.

Contributor ________

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not others. You will also want to consider two additional factors:

discretionary expenditures, reduced ability to borrow, or a lower value in the eventual sale of the business. Making key decisions for your new business can be difficult, but by analyzing and tracking metrics that are relevant to your business needs, these decisions become easier. You should also consider working with your advisor to determine short and long-term goals for your business.


TECH NEWS

A New Horizon

BUILDING TODAY TO POWER TOMORROW W. Gohman Construction builds environments that work for your employees and your budget. We give you the freedom to work so you can get back to doing what you do best. Why make do with the space you have when W. Gohman Construction can help you do more? Recently W. Gohman assisted in expanding Blattner Energy’s headquarters building in Avon, Minn. The addition was safely tied into an existing, fully occupied building with the least amount of disruption to daily operations. In addition, W. Gohman was able to maintain Blattner’s current sustainable energy efforts and fortify their existing and new facilities for future growth.

Robot Courtesy They say ‘thank you’ when you help them, slow down when you meet them, and never, ever jump the curb when your car approaches. They are robots that have been delivering food in Milton Keynes, UK, since 2018. To get around, the battery-powered robots, which have a top speed of 4 mph and a battery life of 16 hours, see and sense their surroundings using 10 cameras. They also use machine learning, which helps them distinguish between an approaching vehicle and that vehicle’s reflection in a puddle. Because everything is bigger in California, a new, bigger and faster (35 mph) road-going rival called the R2 may start work in California this summer. Source: Autocar

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Fungal Hype A growing number of name brands looking for more sustainable materials are turning to fabrics made from mycelium, a fungus that’s compostable, heat resistant and waterproof. Keep an eye out for companies like Adidas and Gucci who are planning introductions of new products made from mushrooms. Source: Modern Retail

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ENTREPRENEURISM

Let’s Make a Deal Planning and due diligence will help you avoid a bad business deal. By Jacqueline M. Schuh

budgets, and liabilities. Unfortunate discoveries such as bad debt, sloppy accounting, skimming, bad management, and payment of fines and penalties, are all warning signs of a bad business deal. Choose a team of competent professionals

to assist with the purchase, i.e. bankers, accountants and attorneys. Secure a business appraisal

W

ith Boomers moving into retirement, there are ever increasing opportunities to purchase some very successful businesses and become your own boss. The process of doing so is called “business succession” and includes intra-family and thirdparty transfers, mergers, and acquisitions. Buying a business is much like buying a stock — there are good and bad bets. Diligence with key items can confirm a good purchase or compel a walkaway. Remember, there is no easy or quick rebound from a bad business deal. How do you know when it’s time to walk away from a business deal? Or, put the other way, when is the right time to sign on the dotted line? The following checklist will help assure you consider significant issues and assist you

in spotting a bad deal before signing a purchase agreement.

and carefully review it with your team of professionals.

Perform a self-evaluation of your desires, skills, abilities and weaknesses. Some

Create realistic weekly, monthly and annual budgets.

of us are good with people management, marketing, financials, playing well with others, and day-to-day decision-making. But it is nearly impossible to have all these strengths. An honest assessment can be key to walking away or inviting a marry-up with others who have the skills to help you succeed. Evaluate the business’ financials. Best practice is to

have this evaluation performed by a team of professionals who will carefully and thoroughly review a minimum of two to five years of the company’s books, tax returns, inventory,

This is imperative. If the numbers do not add up, walk away. Talk with employees, if the company has some.

Expect good and bad comments, including typical “gripes.” This will yield invaluable information and serve as a basis for future decisions to improve the environment. Look for a balance of comments. Buying into a perfect and happy emotional environment is a needle in a haystack, but if the scale tips all to the negative, it may be time to walk away as the business may have underlying employment liability issues.

Contributor ________ Jacqueline M. Schuh is an attorney with Engelmeier & Umanah, P.A.

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Ask for an employee handbook and check when it

was last updated. Review any existing NonCompete Agreements. Were

they put in place in accordance with law? These should also identify key employees. Review the employment files for compliance with the law. These include I-9 forms,

completed applications, wage withholding forms, properly kept healthcare and disciplinary records, file security, etc. Also, identify exempt and non-exempt employees, and the method the owner uses to track time and compensation. Sloppy systems often result in employer liability that carries over to the buyer and also requires immediate attention if the sale goes forward. Investigate whether or not the company provides training to its employees and

if so, what type. Ask if there are any pending lawsuits, notices of violation, or any state or federal agency issues or actions. A pattern of

lack of compliance may result in strict liability to the buyer. These are some of the more common issues for you to consider. And remember, a well-selected professional team will have your back because your success is their success.


GOING GREEN

Courtesy of St. Cloud Metro Bus; Source: St. Cloud Metro Bus

Nothing But Vapor

Hail the Minivan

Central Minnesotans now have easy access to purchase compressed natural gas.

T

he St. Cloud Metro Bus compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station is now open for public purchases. This step is part

of the company’s effort to minimize the environmental impact of fossil fuels in the communities it serves.

Over the last decade, Metro Bus has been transitioning its fleet to CNG-powered vehicles. Currently 67 percent of the operation’s city fleet is powered by clean-burning CNG, with the only exhaust being water vapor. The fueling station is at the Metro Bus Operations Center at 665 Franklin Ave. in east St. Cloud. Similar to other fuel options, CNG prices vary, and it is sold as gas per gallon equivalent or GGE.

The self-driving car is almost here. Aurora, a self-driving car startup, will work with Toyota and its supplier, Denso, to develop self-driving minivans for Uber and other ride-hailing companies. Aurora plans to deploy a test fleet of Toyota Sienna minivans using its self-driving technology by the end of this year. Source: Reuters.com

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27


GROW

BUSINESSTOOLS

T EC H ST R AT EG I ES

Measure This, Not That Not all analytics are created equal By Dawn Zimmerman

the investment to ensure your marketing is set up to deliver a return. Measuring (and Managing) Success Once you have your goals, be creative on how you will measure success. Don’t let yourself off the hook from trying to measure success – even when it is branding related. Brainstorm the possibilities. There are

T

he best marketing is data driven. Analytics can help leaders assess the effectiveness of a strategy and align resources accordingly. But more data is not the answer. Don’t fall into the trap of building out extensive dashboards with data set after data set. High-performing teams know, track (in real-time or at least weekly), and take action on five to seven key performance indicators, based on their strategic initiatives. This requires leaders to step back and hone in on how they will know if their team is achieving success and how they may want to adjust investments. Don’t miss this step. Only focusing on the effectiveness of a given tool or campaign will limit your ability to understand your impact. Whether you’re taking a broad look at your marketing or assessing a strategy, consider these key questions:

• What are your goals? • How will you measure them? • How does your performance compare to industry benchmarks? • How does your performance compare to your past results? Specific Goals Take the time to write out specific goals that tie back to your larger strategy. Why are you doing this? If this is successful, how will you know? Effective goals should be clearly measurable and likely include targets, such as gaining a certain number of qualified leads, conversion rates, or generating a certain amount of revenue. They can help you understand how a variety of tactics play off each other to get results. The goals should be attainable, but not easy to achieve. They should match

Contributor ________ Dawn Zimmerman is the chief marketing officer at Marco, an integrated business technology services provider based in St. Cloud.

28

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

Or you know you should be reaching at least four to five times the number of your followers on social media to gain traction, or reach millions quickly to go viral, so your team doesn’t raise the success flag when you fall short. Your Performance Industry benchmarks should just be the beginning. Highperforming teams also need to set goals that push for better

Plan to go beyond the basics of analytics to use data points that will identify both opportunities to accelerate your results and red flags.

a lot of opportunities with custom or trackable URLs to assess performance. Everything can be measured in some way, including billboards and commercials. Plan to go beyond the basics of analytics to use data points that will identify both opportunities to accelerate your results (exceed your plan expectations) and red flags (vulnerabilities in the plan that could lead to subpar results). Industry Benchmarks Understand what “good” looks like on the specific tool or campaign that you are implementing, and set targets accordingly. For example, an open rate on a targeted nurture campaign for a given audience may be 33 percent. So, you know your content should be driving at least that result.

results when implemented. They set growth targets monthover-month or campaignover-campaign that exceed their performance results and demonstrate they are continuing to improve. The best analytics drive you farther. They can help the entire leadership team understand your market and customers in order to promote better decision-making on which markets to enter, which products or services to consider, and which opportunities to explore to take the organization to the next level. Don’t succumb to the easy analytics. Push yourself and your team to uncover the data points that reveal how your strategy is performing and allow you to adjust throughout the year to achieve better outcomes – for the good of your organization.


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Stressed Out! Simple steps we all know can help you manage stress. By Kelly Cook

W

e’re well into year two of the COVID-19 pandemic and for some of us it seems like it’s never going to end. Yes, there’s a vaccine, but do you qualify to get it? And if you do, will you get both doses? In the meantime, can you hug your friends? Or even go out to dinner with them? If you’ve had it with social distancing, face coverings, and online learning, you’re not alone. Here are some ideas to help – a refresher course, if you will – as I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

I’m talking about going for a walk, shoveling snow, and playing with your pets. Anything to get the adrenaline going and you moving.

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3 Try to eat healthier. At get-togethers, focus on the foods that are mostly protein. They fill you up and are less likely to cause a post-party sugar-crash. 4 Talk to someone if

I know, easier said than done. Sleep gives your body and mind a chance to recharge. Your body does not fight off viruses as easily, (so important during a pandemic!) so you are more likely to catch a cold, be hungrier, and feel generally more out of sorts.

you are feeling down. Visit with a loved one. Check in on your loved ones, too, and see how they are doing. Sometimes, it can help to focus on another person. One final thought. So many of our family traditions have been curtailed during this time. Try to accept that and take this opportunity to make new traditions in your family. You never know, you might find a few that are worth repeating long into the future!

2 Exercise!

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I know, the dreaded “E” word! I’m not talking about training for a marathon!

owner of Cook Counseling

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M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com

29


GROW

BUSINESSTOOLS

Economy Central presented by

ECONOMY CENTRAL

Closing the Gap Recent research suggests that when women entrepreneurs set goals with a friend, their business success rate improves. By Anna Nelson and Lynn MacDonald

T

he job market has been churning with 2.5 million women and 1.8 million men leaving the labor force within the last year. Even in this time of great uncertainty, entrepreneurs have stepped up and found innovative ways to meet a new need or demand that previously did not exist. Entrepreneurship is tied to economic growth and development and is sometimes classified as being out of either necessity (associated with the need to survive/generate income) or opportunity (associated with

highly educated entrepreneurs filling a market need). While entrepreneurism remains male dominated, more women have become entrepreneurs over the last several decades. There is some evidence that women entrepreneurs are more often engaged in necessity entrepreneurism, which does not typically come with strong business networks. As a result, necessity entrepreneurism may not promote economic growth as effectively as opportunity entrepreneurism, generally

Contributors ________ Anna Nelson is an economics student and Lynn MacDonald is an associate professor of economics, both at St. Cloud State University. For the sources used in this story, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com

30

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

associated with stronger investment and business networks. This difference in business networks between men and women also may influence the location of the entrepreneurial activity. Economists Stuart Rosenthal and William Strange find that the entrepreneurial activity of men and women tend to be spatially separated, with men’s business ventures more likely to be near other businesses. The proximity to other companies allows for ease in knowledge sharing and other productivity-enhancing benefits of business clusters. Network effects seem to play a role here in terms of access to other businesses and innovations, as well as to funding. They note that women have less access to funding, partially due to less extensive business networks, and therefore may not have the capital necessary to locate in denser, more expensive areas where clustering benefits are strongest. Locating businesses in dense locations offers productivity and opportunity advantages. With women locating their businesses elsewhere, they are not enjoying the productivity enhancing aspects of the city. Though social programs usually have difficulty influencing location decisions, business training and counseling programs are often recommended to help counter the low entrepreneurial activity of women, especially in settings where lack of education is a factor. A team of economists led by Erica Field has found that the

gender gap in entrepreneurial performance is not necessarily related to lack of business training, but rather by lack of peer effects. In one study, female bank customers in India were offered business training aimed at increasing female entrepreneurism. Findings from this training showed two things to be important: encouraging women to form concrete goals and aspirations, and doing so in the presence of a friend. “Involving a friend led participants in our two-day training program to double their demand for loans and significantly expand their business activity, resulting in higher household income,” Field writes. Experiments like these can shed some light on how we can better encourage and support female entrepreneurism. Because entrepreneurial activity is vital to economic growth and wellbeing, it’s important that both men and women engage in it. The good news is, we are making progress in the U.S. In the last five years, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 21 percent, while all businesses increased 9 percent. Similarly, women-owned businesses saw a 21 percent increase in total revenue compared to 20 percent for all businesses. While we have been making significant strides, we still have opportunity for improvement. Taking some cues from India, such as setting goals with a friend, could be a step toward closing the gap.


E PARK,

$200M

Residential Building Permits

November

16,523*

621,465

885,721

$80M

E PARK,

1,424*

32,948

24,272

December

Home Sales Closed

October

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH

Economy September

ECO N O M I C I N D I C ATO R S & T R E N D S

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD

Central presented by ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH

COLOR KEY:August

TOTAL: $3,716,523* Compiled by Shelly Imdieke, data current as of 4/15/21

July 2021 Jan Feb December Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

2021

500

$500000

ST. CLOUD

September

St. Cloud Sartell

TOTAL: $137,532,948

36

309 $15,070,149

June $12,784,000 November

43 $7,204,589 67 $3,497,436

Food and Beverage 4

2020

Sauk Rapids 55 May $24,841,483 October

228 $30,482,808

Waite Park 136 Apr September $15,234,330

135 $5,556,423

$1,272,370 ST. CLOUD 10 $395,644

TOTAL: 182*

TOTAL: 1823

TOTAL: 1868

2019

St. Augusta Mar 7 August $271,600

11 3 $9,754,200 $113,285 2021

St. Joseph Feb 61 July $9,026,116

51 4 $0 $7,919,703 $98,100

Jan

June *Total as of 4/15/2021

2000

$2000000

$150M TOTAL: $137,532,948 $200M

246 $68,749,665

July December

1500

TOTAL: $1,287,691

TOTAL: $1,604,677

$1500000

TOTAL: $12,581,424*

2021

338 $116,566,743

$500k

2020

May and St. Joseph. Sources: Building departments for the following cities: St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Waite Park, St. Augusta, Apr

TOTAL: $178,724,272

2020-2021

2020-21 % CHANGE

Source: positivelyminnesota.com

December

November

3%

October

September

August

July

June

Jan

May

April

March

6%

February

$200M

December

$150M

November

12%

October

September

August

$100M

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

$50M

Source: positivelyminnesota.com $0 $500k

Feb

9%

$0M

2019

Non FarmMarJobs January

15%

Food and Beverage

Commercial 2019 2020 2021* August #/$ #/$ #/$

Unemployment Rates

2019

500

B U I L D I N G P E R M I T S BY C O M M U N I T Y

TOTAL: $12,581,424*

$100M

15 $109,574

0

November

1000

Data not released at time of print

$1000000

2020

$50M

3 $621,980

2019

October

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH TOTAL: $178,724,272

$0M

December

122 $3,685,577

December

Commercial Building Permits

2021

November

St. Joseph 73 February $3,304,271

Home Sales Closed in St. Cloud Area

95 $10,023,126

January *Total as of 4/15/2021

$80M

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH

2019

October

St. Augusta 73 March $5,979,717

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH

$70M

September

TOTAL: $63,885,721

$60M

2020

Waite Park 39 49 7 April $1,084,477 $2,336,431 $366,454

Commercial Building Permits

2021

2020

$50M

500

Sauk Rapids 165 236 31 May $8,585,270 $7,739,324 $580,084

2021

$40M

69 $1,428,631

560 71 $16,235,353 0$609,800

2020

$30M

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH

2021

Sartell 309 January$18,954,216 June

2019

$20M

Home Sales Closed

765 2019 $38,601,654

607

$25,977,770 February July

0

$10M

August

St. Cloud

$60M $70M $80M TOTAL: $78,621,465

Food and Beverage Tax Collection

ST. CLOUD

$0M

August

September

2021

$0 2019

July

$50M

June

$40M

2020

2019

2020

$30M

May

$20M

April

$10M

2020

Residential 2019 2020 2021* March #/$ #/$ #/$

2021 $0M

May October

BUILDING P E R M I T S BY C O M M U N I T Y April

TOTAL: $3,716,523*

2019

June November

March

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH TOTAL: $63,885,721

February

January

December

Residential Building Permits

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

Apr

Mar

Feb

Jan

2020

TOTAL: $78,621,465

0% 9%

-3% -6%

6%

-9% -12%

3%

J

F

M

*Total as of 4/15/2021

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J

St. Cloud Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota United States

-15%

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J

St. Cloud, MN MetroSA Minnesota United States

M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com

31


$200M

GROW

500

1500

COLOR KEY:

Jan December Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

December

Data not released at time of print

August

August

2021

July

July

BY THE NUMBERS

Top Ten

E

TOTAL: $1,599,444

–––––-

TOTAL: $1,604,677

2000

$2000000

No. 2

STEARNS AND BENTON COUNTIES

$0

$500k

TOTAL: 4* $1.5M

$1M

April

$2M

2020

2021

Stearns Co.

102

34

3

Benton Co.

21

8

1

Benton County Sheriff’s Civil Process; Stearn’s County Sheriff’s Office *Total as of 4/15/2021; There were no reported auctions in April & May 2020.

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

December

Residential 2019

November

SHERIFF’S FORECLOSURE AUCTIONS

150

October

120

September

90

August

60

Progress

July

30

June

0

May

9.7

2019

April

–––––-

TOTAL: 123

March

January

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

2020

February

Iowa’s ranking among the best states for female-owned businesses

–––––-

The average payroll at Minnesota’s female-owned companies, compared to $426K in Wisconsin

No. 31

TOTAL: 42

The average number of employees in a femaleowned business in Wisconsin

$346K

March

Wisconsin’s ranking February among the best states for January female-owned businesses –––––-

2021

11.6 TOTAL: 182*

$2M

Sheriff’s Foreclosure Auctions

2019

TOTAL: 1868

June

Minnesota’s ranking among the May BEST states for female-owned businesses

TOTAL: $1,287,691

2020 Source: Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud

*Total as of 4/15/2021

July

No. 6

$1.5M

$2M

December ntrepreneurship among women is a growing trend. To find November the best and worst states for female entrepreneurs, AdvisorSmith October studied the average number of employees, the average payroll, and the percentage of the female labor force September that owned businesses with at least $100K in revenue and at least oneAugust employee. Here’s what it found:

TOTAL: 1823

$1M

$1.5M

Source: Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud *Total as of 4/15/2021

1500

TOTAL: $1,287,691

TOTAL: $1,604,677

$1500000

$500k

$1M

1000

Data not released at time of print

$1000000

$0

$500k

January

Home Sales Closed in St. Cloud Area

2000

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH

1500

Data not released at time of print

2019

2021

$0

TOTAL: $749,418 Food and Beverage Tax Collection

ST. CLOUD

March February

Feb

TOTAL: $94,405*

2021

TOTAL: $1,604,677

500

ST. CLOUD

0

$500000

Food and Beverage Tax Collection

ST. CLOUD

1000

2019

Mar

Jan $150M $200M Housing/Real Estate sources: St. Cloud Area Association of Realtors, http://stcloudrealtors.com/pages/statistics. *Total as of 4/15/2021

2021

2020

April

Lodging Tax Dollars

2020

2019

2021

2020

2019

$0

$100M

May

TOTAL: 1823

Apr

TOTAL: $178,724,272

500

2020

May

2019

0

TOTAL: $1,287,691

June

TOTAL: 1868

June

December

TOTAL: 182*

November

September

TOTAL: $137,532,948

October

September

ST. CLOUD

September

TOTAL: $12,581,424*

August

Food and Beverage Tax Collection October

ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH UD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK,

2021

July

June

November

May

April

March

February

January

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

Apr

Mar

Feb

Jan

November

Home Sales Closed in St. Cloud Area ing Permits 6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, October WAITE PARK,

2020

2000

BUSINESSTOOLS

ECO N O M I C I N D I C ATO R S & T R E N D S

32

1000

E PARK,

0

16,523*

January

621,465

885,721

$80M

$80M

$70M

E PARK,

$60M

1,424*

$50M

32,948

24,272

$40M

Recent data shows a narrowing of the gender gap in Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA). .

The average number of employees in a femaleowned business in Minnesota, compared to 9 employees nationwide.

14.6%

–––––-

TEA for men in 2019

TEA for men in 2015

18.3%

9.2% TEA for women in 2015

16.6% TEA for women in 2019

To see the entire report, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com.


WOMEN IN BANKING Soaring to great heights

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34

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1


STILL A START-UP

J

Central McGowan may be a 70-year-old company, but owner Joe Francis sees so many growth opportunities, it could be a start-up. By Gail Ivers

Photography by Joel Butkowski, BDI Photography

oe Francis knew his destiny from an early age. In his teens his grandfather, Leo Henkemeyer, owner of Central McGowan would tell him “When you’re ready to work, you can work in the business.” In the meantime, Joe stayed busy helping with landscaping and maintenance on his grandfather’s commercial properties. “For whatever reason,” Joe said, “‘Ready’ meant when I got my driver’s license.” At 16, Joe interviewed for a job at Central McGowan. “I think my mother may have set up the interview,” he said. “But I had to bug my grandfather about it when I didn’t get

BEST BUSINESS ADVICE:

a call back. Magically, a few days later, they called me back,” he laughed. “I did all sorts of things – painted cylinders, cleaned bathrooms, swept floors, worked at the fill plant, shipping and receiving, at the front desk – it varied tremendously.” By this time Henkemeyer was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. His three daughters had no interest in running the industrial welding supply business, but everyone agreed that it should stay in the family. So Henkemeyer set up management teams that ran the company from 1985 – 2005. “There was zero family involvement during this time,” Joe said, “but

BE HUMBLE, SMART, AND GIVE BACK WHEN YOU CAN. KNOWING THE NUMBERS ALSO HELPS. —ANONYMOUS.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Leo Henkemeyer was featured in the March-April 2005 issue of Business Central.

L

eo Henkemeyer worked at Central Welding in St. Cloud, buying the company in 1954. In 1965 he merged Central Welding with McGowan Welding in Little Falls, renaming the companies Central McGowan. Fast forward to 2015 and Henkemeyer’s grandson, Joe Francis, now company owner and CEO, takes the company through a rebranding effort. “We briefly thought about changing the name,” Francis said. “Central McGowan means something historically, but it’s meaningless from a business activity standpoint.” Because of their plans to diversify, they thought about becoming CM Companies. They could call each business unit CM Supplies, and CM Automation, and CM CO2. “It got so complex, we thought honestly, the name Central McGowan doesn’t mean anything – we can do whatever we want,” Francis said. “We can sell flowers and no one would know any different.” So Central McGowan stayed Central McGowan. “It allows us to keep an open mind of what the future of the business can be. And it forces people to ask what we do, and then we can tell our story.”

M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com

35


COVER STORY

AUTOMATION PARTNER

C

entral McGowan has sold robotic arms for years. Under the new leadership of third-generation owner Joe Francis, the company looked to diversify its product and services. Automation seemed like an obvious opportunity. “We wanted to bring new value to our already diverse manufacturing base,” Francis said. Though they were a distributor, they could not design, manufacture, or maintain the systems around the robots. That all changed in 2015 when Central McGowan acquired a company that did robotics and automation integration. Today they purchase the robotic arms and then design, manufacture, install, program, train, and maintain robots tailored to meet the specific needs of their customers. “Now we can directly help our customers make their operations more productive by being an automation partner.”

36

BusinessCentral Magazine.com // M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1

it was still a family business, just not being run in the way you’d expect.” As these leadership changes evolved, Joe continued working at Central McGowan full time in the summers and part time during the school year. By 2005 the existing management team was ready for retirement. Joe was still in high school, but his family wanted to create a transition that would eventually put him in

FUN FACT:

the leadership role. Cindy Francis, Joe’s mother, had a vision for keeping Central McGowan in the family. In 2006 she began working full time in the office as part of the transition back to family leadership. “Mom was the closest to Grandpa,” Joe said. “Grandpa basically put it in my mother’s hands and said, ‘Figure out how to run and transition this business and we’ll keep it in the family.’ I was too young at the time to be involved in those highlevel discussions. I just did what I was told and was always given the vision that I could be the one running the company one day.” Cindy knew that she needed help to create a smooth transition while Joe finished school and gained work experience. In 2008 she brought Joe’s father, Jeff Francis, into the company. Jeff’s background in information technology and finance positioned him to help transition the existing management team into retirement, create a new management team with Jeff as the CEO, and eventually turn the leadership role over to Joe. That was the 10-year plan. In 2010, Jeff became CEO at Central McGowan. Cindy had moved into retirement and Jeff Skumautz was the company president in charge of day-today operations. On May 27, 2011, tragedy struck the Francis family. Jeff Francis died unexpectedly, leaving a grieving family and a business transition in turmoil. Joe was a junior in college. He had been working with his dad on finance and payroll for a few years, much of it part time. He was organizing a summer internship for himself with one of Central McGowan’s major suppliers to gain outside work experience. Operationally the business was secure under Skumautz’s leadership. But Joe, still in college, and his mother, recently retired,

JOE FRANCIS HAS NEVER RECEIVED A PAYCHECK FROM ANYONE EXCEPT FAMILY MEMBERS AND THE FAMILY BUSINESS.


PERSONAL PROFILE

faced some tough to hear it, but I listened and questions. “We had to I learned, or I figured out a decide whether or not way to do what I wanted.” On we were going to keep January 1, 2016, at age 24, Joe Joe Francis, 31 the business and keep to became Central McGowan’s President & CEO the transition plan. If so, president and CEO. Hometown: St. Cloud how were we going to do Despite his age, Joe said his Education: Bachelor’s that for me and for her? move into the president/CEO degree, If not, our only option role felt perfectly natural. “We St. Cloud State University was to think about selling had been working since Dad Work History: the business,” Joe said. passed away to get to that point. Central McGowan “That quickly became All our actions revolved around Family: Wife Bri, daughter something we weren’t ensuring that the company Reegan, son Blaine, baby willing to do.” was being built to withstand due May 2021 Joe was 20 years the transition, and would be Hobbies: old. “I thought I knew organized well enough to be Travel, boating, golf, more that I really did at able to continue operations into aviation, family time, and the time,” he said, “and the future. That period between all things business. decided I could work 2011 and 2016 really cemented “Loving what I do everyday with all our third parties how successful we would be for makes it one of the best hobbies I could ask for.” – accounting firms, the next 50 years. And I didn’t insurance companies, even know it at that time. I had banks – that was my no idea.” first responsibility, with The next big family Mom’s help.” He focused transition was to take a look on ensuring payroll went at company ownership. “I had out, monthly financials two aunts who had ownership, Your most important work were processed, and I had a grandfather who still is likely what makes you that the backend of had majority ownership, Mom, the most uncomfortable. the business remained who had a bigger chunk of Persistence, patience, operational. “I was too ownership….” The end game, green and too unaware according to Joe, was to have hard work and a little that I couldn’t do it. I one single family member risk, while embracing guess it was a good thing owner – him. the feeling of discomfort, I didn’t listen to the nay“But to get to that point and will always lead you to sayers.” actually transition ownership Cindy Francis returned of a company our size and success, knowing most as CEO. “Mom always complexity is a massive task,” people aren’t willing to played more of an overhe said. “My grandfather’s endure the feeling. sight role,” Joe said. willingness to transition “Less ‘in’ the business, ownership, to do what was best more ‘on’ the business. Her big accomplish- for the family in order to sustain the business, ment during that time was assuring family was critical. Same thing for my mom.” Joe’s ownership succession, as well as being an ear two aunts, who had never been involved for me.” with the business, also worked with him to Skumautz delayed his planned retirement, transition the ownership. The process was staying engaged with the company until the finally completed in 2020. end of 2015 and remained available to Joe After his father’s death, work became Joe’s throughout 2016. Joe also reached out to focus. “From the minute I stepped in without retired CFO Al Prozinski, hiring him as a Dad there, work was my home. I mean, I’d consultant to assist with financials and payroll. been working there for six-seven years. But “He consulted with me for a couple of years,” it also was my outlet, you know? And my Joe said. “I don’t know that I always wanted coping mechanism. This period, 2011-2016

ADVICE TO A WOULD-BE ENTREPRENEUR:

TIMELINE

1947

Central Welding Supply opens in downtown St. Cloud under the ownership of Carl Shutan. The company sells a handful of industrial gases.

1952

Leo Henkemeyer joins Central Welding Supply as a salesman.

1954

Henkemeyer and Leo Rahm purchase Central Welding Supply. The company has six employees.

Late 1950s/early 1960s Leo Henkemeyer buys out Leo Rahm.

March 1965

Central Welding Supply in St. Cloud and McGowan Welding Supply in Little Falls merge. The company becomes Central McGowan and is owned equally by Leo Henkemeyer and Frank McGowan.

December 1977

Leo Henkemeyer buys out Frank McGowan who retires.

1992

The company completes a major expansion and remodel, adding 14,600 square feet of warehouse, dock, showroom and office space.

1993

Central McGowan purchases Colonial Laundromat, turning it into a 3,000 square foot warehouse expansion.

1999

A major expansion and remodel of warehouse and office space adds an additional 13,000 square feet to the St. Cloud location.

2001

A warehouse addition in Little Falls adds 3,600 square feet, bringing the total building to 5,700 square feet.

2004

A second warehouse addition in Little Falls adds 4,800 square feet.

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COVER STORY

TIMELINE 2005

The company has 49 employees; Joe Francis joins the customer service team.

2006

Central McGowan gets into the carbonated beverage (BevCarb) business. Cindy Francis (daughter of Leo Henkemeyer, mother of Joe Francis) takes over as CEO, beginning second generation of family leadership.

2007-2010

Pete Breer and Al Prozinski retire. Jeff Francis (Cindy Francis’ husband) becomes vice president, then assumes role of CEO.

2011

Cindy Francis returns as CEO after the unexpected death of Jeff Francis; Joe Francis becomes vice president and CFO.

2012-2013

Warehouse expansion is completed in St. Cloud, adding 5,000 more square feet for a total of 55,000 square feet (excluding automation). Countryside CO2 is purchased, giving Central McGowan a 3rd location in New Prague.

2014-2015

Central McGowan purchases Pro-Fect Automation in Little Falls, moving the operation to a 12,000 square foot building adjacent to the home office in St. Cloud. –––––––– The Little Falls Central McGowan store is relocated to the former Pro-Fect building and remodeled.

2016

A new site is purchased in Burnsville, and the New Prague store moves to the Burnsville site. Joe Francis becomes President/CEO, beginning the third generation of family leadership. Cindy Francis assumes chair role on newly created board of directors.

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BUSINESS PROFILE Central McGowan 123 Roosevelt Rd, St. Cloud, MN 56301 320-257-4800 CentralMcGowan.com

was a period of transition, growth and Diversification, new acquisition,” Joe said. “It really helped ways of doing business, and define what some of the future of the new business opportunities Ownership: Joe Francis & business was going to be.” are particularly interesting Family, 100% In 2013 they bought a company to Joe. “We’re really a that sold CO2 to bars and restaurants. 70-year-old startup,” he CEO: Joe Francis CO2 is used to carbonate beverages. said. “A startup is there Other Significant Officers: Jaci Dukowitz, VP of In 2015 they acquired a robotics and to learn and grow and Operations; Mike Muenzer, automation integrator, which allowed continually change for the VP of Distribution Sales ; them to design and manufacture better. That’s always been Bob Crew, VP & GM, systems around a robotic arm. Prior to my mindset.” CO2 Solutions; Pete Rogers, that they were distributing robots and When Joe talks about VP & GM, Automation; automation, but they didn’t make them. growth and opportunity, Dean Kiffmeyer, VP of Since 2016-17 the company has he isn’t just talking about Business Development; Julie Berling, been focused on growth. “We started a business expansion and VP of Marketing; Chris couple of new physical locations, we’ve acquisition. He includes the Babich, VP of Finance & IT done a bunch of building remodels staff of Central McGowan Total number of and additions to add capacity, and in those plans. “At the core employees: About 120; we’ve done additional acquisitions,” of any business is people, St. Cloud based: 75 Joe said. Growth isn’t important just right? Supporting our long for growth’s sake, according to Joe. tenured staff and ensuring Maintaining the core values of family-owned we’re looking to them for advice, while also adding culture and mentality is critical. “But if we don’t a lot of new staff is something we put a focus on. change and reinvent ourselves consistently, and We want to ensure that people are central to our look for opportunities to diversify, we won’t be growth, whether we’re focusing on our internal able to compete longterm.” team or our customers.” One of Joe’s priorities


BUSINESS NOTES

is building people business owners and leaders, internally to be good because they didn’t get such an team members, leaders, early start.” and managers. Joe also feels his early start Central McGowan is a Even though taking makes him more comfortable third-generation, over the company at a with taking calculated risks. family-owned, diversified young age had its down “I would never do anything company with three integrated businesses: sides, today Joe sees it to sacrifice the staff, the team as full of opportunity. that we have. But because of 1 FANUC-authorized “One of the best things our stability, longevity, and the automation and robotics integration about being involved so accountability that I have to the early in my life means future of this business, and the 2 industrial, welding and I have so much more long time I have left, I think it medical gas and supplies time and ability to allows us to take some additional 3 CO2 Solutions (beverage impact the long-term risks, to really learn who we want carbonation, water future of the company,” to be when we grow up. That’s a treatment, dry ice). he said. “I think it holds cool position to be in.” me accountable to some degree because I’m going to live through this Gail Ivers is vice president of the St. Cloud Area for a long time. I have a lot more responsibility Chamber of Commerce and editor of Business and ability to craft the future than lots of other Central Magazine.

GETTING STARTED

Joe Francis always planned to take over the family business, he just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

C

entral McGowan has a long history in St. Cloud. Originally started in 1947 by Carl Shutan it was purchased by Leo Henkemeyer in 1954. Henkemeyer purchased McGowan Welding Supply in Little Falls a few years later, merging the name into Central McGowan. Henkemeyer ran the business for a number of years before turning leadership over to a management team. Henkemeyer’s three daughters had no interest in running the business, but all the family members agreed that Joe Francis, Henkemeyer’s grandson, would one-day be in charge. By the time he was 16 Francis was doing a variety of odd jobs at Central McGowan. To begin the transition to family leadership, Francis’ parents, Cindy and Jeff, moved into leadership roles at Central McGowan, but in 2011 Jeff Francis passed away unexpectedly. Cindy Francis and Joe, only a junior in college, briefly discussed selling the company, but both agreed that was an option they did not want to consider. Cindy Francis stepped in as company CEO and

Joe Francis started to fast-track the family succession plan. During the succession and since becoming president/CEO in 2016, Francis has led the company through a number of expansions and acquisitions. He has diversified the business from industrial gasses to include CO2 distribution to bars and restaurants, custom automation and robotics, and dry ice. And he has doubled the number of employees. It is for these reasons that Joe Francis was selected as the 2021 St. Cloud Area Small Business Owner of the Year by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce. He will be honored at a luncheon on June 3 at the Park Event Center in Waite Park. Others also being honored are Joe Sexton and Gary Posch, Brandl Motors, the Entrepreneurial Success Award Recipients; and Donella Westphal, Jules’ Bistro, the Business Central Mark of Excellence Woman in Business Champion. ______ For ticket information visit Business-Awards-Lunch.com

TIMELINE 2017

Central McGowan purchases Pro-CO2 and a distribution hub in Fargo, ND.

2018

Company launches ColdZERO Dry Ice— further diversifying its portfolio of offerings. The company’s number of employees nears 100. Two-phase major renovation project begins inSt. Cloud. –––––––– Leo Henkemeyer, Joe Francis’ grandfather, passes away.

2019

Central McGowan purchases Jasons Beverage Carbonation in St. Paul, more than doubling the company’s beverage carbonation and dry ice customer base. –––––––– Company is reorganized into three integrated business units to focus on specific markets and better serve its customers: • Automation • Distribution (selling industrial, welding and medical gas and products) • CO2 Solutions - North/St. Cloud & South/St. Paul (selling beverage carbonation gases, systems and dry ice).

2020

Second phase of major renovation project in St. Cloud is completed –––––––– Renovation of CO2 Solutions South (formerly Jasons) begins –––––––– The Fargo CO2 distribution hub expands to be a fully stocked retail store and distribution site, bringing total number of retail locations to five –––––––– The Central McGowan team approaches 120 employees

2021

Joe Francis is selected as the 2021 St. Cloud Area Small Business Owner of the Year by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

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F E AT U R E

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F E AT U R E

Innovation Born of Necessity COVID-19 has changed almost everything about the way we live – including the way area health services provide care. By Jeanine Nistler

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imble and flexible are the words most St. Cloud health care leaders use to describe the last year. It was the only approach possible as guidance from federal and state agencies repeatedly changed in the early days of the pandemic. The Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI), for instance, adapted its processes “minute to minute and hour to hour,” Tiffany Spartz, CDI’s regional vice president, said. “It was changing that rapidly.” Area leaders applaud the modifications to federal and state regulations that allowed Medicare and Medicaid to pay health care providers for video and telephone appointments. Leaders from Simplicity, CDI, St. Cloud Surgical Center, and CentraCare said they hope telemedicine continues to be an option for routine

appointments. Telephone and video are great options for patient-provider conversations, including mental health appointments, blood pressure management followups, and diagnosing or following up on skin rashes, according to Julie Anderson, MD, owner of Simplicity Health. Anderson recalls how she and a particular patient covered by Medicaid were delighted by a video visit that saved the patient from taking time off work and driving two hours roundtrip for an office visit. The patient even gave Anderson a virtual tour of his workplace. “It was great,” Anderson said. “It was more efficient for him and for me, a win-win.”

Many CDI patients opted for telemedicine over in-person visits for follow-up pain management appointments. And CDI patients who had resisted online preregistration in the days before COVID were happy to complete that “paperwork” before arriving for a test or procedure, Spartz said. Based on feedback from

patients, CDI has enhanced its patient portal during the pandemic to make it more user-friendly.

Innovation Simplicity Health saw patients in their cars.

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F E AT U R E

Doing everything possible to keep staff safe, healthy, and emotionally supported was – and is – a top priority for area health care organizations. To minimize the number of times St. Cloud Hospital intensive care unit staff had to don and doff gowns, gloves, masks, and face shields, they snaked tubes from the patient to intravenousfluid poles in the hallways. They launched a team nursing model in which one person kept in contact with family and others by phone, one supported iPad visits for patients’ family members, five people worked together to frequently turn patients to prevent pressure ulcers.

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The Surgical Center added a third robot to increase its capacity to use ultraviolet light to sanitize the center. “We always had high standards for quality, but we stepped up our game even further,” CEO Darci Nagorski said. That has included testing all patients for COVID-19 rather than relying on patients providing test results from elsewhere.

Staying Safe The Surgical Center closed

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for two weeks when Governor Tim Walz suspended elective surgeries to reduce the spread of coronavirus. CDI never closed due to COVID, but they did suspend certain procedures – and “agonizingly thought through” each case to ensure that patients, providers, and staff members felt confident that it was safe to proceed, according to Medical Director Derik Weldon, MD. “Constant communication and transparency with staff was key.” Doing everything possible to keep staff safe, healthy, and emotionally supported was – and is – a top priority for area health care organizations. Precautions within each facility have been so stringent that most St. Cloudarea health care staff that became

infected with the virus did so because of transmission in the community, the leaders said. “We all treat ourselves as if we are potentially infected at all times,” David Harris, MD, said. Harris is the medical director for St. Cloud Surgical Center. Traditionally health care professionals were tough and worked through anything, he said. “This is a good time to assess that culture,” suggesting that, post-pandemic, facilities may increase staffing levels to make it easier for those who are not feeling well to stay home. In late fall, when the number of COVID-positive staff peaked, St. Cloud Hospital provided just-in-time training for oncology, cardiology, and trauma nurses


to support the intensive care unit team caring for the most critically ill COVID patients, according to George Morris, MD. Morris, a CentraCare vice president, is also the physician incident commander for the system’s COVID response. CentraCare and other health care organizations around the state adopted a regional approach to care, sharing information, personal protective equipment and even patients, opting to expand relationships and set aside competition. When patient numbers skyrocketed in St. Cloud, CentraCare sent COVID patients who did not require intensive care to its hospital in Sauk Centre and provided video support from critical care staff in St. Cloud to staff at all its hospitals.

Delayed Services Delayed screenings and diagnostic tests due to COVID fears was a concern for all area health care providers. From March to July 2020, CDI saw 50 percent fewer mammography patients. “I’m happy to see that those patients are coming back in now,” Spartz said. “Early diagnosis is key.” Morris said that in the early days of the pandemic, CentraCare urged people to delay routine care, then started playing catchup in the summer, seeing 110-120 percent of their usual patient load in clinics. Amid all this, Simplicity Health built and moved into a new clinic. They had started planning the construction project in 2019 and bought land early

in 2020. “It was a little nervewracking to know that we had this big project ahead of us as the pandemic began,” Anderson said. She credits Strack Construction with the project coming in on time and under budget, opening early in 2021. Anderson said she was pleased to be able to keep people in the commercial construction sector employed during a time when the economy was being hit hard. CentraCare’s Morris also spoke of the importance of tending to the economy, in addition to caring for patients and staff. CentraCare reduced some staff hours and shifted people to different jobs, but did not eliminate any positions. As the region’s largest employer,

he said, “we made a financial commitment to our community and our people. … We wanted to do our part to not cut off the economic viability of our region.” When the pandemic began, “no one really knew what to expect,” Harris said. He described the health care industry’s response as “incredible, the most rapid development of medical knowledge I’ve ever witnessed.” As Simplicity’s Anderson said, “It’s our responsibility to get people through this.” Jeanine Nistler is a former St. Cloud communications professional who now lives and works in the Twin Cities.

I am happiest when I am helping others succeed. Proud to serve the businesses that advertise in Business Central ADVERTISE TODAY! Contact Melinda Vonderahe Associate Publisher, 320.656.3808 MelindaV@BusinessCentralMagazine.com

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SPECIAL FOCUS

PIONEERS Women are making inroads into traditional male careers, but there is still plenty of room for change. ––––––––––––––––– By Alicia Chapman

For the sources used in this story, visit BusinessCentral Magazine.com

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W Women make up 47 percent of the U.S. labor force, but there are still many industries where women make up less than 25 percent of the labor force in that field. When this happens, it’s considered a nontraditional career for a woman. “We’ve come a long way,” St. Cloud Police Lieutenant Lori Ellering said. “But clearly, if this is news in 2021, we have a long way to go.” Ellering was referring to the news that the Waite Park Police Department had hired its first female sergeant. “I teach a class at St. Cloud State called Women and Criminal Justice. There’s a ton of research about women being more effective communicators. Women being more likely to de-escalate a situation, women officers getting fewer complaints than male officers. From an administrative side, there are huge benefits to recruiting more female officers.” In the law enforcement field, only 13 percent of full-time officers are women. And the number of women officers in leadership roles is even lower. But it’s not just law enforcement. Athletics, information technology, and automotive are also industries that are considered non-traditional for women. While the number of women athletic directors has nearly doubled since 1990 from 11 percent to 19 percent, it’s still relatively low. And the number of female coaches at the college level has been dropping since the 1980s. “It used to be in the ‘70s and ‘80s that 90 percent of the coaches for women’s programs were women, 90-plus percent,” St. Cloud State Athletic Director Heather Weems said. “That’s now 40 percent. But what you haven’t seen is the door open for women to become coaches on the men’s side.

“I think one of the biggest differences is that I think men are given some advantage in people assuming that they have credibility, where we have to work harder to earn it. We are not assumed to have it. We have to prove it.” — Heather Weems, St. Cloud State Athletic Director Even when you look at it that way, you still see that there’s an incredible disparity.” Many women in non-traditional careers didn’t grow up imagining themselves in their current role. “When I was growing up, I didn’t really even know that law enforcement was an option,” Lieutenant Ellering said. “I was in high school in the ‘80s, and it was just never a recruited thing for women. The way it is now, we’re in the high schools, we’re in the colleges, we’re in the elementary schools, we’re out there. And we want women and young women to know that this is a career for them.” Carrie Vesel, an account executive at Abra Auto Body & Glass, said she was initially tentative about applying for a job in the automotive industry. But when she got to know the company culture, saw other women working in the business, and witnessed the supportive environment for her to learn, she knew she could succeed there. Representation is critical for women to see themselves in non-traditional industries. When women are in leadership roles at a company, it gives other women the confidence to imagine themselves in that seat and in that business. It gives women the confidence to apply. During grad school, Weems had a meeting with the athletic director, who was a female. “I knew when I sat across from her at the desk. I knew I wanted to sit in her seat,” Weems said. “That’s really when I solidified that this was my career direction.” Even with the proper background and skills, many women in non-traditional roles see challenges. “There’s always going to be people who think you got the position because you’re female, gay, a person of color, whatever,” Lieutenant Ellering said.

“You’ve got to be you, and they’ve got to accept you for who you are. And you’ve got to be confident in who you are as a person. When I became a sergeant, I was supervising guys 20 years older than me.” Support can help women voice their opinions and give them the confidence to do the job. “The biggest hurdle would simply be presenting ourselves as credible,” Weems said. “I think one of the biggest differences is that I think men are given some advantage in people assuming that they have credibility, where we have to work harder to earn it. We are not assumed to have it. We have to prove it.” When you are one of a few women in a room of men, it can be difficult to voice your opinion, Vesel said. “When we’re sitting in a meeting, and it’s just me and (operations manager) Danyell (Wendland)

Top Tips Tips for recruiting and attracting women to your company Create a mentorship/ onboarding program Make sure your recruiting materials reflect who you want to attract Hire women into leadership roles Start connecting with girls in elementary school Put women in visible positions in your company

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SPECIAL FOCUS

“There’s still a lot of police departments out there that if you’re pregnant, they don’t have work for you, you have to take short-term disability. To me, in 2021, that’s just archaic.” — St. Cloud Police Lieutenant Lori Ellering

as the only two women, it sometimes can be a little intimidating,” Vesel admitted. “But then I’m just like, no, I am very strongwilled, and I’m passionate in what I believe in. So, I say, ‘I don’t think that that’s going to work. I think we need to think about it this way.’ And then sometimes we have to just think and talk through it. Sometimes we have to think a little bit differently.” When the St. Cloud Police Department was in the process of

planning their new building, Lieutenant Ellering was at the table. She advocated for amenities that men might not think about, like rooms for female officers to pump after they return to work from maternity leave. It’s about creating a supportive environment for women, not just when they come back to work, but also when they’re pregnant. “There’s still a lot of police departments out there that if you’re pregnant, they don’t have work for you,” said Lt. Ellering. “You have to take shortterm disability. To me, in 2021, that’s just archaic. In our department, we have what’s

called light duty. They are still working as a full police officer. We just don’t have them in a first response role. It’s important to create environments like that, where women are still valued and still have meaningful work.” Geo-Comm, an information technology company that builds software for 9-1-1 call centers is bucking the trend and has women filling nearly 40 percent of its workforce. GIS Manager Hanna Lord and Director of Customer Success and Implementation Jodi Wroblewski stressed Geo-Comm’s workplace culture as a reason women are applying to the company. Story continues on page 48.

WOMEN TO WATCH: THE TEAM AT BREMER BANK

We’ll help you do more, and do better. With more than 70 years of combined experience, Brandi Nelson, Kimberly Magnuson and Lisa Maurer aren’t just a crucial part of Bremer’s team in Saint Cloud, but linchpins in the Saint Cloudarea community. Bremer has spent more than 75 years partnering with the people who grow our food and support our neighbors out of a conviction that if banks help businesses in good times and bad, communities will thrive. As an important part of the Saint Cloud team, Brandi, Kimberly and Lisa work to build long-term customer relationships, provide integrated financial services, and help customers establish and meet their goals. Bremer’s closely held purpose is to cultivate thriving communities – 46

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something that Brandi, Kimberly and Lisa personify every day beyond their work at the bank. Brandi is a volunteer with United Way of Central MN and serves on several committees at All Saints Academy in Saint Cloud. Kimberly volunteers on the board of directors with Junior Achievement and local nonprofit Owen’s Night Out. Lisa is a member of the United Way of Central MN’s Board of Directors and is a volunteer with the Initiative Foundation and the Women’s Fund of the Central MN Community Foundation.

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WOMEN TO WATCH: CHRISTINE HUSTON AND TEAM

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INNOVATION AND TEAMWORK ARE KEY TO BLATTNER’S SUCCESS

lattner is the nationwide industry leader in renewable energy construction and has teams throughout the United States building wind, solar and energy storage projects. With the corporate office based in Avon, Blattner has focused on relationships, innovation and collaboration throughout its 114 year history – and it’s proud to call Central Minnesota home. “Renewable energy is an exciting industry to work in,” Christine Huston, Director of Communications and Marketing, said. “And it’s a rewarding career with the job opportunities and the ability to say you’re contributing to making the world a better place.” Blattner has grown alongside the growth in renewables and the demand for its services. The company focuses on its approach to business and how they do the work, which has led to its success. A team of women is behind the successful marketing, branding and communications at Blattner. Led by Christine Huston, they have influenced Blattner’s message, image and position. “I have been intentional to foster my team with our culture of collaboration and taking time to teach and learn,” Huston said. “Everyone comes with their own talents, and we work together as a team.” The powerful team functions like an in-house marketing agency and news outlet. Anything the company needs to promote their brand goes through this team of women, all with their own

has experienced, and the state-of-the-art building is quite the place to work in, too, with a fitness center, cozy fireplace, modern technology and friendly faces throughout. The construction work in the field is impressive, too. Its focus on safety, quality and continuous improvement, as well as the camaraderie throughout, is powerful. The team commented that Blattner is truly like a second family. “I believe our work creates positive change and contributes to a bigger purpose,” said Huston. “With renewable energy, we can create a more sustainable world. Hopefully that means my kids and even their kids someday will have a better, brighter world because of the work Blattner is doing to help future generations flourish even more.” •

BLATTNER’S MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS TEAM _______ Christine Huston Director of Communications and Marketing

Brooke Heilman Marketing Communications Manager

unique skill set that complements the rest of the team and company as a whole. The team said the people who work there and the environment they work in are two of the reasons they enjoy working at Blattner. All employees work together, focus on solutions and help teach one another. The culture at the company is like no other that the team

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SPECIAL FOCUS

It’s a well-rounded workplace. I think you start opening up the opportunity for women to say, ‘Okay, this is an environment that I can support.’” — Hanna Lord, Geo-Comm’s GIS Manager

“I think having a strong culture and having visual values makes a difference,” Lord said. “We share our values a lot and really push for that to be part of our culture and well-being. And to me, that tends to attract women. And it’s a well-rounded workplace. I think you start opening up the opportunity for women to say, ‘Okay, this is an environment that I can support.’” And it goes beyond just talking about the culture. Employees within Geo-Comm also advocate when they see issues. “There was one point where my boss told me after a meeting, ‘Why did you let that person tell you to take notes?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t

know,’” Lord said. “My boss said, ‘You were the only woman there – that doesn’t mean you need to be the note taker. You don’t have to do that. Everybody has laptops. They can do it.’ It’s little things like that, you know, the person requesting it maybe didn’t even realize it. But it’s still just breaking those stereotypes that build that wall around us.” Even so, we’ve come a long way, Wroblewski said. She remembers talking to her mom about the ads in the ‘60s where a “pretty secretary” was wanted. And even how far it had come from when Wroblewski joined the workforce in the ‘80s.

Athletic Director Weems is seeing more women athletes volunteering to coach youth sports. This is giving more young women access and entry. It’s a starting point. One of the things that helps Weems stay sane is connecting with a group of women leaders. Having a good network of other people going through similar situations who can help you navigate is vital. Having something like this would be beneficial within the company, as well, she said. “Start with onboarding women when they come into positions of leadership,” said Weems. “But not only onboard them how do we continue to provide support to them as they navigate the challenges that exist in any industry.” Alicia Chapman is a freelance writer and owner of Bluebird Creative LLC, a contentwriting business specializing in helping small businesses share their stories.

WOMEN TO WATCH: BRI KNOWLES, COMMERCIAL LENDER

MINNWEST BANK UNDERSTANDS ITS CUSTOMER’S NEEDS

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innwest Bank is big on customer support, which is one of the things Bri Knowles enjoys most about her job as a Commercial Lender. She loves working one-on-one with businesses to learn about their needs, and how she can help them succeed. Her unique experience of 20 years of business management helps her connect to business owners. Knowles understands both the business side and

Minnwest Bank minnwestbank.com _______ 3130 Second Street South, St. Cloud, MN 56301

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banking side of being a business owner. This expertise gives her an advantage when working with customers because she takes into consideration the reality of the specific business. Knowles uses her experiences to relate to the customer and help them develop a unique plan that fits their business. With her business and retail background, Knowles and Minnwest Bank are here to help your business reach its goals. •

Minnwest Bank is one of Minnesota’s largest banks with $2 billion in assets and 32 offices, and we are here to serve communities throughout Minnesota and South Dakota. Minnwest Bank is a family-owned business and offers a full range of banking products and services, including commercial loans, lines of credit, SBA, and leasing. For more information about Minnwest Bank, visit minnwestbank.com. Member FDIC. SPONSORED PROFILE


WOMEN TO WATCH: DR. AMANTHI DEMUTH

REALIGNING THE INDUSTRY

Dr. Amanthi Demuth, DC, CFMP brings cutting edge, holistic approach to concussion and spinal care in Central Minnesota

D

Dedicated to hope, healing, and recovery. —DR. AMANTHI DEMUTH

r. Amanthi Demuth always knew she wanted to work in the health care field. This dream brought her halfway across the world from the tropical island of Sri Lanka to the Midwest United States. During college, as Dr. Demuth experienced snow and winter for the first time, she also discovered chiropractic care. She made plans to attend Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. “I was moved by the holistic and specialized approach to spinal health of chiropractic care,” said Dr. Demuth. Through her chiropractic studies, she became passionate about upper cervical care, which focuses on the first bone in your spine, the atlas. The Atlas bone is the top bone in your spine and therefore the most important link to the rest of your spine. Out of the 100,000 chiropractors in the world, there are only 2,000 doctors who specialize in upper cervical specific chiropractic care. Demuth Spinal Care & Concussion Center opened in Sartell last August, specializing in upper cervical chiropractic care, functional medicine, and cognitive rehabilitation. Her goal with the clinic is to provide exceptional care and help people in Sartell and surrounding areas to improve health and quality of life. She says, “Because an extraordinary life matters.” Dr. Demuth uses an Atlas Orthogonal Instrument to correct the misalignment

the cause of the problem and corrects the misalignment using the Atlas Orthogonal Instrument. Posture evaluations, comprehensive examinations, spinal scans, cognitive assessment are all part of the initial assessment. “Long term, people do well in their health because the goal is to hold the correction,” Dr. Demuth said. “We say holding is healing. We educate our patients to hold the correction. We also incorporate exercise, proper nutrition and meditation in our treatment plan to maintain proper spinal hygiene.” A lot of the patients Dr. Demuth sees are people with concussions, neck pain, headaches, dizziness, migraines and whiplash syndrome. She is also a certified functional medicine practitioner and author of “Game Changer – A Secret to Living Your Best Life After a Concussion.” “What I enjoy most about my work is being able to be of service, helping people heal and feel better, and being able to do what I absolutely love,” said Dr. Demuth. •

of the first vertebrae of the spine. This chiropractic technique is painless, specific and is a profound spinal correction that restores body balance and improves body function through the alignment of the atlas vertebrae. It is a technically advanced, scientific and revolutionary procedure. The doctor takes upper cervical specific X-rays to find

GOOD READ

______

Check out Dr. Amanthi Demuth’s book “Game Changer – A Secret to Living Your Best Life After a Concussion.”

Demuth Spinal Care & Concussion Center demuthspinalcare.com _______ 71 County Road 120 Suite 300 Sartell, MN 56377 • 320-281-3177 SPONSORED PROFILE

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WOMEN TO WATCH: DESIGNERS OF D.J. BITZAN JEWELERS

Real Women. Real Diamonds. Highlighting the Female Designers of D.J. Bitzan Jewelers

E

ach diamond curated by D.J. Bitzan Jewelers has a unique journey stemming from all over the globe. The remarkable designers of D.J. Bitzan are no different. As you walk through the showroom, you can begin to see the wide variety of design perspectives on display. D.J. Bitzan has always strived to partner with designers that can offer a new and exciting aesthetic to their clients. With more and more female designers emerging as leaders of their craft, the fine jewelry retailer has been delighted to be able to select many female designers to feature. Two collections featured in the D.J. Bitzan showcase, Sylvie and Vivaan, are designed by amazing, trailblazing women. Both of these collections reach beyond the physical design elements to highlight the storytelling abilities that fine jewelry possesses. As women, both designers exhibit an innate understanding of what women love to wear. They understand the modern woman’s lifestyle and always reflect that in their designs, each in their own distinctive way. •

Vivaan Eternity Band with Champagne Rose Cut Diamonds

VIVAAN

______ Sylvie Classic Athena Engagement Ring

SYLVIE

______

Sylvie engagement rings are some of the most popular styles in the D.J. Bitzan ring display and it’s not hard to see why. Owner and designer Sylvie Levine was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, the center of the world’s diamond trade. She was raised in the world of diamonds as a third-generation descendant and is fluent in 5 languages. Her global perspective is reflected in her well-rounded designs. Levine’s collections are personal and reflect her commitment to always using ethical sources while offering endless options. She focuses on a feminine style that will

Sylvie Oval Candide Engagement Ring

resonate with women ready to take the next big step in their relationships. In an interview published by InStore Magazine, Levine detailed more about her inspiration: “I draw influences from almost everything around me: from my travels, emerging trends, to the unique requests that come across my desk every day. But as a perfectionist, the most powerful inspiration is the desire to please my customers. I listen and take in what they want and then translate that into the collection through my commitment to beauty of design and an uncompromising attention to detail and craftsmanship.”

One of the most popular lines of the 2020 holiday season, the Vivaan Collection of fashion jewelry takes a completely new and unique approach to diamonds. Lead designer, Surbhi Pandya is a spiritual energy healer who brings her spiritual work into all of her designs. Early on, she discovered that diamonds are enjoyed to their fullest when the inherent beauty of the diamonds is freely shared by the person wearing them with the people who come into contact with the wearer. Therefore, she performs energy cleansing rituals on every piece she creates by removing negative energies from diamonds and metal so the piece is in prime spiritual condition before it is purchased. “Diamonds are the king of gems,” comments Pandya in an article published by Diamonds. com. “Diamonds influence the

Vivaan Diamond Baguette ‘Trikon’ Necklace

human psyche. They open up the crown chakra [an energy center at the top of the head] and bring clarity. I want to share that with the rest of the world.” Pandya works with vintage-inspired diamonds, especially rose cut diamonds, to create some of the most unique designs in the D.J. Bitzan showcase. “I’m attracted to the old cuts because they bring a lot of fire, rather than light. When you look at a modern diamond, it throws so much light that you only look at the diamond and not the person wearing it. An older cut blends with the personality of the person wearing it and the diamond adds to their personality,” Pandya explains in the Diamonds.com piece.

D.J. Bitzan Jewelers is proud to serve as Central Minnesota’s leading jeweler. We promise each customer our legendary, 5-Star customer service, access to the largest selection of real diamonds in the area, and an industry-leading warranty. Where Central Minnesota Gets Engaged!

203 Waite Ave N., Waite Park, MN 56387 // Across the Street From Scheels, Just West of Crossroads Mall // djbitzan.com // (320) 251-4812 50

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SPONSORED PROFILE


WOMEN TO WATCH: ST. CLOUD FINANCIAL CREDIT UNION

Authentic. United. Passionate . Authentic This is not your typical financial institution, with seven talented women in senior leadership on a mission to make a meaningful difference, united in their efforts to lead an organization that puts people before profits. With more than 159 years combined industry experience, each one brings their individual talents and authenticity to make St. Cloud Financial Credit Union a leading credit union within our community. When asked what one word inspires you, motivates you, or has special meaning to you as a leader, they shared the words you see below:

Theresa Tschumperlin

Alyce Justin

Chief Operating Officer 15 YEARS

Executive Vice President 41 YEARS

Sheloa Fieldseth

Jamie Kleve

Chief Financial Officer

approachable

Kristine Rutten

Director of Information Technology

20 YEARS

Director of Member Experience

2 YEARS

Barb Toenjes

Director of Member Experience 23 YEARS

Curiosity

confident

Compassionate

engaged

30 YEARS

Sandy Lehnen

Director of Lending & Compliance

DETERMINED

ALBERTVILLE • BECKER • ST. CLOUD • SARTELL • SAUK RAPIDS (320) 252-2634 • (888) 252-2634 • www.stcloudfcu.coop

28 YEARS

Passion


2021

WOMEN IN BUSINESS DIRECTORY

In the United States, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 74% over the past 20 years—1.5 times the national average *. Today’s culture empowers women to define how they want to work and how they balance life. We introduce you to some of the women who are Redefining Business in our annual Women in Business Directory. Keep reading to see what Central Minnesota offers. *Source: hult.edu/blog/women-in-business-advantages-challenges-and-opportunities/

We Fix It!

At Quarry Title we believe the way we work as a team will provide our clients with unmatched professional expertise, exemplary customer service and rock-solid security for any type of real estate transaction. We are your single source of accurate, efficient and cost-effective title solutions and we look forward to being a partner in your success.

ST CLOUD 2710 2nd St South 320.240.2332 ONLINE APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE BATTERIESPLUS.COM

SAUK RAPIDS 27 N Benton Drive 320.230.2332

Shelter Advocacy

Prevention Education

We have the ability to handle real estate transactions thought the State of MN.

Lori Steinhofer Owner/Escrow Officer

Julie Griffin Office Mgr/Escrow Officer

Michelle Nordine Closing Coordinator

Anne Herkenhoff Attorney/Examiner

320.654.0050 • 888.548.0050 www.quarrytitle.com 126 DIVISION STREET, WAITE PARK, MN 56387

SHIFTING GEARS FOR 25 YEARS!

1996-2021 ST. JOSEPH, MN

When you ship with Brenny, you help us help your community!

Welcome HOME to Brenny

Your TRUCKING career starts HERE! 320.363.6999

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WHAT POWERS US?

YOU. Blattner proudly celebrates 50,000 Renewable Energy Megawatts as more than an unprecedented milestone. This incredible achievement was made possible by the shared vision and collective efforts of our teams and partners. We revel that every watt of our energy

50,000

empowers industry and innovation, comfort and conservation,

M E G A W AT T S

our family and friends.

50,000 REASONS

What Powers Us isn’t a number – it’s the thousands of ways we enrich lives and protect the planet we all share.

50,000 M E G A W AT T S

BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER. JOIN US.

50,000 REASONS

B L AT T N E R C O M P A N Y. C O M

50,000 M E G A W AT T S 50,000 REASONS

WE CELEBRATE REMARKABLE WOMEN

We’re here to help. Our name may be new to you, but for more than 30 years, Minnwest Bank has been committed to you and the communities in which you live, work and play. It’s a pursuit that’s never changed, and one that never will.

Doers Welcome.™ AUDITING • TAX AND ACCOUNTING • FINANCIAL STATEMENTS PAYROLL SERVICES • NON-TRADITIONAL SERVICES

MEMBER FDIC

» minnwestbank.com

SIX YEARS IN A ROW

2015 • 2016 • 2017 2018 • 2019 • 2020

630 Roosevelt Road, Ste. 201 St. Cloud, MN 56301 (320) 251-0286 www.schlennerwenner.cpa

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2021 WOME N IN B U SINE S S DIRECTORY

WOMEN MEAN BUSINESS CENTRAL MINNESOTA

In Today’s digital world we know how important it is to have a digital presence for your business. At LOCALiQ we can help you find the right solution to fit your business and your budget. Our local staff has the advantage of using national intelligence to maximize your results from the start. Search • Social Ads • Social Media Marketing • SEO • Web Development Listings Management • Email Marketing • Direct Mail • Print Marilyn Birkland Regional Sales Director 320-255-8794 I mbirkland@localiq.com

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Kim Berg-Mazzacano Director of Promotional Marketing

+ + + + +

decorated apparel promotional items printed materials banners/signage awards

+ + + + +

product showroom event planning graphic design online stores marketing

info@magneticspark.com 320.258.7740 www.magneticspark.com

Ashley Moe

Account Executive

       

 

• Accounting • Business Planning • Management Consulting

Jacquelyn Bistodeau, CPA

jbistodeau@lbcarlson.com 320.230.1720 lbcarlson.com

Desaray Skajewski

Cassie Neumann

Office Manager/Accounting

Graphic Design/Inside Sales

Beth Putz

Julie St. Onge

Account Executive

Account Executive


WOME N IN B U SINE S S DIRECTORY 2021

Proud to be Female-Owned.

Being female-owned is part of our story, and we equally support businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. Our partnership approach means getting to know who you are before creating effective solutions just for you. See how we can tell your story at WhiteBox.Marketing.

Strategic. Creative. Effective.

www.WhiteBox.Marketing | 320.270.0722 Strategic Marketing • Creative Campaigns • Branding & Logo Development Websites & Digital Promotions • Advertising • Social Media • Photography & Video

usbank.com

Creating a world of limitless possibilities. At U.S. Bank, we’re dedicated to helping improve the lives of those in our community, because when people come together with a common goal, the impossible suddenly becomes possible.

Proud to support women in the banking community. Always open at usbank.com or with the U.S. Bank Mobile App.

Member FDIC. ©2021 U.S. Bank 506002c 3/21 M AY/ J U N E 2 0 2 1 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com

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2021 WOME N IN B U SINE S S DIRECTORY Women face unique financial realities. No matter your situation, we’re committed to helping you feel confident about your financial future.

April Diederich, CFP®, CRPC®, APMA® Financial Advisor

Jamie O’Rourke, CFP®, ADPA®, CDFA®, APMA® Financial Advisor

Jill Bruno, BFA™, CRPC® Financial Advisor

Renee Volk, CFP®, APMA® Financial Advisor

Proviant Group A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC 1765 Roosevelt Road, St. Cloud, MN 56301 P 320.654.6715 | TF 800.245.7757 | proviantgroup.com

The Compass is a trademark of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC. © 2021 Ameriprise Financial, Inc., All rights reserved.

KRIS NELSON, REALTOR 320.761.3880

kris.premierhomesearch.com

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DID YOU KNOW? SPOT Rehab staff complete trainings, expand services Katie

GROW

PEOPLE&PLACES

Meet Annette Atkins Stearns County names historian laureate

Melotky,

Annette Atkins, a longtime board member of the Stearns History Museum, was named a historian laureate by the Stearns County Board of Commissioners. The honor recognizes her professionalism, zest for history, and more than 30 years of service promoting the rich history of Stearns County and Central Minnesota.

physical therapist at SPOT Rehabilitation and Home Health Care, achieved the designation of an American Physical Therapy Association Board Certified Neurologic Clinic Specialist. She is the only neurologic clinic specialist in the St. Cloud area. Kirsten Becker, DPT, completed the Manual Lymph

NEWS BRIEFS

Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy training, designating her a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Runyon joins Granite Financial Granite Financial recently hired Emily Runyon as planner support specialist.

GSDC employee receives designation Leslie Dingmann (below), business development director for the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC), earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer from the International Economic

Tschumperlin selected for innovation program Theresa Tschumperlin, chief operations officer at St. Cloud Financial Credit Union, was selected to participate in a two-year innovation leadership program with the Filene Institute i3 program. __________ Brenny Transportation staff recognized Reanee Swiger-Gray, driver for Brenny Specialized, was recognized as the Women In Trucking

Association (WIT) April Member of the Month. WIT also announced its fourth annual list of Top Women to Watch in Transportation, which included Bonnie Supan, vice president of operations and finance at Brenny Transportation. __________ Skalicky joins advisory board The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has selected Kelly Skalicky, CEO and president, Stearns Bank, along with six additional new

committee members, to serve on its Minority Depository Institutions Advisory Committee (MDIAC). __________ Moen earns fundraising certification Dawn Moen, director of development operations for CentraCare recently received the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation. Individuals granted this credential have met a series of standards, including tenure in the profession, education, demonstrated fundraising achievement and also passed a rigorous written examination.

Development Council (IEDC.)

NOTE WORTHY

Paramount Theater celebrates 100th anniversary Throughout 2021, the Paramount Center for the Arts is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Paramount Theater. ___________

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PROFIT

BUSINESSSPOTLIGHT

P R EC I S E H E AT I N G A /C P LU M B I N G A N D R E F R I G E R AT I O N

All In

TIMELINE

Mike Lyon discovered early the wisdom of his mentor’s advice: If you’re going to be in business, be in all aspects.

1983

2004-05

Mike Lyon graduates from high school and begins working for a few months at Lyon Sheetmetal before leaving for a position with a local lumberyard

Lyon and his partner hire a business coach to work with them on developing the company

1985

2009-2010

By Gail Ivers

PERSONAL PROFILE

Mike Lyon, 55, Owner, Precise

Heating-A/C-Plumbing-Refrigeration Hometown: Grey Eagle Education: St. Cloud Business College; Dunwoody Institute Family: Wife, Lori, married 30 years; adult daughter, Mariah

Business Central: You left SCR after 17 years. Why? Mike Lyon: I couldn’t advance any further, and I felt like I’d peaked. But I had a lot of work left in me, and I needed a challenge. We’d hire contractors at SCR to do work for us and they’d call me and ask questions. I thought, if they can do this, I can do this. BC: What was it like, starting a business from scratch? Lyon: The day we started we didn’t have a single customer, but we had lots of contacts. My background was commercial service – heating and air conditioning – so that was our focus. But after a while the business owners started asking us to take care of their homes, and saying yes made sense. We moved on to installation of replacement parts for existing customers, and

Hobbies: Hunting of all types, time at the cabin near Grey Eagle

Precise adds plumbing to its list of services

then built a reputation, and housing contractors started asking us to bid jobs. So now we do both commercial and residential.

1986-87

2012

BC: And plumbing? Lyon: My nephew wanted to do plumbing, but we didn’t have a master plumber on staff so we couldn’t. I told him to go get his Master Plumber’s license and we’d hire him. So he did. Now plumbing is as big a part of the business as HVAC. BC: What’s the best advice you’ve received? Lyon: Rick Lindmeier from Multiple Concepts Interiors told me: “If you’re going to be in the business, be in all aspects.” I follow it to this day. That’s why when we started getting residential inquiries, we said yes.

Precise Heating A/C Plumbing and Refrigeration 628 19th Ave NE Saint Joseph, MN 56374 (320) 363-7401 info@precisemn.com Precisemn.com

Business Description: Residential and commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing; commercial refrigeration, sales, service and installation; residential duct cleaning; geothermal.

Opened: 2002

Owners: Mike Lyon and his nephew, Chris Lyon

Number of Employees: 40

Chamber member since 2002

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Lyon buys out his partner

Lyon joins St. Cloud Refrigeration, now SCR.

AT A G L A N C E

58

2007

Lyon attends the St. Cloud Business College, now Rasmussen University, for sales and management

1988-89 Lyon drives to Minneapolis to take evening classes at Dunwoody Institute in heating and refrigeration

July 2002 Lyon and a partner open Precise Heating-AC in a garage, focusing on commercial accounts

Fall 2003 The company purchases a building and relocates to 710 19th Ave. NE, St. Joseph

Lyon adds a front office addition to his building

2013 Lyon builds a cold storage facility

2017 Chris Lyon, Mike Lyon’s nephew, becomes a partner in the business

2019 Precise moves to its current location at 628 19th Ave NE

2020 Lyon reorganizes his business, separating residential and commercial accounts

2021 Lyon plans to build another warehouse in the spring


a partnership founded in growth Midwest Steel and Aluminum has always been, and continues to be, focused on customer satisfaction, which is why they've partnered with Deerwood Bank to grow and expand their business. Midwest Steel and Aluminum (MSA) is a full-line metal service center that specializes in aluminum products, stainless steel and steel, and precision saw-cutting. From their facility in Rodgers, Minnesota, they serve metal customers throughout the United States and Canada. From small production to large orders - they do it all. In 2012, MSA CEO, Jerry Rako, was considering some options that would allow the business to expand to a new location. Having had bad experiences with large national banks, he reached out to a close friend for recommendations on community bankers. "We were introduced to Jerry Moynaugh and Deerwood Bank and we immediately knew it was going to be a fit. It was a great relationship right off the bat." says Rako.

"When we would call, he'd pick up the phone" Around this time in 2012, MSA's business grew dramatically, and in order to keep up with customer demands they knew they were going need to expand locations. "At that time, we were with one of the larger banks, and the problem we were having was we couldn’t get responses from them - the response times were just terrible." say Brandon Walton, MSA President. "We couldn’t get answers on loans, our growth and expansion questions , we weren't getting anything. When we switched to Jerry and Deerwood Bank, the response time became instantaneous. When we would call, he’d pick up the phone.

Jerry Rako, CEO, Midwest Steel and Aluminum, Jerry Moynaugh, Deerwood Bank VP of Business Banking, and Brandon Walton, President, Midwest Steel and Aluminum.

"It is great to have a bank that can keep things nice and simple" When it comes to setting themselves apart from competition, MSA focuses on customer service and flexibility. The same core values that they look for in their business partnerships. Although the relationship started with building financing, it has grown into a much deeper partnership. Rako recalls "Since that original financing, we have expanded to business checking and savings, equipment loans, vehicle loans, credit lines - heck, we even have our personal accounts over there." "They've helped us out on all fronts. These days, we don’t even have a big need to go into the bank office - we use Deerwood Bank's online and mobile banking platform to deposit checks, transfer funds, and check balances." says Walton. "They just make everything really seamless. In a time that is so chaotic, it is great to have a bank that can keep things nice and simple."

Rako goes on to say "That was in 2012, now we’re here in 2021 and that same customer service is still there. We call and he’s there for us - for anything. It pays off and helps us continue to grow and scale our business."

"We were not small fish in a big pond" Prior to meeting Jerry Moynaugh and Deerwood Bank, Rako and Walton did not feel they were getting the attention or service that they deserved. Although their business was beginning to boom, they felt they were being overlooked by their national bank. "We just didn't get the attention or support with the other big banks, we would call and call and hear nothing back. It would be days before they would return our call." says Rako. "At Deerwood, we quickly realized that we were not small fish in a big pond."

deerwoodbank.com

Profile for St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

MAY/JUNE 2021  

St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Business Central Magazine

MAY/JUNE 2021  

St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Business Central Magazine

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