Page 1

Back to building Local construction picking up Also in this Issue: • Tips on succession planning • Living Land Farm • Natural Pathways


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June 2012 • Volume 4, Issue 10

22 Construction uptick

New commercial construction and renovation projects have picked up this spring. While single-family home building remains slow, new retail strip malls are in the works as are several multi-housing projects and office renovation projects.

44 Natural Pathways

In September of 2008, Laura and Jeff Evenson scheduled massages for themselves during a vacation in Ely — and henceforth embarked on a journey that eventually led them to open Natural Pathways in North Mankato earlier this year.

40 Living Land Farm

Community Supported Agriculture is growing in popularity in the United States, and certainly in Southern Minnesota. Adam Ellefson and Lupita Marchan started one of the newest CSAs in the area, Living Land Farm, north of St. Peter.

48 Technical Solutions

Eric and Bob Strand are the father and son behind Technical Solutions of Madison Lake. In 1997, Eric founded the business to bring the audio, video, and communication systems of the workplace into the home

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 3

Features

F E A T U R E S


D E P A R T M E N T S ■

From the Editor................................. 6 Joe Spear: Telling stories with people in the know

Business informer............................. 8

Job trends.......................................10

Vehicle, retail, construction trends in the area ■

Regional, state unemployment information

Departments

Retail trends....................................12 Auto sales, retail sales and hotel business

Greater Mankato Growth................30 Greater Mankato Growth Member Activities . ........................32 Groundbreakings, new businesses, relocations and expansions

■ ■

Greater Mankato Growth CVB .......35 The sweet taste of agribusiness

Regional Outlook.............................38 Jack M. Geller: Importance of web to rural businesses

Agriculture Outlook.........................14 ■

Up & Coming...................................40

Area commodity prices

All in the Family..............................44

Business updates............................16

Kent Thiesse: A closer look at land values ■

Keith Stover, president of South Central College

Mankato area receiving more attention from lawmakers

Construction, real estate trends.....11 Building permits, housing starts, home prices, interest rates

Business Commentary....................20

Agribusiness trends........................15

HickoryTech earnings up, Maschka, Riedy & Ries join group opposing amendment, and more

Business memos/ Company news................................50 Bolton & Menk moves up earnings ranking, ADM Mankato plant honored for safety record, and more

On the Cover: Tony Frentz inside the condos on the upper floors of the US Bank Center (formerly HECHO building) in downtown Mankato. Photo by John Cross

4 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


June 2012 • VOLUME 4, ISSUE 10 PUBLISHER

James P. Santori

EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Joe Spear

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Tim Krohn

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

PHOTOGRAPHERS COVER PHOTO GRAPHIC DESIGNER

From the Editor

PAGE DESIGNER

Jack M. Geller Sara Gilbert-Frederick Tim Krohn Jean Lundquist Keith Stover Kent Thiesse Marie Wood Pat Christman John Cross John Cross Jenny Malmanger Christina Sankey

ADVERTISING MANAGER

David Habrat

ADVERTISING SALES

Cheryl Olson

ADVERTISING ASSISTANT

Barb Wass

ADVERTISING DESIGNERS

Seth Glaser Sue Hammar Christina Sankey Aaron Tish

CIRCULATION DIRECTOR

Denise Zernechel

For editorial inquiries, call Tim Krohn at 507-344-6383. For advertising, call Cheryl Olson at 507-344-6390

MN Valley Business is published 12 times a year at 418 South 2nd Street Mankato, MN 56001.

6 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

Telling stories with people in the know

I

f you still have doubts about when the Great Recession of 2008 ended or when it will end, this edition of Minnesota Valley Business should shed a little more light on that. By the accounts of many of the businesspeople, developers and those in construction and real estate, the Mankato area economy is on the rise and has been for some time now. The beginning and end of economic cycles are always tough to predict. Local trends often don’t follow national trends. All economies are local. We find that out more and more when we look at daily news reports especially in real estate. Each market is different because it is driven by factors like income, age, job growth, which of course vary greatly from state to state, city to city. So it’s instructive to interview people who have a broad view of their industry and thereby a sometimes more accurate view of the economy as a whole. That’s were traditional journalism — where we find people who know something and interview them — provides a real service to the readers. So it’s instructive to hear from Tony Frentz of Frentz Construction that he’s running into more clients who want to build and expand. We know from his experience with big projects like the US Bank project, that he has some connection to people who are what I call “making economic things happen.” It’s also instructive to hear from people like Chad Surprenant, president of I&S Group, which does business in the Midwest and nation, that business has picked up everywhere but the Midwest is better than national trends. Surprenant has a view of private and public municipal business, which he says, is also trending up. He says he’s seeing cities that were holding off on infrastructure projects since 2008 doing more of them now. In talking with businesspeople, we also get a sense of not only the demand side of the business, but also the supply side. How much money are banks willing to supply to projects and at what terms and what cost? Our cover story offers a bit of insight from Mike Brennan, another Mankato developer who has done projects like

By Joe Spear the renovation of the Landkamer’s Building. Current low interest rates help bolster some projects but as Brennan says, banks are only extending credit if the projects make sense. “Banks don’t like a project that’s going to have a negative cash flow at the start. They used to be able to stomach that but not anymore.” That means it takes more time to put projects together, says Brennan. And it’s also good to know local businesses are finding success. Corey Brunton, of North Mankato-based Brunton Architects, says business is “going gangbusters.” He’s hiring and outgrowing his space. He also sees strength in the retail strip mall market for development. Mankato Architect Bryan Paulsen of Paulsen Architects has his finger on the pulse of the residential multiple family housing construction with a proposed 100 unit project in North Mankato. He sees housing consumers not as ready as they once were to jump into a mortgage but maybe rent a nice apartment for a while first. This month’s cover story is rich with the kind of detail we think businesspeople will find insightful and useful. It’s always good to get a real person behind the numbers and statistics to lend context and meaning. MV Joe Spear is executive editor of Minnesota Valley Business. Contact him at 344-6382 or jspear@mankatofreepress. com


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Business Informer

Employment Local job numbers mixed

The number of jobs in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties has fallen each of the past three months. There were 53,851 jobs in the Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area in April, down 94 from March and down 261 from February. The decline in job numbers from March to April is historically unusual. In the past 20 years, the number of jobs locally has always risen slightly from March to April. The April numbers were, however, 1.4 percent higher than April 2011. Year-over-year, the area added 749 jobs. The greater Mankato region has been posting year-overyear job gains at a higher rate than other metropolitan and regional centers in the state for the past six months.

■■■

Agriculture Ag prices steady

The price of corn rebounded in May to $6.07 per bushel, up about a dime from the month before, but 70 cents below the May 2011 price. Soybeans fell a bit in May to $13.67 per bushel, but were 66 cents higher than a year earlier. Hog prices were at $81.41 for an 185-pound carcass, up nearly a dollar from April, but far below the $92.47 posted in May of 2011. That price was a record high in recent years.

■■■

Energy

Crude costs down

The U.S. refiner cost for crude oil in 2012 is expected to average $110 per barrel, which is $2.50 per barrel lower than earlier predicted by the federal Energy Information Administration. But the costs will still be about $8 per barrel higher than last year’s average price. Crude oil prices are expected to remain relatively flat in 2013

Gas prices down, too

With falling global crude oil prices over the past month, the average regular gasoline retail price forecast for the current April-through-September summer driving season to $3.79 per gallon. The government expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.71 per gallon in 2012 and $3.67 per gallon in 2013.

8 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

Lots of natural gas

The very mild weather over the past winter contributed to natural gas working inventories that continue to set new record seasonal highs, with April 2012 ending at an estimated 2.61 trillion cubic feet, about 46 percent more than the same time last year. The average 2012 Henry Hub natural gas spot price forecast is $2.45 per million British thermal units, a decline of $1.55 from the 2011 average spot price. Prices should average $3.17 2013.

Coal use down

Electricity generation from coal is expected to decline by about 15 percent in 2012 as generation from natural gas increases by about 24 percent. Electricity generation from coal will increase by about 4 percent in 2013, as projected coal prices fall slightly while natural gas prices increase

Renewable energy declines

After growing by 14 percent in 2011, the total renewable energy supply is projected to decline by 1.5 percent in 2012. The decrease is the result of hydropower resource levels beginning a return to the long-term average, with supply falling by 10 percent. The decline in hydropower from the 2011 level more than offsets growth in other renewable energy supplies. Renewables supply decreases further in 2013 as hydropower continues to decline (6.7 percent) and non-hydropower renewables growth of 2.2 percent is not enough to offset the decline. Under current law, federal production tax credits for windpowered generation will not be available for turbines that begin operating after the end of 2012. Wind-powered generation, which grew by 26 percent in 2011, is forecast to grow an additional 13 percent in 2012 and 5 percent in 2013. U.S. ethanol production is projected to exceed the volume that can easily be used in the U.S. liquid fuels pool, so the Nation will continue to be a net exporter of ethanol over the next two years.

CO2 emission falling

After declining by 1.9 percent in 2011, fossil fuel emissions are projected to further decline by 2.9 percent in 2012, but increase by 1.2 percent in 2013. Petroleum emissions decline slightly in 2012 (0.3 percent) and then rise by 0.6 percent in 2013, while natural gas emissions rise by 5.5 percent and 1.2 percent in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Coal emissions decline in 2012 by 11.9 percent, but rise by 2.1 percent in 2013.


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Employment/Unemployment Initial unemployment claims

Minnesota initial unemployment claims

Business Barometers

Nine-county Mankato region

Major industry

’11

April ’12

Percent change ’11-’12

Construction Manufacturing Retail Services Total*

186 143 56 229 614

158 273 46 200 677

-15.1% +90.9% -17.9% -12.7% +10.3%

2011

2012

2,000

110,000

1,000

M

A

M

Percent change ’11-’12

3,574 2,333 1,716 6,428 14,051

3,313 2,919 1,563 5,785 13,580

-7.3% +25.1% -8.9% -10% -3.4%

(in thousands)

120,000

F

’12

Minnesota non-farm jobs 3,000

J

’11

Services consist of administration, educational, health care and social assistance, food and other miscellaneous services. *Categories don't equal total because some categories not listed.

Nine-county Mankato region 124,658 125,921 130,000

100,000

April

Construction Manufacturing Retail Services Total*

Services consist of administration, educational, health care and social assistance, food and other miscellaneous services. *Categories don't equal total because some categories not listed.

Local non-farm jobs

Major industry

J

J

A

Local number of unemployed

S

O

N

2011

D

2012

Nine-county Mankato region 8,293 6,631 10,000

0

J

F

2011

2012

2,768.6 2,950.6

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Minnesota number of unemployed 2011

194,609 154,766

225,000

2012

8,000 200,000

6,000 4,000

175,000

2,000 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

Unemployment rate Number of non-farm jobs Number of unemployed

2012

5.1%

4.2%

55,717

56,578

2,992

2,471

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

10 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

J

F

M

County/area

(includes all of Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties) 2011

150,000

A

Unemployment rates

Mankato/North Mankato Metropolitan statistical area

April

D

Blue Earth Brown Faribault Le Sueur Martin Nicollet Sibley Waseca Watonwan Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota U.S.

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Counties, state, nation April 2011 April 2012 5.2% 5.7% 7.5% 8.8% 6.0% 4.8% 5.9% 6.6% 6.9% 6.2% 6.5% 8.7%

4.2% 5.4% 6.2% 6.7% 5.0% 4.2% 5.4% 5.1% 5.8% 5.1% 5.2% 7.7% J. Malmanger


Construction/Real Estate Residential building permits Mankato $2,840 $4,672.2

2011

2012

Residential building permits North Mankato $2,390.6 $2,138.1

(in thousands)

$3,000

2011

2012

$8,000 $2,000

$6,000 $4,000

$1,000

$2,000 $0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato

$0

Existing home sales: Mankato region 2011

2012

200

Information based on Multiple Listing Service and may not reflect all sales

130 128

150

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

18 17

0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Cities of Mankato/North Mankato

Source: Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota

Commercial building permits Mankato $351 $291.8

$9,000

Includes single family homes attached and detached, and townhomes and condos

2012

30

10 M

A

2011

50 F

M

40

20

J

F

Housing starts: Mankato/North Mankato

100

0

J

Source: City of North Mankato

(in thousands)

2011

2012

Commercial building permits North Mankato $11,561.1 $0

(in thousands) $12,000

2011

2012

$9,000

$6,000

$6,000 $3,000 $0

$3,000 J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

2011

County

2012 4.6%

5.0% 4.5% 3.8%

4.0% J

F

M

Source: Freddie Mac

F

Foreclosures:

Interest rates: 30-year fixed-rate mortgage

3.5%

J

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of North Mankato

Source: City of Mankato

5.5%

$0

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Blue Earth Brown Faribault Le Sueur Martin Nicollet Sibley Waseca Watonwan

2010-2011 totals 2010 2011 183 46 51 160 53 64 81 81 42

134 67 32 129 43 59 57 50 24

Percent change -5% +46% -37% -19% -19% -8% -30% -38% -43%

Source: Minnesota Foreclosure Partners Council J. Malmanger

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 11

Business Barometers

$10,000

(in thousands)


Retail/Consumer Spending Sales tax collections

Business Barometers

Vehicle sales

Mankato — Number of vehicles sold 662 2011 2012 430

1,200

(In thousands)

$500

1,000

$400

800

$300

600 400

$200

200

$100

0

Includes restaurants, bars, telecommunications and general merchandise store sales. Excludes most clothing, grocery store sales.

Mankato 2011 2012 $327.9 $358.0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

$0

D

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

Lodging tax collections

Mankato food and beverage tax

$45,000

$60,000

Mankato/North Mankato $30,537 2011 2012 $34,640

$43,360 $45,920

2011

2012

$50,000 $30,000

$40,000 $30,000

$15,000

$20,000 $10,000

$0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato

$0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato J. Malmanger

Stocks of local interest

Gas prices-Mankato

April 16

May 15

Percent change

Archer Daniels

$31.01

$32.47

+4.7%

Ameriprise

$54.92

$49.18

-10.5%

Best Buy

$21.89

$19.12

-12.7%

Crown Cork & Seal

$37.28

$36.06

-3.3%

Fastenal

$48.28

$43.38

-10.1%

General Growth

$17.03

$17.64

+3.6%

General Mills

$38.70

$39.58

+2.3%

HickoryTech

$9.75

$9.81

+0.6%

Hutchinson Technology

$2.14

$2.42

+13.1%

Itron

$44.34

$38.89

-12.3%

Johnson Outdoors

$18.90

$17.86

-5.5%

$4.00

3M

$87.33

$85.78

-1.8%

$3.00

Target

$57.53

$55.08

-4.3%

U.S. Bancorp

$31.33

$31.30

-0.1%

Wells Financial

$17.15

$18.11

+5.6%

Winland

$0.63

$0.50

-20.6%

$26.43

$27.17

+2.8%

Xcel

J. Malmanger

12 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

2012

2011

$3.89

$4.00 $3.00 $2.00

$3.61

$1.00 $0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Gas prices-Minnesota

$2.00

2012

2011

$390

$3.63

$1.00 $0

J

F

M

Source: GasBuddy.com

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J. Malmanger


Professional resources to help grow your business AUTOMOTIVE Jerry’s Body Shop, Inc. 1671 Madison Ave, Mkto, MN 56001 507-388-4895 www.asashop.org/member/jerrys

EDUCATION MSU Extended Learning MSU-Mankato Campus ext@mnsu.edu 507-389-2572 800-722-0544 x9 www.mnsu.edu/ext

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A drop in farmland values? Not really Agricultural Outlook

T

he University of Minnesota Applied Economics Department released a report showing that Minnesota farmland values dropped by 5 percent in 2011. How can that be, when almost every other credible source on Minnesota farmland values was showing a 15-20 percent or higher increase in farmland values for the year? The study showed an average farmland value of $3,443 for 2011, compared to $3,620 for 2010. It should be noted that the 2011 data only went through September 30. At the same time, the Federal Reserve Bank reported a 28 percent increase in the Minnesota land values, compared to a year earlier, with an 8.2 percent increase in the third quarter of 2011 alone. Most private land companies reported land sales prices at 15-20 percent higher in 2011. So why the difference in the U of M Study? First of all, the U of M study is based on farm land values reported by county assessors offices, so this data is usually delayed behind actual trends in land sales. Secondly, the study only included land sales data through September 30, and there were some very sharp increases in land values late in the year. The U of M data includes all farmland sales in the entire state for all types of farmland, whereas some other results include only medium and high quality tillable acres. The U of M Study showed an average farmland value of $5,085 per acre for 2011 in south central Minnesota, a 4 percent increase over the 2010 average value of $4,877 per acre. Following are the average farm land values per tillable

■ “There is a definite trend of significant increases in farm land values in all area counties.” By Kent Thiesse acre for 2007, 2009 and 2011: Again, it should be noted that the farm land values reported by county assessors tend to lag slightly behind actual trends in land sales, due to the timeline required to report final land sales, and the timing of the county data. However, there is a definite trend of significant increases in farm land values in all area counties in the past five years, and that upward trend in farmland values seems to have continued since September 30, 2011. There have been very strong land sales in recent months across the entire region, with many reported sales for high quality farmland in the $7,000 to $9,000 per acre range. Iowa State University also does a land value survey each December, which is usually quite revealing on trends in farm land sales. In December, 2011, the average value per acre of Iowa farmland was listed at $6,708 per acre, an increase of $1,644 per acre, or 32.5 percent,

County Aassesor average farmland values (2007 - 2011) (Per tillable acre)

County Blue Earth Brown Faribault Le Sueur Martin Nicollet Waseca Watonwan

2007 $3,432 2,799 2,918 4,308 3,194 3,522 3,186 2,967

2009 $4,362 3,475 3,691 4,811 4,179 4,480 4,168 3,989

14 • june 2012 • MN Valley Business

2011 $4,784 4,714 4,759 4,844 4,966 5,247 4,781 4,356

Increase (‘07-’11) 39% 68% 63% 12% 55% 49% 50% 47%

from December, 2010. This was the highest annual percentage increase since Iowa State started the land value survey in 1950, with the previous high being 31.9 percent in 1973. What about future land values ? There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about continued strength in future farm real estate values, especially on a short-term basis. Farmers are poised to have another profitable year in 2012, which should create continued interest in land purchases. Long-term interest rates remain quite low and demand is quite strong for medium to high quality farm land in most areas. On the flip side, there are also reasons to be more pessimistic about the future farmland values, especially beyond the next 12 months. The prospects for corn and soybean prices later in 2012 and beyond appear much more questionable, crop input costs are fairly high, and profit margins in corn and soybean production are likely to get much tighter in the next few years. MV Kent Thiesse is a farm management analyst and vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal. He can be reached at (507) 381-7960 or kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com


Agriculture/Agribusiness Corn prices — southern Minnesota $8.00

(dollars per bushel)

2012

2011

$6.80

$13.67

$12.00 $11.00 $10.00

$6.07

$2.00

$13.01

$9.00 J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: USDA

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

$90.00

$22.00

$80.00

$20.00

$70.00 $60.00

$16.00

$50.00

$14.00

M

A

M

J

J

$21.23

$18.00

$81.41

F

Minimum prices, class I milk Dollars per hundredweight

2012

2011

$24.00

$92.47

J

F

Milk prices

185 pound carcass, negotiated price, weighted average

2012

2011

Source: USDA

J

Source: USDA

Iowa-Minnesota hog prices $100.00

$8.00

A

S

O

N

D

$17.46 J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: USDA. Based on federal milk orders.

Corn and soybean prices are for rail delivery points in Southern Minnesota. Milk prices are for Upper Midwest points.

J. Malmanger

Business Barometers

$13.00

$4.00

(dollars per bushel)

2012

2011

$14.00

$6.00

$0

Soybean prices — southern Minnesota


Updates: Business news, local relevance

■ ■

AgStar net earnings up

AgStar Financial Services reported first quarter net after-tax earnings of $23.9 million, an increase of 2 percent over last year’s first quarter performance. Company earnings have been enhanced by increases in net interest income and crop insurance. ■

HickoryTech earnings up

Updates

HickoryTech Corp. reported earnings for the first quarter ended March 31, of $2.3 million, up 8 percent over the comparable quarter last year and earnings per share totaled 17 cents per diluted share, a 6 percent increase from last year. Revenue totaled $46.9 million, up 22 percent year over year. “Our business product lines continue to produce excellent results and drove the strong revenue increases in the first quarter, giving us a solid start to the year,” said John Finke, HickoryTech’s president and chief executive officer. “A significant backlog of customer orders for equipment flowed into fiscal 2012 and contributed to our Equipment Segment revenue of $17.4 million which increased 67 percent over the first quarter last year. Additionally, fiber and data revenue increased 22 percent.” ■

Maschka, Riedy & Ries join coalition

Minnesotans United for All Families announced that Maschka, Riedy & Ries Law Firm has become the campaign’s 300th coalition partner. The Mankato law firm joined the coalition for the campaign working to defeat the amendment that would ban gay marriage in Minnesota. Jerry Maschka said joining the coalition was consistent with firm values, and while it was unusual for the firm to take a position on issues, this was an exception. “We felt an obligation to take a stance as a firm,” said Maschka. “This amendment would take away rights from Minnesotans. That’s not what the constitution is for. And it certainly isn’t consistent with the Minnesota that I know.” ■

Johnson Outdoors earnings fall

Johnson Outdoors reported that fiscal second-quarter earnings fell to $7.3 million, or 74 cents per share, compared with $8.5 million, or 87 cents per share, for the same quarter last year. Total net sales were $128.7 million, essentially flat with record net sales of $128.9 million in the prior year quarter. The company said marine electronics sales were strong but its business with the military fell and watercraft sales continued to be troubled.

16 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

Target to drop Kindle

Target, the second-largest U.S. discount chain, will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle brand of e-readers and tablets after two years. Target will still offer Barnes & Noble’s Nook brand of e-readers and tablets and Apple’s iPad in its stores and on its website, Snyder said. Target started selling Kindles in its stores nationwide in June 2010, touting itself as the first so-called brick-and-mortar retailer to carry the device. Since then, Amazon has become a bigger competitor, releasing the Kindle Fire, a tablet computer that allows users to shop Amazon’s entire site for goods, such as clothes, that Target also sells. “The very tight alignment of Kindle Fire tablets with Amazon’s own online store, which is a Target competitor, likely justifies this decision,” Matt Arnold, an analyst for Edward Jones & Co. said. ■

Fruit-less Fruit Roll-Ups suit proceeds

A lawsuit filed by an angry consumer alleging that General Mills misled her about the content of its Fruit Roll-Ups snacks is moving forward.. A U.S. District Court judge ruled that advertising for the snack food could have suggested to a reasonable person that Fruit Roll-Ups do contain fruit. The ruling sprang from a class action lawsuit filed by a California consumer who discovered that strawberry-flavored Fruit Roll-Ups actually were made from “pears from concentrate,” corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, among other things. Strawberry-flavored Fruit Roll-Ups do not, apparently, contain any strawberries, Reuters noted. The suit alleges that Fruit Roll-Up’s marketing and packaging strongly suggests that the snack food contains healthy fruits. General Mills argued that the actual ingredients in Fruit RollUps were listed — in small print — on the box. ■

Interim Best Buy leader reassures

The interim CEO at Best Buy is trying to reassure employees that the company will emerge from a recent scandal “stronger and better.” In a video for Best Buy employees, Mike Mikan called this the most difficult period in the retailer’s history. His predecessor, Brian Dunn, stepped down amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate. An investigation into the matter also prompted founder Richard Schulze to step aside as Chairman. Mikan said the Best Buy community needs time to recover from the changes. But he pledged an immediate focus on the company’s business, which has been flagging. Best Buy lost money in its last fiscal year.


Special Focus: Succession planning

Good plans protect family, business and partners By Marie Wood 1. Business succession plan Wallerich advises business owners to think about what they want to happen to their business in various situations such as retirement, disability or untimely death. If you have partners, heirs involved in your family business or key employees, you need to have a conversation to ensure that every one is on board. Your business succession plan is the first step to assure a smooth transition and the end result you desire. 2. Buy-sell agreement

Kay Wallerich

Steve Fink

Every business owner should have an exit plan for retirement, death and disability. A business succession plan and a buy-sell agreement will help your business make a smooth transition to its new owners. These plans will also provide for your family. “The closing on a business transition is one of the most rewarding projects I work on for clients, because everyone is happy,” said Kay Wallerich, attorney at Farrish Johnson Law Office in Mankato. Specializing in business law, Wallerich plans and executes business succession plans and buy-sell agreements regularly. Steve Fink, also an attorney at Farrish Johnson, works in the area of estate planning, with a focus on blending business succession planning with wills and trusts. “We want to make sure that the estate plan supports the business succession plan,” said Fink. To avoid surprises, Fink advises his clients to have frank discussions with their children, spouse and business partners so everyone understands the plans that are in place. These can be difficult decisions for parents who want to distribute their assets fairly. “Fair does not necessary mean equal,” Fink tells his clients. Steps to a smooth transition Here’s what you need to know to transition your business and organize your estate from the attorneys at Farrish Johnson Law Office.

18 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

The buy-sell agreement is the governing instrument that determines the rules to follow in the event an owner is considering retirement. The bestcase scenario is when the buy-sell agreement funds retirement. Wallerich outlined a common situation in which Mom and Dad want to retire from the family business, but they still need income. Retired parents may want to take on a consulting role and continue their health insurance coverage as well. In many buy-sell agreements, children working in the business are able to purchase shares in the business over time. Meanwhile Mom and Dad have an income and it reduces the size of their estate which is helpful for tax purposes. For children already active in the business, it’s assurance that they will own the company someday. “The future generations are putting their time in and they want to be sure that at the end of the day or decade they will have the option to buy the business and not have to buy out siblings,” said Fink. It’s important to remember that buy-sell agreements are used to handle the transition of the business in the event of retirement, death or disability of any partner. “You do not know whether you will be the buyer or seller. That’s your legacy to your child or spouse,” said Fink. 3. Valuation of the business Upon retirement, disability or death, the buy-sell agreement should provide for a valuation of the business, generally using an appraisal and appointing a firm to complete the evaluation. The appraiser will review the books, financial statements, income tax returns and real estate holdings, as well as the


marketplace, future growth and leases and contracts. “They’re taking the totality of circumstances into account when they determine the value,” said Wallerich. While the parties involved don’t know the price of the business when they sign the initial agreement, partners and key employees know the company’s finances and understand the valuation process to be used in the future. 4. Terms of payment The terms of payment govern how the transition will occur and includes options such as gifting shares, buy-out of shares, life and disability insurance benefits. There will be different terms, depending on the trigger event. If the buy-sell agreement is used for retirement, the payments are likely to be consistent and over a longer length of time. Upon death, the buy-out will typically be paid in a lump sum. “The terms of the buy-sell agreement are important, because it structures the payout,” said Wallerich. When the buy-sell agreement is used in the event of death, it protects the business from spouses or children who are not involved in the company to vie for control over partners, involved siblings or key employees. “The buy-sell agreement states exactly how the decedent’s family will be paid and allows the remaining owners to continue to run the business,” said Wallerich For example, spouses and children who have not been involved in the day-to-day business can receive life insurance benefits while the son or daughter working in the business may be granted shares and ownership of the company at a discount, explained Fink. “Acquiring life insurance is a common way to make things “fair,” said Fink. 5. Team of professionals Since planning for retirement and being prepared for death and disability encompasses financial planning, tax issues, and life and disability insurance, you will need to rely on a team of professionals. “In our practice, we encourage conversations with an accountant, insurance agent and financial advisor,” said Wallerich. MV

Avoid these mistakes By Marie Wood Do not set a firm business value. Sometimes business owners will set a price in their buy-sell agreement with the intention of updating the value yearly, but they never do. If a value is set, add a default provision to allow for an appraisal in the event that the value is not updated to reflect the company’s current worth. Do not underfund your buy-sell agreement. In the event of death or disability, buy-sell agreements are often funded by life and disability insurance. Make sure you have adequate coverage and you are paying your premiums. Your plan is incomplete without potential funding sources. What happens if you don’t have a plan? If you die or become disabled without an exit plan in place, Minnesota statutes govern the dissolution of your business. Failure to plan can lead to costly processes or litigation that can be emotionally damaging and keep business partners or family members from running the business. “If you own a business with others, to not have a buy-sell agreement is fairly risky,” said attorney Kay Wallerich. “The transition costs more money, takes more time and you may not get the results that you, your loved one or business partners intended.” Estate planning Your estate plan must at a minimum include: a will or revocable living trust, power of attorney, and health care directive. Attorney Steve Fink recommends the use of a revocable living trust in lieu of a will when a client has real estate in multiple states, a sizable estate and a preference for privacy. At death, a will becomes a public document during the probate process, while a revocable living trust does not. You will need to take an inventory of all assets and review all documents for real estate ownership, life and disability insurance, and retirement accounts to ensure that correct beneficiaries are named. MV

Resources on the web EstatePlanning.com offers an overview of estate planning from WealthCounsel. AARP.org/Estate-Planning offers estate planning tips. Wills.about.com offers estate and business succession planning basics. SBA.gov has “Getting Out” tips under Starting & Managing a Business tab. Search estate planning worksheets on Kiplinger.com.

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 19


Business Commentary

Business-education partnerships will drive future I have been blessed with a career in education that has been directly involved with business and industry, one that has touched the lives of many students and provided a better life for both the students and their families. Technical education has always had the advantage of being guided by our business partners. In my early years, vocationaltechnical education had separate state governing boards made up of business leaders. These business leaders set state policy for the development of the talent pool at both the secondary and post-secondary levels necessary to maintain and grow business throughout each state. At the same time, there was a national career education initiative designed to assist middle schools with career exploration activities to help young people make decisions about their futures. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to direct a vocational-technical education data project on a university campus. This university had a unique mission of delivering technical degrees and technical teacher education degrees from the associates through the master’s degree levels with direct links to business and industry. The university provided the teachers for high schools and area vocational-technical institutions and technicians for business and industry. My responsibility was to ascertain the level of success of their technical graduates, along with the graduates of the area vocational-technical institutes through one and five year follow-up and employer surveys. Employer feedback was used to guide the institutions as they prepared their students for employment. Since that time, I have had the responsibility to lead technical institutions in three states at both the secondary and college levels in the preparation of students for employment. Initiating and maintaining business and industry partnerships has been key to the success of individual programs and the overall institutions. Two important aspects of technical education have required the faculty and administration to constantly adjust to keep pace, the change required by business and industry and keeping up with the interests of students in the latest technology. Technical educators have always had the opportunity to have direct interaction with business through program advisory committees, cooperative education, internships, clinicals, and business involvement in the classrooms and laboratories as guest lecturers and through equipment and supply donations. As time has passed, one thing has been constant, technical institutions must be on the “cutting edge” to properly serve employers and in some cases help lead employers to the next generation of technology. This is precisely why it is so important for institutions to hire highly qualified faculty who are on the cutting edge in their field and want to stay there. Colleges set aside funds each year for faculty use to attend business and industry workshops, national conferences and industry sponsored classes specifically designed to educate them in the latest technology. Often, program advisory committees suggest major changes in programs and accompanying curriculum, to position the students for the rapidly changing environment they will inherit when they graduate. The rapid changes our colleges are expected to respond to, often come when we can least afford to make the changes. A recent SCC example started with employers asking for a new generation of employee who had a broad set of technical skills

20 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

“The future will require many more business/ education partnerships for our colleges and the economy to survive.”

By Keith Stover and was adaptable to a variety of manufacturing environments. What was conceived by employers is now called “Mechatronics” and includes electronics, pneumatics, hydraulics, programmable logic, conveying systems, and much more. There is a worldwide need for employees who have this skill set which includes the theory to back it up. SCC could not afford the new program start up, so a group of local employers donated the seed money to start the program, with the idea that other resources could be found. It was at this time that economic recovery funds became available, so a team of SCC educators and staff leveraged this industry partnership into a multi-million dollar grant to expand on what our area employers helped to initiate. The college team has been able to maintain high enrollments and excellent placement in this industry led initiative. There are many similar examples of business and industry forging partnerships with two year institutions to provide opportunities for our citizens to become successful contributors to their families, communities and our society. At the recent Greater Mankato Growth “Talent Symposium,” community leaders had the opportunity to review and react to the talent supply and demand report produced by GMG. This local research along with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Minnesota State Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) study titled “Meeting Minnesota’s Workforce Needs: Workforce Assessments” are all focused on one of the most important issues facing Minnesota and America — the skills gap. We continue to have a high percentage of our citizens on the unemployment roles, while at the same time employers have unfilled vacancies. Not only do businesses have vacancies, many companies would like to grow, but have no way to grow without the talent pool to draw from. The future will require many more business/education partnerships for our colleges and the economy to survive. The dilemma is, who will fill the student pipeline during these highly technical times to become the productive workforce our community, state and nation depends on. MV Keith Stover, president of South Central College, recently announced his retirement.


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Cover Story

Dan Rotchadl, sales manager of Neubert Millworks in North Mankato.

Building on a recovery Construction business climbing back By Tim Krohn | Photos by John Cross & Pat Christman

22 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


Neubert Millworks opened as a lumber yard and milling operation in Mankato three years before the Great Depression hit in 1929. The business survived and adjusted during other ups and downs, always dependent on the strength of the area’s building trade. Today, the North Mankato-based business is still aligning to realities of the Great Recession. “The way we do business is different than five years ago,” said general manager Dan Rotchadl. “No one predicted the slowdown would be this long and this deep. We’re partnering and making alliances more.” Local contractors, developers and architects say the Mankato building sector is bouncing back stronger than in the Twin Cities area. Some say they are seeing slow but steady and encouraging growth, while others are experiencing “gangbuster” growth.

Cautious turn around “It’s really turned around. I’m definitely seeing more people who want to build things, more expansions,” said Tony Frentz of Frentz Construction. “We just finished the Chankaska Creek Winery, that was an awesome project. The other big project is the US Bank building.” That project, in the former HECO building, included new space for I&S Group, US Bank and upscale

apartments and condos on the upper floors. Chad Surprenant, president of I&S group, who does work across the Midwest and the nation said business has picked up everywhere. “We’ve seen a trend upward in activities, both locally and regionally and nationally,” he said. Ò”The Midwest is definitely better than the nation.” About 15-20 percent of business for I&S is in the immediate Mankato area. About one-third of their work is on public municipal projects, which are also trending up. “A lot of municipalities were spooked in 2008-2010. There were a small number of municipalities that received stimulus funds so they were doing projects. But the others just put off infrastructure needs for three or four years. Now we’re seeing the non-stimulus cities doing projects,” Surprenant said. Mike Brennan of Brennan Construction said there are projects going on, but everyone is more cautious. “There is activity on the development side and an increase in interest in people buying and selling buildings,” he said. “The low interest rates are helping, but nowadays, a developer coming out of the chute with a project, it has to make sense,” Brennan said. “Banks don’t like a project that’s going to have negative cash flow at the start. They used to be able to stomach that but not anymore. It’s harder work, it takes more time to put projects together.

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 23

Cover Story

Scott Witty loads wooden columns at Neubert Millworks.


Cover Story

Corey Brunton is finishing up a strip mall on the main drag in St. Peter. Corey Brunton, of North Mankato-based Brunton Architects, has seen strong growth in his architect and development business since he set out on his own in 2007. “It’s been going gangbusters for us. I’m in hiring mode right now. I’m going to take on one if not two architects. We’ll be at 10 or 11 employees and out of space.” Brunton said the retail market has been getting better. He’s completing a strip mall on St. Peter’s main drag where a former gas station stood and he’s building a strip mall on the corner of Victory Drive and Madison Avenue in Mankato. Brunton is also planning to start work this month on renovating and expanding the old Dollar Store on Belgrade Avenue in Lower North Mankato. That project will include commercial/office/retail spaces on the ground floor and a new floor of apartments. “We want to finish that so the second level apartments are available Sept. 1. There will be nine apartments, one-to-three bedrooms,” Brunton said. “Some of the ground floor commercial space is rented and some is still available.” Brunton said that expanding beyond his architect business to buying and developing his own projects is good for his business. “It’s exciting to get into the development side. We can show

24 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

our customers and clients that we understand the finance side as well as the construction and design side.” While Brunton said things are going well for his firm, he admits the economic recovery has been coming with fits and starts. “Last year was borderline scary but things are definitely looking up.” “There’s still a need for offices. Some of the larger companies are looking to consolidate and a lot of people are looking for smaller office space,” Brunton said. Brennan agrees: “Offices are getting smaller. The model of 10 years ago of an 8-foot-by-12-foot office is gone. Companies are downsizing their space needs, too.” Bryan Paulsen of Paulsen Architects said he, too, sees more office remodeling. “The corporate office side is still soft. They’re staying where they’re at and doing some renovation and remodeling and maybe leasing some space if they have growth.” Paulsen said, overall, the new year brought more activity. “I’ve definitely seen an uptick in private sector construction. Commercial and multi-family housing and also industrial.” One of Paulsen’s biggest pending multi-family projects is the planned second phase of Marigold on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato — a 106-unit project that could break ground later this summer.


He said there is more demand for higher-end apartment and condo projects. “Young professionals maybe aren’t ready to jump into a mortgage and are looking at a nicer apartment until they can build up some equity for a few years. For the older age group, it’s a nice alternative to stay in a condo for six months and then maybe go south,” Paulsen said. Paulsen is also involved in the major renovation of the YMCA, medical facilities and a project near MSU where a strip mall (where Yu’s Chinese restaurant is located) is being renovated and two floors of student housing added.

Staying near home Rotchadl said Neubert Millworks — which provides products for residential and commercial projects — has pulled back the geographical area it serves because the area around Mankato and extending to Sioux Falls is having a better comeback than the Twin Cities area. “In the Twin Cities and even Rochester, there was the idea that if we build it someone will buy it. We didn’t do that in Mankato,” he said. “Our geographical area was a 100 mile radius, now it’s more like 60. We don’t go toward Rochester any more. Forty percent of contractors we did business with in Rochester went out of

business in ‘09 — it was catastrophic,” Rotchadl said. Frentz said, he too, is staying close to home. “Just about everything we do is near Mankato. There were a lot of buildings in the City Center that were renovated. There will probably be more demand for new construction as that space fills up,” Frentz said. One downtown project Brennan is working hard on is a redevelopment of land he owns that was the site of the old Embers, next to the library. His plans are for Bridge Plaza, a multi-building, mixed-use project. The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, which has been in temporary homes, is hoping to be able to use part of that new development. “They’re still very optimistic and committed to it,” Brennan said. “They’d take half the site, along Riverfront (Drive). Then I’d do a mixed-use building on the Second Street side with a plaza area between them with some artwork and a nice connecting area,” Brennan said. “I really want to focus on that site now.”

Housing still slow Developers say the new single-family housing market continues to be the slowest to rebound. Brennan said home

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 25

Cover Story

Mike and Cathy Brennan inside the new US Bank lobby in downtown Mankato.


Cover Story

Chad Surprenant , president of I&S Group.

Bryan Paulsen outside the Verizon customer service center in Mankato.

construction he’s seeing tends to be upper end. “We did a house on Lake Washington and are starting some new ones,” he said. “We specialize in custom housing, they’re in the $400,000 range, they’re not entry-level housing. Brunton said some types of housing are strong. “The biggest thing right now is apartments and assisted living facilities, they’re are doing well. Surprenant said one segment of housing remains very slow. “You have some higher-end housing and a little entry level housing. There’s zero in that middle ring of housing.” Neubert Millworks has seen a big shift from providing millwork for windows, doors and similar housing materials from new construction to remodels. “More people are doing remodels. Instead of 20 or 25 new windows in a new house, we may have three or four in a remodel,” Rotchadl said. The housing will be the slowest to come back,” he said of new construction. Rotchadl said the strong agricultural economy helps business. “It definitely helps us to have the farm economy. They’re doing well and they’re spending money.” MV The patio outside the condos atop the US Bank Building.

26 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


June 9-10

June 23

Arts By The River mankato symphony featuring Orchestra Mason Jennings July 7 June 14

Ted Nugent with special guest Laura Wilde

Riverbend blues festival featuring Jonny Lang


July 28

Tesla with special guest

september 3

Little Feat

Jason and the Scorchers

August 2-5

15th Annual RibFest featuring Sawyer Brown, Smash Mouth & Eddie Money

september 7

Indigo Girls

september 14

August 17

bodeans

with special guest Farewell Milwaukee

Trampled By Turtles


Advancing Business for a Stronger Community

Raising Greater Mankato’s Profile Politically 2) Run or encourage someone else to run for office: Due to redistricting, more seats than normal are up for election this year. As a marketplace that is growing in size and vitality, Greater Mankato benefits from strong leaders at the local, state and national level. The filing period for many seats ends June 5, with the filing period for other seats running July 31 – August 14. If you’re interested in starting or continuing to serve your neighbors and community as an elected official, visit greatermankato.com/ gmg-electionfileforoffice2012.php to see a list of open seats, filing periods and information on running for office. 3) Be an informed voter: As in past election seasons, Greater Mankato Growth will have an “Election 2012” section of our website. Visit greatermankatoelections.com in the coming months to see candidate information, including bios and answers to questions in the candidates’ own words. We will also let you know about election events, including candidate and issues forums, debates and roundtables. Whatever your level of commitment or interest, Greater Mankato benefits when you serve as a voice on issues impacting the region. The Greater Mankato Growth Board of Directors is also currently working on future strategies for our public affairs work to provide an enhanced awareness of Greater Mankato among policy makers.

Greater Mankato Growth

With events like Greater Mankato Day at the Capitol and participation from the business community on issues like the events center funding proposal this past spring, the Greater Mankato region is receiving some increased attention from lawmakers. But we still have a long way to go, if we hope to garner the support necessary to continue to grow and thrive as a regional center. “More than a few legislators with whom we have spoken are shocked to hear we are a region with nearly 100,000 residents and more than 2,600 business establishments,” said Greater Mankato President & CEO Jonathan Zierdt. “Many still think we’re a small town in the middle of nowhere.” To ensure the future vitality of the Greater Mankato region, it is essential that state and national leaders recognize the significance of our marketplace. And to make that happen we need to be increasingly and consistently vigilant in making them aware of the strength of our marketplace and our contributions to the State of Minnesota. This requires continued active involvement from the business community. Following are a few ways to get involved in supporting our marketplace: 1) Serve on a state board, council, commission, task force or agency: Help shape the future in areas and fields where you have passion or experience. Each month the state publishes many new openings for community and business representative. For information on these openings and how to apply, visit greatermankato.com/gmg-statewide.php.

Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development

507.385.6640 • greatermankato.com


in Pictures growth 2011 in Greater Mankato

Enhanced Location – Charter Communications 1724 Madison Avenue, Mankato

New Location – Girl Scouts of MN and WI River Valleys 1872 East Madison Avenue Suite A, Mankato

New Location – Visiting Angels 530 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato

Ribbon Cutting – CityArt People’s Choice Sculpture (purchased by City Center Partnership purchased for permanent installation in front of the Blue Earth County Library) 100 East Main Street, Mankato.

New Leadership – President & CEO Mike Bresnahan, First National Bank Minnesota 500 Long Street, Mankato

Look for...

Jonathan Zierdt’s column

Greater Mankato growth This Month published on the 15th of each month inThe Free Press

* Photos By Sport Pix

MN Valley Business • march 2012 • 31

Greater Mankato Growth

New Business – Heartbreaker 1860 Adams Street, Mankato


Member Activities Upcoming Member Events

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. June 5 North Star Aviation July 10 Mankato MoonDogs August 7 Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery

Greater Mankato Growth

2012 Business After Hours Sponsored by

April Business After Hours at Skin Essentials @ Mankato Clinic

7:30 - 9:00 a.m. June 20 July 18 August 15

United Prairie Bank - Hilltop Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP Country Inn & Suites & Conference Center by Carlson

2012 Business Before Hours Sponsored by

April Business Before Hours at Pediatric Therapy Services, Inc. & EllieGail’s Bakery & Catering

For information on these and other member events visit greatermankato.com/gmg-events.php

32 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


Cavalier Calls on the Newest Greater Mankato Growth members Presented by:

Hospice of the Valley 3 Civic Center Plaza #203, Mankato HOVMN.org

Ingalls Video Production ingallsvideoproduction.com

Linder Enterprises 3200 Third Avenue linderenterprises.com

This tournament fills up every year…

July 9 | Mankato Golf Club Lunch & Registration 11:00 am Shotgun Start Noon Dinner, awards, silent auction 6:30 pm

It’s the place where suits and ties meet sandals and shorts. Where co-workers gather and families and friends frolic every Thursday in June. Many consider Greater Mankato Songs on the Lawn presented by Xcel Energy the official start of summer. The annual event put on by Greater Mankato Growth draws individuals from throughout the region to the City Center to enjoy a lunch hour filled with music, food and fun. This year’s event will again take place every Thursday in June from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m in the Civic Center Plaza in front of Mankato’s Intergovernmental Center, with free admission and free parking available in the Civic Center and Cherry Street ramps. This year’s musical line-up includes: June 7: The Divers June 14: The Lost Walleye Orchestra June 21: Rain Kings June 28: The DW3 There will also be fun activities led by the Mankato Family YMCA every week, and on June 7 the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota will also provide interactive excitement for the kids. A wide variety of food will be sold by area restaurants, including: Angie’s Kettle Corn • Buffalo Wild Wings Culver’s Frozen Custard Dino’s Gourmet Pizzeria • Hy-Vee Neighbor’s Italian Bistro Number 4 American Bar & Kitchen • Olives Pub 500 • Sodexo • Tavern on the Avenue The Loose Moose Saloon For more information on Songs on the Lawn presented by Xcel Energy, visit greatermankato.com/gmg-songsonthelawn.php. Sponsored by:

Presented by: Members of Radio Mankato

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 33

Greater Mankato Growth

Have you signed up to golf ?

Kick off the Summer with Songs


Presented by:

Greater Mankato Growth

The Greater Mankato business community turned out in mass for the Greater Mankato Business Showcase on April 10. Attendees had the opportunity to check out booths from area businesses, enjoy food samples from a variety of restaurants and visit with others in the business community in a fun and informal environment.

34 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


Agribusiness never tasted so good By Christine Nessler Marketing & Leisure Sales Director The Marti’s understand the benefit of bringing in visitors with great events like their Cambria Crush: The Annual Great Grape Stomp held in October each year. Agritourism has had a big impact on our Minnesota economy. It’s events like the Cambria Crush that really boost the tourism industry. According to the U of M Extension study, tourists spent nearly $8.5 million in the state in 2007 while attending winery events. The number increases to over $14 million if you factor in the indirect effects such as travel expenses, eating and drinking, retail, etc…You can also attribute 155 jobs in 2007 to winery tourism. Indian Island Winery in rural Janesville and Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery, located near Kasota, are also working hard to bring in visitors. Both wineries offer exciting entertainment options including tours and live music and can host your own event as well. Each winery also offers their own unique experiences including woodfire pizza at Chankaska and murder-mystery parties at Indian Island Winery. And as you can imagine, all of our wineries offer beautiful and serene scenery and very enticing beverages. This summer spend some time exploring the “Napa of the North” right here at our local wineries – Morgan Creek Vineyard, Indian Island Winery and Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. You’ll have a great time and benefit our local economy.

The Greater Mankato Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is an affiliate of Greater Mankato Growth (GMG), operated as an LLC under GMC.The CVB is dedicated to the important work of attracting and servicing visitors to Greater Mankato.

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 35

Greater Mankato Growth

It’s no secret Greater Mankato is the center of a rural, farming region. But it’s not so well-known that we also have another kind of agribusiness thriving in our area. We have three wineries within 20 miles of Greater Mankato. Many of us don’t think of agribusiness when we think of wineries, but that is exactly what they are. What’s even better about these agribusinesses is that they are also attracting visitors to the area. So their local benefit is two-fold. In 2008, University of Minnesota Extension released a study called, “The Economic Contributions of Grape Growers and Wineries to the State of Minnesota.” The goal of the study was to determine the contribution Minnesota’s grape growers and wine producers were making to the state economy. According to the study the demand for wine in America is growing rapidly and as of 2015 Americans are projected to drink more wine on a per capita basis than the French. Minnesota heard the call of the thirsty Americans. Wine production is increasing in Minnesota as well as grape production. This agribusiness development benefits us all. In 2007 grape growers and wine producers spent over $22 million in Minnesota, their total effect on the economy of the state was over $13 million and they employed 169 people. Since 2008, wineries and vineyards have continued to grow and expand in Minnesota according to Brigid Tuck, U of M Extension. Right here in Greater Mankato we have our very own “Napa of the North,” a phrase used by Morgan Creek Vineyard owner Georg Marti. Marti and his wife Paula are winery pioneers in Minnesota. Since 1993 Morgan Creek Vineyards has been committed to helping establish commercial vineyards in Southern Minnesota according to Paula Marti. Their farm winery operation opened in 1999 and was the fifth winery in the state. “The Minnesota River Valley watershed is probably the most desirable grape growing region in the State of Minnesota,” said Paula Marti. “We are working in the most productive agricultural region in the Midwest and are excited to be pioneers in this new industry that is beginning to generate serious commercial dollars in agribusiness and agritourism for the State of Minnesota.” Since 1999, Morgan Creek Vineyards has been establishing partnerships in the region and has been a leader in grape growing, agritourism, culinary arts, and cultural venues.


Adaptive Re-Use

An Envrionmentally and Economically Responsible Option

I

t comes as no surprise that the “Great Recession” we have recently experienced has had an impact on the construction industry, not only in the Greater Mankato region, but all across the country. During this downturn in the economy, it has become imperative that all costs to conduct business be continually scrutinized and evaluated. This includes the development of commercial buildings within the region. That scrutiny has led many to postpone building projects, not only due to the lack of sales and business traffic caused by the recession, but also due to apprehension about the ability to afford the added debt burden a new facility often carries. As a result, local business owners looking for office space to own, rather than lease, are considering “adaptive re-use” as an option. Adaptive reuse simply implies that an existing building or structure will be adapted and repurposed, or renovated and put to different use. As one travels around the Greater Mankato area, many examples of this trend are evident. On Madison Avenue in Mankato, several buildings have been

AFTER

“Brunton Architects created a visually appealing and functional building from a building that otherwise would have been demolished.” transformed “from sow’s ears to silk purses” and given a new lease on life through adaptive re-use. The designer of many of these buildings, Brunton Architects, of North Mankato, has skillfully converted facilities such as the former Kato Tool building, the former Lewis Drug Store, and the former Hostess building into buildings that are no longer familiar to long-time residents of the area. Jones and Magnus, Attorneys at Law, acquired the former Kato Tool building and sought to use the large open retail space as the home for their growing law practice. Stacey Jones said of Brunton Architects’ work to rebrand the building: “Brunton

BEFORE

Architects created a visually appealing and functional building from a building that otherwise would have been demolished.” Jones and Magnus Law Office was able to convert the space into something that suited their needs and accommodated the continuing growth of their business. “We were very interested in the location of this building, and wanted to participate in the revitalization of the downtown area.” Another building that has been greatly transformed from its former image is the Mankato Design Center. This former drug store and grocery building was constructed decades ago as Madison Avenue’s retail strip was in its infancy. Building owners Margot and Rich Weyhe envisioned a retail center for residential and commercial interiors, flooring and tile, kitchen and bath cabinetry, and the like. Brunton Architects was challenged to utilize the existing structure, yet feature a more craftsman-style, inviting exterior. Building co-owner, Tom Scheman said the architects provided exactly what they were looking for, “Brunton’s design captured the look we wanted and we were able to save significant money by converting an existing building rather than building new.” Currently, the Madison Avenue roadway is being reconstructed. Thus begins a new chapter in the life of this evolving retail area. And as new life comes to the pavement, other structures will be blooming to life as well. It is an exciting time for Mankato’s retail strip. As recovery slowly emerges in the economy, the continued re-use of buildings makes greater economic sense.


BEFORE AFTER

One project recently unveiled to the public is the new home of Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC). This non-profit organization provides many programs to assist those in our area in need of housing, education, and other services. MVAC has recently acquired the former Shopko building located on Victory Drive near the Madison East Mall. Their goal is to consolidate their operations into one space that will also take advantage of renewable resources. In the transformation of this facility, Brunton Architects will utilize photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of small additions and as shading devices for windows. The panels will provide electricity and architectural appeal while sheltering the newly installed windows from solar heat gain. Nearby, the former Burger King building will also undergo a major transformation. As a vacant property, a building can easily become an eyesore and a liability in a community. Although demolition of a structure may help to spur redevelopment in some cases, an assessment of a vacant

structure will often support its re-use. A plan is being developed to convert the vacant Burger King building into a new restaurant. Though it appears that adaptive re-use is only occurring on Madison Avenue, the trend isn’t limited to Mankato. Corey Brunton purchased the former Dollar Store on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato and is prepared to re-purpose this vacant building into a mixed-use development which will involve constructing a second floor on the building to create nine new residential apartments. The lower level will BEFORE contain leasable space for office or

AFTER

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retail tenants. “Looking at all of these projects as a whole, we are happy to be able to assist our clients in making their dreams become a reality,” Brunton said. Repurposing buildings rather than demolishing them helps to reduce the amount of construction waste entering our landfills, not to mention the energy it saves by not having to manufacture new building materials themselves. Though it may sound cliché, Brunton Architects is improving our community, one building at a time.


Regional Outlook

Rural Minnesota and the broadband economy ■ “Digital There is little doubt that as a state Minnesota has embraced the broadband economy. A new report released last month by Connect Minnesota reports that online sales in Minnesota now account for approximately $6.2 billion annually, including more than $1 billion in sales for micro businesses with fewer than five employees. The report also notes that approximately 83,000 Minnesota businesses report having a company website and 45,000 Minnesota businesses report allowing some of their employees to engage in tele-work. Not surprisingly, they estimate that of those 45,000 businesses that engage in telework, 13,000 are located in rural Minnesota. The incorporation of all these digital tools by Minnesota businesses over the past decade is truly remarkable when you consider that only 10 short years ago a Blackberry was still a fruit (i.e., the Blackberry was first introduced into the marketplace in 2002). Today approximately one in five Minnesota businesses report that they procure work by actively bidding on contracts online; almost 50,000 Minnesota employers use the Internet to advertise job openings and/or accept employment applications; and most importantly, the report cites that median annual sales of those Minnesota companies that utilize broadband are approximately $200,000 higher than those that do not use broadband. As noted above, it is remarkable how far our business community has come in the span of 10 years. While the economic benefits of broadband utilization are well documented, clearly not all Minnesota businesses have embraced this technology. For example, while 72 percent of all Minnesota businesses now report having a website, only 58 percent of rural businesses report having one. Further, as a new report disseminated by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality points out, it’s not just about the presence of a website, but rather it’s about the overall “digital presence” of your business that really counts. What do I mean by a digital presence? Digital

Presence is how a business presents itself and is visible via electronic m e d i a channels. This often includes the integration of a web site, social media channels, e m a i l marketing campaigns, a blog, digital signage or any other connected electronic touch point. And according to this new report, rural Minnesota has a ways to go. Extension researchers Tara Daun and Hans Muessig assessed the digital presence of almost 14,000 rural Minnesota businesses through the examination of their websites; their use of social media such as Facebook; and their identification through GoogleMaps and GooglePlace. For those not familiar with a digital presence through Google, the idea is quite simple. When you search for a location in GoogleMaps, the map automatically identifies landmarks and businesses that have a GooglePlace page. So for example, if you zoom in on South Riverfront Street in Mankato, businesses such as “Neighbors Italian Bistro” are automatically identified on the map and if you place your cursor over that location and “click,” information will be provided about Neighbor’s, including its phone number, website and even restaurant reviews. Many Internet marketers will suggest that travelers and tourists are much more likely to patronize your business if you have a quality digital presence through Google. If it is true that more than 60 percent of purchase decisions today start with research on the Internet, than rural businesses that have no digital presence are at a great disadvantage. And according to this new study, just slightly over 40 percent of the businesses in the

38 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

By Jack M. Geller, Ph.D

Presence is how a business presents itself and is visible via electronic media channels.”

small rural communities they examined maintained a website. Only 13 percent of businesses were engaged in social media; and an equally small 13 percent of businesses were identified on GoogleMaps. While there are many advantages of living in a rural community, trying to operate a business in rural Minnesota has two inherent disadvantages. The first is that the size of your market is small and the second is the distance one often needs to travel to reach markets that have critical mass is significant. Of course the good news is that these digital tools allow you to expand your market reach and closes the distance to reach regional, national or global markets. A decade or more ago before the “dot. com” bubble burst, there was a belief that the Internet would change everything. While we know now with hindsight that wasn’t exactly true, it is fascinating to observe how it has truly changed so much and how the Internet continues to integrate itself into our daily lives. But some things don’t change; and as I think about how rural businesses without a digital presence may not realize the business opportunities they are missing, I am reminded of an old adage that while appropriate, far preceded the Internet: out of sight — out of mind. MV Geller is professor & head of the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota Crookston. He also serves as director of the federally funded EDA University Center at UMC. He can be reached at gelle045@umn.edu


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Up and Coming Adam Ellefson and Lupita Marchan with their son, Adan, at their Living Land Farm near St. Peter.

Making a living on the land Living Land Farm takes root By Jean Lundquist Photos By John Cross

40 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


C

Many of the crops Living Land Farm offers are directly sown into the ground. Many others are started in the greenhouse, so that seedlings can be transplanted into the field, and harvests can come earlier. By February, the first seeds were planted in cold frames inside the greenhouse. Those first seeds were onions. By mid April, literally tens of thousands of seedlings were growing in the greenhouse. Among the vegetables started in the greenhouse were kohlrabis, tomatoes and peppers. Many of those plants were transferred to the hoop house before being set in the garden. The difference between a greenhouse and a hoop house is that a hoop house is heated only by the sun, and is considered a season extender. A greenhouse has a source of heat in addition to the sun. In the Living Land Farm greenhouse, the secondary source of heat is a small wood stove gleaned from a friend. During the nights that were dangerously cold for tender young seedlings, Ellefson brought a cot, a book and a sleeping bag so he could stoke the fire all night. “I feed the fire at 11 p. m., again about 3 a. m. and again at 6 or 7 a. m.,” he says of his nights in the greenhouse. This winter and spring, he spent about 15 nights keeping the heat up in the greenhouse. With every season that Ellefson and Marchan operate their CSA, it gets easier. “You learn your system,” Ellefson says, “what works for you.” Sometimes, that means finding the right tool to save time and energy in the work. In other cases, it takes some creativity and inventiveness. Lupita Marchan tends to tomato plants inside the hoop house

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 41

Up and Coming

ommunity Supported Agriculture (CSA) is growing in popularity in the United States, and certainly in Southern Minnesota. Adam Ellefson and Lupita Marchan started one of the newest CSAs in the area, Living Land Farm, north of St. Peter just off the scenic Ottawa Road. A CSA farm offers shares of produce for sale. Those who purchase a share receive a portion of the fruit and vegetable bounty throughout the growing season. In some CSAs, those shareholders are expected to share the work. Ellefson and Marchan have a few shareholders who come out and work in exchange for produce, but most are happy to leave the work to others. And vegetable farming is labor intensive, says Ellefson. “It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I love it.” Both Ellefson and Marchan served what Ellefson calls informal internships with CSAs in the Duluth area, helping them learn the business of gardening. When the opportunity to purchase 22 acres for a CSA of their own came along in 2009, they jumped at the chance. “It all fell together,” recalls Ellefson. “The land was available and my wife found a job teaching here so it worked out well.” The land they purchased is part of a farm that has been in Ellefson’s family since the 1950s. The first task in 2009 was transitioning it from a soybean field to a very large garden. To do that, they needed electricity and a well, a pole barn for storage, and a greenhouse. A hoop house was added this spring.


Up and Coming

Adam Ellefson does some hand weeding on the organic Living Land Farm. One corner of the greenhouse holds a germination chamber that Ellefson invented, though he says he got the idea from another vegetable farmer. It’s an insulated chamber that holds a stock tank heater in a small stock tank, creating a very humid environment. It’s controlled by a thermostat. At the top of the chamber, on a grate, is a pan of sprouting mix with seeds spread across it. It speeds up the germination time, and sprouts seeds very quickly. “I’ve really got to keep an eye on some of the seeds. They can sprout and be ready to plant in a couple of hours in there. Ellefson and Marchan hope to be certified as an organic farm this season. “We’ve been using organic methods all along, but this year is our first chance to be certified,” Ellefson explains. Pest control on an organic farm, he says, means not letting the pest get a foothold. “You have to study the pest, and learn its vulnerable times. For example, moths lay eggs during a certain number of weeks, so during those times, you cover your plants.” Ellefson sees the Living Land Farm as a study in sustainability, using the system, nature provides to grow healthy plants. “The plants grow with the energy from the sun. The plants sustain us, and we work the farm.” Ellefson is especially pleased by being able to provide local food to the area. Living Land Farm allows people to come to the farm to pick up their produce. It is also delivered to the St.

42 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

Peter Food Co-op for pick-up, and to the Community Gardens in Mankato. “Most of the time, local food is defined as coming from 500 to 1,000 miles away. We’re three miles from St. Peter, and 10 miles from Mankato,” Ellefson says. The first year, Ellefson and Marchan sold a total of 18 shares. The second, they sold 35. This year, they expect to sell about 45 shares, reaching a total of 70 families with farm fresh food. Living Land Farm sells both full shares, which consists of about a bushel of food every week, and half shares, which is a bushel of food every other week. Early season produce is mostly greens, with radishes, broccoli and peas. Summer produce includes things like cucumbers, green beans, zucchini and tomatoes. Fall produce includes winter squash, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes in the share boxes. Share deliveries end mid-October. In addition to the shares Living Land Farm sells, it also sells wholesale produce to the St. Peter Co-op and the River Rock Coffee Cafe in St. Peter through mid-November. . MV


All in the Family Jeff and Laura Evenson recently opened Natural Pathways on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato.

Following a natural path to business Couple starts holistic wellness center By Sara Gilbert Frederick Photos By John Cross

44 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business


I

Evenson says. “That is the ultimate goal, and we are going to get there.” MN Valley Business: How did something that started as a personal journey turn into a business for you two? Laura Evenson: Right away, I thought that this would be a cool way to help people. I went to a basic training seminar for Nutrition Response Testing and started playing around with it. I taught Jeff what I had learned, and I was doing it a little bit for people out of the house. I knew that Jeff was liking it too, but that he didn’t want to step on my toes. So one day we went to coffee and I asked if he wanted to do this too — and he said “Oh yes!” Jeff Evenson: It just morphed into what it is now. I started doing the Nutrition Response Testing in our house (Laura had to stop due to severe sensitivities). Then Laura went to yoga training in Costa Rica, and when she came back, we thought we should combine it under one roof. Laura Evenson: We wanted it to be mainstream, not something in our basement. We wanted coming here to be as normal as going to the clinic. We wanted to bring it into the public and create a space for alternative healers to come together.

Jeff Evenson provides a number of holistic health programs at Natural Pathways

MN Valley Business • June 2012 • 45

All in the Family

n September of 2008, Laura and Jeff Evenson scheduled massages for themselves during a vacation in Ely — and henceforth embarked on a journey that eventually led them to open Natural Pathways in North Mankato earlier this year. Those massages led to a set of holistic health assessments, which led to remarkable relief from health issues that had been plaguing Laura for years. That relief led the couple to introduce their children — they each have two boys from previous marriages — to the program they were on, which had a profound positive impact on their health as well. That impact led the Evensons to think about how they could incorporate what they were learning about holistic health not only into their everyday lives but into their careers as well. Today, they co-own and operate Natural Pathways, a holistic wellness center built around alternative healing. Clients can undergo Nutrition Response Testing — the test that helped Laura figure out what was wrong with her — and develop a personalized Nutrition Therapy program. They can also meet with a Holistic Lifestyle Coach (both Laura and Jeff are certified), receive massages, practice yoga, take a belly dancing class or enjoy Zumba. But the journey isn’t over for the Evensons yet. “Our vision is to create a community for healers as well as a community for people to just come and be healed,” Laura


All in the Family Natural Pathways incorporated the stools and counter from the former Christy’s Cafe when the building was remodeled. MVB: Sounds like you had a vision and the passion for what you wanted to do — but what about the hand’s-on business experience? LE: The good thing is that Jeff is handy with all of that. And, when we were getting started with everything, we called the Small Business Development Center and worked with Wendy Anderson. She was a godsend. She worked with us, introduced us to our banker, went through our business plan and helped propel things along. We just felt like we were set on this path for a purpose, because everything just fell in place. We had a never-ending series of coincidences. We felt like what we needed would come to us when we needed it, and it absolutely has.

always been a partnership for us, through our whole marriage. When we’re not together, we feel lost.

MVB: How have you divvied up the day-to-day roles in the business? JE: We divide it up. He puts all the checks into QuickBooks, for example, but I actually write the checks. JE: Most of the computer work, she just hands to me. I get less frustrated with it than she does. LE: It would take me three days to make the fliers that he could do in about an hour. But when it comes to ordering products, picking out chairs or blankets, I do that. ... There’s definitely a division, but we both know what’s going on. It’s

MVB: Has the community embraced the business so far? LE: People have been really, really receptive. We haven’t heard any negative feedback so far. JE: In fact, what we hear is “We’ve been waiting for this.”

46 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

MVB: How do you find time for yourselves as a couple and as individuals? LE: We’ll take some time to go in the studio and do some yoga or dance during whatever quiet time we can find. And we have one day off a week—Sunday—and we try hard to honor that. JE: Both of us are going to try to take half a day off each week as well, so that we can have some separate time just on our own. If she wants to go shop for shoes, she can. And I can go for a walk in the woods.

MV


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Profile

Eric Strand founded the business in 1997 and was later joined by his son Bob.

Searching for solutions Strands work to tailor high-tech systems to customers’ needs By Marie Wood Photos By John Cross

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ric and Bob Strand have drilled holes inside a bank vault, entered Blue Earth County jails with a full tool belt to work inside a locked jail cell, and hammer drilled concrete inside a library, where they were not shushed. “We get to see a lot of places the general public doesn’t get to see,” said Bob. Eric and Bob Strand of Elysian are the father and son behind Technical Solutions of Madison Lake. In 1997, Eric founded the business to bring the audio, video, and communication systems of the workplace into the home. The concept had taken off on the East and West coasts, but in southern Minnesota, Eric was introducing whole-home audio and communication systems and home theaters. “We spent a lot of time educating people and introducing the technology to this area,” said Eric. Previously, Eric worked for 23 years at Immanuel-St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he established the BIO medical department. When Bob was a kid, he tagged along with his dad to watch him fix medical equipment. In high school and college, Bob worked for his dad at

48 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

Technical Solutions on both commercial and residential projects. At the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Bob was studying to become a shop teacher. In the face of school budget cuts, Bob chose to join Technical Solutions full-time. The business may be in his mom and dad’s name, but Bob works the same long hours and puts his reputation at stake. “I treat it like my own,” said Bob.

Commercial work As residential services grew slowly, Technical Solutions’ commercial services took off. Businesses and government entities looked to Eric for computer networking, phone systems, card access, video surveillance and everyday technical issues. “The name fits us where somebody just has a problem and they don’t know who to call,” said Eric. Recently, Technical Solutions outfitted Frozen Yogurt Creations in Mankato with a security camera, surround sound, Sirius Satellite Radio and an Internet modem. Initially owner Kelli Milbrandt had glitches with her Internet that Technical Solutions traced to a low signal from her service provider. “They kept at it until we found the problem. They got it all


figured out for me,” said Milbrandt. “Their customer service has been phenomenal.” In order to install and service equipment, Bob and Eric are continuously studying and testing to gain certifications required by manufacturers. Because they are focused on their customers, sometimes they get certified on brands their clients are already using. “If you’re going to run a business right you have to stay current on the technology you provide,” said Eric. Eric is a Registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD), which means he tests every three years to carry a license to implement information technology systems. “We are the only shop in the Mankato area that has an RCDD,” said Eric. When Eric goes into an office, he knows the staff by name, as well as the equipment that keeps their company clicking along smoothly. “When we walk into a place, we know the systems,” said Eric.

Home work Bob specializes in designing and installing whole houseaudio and video distribution systems and home theaters and has relaunched residential services under the name Fine Tunes. In the Minnesota River Builders Association’s 2010 Fall Tour of Homes, Dr. Michael Wolf ’s Mankato home won People’s Choice. Wolf said that he believes it was the home theater and the audio, video and Internet system installed by Technical Solutions and Fine Tunes that wowed people. “They are a very reasonable solution for this compared to big name companies,” said Wolf. Wolf wanted a home theater with comfortable seating, a 110-inch screen and movie projector for his three daughters

Family business Cindy Strand, mother and wife, works part-time as an administrator, bookkeeper and cable puller at Technical Solutions. Like Bob and Eric, she is a licensed low-voltage technician. She is also an occasional mediator between father and son. Sometimes Bob and Eric will shoot toy dart guns at each other or argue like Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. from the reality show “American Chopper.” But they always serve their customers with total professionalism and usually get along really well, explained Cindy. “If you’re a family working together, you have to be able to laugh at things the other ones do,” said Cindy. Both admit that they can be opinionated and stubborn about how to get the job done. But after they close the office door, they can ride their motorcycles, take the boat out or crack a beer together. “That’s work. We can put it behind us,” said Bob. MV Bob Strand specializes in whole house audio and video systems such as this one he designed in the home of Dr. Michael Wolf.

Profile

Eric Strand and his son, Bob, operate Technical Solutions of Madison Lake.

who are in high school and college now. “Our intent was to make sure our kids brought their friends to our house. It worked like a charm,” said Wolf. As the chief radiologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Wolf also required networked work stations and the ability to project medical images in his home theater. Viewing CT scans on the large screen has become an important educational tool for Wolf and his partners. “They listened very closely to us. They gave us only what we needed,” said Wolf. “These guys are more like friends than a business that installs something and leaves.” Bob gets to know each client and then builds the system accordingly, often getting involved when new homes are still in the planning stages. “I learn what they want, how they’ll use it and tailor it to fit their needs,” said Bob. Bob’s patience and gift for teaching play an important role, because he always shows his clients how to use the equipment. “Nothing makes me happier than to do a follow up visit with my customer and there is music playing in the whole house,” said Bob. Occasionally, a client forgets how to work their equipment before a party or televised event. Even on a Saturday evening while on a boat in the middle of Lake Francis, Bob will answer his phone to help out a client. “I can walk them through it,” said Bob.


Business Memos/Company News

In-home care business recognized John and Sarah Pacchetti, owners of Home Instead Senior Care, were honored for outstanding business performance within the Home Instead Senior Care network. The network’s 65,000 caregivers in 950 franchised businesses, including in the Mankato area, provide non-medical in-home care and companionship to older adults.

Bolton & Menk has continued to rise on the list since 1996. The firm said its reputation, together with expanding expertise has enabled them to maintain long-lasting relationships with their clients and expand their market share in the Upper Midwest. Bolton & Menk they have a staff of more than 265. Their corporate offices are in Mankato, with several offices in Minnesota and Iowa.

■■■ ■■■ Student business repays loan IBE Giving Inc., the student-run business within the College of Business at Minnesota State University successfully completed course requirements and re-paid its loan to United Prairie Bank. The IBE (Integrated Business Experience) program gives students real-world experiences in running a business. The group’s products include cotton T-shirts with a vintage Maverick logo and purple collapsible water bottles that sport the MSU logo. ■■■ HickoryTech upgrades YA system Enventis, a subsidiary of HickoryTech, completed the deployment of a Cisco Unified Computing System for Young America, an incentive marketing firm, at their headquarters in Edina. Enventis created a single converged system to increase data center capacity to handle their growing volume of business and enhance productivity. ■■■ Nesvold gets credit union recognition Dick Nesvold of SouthPoint Federal Credit Union in Sleepy Eye has received the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s Outstanding Credit Union Professional of the Year award. Nesvold has served as president & CEO for 16 years. Under his leadership, the credit union has seen a steady rise in membership, an expansion in its products and services, the opening of two branch offices and most recently the expansion of their field of membership to the counties of Blue Earth, Brown, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Redwood, Renville and Sibley. ■■■ Kato Roofing recognized Kato Roofing was recognized by Firestone Building Products with the 2012 Firestone Master Contractor Award. From a network of more than 3,000 licensed roofing contractors, the firm is among the top 256 commercial roofing contractors to be honored for high-quality roofing system installation and outstanding service. ■■■ Bolton & Menk moves up earnings ranking Bolton & Menk placed at 242 in revenue for 2011 in the annual ranking of the top 500 engineering design firms by the Engineering News-Record.

50 • June 2012 • MN Valley Business

ADM plant honored for safety The Minnesota Safety Council has awarded Governor’s Safety Awards to Archer Daniels Midland Company for superior performance in workplace safety and health at the company’s soybean crushing plant and vegetable oil refinery in Mankato. Joel Leonard is the safety coordinator at ADM’s Mankato facilities. Since 1934, the annual Governor’s Safety Awards program has honored Minnesota employers with exceptional safety performance. The Mankato facilities employ 130 people. ■■■ TBEI, Inc. Names New Director of Engineering Lake Crystal-based TBEI Inc. named James “Archie” England as director of engineering. For the past three years, England served in a similar position at SMI Inc. Truck Bodies & Equipment International (TBEI) encompasses five leading manufacturers of dump truck bodies, hoists and truck & trailer equipment ■■■ Greenwald becomes part owner in vet clinic Premier Veterinary Center announced that Nancy Greenwald is now part owner of both the Mankato and Waseca locations. Greenwald is a 2010 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. During her time in veterinary school, she also completed a Master’s degree in Public Health. She has Nancy Greenwald been a part of the practice in many different capacities over the last 20 years. ■■■

To submit your company or employee news. e-mail to tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com Put “Business memo” in the subject line. Call or e-mail Associate Editor Tim Krohn at tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6383 for questions.


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Extraordinary experiences begin with vision, creativity and a sense of essential purpose. Just as each wine at Minnesota’s newest farm winery, Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery, is hand-crafted to bring out the grapes’ bold flavors, so are the environments Paulsen Architects has designed for the winery’s visitors to experience. We are committed to every project’s success down to the smallest of details. The result is an extraordinary experience that exceeds expectations and truly bold designs that inspire.

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WWW.PAULSENARCHITECTS.COM


Contact Cheryl Olson for solutions to your advertising puzzle.

507-344-6390

mankatomag@mankatofreepress.com

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Old and New Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault has a rich history, dating back to 1858. As a legacy of this history, the campus includes a rich array of historic buildings. I&S recently teamed to complete a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) building on the campus. The design, intended to blend with the existing architecture, yet hint at the innovation and learning occuring inside, has been an unparalled success. I&S Group —blending new ideas with the successes of the past. Learn more at www.is-grp.com.

WWW.IS-GRP.COM "3$)*5&$54t&/(*/&&34t1-"//&34t-"/%4637&:034t4$*&/5*454

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MN Valley Business  

56 page Journal - Definitive Business Journal for the Greater Minnesota River Valley

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