May/June 2024

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Getting a business loan... Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender Learn More  doesn’t need to be complicated. StearnsBank.com/businesscentral
We provide legal counsel to the tech industry, offering tailored solutions to navigate complex legal landscapes. Specializing in contracts, compliance, and litigation, our team ensures clients' innovations are protected and their business interests are safeguarded. With a deep understanding of the unique challenges facing tech companies, Quinlivan & Hughes delivers strategic legal guidance to foster growth and success in the ever-evolving tech sector. Legal Solutions for Growth & Protection Quinlivan.com | 320.251.1414 Four Locations to Serve Your Business St. Cloud | Little Falls | Long Prairie | Monticello

still room in the corporate world for conferences and events –they just don’t look like they used to.

11 Social Media Trends to Watch • AI is Watching… • The Power of Dogs • Building Owned Communities Online

President: Julie Lunning, 320-656-3804

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

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

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

Marketing & Services Coordinator: Melissa Ludwig, 320-202-6770 CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU STAFF Main Phone: 320-251-2940 / Automated Reservation Line: 320-656-3826 info@StCloudAreaChamber.com / StCloudAreaChamber.com

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

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

Administrative Assistant: Shelly Imdieke, 320-656-3800 Main Phone: 320-251-4170

Executive Director: Rachel Thompson, 320-202-6728

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

Sales Manager: Olivia Way, 320-202-6713

Sports Director: Craig Besco, 320-202-6711

Marketing Manager: Lynn Hubbard, 320-202-6729

MAY/JUNE 2024: 6 Editor’s Note / 22 Network Central CONTENTS GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT EXPLORING CENTRAL MINNESOTA’S BUSINESSES. 8 UPFRONT Valuable information designed to guide and educate 24 BUSINESS TOOLS Useful tips and intelligence on how to continue to grow your business NETWORK Cover Story 32 WORK HARD. GIVE BIG. SMILE OFTEN.
38 CRACKING THE CODE The key to effectively using business software lies in understanding your organization’s needs. 40 TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION DIRECTORY 44 MEETINGS + EVENTS 46 SPECIAL FOCUS: SHAKIN’
UP
PROFIT GROW ONLY ONLINE COMING IN JULY: Women in Business Directory Are you interested in advertising?
out more! ON DECK 50 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT Julie Braun, Smart Organizing Solutions and the SOS Treasure Chest
Jeremy and Emily Salzbrun, owners of H&S Heating, have dedicated their careers to saving the day – in more ways than one.
IT
There’s
Contact Melinda at melindav@businesscentralmagazine.com to find
BUSINESSCENTRAL MAGAZINE.COM
50

Publisher Julie Lunning // Editor Emily Bertram

Founding Editor Gail Ivers

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Allison Baatz, St. Cloud Financial Credit Union

King Banaian, St. Cloud State University

Emily Bertram, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

Whitney Ditlevson, Stearns Electric Association

Jodi Gertken, CentraCare

Lynn MacDonald and Alli Bily, St. Cloud State University

Jeanine Nistler, freelance writer

Karen Pundsack, Great River Regional Library

Clare Richards, Impacks

Melody Vachal, Arise Cares and RISE UP Care and Wellness

Grant Wilson, Stearns History Museum

ADVERTISING

Associate Publisher/Sales

Melinda Vonderahe, Marketing Consultant

Ad Traffic & Circulation

Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media

ART

Design & Production

Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media

Cover Story Photography

Guytano Magno, Switchboard

WEBSITE

Vicki Lenneman, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

1411 West St. Germain Street, Suite 101, St. Cloud, MN 56301

Phone: (320) 251-2940

Fax: (320) 251-0081

BusinessCentral Magazine.com

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

Editorial suggestions can be made in writing to: Editor, Business Central, 1411 West St. Germain Street, Suite 101, St. Cloud, MN 56301 or emailed to ebertram@ stcloudareachamber.com

Submission of materials does not guarantee publication

ST CLOUD AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2023-24 BOARD MEMBERS

Nick Bischoff, Design Electric

Ron Brandenburg, Quinlivan & Hughes

Doug Cook, Headwaters Strategic Succession Consulting LLC.

Tanja Goering, Celebrate MN, Board Chair

Joe Hellie, CentraCare, Board Vice Chair

Ray Herrington, Pioneer Place on Fifth

Patrick Hollermann, InteleCONNECT

Hudda Ibrahim, OneCommunity Alliance

Kevin Johnson, K. Johnson Construction, Past Board Chair

Matt Laubach, West Bank

Laurie Putnam, St. Cloud School District 742

Paul Radeke, Creative Planning

Brenda Sickler, Theisen Dental

Melinda Tamm, Ms. Melinda’s Dance Studio

Melody Vachal, Arise Cares

Donella Westphal, Jules’ Bistro

Dr. Jason Woods, St. Cloud State University © Copyright 2024 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, St. Cloud, MN 56301. Phone (320) 251-2940 / Subscription rate: $18 for 1 year.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 5
ORTHOPEDICS TO THE EXTREME. YOUR EXTREME. We’ve teamed up to bring you expert orthopedic services in St. Cloud. We’ll help you reach your extreme. To schedule an appointment, call 320-253-2663. CentraCare.com/ortho

The Power of Kindness

Despite what Marvel might tell you, spandex and capes aren’t required to be a hero. Sometimes, all it takes is caring about others.

When my daughter Chloe was a baby,

visit the Children’s Hospital in St. Paul for testing. I took her there when she was five months old while my husband was at work.

My biggest fear was an inconsolable baby in public, so I was prepared to minimize the reasons for meltdowns. I had her bottle and plenty of milk, toys and distractions, a backpack full of clean diapers, a change of clothes, and several spare pacifiers. I figured out parking, locked my car, put my keys in my clutch, and set it in Chloe’s carrier. Then I began the stressful task of hauling Chloe, in her carrier, to the correct office, assuming I could find it on the massive campus.

We made it to her appointment, albeit a little late, and everything went well. Chloe behaved well and her tests came back with good results. We started packing up, ready to get on the road, and I began

6 EDITOR’S NOTE
Editor Emily Bertram (L) with Jeremy and Emily Salzbrun, owners of H&S Heating, A/C, Electrical and Plumbing
Your local builder. 320.252.0404 |
Editor's Note photo by Switchboard

digging, sure it was hidden among the Pampers and burp cloths. I dug until I reached the bottom of the bag. No clutch.

Panic set in. Alone in St. Paul, miles from home, with my 5-month-old and no keys, no money, no license — nothing. Fortunately I still had my phone. My first call was to my husband to break the bad news that he would have to leave work to bring me my spare keys. My second act was canceling all my cards just in case. Step three was to finally start retracing my steps, Chloe in tow, all over the Children’s campus to look for where my clutch could have fallen.

Up and down the sidewalks I trucked, looking in every possible flower bed and analyzing every passing person for a look of guilt. Finally, I ended up at the information desk of one of the buildings that I hadn’t even set foot in.

I approached the receptionist in an obvious panic. As he turned to me, the biggest smile lit up his face. “Are you Emily?!” he exclaimed, recognizing me from my driver’s license. Tears. Instant and overflowing. Someone had found my clutch and had

done the right thing by turning it in. In that moment, it was the ultimate act of heroism to me. Such a simple, seemingly obvious thing to do, but it changed the entire trajectory of my day.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, with superpowers of all kinds. Sometimes they wear spandex and capes, sometimes they wear badges, stethoscopes, or camouflage. Sometimes, they wear blue uniforms. For Jeremy and Emily Salzbrun, owners of H&S Heating, A/C, Electrical and Plumbing, saving the day is their favorite part of being in the HVAC business. You can read more about their story on page 32.

I never found out who turned in my clutch, but their small act of kindness saved the day. Whoever you are, thanks for being my hero.

Until next issue,

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 7

UP FRONT

THIS ISSUE: People to Know / Your Voice in Government / Digging History / The Trouble with Business

Breaking Barriers

Groundbreaking leader Indra Nooyi shares her story of the past, and her vision for the future.

My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future is an autobiography by Indra Nooyi. She is the first woman of color and immigrant to serve as CEO of a Fortune 50 company, leading PepsiCo from 2006 to 2019. She shares the difficulties that come from leadership and the need to balance work and family life. A personable storyteller, Nooyi’s story is easy to read with many insights and a few laughs.

Nooyi shares her path of moving PepsiCo from a company focused on profits to one with core values and a vision for a better future. Her vision is one where profitability and social responsibility are not mutually exclusive. Under her leadership, PepsiCo took on a greater view of its global role and ability to shape the world.

Nooyi set the stage for PepsiCo to make more environmentally friendly decisions and create products that are healthier. She

worked to make PepsiCo a more holistic workplace, providing benefits like childcare and paid family leave. The book is divided into four parts:

Part I: Growing Up Nooyi’s story begins in India, with her deep connection to

Part III: The PepsiCo Years

In 2006, Nooyi became CEO of PepsiCo. She explains how the business went from a soft drink, snack and fast-food company to a more streamlined, health-conscious corporation.

QUOTEABLE

“I think the fundamental role of a leader is to look for ways to shape the decades ahead, not just react to the present, and to help others accept the discomfort of disruptions to the status quo.”

her family. Their commitment to education played a key role in her path to study in the United States. She explains the many cultural barriers she overcame, both as a female MBA student and an immigrant.

Part II: Finding My Footing

Nooyi’s first professional role meant balancing career with the needs of her family. She recounts the role strong mentors played in helping her break through the glass ceiling.

Part IV: Looking Ahead

In the last section, Nooyi looks back on how things have changed for female leaders over time. She shares her vision for the future, including the role of diversity as well as family-friendly workplaces.

REEL

New shareholders appointed

Michelle Draewell and Jeff Clancy have been appointed as shareholders at Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A. Draewell has been with Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A. since 2018, and specializes in medical malpractice, insurance defense, and commercial litigation. Clancy, who has been with the firm since 2020, focuses primarily on business law, mergers and acquisitions, commercial real estate, telecom, and nonprofit practice areas.

Falcon Bank adds staff

Falcon National Bank hired Amy Gross to lead its equipment finance division. Gross has held leadership roles at both Key Equipment Finance and GE Capital.

CHECK IT OUT!

Karen Pundsack is the executive director of Great River Regional Library.

The book is available for checkout at the public library. Reserve your copy at griver.org.

My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future ; Indra Nooyi, 2021, Portfolio, Penguin, New York, NY, ISBN: 9780593191798

Dave McCarthy joined the equipment finance division as vice president, sales and syndication manager. McCarthy’s focus will be on growing program volumes and ensuring the syndication arm maintains a balanced portfolio.

St. Cloud Orthopedics welcomes new CEO

St. Cloud Orthopedics hired Ed Kelly as its new CEO. Kelly has more than 35 years of experience in healthcare management and leadership.

8 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024 NEWS
INSIDE
GROW
NEWS
PEOPLE
| NETWORK | PROFIT
&
THAT MAKE UP THE CHAMBER NETWORK
BOOK REVIEW

Ben Thole, InteleCONNECT

Our recent trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, was great because we were able to get immersed in a whole new culture.

Sarah Dean, Central Minnesota Council – Scouts BSA

Our honeymoon to the Cayman Islands. It’s like a best-kept secret –the scenery is so beautiful and it is very safe for tourists.

Isaiah Ehlinger, Ehlinger & Associates American Family Insurance

Banff, Canada, was stunning –there is no such thing as a bad view.

Ryan Andvik, RTA LLC

Our trip to West Yellowstone National Park had great views and lots of wildlife.

Randy Weiher, Erbauer Built

We had a great time on our Alaskan cruise because of the views and also the company we were with.

Stacy King, Gabriel Media

Our trip to Austria was incredible because it is so rich in culture and history – plus the food was great!

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 9 POINT
VIEW Business
What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on and why?
OF
Central asked:
Better Care, Better Costs, Better Recovery… Better YOU. Surgical advancements have made it possible for many eye surgeries to be safely and effectively performed as outpatient procedures, allowing patients to experience faster recovery while spending less out-of-pocket. At St. Cloud Surgical Center, our ophthalmologists treat a variety of eye conditions, including: • Cataracts • Glaucoma • Astigmatism To learn more about making a better choice for your eye surgery, call us today 320.251.8385 Make A Better Choice: EYE SURGERY • Corneal Lesion • Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty) • Childhood Eye Conditions 1526 Northway Drive, St. Cloud, MN 56303 | PH 800.349.7272 | stcsurgicalcenter.com

NEWS REEL

SCSU launches new programs

St. Cloud State University (SCSU) launched three online undergraduate degree programs in business, engineering, and nursing. The degree programs, delivered by SCSU faculty and supported by educational consultants at Academic Partnerships, are designed to meet the needs and schedules of working adults.

CSB/SJU receive award

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University were honored with a 2023 Council on Undergraduate Research Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA). This national award recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide highquality research experiences for undergraduates.

Gardens receive national recognition

St. Cloud attraction Munsinger and Clemens Gardens finished 8th in the USA Today Ten Best Reader’s Choice Awards list. The gardens were one of 20 being considered throughout the country and the only one in Minnesota to make the list.

Brenny Transportation receives recognition

Brenny Transportation was named one of the 2024 Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For by CarriersEdge, a provider of online driver training for the trucking industry. The award recognizes North American forhire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their company drivers and independent contractors.

PEOPLE TO KNOW

St. Cloud Area Leadership Graduates

Congratulations to the 2024 St. Cloud Area Chamber Leadership program graduates! If you are looking for volunteers to serve on boards and committees, these individuals are a good place to start.

2023-2024 Leadership Class

Brandon Anderson, Coborn's Inc.

Emily Bertram, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

Craig Besco, St. Cloud Area Chamber's Convention & Visitors Bureau

Jason Bloch, Park Industries

Chad Bosl, Catholic Charities

Allen Brinkman, Forever Young Two Wellness and Skincare

Robin Caufman, Bolton & Menk

Sarah Dean, Central Minnesota Council-Scouts BSA

Stephanie Dickrell, St. Cloud Live

Emmitt Edwards, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota

Tami Groehler, Quinlivan & Hughes P.A.

Blake Guggenberger, Granite Logistics Services, LLC/Trinity Logistics

Becky Iverson, Smart Organizing Solutions and SOS Treasure Chest

Dakota Johnson, Blacklight Adventures

Kristie Kollmann, Falcon National Bank

Sam Laudenbach, Coborn's Inc.

Stacy Lund, Catholic Charities

Guy Magno, Switchboard

Breana Martin, Minnwest Bank

Melinda Pedersen, Melinda Pedersen Coaching LLC

Jenna Peterson, Playhouse Child Care

Ben Schumann, Bradbury Stamm Construction

Kimberly Shoberg, Blattner Company

Ali Sing, Schlenner Wenner & Co.

Lacey Solheid, Blattner Company

Jenna Storms, American Heritage National Bank

Ben Thoele, InteleCONNECT Inc.

Tingelstad Affinity Plus FCU

Putnam, Coborn’s Inc.

Chair, St. Cloud Area Chamber Leadership Program

(320) 252-4222

Lance Barthel, Batteries Plus

Vice Chair, St. Cloud Area Chamber Leadership Program (320) 230-2000

FRONT
NETWORK UP
Clara Tommy Traeger, Creative Planning Lynn Welle, WACOSA Ryan Zerull, Jules' Bistro LEADERSHIP Sarah
10 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024

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 will contribute to your company

Provides professional networking opportunities and enhanced community connections

Helps employees develop greater personal vision and confidence

Reinforces skills and imparts new knowledge to employees

Provides greater understanding and a broader perspective of key issues in Central Minnesota

Encourages networking among emerging and established leaders

Applications for the Leadership program are available online at StCloudAreaChamber.com, select “Programs” then “St. Cloud Area Leadership Program.” Applications must be submitted to the Chamber by May 14.

For more information about participating in the 2024-25 program, call Laura Wagner at 320-656-3831 or lwagner@StCloudAreaChamber.com.

IN THE NEWS

Recognition

Former museum director earns award

Former Executive Director David Ebnet received the Stearns History Museum (SHM) Zapp Historian Award. The award is given annually in recognition of significant contributions to the preservation, interpretation, or promotion of Stearns County history. Ebnet was SHM executive director from 1984 – 2008.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 11 PROGRAM
DETAILS

AIS Planning announces promotions

AIS Planning promoted Tami Mayers to senior client service associate of the wealth management division. Mayers has been with AIS Planning since 2022.

Teresa Bawden has been promoted to senior client service associate of the retirement plan division. Bawden joined the organization in 2021.

Proviant Group earns award

Proviant Group, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Inc., earned the Ameriprise “Client Experience Award” for 2023. Proviant Group received this award because of their ability to consistently deliver personalized, goal-based advice and exceptional client service.

Coborn appointed to board of directors Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) appointed Chris Coborn, chairman and CEO of Coborn’s Inc., to its board of directors. AWG is a cooperative food wholesaler to independently owned supermarkets. AWG serves 1,100 member companies and more than 3,500 locations in 32 states, from nine wholesale divisions, including one in St. Cloud.

YOUR VOICE IN GOVERNMENT

Contrary to Popular Belief…

Lobbying plays an effective and important role in the legislative process. So, what is it?

Interesting question: What do you do for a living?

“I’m a lobbyist.”

Typical responses: crickets, snide look, raised eyebrows, eye roll, or my favorite, “Oh” and exit stage left.

By definition, a lobbyist is an advocate who tries to influence government policies, decisions, or actions on behalf of a particular individual, organization, or industry. Lobbyists are hired by various groups such as corporations, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, and labor unions to influence government officials to support their interests.

A lobbyist’s goal is to shape public policy and legislation in favor of their clients by providing information, analysis, and opinions to policymakers. Unfortunately, some bad eggs and questionable decisions have influenced the court of public opinion and lobbying somehow got a bad rap. That is not to say that some lobbying tactics aren’t controversial and subject to ethical concerns, especially when lobbyists use tactics that are considered deceptive or manipulative. For the sake of this article, though, we’ll assume everyone has good intentions and rides unicorns to the Capitol.

There are three types of lobbying: corporate, special interest, and citizen.

1 Corporate lobbying refers to the businesses and industry groups that hire professional lobbyists to push for legislation that will improve their bottom lines. They can push for contracts or favorable regulations that help their specific industries.

2 Special interest lobbying refers to groups that lobby on a specific issue. These can be nonprofits with public interest causes like increasing funding for cancer research, democracy reform, or improving housing for homeless veterans. They can also be partisan groups, both left and right, trying to influence decision-makers to achieve the groups’ political agendas.

NEWS REEL 12 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
NETWORK UP FRONT

3 Citizen lobbying refers to everyday citizens who write letters, attend marches, make phone calls, post on social media, and attend town hall meetings to try to influence their individual representatives to support or oppose certain issues.

Lobbyists use a variety of methods to influence the political process, such as meeting with legislators, organizing rallies, and drafting legislation. They also use their networks to build relationships with lawmakers and their staff to gain access to decision-making processes. Additionally, lobbyists may provide campaign contributions or other forms of support to lawmakers who are sympathetic to their cause.

With my undergraduate degree in public health, if you had asked me if I would ever think I would grow up to be a lobbyist I would have laughed out loud and replied, “Never!” Yet, I quickly learned how public policy directly impacts public health and it was all over from there. If you want

to decrease exposure to secondhand smoke, create policy to support clean indoor air. If you’d like to decrease obesity, reduce food deserts and make nutritious food more available and affordable. One way or another, almost everything is political. I won’t even get started on healthcare policy. Some days I would appreciate the simplicity of merely asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

In all seriousness, I sincerely love my job and the company I work for. I love working with local, state, and federal policymakers. I’m addicted to making a difference. Sometimes that’s helping pass the legislation we want. Other times it’s defeating bad policy and counting it a success. Either way, if you or your company are seeking change, hire a lobbyist – we’ll git ‘er done!

Jodi Gertken is the director of state government affairs and community relations at CentraCare.

Brook Stephens , music director at Leighton Broadcasting’s Wild Country 99, received a Country Aircheck Award at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. She was recognized by her peers with the “Small Market Assistant Program Director/Music Director of the Year” award.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 13
IN THE NEWS Award worthy Stephens receives recognition Ask for your care. your choices. WORKING TOGETHER FOR YOU. No matter what part of your body might be causing you pain
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Kramer receives recognition

James Kramer III, MBA, CEPA®, CFP®, a financial advisor at Kramer Financial in St. Cloud, was included LPL Financial’s Masters Club for 2024. This award is presented to less than 7 percent of the firm’s more than 22,000 financial advisors nationwide.

GSDC adds staff

Jennie Weber is the new administrative and program specialist at Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC). She will provide administrative services to the organization, assist main street businesses, and coordinate the grant-funded program Launch Minnesota.

Burke receives promotion Schlenner Wenner & Co. promoted Lisa Burke to payroll department manager. Burke is responsible for overseeing and directing the payroll team and procedures within the firm. She works with businesses to customize payroll solutions for their needs.

CentraCare launches podcast CentraCare launched “1,000 Conversations,” a new podcast series exploring community, culture, race, identity, and belonging. The goal is to build a more inclusive Central Minnesota. The podcast is produced and distributed by CentraCare, in collaboration with consulting partner Center for Economic Inclusion.

Home at Last

The Stearns History Museum was a vision 48 years in the making.

In a 1976 article, the St. Cloud Times described Stearns County Historical Society (SCHS) as a “family that is trying to function without a home.” Since the society’s organization in 1936, there had been discussions about building a museum to safely house and display the society’s artifacts and archives. However, it would take almost 50 years to see that dream come to fruition.

SCHS was formally organized in March 1936. It quickly began collecting artifacts and conducting biographical interviews of early Stearns County residents using Works Projects Administration (WPA) funds. At a meeting in October 1936, the board decided to contact the WPA and city and county officials to discuss funding for a museum. While these discussions didn’t lead to a museum, in 1939 the

county allocated space for SCHS in the Stearns County Courthouse in St. Cloud. The museum room was on the ground floor with a display case on the second and storage on the third. Except for a hiatus from 1942-1945, the SCHS museum space remained in the courthouse for about 20 years. In 1960, SCHS moved the museum into the basement of the Stearns County Library headquarters building – formerly the Unitarian Church – at 4th Avenue and U.S. Highway 23 in St. Cloud. Although the museum remained open and was maintained by a curator, the society itself was almost totally defunct. By 1966, 30 years after the society’s founding, SCHS had been inactive as an organization for over a decade. According to a St. Cloud Times article, the Minnesota Historical Society “threatened to take

over the collection if the society is not revived,” which was its right by state statute. That same year, SCHS reorganized.

The reorganization was short-lived. By 1974 SCHS was again inactive. At an April meeting of city and county officials that year, the City of St. Cloud asked Stearns County commissioners to find a new home for the museum and its artifacts, as the community building at 4th Avenue was considered hazardous and a danger to the artifacts. Spurred by these concerns, SCHS members Edward Zapp Jr. and Patricia Morreim spearheaded the second reorganization of SCHS in less than a decade. The society reorganized in June 1974 and in October that year, Zapp was elected president.

Zapp’s priority was constructing a museum to permanently and securely

DIGGING HISTORY
(L to R) David Ebnet, Ruth Knevel, and John Decker look at proposed building plans for the museum, 1978. Edward Zapp Jr., 1978. Courtesy of Stearns History Museum
NEWS REEL 14 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
NETWORK UP FRONT

house the society’s artifacts and archives. He envisioned a combined arts and heritage center, where citizens of Stearns County could enjoy and engage with all aspects of local history and culture. Ruth Knevel was hired as the society’s first executive director and later David Ebnet was hired as a fundraiser and grant writer. By the end of 1978, SCHS acquired

Stearns History Museum, 1992

a total of 6 acres for the building project: 3.5 donated by the Hugo Weyrens family and 2.5 provided by the city of St. Cloud. The property was located between 33rd Avenue and now Minnesota Highway 15 in St. Cloud.

Fundraising for private donations began in earnest in 1981 with a goal of $1 million. Cy Kuefler, a local realtor, was hired to lead the campaign. On February 26, 25,000 solicitation letters were mailed to residents

of Stearns County asking for contributions to the building project. Notable donations included $50,000 from Zapp National Bank, $50,000 from Cold Spring Granite, $30,000 from the Gannett Foundation, and $125,000 from the Whitney family. In 1982, Gohman Construction was awarded the building contract, breaking ground June 30 of that year. By the end of 1982, SCHS reached its $1 million goal with a $10,000 donation from the Burlington Northern Foundation.

The dedication and grand opening of the museum was June 30, 1984 – exactly two years after groundbreaking, and 48 years since SCHS began

PASSION MEETS PURPOSE

operations. Stearns County native and U.S. Senator David Durenberger spoke at the ceremony. That same year, SCHS, received the Regional Development Award for the development and construction of the museum. In 1985, SCHS (today known as the Stearns History Museum) received a citation from the National Association of State and Local Historical Societies, recognizing and praising the leadership of Ed Zapp Jr. Now, 40 years later, the legacy of Edward Zapp Jr., Ruth Knevel, David Ebnet, and so many others lives on.

Grant Wilson is an archivist at Stearns History Museum.

15
BlattnerCompany.com Wind | Solar | Storage Leading America to a clean energy future is more than just our purpose. It’s our promise. The work we are doing today will power a cleaner tomorrow.

Deerwood Bank announces promotion

Ben Hanowski is the new business banking officer at the Waite Park location of Deerwood Bank. Hanowski has been with Deerwood for more than three years, starting as a credit analyst in 2020. In his new role, Hanowski will assist customers with business banking services and financing needs, as well as analyze financial statements and underwrite loans.

539 Building wins award

539 Properties won the 2024 “Project of the Year” Award from the Economic Development Association of Minnesota for its work on the former International Harvester building. The building now houses Iron Street Distillery and Harvester Square event venue. The facility renovation was recognized as "A project that has had a positive impact in Minnesota that demonstrates collaboration, creativity, and complexity, while retaining employment and capital investment".

Got News?

Send news releases, announcements, or anything you think is newsworthy to Emily, ebertram@ stcloudareachamber.com, and we will try to include it in Business Central.

DO IT NOW!

Taking the Stage

Many people fear public speaking. These tips will help you gain confidence and feel prepared.

The fear of public speaking – also called glossophobia – affects 75 percent of the world’s population. Try as we might, it’s not something that goes away easily. I knew I wanted to improve my public speaking, so I joined my high school’s speech and debate team. Although it wasn’t a total cure and I am not a world-class motivational speaker, I did learn some great tips that have helped me gain confidence and improve my skills.

One of the easiest ways to improve is practice. Just like athletes in sports, you must practice to get better. By practicing for a speech, you can avoid stumbling over

words and reading directly from a paper. The more you practice, the better you will know the material and be prepared to handle any unexpected questions or scenarios. Taking it a step further, it’s a good idea to practice your speech in front of a mirror, in a video, or even in front of friends. Watch for any distracting movements or awkward body language. Take in feedback from friends. Then, practice again. Practicing a speech can help you memorize it, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your script at home. Nerves happen, computers fail, and you may find yourself frozen and searching for the next word. Note cards

or some sort of cue can be helpful to remind yourself of what comes next – as long as they aren’t distracting to the audience. Sometimes you don’t even need to use the note cards, but it’s a relief to know that you have them, and a confidence booster to be prepared just in case.

Even if you have practiced and memorized and perfected, it’s still important to mentally prepare. Take a few moments to do some deep breathing and give yourself a pep talk. Make sure that what you’re wearing is comfortable so that it’s not distracting, but also appropriate and respectful of your audience. At this point, it comes down to mind over matter, and preparing yourself mentally can give you the confidence you need to be successful.

Once you’ve delivered your speech successfully, enjoy the feeling. Not only did you do it, you did it well! And while these tips may not erase your fear of public speaking entirely, they can help you can gain confidence and calm your nerves for the next time you need to get in front of a crowd.

Allison Baatz is a member advisor at St. Cloud Financial Credit Union and the chair of the Chamber’s NEXT Young Professionals group.

NEWS REEL
16 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
NETWORK UP FRONT

The Applications of AI

We hear a lot about artificial intelligence, but where can we really see it in action? These AI tools are relevant for most business professionals and simple to use.

Grammarly: Grammarly uses AI to check for grammar, spelling, plagiarism and more, and even includes a Google Docs extension.

Dectopus: This simple AI tool allows you to enter in what your presentation is about and who you are giving it to, and it will create a slide deck that is beautiful and interesting.

Fireflies: Get the most out of your meetings with Fireflies, a tool that transcribes meetings and takes notes along the way.

ChatGPT: What has largely been entry-level AI for most, ChatGPT serves as a great tool for idea generation and text refining.

Jasper: This AI tool allows users to create diverse content such as blogs, product summaries, emails, marketing text, and more.

For an even longer list of AI applications, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 17
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THE TROUBLE WITH BUSINESS

Bridge the Gap

As workforce remains a hot topic, employers must find a way to engage millennials and Generation Z.

Throughout history, certain universal patterns endure: the desire for love, the striving for fulfillment, and the unyielding tension between generations. Ah, yes. The age-old battle between established and emerging generations, both trying to build the world based on its own vision.

Despite this familiar pattern, we all seem surprised by our current four-generation workplace tensions. I’ve talked to many business leaders about this issue. The common theme is a plea for guidance as leaders seek strategies to ensure their

organization's long-term success: “How do I get my young employees to care?”

Data supports this. A 2022 Gallup poll reveals that 68 percent of millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) are disengaged at work. According to the World Economic Forum, 73 percent of Gen Z employees seek permanent flexible work alternatives beyond the standard 40-hour, 8-5 schedule. Additionally, CareerBuilder found that millennials spend an average of 2.75 years in a career, while Gen Z spends 2.25 years. This turnover costs the U.S. economy a staggering $30.5 billion, per Gallup.

As business leaders, you’re allowed to be frustrated with this new reality. But it is also crucial to start focusing on the future. To that end, here are three strategies that will help employers engage their young workforce.

Autonomy & Flexibility

You need a “sticky” workplace culture employees can brag about. A culture that makes them second guess other job opportunities. Good benefits alone won’t cut it. Health insurance, PTO, and retirement plans are a baseline expectation in today’s competitive market. True autonomy and flexibility means giving employees the ability to get work done when, where, and how they best see fit. This has to be mutually agreed

upon and has to fit within the structure of a role. For example, a front desk receptionist can’t work from home, but perhaps there are other ways to offer flexibility. Don’t be afraid to create different allowances for different employees, based on their performance and needs. We live in a customized world. Customized employee experiences are becoming the new norm. If you’re having trouble identifying ways to create autonomy and flexibility, your first step should be to ask your target market.

Levels of Achievement

What do Candy Crush, Fitbit, and Dominos all have in common? They leverage a strategy called gamification to keep users actively engaged over long periods of time. Gamification adds gamelike elements to encourage participation. If leveraged properly, this approach can make a person feel as if they are constantly leveling up.

Gamification is especially powerful when leveraged in a workplace setting. One of the most effective gamification strategies is creating a “growth path” for each rising star in your company. Unlike a career path, which illustrates a narrow perspective rooted in role promotions, a growth path paints a picture of how an individual could grow their skills and influence over time. Growth paths should be tailored to each

18 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
Contributor Clare Richards is the CEO and Co-Founder of Impacks.
NETWORK UP FRONT

individual, and encourage them to say yes to unconventional opportunities that may fall outside their job description. A growth path might include things like serving on community nonprofit boards, leading crossdepartment projects, or learning new technical skills.

Stay Friends

The number of times I’ve seen an employer ruin a relationship with an ex-employee is beyond disheartening. Feelings of betrayal and frustration often dominate these final interactions. Maintaining a good relationship with resigned employees is important because:

Past employees could become future clients or referrals.

Departing employees may influence current staff negatively if spurned.

Ex-employees might make their way back to your organization someday.

It’s a small world. Bad blood will haunt you, especially in our current pro-employee culture.

When an inevitable resignation lands on your desk, handle it with respect.

The Only Constant in Life Is Change

As you work to engage a young workforce, focus on your goals –competitors and long-standing norms are secondary. Foster a workplace that attracts, retains, and nurtures young talent — for the benefit of both your business and our community.

YOUR TRUSTED PARTNER IN COMMERCIAL ROOFING

As masters of commercial HVAC, roofing and architectural exteriors, we’ve been building trusted partnerships for five generations. From quality installation to exceptional service and support, we’ll help you protect and prolong the life of your investments.

Inspiring and celebrating Granite talent. Granite Partners is a private investment and holding company founded in 2002 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, with a mission to grow companies and create value for all stakeholders. As trusted partners, innovative leaders, and responsible stewards, we are committed to 100-year sustainability, and we aspire to world-class wellbeing for all people in and around the Granite community.

For a list of sources cited in this article, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 19
320-251-8640 MCDOWALLCO.COM 24-HOUR SERVICE
COMMERCIAL HVAC | COMMERCIAL ROOFING | ARCHITECTURAL EXTERIORS | SERVICE & SUPPORT
growing companies, enhancing communities

TOP HATS

MILESTONES

50 Year Member: Momentum Truck Group, Freightliner Elite Support certified dealership, 25200 Augusta Drive, St. Cloud. Pictured: April Diederich, Jon Pearson, Debbie Clausen.

35 Year Member: GLTArchitects, architecture firm, 808 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud. Pictured: Brady DeGagne, Steve Paasch, Evan Larson, Eric Johnson.

50 Years in Business: Jacobs Financial, financial services company, 1407 33rd Street S, St. Cloud. Pictured: Brenda Eisenschenk, David Jacobs, Andy Jacobs, Jim Jacobs, Patrick Hollermann.

10 Year Member: Envision Capital, mortgage brokerage, 14 7th Ave. N Ste. 124, St. Cloud. Pictured: Kris Nelson, Eileen Theisen, Eric Johnson.

20 Year Member: GATR Truck Center, truck dealership and full-service body shop, 218 Stearns Drive, Sauk Rapids. Pictured: Kris Nelson, Matt Gordon, Jason Miller.

70 Years in Business: Park Industries, manufacturer of stone and metal fabricating equipment, 6301 Saukview Drive, St. Cloud. Pictured: David Lloyd, Dirk Kloss, Meagan Hegland, Alysa Cross, Joan Schatz, Duane Bryngelson, Greg Brasel, Stephanie Kadlec, Mike Anderson.

20 Years in Business: Falcon National Bank, financial services, 1010 W Saint Germain Street, Ste. 150, St. Cloud. Pictured: Brenda Eisenschenk, Troy Cameron, Paula Capes, John Herges, Rachel Layton.

Year Member: Franklin Outdoor Advertising Co., indoor and outdoor advertising, 20092 Edison Circle E, Clearwater. Pictured: Eric Johnson, Garrett Urhammer, Dan Franklin, Jenna Binsfeld.

NEW MEMBERS

Two Men and a Truck, full service moving, removal and storage, 2330 County Road 137, Ste. C, Waite Park. Pictured: Kris Nelson, Jake Peters, Sally Flinck, Debbie Clausen.

Higher Dimensions Roofing, roofing and general contractor, 3467 U.S. Hwy 10 SE, St. Cloud. Pictured: Patrick Ruegemer, Kris Nelson.

Prosper West Apartments, apartment management, 690 Prosper Drive, Waite Park. Pictured: Eric Johnson, Tyler Miller, Jean Denn, Doug Kerr, Stefani Doten, Jenn Ulmer, Sue Picotte, Belle Hawfitch, Laya Sath, Peter Wannarka, Jenna Binsfeld.

25 Year Member: WSB & Associates Inc., civil engineering, planning, environmental and construction services, 4140 Thielman Lane #204, St. Cloud. Pictured: Kevin Kruger, Brandon Reese, Kyle Klasen, Amy Rein, Eric Johnson.

Lakes Area Locks, mobile

Pictured: Bernie Perryman, Gabe Douglas, Rory Cruser.

Minnesota Center for Employee Ownership, business owner resource, 1420 8th Ave. N, St. Cloud. Pictured: Donna Roerick, Kirsten Kennedy, Jason Miller.

Aqeel Equities, real estate development, leasing and management firm, 400 S Benton Drive, Sauk Rapids.

Legends Bar and Grill, restaurant and bar, 75 37th Ave. S., St. Cloud. Pictured: staff and partners of Legends Bar and Grill.

20 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
locksmith. 40 30 Year Member: Edina Realty, real estate services, 4150 2nd Street S, St. Cloud. Pictured: Greg Wojtowicz, Kelley Holmes, Brenda Eisenschenk. Pictured: Mohammad Anwar, Brian Jarl.
GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT TOP HATS SHOWCASE CENTRAL MINNESOTA

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, banking cooperative, 2835 W Saint Germain Street, Ste. 100, St. Cloud. Pictured: Carl Newbanks, Janelle Notsch, Bruce Powlish, Sabrina Strom, Patrick Hollermann.

Jefferson Capital Systems LLC, licensed collection company, 200 14th Ave. E, Sartell. Pictured: Jack Miller, Penny Campbell, Mark Zellmann, David Mitchell.

RISE UP Care & Wellness, speaking, consulting and coaching for caregivers and employers of caregivers, 6166 16th Ave. SE, St. Cloud. Pictured: Tauna Quimby, Melody Vachal, Donna Roerick.

CoMitted 365 Roofing & Exteriors, exteriors company, 132 33rd Ave. S, Waite Park. Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, Gary Swenson, Eric Johnson.

Neuro Health Chiropractic Center, chiropractor, 436 Great Oak Drive, Waite Park. Pictured: Tauna Quimby, Kenley Just, Lee Gruen, Dr. Caitlyn Jungels, Alex Jungles, Jake Cleveland, Clint Lentner.

A SIP Consulting, human resources consulting, Sartell.

Up In Smoke BBQ, restaurant and catering, 2848 2nd Street S Ste. 105, St. Cloud. Pictured: Debbie Clausen, Tamara Yurczyk, Timothy Hoefer, Eric Johnson.

Tractor Supply Company, retail, 1800 1st Ave. NE, Ste. 101, Little Falls.

Augusta Plumbing & Heating, plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor for residential or commercial, 2805 Clearwater Road, St. Cloud.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 21
Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, Amy Sip, Kris Nelson. Pictured: Mike Brower, Heidi Chandler, Kris Nelson. Pictured: Eric Johnson, Shane Kurth, Jason Miller. Crown Liquor and Wine, liquor store, 1362 15th Ave. SE, St. Cloud. Pictured: Patrick Hollermann, Lam Chuol, Rachel Layton.

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

The St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce organized the 2024 Central Minnesota Farm Show in February. The booths were sold out, and the attendees and vendors spent time connecting, learning, and doing big business.

22 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
NETWORK CENTRAL GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT EVENTS AROUND THE ST. CLOUD AREA Profit!
Brandon Anderson, Coborn’s; Tami Groehler, Quinlivan & Hughes, and Kimberly Shoberg, Blattner volunteer at the Farm Show Chase Dahler was one of six 2024 Farm Show scholarships recipients Tucker Strande (L) and Joe Schneider, Midwest Machinery Samantha Collette and Brandon Voit, Falcon National Bank Amy Degerstrom, Stearns History Museum There were educational programs every hour during both days of the show. Frank Imholte, Black Diamond Auctions (L) with St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, giving the welcome address Andrew Miceli, Sturi-Weld & Machine Aerial view of the Central Minnesota Farm Show

Network!

St. Cloud Area Evening at the Capital provided an opportunity for members to network with many of Minnesota’s elected officials in St. Paul. The program is sponsored by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 23
Dan Ochsner, Leighton Media (L) and Representative Isaac Schultz Senator Arik Putnam speaking with members Representative Tim O'Driscoll (L) and Joe Hellie, CentraCare Rachel Lolmasteymaugh, Midwest Manufacturers Association (L)and Lori Kloos, St. Cloud Technical and Community College David Borgert, Representative Bernie Perryman, and Cathy Mehelich, City of St. Cloud Brian Gibson, St. Cloud Area Planning Commission (L) with Metro Bus driver Carl Hallberg and CEO Ryan Daniel Jodi Gertken, CentraCare; Julie Lunning, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce; Senator Jeff Howe; Steve Gottwalt, Steve Gottwalt Consulting

BUSINESS TOOLS

GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

RESOURCES THAT HELP YOUR BUSINESS GROW

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Management Toolkit / Working Well / Economy Central by Falcon Bank

MANAGEMENT TOOLKIT

Difficult Conversations

No matter what your opinions are, recognizing our similarities is more effective than pointing out our differences.

Important community topics often aren’t discussed anymore because conversations can get so tense. Even with programs at St. Cloud State University and in other community circles built to encourage deliberative dialogue, fewer and fewer people are willing to engage in this type of conversation. That said, one

Contributor

of the most important skills for emerging leaders to have is how to listen to people with different views than yours.

Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics tells us that we are all polyglots. That is, we all speak all three languages at different times, when discussing political issues, depending on the issue. Kling explains the

King Banaian is the interim dean of the College of Education and Learning Design and economics professor at St. Cloud State University.

languages by looking at them along one of three axes: progressive; conservative; and libertarian.

Progressive arguments lie along an axis of oppressor and oppressed.

Conservative arguments lie along an axis of civilization and inhumanity.

Libertarian arguments lie along an axis of freedom and coercion.

Regardless of what axis we fall on, if we could learn how to decode our speech using some key words, and then learn how to

listen for those words in others, we might have better dialogue.

Alan Turing developed a test to see if a computer could convince a human that it was also human. The “ideological Turing test” asks someone with a different axis than yours, on a particular issue, to imagine being in a room with a group of people who think along that different axis. Can you convince that group that you think like they do? Could someone who supports open borders attend a meeting of people promoting immigration restrictions and make the pro-border control arguments so well that the group would say “you get how we think?” The key lies in understanding the opposing viewpoints so well that you could make the argument for it, even if it’s not how you feel.

The point of these examples is to demonstrate to leaders that they already know how to speak all three languages. Leaders often find themselves thinking, for example, “my thoughts about this issue are along the progressive axis, but on this other issue I think more like a libertarian.” That stops us from thinking in the binary of left-right, red-blue, or liberal-conservative. By drawing on how you use all three languages, you can pass the ideological Turing test.

24 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024

We all have an axis we use more than the other two. For example, when Pat identifies as a progressive and Sam as a conservative, they are telling you which one they use the most. But that does not tell you how they think about every issue, and that opens Pat and Sam to the possibility that they will have issues they see the same way.

As President Reagan once observed, the person who identifies with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally, not a 20 percent traitor. I would add there are allies to be found even among those who identify with you only 20 percent of the time. The only way you can find them is to listen.

Phone Chargers?

Chinese startup BetaVolt has unveiled a battery that claims to have a 50-year lifespan. The nuclear battery has the potential for use in aerospace, medical equipment, drones, and many other types of tech. Despite its nuclear nature, it is not radioactive and could even be used in pacemakers, artificial hearts and cochlear implants. That said, in its current form it only produces 0.01 percent of the electricity required to run a smart phone, so don’t throw away those chargers just yet.

Source: LiveScience.com

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 25 TECH NEWS
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Supporting Employees Who Care

Take care of the caregivers in your organization to foster a culture of inclusivity and support.

Millions of people in the United States are juggling the demands of job responsibilities while caring for loved ones. Whether this means caring for children, attending to the needs of an aging family member, or helping someone who is ill, workplaces need to support employees and understand the demands of caregiving.

Employees are often reluctant to identify as caregivers. They may be concerned that, if their situation is out in the open,

Contributor

they will become a target under the watchful eye of employers or fellow employees. They may worry about facing discrimination or stereotypes related to their ability to balance work commitments on top of their caregiving responsibilities. Some caregivers worry they may appear less professional or less dedicated due to the extra work they perform as a caregiver. If the workplace does not have policies to support caregiving employees, there can be a level of fear and vulnerability in identifying their situation.

How can employers be supportive of these employees? Striving to create an atmosphere that demonstrates the value of work-life balance is crucial. Managers and owners play a pivotal role by practicing worklife balance in their own lives, and respecting their employees' boundaries. Management staff should be equipped with skills to recognize signs of stress and burnout, and help employees with special circumstances. A mutual level of respect allows employees to feel comfortable if they need extra help or time off for caregiving responsibilities.

Highlighting employee assistance programs, hiring coaches, and prioritizing the emotional and mental well-being of employees is a great step in the right direction. Accessing wellness workshops and programs specific to caregiver employees can promote overall well-being. These resources show the company cares about its employees' health and happiness. When companies are striving to support work-life balance, it makes for happier and more productive employees.

Other things employers can do include:

Flexible work options: This could be done through a hybrid model, where the employee can work from home, have flexible hours, or compress

Melody Vachal is the co-owner and director of aging services at Arise Cares and owner of RISE UP Care & Wellness, where she is a speaker, consultant, and coach in caregiving, self-care, and work-life balance.

their work week. Having the freedom to set their schedule allows caregivers to handle their caregiving responsibilities while continuing to excel in their jobs.

Community resources: Familiarizing yourself with local elder care services and childcare networks shows your employees that you have their best interests at heart. Partnering with other businesses to best serve your staff is a practical way to support your employees while building your network and setting yourself apart from other employers.

Support conversations: Having open conversations about caregiving and the responsibilities that accompany it is another important step in establishing a culture that cares. Discussing personal experiences with co-workers and management creates support and encourages understanding. This can ward off those feelings of isolation, which is common for caregivers. The more comfortable an employee feels, the more likely they are to stay committed to an employer. Good employees can be hard to find. Caregiver-employees have great strength in balancing many responsibilities. Employee retention, satisfaction, and commitment to the job are just a few of the bonuses that accompany support. By prioritizing your commitment to these workers and creating an environment where work and caregiving can coexist, companies can foster a culture of inclusivity and support.

26 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024 WORKING WELL
GROW BUSINESS TOOLS

Logging Off For Good

The average person has 100 online accounts, from electric bills to social media, according to password management company NordPass. What happens to those accounts when you die — and who is responsible for them? Hopefully, you’ve created a digital legacy plan to answer that. This plan should include information on all (yes, all) of your online accounts, and who is responsible for managing each one should you die unexpectedly. Grieving the loss of a loved one is hard enough without the added stress of being locked out of financial information, personal files, and other important documents. Not sure where to start? The free tool MyWishes helps you protect your digital legacy.

To set up a MyWishes account, visit BusinessCentralMagazine.com.

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ECONOMY CENTRAL

Ad Dollars and Sense

The age-old dilemma of return-on-investment in advertising is easier to address, but not absolute.

Advertising constitutes a substantial portion of spending in the United States. According to Winterberry Group, a strategic management consultancy, advertising spend is expected to grow 10.4 percent and reach $570 billion in 2024. The Winterberry Group believes much of that growth will be driven by increased spending on political ads and data-driven advertising. With more money being funneled into advertising, businesses are trying to measure the efficacy of their advertising budgets.

In 2021, a team of economists led by Bradley Shapiro estimated the return on investment for TV advertising on sales and profitability across 288 different consumer packaged-goods brands. The team found that on average, a 1 percent increase in advertising spend was associated with a 0.023 percent increase in sales. Furthermore, it found that in over 80 percent of the sample, sales from increased advertising spend was not statistically different from zero. That means advertising dollars

were not having an effect on sales. Possible explanations for the lack of impact include potential over-investment in advertising, differences in messaging, scheduling, and audience selection. Not all results are so dismal. Some brands have seen significant success from advertising campaigns. In 2013, Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign rolled out in the United States, and later elsewhere. The campaign aimed to create a more personalized experience between consumers and the brand by replacing its logo on bottles and cans with popular first names.

Coca-Cola’s goal was to get teens involved – many of whom hadn’t tried the soft drink in the prior year. Coca-Cola’s effort to enhance personalization paid off.

Sales of participating Coca-Cola packages rose 11 percent in the summer following the launch of the campaign, and it attracted 1.25 million teens through this ad. Part of its success came from social media activity with the hashtag #ShareaCoke, garnering 89,000 mentions on Twitter and 496,000 mentions on Instagram.

The impact of advertising depends on many factors. Not only does the ad content matter, but how we attempt to measure

an online ad to a subsequent purchase may result in an overestimation of the ad’s importance. In the latter case, the assumption proves particularly problematic when advertising is intentionally targeted to consumers who are most likely to purchase the advertised product.

The U.S. advertising sector stands at the intersection of expansive growth possibilities, while businesses are simultaneously struggling to figure out the efficacy of this spending. Though there isn’t a

Coca-Cola’s goal [with #ShareaCoke] was to get teens involved – many of whom hadn’t tried the soft drink in the prior year.

success also matters and will significantly influence the advertising’s reported efficacy. While many businesses now have access to enhanced individual data, providing the opportunity to link an individual who was exposed to the ad to an eventual purchase, significant challenges remain.

In 2013, economist Randall Lewis and his team (all formerly of Yahoo! Research) identified some persistent issues with measuring ad effectiveness. The team highlighted that many models in advertising science assume that non-engagement with an ad implies no impact on purchasing behavior, potentially leading to an underestimation of the ad’s significance. Conversely, crediting engagement with

clear answer on how to measure advertising effectiveness, we do know the content of the ads does matter. Differences in content can translate to differences in ad performance. Right now, with data-driven advertising, there’s a greater ability to personalize ads. While many factors may influence ad engagement and sales, current data suggests that personalization and finding ways to connect the brand to the consumer can positively influence attributed sales and ad engagement.

Alli Bily is a 2019 economics graduate from St. Cloud State University (SCSU), and a 2020 graduate of University of Illinois. Lynn MacDonald, Ph.D., is associate professor of economics at SCSU.

28 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024 Economy Central presented by
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TOOLS

Residential Building Permits

ECONOMIC INDICATORS & TRENDS

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

Totals represent data reported as of 4/15/24

Residential Building Permits

6

Commercial Building Permits

6

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 29 $20M$40M$60M$80M$100M$120M $0M December November October September August July June May April March February January
COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $0 $500k 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage ST. CLOUD 0 5001000150020002500 2023 2022 2021 Home Sales Closed ST. CLOUD $0M$50M$100M$150M$200M$250M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan 2023 2022 2021
COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH TOTAL: $84,561,804 TOTAL: $88,202,416 TOTAL: $215,772,443 TOTAL: $147,517,537 TOTAL: $153,245,951 TOTAL: $106,453,097 2023 2022 2021 $20M$40M$60M$80M$100M$120M $0M November October September August July June May April March February January
6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $0 $500k 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage ST. CLOUD 0 5001000150020002500 2023 2022 2021 Home Sales Closed ST. CLOUD $0M$50M$100M$150M$200M$250M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan 2023 2022 2021 Commercial Building
6 COMMUNITIES - ST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH TOTAL: $84,561,804 TOTAL: $88,202,416 TOTAL:
TOTAL:
TOTAL: $153,245,951 TOTAL: $106,453,097 2023 2022 2021 St. Cloud, MN MetroSA Minnesota United States -2.0% -1.5% -1.0% -0.5% 0.0% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% 2.0% DNOSAJJMAMFJDNOSAJ Non-Farm Jobs 2022-23 -% CHANGE St. Cloud Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota United States Unemployment Rates 2022-2023 1.5% 2.0% 2.5% 3.0% 3.5% 4.0% DNOSAJJMAMFJDNOSAJ Source: positivelyminnesota.com Source: positivelyminnesota.com Sources: Building departments for the following cities: St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Waite Park, St. Augusta, and St. Joseph. BUILDING PERMITS BY COMMUNITY Commercial 2021 2022 2023 #/$ #/$ #/$ St. Cloud 282 275 357 $105,238,005 $139,287,507 $67,461,058 Sartell 158 174 320 $18,230,359 $31,707,799 $9,859,316 Sauk Rapids 56 65 38 $12,310,906 $11,765,992 $15,098,018 Waite Park 122 170 193 $11,691,421 $21,617,182 $19,051,616 St. Augusta 12 10 19 $2,774,220 $300,363 $11,185,035 St. Joseph 44 96 81 $3,001,040 $11,093,600 $24,862,496 BUILDING PERMITS BY COMMUNITY Residential 2021 2022 2023 #/$ #/$ #/$ St. Cloud 777 612 977 $31,498,210 $24,252,325 $42,525,857 Sartell 477 1,350 752 $28,930,350 $15,624,339 13,925,277 Sauk Rapids 252 994 421 $9,116,510 $21,072,914 $11,929,607 Waite Park 54 49 41 $2,766,805 $1,155,337 $1,147,663 St. Augusta 113 110 203 $11,360,899 $12,380,467 $23,519,991 St. Joseph 162 181 126 $4,529,642 $10,076,422 $13,404,703 $0M$10M$20M$30M$40M$50M$60M$70M$80M December November October September August July June May April March February January WAITE PARK, $0 $500000$1000000$1500000$2000000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 1500 2000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Home Sales Closed in St.Cloud Area 6 COMMUNITIESST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $200M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan WAITE PARK, $78,621,465 $63,885,721 $137,532,948 $12,581,424* $178,724,272 TOTAL: 1868 TOTAL: 182* TOTAL: 1823 TOTAL: $1,287,691 Data not released at time of print TOTAL: $1,604,677 $3,716,523* Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec COLOR KEY: Economy Central presented by
Permits
$215,772,443
$147,517,537

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$1,738,973

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THE NUMBERS

Vote for Marketing

Political advertising is big business during election years. Research firm Insider Intelligence reports that political advertising is expected to jump by nearly a third in 2024 compared to the previous presidential race.

Election ad spend is predicted to hit $12.32 billion this year, a 30 percent increase from 2020.

Google’s ad revenue from political ads is expected to hit $553.2 million as more advertisers shift to Goggle-owned YouTube. This spend makes up only 4.5 percent of total political ad spend.

Traditional media spend – most of which is television – will increase by 7.9 percent, accounting for 71.9 percent of all spend.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, will see an increase as well, accounting for 4.6 percent of the total political ad spend.

Election years are profitable for those in the advertising industry, but marketers are also faced with challenges like never before. Misinformation can spread fast on social media, and “deepfakes” – digitally manipulated media that replaces one’s likeness – are a major concern. Source: Reuters

30 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
$20M$40M$60M$80M$100M$120M February January $0 $500k $1M $1.5M $2M 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 5001000150020002500 $0M$50M$100M$150M$200M$250M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan Building Permits CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS,
TOTAL: $215,772,443 TOTAL:
TOTAL:
TOTAL:
TOTAL:
TOTAL:
$0 $500k $1M $1.5M $2M December November October September August July June May April March February January 2023 2022 2021 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 5001000150020002500 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2023 2022 2021 Home
Closed in St. Cloud ST. CLOUD TOTAL: 1569 TOTAL: 1274 TOTAL: 2010 TOTAL: $1,587,656 TOTAL: $1,738,973 TOTAL: $1,420,811 Housing/Real Estate sources: St. Cloud Area Association of Realtors, http://stcloudrealtors.com/pages/statistics. Lodging Tax Dollars ST. CLOUD $0 $500k $1M $1.5M $2M 2023 2022 2021 TOTAL: $1,142,027 TOTAL: $1,543,320 TOTAL: $1,708,738
Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud
Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud Sheri s’ Foreclosure Auctions STEARNS AND BENTON COUNTIES 0 20 40 60 80 100 2023 2022 2021 TOTAL: 67 TOTAL: 81 TOTAL: 31 SHERIFFS' FORECLOSURE AUCTIONS Residential 2021 2022 2023 Stearns Co. 17 55 59 Benton Co. 14 12 22 ECONOMIC INDICATORS & TRENDS $0M$10M$20M$30M$40M$50M$60M$70M$80M December November October September August July June May April March February January WAITE PARK, $0 $500000$1000000$1500000$2000000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Food and Beverage Tax Collection ST. CLOUD 0 500 1000 1500 2000 December November October September August July June May April March February January 2021 2020 2019 Home Sales Closed in St.Cloud Area 6 COMMUNITIESST. CLOUD, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK, ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSEPH $200M December November October September August July June May Apr Mar Feb Jan WAITE PARK, $78,621,465 $63,885,721 $137,532,948 $12,581,424* $178,724,272 TOTAL: 1868 TOTAL: 182* TOTAL: 1823 TOTAL: $1,287,691 Data not released at time of print TOTAL: $1,604,677 $3,716,523* Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
GROW
SARTELL, WAITE PARK,
$147,517,537
$153,245,951
Sales
Source:
Source:

benefiting: St. Cloud COP House

June 7th | Territory Golf Club

Supporting the mission of community involvement, Jacobs Financial is hosting their 18th Annual Swing Fore Charity Golf Tournament. Since its inception, this golf event has raised over $470,000 for non-profits in Central Minnesota. We invite you to partner with us in our efforts to make a difference in Central Minnesota.

Golf - Register your Team of 4 by scanning the QR Code >>

Sponsor - Contact Jody at 320.217.6006 Jody@Jacobs-Financial.com

Thank you to our sponsors:

Our initiatives include building the St. Cloud Rotary/Richard C. Wilson Community Outpost (aka COP House) in south St. Cloud, providing scholarships to those pursuing careers in public safety, supporting the wellbeing of first responders and their families, and acting as a fiscal host for other advocates of public safety. Learn more at: www.GSCSafety.org and other initiatives of the Greater St. Cloud Public Safety Foundation

The Greater St. Cloud Public Safety Foundation is the leading advocate of public safety in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties in central Minnesota. Established in 2015 as a 501c3 non-profit entity, we support fire, police, and emergency medical service providers in our region. The foundation is led by the private sector, with collaboration from public agencies, community leaders and volunteers.

Join
in the cause!
us

WORK HARD. GIVE BIG. SMILE OFTEN.

Emily and Jeremy Salzbrun, owners of H&S Heating, have dedicated their careers to saving the day – in more ways than one.

Faster than a breeze on a scorching day. More powerful than the fiercest furnace. With the ability to mend malfunctioning HVAC systems in the blink of an eye. Look! Emerging from the work truck! It's the Gingerman!

Larger than life, Jeremy Salzbrun, co-owner of H&S Heating, A/C, Electrical and Plumbing, graces billboards around the St. Cloud area, donning a superman cape, powerful stance, and his signature red hair. The concept for the “Gingerman” campaign stemmed from the idea that –

32 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024 •••
Cover Photography by Switchboard

FUN FACTS WITH EMILY & JEREMY

“With all of the outdoor activities that we do together, I am the only one who goes bear hunting.” - Emily Salzbrun

“Less than 2 percent of the world’s population has red hair and blue eyes, so basically I’m a majestic unicorn.” – Jeremy Salzbrun

Jeremy Salzbrun Emily Salzbrun

when you need it most – Jeremy, his co-owner and wife, Emily, and the team at H&S will be there to save the day. Not all heroes wear capes – sometimes they wear blue uniforms. Well, and occasionally a cape, too.

ORIGIN STORY

H&S Welding, Heating and Air Conditioning was founded in 1989 by Dennis Harren and Jeremy’s father, Dan Salzbrun. The “H&S” moniker originated from the pair’s last names, Harren and Salzbrun. H&S originally operated out of a small garage in St. Cloud, and when Dennis left the company in 1992, H&S moved operations to a machine shop in Luxemburg. With Dennis’

“The more business we can do, the more we can give back to the community.”
— JEREMY SALZBURN

departure, Jeremy’s mother suggested the company adopt a new meaning for H&S – Happy and Satisfied – a name that stuck and reflected the company's commitment to customer satisfaction.

Jeremy doesn’t remember a day when he wasn’t working at H&S – from sweeping the floors to organizing the tools. At 14 years old he earned his first actual paycheck. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t

started at such a young age,” Jeremy said. During his senior year of high school he was putting in 40-hour weeks and maintaining straight A’s. “My dad would come out to the shop to get me every night around 10 p.m. and say ‘Jer, that’s enough for the day,’ ” Jeremy said. At 25 years old, he got his master HVAC license. At 28, Jeremy and Emily purchased the business.

Growing up on a hobby farm, Emily worked with nearly

WARM HEARTS AND COOL AIR

every farm animal imaginable. She attended St. Cloud State University, where she graduated with a degree in biology and a minor in statistics. “For the first four years out of college, I worked in different biology fields,” Emily said. When they wanted to start a family, Emily was commuting over an hour to work. So, she made the decision to leave her job and work closer to home at Quarry Creek Nursery and with her father at Donlar Construction.

When H&S needed a secretary in 2010, Emily joined the company. Jeremy and Emily purchased H&S from Jeremy’s parents in 2012. When their rent went up in 2014, they began looking at other locations. When the perfect building came up for auction, Jeremy acted quickly and acquired the property. “I called Emily, and I didn’t even get in trouble,” Jeremy said. “I said, ‘come check out your new office.’”

Since then, they have added to the building twice, in 2019

Since childhood, Jeremy Salzbrun, owner of H&S Heating, A/C, Electrical and Plumbing had an unwavering passion for heating and cooling. He's always been eager to lend a hand and solve people's heating and A/C problems. Alongside his wife, Emily, they've championed hard work, philanthropy, and a positive approach to life. These superpowers propelled them from a team of 5 to 32, expanding their workspace from 1,092 square feet to 14,000 square feet. Their dedication and enthusiasm earned them the 2024 Small Business of the Year designation from St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

COVER STORY
ST. CLOUD AREA SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
34 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
••••••••••••

and in 2023. The business now occupies 14,000 square feet. “It’s the biggest building we can put on the property,” Emily said. The only way they could expand was by acquiring other businesses. So, they did.

In 2022, H&S added electrical to their service line with the purchase of Valley View Electric, now H&S Electrical. In 2023, plumbing came onboard with the addition of Jensen Andersen Plumbing and Heating, a 67-year-old business in Milaca. The Salzbruns run that company under its original name.

DYNAMIC DUO

Jeremy and Emily grew up in Luxemburg, just a few miles apart. Both students at Tech High School, they started dating shortly after graduating in 2000. “We rode the bus together,” Jeremy said with a smile. “I drive her nuts most of the time.” They will be married 20 years in July.

Both of them have done nearly every job in the company over the years, and today they work side-byside to run it. “There are a lot of people who won’t work with their significant other,” Jeremy said. “I won’t work without my significant other.” For them, it comes down to trust and a shared vision.

“As a business owner, you’re constantly thinking ‘what can we do next’ – there is no quit,” Emily said. She also appreciates the flexibility that being a business owner provides, even if you do have to work a lot. “I’d much rather be working while at the cabin watching the kids play,” Emily said. “We can still go do things, even if we are still working.”

Obviously it’s not easy running a company, as well as a farm, while also fulfilling your role as a spouse and parent. “You just sleep less,” Jeremy joked. Of course, there’s more to it than that. All that work allows them to employ over 30 people.

When Jeremy and Emily bought the business, there were five employees. They set a goal of having 25 employees, which they have surpassed. The responsibility that comes with all those employees depending on you is something the Salzbruns take seriously. They offer employees great benefits – full healthcare, retirement funds, tool funds – that have helped immensely with employee retention. “We’re still family owned. We give them the flexibility if they need it for their families,” Emily said. “We want them to take time off, we want them to be happy.”

TO THE RESCUE

“We were both raised to give back to the community, and now we can amplify that,” Jeremy said. H&S donates four furnaces, four air conditioners and all of the labor for installation to Habitat for Humanity each year, and they were named Partner of the Year in 2017. They have donated a whole new heating and air system to St. Wendelin’s School in Luxemburg. They have

PERSONAL PROFILES

••••

Age: 41

Hometown: Luxemburg, MN

School: St. Cloud Technical High School, St. Cloud State University

Children: Isabelle and Ezekiel

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, spending time outdoors

Thoughts on business ownership: Owning a business is rewarding, but it takes a lot of heart.

••••

Jeremy Salzbrun

••••

Age: 42

Hometown: Luxemburg, Minn.

School: St. Cloud Technical High School

Thoughts on business ownership: Owning a business takes grit, thick skin, and a lot of capital.

Have a smart savings plan.

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 35
Supplemental photos courtesy of Jeremy and Emily Salzbrun
Salzbrun
•••• Emily

TIMELINE

1989

Dan Salzbrun and business partner

Dennis Harren start H&S Welding, Heating and Air Conditioning in St. Cloud

1992

Dennis Harren leaves H&S; the company moves to a new location in Luxemburg 1996

Jeremy starts officially working at H&S

Jeremy and Emily graduate from Tech High School

Emily graduates from St. Cloud State University; Jeremy and Emily get married 2007

Isabelle, Jeremy and Emily’s daughter, is born 2010

Emily starts working for H&S as a secretary

Jeremy and Emily purchase H&S 2014

H&S moves to its current location in St. Cloud

Ezekiel, Jeremy and Emily’s son, is born 2019

First addition is completed on the building

H&S purchases Valley View Electric and renames it H&S Electrical

A second addition is completed, now covering a total of 14,000 square feet

H&S purchases Jensen Andersen Plumbing & Heating 2024

H&S adds Gemstone Permanent Architectural & Holiday Lighting to service line

consistently donated systems to Camp Courage and Camp Friendship in Maple Lake and Annandale. Jeremy raised $75,550 for The Beautiful Mind Project through the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s fundraiser Dancing with our Stars.

The joy of giving doesn’t stop there, it also translates to their business. “We get to make a difference to home and business owners,” Emily said. “Not just to nonprofits, but in people’s day-today lives. You change out a broken furnace for someone, that’s a big deal.”

“I have a lot of gratitude that God blessed me with these two hands to be able to fix things that other people can’t necessarily fix,” Jeremy said.

H&S offers 24/7 service, with a technician always on call for emergencies. “I used to work every Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on call, and they were always the busiest days,”

Jeremy said. When your furnace goes out and it’s so cold that your toilet water is freezing, quick response means everything to that customer. “Could you imagine being in that situation and you can’t get anyone to your house?” Jeremy said. “I’ve got no time for that. We will be there.”

WITH GREAT POWER

The Salzbruns try to stay on the leading edge of technology with H&S. RUUD is the only brand of furnaces and air conditioners they sell. “We tend to put in more of their technology, and with Minnesota being a very interesting climate we are able to test their equipment in extreme conditions.” This allows them to provide a lot of feedback to RUUD about new equipment and recommended improvements.

H&S is also designated a RUUD Pro Partner. This gives them access to a network of other HVAC business owners across the

36 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
COVER STORY
2000
2004
2012
2015
2022
2023
Raising money for The Beautiful Mind Project through the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s fundraiser "Dancing with our Stars."

country who they can bounce around ideas and questions with. “The coolest part about being successful in business is you know you’re at that point when other businesses call you for advice,” Jeremy said. “I want everyone to be successful.”

To best meet the needs of customers, H&S does all its own sheet metal work versus using prefabricated options. This allows it to add fabrication jobs here and there when the HVAC work slows down seasonally. H&S also hard-pipes all of its gas piping, exceeding industry standards.

H&S just added a new service line for permanent outdoor home and building lighting, which can be done at any time of year and keeps the electricians on staff busy. “With the weather, we are constantly having to pivot what we do,” Emily said.

THE BEST ADVENTURE

Challenges come and go, but the Salzbruns take them in stride. From collecting late payments to dealing with staffing, inspectors, permitting and codes, they work to maintain a positive attitude. This perspective comes from an amazing source: their daughter, Isabelle. Isabelle, who will turn 17 this year, was born with cerebral palsy. She is a ray of light, and the reason that the Salzbruns operate their business — and their lives — the way they do.

“This little lady deals with a lot of stuff every day, and she straps on the biggest smile,” Jeremy said. He credits his daughter with teaching them a lot about how to approach hard situations. “We are who we are today because of her.”

To Jeremy and Emily’s credit, they have worked very hard to give Isabelle the same opportunities that other kids have. She regularly goes ice fishing and hunting, even recently harvesting an elk. She has been waterskiing and down water slides. She goes horseback riding every week at Camp Courage, and she loves side-byside rides.

Their son Ezekiel, who is eight years old, is a reflection of that love and positivity. He is the first one to hug his sister in the morning, and the first one to offer help when she needs it. “He is going to be an amazing human being because of his sister,” Jeremy said.

Isabelle is proof that, with the right attitude, you can accomplish great things. This rings true for the Salzbruns both personally, and in business. “If you put your mind to it,” Jeremy said, “there is nothing you can’t overcome.”

PLATINUM SIDE-GIGS

As if owning a business and being parents to two young children isn’t enough, both Jeremy and Emily, owners of H&S Heating, A/C, Electrical and Plumbing have side-gigs to keep them busy. Jeremy grew up farming. “My great grandpa didn’t go to the war because he was the oldest brother, so he had to stay home and take care of the farm,” Jeremy said. “He and my grandpa did a lot of custom farming around the area to help out other farmers. They were one of the first families in the area to have a tractor.” That legacy of farming has carried down through the generations.

Today, on their “hobby-plus” farm called Platinum Acres, the Salzbruns farm over 200 acres of certifiedorganic alfalfa. They also have 23 head of beef cattle, and nine alpacas.

While Jeremy is busy in the tractor, Emily is busy breeding and selling puppies all over the country with her business Platinum Poodles. “I don’t sell puppies. I sell happiness,” Emily said with a smile. “I grew up raising litters of puppies. We raised shelties and collies and Dalmatians so we always had a litter of puppies at some point.”

BUSINESS PROFILE

hsheatingandair.com

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

H&S Heating, A/C, Electrical and Plumbing 3995 County Road 74, St. Cloud, MN 56301 (320)654-2408

Currently, she has two standard poodles, prim and proper Paris, and goofy, crazy Milan. Paris has had two litters so far, and Milan will start having puppies when she gets a little older. The puppies are raised right in their home with lots of exposure to noise and commotion so that they are used to kids and chaos.

Business Description: H&S is a family-owned HVAC business providing electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing, and air quality control for both residential and commercial customers.

Total Employees: 32 // Chamber Member since: 2013

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 37
Supplemental photos courtesy of Jeremy and Emily Salzburn
SIDE-HUSTLE SPOTLIGHT
Paris

CRACKING THE CODE

The key to effectively using business software lies in understanding your organization’s needs.

A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY …BUSINESSES OF EVERY SIZE AND DESCRIPTION USED PENCIL, PAPER, BRAIN, AND BRAWN.

Then the computer era dawned. Software changed everything – and everything continues to change at unbelievable speed, enabling companies of every size and description to use software to achieve unbelievable results.

“There’s cool software in the funnel. It’s changing faster than ever,” said Jake Wagner, technology solution sales leader with Creative Planning in St. Cloud. Creative Planning works with businesses to develop technology packages tailored to each company’s needs.

Granterion 3PL in St. Cloud uses software hosted both onsite and in-the-cloud as it manages logistics for other businesses, providing warehouse, distribution, and fulfillment services. “Software has allowed us to streamline our

operations, manage inventory, and review and improve efficiencies,” said Scott Jensen, Granterion’s senior director and general manager. “With our warehouse management system, we have visibility and control over our inventory in real time, allowing us to optimize storage, minimize stockouts, and reduce fulfillment times while delivering exceptional service to our customers.”

Imagine trying to do all of that with pencil and paper.

“Real-time data, tracking, and monitoring systems allow

us to make data-driven decisions throughout the day, empowering us to operate efficiently and have effective communication and teamwork,” Jensen said. Another plus: “Being able to track productivity and efficiencies allows us to recognize and reward our employees.”

Today’s business owners can use software for:

• Payroll, general bookkeeping, and taxes

• Tracking employee time and productivity

• Project management

• Sales and marketing

38 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MARCH/APRIL 2024 FEATURE

• Internal and external communications

• Website development and maintenance

• Customer relationship management

• Sending invoices and accepting electronic payments

• Just about anything else the business wants to accomplish.

In an online article about the tangible benefits of business software, a CodeX Medium writer cited automating mundane work, increasing productivity, lowering operational costs, and allowing work to be performed anywhere,

IF YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE FINDING THE PERFECT SOFTWARE, THINK TWICE BEFORE DESIGNING YOUR OWN. MAYBE THE SOFTWARE ISN’T PERFECT, BUT DOES IT DO 98 PERCENT OF WHAT YOU NEED?

anytime as specific software benefits.

That writer explained that “software can provide you with invaluable insights into your company. Such data allows you to understand your best revenue sources. It helps you prioritize the right customers or strengthen your weak points. …. It’s simple: using software in your business is something you can’t afford NOT to do these days.”

CHOOSING THE BEST SOFTWARE

“Less is more today,” said Creative Planning’s Wagner. In his opinion, a business running 75 software applications could likely pare to five. Before adding new software, he said, business leaders “need to have someone come in and do a cleanup. … The solution isn’t necessarily another piece of software.” He compares adding software to painting the exterior of your house without first scraping off the old paint. You would have “six layers of paint all covering each other, and they all are chipping.

“Employees are overwhelmed and inundated with software and applications,” Wagner said. He believes a consultant – or business leaders themselves –should ask, “What do you have? Why do you have it? How much is it costing? Understanding what you have and condensing it into a strong foundation” is critical, Wagner said.

Business A, Business B, and Business C likely do not need the

same software. Specific industry needs are important to consider. “The goods and services offered by your business will have a huge impact on your software requirements,” according to www.minutedoc.com.

Whether you have five or 75 software applications, it’s important to assess the pros and cons of traditional software installed on-site versus cloudbased software, said Ryan Wieneke, president of riteSOFT in St. Cloud, which develops and sells warehouse management and time tracking software for manufacturers.

He listed several advantages of cloud-based software: It can be scaled as needs change.

Programs can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

Software as a Service (SaaS) pricing reduces upfront costs. Your costs will be lower for hardware, software, maintenance and energy, and your space requirements will decrease.

There are some disadvantages of cloud-based software, according to Wieneke: Reliability is dependent upon the availability and performance of the internet.

There are concerns about control and ownership of data as well as compliance with data protection regulations and policies.

Cloud services may not be compatible with the business’s existing systems and

applications, requiring additional effort and resources to achieve and ensure interoperability and functionality.

“Like any form of software and technology, there are problems: down time, freezing, updates, stuck transactions, etc.,” Jensen said, adding that solutions exist to these problems. “Our teams have effectively scheduled patch work, necessary updates, and both onsite and offsite support to help with any issues that come up.”

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect software, think twice before designing your own. Maybe the software isn’t perfect, but does it do 98 percent of what you need? Experts suggest that before you use your own resources for software development, be sure you’ll receive a strong return on that investment.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI ) IN ST. CLOUD

You’ll find AI is used in many ways in the St. Cloud area, according to Wieneke. “With the fast emergence of AI in the past one to two years, businesses and employees are discovering new ways to enhance their efficiency,” he said. “We witness AI being applied to assist in creating marketing content and videos, writing job descriptions, and enhancing customer service and support through AI-driven chats.”

He used his own company, riteSOFT, as an example. “We use AI with Microsoft products

MAY/JUNE 2023 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 39

called Microsoft Copilot. It helps us compose email responses, recap meetings, and create initial drafts of documents or PowerPoints. AI is also used within our customer relationship management and support software that we use internally to expedite technical and sales support.”

INNOVATION HUB

Creative Planning’s Wagner said many Central Minnesota companies “are quick to jump on the AI bus.” He sees potential, yet urges caution. “Unfortunately, employees are uploading company information and data without leaders knowing … potentially compromising that data and information. Employees who are not tech savvy, too often click on stuff they shouldn’t.”

Tech giant IBM agrees in a paid post on the New York Times website, that promotes its product management for data and AI software. “The ascent of generative AI is poised to redefine the way industries work and usher in a new era of efficiency, performance, and customer experience. Yet

When it comes to innovation, Minnesota is leading the charge in many areas. In 2023, the state exported an estimated $4.2 billion in IT and telecommunication goods. About $2.5 billion of that was in IT-related electrical equipment, $971 million in IT-related optic and medical goods and $674 million in IT-related machinery. Minnesota ranks first in cardiac therapy related and implantable medical device patents in the nation, and was ranked the eighth most innovative state in 2023. The St. Cloud area is on par with these trends, with innovation at the forefront of many local companies – especially those included here.

Keep reading to learn more about industry leaders in our area.

for every leap forward, there is a possible pitfall. Without the proper oversight and guardrails, you could run afoul of industry standards and AI regulations or find yourself grappling with skewed decisions, upset customers, damaged reputations, or worse.”

The solution, Wagner said, is for each business to carefully create a roadmap for how it will use AI before jumping in.

WHAT’S AHEAD?

“A major technology – robotics –is being applied and evolving to help address the labor gaps that the market is facing,” RiteSOFT’s Wieneke said. “For example, we are seeing robotics used more frequently in the manufacturing

and distribution industries for repetitive tasks – for everything from robotic welders to robots being used to transport and pick items within a warehouse.”

He summed up the rapidly changing tech/software/AI world with some advice. “To remain competitive, companies need to find innovative ways to adopt and streamline processes using software and technology in their organizations. Change can be challenging,” he acknowledged, but added “it also offers many benefits for both companies and employees to improve productivity.”

Jeanine Nistler is St. Cloud-based freelance writer. She can be reached at jeaninenistler@outlook.com.

40 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
FEATURE TECHNOLOGY TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION DIRECTORY

LEVERAGING PARTNERSHIPS TO REIMAGINE MANUFACTURING

City of St. Cloud and St. Cloud Technical & Community College Pave the Way for Bright Manufacturing Futures

When Electrolux announced closing the outdated St. Cloud freezer plant in 2018, the City of St. Cloud Economic Development reached out to area stakeholders to conduct a target industries, workforce and innovation analysis – taking into account existing industry base, regional resources and assets, area economic trends and forecasted economic trends to identify industries most likely to succeed in St. Cloud and have the greatest opportunities to expand.

Results of the analysis highlighted four key industries – automation, precision manufacturing, food manufacturing, and business software applications. This information was shared with area colleges and workforce partners to access U.S. Economic Development Administration funding toward workforce training.

I feel both fortunate and excited to help bring the hard work of so many colleagues and community members to fruition. This expansion project (grant) has been in the works for over 6 years, and we’re eager to now provide the true regional manufacturing resource we envisioned.

— STEVE NUSBAUM, SCTCC AREA MANUFACTURING PROJECT MANAGER

St. Cloud Technical & Community College (SCTCC) developed the vision to connect their mechanical and electronics divisions into a mechatronics program designed to prepare students to apply electronic engineering principles and technical skills in the field of instrumentation and industrial control systems, digital and analog circuits, automated manufacturing and robots, plus much more. As a result, SCTCC was awarded $2.5 million grant to construct an advanced manufacturing training lab equipped with state-of-the-art technology. They broke ground in 2022 and officially opened in late 2023.

“The City of St. Cloud has long been a supporter of the manufacturing industry,” said Cathy Mehelich, Executive Director of the City of St. Cloud Economic Development

Authority. “The Advanced Manufacturing Center provides a valuable resource to St. Cloud manufacturers by ensuring a workforce with the latest technology innovations that support growth in these key industries.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Center features the college’s CNC and Advanced Manufacturing program, Energy and Electronics, Mechanical Design Engineering Technology, and Welding and Fabrication programs. Part of the grant was allocated to Advanced Instrumentation Trainers, Flexible Manufacturing System Training Cells, a Water Jet Cutter, a Metal 3D Printer, Robots with Vision Systems, Motor Drive Trainers, a CNC and Manual Mill, Gear Head Lathe, SCADA System (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) even a Solar Panel System. Local manufacturing partners helped the

KEY PARTNERS

Jennifer Erickson (SCTCC), SCTCC President Lori Kloos, Mayor Dave Kleis, and Cathy Mehelich, Economic Development Director, collaborated to secure the grant for the advanced manufacturing training lab at SCTCC.

college identify the best equipment for their students’ development, expanding the partnership involvement in the project.

In addition to improved facilities for SCTCC programs, the lab expands training opportunities for those currently in the workforce, which supports the creation and retention of high-quality, in-demand jobs throughout the St. Cloud region, particularly for unemployed and underemployed individuals. This is one area where SCTCC is most proud as the strong industry partnership and community engagements have allowed all of this technology to be put to use in the region with a goal to drive economic development and a stronger workforce.

SCTCC has 82 students enrolled in their Manufacturing Technology programs this year and the school has plans to grow the cohort sizes and believes the great amenities will entice more into the industries they can service such as manufacturing, aerospace, electronics, medical devices and precision machining. •

Interested? To explore development & redevelopment opportunities in St. Cloud, please contact Cathy Mehelich ci.stcloud.mn.us/economicdevelopment

1201 7th St. S. • St. Cloud, MN 56301 • Ph: 320-255-7200

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 41 MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 41 SPONSORED PROFILE
SMART BUSINESS: CITY OF ST. CLOUD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
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ST. CLOUD AREA Meetings+Events

River’s Edge Convention Center The Park Event Center Holiday Inn + Suites

Events in Greater St. Cloud

Centrally located and full of unique lodging, venue and entertainment options, Greater St. Cloud is the best place to host your next event. From staff outings and board retreats to trade shows and conferences with thousands of attendees, we have the venues, services, and team to help make your next event unforgettable.

The St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – also known as Visit Greater St. Cloud – is your partner in event planning. The experienced and friendly staff can help you find a venue, secure hotel blocks, coordinate services such as name badges and registration, and even assist with planning itineraries for after-hour and social events. They stay up to date on the latest trends in event planning so that you don’t have to, and there is no cost to you to use their services.

This helpful venue guide is a great place to start your planning, but Greater St. Cloud has so much more to offer.

If you are a member of an association or group that hosts events regularly, reach out.

If you usually book your events in another location and haven’t considered St. Cloud recently, reach out.

If you have no clue where to start and just want to talk through some ideas, reach out. If you want to provide your attendees with an exceptional experience from start to closing ceremony, reach out.

Whether or not you’re ready to book, let Visit Greater St. Cloud be your partner every step of the way. Contact us at info@visitstcloud.com or visit us online at VisitStCloud.com to get started.
CAPACITY 500 Harvester Square harvestersquare.com CAPACITY 450 Best Western Plus Kelly Inn bestwestern stcloud.com CAPACITY 180 Courtyard by Marriott marriott.com/en-us/ hotels/stccy-courtyard-st-cloud/overview CAPACITY 9K+ River’s Edge Convention Center stcloudriversedge conventioncenter.com CAPACITY 800 The Park Event Center theparkevent center.com CAPACITY 550 Holiday Inn +Suites ihg.com/holidayinn/ hotels/us/en/st-cloud/ stcmn/hoteldetail CAPACITY 500 The Regency regencyvenue.com Greater St. Cloud Meeting + Event Venues: Harvester Square

Shakin’ It Up

There’s still room in the corporate world for conferences and events – they just don’t look like they used to.

Business events and meetings offer benefits to businesses and organizations, no matter what their size. According to cvent.com, an online event management platform, corporate events allow employees to network with their peers and industry colleagues, build a stronger brand image, provide an outlet to share more about their business, and afford an opportunity to learn about the latest trends and best business practices.

“At CentraCare Foundation, hosting events is important to make people aware of our

mission as a foundation, and provide updates about how donations are being used and about future projects,” Candyce Gregory, CentraCare Foundation’s events manager, said. “Events are a great opportunity to share impactful stories, thank our donor base and connect those with similar interests.”

LOCATION, LOCATION, BUDGET, LOCATION

Outside of budget, location might arguably rank as the most important factor for a successful business event. Venues set the tone

WHY EVENTS?

From trade shows to employee recognition, company events matter.

B

usiness events come in many different formats –trade shows, conferences, job fairs, recognition events, retreats, fundraisers, etc. The importance of each event and event type varies for every business and attendee.

“Each type of event is unique depending on the organization’s goal,” said Tanya Lindquist-Fleegel, recognition specialist at CentraCare. “Hosting events is important because it brings people together. Events offer an opportunity for our team members to grow as individuals, and for our organization to recognize and show appreciation for our employees.”

Organizations rely on annual events to:

Sell their products and services

Raise important funds needed throughout the year

Secure vendors at an annual trade show

Hire talent through job fairs

Provide opportunities to keep employees up to date on certifications or industry knowledge

Build key relationships with colleagues and industry connections

46 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024 SPECIAL FOCUS
Outside of budget, location might arguably rank as the most important factor for a successful business event. Venues set the tone and contribute to the atmosphere of the overall event.

and contribute to the atmosphere of the overall event. Tanya Lindquist-Fleegel is a recognition specialist at CentraCare. “I find location, capacity and pricing to be the most crucial considerations when selecting an event venue,” Lindquist-Fleegel said.

“The St. Cloud area offers many benefits for companies planning business events. With our central location in the state, attendance numbers are higher, which translates directly into more revenue for your organization,” Nikki Fisher explained. Fisher is the director of sales at Visit Greater St. Cloud, the convention and visitors division of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of

Commerce. “Along with traditional venues, there are so many unique venue options. The St. Cloud area has much to offer groups, including built in entertainment opportunities near event venues.”

Smaller, more frequent events, have become the norm for some companies. “Lately, we have seen more and more companies hosting in-house meals and events at their office location,” Byron Bjorklund, owner of Short Stop Custom Catering, said. “Additionally, more and more companies are hosting events in rural-type venues, such as outdoor locations or local brew pubs. Businesses seem to get

more turnout when they host an event at a distillery or brewery, which provides a more relaxed atmosphere when compared to a corporate setting.”

NOW TRENDING

Corporate events and meetings continue to transition over time. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a relatively new area of focus in the corporate event world.

“To better enhance DEI at a corporate event, event planners encourage their attendees to get out and explore the local culture and cuisine at their event location, offer language interpreters throughout the

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“More and more companies are incorporating wellness initiatives, like de-stressing activities, group outings and opportunities for connection.” —Nikki Fisher, Visit

event and invite diverse speakers from a variety of backgrounds,” Fisher said. “Utilizing the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion is more than a meeting trend – it is a way to create conferences that people will want to come back to year after year.”

Another prominent change involves the adoption of virtual or hybrid offerings. “Hosting virtual and hybrid events became a very popular option in the last four years,” Fisher said. “Though organizations were required to pivot the way they plan events, event planners are also realizing they are able to capture attendance they may not have had under regular circumstances.”

“COVID forced us to shift some of our efforts to virtual offerings,” CentraCare’s Lindquist-Fleegel said. “Virtual events have proved to be successful and make it easier for more employees to participate, no matter where they work.”

Other trends dominating the corporate event world include a focus on wellness, connection and sustainability. “More and more companies are incorporating wellness initiatives, like de-stressing activities, group outings and opportunities for connection, into their agendas for attendees,” Fisher said. “Including a community service project into events has been very successful. Asking for donations or monetary gifts on-site, making

a mural with positive affirmations or hosting icebreaker activities at each table help organizers facilitate meaningful connections among event attendees, which in turn leads to better event engagement and overall experience.”

Companies promoting sustainability can reiterate their commitment by reducing paper products for event meals, offering green transportation options, or sharing details of other sustainable measures they have implemented.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

It’s not just venues that appeal to a wider range of attendees, it’s also the food. Short

Spice Up Your Event

Elevate Your Gathering with Bravo Burrito’s Catering Expertise

You’ve booked the venue, stayed up late putting together your guest list, and the RSVPs are coming in. The pressure to WOW your guests is looming. It’s important that the food is exceptional. When you call Bravo Burrito, you get a PARTNER. Bravo Burrito’s experts give you peace of mind that all the catering details are covered, and you won’t need to worry about your guests’ satisfaction. A Taco Bar from Bravo Burrito is your very own personal restaurantquality buffet at your event. You are

guaranteed to create memories at your wedding, corporate party, etc. Curt, on Google says, “We had Bravo Burrito cater a taco bar for our wedding and the food was absolutely AMAZING. The owner was amazing to work with and guided us during the planning to ensure we had all we needed. On the day of the wedding she set up a nice taco bar and even helped clear plates from the tables as guests finished up. We 100% recommend Bravo Burrito for a delicious taco bar at a wedding or any event in general.” •

48 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024
SPECIAL FOCUS Source: SCORE.org, 2021 survey
Greater St. Cloud
BUSINESS PROFILE: BRAVO BURRITO SPONSORED PROFILE Bravo Burrito • 320-252-5441 68 33rd Ave S. St. Cloud, MN 56301 bravoburrito.com/catering About us: For 39 years, Bravo Burrito has been serving Central MN with delicious, scratch made recipes, in a fun-loving, home-style environment.

Stop’s Bjorklund has found that people are looking for unique options when it comes to event menus.

“Having the space to be clever and whimsical is part of the fun in making today’s events unusual and unique,” he said. And that includes the food. “We’ve noticed that consumers are more aware of the ingredients

they are eating, so we have seen a move toward younger, hipper meals, such as grain bowls or mashed potato martini stations. With these options, companies can build menus to their specifications and easily offer meals that meet dietary restrictions for attendees.”

That’s not to say everything has to be healthy. “Comfort food is also trending,” Bjorklund said. “Smoked gouda mac and cheese has been a very popular request!”

SEEK FEEDBACK

To stay relevant and enhance your event experiences, have a process in place to collect feedback, such as phone calls, social media polls and focus groups. “For our annual employee recognition event, we survey attendees immediately after the event so we can try our best to give employees what they want,” Lindquist-Fleegel said. “Creating a memorable experience for our employees

is about making sure they feel heard and appreciated.”

“Today’s event planners use mobile conference apps to do live polling, session questions and answers, and surveys, among other things” Visit Greater St. Cloud’s Fisher said. “These experiences with technology help create both an engaging environment and a quick space to share immediate feedback. For organizations concerned about costs related to a mobile app, Visit Greater St. Cloud has a fun tool that’s available to our event partners.”

Central Minnesota is as an excellent place to do business and host corporate events. As your organization continues to navigate postpandemic norms, embracing unique trends and offerings can elevate your next business meeting, event or conference.

Harvester Square is among the most unique wedding and event venues in the Midwest, blending history and modern luxury to create an unforgettable event experience. Designed to host intimate gatherings for groups as small as 50, while expanding to serve parties as large as 450, Harvester Square sets the stage for your perfect day.

A Luxury Redesign

Harvester Square • harvestersquare.com

612.655.0419 | 539 E St. Germain St, St. Cloud MN 56304

Central Minnesota’s premier wedding and event venue.

Whitney Ditlevson is the communications and marketing supervisor at Stearns Electric Association.

Named after the company that originally used the space for storage, International Harvester, Harvester Square is partnered with Custom Catering by Short Stop and is able to serve Iron Street Distillery spirits, their fellow tenant in the building. While the venue includes beautiful bride and groom suites, the venue is quickly becoming a host to many corporate events as well. • BUSINESS PROFILE: HARVESTER SQUARE

MAY/JUNE 2024 // BusinessCentralMagazine.com 49
Photo by Leanna Myers
Introducing Central Minnesota’s premier wedding and event venue.
SPONSORED PROFILE

SPOTLIGHT

Balancing Lives

Julie Braun has gone from a career in finance to a passion for helping people organize their chaos.

What is your background?

I worked for over 20 years in city government, mostly in finance roles. I then worked in construction with my husband at the time until 2015. One night, about three years later, I woke up from a dream and wrote down “home and business organizing.”

Did you use any resources to launch your business?

In 2018 my job just wasn’t working out, so my employer allowed me to file for unemployment. I was able to collect unemployment payments for six months while I got my business up and running. I connected with the Small Business Development Center, where my coach helped me write my business plan and provided all the tools I needed to get started.

Tell me about your growth. We started with about five employees, and now I have a staff of 17. Operations began in my garage, but we quickly outgrew that space. I acquired our current building as a workspace, but soon it made sense to open a thrift store. Now we sell our clients’

BUSINESS PROFILE

purged items on commission. After 90 days, they can come and retrieve their items, otherwise we own it. We also have an eBay store for more valuable items, and we sell larger furniture on Facebook Marketplace.

Who are your primary clients?

Mostly residential jobs, commercial occasionally. We work a lot with ConnectAbility and their clients, and with the senior population. Estate sales have become a niche for us – last year we did six or seven. We’ve done about 30 since we started.

What makes you successful in business?

I just like to help people. All of my team members have that compassion, too. It takes a special kind of person, because a lot of times the client is still involved. SOS has become very successful, but I couldn’t do it without my team. I can rely on them 100 percent, and you can’t run a business without a good team. Plus, I love organizing. It has always come naturally to me.

TIMELINE

1982 – 2002

Braun works for City of Cold Spring and the City of Sauk Rapids

2002

Braun begins working for Braun Construction Services

2005

Following a company transition at Braun Construction, Braun becomes CFO at Alliance Building Corporation

2015

Braun leaves Alliance Building, working several local jobs

2019

Braun starts Smart Organizing Solutions

PERSONAL PROFILE

Julie Braun Owner, Smart Organizing Solutions and the SOS Treasure Chest

Hometown: Cold Spring, Minn.

Education: Cold Spring High School and St. Cloud State University

Children: Kelly, Mitch, Morgan and two grandchildren

Hobbies: Quilting, camping, yoga, reading

Smart Organizing Solutions and the SOS Treasure Chest

Opened: 2019 | Joined Chamber: 2020

2020

SOS Treasure Chest Thrift Store opens

Advice to other small business owners: As a small business owner, work is always on my mind. I tell myself all the time, don’t stress about it. Have faith. Things are going to work out. I have confidence that everything is going to be fine.

24 7th St. N., Sauk Rapids, MN 56379 | (320) 248-6694 | Owner: Julie Braun | Employees: 7 fulltime and 10 part-time | sosmn.net

Business Description: SOS is a certified professional organizing business specializing in decluttering, packing up and cleaning homes. The SOS Treasure Chest is a thrift store where clients’ purged items are sold on consignment.

50 BusinessCentral Magazine.com // MAY/JUNE 2024 PROFIT
BUSINESS

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granterion.solutions@granterion.com A Bluestem Brands Company SM Call today for a no-obligation supply chain analysis. 320.200.0261 6250 Ridgewood Road St. Cloud, MN 56303
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