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Scott Blattner, Blattner Energy


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SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER 2016

6 16

CONTENTS

GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

President’s Letter Business Calendar

8 22

Editor’s Note

Network Central

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C E L E B R AT I N G 1 6 Y E A R S I N B U S I N E S S

44 PROFIT

44 Cover Story BOLD MOVES After watching their 93-year-old family business struggle, the Blattner Energy leadership team decided to take a chance on wind energy…with spectacular results.

50 Feature HACKED! We used to think of hacking as distant and vaguely juvenile. Not anymore.

55 Special Focus FINDING EMPLOYEES Companies that want to grow will find that filling their workforce needs requires good communication and a positive company culture.

Special Section 60 CENTRAL MN. GROWTH GUIDE

10 UPFRONT Valuable and important information designed to guide and educate

24 BUSINESS TOOLS Marketplace intelligence and useful tips on how to continue to grow your business

62 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT John Schwegel, Schwegel Communications

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OUR BEST

FOR YOU IS A

NATIONAL

BEST Truven Health Analytics recognized CentraCare’s St. Cloud Hospital as one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals—our 10th appearance on this prestigious list. No Minnesota hospital has received this honor more times. Each day, CentraCare employees and physicians offer their best to every patient. We are privileged to do so on behalf of this great community.

centracare.com


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President’s Letter Main Phone 320-251-2940 Automated Reservation Line 320-656-3826

Challenge, Change and CHAMPIONS!

Program Hotline 320-656-3825 information@StCloudAreaChamber.com www.StCloudAreaChamber.com

S

eptember 1 marks the beginning of our Chamber’s new fiscal year. Our Board and committee leadership transition, new budgets become effective, and it feels to me very much like getting a brand new notebook

and pencil to start a fresh school year. The past year has been one of challenge, change and champions! Our staff has changed. Those new staff faces have brought different energy, ideas and enthusiasm to our committees. Those committee volunteers have embraced change and added their own ideas, input and effort to re-create programs and processes. In June we held our annual Board and Committee Planning Retreat to strategize for the new year. We undertook an entirely different format that included video and live presentations, as well as lots of interactive discussion. The result was hundreds of new ideas and suggestions. These were recorded and returned to Chamber committees for consideration as they finalize new goals and objectives. As we embark on our new fiscal year, watch and enjoy the outcome of challenge and change as your Chamber volunteer leadership put plans into action. It truly is an exciting time to be involved with the voice of business in Central Minnesota! When I look at the Champions of the year, I look toward Chair Jason Bernick. When I came to our Chamber, Jason was 18 years younger and in our Leadership Program. He seemed shy, reserved and a little unsure of himself. Through the years I’ve watched Jason emerge into a community and industry leader. He is highly respected among our federal, state and local elected officials. He represents his company, industry and Chamber with confidence and focused direction. This year Jason fulfilled his No. 1 goal as chair of the Chamber Board. He led the largest group of volunteers ever to Washington, D.C. to represent Central Minnesota business interests to every member of our Minnesota Congressional delegation. Twenty-one of us carried a strong, united message about the importance of business to our community. During his tenure as chair, Jason also celebrated Bernick’s 100th Anniversary in business and he got married. (I believe he might have a different order of importance for those two events.) Our Star Celebration is Thursday, October 6 at Mulligan’s. If you have never attended (or haven’t for awhile) I hope you will join us to hear and celebrate all the challenges, changes and champions of 2016!

ST. CLOUD AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE STAFF President Membership Sales Teresa Bohnen, ext. 104 Specialist Rhonda Dahlgren, Vice President ext. 134 Gail Ivers, ext. 109 Administrative Assistant Director of Kellie Libert, ext. 124 Administration Judy Zetterlund, Administrative Assistant ext. 106 Vicki Lenneman, ext. 122 Communications & Workforce Development Administrative Assistant Coordinator Shelly Imdieke, Whitney Bina, ext.130 ext. 100 Special Events Coordinator Sheri Wegner, ext. 131 CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU STAFF Main Phone 320-251-4170

Sales Manager Nikki Fisher, ext. 112

Executive Director Julie Lunning, ext. 111

Social Media & Marketing Specialist Emily Bertram, ext. 129

Director of Convention Sales Lori Cates, ext. 113 Director of Sports & Special Events Dana Randt, ext. 110

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Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

Administrative Assistant Carrie Zwack, ext. 100

2016-17 BOARD MEMBERS Jason Bernick, Bernick’s, Past Board Chair

Willie Jett, St. Cloud School District

Dan Bittman, Sauk RapidsRice School District

Diane Mendel, Playhouse Child Care

David Borgert, CentraCare Health Neil Franz, Franz Hultgren Evenson, Professional Association Christy Gilleland, Gilleland Chevrolet Cadillac Jim Gruenke, Mark J. Traut Wells, Inc. Jason Hallonquist, AIS Planning

Teresa Bohnen Publisher

Sales & Marketing Coordinator Rachel Granzow, ext. 128

Dennis Host, Coborn’s, Inc.

Bernie Omann, St. Cloud State University Mark Osendorf, Xcel Energy Roger Schleper, Premier Real Estate Services, Board Chair Melinda Vonderahe, Times Media Allison Waggoner, DCI, Inc. Chriss Wohlleber, Courtyard by Marriott-St.Cloud


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Editor’s Note

Mom and Gail at Confederation Bridge, Prince Edward Island.

Vagaries of Travel R

egular readers of this column know that I like to travel. I think a well prepared woman always has a current passport. That’s not to say that every trip I have taken has gone smoothly. Someone took a knife to my soft-sided luggage in Hong Kong in an attempt to rob the contents. My extra carry-on bag, serving as a false bottom, foiled the attempt. Plane trouble in Minneapolis caused me to miss a connecting flight in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam they routed me through Kenya in order to reconnect with my tour group. Cool. I always wanted to go to Kenya. Recently, Delta decided that I had too much luggage and left my suitcase in the Minneapolis airport, while I went to New Delhi. I’m a careful packer and managed to get along nicely with just my carry-on for a week. I was almost disappointed when my bag arrived in India – one more thing to keep an eye on. In 2011 my mom and I traveled to Prince Edward Island, Canada. The end of our trip coincided with a visit from Hurricane Irene, which shut down the New York airports. There is only one way to fly to Prince Edward Island from Minnesota and that is through New York. Once the airport opened in New York, restarting the one-flight-a-day service from PEI wasn’t high on the airline’s to-do list. So we ended up with two days in which we had to entertain ourselves. I’m a firm believer that you can throw a dart at a map and within 120 miles of that dart you can keep yourself happily occupied for a few days. PEI looks roughly like

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Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

The wind farm at North Cape, PEI, Canada.

a butterfly – there is a center section that is flanked by wings of land. Our trip had taken us through most of the center section, but we had not visited either of the wings. So we rented a car and proceeded to explore. One of our excursions took us to North Cape where the last of Hurricane Irene was screaming along the coast as it headed north. Always a dramatic site where the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait collide, the waves were particularly spectacular when driven by the winds of Irene. Strong winds are a fact of life on this isolated section of PEI. So much so, that it is now known for its large wind farm, hard at work on the day we visited. Blattner Energy in Avon had 30 wind projects in Canada as of February 2016. I asked company President Scott Blattner (see the story on page 44) if any of their projects were on Prince Edward Island. While Blattner is well established along the east cost of Canada, the Cape North, PEI wind project belongs to someone else. This fall I’m headed to England with a lay-over in Reykjavik. With any luck, on the return home, we’ll end up grounded for a few days for some uneventful reason. I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland. Until next issue,


Publisher Teresa Bohnen Managing Editor Gail Ivers Associate Editor Dawn Zimmerman

Melinda Sanders, Quinlivan & Hughes Sharon Sorenson, Heartland Organizing Greg Vandal, Vox Liberi Margaret Wethington Arnold, public relations practitioner Kelly Zaske, Gaslight Creative Dawn Zimmerman, The Write Advantage

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ken Bayliss, Quinlivan & Hughes Whitney Bina, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Teresa Bohnen, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Tara Gronhovd, Plaza Park Bank Dr. Fred E. Hill, St. Cloud State University Gail Ivers, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Kellie Libert, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Mary MacDonell Belisle, mary macdonell belisle–wordingforyou Ryan McCormick, Great River Regional Library Chris Panek, CPA John Pepper, freelance writer Kelly Radi, Radi To Write Donniel Robinson, Robinson Writes

ADVERTISING Associate Publisher/Sales Wendy Hendricks, Hendricks Marketing Ad Traffic & Circulation Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media ART Design & Production Yola Hartmann, Hazel Tree Media Cover Photo Joel Butkowski, BDI Photography ACCOUNTING Judy Zetterlund WEBSITE Vicki Lenneman

SEE YOUR BUSINESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.

1411 West St. Germain Street, Suite 101, P.O. Box 487, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0487 Phone (320) 251-2940 Fax (320) 251-0081 www.BusinessCentralMagazine.com For advertising information contact Wendy Hendricks, (320)656-3808 Editorial suggestions can be made in writing to: Editor, Business Central, P.O. Box 487, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0487. Submission of materials does not guarantee publication. Unsolicited materials will not be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Getting Going • People to Know • Business Calendar

UPFRONT GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

Your Voice in Government • Top Hat Photos • The Trouble with Business uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

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NEWS & PEOPLE THAT MAKE UP THE CHAMBER NETWORK

BOOK REVIEW

Creating Insight

NEWS REEL

Knowing how and when your subconscious can spark a long-awaited idea can open up a world of opportunity and inspiration. Reviewd by Dr. Fred Hill “Eureka, or aha, moments are sudden realizations that expand our understanding of the world and ourselves, conferring both personal growth and practical advantage. Such creative insights were what conveyed an important discovery in the science of genetics to Nobel Laureate Barbara McClintock, the melody of a Beatles’ ballad to Paul McCartney, and an understanding of the cause of human suffering to the Buddha. But these moments of clarity are not given only to the famous. Anyone can have them.” —The Eureka Factor

I

n The Eureka Factor, authors John Kounios and Mark Beeman explain how sudden, creative realizations arise. These insights, as psychologists call them, are powerful experiences that expand our understanding of the world and ourselves. The goal of The Eureka Factor is to explain what insights are, how they arise, and

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The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and The Brain by John Kounios and Mark Beeman, Random House, New York, 2015, ISBN 978-14000-6854-8

how we can have more of them. Business and other leaders, or anyone confronted with a confusing problem, may suddenly realize that he or she had been thinking about it in the wrong way and that the solution might be more straightforward. Solving the problem can be all about how you “see” it. Insight is unique and different from deliberate and conscious thought. The mental processes

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

leading up to an insight are largely unconscious. Insightful thought is fragile and easily overshadowed – thinking out loud may make it less likely to solve a problem with a flash of insight. The book is a 274 page “not difficult” read, consisting of 14 Chapters. There are 41 pages of Notes of Clarification and other materials to listen to, read, or view. Chapter 10, “Your Brain Knows More Than You Do,” may be particularly useful. The authors report that so much of the creative process takes place in the subconscious, in an area of incomplete communication. In such uncharted mental space, some of the deepest science has its beginnings. In 1964, the tune for Paul McCartney’s Yesterday came to him in a dream. He added words later. Can you hear it now? Dr. Fred E. Hill is an emeritus professor from St. Cloud State University.

GARTLAND ELECTED VICE CHAIR MMMP Patti Gartland, president, Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, was elected co-vice chair of the newly formed Minnesota Medical Manufacturing Partnership (MMMP). The MMMP is a collaboration of partners and stakeholders from a 24-county region including Minneapolis/ St. Paul, St. Cloud, Mankato and Rochester. The organization aims to support and strengthen the region’s medical manufacturing industries.

BREMER NAMED PLATINUM PARTNER United Fire Group named Bremer Insurance a Platinum Partner agency. Only the top 8 percent of agencies qualify for this status based on United Fire Group’s standards of measurement. United Fire Group is one of many carriers Bremer Insurance works with to offer risk management solutions.

PEITSO RECEIVES AWARD Dr. Marilyn Peitso, pediatrician, CentraCare Clinic, received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP). The annual award recognizes pediatricians who have dedicated their lives to improving care for children throughout Central Minnesota. Dr. Peitso has been a pediatrician for over 30 years. She joined CentraCare in 1991.


POINT OF VIEW

Business Central asks readers: “What do you enjoy most about volunteering?”

I most enjoy the relationships I’ve formed over the years of volunteering.”Jodi Speicher •

Teamwork, networking, and volunteering in the community where our business is located.” Kristen Berreau •

The Good Shepherd Community

Meeting new people and networking. Being active in the community.”

American Door Works

David Christians • Wells Fargo

You get to meet more people when you’re involved.” Brian Jarl • Advantage 1 Insurance Agency

Meeting new people, learning about local businesses, building relationships, building my personal and professional skills.” Roxanne Ryan • WACOSA

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UpFront GETTING GOING

NEWS REEL PLAMANN NAMED VICE PRESIDENT, RECEIVES AWARD Joy Plamann, MBA, RN, BC, has been named Vice President of Operations, Acute Division, for CentraCare Health, and Chief Nursing Officer for St. Cloud Hospital. Plamann has a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, and soon will earn a doctorate of nursing practice from the University of Pittsburgh. Plamann also recently won the Spirit of Advocacy award for her work to prevent and manage patient aggression and violence toward health care staff. She is known as an expert in the field.

DOLD EARNS TOP AWARD Dr. Emily Dold, Wimmer Opticians, received a 2016 Patients’ Choice Award from Opencare for her commitment to optometry patients in the St. Cloud metro area.

HANSON JOINS HEARTLAND GLASS Jessica Hanson joined Heartland Glass Company as estimator and sales representative. She previously worked as commercial estimator at Brin Glass in Minneapolis before transferring to St. Cloud. She attended Anoka Technical College for architectural drafting and commercial estimating.

HATLINGFLINT IS NOW FLINT GROUP Local ad agency, HatlingFlint, has changed its name to Flint Group: St. Cloud. Flint Group has four locations and recently rebranded to unify the names, including an updated logo and website. The St. Cloud office moved into a renovated space in December.

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Planning Fundamentals

If the purpose of planning is to create positive change, that change must be carefully considered, clearly articulated and skillfully implemented. Answering three little questions can help. By Greg Vandal

M

uch of what I do these days involves leading schools, nonprofits, and other organizations through a process of planning for change. When an entity undertakes a planning initiative, the underlying hope is that positive transformation will result, that a roadmap, of sorts, will be created that will lead the organization to the achievement of better outcomes than were realized before planning took place. Sometimes, this process is done from within the context of great organizational strength. Indeed, some of the best plans I’ve had the privilege of helping create have been done by organizations that were already high flyers. Just as it might be argued that those who appear to need to exercise the least are often those who exercise the most, those organizations that sometimes plan the most are those that might seem to need it the least. But true health, in both instances, is better secured because of the constant effort. At other times, planning initiatives are engaged by groups that may struggle

to produce desired results. These organizations undertake planning with dramatic improvement in mind, and they often approach the task with best intentions, but with significant organizational deficits already in place. Either way, the processes to be used – the questions to be asked and the subsequent actions to be taken – share some common threads. Almost no matter the “condition” or intent of the organization undertaking planning, it is the role of a facilitator to lead participants through a process that involves introspection, deliberation, and action. In common vernacular – and borrowing unashamedly from best practices literature on planning – there are three fundamental questions that need to be answered as a plan is developed: what, so what, and now what? “What” engages a process of discovery about the existing conditions, the market factors, the forces impacting the organization, the resources needed or available… As an organization moves through the “what”

phase, it must be on a quest to gather as much relevant information as is available. “So what” does all this mean? It is not enough to merely gather data. It must be processed, evaluated for validity, and examined for meaning. This critical phase of planning provides the organization with a sense of context regarding its possibilities and pitfalls. Finally, the “now what” question must be weighed. Without consideration for a course of action, all of the information gathering and all of the deliberating is for naught. It is not enough to merely plan; it is equally important to do. Certainly, there is a linear progression to these questions but, rather than follow a straight line, discussions tend to spiral between these phases of planning. Inevitably, as “what” is being discovered, “now what” is being contemplated. While “so what” is explored, more “what” might be required. And, as alternatives for “now what” are brought to the fore, there is a constant tug to back up before a strong move forward is possible.

contributor Greg Vandal is the sole proprietor of Vox Liberi, a consulting business that delivers planning and project management services to clients in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He can be reached at greg.vandal@voxliberi.com.


IT HAPPENED WHEN?

1993 | Manufacturing Showcase Chamber of Commerce staff and volunteers welcome Manufacturer’s Showcase participants, 1993

I

n 1993, the St. Cloud Area Chamber organized the first Manufacturer’s Showcase offering an opportunity for St. Cloud community members to learn more about the area’s manufacturing industry.

The event was in conjunction with St. Cloud Area Manufacturers Week. The week featured a mayor’s breakfast, open houses and business tours of area manufacturing companies, and concluded with the Manufacturer’s Showcase. Held at the St. Cloud Civic Center, the showcase

included breakfast, keynote presentations and a manufacturing tradeshow highlighting locally made products. The event wrapped up with a Business After Hours sponsored by the Chamber. Manufacturing has a rich history in the St. Cloud area and still accounts for 15 percent of area employment. At its peak, manufacturing provided over 15,600 jobs in the region. In 2014, 15,200 employees worked in

Steve Palmer, Palmer Printing, welcomes guests for a tour of Palmer Printing

manufacturing, according to data from the City of St. Cloud. Today’s top manufacturing employers include Electrolux Home Products, New Flyer of America and Woodcraft Industries.

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UpFront PEOPLE TO KNOW

NEWS REEL PROCESSPRO RECOGNIZED ProcessPro’s implementation and support services team was named the winner of a Bronze Stevie Award in the Support Team of the Year category at the 14th Annual American Business Awards. Kim Fischbach, baseline product manager, ProcessPro, also earned a Bronze Stevie Award in the Product Developer of the Year category.

It’s an Honor As Roger Schleper, Premier Real Estate Services, takes over as chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, he has one big message: What a great way to do business!

MAHOWALD NAMED AGENCY OF THE YEAR Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association (MIIAB) named Mahowald Insurance Agency the Agency of the Year for 2016. The annual award recognizes agencies that are dedicated to the industry and practice outstanding professionalism in servicing their community. Over 1,000 independent agency members are eligible for this award.

MINNWEST BANK RECEIVES STATE RECOGNITION Minnwest Bank was named a Minnesota Housing Top Producing Fix Up Lender at the Gold Level for 2015. The Minnesota Housing Top Producing Lender Program awards outstanding Fix Up lenders annually at three levels: Platinum, Gold, and Silver.

CHAMBER RECEIVES GRANT The St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation received a $4000 grant from the Initiative Foundation to support workforce development programming. The grant supports the Chamber’s high school internship program for underserved youth. Since the program started in 2013, over 70 businesses have stepped forward to partner with the Chamber to provide valuable work experiences for area high school juniors and seniors. To date, 37 internships have been completed.

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By Gail Ivers

W

hen you ask Roger Schleper what he likes best about his Chamber involvement, he can hardly get the words out fast enough: “The knowledge base you build can really help your business without trying.”

_____

“You learn about things going on in the community. If you care about the community at all you have to be interested in what’s happening.”

_____

“You meet so many people with so many different backgrounds.”

_____

“Plus it absolutely results in business. How great is that!”

_____

Involvement in the Chamber was not part of Schleper’s first career. He spent 30 years working in

the computer industry. “To me networking was plugging a bunch of computers together,” he laughs. Not anymore. Since joining the Chamber through Premier Real Estate Services in 2004, he has embraced the kind of networking that creates connections among people. Aside from attending functions, Schleper has served as chair of the Chamber Connection, the Membership Division, the Leadership Program, and this year is chair of the Top Hatters, as well as the Board of Directors. Of all those activities, the one that brings him to pause is the Leadership Program. “Being vice chair of the Leadership retreat was the hardest, toughest one to say yes to,” he said. Schleper had enjoyed the program, but he had been out of it for a few years and was directing his energies elsewhere. “Steph Court [NewCore Wireless] asked me to do that. I have lots of connections to her and I couldn’t say no. But I thought about it! If someone else had asked me, I probably would have said no.” For Schleper, that’s an important lesson. Ask. Because when the right

person asks, it opens the door for some pretty exceptional experiences. “Becoming chair of the Leadership Retreat, then of the program, ended up being one of the best, most important volunteer opportunities I’ve ever had,” he said. “And I might have missed it without Steph.” Watching the Leadership class evolve is like nothing else, Schleper said. “The relationships the class members build, seeing the transition in people – especially at the retreat – is amazing. Watching what they do, what they thought they could do…that’s pretty tough to top. I’d say within four years of graduation at least 20 out of the 30 class members are doing something they didn’t think they could do.” Schleper traces that volunteer opportunity back to the first one he accepted – vice chair of the Chamber Connection. “If Kris Nelson [Custom Accents Promotions and Apparel] hadn’t asked me to be vice chair of Chamber Connection, I probably never would have gotten so involved in the Chamber,” he said. “How many people out there are like that? You just need to keep asking.”


PEOPLE TO KNOW

Goal Setting

Each year the Chamber’s new Board chair sets a few goals for the organization to focus on. Roger Schleper, Premier Real Estate Services, has chosen three for 2016-17. 1.Expand the Chamber’s Diversity Efforts.

2 Expand the Board of Directors’ understanding of work done by Chamber committees.

Focus on increasing membership by adding two or three minority-owned businesses

Invite all committee chairs to attend a Board meeting during the course of the year

Reach out to our minority populations to help fill the region’s workforce needs Help members welcome and market to minority populations

Challenge all Board members to attend a Chamber function or volunteer for a Chamber activity that they have not done in the past

3.Educate and recruit larger businesses to the Chamber. Research and determine products and services that would benefit larger businesses Articulate the value of Chamber membership to larger companies

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UpFront

NEWS REEL CENTRACARE EARNS AWARD Minnesota Bridges to Excellence (MNBTE) recently recognized several CentraCare Health clinics with awards for improving patient care for preventative services and chronic diseases.

MILLER JOINS LARAWAY FINANCIAL Dale Milller joined Laraway Financial as client relations administrator. Miller has 16 years of experience in the financial services industry. He provides client services including reporting and documentation, offers advisor support, oversees office projects and procedures, directs events and meetings, and facilitates continuing education for advisors.

ST. CLOUD HOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD Surgical Care Unit 1 at the St. Cloud Hospital received the AMSN Premier Recognition In the Specialty of MedSurg (PRISM) Award, which recognizes exceptional nursing practice, leadership and outcomes in hospital medicalsurgical units nationwide. The award is co-sponsored by the Academy of MedicalSurgical Nurses (AMSN) and the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB).

LARSON JOINS HUGHES MATHEWS GREER Kelly A. Larson joined Hughes Mathews Greer as associate attorney.

ARVIG EXPANDS Arvig acquired Image Office Services, a call answering service located in Waite Park. As an Arvig company, Image Office Services will transition to Time Communications, the existing call-answering center owned by Arvig.

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BCCalendar GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

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SEPT/OCT 2016

CAN’ T M IS S O PPO RT U NIT IES TO INF LU E NC E , PRO M OT E , A ND L E AR N . Visit StCloudAreaChamber.com for a detailed calendar. SPOTLIGHT

OCTOBER 6

Star Celebration This formal celebration honors the many contributions of Chamber volunteers who make the St. Cloud area a better place to live and work. The event is open to all Chamber members and their guests. Cost is $25 and registration is required at StCloudAreaChamber.com. Visit Star-Celebration.com for more information. October 6, 5-7:30 p.m. at The Grands at Mulligans, 601 Pinecone Rd. N, Sartell

SEPT 7 & OCT 5

Lunchtime Learning Educational networking events that give busy professionals a chance to stay on the cutting edge. Meets the first Wednesday of the month, noon-1 p.m. at the Chamber office. Registration is required: $15 for Chamber members, $22 for the general public. September 7: Sponsored by Central Minnesota Society of Human Resource Management (CMSHRM) with Betsey Lund Ross, Lund Sauter, P.A., presenting “New Overtime and Wage Laws Affecting Your Business.” October 5, Sponsored by Minnwest Bank with Tiffany Clements, College of Saint Benedict/Saint

John’s University, presenting “They Like Us! Now What? Building Your Org’s Social Media Strategy.”

SEPT 9 & OCT 14

Government Affairs A discussion of local government issues on the second Friday of the month, 7:30 - 9 a.m. at the Chamber office. September 9: St. Cloud School District #742 Levy Referendum October 14

SEPT 15, 21 & OCT 11

Business After Hours A complimentary open house for Chamber members and guests. 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

September 15: Hosted by Urban Moose Brewing Co., 415 N Benton Dr., Sauk Rapids. September 21: Hosted by Shingobee Builders, Inc. and the Waite Park Chamber of Commerce at Shingobee Builders, 200 34th Ave. S, Waite Park. October 11: Hosted by CentraCare Clinic-Adult and Pediatric Urology, Plaza Park Bank, CDS and CDSA, and INH Property Management, 2351 Connecticut Ave. S, Sartell.

SEPT 13 & OCT 11

NEXT – Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Offers professional development, leadership


and networking opportunities for emerging leaders in Central Minnesota. Meets the second Tuesday of every month, noon-1 p.m. Cost is $195 for an annual membership. Register to Whitney, wbina@StCloudAreaChamber.com. September 13: “Don’t Fight the Whitewater: Leadership Lessons from Turbulent Times” presented by Joan Schatz, Park Industries, at the Boy Scouts of America Central Minnesota Council, 1191 Scout Dr., Sartell. October 11: Tour of Park Industries, 6301 Saukview Dr., St. Cloud.

Lunch is provided by the host when you register at least two days in advance. 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. September 21: Hosted by H & S Heating & AC at Parkwood Theatres featuring a presentation on “Workplace Safety Procedures” by Devin Cesnik, Spartan Survival Training. October 19: Hosted by Forsberg Investments & Insurance. Location at the Moose Family Center: Presentation by Mahowald Insurance on “2017 Healthcare changes.”

advance. Meetings are held at the Sauk Rapids Government Center, 250 Summit Ave. N, Sauk Rapids, from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. September 22: Hosted by St. Cloud Surgical Center with a presentation called “Employers Beware: Three Employment Changes You Need to Know About” by Julie Fisk, Quinlivan & Hughes at the Urban October 27: Hosted by G & J Awnings, featuring a candidates’ forum for local and state offices at the Sauk Rapids Government Center.

SEPT 22 & OCT 27 OCT 12, 18 & 26

SEPT 21 & OCT 19

Waite Park Chamber For businesses interested in Waite Park community issues.

Sauk Rapids Chamber For businesses interested in Sauk Rapids community issues. Lunch is provided by the host when you register at least two days in

Human Resources Series – “Keeping Your Business Out of Trouble: HR Topics for Business Owners”

Designed for business owners and managers, this new series offers information and details on human resource topics to help your business stay out of legal trouble. All sessions are held from 8 - 9:30 a.m. at the Chamber office. Cost is $20 per session or $50 for all three. October 12: “A Hazy Issue: Medical Marijuana AND the Workplace” presented by Dr. Philip Bachman, Workmed Midwest. October 18: “Pre-Employment Screenings – When, How and What?” October 26: “Terminations: When is it OK to Fire an Employee?” For information on these or other business events, call 320-251-2940.

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UpFront YOUR VOICE IN GOVERNMENT

NEWS REEL RADI PUBLISHES PARENTING BOOK Kelly Radi, Radi-to-Write, recently published Out To Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage. This nonfiction book is designed to help parents navigate the emotion-filled transition from high school to college. It is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

PLAYHOUSE CHILD CARE EXPANDS Playhouse Child Care is celebrating 25 years in business by almost doubling their capacity. The site is licensed for 68 total children. In early July, Playhouse moved their south St. Cloud site from the ProcessesPro building to a completely renovated site at 2901 Clearwater Road. The move allowed the company to double their licensed space up to 96 children. The expansions included adding almost 24 full and part time employees, bringing company employment to 100 people.

CENTRACARE HIRES Gina Wippler joined CentraCare ClinicNorthway Family Medicine as Physician Assistant. Wippler holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Scholastica and earned her physician assistant certification from Augsburg College. She brings 14 years of experience to CentraCare with special interest in women’s health, dermatology, pediatrics and urgent care. CentraCare Health named Kelly Macken-Marble the vice president of operations, ambulatory division. She coleads the division with Dr. Joe Blonski, physician vice president. Macken-Marble previously served as president of population health and ambulatory services for North Memorial in Robbinsdale. Newsreel compiled by Whitney Bina. For consideration in News Reel send your news release to givers@StCloudAreaChamber.com

GETTING THINGS DONE

It may not have felt like it, but things actually did get done during the 2016 legislative session. By Teresa Bohnen

Bernie Perryman, Batteries Plus Bulbs; Ryan Daniel, Metro Bus; Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, and Rep Jeff Howe pause for the camera during St. Cloud Area Evening at the Capital in March.

I

t’s been months since the 2016 Legislative Session ended, and much of what has been written and said leads to the conclusion that nothing at all got done. That’s misleading. While the biggest items – transportation, taxes, bonding – were left hanging, lots of important actions occurred during the session. Representative Jim Knoblach is chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. His budget bill was the only major

finance bill that did become law this year. Many of the laws that were passed in 2015 have two-year impacts. Here’s a look at important effects from the 2015 session, and new 2016 actions that went largely unnoticed. The final education funding package for 20152017 provides an increase of $1.4 billion for E-12 education, a 9 percent increase over two years. Included this year was $430,000 for a St. Cloud early childhood pilot

Other bills authored by our area legislators that became law during the 2016 session include: Increased funding for District 742 (HF3254*)

BECAME LAW

Military pensions excluded from state income tax (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Parents of stillborn children receive tax credit (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Increased funding for services to the blind (HF2012)

BECAME LAW

Increased funding to combat sex trafficking (HF1776)

BECAME LAW

Increased funding for St. Cloud Human Rights office (HF3253)

BECAME LAW

Ratification of state government labor contracts (HF488)

BECAME LAW

Sales tax exemption on sales of modular homes (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Extension of Angel Investor Tax Credit (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Increased funding for Center for Independent Living (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Increased availability of online/open textbooks (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

City of Cold Spring/3rd St Brewery trout stream solution (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Funding for dealing with invasive species at Lake Koronis (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

Additional funding for statewide mental health treatment (HF2749)

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$35 million in funding for broadband in Greater Minnesota (HF2749)

BECAME LAW

The file numbers are noted for further reference.

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program, and $500,000 for extra intervention for low-performing students through the Tony Sanneh Foundation. The legislature made major reforms to nursing home funding last year. Saint Benedict’s Center received a larger funding increase than all but one nursing home in the state. A reform effort to identify fraud within the publicly funded health care system became law, with millions in projected savings. The largest transportation funding bill ever, became law last year for funding during 2015-2017. Highlights for the St. Cloud area include increased transit funding, a new program for helping small cities with road projects, and funding for a new St. Cloud emergency response team for oil train disasters.


TOP HATS: NEW MEMBERS

Relph for MN Senate, Jerry Relph is a candidate seeking Republican endorsement for Minnesota’s District 14 Senate seat, PO Box 93, St. Cloud. Pictured: Peg Imholte, Jerry Relph, Julie Forsberg.

St. Cloud Limo, providing professional limousine, party bus, and group transportation services, 4000 Clearwater Road, St. Cloud. Pictured: Rich Gallus, Jackie Brooks, Mark Young, Rick Poganski.

Alpha Salon Lux Suites, offering haircuts, color services, and facial waxing for men and women, 1411 W St. Germain Street, suite 102, St. Cloud. Pictured: Tammy Buttweiler, Sandy Svihel, Sheri Moran.

Hobby Lobby, craft and hobby store, 375 2nd Street S, Waite Park. Pictured: Tammy Buttweiler, Tina Reynolds, Ryan DeVos, Brian Jarl.

Recover Health, a home care agency providing private duty nursing for all ages, 3400 1st Street N, suite 305, St. Cloud. Pictured: Inese Mehr, Paul Carpenter, Ashley Garding, Diane Diego Ohmann.

Mary Lynne Goenner- Concierge Service, concierge services for area events and conventions, 10022 82nd Street SE, Clear Lake. Pictured: Diane Diego Ohmann, Mary Lynne Goenner, Roger Schleper.

Amerigas, providing propane for residential, agriculture, and commercial customers in Central Minnesota; propane parts and equipment, 931 Lincoln Ave., Sauk Rapids. Pictured: Roger Schleper, Bob Pflipsen, Inese Mehr.

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UpFront THE TROUBLE WITH BUSINESS

Batten Down the Hatches

Most businesses will eventually be faced with some type of lawsuit. Knowing what to expect will help you through the experience. By Melinda M. Sanders and Kenneth H. Bayliss may have a fantastic case, but if information in your control goes missing, the judge or jury may blame you for it and assume the worst. UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS n very basic outline, here is the process you will go through during the lawsuit:

I DON’T PANIC ou’re not the first person to be sued. There are people and resources to help you. Here are basic tips to help you through the process:

Y

Don’t Ignore the Lawsuit Papers If you receive a Summons and Complaint, you must respond, usually within 20 days. Failure to respond in a timely manner will lead to results you would rather avoid. Don’t Do Anything Foolish Before anything else, take a deep breath and step back. Try not to react emotionally to the lawsuit. Understand that while litigation may be painful it’s the best mechanism our society has for resolving many disputes. Do not contact the other party to vent your frustrations. Do not make any statements about the

matter. Get your attorney on the line quickly. Hire an Attorney Civil lawsuits have very technical processes and it’s to your advantage to work with an attorney. Contact your business advice attorney and if he or she is not a litigator, seek a referral to an attorney who is. It’s important to hire experienced attorneys, ones familiar with litigation and knowledgeable in assessing strategy and the value of your case. Make Sure To Retain Relevant Evidence: The Litigation Hold Once you know of a claim you will need to implement a “litigation hold.” This preserves all evidence that may be relevant to the lawsuit, including documents, photographs, emails, texts, voicemails, and metadata. You

Answering the Complaint You will work with your attorney to file an answer to the complaint. If you have a potential claim against the other party, discuss it with your attorney at this time. Initial Disclosures Parties must automatically exchange basic information about the lawsuit. This includes information about key witnesses and documents, an itemization of damages, and insurance information. Written Discovery and Depositions Both sides are permitted to serve written questions on each other and request documents. This process, called “discovery,” also allows the parties to take depositions. Your attorney will be present and will prepare you in advance if you are deposed. Mediation Current rules require the

parties to consider “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR). In most cases this will be mediation, a non-binding process. Most cases settle at mediation or shortly thereafter. Sometimes it is appropriate to try to mediate the case very early on. Trial When lawsuits are not resolved by motions or ADR, they are tried to a judge or a jury. Trials usually take place within about one year of the filing of the lawsuit, though there is considerable variation in the amount of time from filing to trial. Once the matter is tried— either to a judge or jury—a decision will be handed down. Parties generally have 60 days to appeal from the decision of the judge or jury. Keep Your Eye on the Ball During the lawsuit, make sure you focus on your business, and remember your business is not the lawsuit. Do not let the fear of what might end up on the expense side of the balance sheet cause you to ignore the revenue side. And almost as important, try to control your reaction to the lawsuit. Do not let it rule your life. Abiding by these few tips will help you better navigate the seas of litigation.

contributors Melinda Sanders and Ken Bayliss, attorneys at Quinlivan & Hughes law firm, represent businesses, nonprofits and governmental entities in a variety of transactions and litigated matters. The information presented here is for educational purposes only. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should seek legal counsel for specific questions.

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TOP HATS: NEW BUSINESSES

Strum Law, PC, concentrating in criminal, family, bankruptcy, and estate planning law, 400 1st Street S, Suite 627, St. Cloud. Pictured: Rich Gallus, Wendy Strum, Rick Poganski.

Prudential Financial, financial services, 2351 Connecticut Ave. S, Suite 330, Sartell. Pictured: Brian Jarl, Gary Cordie, Sheri Moran.

Quality Care Automotive, full service automotive repair and maintenance shop, 65 10th Ave. S, Waite Park. Pictured: Beth Putz, Eric Dickson, Roger Schleper.

Skin Rejuvenation by Vivian, skin care/aesthetics, 404 High Drive, Sartell. Pictured: Julie Forsberg, Joseph Whitlow, Vivian Whitlow, Kris Hellickson.

TOP HATS : NEW LOCATIONS, OWNERSHIP & EXPANSIONS Playhouse Child Care, educational child care center, has added a new location in Sauk Rapids in Trinity Lutheran Church. The site offers toddler and preschool child care, and school age services. Pictured: Jayne Greeney Schill, Rachel Galstad, Kristy Frisbie, Jenna Peterson, Tauna Quimby.

Bonnie’s Printing has changed its name to Digital Printing Plus, offset printing from one copy to 100,000; digital color copies, forms, envelopes, folders, 2856 7th Street N, St. Cloud. Pictured: Caryn Stadther, Randy Rupp, Bonnie Goff, Brad Zapzalka, Shawn Brannan.

Keeping 21 steady hands on orthopedic technology.

Right here at home. Robotic surgical assistance. Muscle-sparing techniques. Oxygenated healing therapy. These up-and-coming technical practices may sound like something from another world. But in reality, these are the exact ways our 21 orthopedic specialists always care for patients. So for knee surgery that lets you walk later that day, to non-operative back treatments that have you standing tall without surgery, you only need to go as far as where you are right now. Faster treatments, better outcomes. Right here at home.

StCloudOrthopedics.com 320.259.4100 1901 Connecticut Ave S, Sartell

Knee & Shoulder • Joint Replacement • Sports Medicine • Hand Center • Trauma • Spine Center • Foot & Ankle • Physical & Occupational Therapy

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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UpFront

NetworkCentral GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

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

NETWORK

Business After Hours at Blackberry Ridge. Jim Staska, Executive Express (L) and Gary Osberg, Minnesota Public Radio

Chad Houg, Nelson Sanitation; Rhonda Dahlgren, St. Cloud Area Chamber; and Kirsten Freeman

Jeff Udy, Infinite Eye Care (L); Erik Hanson, Thrivent Financial; Steve Nusbaum, Farmers Insurance; and Jon Eichten, St. Cloud Technical & Community College

Leanne Bucholz, Upper Lakes Foods, and Paul Ravenberg, Central Minnesota Council-Boy Scouts of America

Dan Tideman, GLTArchitects (L) and Mike Schoenecker, Winkelman Building Corp.

Debbie Duncan, Liquid Assets

Robin Hadley, Sterling Park Senior Community 22

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PROFIT

The Chamber’s Legislative Connections Wrap-Up provided Central Minnesota’s legislators with an opportunity to update the business community on the results of the 2016 legislative session.

Rep. Jeff Howe (L) and Sen. John Pederson

Jason Bernick, Bernick’s, and chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, welcomed attendees.

Sen. John Pederson

Rep. Jim Knoblach

Rep. Tama Theis

Rep. Jeff Howe (L); Sen. John Pederson, Rep. Tama Theis, Rep. Tim O’Driscoll

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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InSIDE THIS ISSUE: Management Toolkit Entreprenuerism • Tech News • Working Well

BUSINESS TOOLS GROW | NETWORK | PROFIT

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Economy Central by Falcon Bank uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

RESOURCES THAT HELP YOUR BUSINESS GROW

MANAGEMENT TOOLKIT

The Less-Paper Office It appears the paperless office is a myth. But there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of paper in your life. By Sharon Sorenson

T

he whole sorry mess started with the big lie…computers will eliminate paper. Someone penned the term “paperless” and that early prediction was followed by a huge increase in paper consumption in offices – one of life’s never-ending ironies. It has been amazing to watch the evolution of our information management from paper-based to computer-based systems. The early days saw fierce discussions around the idea of the “paperless” office while companies were using more paper than ever before

in history. At one point it was estimated that we had tripled our paper consumption due to increased ease of printing information. Truth be known, a healthy compromise between paperless and less paper has been slowly working its way into the office mindset. The power of technology to revolutionize our information management is undisputed, but the reality - that paper is still used widely - is being acknowledged more openly. What has been needed all along is a transition plan that

allows change from “all paper,” to “less paper,” to “almost paperless,” and then, maybe, to “paperless” for those who are convinced that this is the best solution for them. Here are some suggestions to help you use less paper regardless of your overall company information management plans: Create a “Less Paper is Our Goal” approach. Going paperless can be complex, daunting, and expensive. It is much more manageable to make change

contributor Sharon Sorenson is the owner of Heartland Organizing, LLC. She can be reached at Sharon@HeartlandOrganizing.com

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in thoughtfully planned incremental steps. 1 Be absolutely sure you have reliable computer back-up systems. 2Automate one process at a time and include a strong training component. 3 Eliminate paper faxes by receiving fax transmissions in digital form on your computer. 4 Double monitors at work stations reduce the need for paper copies. 5 Printers and copiers that are well-maintained save paper. Create a “Think Before You Print” environment. So much of our activity with paper is habit-based. Visual reminders can go a long way to help change habits. 1 Put up posters and reminders by all computers, copiers and printers that ask…”Do I really need to print this?” Or “How many copies do I really need?” 2 Place labeled recycling containers at every desk and have a centralized recycling center for paper. 3 Put a message at the end of emails reminding recipients to avoid printing if possible. Create a “Use Paper More Efficiently” mentality. 1 Print double-sided whenever possible. 2 Use efficient fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.


WORKING WELL

3 Put more text on each page – reduce margins and font size. 4 Use “print preview” before printing to avoid copy mistakes. 5 Aim for one page letters and forms. 6 Use “copy-paste” to consolidate information on one document rather than printing out individual email messages or articles. I happen to believe that paper has its place in our lives, but I can’t deny that using technology for information management is the power of the future and reducing paper consumption is environmentally necessary. Paper to less paper, whether your goal is paperless or not, involves a learning curve for many that is best served by individual effort and a collaborative mindset.

Ten Tips to Manage Stress 1 Make stress management a part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.

5 Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep is crucial for memory, judgment and mood.

2 Sit up! Avoid leaning over your desk. Sit tall with your shoulders back and head high.

6 Make friends at work. These colleagues provide support when pressure strikes.

3 Place a reminder card on your computer screen to get up and stretch.

7 Create a positive work

4 Take deep breaths to increase oxygen to your brain and promote calmness.

8 Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

environment. Display a fun photo or inspirational quote.

9 Press play. Music lowers stress hormones and jamming to upbeat tunes provides a mental lift. J Schedule fitness times on your calendar, just as you would a meeting or appointment. Compiled by Kelly Radi, Radi To Write

A defense team you can trust. You and your insureds deserve efficient, responsive, and effective legal representation. At Quinlivan & Hughes, we are skilled trial attorneys with practical experience defending a wide variety of covered claims. We understand our clients’ needs and work hard to get positive results. Let us put our extensive knowledge and experience to work for you.

Quinlivan.com | 320-251-1414 1740 West St. Germain Street St. Cloud, MN 56301 Auto Liability

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8/10/16 8:38 AM

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BusinessTools MANAGEMENT TOOLKIT

Stayin’ Alive

Can brick-and-mortar stores compete with e-commerce? Oh, yes we can… speaking at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Picture Conference in 2015. Dail is CEO of JDA Software. He emphasized that the retail store is not dead and that consumers spend six times more in retail stores than online. Create smarter stores. Deliver on your omni-channel promises through supplychain technology. Your online customers want to look at a plethora of products, shop bargains, painlessly pay online, and receive orders ASAP. To

Leverage the human touch. The physical store can provide a compelling shopping experience by creating a community of like-minded consumers who love your products, connect during in-store events, and share their experiences via social media. Attentive, knowledgeable, and digitally connected sales staff can be your customers’ personal assistants by interviewing, ascertaining likes and dislikes, searching for product availability via digital devices, and even supporting

“Seventy percent of consumers still want to shop in stores.” — BALJIT S. DAIL, SPEAKING AT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION’S (NRF) BIG PICTURE CONFERENCE

By Mary MacDonell Belisle

T

raditional brick-andmortar stores continue to feel the effects of the Internet as digitally mesmerized online shoppers patronize popular e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Apple, eBay, Staples, and Wal-Mart. Some retailers have cried “uncle” and taken a final breath. Others have closed locations and streamlined operations in efforts to compete within the e-commerce environment. How do brick-and-mortar stores compete? By becoming omni-channel marketers,

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finding their technology “groove,” and offering customers more human touch. Become an omni-channel merchant. Use a multi-channel approach to sales to deliver seamless shopping experiences to customers shopping via desktop, mobile device, telephone, and brick-andmortar locations. Merge channels into one brand identity. “Seventy percent of consumers still want to shop in stores,” said Baljit S. Dail,

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enable smarter, more profitable and dynamic decision-making, retailers “need to connect your distributed order management system with your intelligent fulfillment capabilities, namely your warehouse systems, transportation and logistics, demand and fulfill, and in-store productivity,” said Dail. Maintain a dynamic website. Remember: 40 percent of online customers will abandon your website if it takes more than three seconds to load, according to a study by Econsultancy.com. Invest in and maintain a site designed for e-commerce.

a sales “pitch” with online testimonials. Look at IKEA’s success at building a “family” of online and in-store customers. Embrace consumers’ digital dependence. Realize customers are “halfthere,” said Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR North America and speaker at the NRF 2016 Big Show. Trending for 2016 is a continuing “technology addiction,” where consumers feel they have to be connected at all times to smartphones. Watch for anxiety-prone customers reacting to this fast-paced technologydriven age with unease and feelings of being overwhelmed. Train your sales representatives


Source: Conservation International

to recognize the signs. Consumers want pampering. Provide secondary, add-on products to meet their needs. Help customers feel special. Listen to customer feedback. Anticipate their needs by conducting ongoing research into what consumers want before they visit your store. Use your courtesy counter: offer the best return policy, warranties, and guarantees. Growing consumer use of the Internet for shopping activity is a sign of the digital times and a reality that retailers must embrace to survive. Consumers may be wooed

by the speed, selection, and convenience of e-commerce. However, there’s nothing like positive human interaction and the intimacy of belonging. This is where brick-and-mortar stores can compete with online. Mary MacDonell Belisle is a freelance copy and content writer with mary macdonell belisle – wording for you. She helps clients choose and use their words wisely and more effectively. Her website: wordingforyou.com.

You can find the sources used in this story at BusinessCentralMagazine.com

GOING GREEN

Curb Phantom Electricity

Many appliances still consume energy even when turned off. Items left plugged into the wall, such as a cell phone charger or laptop adapter, can leak more than 20 watts of power. That doesn’t sound like much…until you multiply it by several hundred million people and their multiple devices. ••• In the United States alone, “phantom electricity” emits roughly 12 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Avoid this by plugging office equipment into a power strip and turning it off at night and on weekends.

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Your vision, brought to life. Visit our showroom at: 8646 Ridgewood Rd., St. Joseph, MN 56374 | For more information or for a FREE Borgert catalog call 320.363.4671 | borgertproducts.com

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BusinessTools MANAGEMENT TOOLKIT

The Customer Experience

Gaining a competitive edge in today’s marketplace is a constant challenge. Some companies are finding the answers in secret shoppers. By Tara Gronhovd

Secret shoppers allow you to evaluate your customers’ expectations and determine why some customers return and others do not. 1 Ensure customer service

A

growing number of businesses — ranging from veterinarians to banks—are leveraging secret shopper services to more effectively evaluate their customer service, build loyalty and generate more revenue. A secret shopper program is typically run by a thirdparty company that asks community members to shop and experience a business and their competitors and then give feedback about the experience. The “secret” is that employees don’t know if or when they will be shopped, so the program

measures the average customer experience. By using handselected prospective customers as secret shoppers, businesses do not only get an unbiased review, but also an opportunity to bring in new business and create buzz in the community. With good planning a secret shopper program can give businesses a competitive advantage and allow them to compete on a level they control: the customer experience. Here are five ways a secret shopper program gives businesses an edge.

doesn’t fall through the cracks during times of growth. Times of growth are often when a business is most vulnerable. Their resources and time are stretched to the limit and “the little things” that make up a great customer experience are frequently overlooked. Secret shopper results can help identify potential issues before they become large problems. A local retailer has conducted secret shoppers at every growth point in order to ensure the customer experience consistently improves with its growth. Included in their growth improvements were changes to streamline checkout traffic, tours to ensure new customers felt welcomed and the addition of interactive customer activities throughout the calendar year.

2 Turn new customers into repeat customers. Why spend money attracting new customers if you can’t keep them? Secret shoppers allow

you to evaluate your customers’ expectations and determine why some customers return and others do not. A local veterinarian knows they attract a large number of new clients every month, but wanted to make sure they were making a great first impression to increase the likelihood clients would return and give referrals. From secret shopper results, they learned authentic and enthusiastic interaction with the front desk significantly increased the likelihood of new clients returning.

3 Catch gaps in the customer experience before they hurt the bottom line. Business owners and managers can learn specifically how their customers feel about their products and services. A local billing company learned its high quality billing service goes up in value in the clients’ minds when employees take time to set expectations with clients in the beginning. As a result, the company added additional training with their clients.

contributor Tara (Tollefson) Gronhovd is vice president of operations and director of marketing at Plaza Park Bank. Gronhovd is the former CEO of The Buzz Company, which offered customer research and consulting services, such as customized secret shopper programs, to locally owned companies in the St. Cloud area.

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SAVE THE DATE

4 Learn what really sets you apart from the competition and capitalize on it. Competing on price gets tough. Instead, secret shoppers help businesses find out where their competition is falling down. A local subcontractor knows it will not beat big-box retailers on price. But secret shoppers confirmed that the peace of mind staff provides during the shopping experience leads customers to pay more for the custom products and precision installation.

5 Collect positive feedback and focus on strengths. A Secret Shopper program

can be a great pride-boosting activity to help businesses and their employees recognize what they’re doing right. All of those little things the shoppers loved? Well, do more of those. Successful secret shopper experiences depend on using a service that tailors the program to the business’ needs and uses local, qualified prospects as shoppers. This requires you to be very clear with the type of experience you’re hoping to measure so the company can create a program to meet your expectations. Effective secret shopper services go beyond providing businesses with raw data. They show businesses

how to improve their service and maximize their customer interactions by analyzing the feedback and offering costeffective strategies the business can easily implement. Selecting the right secret (or mystery) shopping business for your company will take some research. Companies belonging to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association go through an approval process and agree to uphold ethical standards. Learn more at BusinessCentralMagazine.com

Business Education & Technology Workshop & Expo

Annual conference featuring training in business, education and technology areas. Cost is $10 per person and includes a boxed lunch, keynote address and four breakout sessions. Registration is required at StCloudAreaChamber. com. Visit BET-Expo.com for more information.

November 1 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Best Western Kelly Inn, 100 4th Ave. S, St. Cloud

Working to keep you in business. Patient-centered care that helps your employees return to work.

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BusinessTools ENTREPRENEURISM

Thinking Partners Does your network include go-to colleagues whose feedback and judgment you trust, even if you don’t always agree? By Margaret Wethington Arnold

Co-thinking? Here are a few tips on working with a thinking partner: 1 Make sure the context of the problem and challenge can best be served by the individual you select. 2 As a courtesy, ask the

I

n today’s highly connected world, our network grows quickly with “connect” on LinkedIn or “follow” on Twitter. But as it expands, have we identified how to live deeper with professional colleagues and friends and learn more with the sages in our lives? Have you reflected on the profound value individuals in your virtual and real network may provide as “thinking partners” to help hone ideas, develop solutions and think through leadership challenges and scenarios? Early in our careers we took great care to grow these connections — to learn everything we could to chart a career path, discuss job

opportunities and evaluate necessary job skills. We listened, took notes, reflected on, and in most cases, put into practice what these experienced and wise mentors shared. What about today as leaders and managers? What are your challenges and opportunities? Have you identified who you can turn to for non-judgmental and candid feedback and advice on a demanding work problem or project? Different from engaging consultants or professional coaches at critical times or for ongoing counsel, thinking partners are “go-to” colleagues and friends with whom you have cultivated a relationship

and trust enough to gain insights from without the fear of looking indecisive, unknowledgeable or ill prepared. Who are these thinking partners? How do you know when you need them? What is the best way to involve these wise individuals? Ever-changing, unlimited and no-bounds connections You may have heard the term “different friends for different seasons.” The same holds true for thinking partners. What you may have needed in a thinking partner yesterday is not what you need tomorrow. As you are working through an idea or problem, ask

contributor Margaret Wethington Arnold is a solo public relations practitioner with 31 years of public relations and project management experience.

30

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

individual if he or she is willing to take time to work through this challenge and be clear on how much of his or her time may be needed. 3 Provide sufficient background, tell your story, pay attention for solutions and listen to your thinking partner’s take on the situation. 4 Follow up with your thinking partner on the outcome. 5 Show your appreciation.

yourself a few questions: Who in my network has the expertise I’m looking for to provide concrete support? Do they have easy access to the context of the idea or problem to truly be helpful? And who is accessible and approachable? For example, I recently served as a thinking partner


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for a former colleague who I haven’t spoken to in several years. We had one phone call and a few emails back and forth as we worked through the scenarios and options. She was prepared for the meeting, and it came to a successful conclusion because of time with a thinking partner. Likewise, I have worked with a few thinking partners – one formal and one informal. These are individuals I trust to talk through proposals and identify solutions to prepare for client meetings or work projects. The formal thinking partner? A volunteer “fellow” in my professional association who I have never met in person and was matched with several years ago. She is often my go-to colleague when I want to run by ideas or proposals. The informal thinking partner? A wise, experienced friend and great listener who provides support when I’m feeling the most vulnerable. Even though miles and time zones separate us, the value they bring as thinking partners in person, on the phone or by email has helped me in countless ways. Feeling stuck, managing pressure and having the conversation Thinking partners are most beneficial when you are feeling stuck and trying to manage the pressure related to a work problem or project. If you are staring a work challenge in the face and it is hard for you to see options and solutions that are necessary to moving work forward, this is the time to send an email or pick up the phone and call on a thinking partner. Remember, today’s connections can be tomorrow’s thinking partners, including you.

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BusinessTools MANAGEMENT TOOLKIT

Outsourcing Payroll Is it time to hand over your payroll to an expert?

I

f you find you don’t have enough hours in the day to take care of your business operations, your clients and your employees, outsourcing key business functions such as payroll can be a cost-effective business strategy. In fact, payroll is the first function many small business owners look to outsource. Here are some questions you can ask to help determine if using a payroll company is the right fit for your business. Should you process your payroll in house? ———————— Do you have the necessary knowledge? ———————— Do you have the resources? ———————— Are you familiar with payroll laws and deadlines? ————————

Do you understand the tasks involved? These include calculating payroll, tax obligations, printing checks or submitting direct deposit, reporting and entering payroll information into financial software, paying withholding amounts in a timely manner, filing required payroll reports quarterly, annually, and W2 processing. What should you consider when outsourcing payroll? ———————— What is the reputation and reliability of the payroll processor? How long have they processed payroll? Do they have references they are willing to share? How fast is their turn around time in an emergency situation or if a mistake has been made? ———————— Technology and maintenance costs are taken care of for you

By Chris Panek

when outsourcing payroll. Secure online portals and direct deposit are also great benefits for your employees. Will the payroll processor set up your electronic payment systems? ———————— Pricing is normally pretty straightforward, but make sure any quotes you receive include everything needed to process the payroll for a complete year. You also want to look at how frequently your payrolls are processed. ———————— Excellent customer service will be important since you will be communicating with your processor every payroll. How easy is it for you to submit your payroll information? Who will be processing the payroll and how much turnover do they have in that position? ———————— Will your payroll processor pay your taxes on the due date or deduct them from your account prior to the due date? ———————— Take time and do your research, it can be a hassle and expensive to leave or switch payroll processors. What are the benefits of outsourcing payroll? ———————— Save time. Processing your payroll in house will require someone’s time, either yours or that of an employee. You won’t

have to spend time researching and keeping up to date with new laws and you don’t have to train employee(s) how to process the payroll. Take the time you and/or your employee(s) would have spent on processing payroll and focus on revenue generating tasks. ———————— Save money. You won’t have to pay an employee or yourself to process the payroll. You won’t pay unnecessary penalties or interest on late filings. ———————— Stress relief. The pressure is off knowing that an expert is handling your payroll functions for you and your risk is limited since your payroll is processed by a specialist. Deciding if you should outsource your payroll should not be a task you take lightly. Take your time and really focus on the experience and knowledge you have available in house. If you don’t feel you have adequate resources contact an expert payroll service provider for help. Payroll is a complex part of your business and you want to make sure you are accurate and timely with every aspect of it, avoiding unnecessary costs affecting your bottom line.

contributor Chris Panek is a certified public accountant and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, providing business and personal accounting services, payroll services, and monthly or quarterly bookkeeping.

32

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6


BY THE NUMBERS

Points of Optimism

Don’t let the nay-sayers get you down. There’s plenty to celebrate in Minnesota’s economy. From the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s May employment report come these cheery numbers: The average workweek of privatesector employees increased to 34.3 hours – its highest reading since hitting an all-time record 34.8 hours last August. This was also the highest reading for a May on record.

Private-sector average wage rates rose 17 cents to $27.07 in May, 5 percent higher than one year ago and the strongest rate of gain on record.

Unemployment claims increased by 477 on a seasonally adjusted basis but remained below 18,000 for the third consecutive month, an accomplishment last seen in mid-2000.

TECH NEWS

Solar Power Everywhere The Thomson Reuters IP & Science Unit is making predictions. Using current scientific journal literature and patent applications, they’ve made a series of specific forecasts that will be accomplished in various fields by 2025. Among them the decline of dementia, the prevention of Type I diabetes, and the unprecedented growth of solar power. The report predicts that by 2025 solar power will be the world’s largest single source of energy. Source: FastCompany

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BusinessTools MANAGEMENT TOOLKIT

Seconds Count The most effective marketing videos tell a compelling story with a strong call to action…and they do it in seconds. By Donniel Robinson New technology will continue to drive innovation in video creation. It’s hard to forget seeing some of our famous actors and TV personalities in high definition (HD) for the first time. A recent upgrade to HD is 4K resolution. Videos created using 4K resolution will be even more crisp and clear than the current high definition images. Those producing videos will need to prepare for this upgrade in image quality.

V

ideo is an increasingly important part of a business’ marketing strategy. “Current research shows great gains in sales conversions for companies that use videos on their websites,” said Rory Cruser, Spectrum Reach. According to the study he referenced, video on the homepage of a website can increase sales conversions by as much as 20 percent and increases conversions from a product or service’s landing page by as much as 80 percent. KEEP IT SHORT While video may seem like a slick new tool, Cruser believes marketers still need to follow some basic marketing principles. Businesses need to tell a compelling story and make a strong call to action. This doesn’t have to mean making lengthy videos. Many of

34

Spectrum Reach’s videos have a running time of 30-60 seconds. Jay Burnham of Diversified Media Resources (DMR) said their videos may run as long as 3-5 minutes, but pointed out that these are generally informational videos being used in areas such as the waiting rooms of healthcare centers. Regardless of the length it’s important to focus on presenting a clear message. Burnham often works with traditional marketing videos for corporations and nonprofits. “The vast majority of the videos from DMR are going online,” Burnham said, a huge shift from just four years ago, when DVDs were the medium of choice for his clients. While the length and structure may differ by industry, there’s no doubt that video caters to the fast-paced lives of

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

today’s consumers. Televised commercials and printed materials are still important to marketing strategies, but video has become a flexible, costeffective tool. QUALITY MATTERS The greater availability of digital video cameras and the relative ease of operation have led many to try creating videos for themselves. This may be a great project for those who are technically skilled, but working with a professional assures that business owners will have a video that represents their company in the best light. The large volume of amateur videos available on social media sites seems to have made the public more accepting of non-professional videos, but Cruser warns that quality still matters when it comes to marketing.

USING DRONES Another sign of the times is the use of drones or “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” for taking video. Burnham said that in the past taking aerial images may have required hiring a helicopter. Now these impressive images can be accomplished by one person with a remote controlled drone that has video capability. Professional video companies are increasingly important partners in the creation of marketing tools. Consumers are busier than ever and have shorter attention spans. Super portable laptop computers and handheld devices have created a culture of instant information. Video is a fast, easy way for consumers to receive information from a business. The key is to limit the length of the video and to make every second of content count. Donniel Robinson is owner of Robinson Writes, providing professionally written business communications and commercial copy writing services.


Customizing Videos

TECH NEWS

Controlling e-waste Electronic waste accounts for over 70 percent of toxic waste in U.S. landfills. All Green Recycling in New Jersey is doing something about it. Since 2013 the company has been dismantling electronic devices and reselling the parts as commodities. In 2014 the business expanded into North Carolina. The two sites combined recycle millions of pounds of electronics each year and the company is growing by 35 percent every month. Source: The Charlotte Observer

Recruiting Employees Having trouble recruiting new employees? Maybe you’re using the wrong technology. There are a surprising number of options to help you find just that right person. For instance, ZipRecruiter enables you to find quality candidates by posting a job to 100+ leading job boards and social networks; Work4 uses an algorithm that focuses on Facebook; and Greenhouse provides functions for identifying, sourcing and interviewing candidates. Source: Inc.

Source: StreetFightmag.com

Video ads are the hot new thing – especially when you personalize them by customer location and demographic. No budget to make it happen? There’s an app for that! Or at least a few video advertising platforms that businesses of all sizes can try. Check out Slightly, Eyeview (above), and vADz for a start.

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BusinessTools ENTREPRENEURISM

Gamification

Integrating gaming elements into regular work activities may help those activities become more motivating for employees…and customers. By Ryan McCormick

E

ach year Forbes magazine anticipates business trends for the year ahead. One of the trends identified for 2016 is the continuation of businesses and organizations incorporating games into daily operations. Also known as “gamification,” the idea is that by integrating gaming elements into regular activities, these activities become more motivating and engaging. In a business setting, this idea can be realized in a number of ways. Gamification is not a terribly new concept. As a marketing strategy, it has been around for a number of years -- think McDonald’s Monopoly game. But there are other ways to incorporate the idea into your business as well. Research has found that role playing games, for example, can spur creativity and innovation as well as sharpen improvisation and teamwork skills.

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There are two basic types of gamification: structural, such as adding gaming elements to an existing orientation program...and content-based, also known as “serious games.” Gamification may also benefit employee training and onboarding. There are two basic types of gamification: structural, such as adding gaming elements to an existing orientation program to help motivate new hires through the process, and content-based, also known as “serious games.” An example might be the creation of a safety-based quiz that rewards correct answers

with redeemable tokens. Lynda.com, online tutorial and training provider, offers a course on the “Gamification of Learning.” It includes sections on implementing the idea in sales training, retail training, and in the classroom. Gaming elements can be applied to our personal lives as well. There are many gamification-based apps designed to motivate us to do

housework, save money, and break any assortment of bad habits. The idea turns up a lot in the area of healthy living, too. Fitbit, and other activity trackers, offer numerous apps developed around the concept. In his book “Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness By Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story,” Steve Kamb discusses how he turned his life into a video game and how doing so has

made him more productive and motivated. His blog, nerdfitness.com, expands on many of these ideas and applies them to general fitness and health. Both are worth a read. Gamification is full of potential, but also has its critics and shortcomings. If you’re interested in more information, Forbes, Lynda.com and Steve Kamb’s book are all available through the Great River Regional Library System, as are a number of professional journal articles exploring the topic.

contributor Ryan McCormick is patron services supervisor at the Great River Regional Library; griver.org

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BusinessTools WORKING WELL

Making a Difference Efforts to reduce childhood obesity in the St. Cloud area are working… and receiving national attention.

T

he obesity and overweight rate in the St. Cloud area fell from 17 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2015 among 12-year-olds, a 24 percent relative decline. This significant drop was recognized earlier this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation praised the collaborative initiative BLEND (Better Living:

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Exercise and Nutrition Daily), led by CentraCare Health, for reducing childhood obesity. The effort has been supported by Stearns County Public Health through a grant from Minnesota’s Statewide Health Improvement Program. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the data—not just on kids’ weight, but also on


their environments and their everyday behavior—suggest that the BLEND initiative is creating a culture of health in Central Minnesota. In its online profile of the greater St. Cloud region, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation noted that CentraCare launched BLEND in 2006 to make healthy food and physical activity an automatic part of

children’s daily lives. Some of the community-wide initiatives include: Safe Routes to School New infrastructure, like sidewalks, bike lanes, safe-speed signage, and crossing guard stations, has been put into place to connect kids’ homes with their schools. As a result, more kids are walking or biking to school than ever before. At

Nutrition Labeling in Stores and Schools A nutritional scoring system called “NuVal” – which scores food from 1 to 100, where a higher number means the food is more nutritious – is being used in both grocery stores and in one area school district. Sales receipts suggest that consumers may use the scores to “trade up” for more nutritious options. For example, sales of yogurts with low NuVal scores dropped by 19 percent in the first year of

NuVal’s implementation in the region, while yogurt sales with high NuVal scores increased by 4 percent. Complete Streets In 2011, St. Cloud implemented a resolution requiring that all streets built or rebuilt in St. Cloud must consider pedestrian-friendly features like sidewalks and bike lanes, to improve safety and convenience for users of all ages and abilities.

Watch a short video of Rep. Tom Emmer applauding this success on Capitol Hill at BusinessCentralMagazine.com

BUY SELL

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The obesity and overweight rate in the St. Cloud area fell from 17 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2015 among 12-year-olds, a 24 percent relative decline.

one middle school, the number increased by 40 percent in one year, while an elementary school recorded a 23 percent rise in the same period.

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BusinessTools

Economy Central presented by

ECONOMY CENTRAL

Pillars of Prosperity

This project is framed by three broad areas of opportunity for strengthening Minnesota’s global economic competiveness: (1) trade and global engagement; (2) innovation; and (3) workforce talent and skills. To expand economic opportunity, Central Minnesota should focus on innovation, trade, and talent.

TRADE This project is framed by three broad areas of opportunity for strengthening Minnesota’s global economic E

manufacturing, construction, agriculture, Development(DEED), analyzes the ven though Minnesota’s economy has healthcare, and tourism. The report opportunities and challenges facing seven performed well, challenges to future identifies regional planning regions across Minnesota and the state as a growth and opportunity still exist. That’s competiveness: (1) trade and global engagement; (2)Export innovation; andby(3) workforce talent andefforts skills.that Largest Industries Output Export Share of Output are positioning the area as a center for whole. It offers a state agenda for bolstering according to a report from the Metropolitan Millions of 2012 dollars 2012 road areasPolicy of Program opportunity for strengthening regional Minnesota’s global economic renewable energy innovations, particularly as assets to achieve economicAgriculture growth at the Brookings Institution. 13.4% engagement; (2) innovation; and workforce talent and skills. Transportation Equipment they relate to transit issues. and opportunity. The report, the culmination of a(3) multi-year Travel & Tourism Central Minnesota leads the state Titled “Pillars of Prosperity: Leveraging collaboration with the Minnesota 13.2% Machinery and regional assets to grow Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Largest Export Industries by Outputnation in Export Share of Output. Export Share of Output Food Products Millions of 2012 dollars 2012 Agriculture is by far the largest sector Computers & Electronics 13.0%1 Agriculture of exports, followed well behind by CHART 13.4% Medical Equipment, Sporting Goods Largest Export Industries by Output Transportation Equipment transportation equipment, and travel & Fabricated Metal Products Millions of 2012 dollars Travel & Tourism tourism (Chart 1). 12.8% Royalties 13.2% Machinery Central Agriculture Minnesota United States Less encouraging is Advanced Industries Financial Transportation Equipment Food Services Products Share of Economy. “Advanced Industries” Travel & Tourism Computers & Electronics 0 200 400 600 800 13.0% spend at least $450 per worker on research Machinery Medical Equipment, Sporting Goods Source: Brookings, “Export Nation,” September 2013 and development and have an above average Food Products Fabricated Metal Products 12.8% share of Science, Technology, Engineering Computers & Electronics Royalties Central Minnesota United States Medical Equipment, Sporting Goods Financial Services & Math (STEM) workers in their total workforce. In Central Minnesota, advanced Fabricated Metal Products 0 Output 200 400 600 800 Largest Advanced Industries by Advanced Industries' Royalties Share of Economy industries account for about 12 percent of ates Millions of 2013 dollars 2013 Source: Brookings, “Export Nation,” September 2013 Financial Services Electric power generation the economy, compared to 16 percent for 20% 0 200 400 600 Medical800 1000 equipment manuf. the state (Chart 2). 2015 With a low drop-out rate, Central 16% Computer systems design CHART 2 Minnesota boasts a higher than average high Ship and boat building 12% Largest Advanced Industries by Output Advanced Industries' Share of Economy school graduation rate that beats both the economy,” the report finds Transportation equipment manuf. Millions of 2013 dollars 2013 8% Motor vehicle manufacturing state and the nation (Chart 3). that the state needs to invest in Electric power generation 20% Motor vehicle body manufact. 4% With low unemployment and a highly the pillars of economic growth Largest Advanced Industries by Output Medical equipment manuf. Other miscellaneous manuf. Millions of 2013 dollars productive workforce, that makes the and competitiveness: regional 16% Computer systems design 0% Nonmetallic mineral product manuf. Electric power generation Ship and boat building region’s and the state’s economic story a Central Minnesota United States innovation, increased trade, 12% Motor vehicle parts manuf. Medical equipment manuf. Transportation equipment manuf. strong one. and investment in education Employment 8% Computer Output systems design Motortraining vehicle manufacturing 0 1000 The report 500 challenges the State of and worker to ensure Ship and boat building Motor vehicle body manufact. Minnesota to empower regional leaders 4% that growth is broadly shared Note: "Advanced Industries" spend at least $450 per worker on R&D and have an above average share of STEM workers in their total workforce. Transportation equipment manuf. miscellaneous manuf. to devise and implement economic in everyOther region and for every 0% Motor vehicle manufacturing Nonmetallic mineral product manuf. Central Minnesota Statesanalysis of Moody’s Source: Brookings, “America’s Advanced Industries,” Feburary United 2015; Brookings Analytics estimates development strategies that bolster Minnesotan. Motor vehicle body manufact. Motor vehicle parts manuf. our region’s distinct industry assets. The report defines Central Output manuf. Employment Other miscellaneous 0 Collaboration between 500 1000 the the governor, Minnesota as Benton, Cass, Nonmetallic mineral product manuf. ates CHART 3 legislature, and the regional networks can Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Motor vehicle manuf. Note: "Advanced Industries" spend atparts least $450 per worker on R&D and have an above average share of STEM workers in their total workforce. Sectors With Largest Job Vacancies Educational Attainment foster economic growth and prosperity. Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Vacancy1000 Rate, 2014 Q2 1500 0 500 2013 Source: Brookings, “America’s Advanced Industries,” Feburary 2015; Brookings analysis of Moody’s estimatesStearns, Todd, Pine,Analytics Sherburne, ave an above average share of STEM workers in their total workforce. Wadena, and Wright Construction Counties. A complete copy of the report and Central As one of the fastest growing the Central Minnesota profile are available ings analysis of Moody’s Analytics estimates Hospitality areas of the state, the region at BusinessCentralMagazine.com Minnesota Sectors With Largest Job Vacancies Educational Attainment has a strong foundation for Vacancy Rate, 2014 Transportation Q2 2013 economic growth based on Source: MnDEED and the Brookings Institution.

TRADE

1000

INNOVATION

1000

INNOVATION

SKILLS

1500

1500

SKILLS

United States Sectors Central With Largest Job Vacancies Vacancy Rate, 2014 Q2 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Minnesota Construction Less Than High School High School Some College and Associate's Bachelor's and Above Hospitality United States

Construction Professional services

Sources: Brookings, “Export Nation,” September 2013; Source: Brookings, “America’s Central Hospitality Advanced Industries,” Feburary 2015; Brookings analysis of Moody’s Analytics estimates; Other services Minnesota Source: Brookings analysis of American Community Survey 2013 5-year estimates; DEED analysis of MinnesotaTransportation Job Vacancy Survey data 0% 2% 4% 6% 8%

Source: Brookings analysis of American Community Survey 2013 5-year estimates; DEED analysis of Minnesota Professional Job Vacancy Survey data services

40

Business Central //Transportation SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 0% Magazine 20% 40% 60%

80% 100% This project is a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and theCentral Brookings Other services

Minnesota


681.90*

$50M

$60M

$70M

$80M

December

$40M

November

September BUILDING PERMITS BY COMMUNITY

Home Sales C

2015 October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

$30M

October April March

TOTAL:$41,203,681.90* $20M

February

January

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

Apr

Mar

Feb

Jan

TOTAL: $62,358,547

TOTAL:$64,832,866

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. C ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSE

Residential 2014 2015 2016* 2014 August #/$ #/$ #/$ February

St. Cloud

1209

1,151

527

July $26,145,498 $21,854,833 $14,613,060 2016 January 0

500

Sauk Rapids 447 321 181 June $19,206,069 $15,843,450 $9,203,499

$40M

$50M

St. Joseph 176 142 124 February $1,353,832 $2,293,565 $2,430,627.55

$60M

$70M

$80M

January December Total as of 8/2/16. *2016 total is cumulative up-to-date.

Commercial Building Permits

$600k

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

BUILDING PERMITS BY COMMUNITY September

1000

$900k

TOTAL: 809*

St. Joseph

TOTAL: 1655

TOTAL: 1429

St. Augusta 7 5 47 September $202,027 $871,000 $0 Mar

TOTAL: $145,007,914.12*

July Total as of 8/2/16. *2016 Jan total is cumulative up-to-date.

$200M

2014

82 151 44 August Feb $3,783,078 $8,057,329 $9,652,167

2000

$150M

Food and Bev

ST. CLOUD 84 140 65 October $7,151,019 $18,735,131 $20,170,325 Apr

Waite Park

TOTAL: $79,916,621.69

$100M

ST. CLOUD

Sartell 30 35 14 November $3,600,047 $11,485,611 $9,292,177 May 2015

1500

TOTAL: $635,948.63*

$1.5M

TOTAL: $1,333,423.25

TOTAL: $1,326,730.36

$1.2M

$50M

Food and Be

Sauk Rapids 409 567 388 December $7,465,381 $16,890,519 $5,148,584 June

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

$0M

500

St. Cloud 397 444 276 2016 $57,715,070 $94,320,804 $100,744,691 July

Commercial Building Permits

2014

0

Commercial 2014 2015 2016* August #/$ #/$ #/$

TOTAL: $150,360,393.19

2015

November October

TOTAL: $145,007,914.12*

2016

2014

Home Sales Closed in St.Cloud

$30M

100 79 57 $4,437,367 $4,720,246 $5,301,649

March

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

$20M

2016

$10M

St. Augusta

500

$300k

$0M

2015

Waite Park 116 113 46 April $1,803,560 $1,552,641 $1,119,250.66

0

Food and Beverage Tax Collection

ST. CLOUD

2014

2015

2016

2015

2014

$0

TOTAL: $62,358,547

2014

Sartell 291 329 159 May $8,129,708 $18,168,133 $8,535,585.69

2015

2016

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

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

$10M

2016

July December June

November May

Residential Building Permits

$0M

832,866

COLOR KEY:

Compiled by Kellie Libert, data current as of 8/2/16.

2014 2016

6 COMMUNITIES - ST. C ST. AUGUSTA, ST. JOSE

Economy Central presented by August

TOTAL:$64,832,866 2015

Home Sales C

September

TOTAL:$41,203,681.90*

ECONOMIC INDICATORS & TRENDS 2016

October

$80M

$200M

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

358,547

0M

914.12*

,393.19

,621.69

Residential Building Permits

2016

$0

$300k

June

TOTAL: $150,360,393.19 Sources: Building departments for the following cities: St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Waite Park, St. Augusta, and St. Joseph. 2015

May

2015

Non FarmMarJobs

Source: www.positivelyminnesota.com

2015-2016

2014

Apr

TOTAL: $79,916,621.69

Unemployment Rates

September

October

J

F

M

1.0%

December

August

D

Jan

November

July

June

May

$200M

Feb

April

$150M

March

5%

December

$100M

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

$50M

1.5%

February

2.0%

January

6%

$0M

Source: www.positivelyminnesota.com 2014

2015-2016 % CHANGE

$300k

A

M

J

$0

0.5% 0.0%

4%

-0.5% -1.0%

3%

-1.5% -2.0%

2% J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J

F

M

J

-2.5% J

J

A

S

O

N

St. Cloud Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota United States

St. Cloud, MN MetroSA Minnesota United States

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

www.businesscentralmagazine.com

41


81.90*

BusinessTools

32,866

$80M

58,547

M

14.12*

93.19

21.69

$200M

uuuuuuu uuuuuuu uuuuuuu uuuuuuu uuuuuuu

COLOR KEY: December

ECONOMIC INDICATORS & TRENDS

November

Home Sales Closed in St.Cloud

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

December

October

December

November

October

August

September

August

July

June

May

TOTAL: 809*

April

September

ST. CLOUD

October

March

February

January

Food and Beverage Tax Collection

December

November

October

D, SAUK RAPIDS, SARTELL, WAITE PARK,

September

August

July

June

Apr

Mar

Feb

Jan

lding Permits

May

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

September

2016

TOTAL: $635,948.63*

July

TOTAL: $145,007,914.12*

August July

TOTAL: 1655

June

2016

May

2015

TOTAL: $1,333,423.25

June

TOTAL: $150,360,393.19

April May

500

$300k $600k

Lagging Behind November

1000

$900k

2015

TOTAL: 221

250

revenues for all

contract dollars to May

Residential 2014 2015 2016* TOTAL: $1,326,730.36

Benton County Sheriff’s Civil Process; Stearn’s County Sheriff’s Office $0 $300k $600k $900k $1.2M Total as of 8/2/16. *2016 total is cumulative up-to-date.

Lodging Tax Dollars

Businesses (WOSB) March

the federal government

4.7% Federal contract $24,000 The median

$1.5M

February January

spending awarded to

contract value awarded

WOSB in 2014

to WOSB; 8 percent lower

in FY 2005

Source: U. S. Department of Commerce

Sources: Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud Total as of 8/2/16. *2016 total is cumulative up-to-date.

42

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

December

$2M

November

$1.5M

October

$1M

The complete report is available at BusinessCentral Magazine.com

of federal spending awarded to WOSB

$500k

September

2014

3.2% The share

August

TOTAL: $1,454,373.86

to WOSB

contract recipients.

July

2015

value for non-WOSB

federal government will award contracts

TOTAL: $1,508,301.02

$0

than the corresponding June

May

April

March

February

less likely it is that the

January

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

TOTAL: $617,424.09*

companies that are awarded contracts by

21% How much

ST. CLOUD

$1.5M

Women-Owned Small April 2000

$1.5M

Stearns Co. 168 181 83 2014 Benton Co. 53 54 19

2016

The median annual

June for awarding its prime

TOTAL: 809*

2015 SHERIFF’S FORECLOSURE AUCTIONS

200

government’s goal TOTAL: 1655

150

2.1 million

July

TOTAL: 1429

100

TOTAL: $1,333,423.25

August

5% The federal 1500

50

TOTAL: $635,948.63*

TOTAL: $1,333,423.25

TOTAL: $1,326,730.36

$1.2M

0

October

$1.2M

Federal contracts come slowly to September women-owned small businesses.

TOTAL: $635,948.63*

2016 2014

$900k

December BY THE NUMBERS

Food and Beverage Tax Collection TOTAL: 235 ST. CLOUD

$600k

Total as of 8/2/16. *2016 total is cumulative up-to-date.

TOTAL: 121

2016

$300k

Sources: Tax Collections – City of St. Cloud

Sheriff’s Foreclosure Auctions STEARNS AND BENTON COUNTIES

January

$0

Estate sources:$200M St. Cloud Area AssociationJan of Realtors, $100M Housing/Real $150M http://stcloudrealtors.com/pages/statistics. Total as of 8/2/16.. *2016 total is cumulative up-to-date.

2014

Home Sales Closed in St.Cloud

2000

Feb

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

1500

TOTAL: $1,326,730.36

0

Food and Beverage Tax Collection

ST. CLOUD

$0

1000

2016

February Mar

500

2015

2014

Apr

TOTAL: $79,916,621.69

0

2015 March

2016

2015

2014

2014

TOTAL: 1429

Economy Central presented by


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BUSINESS PROFILE Blattner Energy, Inc. 392 County Road 50, Avon, MN 56310 Phone: (320) 356-7351               Website: BlattnerEnergy.com President: Scott Blattner Other Officers: John Blattner, CFO; Dave Blattner Jr., vice president; Doug Fredrickson, vice president of operations Ownership: Majority owned by the Blattner family. Scott Blattner, President John Blattner, CFO Chris Blattner, Owner Dave Blattner Jr., Vice President Tom Blattner, Risk Management Director Henry Blattner, Senior Estimator Business Description: For more than a century, the Blattner Family of Companies has delivered collaborative construction solutions to industry leaders across the United States and Canada. Today, Blattner Energy is a diversified power generation contractor providing construction solutions for the power delivery industry and leading expertise in renewable energy construction. Blattner provides complete engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for utility-scale wind, solar, energy storage, and high-voltage transmission and substation projects. Service area: United States and Canada Total Employees: 3,000 Total Local Employees: 155 Chamber Member Since: 2013

Sales: $1.35 billion

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S E V O D M L O

B

D R-OL A E -Y R IR 93 TNE E T A H T L ING HE B H T C , T E A GL ER W RUG D TO T E S AF T D I S C S M DE SINE … A U E B T Y ERGY P L I I N H E M S FA ND ER S. N WI E AD O L SULT E E Y C R G N R R A LA ENE A CH TACU C E P TAKE S WITH

TT

he romance of mining and family business captivated Scott Blattner at an early age. He grew up living on project sites with his family and seeing the work unfold from the sidelines. By junior high, he was ready to step in. He began working as field labor and learning how to run the equipment. “I still like the smell of diesel,” he said with a reminiscent grin. Scott never saw himself anywhere besides the family business. “It was never really a question for me,” he said. Being named as president came without much conversation. The transition was far from easy with a wife and two young kids at home. When Scott took the helm, the company had secured dozens of mining contracts. Mining and commodities made up about 60 percent of the business. Within a few months, the price of both copper and gold fell and clients could no longer pay. The loss of revenue mounted to millions. A significant upfront investment in equipment further compounded the company’s financial crisis. At the same time, the company could not turn to its interstate highway program to help it recover. That industry had begun to dry up. The downsizing began.

SOUL SEARCHING

S

cott had seen the company’s ups and downs in the 70s and 80s, but nothing prepared the team for this. Scott and the

By Dawn Zimmerman / Photos by Joel Butkowski, Butkowski Digital Imaging

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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45


BUSINESS TIMELINE

DH Blattner, Founder

1907 David Henry Blattner begins conducting business as D.H. Blattner & Co., Railway Contractors. Significant railroad jobs included Montana’s High Line, the Great Northern Spur to British Columbia and the Great Northern Railway’s Surrey Cutoff.

46

1930 David Henry’s sons, Bill Sr., Ervin, and Barney join their father in business, forming D.H. Blattner & Sons with a new focus on road construction. 1942 Ervin leads a contingent of Blattner veterans to a construction site north of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to work on the Alcan Highway. 1945 The Blattner sons resume work in Central Minnesota and begin bidding on Minnesota Highway Department jobs.

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

A RISKY MOVE

F

rom those meetings came a bold and risky move. They saw a budding wind energy market and an opportunity to bring their delivery model to it. Could wind energy be their future? They hoped so. “By 2004, we decided we were going to make our living with wind,” said Doug Fredrickson, vice president of operations. But they were not ready to let go of the past. What if wind energy never materialized? The market was so young. The projections seemed too optimistic.

Pack Horses

1952 The company is awarded its biggest civilian job: a Minnesota State Highway project in St. Peter that keeps crews busy for two seasons. David Henry passes away. 1957 The company reincorporates as D.H. Blattner & Sons, Inc. to account for a third generation of Blattners joining the family business.

1959 The Minnesota Highway Department awards D.H. Blattner & Sons its first interstate highway project. It is a major milestone the company’s first $1 million contract and calls for the excavation of 1.8 million cubic yards of material on a stretch of I-35 near Hinckley, Minn.

They took the chance while continuing to take railroad, mining, and heavy highway projects. Within three years, their gamble paid off. In about a decade, the company went from barely $100 million in sales to more than $1 billion. “I’m glad we went through the pain we did because I believe we are in a better place now,” Scott said. The experience reset the company’s mindset and brought sweeping systemic changes. Among them was a shift from investing in equipment to investing in people.

1960s-1970s D.H. Blattner & Sons completes several major dam and reservoir projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Bureau of Reclamation. 1967 The third generation of Blattners completes their acquisition of the business from the second generation.

1968 D.H. Blattner & Sons joins Johnson Brothers in a joint venture to build the Kaw Dam on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma. The 125-foot-high dam creates a reservoir of 27 square miles and requires the excavation of more than 4.6 million cubic yards of earth.

Duluth Bridge

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BLATTNER ENERGY

leadership team spent the next three years working to keep the lights on and get paid for the contracts. The business went from a $75 million operation in 1997 when he became president to $65 million the following year. “We had to do a lot of soul searching,” Scott said. The times were trying – and humbling – for every member of the leadership team, said John Blattner, also a fourth generation owner who serves as the company’s chief financial officer. “We realized we were not as good as we thought we were,” he said. After 93 years in business, closing the doors crossed their minds. But it wouldn’t happen without a fight. In 2000, the leadership team brought in a business consultant and committed to focusing solely on working on the business – not in it. They huddled together in extensive, sometimes highly emotional strategic planning meetings where they explored options, dug into analytics and had really frank conversations about the company’s future. “The choice was we’re going to walk out with a new business model or shut off the lights,” Scott said. “That allowed us to be really creative thinkers. It allowed us to question every aspect of the business.”


They closed their regional offices to bring people back together, and focused on creating a unique corporate culture. The Blattners built an expansive corporate headquarters in Avon in 2008 and just last year they further expanded the headquarters footprint by more than 23,000 square feet. Project managers spend at least two weeks a month on project sites to ensure the Blattner values and corporate culture is felt there, too. Blattner believes each employee defines who they are as an organization and the company has built a culture around individual growth and team success. “There is a sincere effort made by others (in the company) to develop you,” said Doug, who first joined Blattner on a temporary summer project at age 22. His 29-year-old son now holds one of the most challenging jobs. He travels from project site to project site across the country, working with a team for nine months before disbanding and being assigned to a new team.

A NEW REPUTATION

I

n 2012 wind represented 95 percent of the company’s revenue. Today that has shrunk to 85 percent with the company’s increased focus on the solar industry. “I never believed it was over for Blattner,” Doug said.

Avon Office - 1970s

1980s Mining work allows Blattner to transition out of interstate highway construction and leverage the company’s earth moving expertise. Blattner earns a reputation for working on projects on the West Coast, Alaska and Mexico. 1993 Blattner returns to its roots by working for Union Pacific and other North American

railroads. The company’s reputation for handling tough projects with aggressive schedules endears it to railroad owners. 1997 Scott Blattner becomes company president. 1999 Blattner faces a major business crisis. Because of debt, cash flow, and profitability, the company is put into the workout group at their

FUN FACTS Blattner Energy has 235 wind and solar projects (including both completed and current) in the U.S. and Canada, producing 30,144.82 MW of energy.

bank. The Blattner leadership team spends the next three years reinventing themselves, coming out the other side stronger, and more financially stable than ever. 2004 Blattner’s focus becomes strictly railroads and wind energy. The company establishes itself in Canada’s wind energy sector. The leadership team’s extensive strategic planning leads Blattner to eventually eliminate railroad and focus on wind energy. 2005 Blattner closes its regional offices.

The company has installed

35% of all wind energy in the U.S. Blattner has a 40.4% market share in Texas and a 49% market share in California.

Avon Office Expansion, 2015

2008 Blattner Energy Inc. is established as a sister entity to D.H. Blattner & Sons. The company builds a new corporate office on their existing site in Avon, Minn. 2012 Wind represents 95 percent of the company’s business. Blattner crosses the milestone of building more than 15,000 megawatts of wind energy a first by any contractor in the world.

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

2015 The company grows to $1.35 billion and completes a 23,000-squarefoot addition to the corporate headquarters. 2016 Blattner Energy receives the 2016 Entrepreneurial Success Award from the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce for the company’s growth, culture and innovation.

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47


PERSONAL PROFILE

Scott Blattner Age: 56 Title: President Hometown: Avon, Minn. Education: Bachelor’s of Science in Construction Management from North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND; Owner President Management Program 31 from Harvard Business School Work History: Scott has lived in the construction world and the family business since he was a child, living on the road with his family while his father worked on construction projects for the company. While he was on summer break from junior high in 1974, he started as field labor. He went on to hold various craft and supervisory positions before moving to the corporate office where he served in management roles. He became president in 1997.

Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur: Clearly understand the value equation for your business, and make sure your team is clear on the execution plan that delivers that value. Run scenarios on the possible market shifts or changes, favorable and not so favorable that can happen along the way. The clarity of how your team will respond to the changes is invaluable at creating intuitive responses at the team level for the corporate benefit.

48

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

Today, Blattner Energy is a billion-dollar diversified power generation contractor providing construction solutions for the power delivery industry and expertise in renewable energy construction. The company employs more than 3,000 people and after 100 years in business remains a trailblazer. “We were willing to look beyond what we knew, recognize new opportunities and capitalize on those opportunities,” John said. While Blattner’s growth has been significant, leaders say it’s been a fraction of what it could have been. That’s been an intentional move by

the leadership. They desire to stay conservative and not grow too fast. They want to continually improve and set new standards in creating a strong corporate culture and committing to safety. Integrity and honesty drive decisionmaking – more than money. Blattner has earned a reputation of truly making safety a priority and will shut down a job site at the hint of concern until the teams align. That has led the company to achieve an unprecedented incident rate of 0.5 annually far below the industry average of 3.0.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BLATTNER ENERGY

Hobbies: Still in search of them.


BLATTNER ENERGY RECEIVES BUSINESS AWARD

B

lattner Energy received the 2016 Entrepreneurial Success Award from the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce based on the company’s impressive growth and organizational culture. Since 1997, the company has grown from 450 employees to 3,200 and increased their revenue from $72 million in sales to $1.30 billion. This award is presented to a company that demonstrates growth from small to large under the leadership of the same individual. In the case of Blattner Energy, small is defined as fewer than 500 employees. The company has reached this position with the dedication and commitment of its family, company leaders and employees who have advanced it over the years. “We believe our accomplishments today stem from a business philosophy centered on honesty, integrity and collaborative relationships,” said Scott Blattner, president of Blattner Energy. “Our unique culture also plays a big part in it because it focuses on company fit,

2015 Expansion

individual growth and team achievements.” A fourth generation family company, Blattner Energy is a successful power generation contractor and leading installer of renewable energy. They provide engineering, procurement and construction services for wind, solar, energy storage and power delivery projects throughout the United States. Throughout the generations, the company has evolved to offer customers and industries quality and innovation. In 1907, David Henry (D.H.) Blattner took an entrepreneurial risk when he left farming to eventually found D.H. Blattner & Co. Railway Contractors. David and his crew helped build James J. Hill’s Great

A GENEROUS RESPONSIBILITY

G

iving back is among the gifts they give their employees and the communities they serve. The family has made generosity an expectation of the company through its Family Assembly and family foundation. They have long given back to their hometowns of Avon and Albany, including organizing an annual charity golf tournament to benefit the local fire and police departments. Over two weeks

Northern Railroad. In the late 1920s through the 1940s, his sons added road work to the industries the company served. They built highways and county roads in rural Minnesota, constructed part of the Alaska Highway and became one of Minnesota’s interstate highway contractors during the 1950s to the 1970s. By the third generation, D.H. Blattner & Sons, Inc. was formed and emerged as a leader in multiple areas of construction, including heavy civil, mining, railroad and structural concrete. In 2008, Blattner Energy, Inc. was established as a sister entity to D.H. Blattner & Sons, building on the company’s already extensive portfolio of renewable energy projects. In the late 1990s, the company underwent

last spring, the corporate office and field employees raised more than $30,000 and 15,000 pounds of food and household goods for the local food shelves. Recently, Blattner made its largest contribution with a $5-million challenge grant to support the expansion of Albany Area Schools and new community center. “We are really blessed to be where we are at and have what we have,” John said. “We have a responsibility to give back.” That

another change. The leadership team strategically decided to restructure the business model to improve the business. The new model included focused service offerings, greater expectations of managers and the standardization of operating procedures. Today, the company embraces a deep cultural fit with customers and employees, is financially strong and follows best practices that allows for strategic moves that are in the best interest and longevity of the business. Blattner Energy was honored in May at the Chamber’s annual Business Awards Luncheon. Other honorees were Borgert Products, the Small Business of the Year, and CWMF, the Family-Owned Business of the Year.

generosity comes with the business success and neither shows signs of slowing. “The company is prepared for change,” Doug said. “It’s probably coming. We’re not looking to change, but we’re ready for change.” Dawn Zimmerman is CEO of The Write Advantage, a St. Cloud-based communications company that specializes in helping organizations shape and share their stories.

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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49


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Feature

HACKED! We used to think of hacking as distant and vaguely juvenile. Not anymore. By John Pepper

H

ackers were once cast as brilliant but misguided teenagers, huddled over computers in basement dens; social misfits planning mischief. Things have changed. Hacking has moved beyond malicious vandalism to large scale criminal enterprise. It has passed out of the hands of high school nerds into the professional criminal class and even into state sponsored activity. In 2010, Iran’s nuclear capabilities were disabled through computer hacks blamed on Israel and the United States. Closer to home, in 2015 a hacker claiming to represent ISIS took over and temporarily forced the shutdown of the website for the Third Street Brewhouse in Cold Spring. The brewery was one of several seemingly unrelated businesses nationwide that suffered the same hack.

50

“The vulnerability we can’t patch is that people are trusting by nature. Criminals send us phishing email so we will click a link or open an attachment. Once we do one of those things the malware gets installed and they have control of that computer.” —CHARLES KILLMER, NETGAIN

More famously, in 2013 hackers penetrated the defenses of Target headquarters in Minneapolis and stole the credit and debit card data of about 40 million customers. It’s estimated that the vital information from between 1 and 3 million of the 40 million stolen cards was successfully sold on the black market, generating revenue for the hackers of about $50 million. Right there, say computer security experts, you have the greatest change that has taken place in computer hacking. No longer in it for the fun, the

Business Central Magazine // S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6

devilment or the malice, hackers are in it for the money. And you don’t have to be a big business to suffer the impact. Just this year, unknown hackers encrypted the Cloquet School District’s information and demanded a $6,000 ransom for its release. The district didn’t pay. It closed school for a day and was able to wipe its computers clean and reinstall all the necessary data. But others aren’t so lucky. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California paid a reported $17,000 in

bitcoin to regain control of its electronic health records following a ransomware encryption attack. Steve Knutson is chief technology officer and VP of professional services for Marco. About 400 businesses receive some level of help desk support for their IT operations from Marco, so he is well aware of what’s happening in the dark world of cybercrime. In a ransomware attack the data of a victimized organization is encrypted and held for ransom, often for a figure to


be paid in bitcoin to some foreign bank account where it cannot be traced. Sometimes payment is on an accelerated schedule: pay $5,000 today or $10,000 tomorrow. Until payment is made, the data remains encrypted. If payment isn’t made by a certain date, the data is destroyed. “We see a variety of malware, and I’ve seen the change from destructive hacking to hacking for profit. It’s happening in this region. It’s happened to our clients. And ransomware is the form I view as most threatening now. Because once you let it in there’s no way to fix it,” Knutson said. Professionally installed and maintained business firewalls provide a substantial barrier to broad-based attacks. In response, hackers have developed more focused weapons that depend on the failures of individuals, such as ‘spear phishing.’ In one version, selected employees are targeted with emails that seem to be genuine. A common example arrives in the form of a shipment notice from any one of the large delivery services. Within the email is a link for details about the shipment. Click the link and malware downloads to your computer. The computer doesn’t crash and alarm bells don’t ring. But even as the email is deleted the malware can be spreading.

Hacks Stay Low Profile Usually, hacks go unpublicized and unpunished. Those that do get noticed tend to be spectacular or

medical related. By regulation, a medical entity that experiences a data breach affecting more than 500 patients is required to notify the affected individuals and provide notice to prominent media outlets. Since 2010, at least 158 California medical institutions have reported being hacked or having information technology issues that compromised patient records, according to the Los Angeles Times. Charles Killmer is the security officer for Netgain, a St. Cloud based business that provides IT services for healthcare customers nationwide. For every hack you hear about there are multiple hacks that go unreported, he said. “Hackers have infinite time and resources. The equipment and technology to defend against attacks is expensive and hard to manage. And no matter how good your firewall is, it can’t guard against human error.” The popular model for hacking is similar to a car thief walking down the street lifting car door handles, Killmer said. “You can do the same thing on the Internet. There are mass scans going on looking for vulnerable computers where the front door is open. They will find computers that are vulnerable, and then criminals will start looking on those vulnerable computers for information that is valuable.” But because today’s operating systems and firewalls are robust, criminals need help. “The vulnerability we can’t patch is that people are trusting by nature. Criminals

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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Feature

send us phishing email so we will click a link or open an attachment. Once we do one of those things the malware gets installed and they have control of that computer,” Killmer said. Encrypting malware makes itself known, but data stealing malware is designed to stay hidden so it can continue to siphon off information such as social security numbers and banking information. The criminal on the other end is likely outside of the country, safe from prosecution.

Protect Yourself Killmer said businesses can best help themselves by doing at least two things. The first is

to segregate vital information from the Internet. “If your marketing staff really need to get out to Facebook, put them on computers that allow access to the Internet, but that aren’t connected to the other business systems. And put staff who do need access to sensitive information on a system that doesn’t provide Internet access,” he said. In a perfectly segregated world where data is insulated from the Internet, it can’t be hacked. The problem is, most businesses don’t have the determination to make that stick. “Instead of taking on the battle of telling employees they can’t go to Facebook from their

computer, they get expensive content filters that won’t let them play games,” Killmer said. The second thing is to make sure that staff are trained. The best chance of ensuring that staff fully comprehend the dangers of careless computer use is through a good training program. Marco’s Knutson agrees. “The success of any anti-virus program is the behavior of the user. You need to take a cynical approach,” he said. “Don’t trust anything you are not completely sure of. Companies must be proactive with their awareness training. We’re moving toward a world in which everything is connected — ‘The Internet

of Everything’— and that’s scary, because it increases your vulnerability.” Unlike businesses that discourage employees from viewing social media in order to maintain a security perimeter of sorts, the staff at DAYTA Marketing are creating social media content every day for customers. That means regularly interacting with the Internet. Risk is inherent to their social media marketing operations, and the staff is highly aware of that said CEO Luke Riordan. “We have taken steps to minimize risk, ensure privacy and protect reputations. We’ve purchased inclusive cyber liability insurance policies. We

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use cutting edge password security software. We regularly change out passwords on all platforms. We monitor every platform used internally and/or client platforms daily. And access to platforms is given to as few people as possible, on a ‘need to know’ basis.” In addition, the staff is provided with regular updates and training sessions on cyber security. The experts all agree that staying ahead of the hackers isn’t something you fix with one training or one software patch. It is a constant cat and mouse game that demands vigilance, because the consequences for the loser can be devastating. John Pepper is a freelance writer in St. Cloud.

Home Use Security Home users usually don’t have a file server for all their sensitive information. They don’t divide their Internet activity and other use on separate computers, and often they are not technically savvy. But Netgain’s Charles Killmer says there are things they can do to protect their computers and information. Use a password manager to keep track of different passwords for various accounts (pcmag.com has recommendations). Killmer recommends using long, strong passwords mixing letters, symbols and numbers.

__________

__________

Go to openDNS.com for website filtering that can provide some protection free of charge to home users. __________

Back up your data with a service such as Mozy.com or carbonite.com.

Install software updates whenever they are available.

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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SPOTLIGHT: CITY OF ST. CLOUD

Greater Opportunities in St. Cloud

Mayor Dave Kleis, Director Cathy Mehelich and the EDA team stand ready to support your business development needs.

Summer 2016 Development Highlights

Arctic Cat yours!) Funding and other resources available to local business (maybe GREATER Revitalization When the City of St. Cloud Economic Development Authority Builder: Boser Construction / Quinlivan & Hughes Location: West St. Germain St in St. Cloud. (EDA) helps attract new businesses and more jobs to our community, it’s exciting, front page news. Understandably so. The EDA has been part of many such announcements in its short, four-year history. But what might be bigger news to you is the wealth Before of support the EDA provides to help existing local businesses grow. In fact, there may be services you are At unaware of from which your Beaver Island Brewing Company business canLaumb benefit right now. Back: Chris - Co-Founder/Brewmaster, Matt Studer - Co Founder/Brewer, Kern Anderson - Sales Manager, Nick Barth - Co Founder;

Cathy - EDA Director, Mayor Dave Kleis “WeFront: want theMehelich business community to think of us as their first stop for business sdevelopment,” says EDA “We assist over 130 business Economic production space, the EDA Director worked closely with them to ideninquiries a year, from start-ups Director Development Cathy Mehelich. “If you’re for the City to of start withto international After tify a shovel-ready location on 4.5 corporations looking for where St. Cloud, Cathy Mehelich is acres in the St. Cloud Airport Busiseeking expansion,” she explains. your business expansion or start-up million in private andMN more no stranger to growth. Since ness Park, near Highway 23. “St. Cloud has a wealth of busi- development idea, we can point you in the right than 300,000 square feet of new the department’s inception in “Working with the EDA just ness resources through a variety direction with connections to of public-private partners. Each 2011, Mehelich and her team sense. They were able to construction. Projectsmade include smaller resources to attract make the process easier.” have helped projects bring all the decision-makers project is unique in its stage and businesses like Arctic Cold Storage, Friesz and facilitate expansions into one room and essentially needs, we can quickly assess Dentistry, Executive Express and Dubow Since theinEDA’s inception resulting the creation of in 2011, take the hassle out of our land appropriate resources for nearly $5.6 million combined Textile - inreason, addition toacquisition,” larger businesses 500 jobs and in over 400,000 public every project. says co-founder For this square feet of business Matt Studer. “Thanks to the for business investment has led to space. over $54 we are a first-stop like New Flyer and Park Industries.

A

Construction activity continues EDA’s help, we were able to development in St. Cloud.” to increase in both private and close on land with existing Beaver Island public investment with this infrastructure and city services, Brewing Company year’s building permit numbers allowing us to move forward Assisting with site selection for large or small business When this local brew house already surpassing 2015’s yearon our new 10,000-square-foot Administering business expansion and redevelopment financing resources inquired about expanding end of $73.4 million. production facility.”

Among the services provided by the EDA are:

Serving as a referral source for business start-up and job skill training Guiding businesses through the city permitting process

Located in the I-94 Business

The are based Parkresources since 2006, Arctic Caton is the type of development project collaborating with the EDA to and expand its St. Cloudeach operation. needs. “We realize business is The EDA assisted in site selection unique, and can quickly match and financing opportunities resources and make connections for the proposed $5.6 million without wasting precious time.”

manufacturing addition and $1.3 million state-of-the-art research The EDA also assists with and development facility. The redevelopment of high profile expansion will essentially double vacant locations. When Boser their existing employment with Construction invested another fifty positions. over “Now to is an exciting time $400,000 redevelop the former to be a part of on St. Cloud’s Granite Bowl Hwy 23/Division development boom,” says Street, the EDA facilitated Mehelich. “We’re honored to financing from the state and city to partner with businesses to assist support the extraordinary costs. their growth and prosperity in The new 13,000sf Class-A office the City of St. Cloud.”

building provided much needed space for Quinlivan & Hughes Law Firm. “We started looking at The Economic different locations and there is just Development something about being a part of Department downtown andaccess continuing provides to the redevelopment and expansion of a variety of services, St. Cloud,” says Quinlivan & including: Hughes Steve Schwegman. SiteCEO location assistance

“We’re fortunate in this Start-up and community to have an abundance expansion resources of business development resources Financial resources and partners,” adds Mehelich. City development “That’s why we exist – and to serve as permit assistance one centralized location for doing business with the City and improve services to businesses who want to prosper here.”

Contact: cathy.mehelich@ci.stcloud.mn.us Direct: 320.650.3111 Url: ci.stcloud.mn.us/economicdevelopment

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Special Focus

Finding Employees Companies that want to grow will find that filling workforce needs requires good communication and a positive company culture. By Kelly Radi

H

ere is a tale of two companies. The first—an automotive parts retailer and wholesaler. The second— a residential and commercial door retailer, servicer, and installer. One employs about 1,000 people, the other 87. Both are family-owned. Both are headquartered in St. Cloud with a regional presence. And both share the common need to attract new people— a capable, motivated labor force. They’re not just looking to fill positions opening as Baby Boomers retire, but also to fill growing needs that often require sophisticated

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Special Focus

skills. For example, store-counter personnel at Automotive Parts Headquarters (APH) need to be highly skilled and trained in automotive parts in order to provide insight to customers on features and benefits, technology, vehicle repair and service. “We are always working to build and retain the valuable knowledge and skill set of our seasoned workers, while offering opportunities that will entice an up-and-coming millennial workforce,” explains Corey Bartlett, APH CEO/president. Midwest Perks Todd Larson, director of human resources at American Door Works, believes that living in the Midwest has its benefits in terms of work ethic and education when seeking qualified, hard-working employees. In fact, the regional labor force participation rate of 71 percent is the third-highest in the country. In addition, Minnesota boasts one of the most educated workforces in the country, with 92 percent of the adult population possessing a high school diploma and about one-third having a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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Williston ND

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Recruiting Tools But recruiting candidates in 2016 looks different than when Larson began his HR career 20 years ago. Then, the recruitment process consisted of placing help wanted ads in local newspapers and other print media. Today’s HR professionals are no longer limited to typeset help wanted ads. Area businesses are taking advantage of a variety of recruiting tools and sites such as Career Builder, St. Cloud Area JobSpot and Monster. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook have also opened up cost-effective opportunities to recruit qualified candidates. In a recent nationwide survey by Jobvite, 76 percent of job


We are straightforward and honest with our candidates and let them know we are looking for honest people of good character as they are the face of the company and our reputation in the community.” —TODD LARSON, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES AT AMERICAN DOOR WORKS

seekers claim they found their current position through Facebook. American Door Works’ Larson stresses the importance of communication from the get-go. “When posting an open position, an accurate, detailed job description leaves few questions on what we do and the type of candidates and skill sets we need for these positions,” he said. “We are straightforward and honest with our candidates and let them know we are looking for honest people of good character as they are the face of the company and our reputation in the community.”

Retention Strategies Employees cost money. Turnover is expensive. If you ask a dozen HR professionals for retention strategies, you’ll likely get a dozen answers. But both Larson and Josie Luebesmier, HR generalist at Automotive Parts Headquarters, believe company culture plays a huge role in recruiting and retention. And that’s important because nationally one out of every four new hires leaves within their first year, often citing a negative onboarding experience. “A healthy, respectful culture brings out the best in a workforce,” says

Luebesmier. To help establish the value they place on teamwork and culture, APH brings new hires from all 102 Auto Value store locations to their St. Cloud support center where they meet staff and learn firsthand the culture of the organization. “Our management team strives to make new employees’ first months as engaging, efficient, and productive as possible– leading to long-term job satisfaction and retention,” she said. “After all, retention is our best form of recruitment.” Kelly Radi is a freelance writer, public speaker and owner of Radi To Write, a public relations writing firm. radi.to.write@gmail.com.

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Special Focus These 10 ideas will help you manage your marketing budget and still make an impact.

Marketing on a Dime

By Kelly Zaske, Gaslight Creative

S

avvy business owners know they need to market their businesses, but many just don’t know where to start. If this is you, read on. Although there is not a one-strategy-fits-all solution, the following 10 high-impact, low-budget marketing ideas will help you create an effective marketing plan. 1 Improve and optimize your website. Most customers look at your website before contacting you, and they are making assumptions about you based on your website. If your site is poorly designed, hard to navigate or not

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DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 27, 2013


BU I LD I N G WI TH I N TE GRI TY SI N CE 1972

optimized for mobile, you may be losing customers from the start. Remember to budget resources to keep your website fresh. 2 Use all of the buffalo. Buffalo was more than a source of meat – hides became clothing and shelter; bones became tools; sinews became bowstrings. Use this strategy and make the most of every marketing effort. For example, one case study can serve as: • fresh content on your website • the subject of an email blast • a direct mail piece • a tradeshow handout • a leave-behind for sales calls • a blog and other social media posts 3 Choose your social media

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weapons carefully. Social media takes time and time is money. Focusing your efforts is the most effective and efficient strategy. Think about your target audience and where they are. If they are not on Facebook, skip it. Think about other outlets that relate to your audience and industry. Choose one or two and do them well. 4 Play to your strengths. Focus your marketing efforts on those strategies or tactics in which you excel. If cold calling simply isn’t effective, drop it. If you’re good at networking, plan on investing more time and money on opportunities where you connect with potential clients. 5 Profile your best customers. Think about your best customers. What do they have in common? Then think about how you attracted them. Whatever worked, do more of it and consider trimming the rest. 6 Expose unexpected value/savings. Don’t forget about the features and benefits that are built in to your S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 //

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Special Focus business, like “Free Consultation,”“Free Design Service” or “Free Delivery.” You may not think these benefits are a big deal, but they could be what set you apart from your competition.

9 Shop for marketing bargains. Compare prices between media outlets and consider bundling marketing tactics. Media outlets will often offer a discount if you buy more than one service.

7 Leverage expertise. Take stock of your inventory of expertise, know-how and experience and turn it into information-rich content. Case studies, articles, presentations, or e-books can transform your intellectual capital into a powerful magnet for clients. 8 Do what others fear. A lot of people hate cold calling so they won’t do it. Others are petrified by public speaking, so they don’t do that. By taking on marketing efforts that others find uncomfortable or terrifying, you will gain a major advantage over your competitors.

J Use in-house and outsourced tactics. There are some tactics you can effectively implement in-house and others where you may want to consult a professional. Be smart and realistic about your expertise and time. Outsourcing all or part of your marketing efforts may help you save money – and make more money – in the long run. Kelly Zaske is a marketing strategist and co-founder of Gaslight Creative, a fullservice creative marketing agency based in downtown St. Cloud.

Central MN Growth Guide:

Central Minnesota is expanding. Here is a snapshot of some of the area businesses and new projects

CENTRAL MN GROWTH GUIDE

CITY OF ST. CLOUD RICE COMPANIES

Economic Development Authority

COBORN’S, INC. LOCATION: Isanti, MN GENERAL CONTRACTOR & ARCHITECT: Rice Companies COMPLETION DATE: August 17, 2016 WEBSITE: ricecompanies.com DESCRIPTION: This “next generation” store format is a first of its kind for Coborn’s, Inc. The 45,000-square-foot store will focus on fresh selections and an updated modern industrial design. The store’s focal point includes a new centerpiece deli area called “The Kitchen,” serving made-to-order entrees that are packaged in-store for easy, quick at-home preparation. The store will also include brick-oven fired pizza, a 65 foot service meat case, a pharmacy, Caribou Coffee, convenience store and car wash.

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LOCATION: City Hall - St. Cloud, MN CONTACT US FOR: • Site selection for large or small business • Business start-up, expansion & relocation resources & financing • City development & permit assistance PHONE: 320-650-3111 WEBSITE: ci.stcloud.mn.us/economicdevelopment DESCRIPTION: The St. Cloud Economic Development Authority (EDA) stands ready to work with you as your first-stop for business development assistance.

W GOHMAN CONSTRUCTION ST. CLOUD AREA YMCA COMMUNITY & AQUATICS CENTER LOCATION: St. Cloud, MN GENERAL CONTRACTOR: W Gohman Construction ARCHITECT: HMA Architects COMPLETION DATE: May 2017 COST: $25 Million WEBSITE: wgohman.com SUMMARY: 106,000 total square feet, 8,100-square-foot of aquatics, 3 gyms, 2 racquetball courts, walking track, Kids Zone with indoor and outdoor play areas.


CENTRAL MN GROWTH GUIDE

HMA ARCHITECTS DONLAR CONSTRUCTION CO. WEST RIVERS EDGE PARKING RAMP

RIVER’S EDGE RAMP / LINCOLN PLAZA

THE WOODCREST OF COUNTRY MANOR SENIOR LIVING APARTMENTS

LOCATION: Downtown St. Cloud - Adjacent to the River’s Edge Convention Center

LOCATION: St. Joseph, MN

LOCATION: St. Cloud, MN

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Donlar Construction

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Donlar Construction Company

ARCHITECT: HMA Architects PROJECT COMPLETION: November 2016

ARCHITECT: HMA Architects Ltd. COST: $11.5 Million COMPLETION DATE: November 2016 WEBSITE: donlarcorp.com DESCRIPTION: When completed, this five-level parking facility will have 401 stalls, multiple stair and elevator towers, with three levels of parking spanning 5th Street North.

GLTARCHITECTS

WEBSITE: hma-archs.com DESCRIPTION: 400 stall precast parking ramp spanning 5th Avenue. The ramp is designed to complement the existing River’s Edge Convention Center and will serve the entire downtown area. The project also includes a memorial and sculpture/art plaza that will include the statue of Abe Lincoln. The statue has been restored and is being relocated to serve as the anchor for this downtown plaza.

ARCHITECT: GLTArchitects

PROJECT COMPLETION: October 2017

WEBSITE: gltarchitects.com DESCRIPTION: The Woodcrest of Country Manor is proposed to be situated on 135 acres of land on the south side of St. Joseph, MN near Kennedy Elementary and the College of Saint Benedict. Plans for phase one include 60 independent senior living apartments ranging in size from 675 to 1250-square-feet, and 24 memory-care apartments, ranging in size from 394 to 848square-feet. The plan includes underground parking. The new facility will feature central dining and social areas for tenants and their guests, including spaces for outpatient rehabilitation, a chapel, a general store with in-house coffee shop, and a beauty salon.

STRACK COMPANIES

SHINGOBEE BUILDERS, INC.

MILLER ARCHITECTS & BUILDERS

Ecumen TCU & Wellness Center

M2 LOFTS - UPSCALE RESIDENCES

LOCATION: Detroit Lakes, MN

LOCATION: Mankato, MN

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Shingobee Builders, Inc.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Miller Architects & Builders

COMPLETION DATE: July 1, 2017

ARCHITECT: RSP Architects, Ltd.

ARCHITECT: ISG Group

COST: $11 million

PROJECT COMPLETION: January 2015

PROJECT COMPLETION: Fall 2016

WEBSITE: shingobee.com

WEBSITE: millerab.com

DESCRIPTION: Addition of 18,300-square-foot Wellness Center / Transitional Care Unit, and renovations in existing facility. The campus includes nursing care, independent, assisted, and memory care living options.

DESCRIPTION: 140,699-square-feet, 4-story apartment building. 89 units - 1, 2, 3 bedroom, fitness room, community room, underground parking.

SARTELL COMMUNITY CENTER LOCATION: Sartell, MN ARCHITECT: HMA Architects, St. Cloud, MN

WEBSITE: StrackCompanies.com SUMMARY: Project consists of a 53,000-square-foot single story facility with mezzanine level containing common areas, recreational gymnasium, elevated walking/running track, multi-purpose meeting rooms, senior center, resource center, offices, and kids play area.

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Business Spotlight

GOING STRONG

John Schwegel has seen many changes in his 47 years in the telecommunications industry. But his favorite part of the job is still working with family. By Gail Ivers

BC: Where do you get your business from? ______________ Schwegel: Most of our business comes from our website. Terri [office manager] does some mailings, people see our trucks, but mostly it’s word of mouth. I’ve done a lot of work at boat manufacturers. Some food processors have been customers for over 25 years. BC: How have things changed? ______________

Personal Profile John Schwegel, 69 Majority owner, Schwegel Communications Hometown: St. Cloud area Education: St. Cloud Tech High School; the military Family: Son Gary, daughters Terri and Janelle, seven grandchildren Hobbies: “I try to spend as much time with my children and grandchildren as I can. My grandchildren are in sports. I love watching them play – win or lose, it doesn’t matter. I do a little hunting.”

Business Central: Why did you decided to start your own business? ______________ John Schwegel: I like all the stress. (grin) I was kind of forced to become a business owner. I was 47 years old, I had 21 years of experience, and the best job offer I could get paid $10 an hour. BC: What has been your biggest challenge? ______________ Schwegel: Keeping people employed. This is a feast or famine business. There’s no steady stream of work.

Fun Fact: Schwegel Communications can service all the old AT&T and Lucent Technology phone systems. “Some are 25 years old and still going strong.”

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Timeline 1966 John Schwegel serves in the military. He works in electronics in the communication center in Alaska

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At A Glance

Schwegel: A lightening strike used to shut a company down. If there was a storm, business owners would immediately check to see if their phones were working so they’d know if the employees would have anything to do. Now they don’t even worry about checking until the next day. If a system went down in the past, you were dead in the water. Now, you can reroute everything to your cell phone.

Schwegel Communications, Inc. 1907 Prairie Rose Lane, St. Cloud, MN 56303 Phone: (320) 656-9313 Fax: (320) 396-6792 info@schwegel.biz

BC: What have you liked best about being a business owner? ______________

Opened: 1991 as John Schwegel Telephone Services

Schwegel: The real enjoyment has come from working with my children every day. My

Best advice to a new entrepreneur: Provide a good service; be honest; be able to sleep at night. Do the best you can for your customers.

son Gary worked with me for about 12 years before he got a great offer and moved to the Twin Cities. My daughter Terri does all the office work. I have a grandson who is helping this summer. My other two grandsons have worked in the business, too, as technician helpers in the summer when I’m on the job. It’s really fun to have them there.

1969 Schwegel joins Northwestern Bell Telephone Company doing installation and repair of phone systems 1991 Schwegel is laidoff from AT&T (formerly Northwestern Bell);

schwegel.biz Business Description: Commercial telephone systems; sales, installation, cabling, networking, fiber optics, security, loudspeaker paging Owners: John Schwegel and Terri Nestel

Number of Employees: 4 full time, 1 part time Joined the Chamber: 1996

associates convince him to become an independent contractor for Lucent Technologies, a spin-off of AT&T, doing installation and repair 1995 Schwegel hires his son Gary, as a technician

1996 Schwegel hires his daughter, Terri, as office administrator 1999 Schwegel Communications establishes an office outside of the home


49 10 4C

When you want the business credit options to fit your needs.

We have a variety of business credit options to help you reach your short- and long-term goals. A local banker is here to help guide you to the appropriate financing for your business, including: • Credit cards • Lines of credit • Loans • Commercial real estate financing • Vehicle and equipment loans You can borrow with confidence knowing you’re working with a bank that’s loaned more money to small businesses than any other bank for more than a decade.* Stop by and speak to a local banker today, or go to wellsfargo.com/appointments to schedule an appointment at a time that’s most convenient for you.

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September/October 2016  

September/October 2016

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