September/October 2020

Page 1

CONNECT BUSINESS MAGAZINE P.O. BOX 176 NICOLLET MN 56074-0176 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED PRSRT STD US Postage PAID Permit No. 609 MANKATO, MN


Do you prepare more for family vacations than you do for college? For a personalized college cost report, call or visit a financial advisor today.


Choose an Edward Jones Financial Advisor Mike Benz

Jill R Berdan

Meghan Anderson

Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

26 N Broadway Street New Ulm, MN 56073 507-354-0017

108 North State New Ulm, MN 56073 507-354-4243

308 South Minnesota St Peter, MN 56082 507-931-9110

Chris Hoffman CFP® CLU®

Chris Jensen CFP® AAMS®

Jason R Engstrom

Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

340 Belgrade Ave North North Mankato, MN 56003 507-388-7786

700 N Minnesota St Suite C New Ulm, MN 56073 507-354-1234

1604 S Broadway St New Ulm, MN 56073 507-359-2163

Mike Leary

Sander Ludeman AAMS®

Travis M Larson

1111 E College Drive Ste 1 Marshall, MN 56258 507-532-7306

Financial Advisor

1457 Lookout Drive North Mankato, MN 56003 507-387-2008

Kenneth J Klooster AAMS®

Drew Schellpeper

Jennifer Seys

Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

1001 East Blue Earth Ave Suite B Fairmont, MN 56031 507-238-4244

551 Belle Avenue Suite A Mankato, MN 56001 507-625-7280

Financial Advisor

1660 Commerce Drive Suite 2 North Mankato, MN 56003 507-625-8452

1400 S Riverfront Dr Suite 100 Mankato, MN 56001 507-385-0305

edwardjones.com Member SIPC

Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor


CONTENTS COVER INTERVIEW

September | October 2020

COMPANY PROFILE

COMPANY PROFILE

24

8

Bellissimo Painting & Coatings

A Portrait of the American Dream

The Klein Family

HOT STARTZ!

6 46

Pioneer Bank

Editor’s Introduction Ask A Professional: Leading When Times Are Hard: Lessons From a Pandemic

Ben Havens

Walnut Grove Mercantile

DEPARTMENTS

MANKATO

Benny’s Powersports FEATURES

41

NICOLLET

ROE Defense MADISON LAKE

Lakeshore Potential

Connecting Southern Minnesota Business People Since 1994

20 32 44

Day in the Life: Rachel Lueth Entrepreneurial Insight: Brook Devenport IMC Strives to Provide Resources for Diverse-Owned Businesses

Connect Business Magazine www.ConnectBiz.com

STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS

CIRCULATION

ADVERTISING

Publisher: Concept & Design Incorporated

11,000 for September/October 2020

Call: (507) 232-3463

Published bimonthly

E-mail: sales@connectbiz.com

Editor: Lisa Cownie Art/Photography: Jonathan Smith, conceptanddesign.com Contributing Writers: AJ Dahm, Crystal Hanson Production & Circulation: Becky Wagner Printing: Corporate Graphics, N. Mankato Mailing: Streamworks 4

34

September | October 2020

CORRESPONDENCE Mailing Address: Connect Business Magazine P.O. Box 176 Nicollet, MN 56074 Send editorial correspondence to: editor@connectbiz.com

Information: connectbiz.com/advertising ABOUT CONNECT Locally owned Connect Business Magazine has ‘connected’ southern Minnesota businesses since 1994 through features, interviews, news and advertising.

Web: connectbiz.com

Connect Business Magazine is a publication of Concept & Design Incorporated, a graphic design firm offering print design, brand design, illustration and photography. Learn more at conceptanddesign.com.

Phone: (507) 232-3463

Copyright 2020. Printed in U.S.A.


SIESTA H

I

L

L

S

“A NEW STYLE OF LIVING”

COMING SOON TO MANKATO! An exciting and fulfilling lifestyle awaits at Siesta Hills. Amazing lots and home plans to match are available now. Enjoy healthy and active living in an adult lifestyle community that offers exceptional amenities and facilities- indoor/outdoor pool, fitness center, meeting place, wine cellar and more!

QUADPLEX HOUSE PLAN

Don’t delay, dirt is starting to move. Join the Siesta Hills community. Patio Home A

A N I M AT I O N & VI RTUAL TOU R https://youtu.be/KLpDyPCtbuo

Theuninck Construc

Siesta Hills PLAN - Patio Home PATIO A HOUSE https://tourmkr.com/f/F19VAURGox/

Animation

Virtual Tour

New Construction / Mankato, Minn

SUNROOM

Theuninck Construction

EXTERIOR OPENINGS

·

PAN FLASHING REQ'D UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINODWS PRIOR TO INSTALLATION

u VERIFY ALL APPLICABLE BUILDING & CODE

u VERIFY TOPOGRAPHIC AND SUBSURFACE

ISSUES PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION.

CONDITIONS AND ADAPT FOUNDATION PLANS ACCORDINGLY.

u CODES GOVERN OVER DRAWINGS. u DIMENSIONS GOVERN OVER SCALE.

WINDOW FALL PROTECTION: REQ'D ON ALL OPERABLE WINDOWS LESS THAN 36" ABOVE THE FINISHED FLOOR AND 72" ABOVE GRADE OR SURFACE BELOW R312.2 ASTM 2090

Gable Roof Option · ·

REFER TO CHAPTER 8 FOR ROOF CEILING DESIGN REQUIREMENTS INCLUDING FRAMING, BRACING, BRIDGING AND TRUSS DESIGN. VENT ATTIC WITH AT LEAST ONE SQUARE FOOT OF VENT FOR EVERY 300 SQUARE FEET OF ATTIC SPLIT EQUALLY BETWEEN THE SOFFIT AND THE RIDGE.

WINDOW FALL PROTECTION: REQ'D ON ALL OPERABLE WINDOWS LESS THAN 36" ABOVE THE FINISHED FLOOR AND 72" ABOVE GRADE OR SURFACE BELOW R312.2 ASTM 2090

ADHERED (MASONRY) VENEER: INSTALL PER MFR INSTRUCTIONS.

·

SITE FINISH GRADE: SITE SHALL BE GRADED A MIN OF 6" PER 10'-0" & AS SUCH TO DRAIN SURFACE WATER AWAY FROM FOUNDATION WALLS.

TEMPERED

SCALE: 1/4" = 1'-0" or 1/8" = 1'-0"

ALTERNATE FRONT ELEVATION 2

·

ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS AND INTERSECTIONS OF WALL AND ROOF TO BE FLASHED & SEALED TO PREVENT THE ENTRY OF WATER IN THE WALL CAVITY PER IRC 703.8

·

WINDOW SILL PROTECTION - PROVIDE PAN FLASHING UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINDOWS, SLOPED TO DRAIN WATER TO THE EXTERIOR R703.8.1

·

TEMPERED

FINISHED GRADE SHALL FALL FROM FOUNDATION A MINIMUM OF 6" IN THE FIRST 10'-0"

·

6" WOOD/EARTH SEPARATION REQ'D WHILE PROVIDING POSITIVE DRAINAGE AWAY FROM STRUCTURE. BUILDER/HOMEOWNER SHALL COMPLY WITH GRADING PLAN TO ASSURE PROPER DRAINAGE

·

WINDOW FALL PROTECTION - REQ'D ON ALL OPERABLE WINDOWS LESS THAN 36" ABOVE THE FINISHED FLOOR AND 72" ABOVE GRADE OR SURFACE BELOW R312.2 ASTM 2090

360

TOUR

WINDOW FA LESS THAN 3 OR SURFAC

TEMPERED

·

REFER TO CHAPTER 8 FOR ROOF CEIL REQUIREMENTS INCLUDING FRAMING BRIDGING AND TRUSS DESIGN. VENT ATTIC WITH AT LEAST ONE SQUA FOR EVERY 300 SQUARE FEET OF ATTI BETWEEN THE SOFFIT AND THE RIDGE.

VEHICLE ACCESS DOORS: SHALL MEET ASTM E-330 OR ANSI/DHSMA 108 FOR 90 MPH WIND RATING, PLACE COMPLIANCE STICKER ON THE DOORS

IN ASSOCIATION WITH:

EXTERIOR ELEVATIONS

TEMPE

SCALE: 1/4" = 1'-0" or 1/8" = 1'-0"

·

ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS AND INTERSECTIONS OF WALL AND ROOF TO BE FLASHED & SEALED TO PREVENT THE ENTRY OF WATER IN THE WALL CAVITY PER IRC 703.8

·

WINDOW SILL PROTECTION - PROVIDE PAN FLASHING UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINDOWS, SLOPED TO DRAIN WATER TO THE EXTERIOR R703.8.1

·

FINISHED GRADE SHALL FALL FROM FOUNDATION A MINIMUM OF 6" IN THE FIRST 10'-0"

THE FINISHED FLOOR AND 72" ABOVE GRADE OR SURFACE BELOW R312.2 ASTM 2090 507 351-5740 julie@blueprinthomedesign.com ________________________________________________

DISCLAIMER - Due to the lack of "on site" consultation & supervision, and control over the actual construction process, and because of the various local building code requirements & weather conditions, the drafter/designer ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY in the use of these plans for any damages. This includes structural failures due to any deficiencies, omissions, or errors in the design or blueprints. It is recommended you consult with a local building official or inspector prior to the start of actual construction.

ADHERED (MASO INSTALL PER MFR WEATHER-RESISTIV TWO LAYERS OF G UNDER ADHERED STUCCO

COPYRIGHT 2018 - This is a copyrighted plan and is the exclusive property of Blueprint Home Design. All rights are reserved. These plans may not be used, built from, or reproduced in any form or buy any means without the written permission of Blueprint Home Design.

EXTERIOR ELEVATION - REAR SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

TEMPERED

TEMPERED

EXTERIOR ELEVATION - REAR SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

ALTERNATE FRONT ELEVATION 3

WALKOUT C HOUSE PLAN - BACK

ALTERNATE FRONT ELEVATION 4

ALTERNATE FRONT ELEVATIONS

Siesta Hills Development

EXTERIOR ELEVATION - LEFT

Mankato, Minnesota - 06/03/2020 ISG Project No. 23092

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

·

WALKOUT C HOUSE PLAN - FRONT

ALTERNATE FRONT ELEVATIONS

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

Architecture + Engineering + Environmental + Planning

·

SITE FINISH GRADE: · 6" WOOD/EARTH SEPARATION REQ'D WHILE PROVIDING POSITIVE DRAINAGE AWAY SITE SHALL BE GRADED A MIN OF 6" PER FROM STRUCTURE. BUILDER/HOMEOWNER SHALL COMPLY WITH GRADING PLAN TO 10'-0" & AS SUCH TO DRAIN SURFACE ASSURE PROPER DRAINAGE Blueprint Home Design WATER AWAY FROM FOUNDATION The Hugo Bldg, 530 North Riverfront Dr, Suite 160 WALLS. · WINDOW Mankato, MN 56001FALL PROTECTION - REQ'D ON ALL OPERABLE WINDOWS LESS THAN 36" ABOVE

EXTERIOR ELEVATIONS

TEMPERED

Find the space and plan that’s just right for you!

TWO LAYERS OF GRADE 'D' PAPER IS REQ'D

REFER TO CHAPTER 8 FOR ROOF CEILING DESIGN UNDER ADHERED VENEER SUCH AS STONE OR REQUIREMENTS INCLUDING FRAMING, BRACING, STUCCO BRIDGING AND TRUSS DESIGN. VENT ATTIC WITH AT LEAST ONE SQUARE FOOT OF VENT FOR EVERY 300 SQUARE FEET OF ATTIC SPLIT EQUALLY BETWEEN THE SOFFIT AND THE RIDGE.

VEHICLE ACCESS DOORS: SHALL MEET ASTM E-330 OR ANSI/DHSMA 108 FOR 90 MPH WIND RATING, PLACE COMPLIANCE STICKER ON THE DOORS

ADHERED (MASONRY) VENEER: INSTALL PER MFR INSTRUCTIONS. WEATHER-RESISTIVE BARRIER EQUIVALENT TO TWO LAYERS OF GRADE 'D' PAPER IS REQ'D UNDER ADHERED VENEER SUCH AS STONE OR STUCCO

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

TEMPERED

WINDOW SILL PROTECTION: PROVIDE PAN FLASHING UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINDOWS, SLOPED TO DRAIN WATER TO THE EXTERIOR R703.8.1

·

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"WEATHER-RESISTIVE BARRIER EQUIVALENT TO

·

TEMPERED

LAUNDRY

ALTERNATE FRONT ELEVATION 1

TEMPERED

PROVIDE KICK OUT FLASHING AS REQ'D

·

ROOF PLAN

GARAGE

REFER TO CHAPTER 8 FOR ROOF CEILING DESIGN REQUIREMENTS INCLUDING FRAMING, BRACING, BRIDGING AND TRUSS DESIGN. VENT ATTIC WITH AT LEAST ONE SQUARE FOOT OF VENT FOR EVERY 300 SQUARE FEET OF ATTIC SPLIT EQUALLY BETWEEN THE SOFFIT AND THE RIDGE.

OFFICE / BEDROOM

WINDOW SI EXTERIOR D EXTERIOR R

New Constuction

MECH.

PROVIDE KI

·

ROOF PLAN

FLASH ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS & INTERSECTIONS OF WALL & ROOF PER IRC SECTION R703.8. PAN FLASHING REQ'D UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINODWS PRIOR TO INSTALLATION

·

Theuninck Construction Siesta Hills - Patio Home A

·

·

PROJECT BY:

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

PROJECT INFO

·

SITE FINISH GRADE: SITE SHALL BE GRADED A MIN OF 6" PER 10'-0" & AS SUCH TO DRAIN SURFACE WATER AWAY FROM FOUNDATION WALLS.

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

·

FLASH OVE

FLASH ALL E PER IRC SEC

PAN FLASH PRIOR TO IN

New Cons

FLASH OVER AND CAULK ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS

BID DOCUMENTS - NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION

·

WINDOW FALL PROTECTION: REQ'D ON ALL OPERABLE WINDOWS LESS THAN 36" ABOVE THE FINISHED FLOOR AND 72" ABOVE GRADE OR SURFACE BELOW R312.2 ASTM 2090

ROOF PLAN

·

PROVIDE KICK OUT FLASHING AS REQ'D

WINDOW SILL PROTECTION: PROVIDE PAN FLASHING UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINDOWS, SLOPED TO DRAIN WATER TO THE EXTERIOR R703.8.1

MUDROOM

BATHROOM

·

45 DEGREE ANGLE, UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE.

·

SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

·

PROVIDE KICK OUT FLASHING AS REQ'D

EXTERIOR R703.8.1

KITCHEN

NOMINAL (NOT ACTUAL) SIZE AND DIMENSIONED TO THE OUTSIDE FACE OF BLOCK OR FOAM, UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE.

u ANGLED WALLS ON FLOOR PLANS ARE AT A

·

ROOF PLAN

MASTER BATH

PAN FLASHING REQ'D UNDER ALL EXTERIOR DOORS & WINODWS PRIOR TO INSTALLATION

· WINDOW SILL PROTECTION: PROVIDE PAN FLASHING UNDER ALL CLOSET EXTERIOR DOORS & WINDOWS, SLOPED TO DRAIN WATER TO THE ·

EXTERIOR

·

u MASONRY OR ICF WALLS ARE DRAWN AT

EXTERIOR OPENINGS

FLASH OVER AND CAULK ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS FLASH ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS & INTERSECTIONS OF WALL & ROOF PER IRC SECTION R703.8.

·

DIMENSIONED TO THE OUTSIDE FACE OF SHEATHING, UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE.

u INTERIOR PARTITIONS ARE DRAWN AT 3-1/2" AND DIMENSIONED TO CENTER OF WALL, UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE.

FLASH ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS & INTERSECTIONS OF WALL & ROOF PER IRC SECTION R703.8.

·

·

· · ·

u EXTERIOR WALLS ARE DRAWN AT 6" AND

FLASH OVER AND CAULK ALL EXTERIOR OPENINGS

·

GREAT ROOM EXTERIOR OPENINGS

PANTRY

Gable Roof O

GENERAL PLAN NOTES:

Siesta Hills - Patio Home A Siesta Hills New Construction / Mankato, Minnesota

MASTER BEDROOM

DINING

EXTERIOR ELEVATION - RIGHT ISGinc.com SCALE: 1/8" = 1'-0"

TEMPERED

PLANS ISSUED: pricing const docs revised revised revised

03/24/2020

PHOTOS, SITE PLANS & MORE! VISIT: SIESTAHILLSLIVING.COM


EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION

Stories of Struggles and Success Greetings everyone! Since I wrote you last, so much has happened in our world, in our country, in our state, and indeed in our community. I am choosing not to focus on what has gone wrong, but instead, let’s celebrate the victories that have come out of this surreal time of life. One family that is no stranger to challenge is the Ek family. I hope you are inspired by their story and their struggle as they have quietly built a life and business, Bellissimo Paint & Coatings, from the ground up. We also highlight the story of the Klein family in Marshall. Starting with honey, moving to fudge, and now doing fundraisers, this is another family that has learned to embrace the challenges before them. Ben Havens, owner of Benny’s Powersports, has become a powerhouse in the industry...right from his little corner of the world in Lake Crystal. Again, inspiring. All of those featured this issue, faced challenges (including, of course, COVID) and found ways to overcome.

Lisa Cownie

Happy reading and, hopefully, learning,

EDITOR

Lisa Cownie

Committed to Local Growth An innovative partner that understands the value of local presence. Pioneer Bank - Mankato, MN

ISGInc.com | Architecture + Engineering + Environmental + Planning 6

September | October 2020


Choose the to Feel Your

Joe Stratton, CEO River’s Edge Hospital

To Our Patients:

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much of what we once knew as normal. One thing that has not changed is the superior level of care you will receive with OrthoEdge. The Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, Mankato and River’s Edge Hospital, St. Peter are committed to continuing to provide a safe environment for you to receive care. When you choose OrthoEdge you can expect: • • •

Both of our locations are screening all employees, patients, and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 and require everyone inside the building to wear a mask. All surgical patients will be screened and/or tested for COVID-19 prior to surgery. At River’s Edge Hospital surgical patients will stay in a wing separate from medical patients and therapy will take place in the room.

We care about you and your safety. Thank you for trusting OrthoEdge to feel your best. Learn more at OrthoEdgeMN.com

Andrew Meyers, CEO The Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic

Recognized for Being the Best! River’s Edge Hospital has been recognized as a DNV GL Healthcare certified Orthopaedic Center of Excellence for: • Hip & Knee Replacement • Shoulder Surgery • Spine Surgery

Plus, River’s Edge Hospital is top rated for patient experience!


A

By Lisa Cownie

Photos by Jonathan Smith

Let me paint you a picture of just how the American Dream is supposed to look. A young boy growing up in Yucatan, Mexico spent his days working in his grandparents’ grocery store. Hard work was expected of him, and he made the most of it, paying close attention to how the store operated. Then in the 70s, the Mexican economy went into crisis. His grandparents lost the grocery store and their livelihoods. They lost their ability to support their family. So, at 11 years of age, the boy was sent to the United States with his younger sister. He enters the country legally, with the help of an uncle, to try to find his mother already living in California in search of a better life. This boy, already a young man really, set off to make his place in a new land. He didn’t know English, but he knew hard work. So, he worked as a migrant worker up the coast of California, before heading East, wherever work could be found, that’s the path he chose. His hard work paid off, and eventually he started his own company and a family. Raising them both in a place that offered him enormous opportunity: Mankato, Minnesota. This is the story of Eduardo Ek, owner of Bellissimo Paint and Coatings. “He came here for the American dream,” reflects his son, Justin Ek. “We all want it and that's what he earned. He made it possible for himself and our family.” The phrase, the American Dream was born from the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that "all men are created equal" with the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It’s that pursuit that led Eduardo Ek to southern Minnesota almost 40 years ago. “His journey brought him to Winnebago,” continues Justin.“I think he was working on a farm near Winnebago, and then they lost their housing so they had to move to Mankato.” As a teenager, he had already learned how to overcome loss. Over the next four decades the migrant worker from Yucatan, watched his American dream become reality. He became a permanent resident of the United States, got an education, married his high school sweetheart from Mankato and raised four children. All of these actually happened simultaneously, as Eduardo and Jennifer, his high school love whom he met while attending Loyola, started having their children while still in high school. Continues Continues


CONNECT Business Magazine

9


A Portrait of the American Dream

Jennifer says, “Just like Ed, I will say that our kids did not have an easy life. If you’re the children of a teen mom, it’s not an easy life. They struggle right along. They grew up at the same time their mom was growing up.” Justin believes all of these circumstances plays into the success the family has finally achieved. “My dad struggled, and we did too,” says Justin. “We struggled along with him when we were growing up. So it was not just his tenacity to make it but ours too. We refused to give up. We will get what other people say is too hard to get. Not from anybody helping us, from us doing it ourselves.” “People may look down on it, but it’s more of a step up to me. It’s a privilege, almost, to have hardship. Hardship I think is a privilege because other people just don’t have that exposure to things that you have. We just had to figure things out. You have to figure it out at such a young age it gives you a jump-start on life and decision-making and stuff like that. In many ways it makes

10

September | October 2020

it easier to be successful.” Eduardo and Jennifer, together now for 36 years, their four children all grown, believe the picture is now perfect. Jennifer says, “For me, I feel like there were points in my life where it really felt overwhelming. The decision to have our children so young really impacted the whole rest of my life. I love my children, but it carries so much weight over your whole life when you have your children that early, but then I feel now as if I’ve worked so hard that this company is quite a reward for all of that hard work.” In this interview, Jennifer and Justin talk about their family-owned business, Bellissimo Paint and Coatings, and the role Bob Ross, yes THAT Bob Ross, has played in their lives. Jennifer, let’s talk about your side of the story. How did you and Eduardo meet? Jennifer: We met in high school, actually. We both went to Loyola. Yes, we’ve been

together for, let’s see ...36 years. I was born here in Mankato and grew up in North Mankato. So, I’ve lived here my whole life. How did Eduardo find himself at Loyola? Jennifer: I don’t know actually exactly but then he was actually living with other- [This is when Eduardo passes through the room. He couldn’t be there for the entire interview, but did pause to address this question for us.] Justin: Dad, how did you find Loyola? Eduardo: I was living with a friend of mine from Winnebago. He was going to Loyola. I was going to East High School. I was a wrestler at East, but the coach at East High School told me that I can’t wrestle A squad because I got there too late. My friend told me, ‘Why don’t you come to Loyola?’ So we talked to Father Schneider and Father Schneider told me, ‘If you come here and wrestle for us, we’ll help you with your tuition.” And they took care of everything. They


Bellissimo Paint & Coatings | Mankato

said as long as you work hard that’s all you’ve got to do. Then I met her over there. [Points to Jennifer. With a smile he bids us good bye, so he could get back to work.] So you two met in high school and stayed together to start a family and a business? Jennifer: We started Bellissimo in 2007. But we’ve tried other businesses over the years. Justin: My dad is an entrepreneur. He has run every single business he could possibly think of. That includes two pawn shops, a restaurant, a driveway seal coating business, carpet cleaning and a few others. Painting is just what stuck. It just kind of worked for us and it has been good. I don’t know, we both have kind of an aptitude for it and there was demand for it. So it is the business that took off. But how did he get started with painting in the first place? Jennifer: He was working for another

company and had to travel a lot. We have four children and he was gone a lot from me and the kids. He was in Kentucky and he went to Wyoming and he was all over and then when he came home I was always like, ‘This is a lot of work.’ He finally just got tired of being away from the family. Justin: Really, it started when he was helping another painter paint the Shopko in Mankato. That painter walked out in the middle of the job and the general contractor said to Dad, ‘Well, do you want to finish this?’ So he did. Then we bought a pump and then we just went from there, started our own painting business. That’s a pretty big bold move though as well, off on your own. Jennifer: I know but that’s the way he is. Justin: It was just there for the taking. Why do you think painting stuck? Justin: Well, my dad learned English from watching Bob Ross paint on TV.

He watched the videos and just trained... both his English and his painting. Is that a true story? Justin: Yes! That’s where the aptitude for that comes from and hard work, really hard work. That’s really what it is. Jennifer: The kids have always worked in all of our businesses in one way or another. Justin: We found success from that in ways that we struggled to make it work before. I don’t know if my mom told you, and I don’t care about saying it, but my dad and my mom started having their kids in high school. We had a rough start. They took a while to get up and going and tried a lot of things. So when he tried painting as a business, we stuck with it because we were making money! You had one paint pump and the one job finishing Shopko, how did it grow from there? Justin: It’s simple: quality. My dad is a very meticulous person. He’s very meticulous,

M A S C H K A , R I E D Y, R I E S & F R E N T Z L A W F I R M Abbie Olson and Joe Bromeland are experienced lawyers who are here to help with all your business and personal needs. Business Formations Business Disputes Estate Planning Probate Real Estate Matters Land Use/Zoning Issues

Business Transactions Municipal Law Trusts & Trust Litigation Estate Litigation Real Estate Litigation Construction Litigation

507.625.6600

Mankato, MN I mrr-law.com Complex problems. Resolved.

CONNECT Business Magazine

11


A Portrait of the American Dream

very tedious. We just didn’t stop. We just kept getting one job after another and when you do it that way, it pays off. We just kept building on that early success. It was a humongous advantage, just having an entire family working toward the same goal. Jennifer: Eduardo is very good at explaining things and people seem to like him. Then Justin went to get his business and marketing degree and so he’s utilizing that a lot. Our youngest son got a communications journalism degree. He was helping with social media. There are just a lot of different components to our kids and how they contributed. Justin: My brother is an Army veteran and now works in communications, network building, and stuff. So we have a good system, technologically speaking, because he built an infrastructure for us that works above and beyond other companies, I think. We are just firing on a lot of different cylinders all of the time. One thing I find when I write these stories about people is that they come in with a talent, let’s say it’s painting in this case, but then in my mind, it would be really hard to just know the business side of it. The ins and outs of how to run a business. Is that just something that you learned by doing? Jennifer: For me, this is baptism by fire. My degree is in social work. I actually went back to school. I’ve worked at nonprofits for the most part. I was a Spanish interpreter and worked for nonprofits that largely serve Hispanic populations using my Spanish and knowledge of the culture. When you work for a nonprofit, your grants run out a lot. That happened to me three times in a row. When that happened, I thought ‘I’m just going to go back to school.’ I went back to school, got my degree in social work, and by the time I graduated, we were extremely busy with the business. I was still doing this bookwork then and I was getting more busy and taking the calls more often and doing more. So by the time I graduated, I didn’t even think it was worth it for me to get a job in that field because we were so busy that we really needed me to be here. Justin: I think it goes a little bit further back than that though, because my grandparents, my dad’s parents, and his grandparents, they all had businesses that until the crash, my dad was around to see so some of that trickled down to him. For me, I definitely learned a lot of things by doing them wrong. I also just study a lot, I do a lot of research on how to run a successful painting business in different markets and different climates and environments. I just always want to learn what we can do better. We’re always trying to do things better. How many employees are you up to now? Justin: It’s a seasonal thing, but I would say that on average we have about 10 employees consistently. Is your whole family still involved in the business? Justin: We do things like community events and stuff that all of our family comes together for, so they help me throw these things 12

September | October 2020


Bellissimo Paint & Coatings | Mankato

Getting to know:

Eduardo Ek Eduardo’s love for painting goes back to his high school days in which his affinity for exploring colors led him to take up landscape painting. His deep satisfaction for the painting process, beginning-to-end, led him to win his school’s Painter of the Year award for his works. That satisfaction for visualizing projects and watching them evolve continues to this day. It wasn’t until a friend approached him with a job opportunity professionally painting, that he realized he could make a living doing something he loved. Since then, with the help of his family and dedicated employees, Eduardo has been at the helm of projects like those at which he got his start. He is still baffled by the fact that people are willing to pay him to be engaged in such a therapeutic process, a process which starts every time a new project begins. He is a World War II enthusiast and enjoys traveling and fishing.

Talents of Bob Ross, Taken to Heart Perhaps many of you reading this, have watched the famed painter Bob Ross demonstrating painting skills on his television program. Ed certainly did as a young man, it’s where Justin says he learned English along with painting techniques. Ross died in 1995, but his memory and legacy are alive and well in Mankato where Eduardo teaches Bob Ross painting classes in his free time. Currently on a hiatus due to the pandamic, Ed plans to resume them when he can. He even has a contract with the state security hospital in St. Peter to conduct the classes for residents there. CONNECT Business Magazine

13


A Portrait of the American Dream

together. They have their own opinions about how much help I ask for, but they do like to be involved and that includes my nieces and my children. So let’s talk about what all you offer at Bellissimo. Justin: We do basically walls, ceilings, interior painting, and trim cabinetry. We do epoxy floor refinishing for like garages but also hardwood refinishing, as well as exterior painting, murals, and stuff like that. That’s for residential and commercial? Justin: Yes, and commercial work, industrial work. Right now we’re working at the U.S. Army Reserve. We do a lot of government work. Is that on a bid process? Justin: You bid and if you’re lucky enough to get it, then you get it, and then you’re in a circle of vendors that could request you. How far geographically do you serve? Justin: We have some crews in the cities so we do work up there, especially in the Shakopee area and Minnetrista area. We do mostly houses up there. We can get pretty much all of southern Minnesota covered, but we like to stay in Mankato. Jennifer: When we were first starting, we had to travel more than we do now. Now we’re so busy we almost have to stick in Mankato, Eagle Lake, Madison Lake and Lake Crystal. We really

Getting to know:

Jennifer Ek She met Eduardo in high school and they have been together ever since, choosing the area to raise their four children, and now to have adventures with their four grandchildren, Addison, Charlotte, Milo and Simon. She speaks fluent Spanish, earned her degree in social work, and is a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan. As a lifelong resident of southern Minnesota, she enjoys seeing both the growth and new development, and preservation of older structures that Bellissimo paints. Knowing that Bellissimo plays a part in the beautification of her hometown is very satisfying to her.

14

September | October 2020


Bellissimo Paint & Coatings | Mankato

have to stick pretty close to home to be able to get everything done in the summertime. Why do you think that is? Is it word of mouth? Justin: People get a lot out of us, because we live here and we have a lot of pride in our work, and we want to stay here. This is my future. If I don’t do a good job, if I just do sloppy work or not good work, I don’t come back or stand by my work, I’m not going to last. I’ve seen a lot of new painting companies come into Mankato and they come for two seconds and they’re gone. It’s because they don’t believe in building good quality, they don’t invest in this community, you know what I mean? They don’t stay and do quality work here. Jennifer: We have extremely dedicated employees too. I can’t say enough good about our employees. We are so lucky and most of our employees have been with us a long time. One of them almost since the very beginning and two of them have been here for close to 10 years. Justin: Yes, the guys are just the best, they kill it every single day. Also, we get referrals from others...not only clients, but others in our industry. Because if we go to bid a job and realize it is something not normally in our scope of work, we’ll let the potential client know and then suggest someone we think would be good for the job. Jennifer: We don’t have a big problem finding someone else.

Getting to know:

Justin Ek Justin, who just turned 30, began painting ten years ago. Since then he has undertaken projects from furniture refinishing to complete home remodeling. His eye for design stems from a passion for perfection, keen sense of detail and a constant effort to keep with home styling trends. Having earned his business management degree from South Central College in Mankato, Justin specializes in new home construction projects, though his experience extends into commercial and industrial realms. Justin shares his talents by doing a lot of public painting. He has several murals around the Mankato community. Justin married his high school sweetheart in 2012. They live in North Mankato in the home Justin’s grandfather built with their son. They have two children.

CONNECT Business Magazine

15


A Portrait of the American Dream

Taking Care of Community Bellissimo is as known in the community for their philanthropic contributions, as much as their painting expertise. In a variety of ways, the Ek family gives back to this place they call home. Justin says, “Obviously, it’s the best marketing you can do, to put yourself out there, and we don’t like to sit still. During COVID we had a lot of time on our hands, and like a lot of others we became encumbered with stress and depression. Some people, even small business owners, might get weighed down by that and stuck still. But we don’t, we didn’t. We just won’t stand still, we won’t. We have to keep doing something, we have to keep busy because if you sit still, you’re just not learning anything. You’re not gaining anything, you have to keep pushing to better yourself because it betters everybody else around you.”

Creative Family Creative talent runs through the Ek family. “We have a studio in Old Town. My brother makes candles, my dad does silver mold pours,” explains Justin. “I do my painting there. We just do our art there. Art is basically a part of our lives 24-7. We’re crafty people. We like to stay busy and learn new things.” But the family does enjoy other things as well. Jennifer adds, “I just like to spend time with my four grandkids. That’s all I do! I am so thankful for that.” Justin says, “We cook. A big part of our family is cooking. We are all chefs.”

16

September | October 2020


Bellissimo Paint & Coatings | Mankato

Also, we get referrals from others...not only clients, but others in our industry. Because if we go to bid a job and realize it is something not normally in our scope of work, we’ll let the potential client know and then suggest someone we think would be good for the job. Justin: Because if it’s not right for us, we don’t want to do it. I’m not going to do it because it’s just going to give us a bad reputation if we can’t do it right. People like that about us and the other guy appreciates that I gave him that word. So he gets it. A lot of referrals come from building trust by reciprocating business. Do you find it hard to find employees? Justin: Our philosophy is that we give everybody a chance. People with criminal backgrounds or others down on luck, we don’t judge anybody based on anything, really. Female or male, any race or age, we take everybody who wants to come in and learn and do a good job. Jennifer: To an extent. I mean, as long as they’re safe to go into somebody’s house. Justin: Right. Reasonably. A lot of people like that don’t necessarily stick around for very long, but we give everybody a shot, and the ones that really love it that have never painted before, but they love it, they stay here for a long time. How do you train that? Justin: We start with the easiest thing you can do, watch. Watch what we do, watch why we do it, ask questions as much as you can. I know right away if a potential employee is not there for the right reasons. So they watch for awhile, and then I let them do it, I let them make mistakes. I let people make mistakes. I let people spray on practice things. You have to let people make mistakes if they want to learn something. That’s the benefit that I’ve had as a son of a business owner: I can’t really get in trouble! (laughs). So I’ve benefited a lot from trying things and messing them up. You have to make mistakes to learn and I let people make mistakes so that they can learn. You feel that Mankato is really a special place. What do you find so special about it? Justin: Well, lately it’s been the ability to impact our environment. Being able to be a part of the community is a great feeling. We were born and raised here. So it’s always felt safe here. I’ve never felt racially discriminated against here. It just feels like a very, I don’t know how to say it, the perfect America is in Mankato. That’s what I think. There’s a good mixture of both sides, which I appreciate, both idealogies. It’s just a good place to be, I think. There’s a lot of small business here. A lot of community, people take care of each other here and it feels safe. I like the safe feeling that Mankato has. We have a rich art and music scene. It’s beautiful here, too. The CONNECT Business Magazine

17


Convenient, Quality Insurance for Your Business Insurance Needs

A Portrait of the American Dream

Nick Smith Mankato, MN 320.761.9208

Stacey Johnson Owatonna, MN 507.455.5299

Jay Horner Owatonna, MN 507.455.5200

Jessica Grayson Owatonna, MN 507.455.5358

Imagine how much easier it would be to handle your business insurance with just one insurer.

Federated coverages range from property to liability to IRAs to business life and disability income. That means your Federated marketing representative can help design an insurance plan that takes care of almost every aspect of your business. Just pick up the phone and call. What could be more convenient than that?

Ed. 3/18

*Not licensed in all states. © 2018 Federated Mutual Insurance Company

Visit a business banker at First National Bank Minnesota to talk about your goals and how we can help. Your community banking partner since 1857.

www.fnbmn.bank 18

September | October 2020

natural beauty around us is awesome. Jennifer: I agree, and for me a lot of it is family. My family’s here, even my siblings. I only have one sibling who left and moved to Wisconsin. That’s mostly because she married somebody from New Jersey, so they moved somewhere close for both families. Otherwise, my whole family’s here. A lot of Ed’s family moved here and now he still has a brother here. His mom is here. They’re in Janesville, but they’re close. My nieces and nephews from both sides of my family as well as Ed’s family are here. It’s good. We have our community here. Justin: I also like that it is growing. There’s a lot of potential here. There’s a lot of opportunity here.

It is good to see–I know a lot of people think that there’s too much growth or they are reminiscing about the good old days, things like that but for me, I like to see the revitalization of old town but I also like to see the growth. Jennifer: It is good to see–I know a lot of people think that there’s too much growth or they are reminiscing about the good old days, things like that, but for me, I like to see the revitalization of old town but I also like to see the growth. The new buildings that are going up. I like to see all that. I like to see that it’s expanding and that Eagle Lake is pretty much a part of Mankato now. That St. Peter doesn’t feel that far of a drive anymore, because it just feels like one big community now. I like that part of it. You did mention that you haven’t experienced any racial discrimination here. Do you think maybe that’s one reason your dad felt comfortable staying here because he had migrated, as you said, to here and maybe...? Justin: Obviously, there’s people that say stupid stuff. Jennifer: I can’t say that’s never happened


Bellissimo Paint & Coatings | Mankato

in the course of their lives, of Ed’s life. Justin: But I’ve never felt unsafe here. I’m not going to say I’ve never had somebody yell something out of the car window. I just think to myself, ‘Come talk to me if you want.’ But I think, yes, my dad definitely felt some racist stuff. When my dad moved here, he moved in with this traditional, old white guy. So dad basically grew up with that guy who taught him how to be a fisherman, hunter, he’s got collection of guns. So he learned how to fit it in here, I guess you could say. (laughter) Obviously, he identifies as a Hispanic person but I don’t know that, aside from his appearance, you would know. He fits in with anybody. Jennifer: He’s very adaptable, that’s very true.

was moving out and he wanted to sell so he offered us the building to buy and we were like, “Yes, absolutely.” We knew that the barrier of not having our own location was there. So we just thought it was a sound investment, so we purchased this property about four years ago. Jennifer: Yes, we actually started in our home, and even when we were renting the back of the shop, the office was in our home. This building has been a good investment and a good addition to our business too. Justin: It’s good to have a place that people can come to. You wouldn’t think that with a painting business like ours, you would get walk-in customers. Well, we get them all the time. It’s definitely an edge for us to have this building.

How long have you been in this location on Riverfront? Justin: We rented the back of a shop first. That was just our paint shop and where we stored our tools. The owner of this building

What do you two want people to take away after reading this story? Justin: What I’d like people to take out of this is that if they hire us, that they know that we’ll stand behind our work always.

That we’ll be here for another, hopefully, 20-plus years and that–they can always reach out to us. Or if people are just going to do their painting themselves, I’ll help them with questions and stuff. I love to help people get started in the right direction because they’ll tell their friends, ‘Hey, this guy is great, if you have the means to do so, you should hire them because they’re an honest company.’ I want people to take that we are hardworking, an all American family with principles and morals and values and we’ll take care of your home like it’s our own.

THE ESSENTIALS Bellissimo Paint & Coatings 417 North Riverfront Drive Mankato, MN 56001 Phone: 507-469-8015 Web: bellissimopaint.com Facebook: Bellissimo Paint and Coatings

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

MAINTENANCE SERVICES | REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT + BROKERAGE ARCHITECTURE | SELF-PERFORMING FIELD SERVICES CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT | GENERAL CONTRACTOR

SAUK RAPIDS

GLENCOE

MANKATO

FARGO

320.252.0404 | RICECOMPANIES.COM

CONNECT Business Magazine

19


PHOTO: SUBMITTED

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Rachel Lueth Sales Associate, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Ryan Elbert There are self-help books, motivational blogs and leadership symposiums to help the business- and entrepreneurial-minded make the most of each day to maximize productivity. Connect Business Magazine, though, recognizes we have great resources right in our own communities. So we are going right to local business leaders to give all of you a glimpse into how they manage their days. The goal is for readers to be able to take away little tidbits to incorporate into their own lives to be at their best in and out of the office! For Rachel Lueth, the keyword is balance. Although elusive, Lueth strives to achieve this between her busy personal life...she’s a mom of a 3-year-old as well as her professional life as a sales associate for Ryan Elbert–Farm Bureau Financial Services. As the mom of a toddler, and a busy professional, would you say juggling it all is the hardest part? Balance, can you spell it and use it in 20

September | October 2020

a sentence? Just kidding. It’s hard. Being a mom of a toddler is tough on top of admittedly trying to be the hero all the time. The best thing I ever did for myself was learn to say no. I used to be the one to get roped into doing anything. Do I still do a lot? Sure, but I don’t do anything that I genuinely don’t want to do. I also stopped and had to learn a harsh reality that I was being a little selfish by saying yes to everything. Even if it was volunteer work, my family still got put on the back burner. So I still had to learn to weed some things out. I tried to find things that we can all do together. I do find myself choosing to stay home from certain horse shows. Sometimes I ask myself, in the grand scheme of things, what does this event get me, what’s the prize, what do I gain? That doesn’t apply just to horses, I can apply that same question to networking events, etc. I used to be able to fill my entire week night calendar. There comes a time where maybe the gains don’t outweigh the loss when your family is at stake. When that’s the choice, it’s not hard to stay home and say, “I’ll catch the next one.” Sometimes you do have to make the hard choice when it’s work over family, not just the hobbies and fun stuff. That’s a little tougher to swallow. But you work through those days knowing that it isn’t every day and knowing

that the hard planner that I have, it’s mine. If I don’t like something, I have the power to change it. If I’m doing something where all of a sudden I’m working too much at night, it’s time to look at those days and see, where is my wasted time at the office? Where can I get more efficient so I can put an end to this? I am in control. And on the days it really is out of my control, I know that after a long hard day at work, my family is at home most likely asleep on the couch waiting for me and it makes every minute worth it. Do you have a certain morning routine that helps you prepare for each day? Does hitting the snooze button 20 times count? Because that is definitely the first thing I do to start my day. My husband leaves for work before I do, so I have to get the toddler ready. Typically I bring him downstairs with me and set him up with breakfast and in front of the TV so I can get ready in peace. It’s rare that it works that smooth but we try. Breakfast is a must. It fuels the body and keeps your brain energized. Also, a good cup of coffee with some cream (ok, a lot of cream) is required. I usually catch up on my personal emails and even my work emails that came through since the night before so I can start the day fresh, once I get to the office. Then it’s time to start the battle of getting the toddler into the car for


daycare. I don’t work out in the mornings, because that is a work out itself. I drop him off at daycare and he demands his hug and kiss and that’s when I know that both him and I are ready for the day.

enough for me to do in that time period. I don’t like spending money on going out to eat and starring at the wall while eating in an empty office just seems….sad. So why not keep working.

What is your best organizational tool and why? Honestly, I get laughs and I even get people that try to change my mind, but I will never let go of my old school planner. Each year getting a new planner is the highlight of the year. It’s a clean slate ready for me to decide what I am going to write. What am I going to write to create my life’s journeys for the next year? It’s entirely up to me. Nobody gets to add to that calendar except for me. No Outlook invites, nothing that somebody can just add events without me knowing, it’s all mine. It’s a daily reminder that I am in control of my destiny. If I don’t like something in my life, I have the power to change it. It’s in ink, though, there’s always white out. It’s blank, fill it in. Of course there’s mandatory work meetings and the like, but in general, that planner is my story that I get to write. On a more practical note, I have a photographic memory, so it’s easier for me to visualize a month in my mind as a calendar view and see which dates have something written on them to see if I am free on a certain date. You might ask, but how do you not forget events with no reminder? My mother (M.Ed. in Special Education) taught me you are more likely to remember something if you write it down and even more likely to remember it if you write it in cursive. I have seen technology fail many times when it comes to calendars and reminders. You forget to put the actual reminder on, you put PM instead of AM, your phone died, so if anything I use both, but never just technology.

What is the best way you feel you “connect” with people? I love this question. If you looked up introverted extrovert in the dictionary you would see my photo. I enjoy connecting with people on a deeper and more intellectual level. I am involved in different organizations that are centered around continual self-development, common interests, or humanitarian efforts. I enjoy attending networking events, lunch and learns, and various socials/open houses. I have been attending the Sibley County leadership program this year and I have learned so much from it and met so many new friends. It’s fun to meet other people or catch up with people I only see at these events and learn more about what’s going on in the community around me. I participate in Toastmasters, fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Arlington and Gaylord Chamber of Commerce. The introvert in me says all of those things can be exhausting! So I love to be active on social media! This is a great way to connect to people everywhere in the comfort of my own home and environment. I can even be alone and do it. Yet I don’t have to feel alone. I can do it when I have energy or when I am even just sitting on the couch recharging from a hectic day. I am active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, and Alignable. The best part is that you can mix business with fun. Sometimes the best way to market your product is to market yourself first. I can go on my platforms and show the world that I am just an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. Sometimes I am being silly, sometimes I inspire people with stories, sometimes I talk a little about insurance, sometimes I try to make insurance exciting – that’s the biggest challenge of them all! But I find it to be a great way to connect with people at a super down to earth level. And even though my husband likes to tell me it’s a waste of time, over the holiday weekend. I got three insurance leads off my social media accounts!

Do you do working lunches... or do you actually take lunch?! It’s hard to take this question seriously as I sit here munching on an apple, some Easy Mac, and a Dr. Pepper. Sometimes I will sit at my desk and take some personal calls or take care of personal emails. If I have errands to run or want to go out to eat, I certainly will. Most of the things people would do during a lunch break aren’t close

Lisa Cownie EDITOR

What are your hobbies? I show horses. That takes up the vast majority of my time outside of work. When I’m not at work you can find me on the back of a horse. I’ve been showing horses since I was about 11. I attend barrel races throughout Minnesota and sometimes the surrounding states. I have two quarter horses that I run. I also show Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, and Showmanship with my 3-year-old Paint horse. Most of these shows are in Minnesota and Iowa, but every now and then I will go to Oklahoma. During a normal summer I am typically at a horse show every weekend from the beginning of May until about mid-October. Most of the time I am gone for either just the day or just the weekend. Every once in a while I will be gone for a few days when we are out of state or at the larger shows. My son Parker likes to ride horses as well. My husband enjoys being around the horses, but doesn’t compete. I have always said that one of my hobbies is volunteering. Somehow between work and showing horses, I volunteer. I don’t always have the money to donate, so I try to make up for it by donating my time. A lot of the times it is volunteering to hold a leadership position in the associations that I have membership, or I volunteer to help with certain aspects of horse shows, etc. I really enjoy putting on parties and events, so if any association that I am involved with needs help with that, I jump at the chance! I love music, dancing, cheerleading, public speaking, promoting mental health, supporting PTSD and PPD victims, and simply being a positive influence on the world around me, so I can look back and be proud of the person that I was.

THE ESSENTIALS

Farm Bureau Financial Services, Ryan Elbert 335 Main Avenue Gaylord, MN 55334 Phone: 507-237-2882 CONNECT Business Magazine

21


PRESENTED BY:

STR ATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS SERIES

Regional Business Recovery Initiative: Entrepreneurship in the New Normal The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has economically disrupted small businesses and workforce throughout the state of Minnesota, with the Governor’s stay-at-home order having restricted the operations of many businesses in the region. As communities begin to reopen, questions remain on how to navigate the “new normal”. What does entrepreneurship, small business ownership, and the Minnesota workforce look like in a post-pandemic world? Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships division recently announced an initiative to assist regional businesses in recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a combined effort between the Center for Workforce Professional Education and South-Central Small Business Development Center, the Regional Business Recovery Initiative aims to assist individuals, employees, and small business owners in facing the many challenges that come with navigating the “new normal”. The objectives of the newly formed initiative center around propelling southern Minnesota towards prosperity in a post-pandemic world through providing expert resources to individuals and businesses throughout the region. The Center for Workforce Professional Education has begun to design program offerings under the categories of “people, processes

and technology”, indenting to emphasize the importance of strong leadership in navigating change, flexibility in operations and technological capabilities that allow businesses to be more resilient to future outbreaks of the pandemic. Additionally, the Small Business Development Center plans to offer specific programming relating to COVID-19 response for small businesses, such as how to navigate re-opening. “We are excited to announce this initiative,” said Mike Hahn, Director of the Small Business Development Center at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “The Small Business Development Center offers no-cost, customized consulting throughout the entire life cycle of a business, including challenging time periods and distressed times. As we look towards what small business ownership may look like post-COVID-19, we are excited to be offering expertise to aid our community in preparing for the new normal”. The Regional Business Recovery Initiative comes on the heels of several collaborative initiatives between the Center for Workforce Professional Education and Small Business Development Center. The Small Business Development Center has been acknowledged as the leading center in the state of Minnesota, having generated more than $500,000 in DEED and other external funding to support the local business and regional economy. Through the LAUNCH MN initiative, the SBDC along with the Strategic Partnerships division has been designated as the innovation hub for the south-central Minnesota region. Workforce Professional Education currently manages more than $2.5 million in workforce related grants, dedicated to upskilling the Minnesota workforce for the needs of tomorrow. More information is available at myminnesotabusiness.com or by calling Mike Hahn, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center, at 507-389-1008.

LEARN MORE: https://link.mnsu.edu/maverickacademy


UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS

1

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) ÂŽ Get a grip on your business! Designed exclusively for entrepreneurs, EOSÂŽ helps businesses and their leaders who want to ensure they remain in control of their business while enjoying the freedom and success they envisioned when they started. Attend this interactive workshop to understand how to use powerful EOS tools that you will be able to immediately apply to your business.

DATE: Tuesday, October 20th TIME: 9am-1pm COST: $195

2

Courtesy of an economic development grant, this program valued at $595 is being offered at $195.

Diversity & Inclusion This four part, highly interactive series led by the Greater Mankato Diversity Council centers around diversity education and its relation to social and economic success. Develop and understanding of your own unconscious biases as well as learn best practices to make organizations and programs more welcoming and inclusive.

DATE: Wednesday, September 9th TIME: 1pm-4pm COST: FREE

3

Confidence at Work Whether you are seeking to make a big impact, advance your career, or communicate your ideas, confidence is key in finding success at work. Register for this three part series to cultivate stronger skills in leadership, self-assurance, and executive presence.

DATE: Wednesday, September 16 Presented by Sara Krisher, Founder of Stand Tall, TIME: 9-10:30am COST: FREE Member of the National Speakers Association.

DEVELOPING LEADERS | MEETING INDUSTRY NEEDS

TO SIGN UP, OR FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://link.mnsu.edu/courses-and-programs Sessions are offered in virtual and in-person settings. Please visit our registration site for details on a specific program. 424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN Phone: 507-389-1094


24

September | October 2020


By Lisa Cownie

Photos by Jonathan Smith

The recent ups and downs of the economy have stung a little, but Klein Foods, Inc. in Marshall has come up with a pretty sweet business plan to weather it all. Owners Steve and Kay Klein operate a business that today looks drastically different from when Steve’s dad, Ray, started Marshall Honey Farm in 1951. But they both assert that Klein Foods wouldn’t be what it is today without Ray’s hard work, passion, and humility. “My dad went to the Ag School at the University of Minnesota, and found himself one class short for graduation,” Steve explains. “The only available course was about beekeeping. To my dad’s surprise, he ended up very passionate about it!” Ray’s professor owned different commercial beekeeping operations throughout the state, and he offered Ray a job at any one of them. Since Ray was a lightweight and always felt cold, he chose Marshall because he thought it would be the warmest location. After establishing Marshall Honey Farm, Ray worked with his brother Eugene to put down business roots in the community and surrounding area. He delivered honey in cans to stores and towns all over southwest Minnesota. It was only natural that Steve grew up learning the beekeeping business. When he wasn’t helping Ray in the bee yards, he found himself filling jars of clover honey and labeling them for their many customers. The partnership between Ray and Steve resulted in a thriving business and 16 national championships at the American Honey Show. Unfortunately, circumstances out of their control hit the business hard in the 1990s. “We ran about 2,000 hives, and the business was very successful until high levels of pesticides, honeybee pests and dwindling bee pasture put tremendous economic stress on commercial beekeeping,” says Steve. “By 2000, all of the commercial beekeepers in southwest Minnesota had disappeared.” Continues CONNECT Business Magazine

25


Walnut Grove Mercantile

To generate additional revenue, Klein Foods, Inc. was established in 1992. As an S-corporation owned equally by Steve and Kay, the business began manufacturing specialty honey products for the gourmet food and gift segments. Flavored honeys such as Amaretto Crème and Blueberry Delight proved to be a big hit with customers. The business began to grow rapidly, with its products found in stores across the country. “Within three years the new company earned more revenue than the beekeeping operation did,” Kay adds. “We sold the commercial beekeeping operation and focused solely on Klein Foods.” In 2001, another opportunity for growth presented itself. The city of Marshall wanted the Klein Foods location for a new YMCA. In the process of searching for a building site, Steve and Kay started to dream bigger. “After several years of operating Klein Foods, we thought it would be nice to have a retail store to feature our own products, as well as others’,” Steve says. A new manufacturing facility was built, and a retail store named Walnut Grove Mercantile (WGM) was added. “Since we marketed nationwide, we chose a name that was tied to the area, but also

Coping with COVID COVID has affected our business in several ways. Most of our spring fudge fundraisers had to cancel because of school and organization closings. We also closed WGM during the official state shutdown. Sales in March, April and May were down by about 80%; thankfully, we’ve seen a bit of a rebound in June. Unfortunately we had to temporarily lay off our workforce as there was a huge decrease in demand for our products. Because of the strict food manufacturing sanitation regulations that we follow, there hasn’t been a lot to change in terms of COVID sanitation practices, but we have updated our manufacturing process. We are keeping an eye on COVID as we come into the fall, as that’s when we could see a really big impact on fundraisers. However, we believe that we’ll see fundraising growth in the long term, as states and school districts will be facing reduced tax revenue. This usually translates into schools asking their extracurricular groups to do more self-funding (aka fundraisers).

26

September | October 2020


Klein Foods, Inc. | Marshall

had strong name recognition,” Kay explains. “We also decided to create a Walnut Grove Mercantile product line.” By encouraging and valuing customer input, Steve and Kay soon found their business growing in unexpected ways. “As we worked on plans for the store, a wholesale customer of ours suggested that we add fresh fudge,” Steve recalls. “We knew absolutely nothing about making fudge, but decided to give it a try.” Within WGM’s first six months of business, fudge was the best-selling item. Several years after the store opened, a local church group approached Steve and Kay and asked if they would consider doing a fudge fundraiser. “We debated about it because we were concerned it could affect our store sales,” says Kay. “As it turned out, the people who bought fudge through the fundraiser ate it so quickly that they came to the store to buy more!” Other groups soon approached Steve and Kay looking to set up their own fundraisers. Fifteen years after that first successful fundraiser, Klein Foods has partnered with groups in more than half the states in the U.S. Although Klein Foods still manufactures and supplies gift and gourmet stores with their original products, fudge

Catch the Hometown Business Connection on KEYC News 12! KEYC News 12 and Connect Business Magazine bring you the stories of area local businesses and how they impact Southern Minnesota. • First Wednesday of the month on KEYC News 12 at 6 • Repeats Thursday on KEYC News 12 Midday • See all previous episodes on keyc.com

Walnut Grove Mercantile offers a nostalgic atmosphere which features the Klein family’s own products, along with other fine foods and gift items. CONNECT Business Magazine

27


Walnut Grove Mercantile

WHERE YOUR POLICY COMES WITH AN AGENT

Mankato | Amboy | Vernon Center

cimankato.com

(507) 385-4485

Sneeze Guards

PRODUCED AND DELIVERED LOCALLY BY SCHWICKERT’S

Keep your staff and community members safe by maintaining a positive distance of separation, while still providing a high level of engagement with Schwickert’s Sneeze Guard. Produced from durable, long-lasting and easyto-sanitize material, the Sneeze Guard is what your business needs to defend against harmful germs and illnesses. www.schwickerts.com | 507-387-3101 | 330 Poplar St. Mankato, MN

We are ready for you. SHOVEL READY COMMERCE INDUSTRIAL PARK 136.03 acres Close to SMSU (4-year University) and MERIT Center (training facility) Ability to subdivide down to 5-acre increments Full access to utilities Easy access to Hwy 19, 68, 59, 23 Phase I, geotechical reports, soil tests, ALTA Survey available upon request 28

September | October 2020

Marshall Economic Development Authority CI.MARSHALL.MN.US (507) 337-0802

fundraising has become the dominant part of the business – something neither Steve nor Kay anticipated. “We have been so surprised with how the fundraising program has taken off,” Steve says. “It’s very important to us as a family and as a business to know that we are providing direct support to local communities and organizations across the country, especially here in the Upper Midwest.” Steve and Kay weren’t content to rely solely on fundraising revenue, so they continued to find innovative ways to grow the business. Their product lines have expanded from gourmet honeys to include homemade barbecue sauces, preserves, fruit syrups, caramels, soap, and more than 100 different flavors of fudge. “We’ve recently seen strong growth in our corporate gift sales, especially for the holidays,” Kay says. “We also offer tours of our facility and opportunities to make your own fudge.” Oftentimes great success can bring great challenges. The retail industry is particularly vulnerable to the ups and downs of the economy. Riding those waves hasn’t always been easy for Steve and Kay. “Our retail store has definitely weathered some difficult times,” acknowledges Steve. “When we first opened, we had lots of customers. But every time the economy goes through a rough patch, we see that reflected in our sales and foot traffic. Thankfully, we’ve seen sustained growth in the store over the past few years.” The popularity of the fudge fundraising program has brought its own challenges. There has been a tremendous need to increase inventory, staff, and production, while also complying with the more stringent food safety laws that have made food manufacturing more intensive than it used to be. Just like many other industries in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, Klein Foods faces workforce issues, although the nature of their business makes those issues unique. Because the last three months of the calendar year generate close to 70 percent of their revenue, Klein Foods has many part-time employees. They have moms who work when their kids are in school, retirees, farmers who have lighter schedules after harvest, and college and


Klein Foods, Inc. | Marshall

high school students – all in addition to the full-time, year-round employees. “We’ve been incredibly blessed with the many employees who have gone above and beyond to help us meet demand over the years,” says Kay. “They truly embrace the business as if it were their own.” “And who doesn’t want to make fudge?” quips Steve. “Everyone wants to be on quality control!” It may have been the “warm” weather of Marshall that drew Ray Klein all those years ago, but it’s been the community and the people that caused the Klein family and business to put down deep roots. When

Steve and Kay Up Close Steve and Kay are both former school teachers. They have four grown children. Back in the commercial beekeeping days, Steve was heavily involved with the beekeeping industry, serving as president of the Minnesota Honey Producers Association and the Treasurer for the National Honey Board. He was also called upon by USAID (the US Foreign Aid organization) to develop other countries’ beekeeping and honey marketing efforts. Steve is the president of the Lyon County Philatelic Society (the local stamp club). He enjoys flower gardening, as evidenced by the numerous flower beds outside of Walnut Grove Mercantile. Kay enjoys sewing, reading and photography. Steve and Kay are actively involved with their church and their family.

LET US BE YOUR GATEKEEPER

A TECHNOLOGY TEAM YOU CAN TRUST CTS Select Services offer the same benefits of your own tech team plus added security and additional capabilities. Our highly trained technology professionals are able to assist you on-site and remotely. With 24/7 support, you can rest easy knowing someone always has you covered.

COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS YOURCTS.NET |507-388-3880 NETWORK & DATA SECURITY | CABLING SECURE WI-FI WITH BYOD PROTECTION TELEPHONE SYSTEMS (UC) | CAMERAS BUSINESS COMPUTER SERVICES

CONNECT Business Magazine

29


Klein Foods, Inc. | Marshall

Walnut Grove Mercantile

“After being away from Marshall for about 10 years, I felt a strong desire to return and increase my involvement in the business. Being a third-generation company means a lot to me, especially knowing what my grandpa and parents have put into this place. I want to keep that legacy going and continue to see that it grows after my parents retire,” says Nicholas. the store was built in 2001, Steve and Kay never considered leaving the area. “The community has been so wonderful to us over the years, and Marshall is a great city to have a business,” says Kay. Located right on an intersection with Highway 23, Klein Foods has found an ideal place for its twin arms of manufacturing and retail. There is easy access for both customers and freight shipments, and many travelers driving north in the summertime stop for a visit. WGM has even become a defacto visitor center for the community. “The local people have given us such tremendous support,” Steve says. “From the city, to the Chamber, to our customers – we couldn’t be more pleased.”

When Ray started Marshall Honey Farms, he probably couldn’t imagine that the business would grow to include a third generation. Steve and Kay’s son, Nicholas, recently moved to Marshall to work alongside them with the intention of taking up the mantle after they retire. “After being away from Marshall for about 10 years, I felt a strong desire to return and increase my involvement in the business. Being a third-generation company means a lot to me, especially knowing what my grandpa and parents have put into this place. I want to keep that legacy going and continue to see that it grows after my parents retire,” says Nicholas. By remaining open, adaptable, and

Every episode we feature up to three different local business owners and ask the tough questions about business and what makes them successful.

focused on their customers, Steve and Kay have grown Klein Foods into a successful, multi-faceted business. If history is any indication, it seems that another opportunity could be just around the corner. If that’s the case, Steve, Kay, and Nicholas are ready to grab it.

THE ESSENTIALS Walnut Grove Mercantile 1501 East Lyon Street Marshall, MN 56258 Phone: (507) 532-3127 Web: walnutgrovemerc.com Facebook: Walnut Grove Mercantile


HOME & OFFICE

WINDOW COVERINGS

FREE

Consultation Shipping & Installation

LOCALLY

AND FAMILY OWNED

Blinds & More has been locally owned and operated since 2008. We work with both residential and commercial accounts throughout Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

WE COME TO

YOU

Shop at home convenience! We bring our samples directly to your home or office. Cellular Shades Roller & Solar Shades

Roman Shutters Soft Shadings

110

SCHEDULE YOUR CONSULTATION 507-380-5019

BlindsandMore.org


ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHT

Blinds & More Finds Niche, Takes Show on the Road Brook Devenport Owner of Blinds & More In the 1700s the word entrepreneur entered our vocabulary, meaning adventurer. The meaning has been honed over the centuries and is now widely regarded as one who launches and runs a new business. However, entrepreneurs remain adventurers at heart. Taking on great risks based on an idea or expertise one has developed in hopes of making a profit. The word “risk” should not be taken lightly here. According to statistics over the last five years; 80 percent of new businesses made it to the second year, 70 percent to the third year, 62 percent to the fourth, and by the fifth year, 32

September | October 2020

56 percent were still in business. Here are some more points to ponder, 69 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs start their businesses at home. According to the National Small Business Association’s 2017 Economic Report, the majority of small businesses surveyed were LLCs (35 percent) followed by S-corporations (33 percent), corporations (19 percent), sole proprietorships (12 percent), and partnerships (2 percent). When asked what is the best way to learn more about entrepreneurship, 51 percent said “Start a company.” Each issue of Connect, we bring you stories of local entrepreneurs. What made them take on the risk, the adventure? Where did they go for help? And how do they plan to survive? For adventurer/entrepreneur Brook Devenport, her foray into owning her own business was so she could do things on her schedule. A busy mom of three, time was more important than treasure. “Early on I really liked the idea of making my own schedule, particularly around my family and their activities. As it began to

evolve, it became clear that I could run the business successfully working at hours and times that worked for me by appointment, and not necessarily the typical work week Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00, which really made this business ‘doable’ for me,” says Devenport. The niche Brook, and her husband Dan, came up with to start the business, was to take the “showroom” to customers. With a van full of samples of every variety of blinds, Brook would take her show on the road, meeting customers in the home. It was a business model that worked, even as their product offerings began to grow. “Our niche is window coverings. Blinds, shades, shutters, drapery and motorization. We do offer custom bedding and pillows as well, but our staple is window coverings. There is constant “growth” in staying on top of industry trends and ensuring we are offering the latest services in a way that flows efficiently. Motorized options have become popular for both our residential and commercial clients. We now work with many area contractors at the beginning


of the building process to include hard wiring throughout their project so that the window coverings can be motorized without ever having to charge, or change batteries,” says Brook. Although it started out just a family affair, Blinds & More now has a team of nine people, and a physical location on Belgrade Avenue in lower North Mankato to meet clients by appointment. The Devenports purposely have controlled the growth over the years, to make sure they didn’t lose sight of their reason for starting their own business: time management. But as the kids have grown, so has the business. Something they identify as a challenge. “Knowing where to grow, when to grow and how to grow are some of our biggest challenges. We have had some successful areas of growth and some areas that did not go so well...balancing the risk of trying something new with the possible reward of financial and business success is a weekly

challenge for us. I’m always thinking about the business, it’s hard to turn my brain “off ” at times,” says Brook. Brook’s number one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs, is to dive deep into the community you are located in. Community, she says, is what you need to support you not only financially, but emotionally as well. “The more you are involved in our community, the more connections you have and people you know. And in a world that is constantly growing, that is never a bad thing to have. Even though we advertise quite a bit, most of our business actually comes from referrals! Our community has so many opportunities for entrepreneurs to get involved in. Get involved! Over the years I have been involved with Minnesota River Builder’s Association (MRBA), Business Networking International (BNI), Greater Mankato Growth (GMG), my kids’ PTA/PTO’s and Booster Clubs. Community involvement, they believe

COMPLICATED

COMPREHENSIVE

Lisa Cownie EDITOR

is a big reason for their success. The Devenports offer these groups as suggestions for budding entrepreneurs: Zonta, Women Entrepreneurs in Business (WEB), Greater Mankato Cavaliers, Greater Mankato Ambassadors, Young Professionals (YP), Rotary, Toast Masters, 1Million Cups, Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation (RCEF), Junior Achievement (JA) and Realtors Association (RASM). THE ESSENTIALS

Blinds & More 424 Belgrade Avenue North Mankato, MN 56003 Phone: 507-380-5019 Web: blindsandmore.org

GET THE MOST VALUE OUT OF YOUR CONTRACTS AND VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS Take the burden out of researching, selecting and negotiating core banking solutions with the help of our core processing analysis services.

507.387.6031 | eidebailly.com/core

CONNECT Business Magazine

33


By AJ Dahm Photos by Jonathan Smith

Growing up in an old farmhouse near Mount Kato on the south side of Mankato, Ben Havens had a passion for things that went fast, like dirt bikes and snowmobiles. That passion took root early and has only blossomed as time has passed. Like many who find their passion in life, Ben had to find a way to support his expensive hobby. He started to find projects on Craigslist and Home Magazine that he could fix up and resell. Around 2007, his used parts business started to take off. “I would find cheap old dirt bikes and snowmobiles that had bad engines or other expensive problems. I would buy them, dismantle them, and part them out. As I got familiar with selling these parts, mainly on eBay, I realized the world had a serious need for less expensive options for parts to fix their toys. Soon I was selling ten or more parts per week off of the parts-rigs I had torn down. This started to build a cash flow

34

September | October 2020


that led to more opportunities to buy more inventory. Soon I had no room in my garage to park my truck and decided to make a career out of it�, says Havens. Living just outside of Mankato, Havens attended Mount Olive Lutheran School as a child, then to Minnesota Valley Lutheran, before transferring to Lake Crystal Public School for his final two years of high school. It was during high school, that he started to work for Fastenal. “I started in the Mankato store summer of 1998 bagging fasteners and running deliveries. I moved to La Crosse, WI after high school to work in the Tomah, WI location and help with the La Crosse and Winona stores. I was offered a position as branch manager at the age of 19 in Fairmont. I moved back to Lake Crystal in 2001 and worked at the Fairmont Fastenal store as the manager until 2009,� says Havens. Continues

CONNECT Business Magazine

35


Benny’s Powersports

LISA KAYE

36

September | October 2020

After working for Fastenal for 11 years, Havens decided to take a leap of faith and start his own business after attending Minnesota West Community and Technical College to get a degree in Powersports Technology. Faith is something Havens has an abundance of, as evidenced by a Bible verse he keeps on the wall in his Lake Crystal office. Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it”. Sound advice for any business person. Today, he is the owner of Benny’s Powersports, in Lake Crystal and 2020 officially marks ten years of being in business as a powersports repair shop, retailer, and parts dealer. “I took on any and every project that people would bring me. When I first started I would fix anything from boat motors and lawn mowers to ATVs, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles. I kept the parts business going as much as possible to fill the slow times,” says Havens. Benny’s Powersports offers a dizzying array of products and services. Their target audience includes off road enthusiasts, snowmobilers, ATV and UTV riders, farmers and other agriculture related businesses. They buy, sell, and trade all major brands of ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles. They also sell new and used parts and accessories for ATVs, UTVs and snowmobiles, along with OEM and aftermarket products for all major brands. Benny’s Powersports is a dealer for both Parts Unlimited and Western Power Sports. The two distributors are the largest of their kind in the world. Some other products include helmets and apparel, such as coats, bibs, hats, gloves and boots. They also sell wheels, tires and lift kits, along with skis, tracks, windshields, hoods, seats, oil, engine drivetrain parts and all maintenance parts. If that wasn’t enough, they offer radios, stereo systems, winches, plows, and heaters. Some of their biggest sellers are tires in the warmer months and winter apparel and helmets in the colder months. If it goes in, on or near a powersports vehicle, chances are, they sell it. The powersports industry is a fast growing and fast moving industry. Havens says, “Honestly, we don’t have to come up with new and exciting products. The vehicle manufacturers, performance parts and accessories manufacturers, and our creative customers come up with new and exciting products. We just have to be tuned in to our business and react to the ever changing and evolving industry. We


Lake Crystal

“Honestly, we don’t have to come up with new and exciting products. The vehicle manufacturers, performance parts and accessories manufacturers, and our creative customers come up with new and exciting products.” really try to communicate with our customers to find what they want and give it to them at an affordable price. We stay in tune with our industry by listening to our customers, having good conversations with them to find what they really want or need. Then we take the information they give us and find the products that fit their needs. As we continue to gain more and more knowledge of what our customers really want, we stock products in our store accordingly. Some of the challenges are being able to afford and manage the inventory and product lines that our customers want. We have good supply chains and relationships with other dealers that allow us to get products quickly to meet customer needs.” Now with four full-time employees in addition to Havens, Benny’s Powersports is a family affair. Ben’s sister, Shelly Freyberg, is the retail and online manager. His mother, Carol Eckert, is the shipping manager and in charge of online parts sales. Both employees work hard to continually grow and support the business in a number of ways. They run the day to day of shipping, receiving, and manage all retail and online orders. Tirelessly answering the phone and helping customers. Havens’ first hire was a friend’s younger brother, Jake Pahl. Jake is the service manager. He repairs most of the vehicles that come through the shop. He makes sure the customers are taken care of and he ensures the shop runs smoothly. Willy Taylor is a utility man of sorts. “Over the years, he learned so much through true hands-on learning. After six years, he’s my lead technician for custom installation of plows and winches, windshields and

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HAD A SECOND OPINION ON YOUR FINANCIAL PLAN? In this ever changing economy, we have found many business owners are unhappy with the advice given from their financial advisor—it’s not uncommon. We believe that many successful businesses would value a second opinion on their finances and succession plans. Let us help you help those you care about. Contact us today.

Brad Connors, President 213 15th Ave NE | Waseca MN 56093 507-835-9111 www.iWealth4me.com Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.

Real challenges require real solutions.

WE DELIVER.

Bolton-Menk.com CONNECT Business Magazine

37


Benny’s Powersports

full cabs, stereos and speaker systems, wheels, tires, lift kits, and anything else we do on a daily basis around here. Not to mention, he parts out every ATV, UTV, and snowmobile we tear down, by himself. Without the daily dedication of these four individuals, our business would not be where it is today,” says Havens. The future looks bright for Benny’s Powersports. Ever expanding and in need of more space, they are now on their third location since opening their doors. They are adding another building to their Lake Crystal location. Havens states, “We are running out of room and building a new storage warehouse behind our shop. Towards the end of 2019 we made a deal with the city of Lake Crystal and another local land owner to purchase the properties behind our shop. We are excited to build our new heated warehouse. This will help us in growing our online sales business and offer our customers seasonal storage. We expect our new warehouse to be done by late fall 2020.” Expansion and growth is always a risk in business, but it is one Benny’s Powersports is looking forward to with no plans to rest on their laurels. “I think the biggest hurdle we have faced throughout the years is funding our growth. You can be a successful business and continue doing business as usual or you can pursue aggressive growth. Growth is a challenge because cash flow becomes a big hurdle to get over. This challenge has helped me learn patience. Every aggressive entrepreneur wants to grow big and fast. If I could offer any advice, it would be: have patience. Grow a working

Benny’s store sells a range of powersports accessories and apparel.

relationship with a small local bank and pay your bills on time. We have evolved from a small used parts dealer and repair shop to a full retail showroom and full service powersports shop. Our online business is continually growing. We will continue to reinvest our profits and push forward to better serve our customers and employees for years to come,” says Havens. In the next five to ten years Havens would like to see their online business continue to grow into a self-sustained ecommerce site of its own and not rely on just eBay and other online giants for online

Brochures Annual Reports Catalogs Magazines Posters Childrens Books Coffee Table Books and MORE! Corporate Graphics Your Printing Solutions Company

1750 Northway Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003 800-729-7575 ~ www.corpgraph.com 38

September | October 2020


Lake Crystal

“I also get excited to come to work every day because I’m literally surrounded by cool big boy toys all day. I get to fix them, make them cooler and faster, and yes I get to drive them too,” says Havens. sales. Adding another one or two technicians to service most of the customers quicker and more efficiently, is another goal for the future. They currently service over 600 vehicles (ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles) per year and would like to see that number doubled by the year 2025. “I am driven by the need to create opportunities for the people that work for me. If I don’t make this business successful, I am taking away the opportunity for them and their families to thrive. We all have families at home. We all want our families to be happy, healthy, and comfortable. I feel a deep need to provide for all of my employees an opportunity to better their income and create financial independence. Everyone that works here has a salary and a commission. They are in a position to directly affect their pay every day by their commitment to this business and the job they perform. I also get excited to come to work because I’m literally surrounded by cool big boy toys all day. I get to fix them, make them cooler and faster, and yes I get to drive them too,” says Havens. Community is important to Havens and the crew at Benny’s Powersports. “Small town communities and small businesses are the backbone of our economy. We live, work, and play with

people in the local community. Our kids go to school with our customer’s kids, play sports and have school activities with each other. I really prefer the small town atmosphere. We support our local community mainly by donating to local fundraisers with some of our products as door prizes and gift certificates to our store,” says Havens. As many business owners will tell you, owning a business is not for everyone. Generally working twelve hour days, Ben devotes much of his time to his business. “Honestly, it’s not easy. You have to be able to manage your time wisely. With only 24 hours in a day, half of them are spent at work or preparing for work. On a daily basis you have some really tough choices to make. My wife, Sarah, is supportive of what I do every day and she is one of the main reasons this business has been successful. Without her support, I could not do it. Sarah was the one who really pushed me to make the leap and quit my job 11 years ago. She encouraged me to take the risk of starting a business from nothing (in an economic recession, no less). She gives me words of encouragement when I come home overwhelmed from the never ending, always growing list of things to get done at work. I can honestly say Benny’s Powersports would

Meet your expert in Finance & Banking Law. Michael S. Dove

Raised on a family farm, Mike understands the importance of hard work and dedication and takes this approach in his law practice. Mike has extensive knowledge and expertise in the areas of debtor-creditor rights, bankruptcy, corporate law, agricultural law and commercial litigation. Call 507-354-3111 to schedule a meeting with Michael.

New Ulm, MN • 507-354-3111

CONNECT Business Magazine

39


Benny’s Powersports

Business | Home | Auto | Health

Belle Plaine | Le Sueur | Minnetonka 10,000

CLIENTS

8,000

6,000

4,000

2,000

Get insurance options! 20 professionals & 16 companies See how new clients on save average!

$628

(800) 967-3389 thecanopygroup.com

40

September | October 2020

2005

2018

The Canopy Group is an insurance agency with three locations that is making waves by rapidly growing its business.

not exist today without the encouragement and support of my wife,” says Havens. Outside of work the Havens family spends their spare time riding ATVs and snowmobiles with family and friends. Sarah’s family has a cabin in Birchwood, WI and they ride ATVs up there as often as they can. It is their favorite family hobby. Fishing in both summer and winter is also a favorite pastime for the family. There have been a multitude of projects and installations for Havens over the years but one stands out above the rest, he says. “One of the most nerve racking projects was when a friend of mine asked me to rebuild the engine on his parachute plane. These planes use a high output snowmobile engine for their powerhead. Since I had knowledge of snowmobile engines, I guess I was the guy for the job. Honestly, I turned him down twice before he ended up convincing me to do it. There’s just an unsettling feeling to know your friend is 1,000 feet in the air with your engine keeping him up there. Don’t worry, that was over six years ago and last I checked the motor has not failed him yet.” Going to the Hay Days Swap Meet in North Branch, Minnesota every summer for the last twenty years has also been a favorite for Ben, who states it is the world’s largest snowmobile swap meet. Havens says, “I want our customers and future customers to know not only that we are here and ready to help them, but that we have a large amount of products on hand and a short distance away at our supplier distribution hubs. We can get thousands of powersports parts and accessories at great prices within one to two business days. We can ship them to our store, freight free, for our customers to pick up or we can ship them direct to their home or business, so they don’t even have to leave the comfort and safety of their home.”

THE ESSENTIALS Benny’s Powersports 111 West Prince Street Lake Crystal, MN 56055 Phone: 507-726-2808 Web: bennyspowersports.com Facebook: Benny’s Powersports


HOT STARTZ! MANKATO

Pioneer Bank Since spring of 2019, the greater Mankato area has watched the new Pioneer Bank building grow from the ground up at the busy intersection of Victory Drive and Adams Street. “One unique feature of the new building is how we will receive our customers inside the building. While we do have one conventional, stand-up teller window in the lobby and a traditional drive-up lane, our customers will be able to meet their banking needs in a variety of ways while at the bank. Otherwise, several personal bankers will transact business from the comfort of a private desk and seated area.” explains David Krause, CEO. Along with all the other traditional banking services, Kevin Sanger, a Securian financial advisor has relocated his office from our North Mankato branch to the new building and the banks centralized loan documentation center, credit analysts, IT team and several administration positions, including the CEO, are located in the new building.With this addition, Pioneer Bank now has nine locations with 130 employees. Construction began in the spring of 2019, and Krause says the design had the community in mind. “A main feature of the facility is a large meeting room and outdoor deck on the second floor designed to host staff training, customer education and community organization events.” The bank is especially proud to have used local business to get this job done. “We are proud to have Robert W. Carlstrom Co. as our construction manager, ISG as our architect and several other local sub-contractors including Blue Star Power Systems, Kato Roofing, Nielson Blacktopping & Concrete, Guaranteed Electric, St. Peter Glass, Rehnelt Excavating, Mechanical Resources, Kendall Doors and Hardware, M&M Signs, Jerry’s Tile Service, Hendley’s, Multiple Concept Interiors, Greener World Solutions, Southern Minnesota Woodcraft, J&K Masonry, Braun Intertec, WW Communications and Security, iSpace, Right-Way Painting, Woodchuck USA, PresenceMaker, and Sign Pro. We are particularly proud to feature Vetter Stone on and in our building.” he says.

PHOTO SUBMITTED

Pioneer Bank 1450 Adams Street Phone: (507) 344-4580 Web: bankwithpioneer.com

CONNECT Business Magazine

41


HOT STARTZ!

NICOLLET

ROE Defense Two friends that shared a love of shooting recently opened a business in Nicollet so they could share their passion with others throughout Minnesota. A small veteran-owned business, ROE Defense was started by Robert Frederickson and Zack Haag. Through ROE Defense, the duo is able to offer a variety of services all centered around one item: a gun. The company offers gun customizations, gun repair, gun restoration, laser engraving as well as long range shooting, AR 15 builds and sales, suppressor sales and machine gun shoots. It’s not all about just the physical product though, ROE Defense also offers conceal carry classes. “We have online conceal carry classes so we do classes any time, seven days a week. We’ll work with everyone’s schedule. We have a total of eight conceal carry instructors in Minnesota,” says Frederickson. Another unique offering of ROE is cerakote gun coatings. Cerakote is a ceramic based finish that can be applied to metals, plastics, polymers and wood. The unique formulation used for Cerakote ceramic coating enhances a number of physical performance properties including abrasion/wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, impact strength, and hardness. “We’ve had a lot of interest in that, as well as engraving firearms,” says Frederickson. The two business partners believe they have hit on the right niche, and that they have found the right location to grow their business. “Our biggest and best surprise is the support from our local community,” says Fredersickon. “We picked Nicollet because it is a growing community with two meat lockers and two

taxidermy shops in town. Everyone asks us why Nicollet and we always say we love Nicollet and the support we get here,” says Frederickson. ROE Defense 304 Pine Street Phone: (507) 225-9975 Web: roedefense.com Facebook: ROE Defense

Radio ads influence search and retail traffic. When radio spots come on, they have been proven to drive:

THE VOIC E Of MA N KA TO

29% lift in search in activity. (Source: RAB: Radio Drives Search, Sequent Partners, Media Monitors & In4mation Insights, 2017)

29%

22% in store traffic.

22%

(Source: RAB: Radio Drives Store Traffic, TagStation, 2018)

Visit RadioMankato.com and learn how to start.

42

September | October 2020


To be considered for Hot Startz, tell us about a new business or new professional in the area by emailing editor@connectbiz.com.

MADISON LAKE

PHOTO SUBMITTED

LakeShore Potential Logan Sendle remembers fondly his days of growing up on the lake, although to fully enjoy the lake, there was work to be done. “In roughly 2008, when I was a young kid wanting to be able to fish and swim off my dock, my dad and I had to use garden rakes to remove algae and weeds. That ‘chore’ has progressed into a business.” The now 21-year old Sendle partnered with 19-year old Jade Reicks to establish LakeShore Potential. “LakeShore Potential offers lake weed removal, landscaping, and beach restoration services to lakeshore residents. Our primary service is lake weed removal. We manually cut and harvest the Department of Natural Resource’s permitted 50’ x 50’ area of weeds with a 15’ channel to open water. We created a unique process to remove the weeds chemical-free with same-day results,” explains Sendle. The duo serves anyone with a lakeshore within 150 miles of Mankato during the months of April to August, traditionally peak lake weed season. They have provided weed removal and landscaping services to homeowners, resort owners, and private ponds. “We started this business to help people be able to fully enjoy their lakeshore experience along with wanting to help slow the usage of harmful chemicals being dumped into our lakes,” says Sendle. Removing the weeds is proving to be the easiest part of the job for Sendle and Reicks. “Our biggest challenge so far has been learning the ropes of the business as a whole, being both young entrepreneurs we have a ton to learn,” says Sendle. “We have had some amazing people help us along the way and as we continue to learn, such as Yvonne Cariveau, Sarah Richards, Todd Wagner, and Greg Pomerantz.”

Sendle says while they are just getting started, the job has already been rewarding not just financially, but in a variety of ways. “There has been many surprises along the way, but our favorite so far has been a couple of thank you cards we have received,” says Sendle. “For example, one said ‘your work transformed our lakeshore, we were able to utilize our boats and PWC’s with ease and the fishing was amazing.’ We love getting feedback like that!” LakeShore Potential 28626 West Lake Drive Phone: (507) 384-8005 Web: lakeshorepotential.com Facebook: LakeShore Potential

BANKING THE WAY IT SHOULD BE

At your service. On your side.

Mankato | Amboy | Eagle Lake Vernon Center | cbfg.net CONNECT Business Magazine

43


FEATURE Collaboration Connection

1MC Strives to Provide Resources for DiverseOwned Businesses

1Million Cups is a nationwide group of volunteers that support start up entrepreneurs (5 years or less) with weekly meetings where those startups tell their story and get support from the community. You can find out more about it and see past presentations on video at www.1millioncups.com/mankato/. Along with the usual presenters, 1MC has been doing a series of ecosystem mapping discussions with the community to find out what gaps are out there in our entrepreneurial supports. 1MC recently held a mapping session on resources for diverse-owned businesses. 1 Million Cups Mankato will now follow up by hosting a panel with resources for diverse-owned businesses in southern Minnesota. In the resource mapping session held this summer, a few things came across as needs for this segment of entrepreneur: education and access to capital were chief among them. The panel discussion scheduled for September 2 will address these needs. Across the nation, minority-owned businesses are on the rise. According to Inc.com, there continues to be steady growth in the number of minority-owned businesses in the United States. The state of Minnesota reflects the trends of the country when it comes to minority-owned businesses. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developments cites that nearly 10 percent of the state’s firms...nearly 48,000, are minority-owned according to recent Census data. (According to the national Survey of Business Owners conducted every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau.) For these entrepreneurs, starting a small business enables them to step out of a traditional job and pursue their career passion. Likewise, many immigrant families see businesses as a way to become self-sufficient and provide a necessary - and often missing - service to their community. Our cover story this issue is a

great example of that. All small business owners find themselves with challenges on a daily basis, that’s one reason the 1Million Cups program is so important. But for minority business owners, there can be additional hurdles to overcome. Some of those barriers include financial matters, professional development obstacles and access to the right kinds of advisers and mentors. As we dig up resources specific to minority-owned business, one stands out at this time. Here in our region, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation or SMIF, has found a unique way to support diverse businesses. Called the Prosperity Initiative, SMIF hopes to promote inclusive entrepreneurship and minority-owned business growth in southern Minnesota. The program provides regular education, coaching, and business resources to minority and new immigrant business owners in SMIF’s 20-county region. Numbers back up SMIF’s need to address this population as according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 percent of Minnesota’s population will be people of color by 2040. That is up 25 percent from 1980. The Prosperity Initiative is designed to help remove barriers to success for entrepreneurs and respond to rapid growth in this area. To help Prosperity Initiative clients turn their business dreams into a sustainable reality, the SMIF offers support from a professional business coach to set goals and work toward achieving them. SMIF can also offer access to marketing assistance, Quick Books training, financial planning and tax preparation. Business planning software, website hosting and design services, and other crucial business tools are also available. To learn more about SMIF’s Prosperity Initiative, please visit www.smifoundation.org. The Small Business Development Corp. (SBDC) is another valuable resource.

PLEASE JOIN US: On September 2, 1MIllion Cups Mankato will hold a panel discussion on resources for diverse-owned businesses in our region. Please join the business community at 8:30 a.m. via ZOOM. A link to join the presentation will be available at 1millioncups.com/mankato. 44

September | October 2020


UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS

1

Negotiation Across Cultures Negotiation is an integral part of the relationships we have with customers, vendors, and partners. In this three part series, learn the basics of negotiation, skills for internal and external negotiation, and the role culture plays in negotiation.

DATE: Thursday, October 8th TIME: 10:00am-11:30am COST: FREE

2

Stress Management Nearly half of the nation’s workers say job stress is destroying their mental and physical health, and eroding productivity. Register for this session to learn techniques for more efficient time management, stopping procrastination and relieving stress.

DATE: Friday, September 18th TIME: 9:00am-10:30am COST: FREE

3

Leadership Through COVID-19 Recovery This series will provide leaders with a tool kit for responding to the massive impacts the pandemic has had on businesses and organizations. Register for this three-part series to learn strategies to better navigate current and future disruptive change.

DATE: Friday, October 9th IN-PERSON: 12:00pm- 3:00pm ONLINE: 8:00am – 11:00am COST: FREE

DEVELOPING LEADERS | MEETING INDUSTRY NEEDS

TO SIGN UP, OR FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://link.mnsu.edu/courses-and-programs Sessions are offered in virtual and in-person settings. Please visit our registration site for details on a specific program. 424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN Phone: 507-389-1094


ASK A PROFESSIONAL

Leading When Times Are Hard Lessons From a Pandemic

No doubt you’re bored of reading about COVID-19 and just want to move on and get your business back up and running. I understand. There are, however, some important lessons to learn from the pandemic, which we would be remiss to ignore. They could be the ticket to a more sustainable way of working and the long-term survival of your business. There was no blueprint for dealing and surviving the last six months. We’ve had to learn to respond quickly to an unknown environment; one which has provoked responses from panic to apathy, fear to denial. Leaders have had to support employees who’ve been dealing with a very challenging and complex situation. Frustrations have been mounting from every angle; parents trying to juggle daycare and school, employees worried about the health of loved ones, the list goes on. With all that’s going on, it’s not difficult to see a challenge for leaders–how do you keep employees motivated at a time of so much distraction and low energy? While we can’t change what’s going on in the world, I’ve seen leaders transform their

46

September | October 2020

Sponsored Content

situations and find opportunities amid the chaos by applying some important principles. It’s all about building the character employees want from the best leaders. The tips below are based on the work of Anna Maravelas, Founder of Thera Rising International. She lives by a simple principle: How you react to the frustrations of our new reality will: define who you are as a leader, shape what people will say about you when you’re not in the room, and set the tone for the ever so important culture at your companies. 1) Employees Mirror Your Behavior. If you come to work voicing your displeasure for what’s going in the world, employees will follow your lead, or disconnect, if their view is different from yours. Try to focus on connecting with positive energy, perhaps by emphasizing what we can appreciate in these challenging times. As management consultant, Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Having been in human resources for 15 years, I can vouch for this reality. It’s the root of so many issues. Employees need you to create an energy of appreciation in order to reinforce a positive culture. When they come to you to vent, don’t connect by taking the “negativity bait.” Instead, empathize with how they’re feeling, express appreciation for where they’re coming from, and pull together to find solutions. 2) Assume there are reasons underlying behavior then search for solutions. Imagine you have an employee who frequently leaves early, negatively impacting the morale of the team. Do you look the

Crystal Hanson Owner, South Creek HR Fairmont

other way and chalk that up to John being John? Or do you address the issue, work to understand what may be going on, set expectations with the employee, and hold them accountable. The latter point is huge there is no point in setting expectations if you don’t follow-up. You’ll see no change in their behavior. Especially at times like these, we must open the dialogue to understand what is driving undesirable behavior. There could be underlying challenges that the employee needs help to resolve. If we don’t ask, and make the person the problem, nothing will change. Step back and consider the likelihood that there’s a reason. Gather the facts so you can solve the actual underlying issue. By doing so, you’ll be amazed at how easy problem solving becomes. 3) Hold yourself to a high standard. The only thing we can change in the world is our behavior and our personal reactions are the most powerful way to build the culture we want to see in the workplace. When we change our behavior, we trigger a different reaction from employees. Going back to John, if we assume his personality is fixed, we might avoid interacting with him because we’re unsure how to proceed. However, if you avoid the issue, you risk harming the morale of the team and build resentment between team members, and perhaps even yourself and John. It can be the beginning of a vicious cycle as the employee sees the workplace as uncaring and unsympathetic. This is likely to result in a further decline in productivity and even more negativity. Also, nothing is solved. The only way to break these downward cycles is to look at how we’re behaving as leaders and consider how the outcome might improve if we simply resist the temptation to act on the knee-jerk, negative assumption we initially made. Crystal Hanson supports local businesses with a variety of HR services and solutions. After a decade as an internal HR professional, Crystal founded South Creek HR in 2016 and became a licensed facilitator in Thera Rising’s popular seminar, “Drama-Free Work.”


CONNECT NETWORK

Join the Connect Network: sales@connectbiz.com

Looking to sell your business? Interested in buying a preexisting business? BizLink North is here to help. Visit bizlinknorth.com today.

EXCEPTIONAL PRICES, GIANT SELECTION FREE DELIVERY FRIENDLY, PERSONAL SERVICE Furniture, Flooring, Window Treatments, Design Service and More! Downtown New Ulm • 16 North German Street

507-354-2716 • www.newulmfurniture.com

NEW ULM AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Supporting the businesses who make us a special place to visit for a weekend, or a lifetime. See our historical downtown, do some shopping – open your own business! We’ll help you make it your home.

1-507-233-4300

newulm.com

Call Karla VanEman today!

NEW ULM • JensenMotors.com

(507) 345-4040 AN EXPERIENCED TEAM

Marshall, MN is a FORWARD THINKING, BUSINESS- FRIENDLY community with SHOVEL READY sites. JOIN US.

Marshall Economic Development Authority (507) 337-0802 • ci.marshall.mn.us

CONNECT Business Magazine

47


ARCHITECTS

ENGINEERS

SCIENTISTS

SURVEYORS

Solid. Solid. Agile. Agile. Versatile. Versatile. Let’s discuss your next project. Mankato: 507.519.3700

Widseth.com

Est. 1975

Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center, Rochester, Minnesota Site design, civil engineering, and environmental services


Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.