Bis-Man INC! April 2024

Page 1

April 2024 // A Bismarck-Mandan Business Magazine From Information to Insight P.36 Get Ready for GABR 2024! P.28 General Equipment Reflecting on 40 Years of Business P.44
CONTENT// APRIL 2024 LIKE OUR CONTENT? Check out our website at 36 44 20 28 Partner Content: Here's a Toast to 10 years Ask the Expert: The Hidden Costs of Ineffective Data Management How Threefold is Producing Creativity in the Community Get Ready for GABR 2024! From Information to Insight General Equipment Reflecting on 40 Years of Business The Advantages of Motivated Employees in the Workplace An Update from Pavewise: Utah Bitumen Deposits 14 18 20 28 36 44 58 62 BISMANINC.COM 5

Kim Cowles

Ty Betts

Nick Schommer

Kellen Feeney

Tommy Uhlir

Megan Suedbeck

Ben Buchanan

Austin Smith

Paul Hoefer

Sam Winter

Al Anderson

Tori Helland

Dave McSparron

Austin Cuka

Jenny Johnson

Jessica Mullen

Miranda Knudson

John Stuber

Bis-Man INC! is published monthly and is available at area businesses and online at Bis-Man INC! is published by Spotlight LLC, Copyright 2024 Bis-Man INC! & All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Bis-Man INC!, and Spotlight LLC, is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such information. Spotlight LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers. APRIL 2024 Volume 3 Issue 4 Spotlight, LLC 4609 33rd Ave S Suite #304 Fargo, ND 58104 or ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768) Publisher EDITORIAL Editorial Team Lead Editors Art Director Editorial Graphic Designer Creative Strategist Contributors INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager Business Development Associate Videographer Director of Creative Strategies Graphic Designer Web Developer ADVERTISING VP of Business Development Sales Manager Sales Representative Sales & Marketing Advisor Senior Business Development Representative Business Development Representative Client Relations Client Relations Manager Marketing Coordinator Operations Assistant DISTRIBUTION Delivery Mike Dragosavich Brady Drake Geneva Nodland, Grant Ayers
Bryce and Brittany
of The
Josiah Kopp Mayor Mike Schmitz (City of Bismarck),
Wuori (Pavewise), Julie
Maciej (Ladyboss


appy April! This month, I'm ecstatic to share a story spotlighting Threefold, a truly homegrown business and video production company in Bismarck, founded by Keenan and Caleb Hauff. Their journey over the last 10 years is a story of success and what they've picked up along the way is invaluable.

In our cover story, you'll learn how Threefold has grown from a small startup to a thriving company with an impressive new space. But that's not all—this issue also offers insights from local leaders (past and present) of General Equipment, who share some of the business knowledge and wisdom they've picked up over four generations.

Plus, I had the pleasure of sitting down and discussing Sanford Health Foundation's upcoming Great American Bike Race (GABR) 2024 and its work that impacts thousands of kids across the BismarckMandan region every year.

Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just curious about what's happening in our community, please join me in exploring the stories that make Bismarck-Mandan such a special place to do business.

As we toast to Threefold's 10 years of success and the countless other businesses making waves in our area, let's remember that we're all in this together to make Bismarck-Mandan the best that it can be. Here's to another month of inspiration, insight, and opportunities!


Editor's Note:

Williquors Celebrates its Decade-Journey in Offering Quality Spirits to Bismarck

ince 2014, Williquors, which is celebrating 10 years of business, has been a local staple in providing the Bismarck area with quality selection in wine and spirits. We sat down with part owner and General Manager Brent Skjerseth to learn more about how Williquors serves the community.

Williquors offers a diverse range of products. A significant draw is their 'pick six' beer cooler, where customers have over 200 options to choose from to build their own six-pack.

Recently, they have expanded into offerings like non-alcoholic or lowalcohol options and a variety of organic, low-calorie products. "Our categories and segments in that area have grown exponentially over the past few months," Skjerseth said.

A thriving business culture

Williquors' 10 years of success can be attributed to its thriving team culture and low turnover rate among staff. In fact, about 90% of its full-time staff has been with the company since or near the beginning.

submitted by Williquors
Josiah Kopp
14 APRIL 2024

Did you know?

Celebrity appearances and events have also been significant for Williquors. Forrie Smith from 'Yellowstone' has made two appearances, signing bottles of his bourbon for customers and fans.

Wine to the Nines

With a vast collection and a focus on customer guidance, Williquors aims to offer an unmatched wine shopping experience. While other retailers streamline their product selection, Skjerseth says Williquors, which currently offers over 3,200 wines on their shelves, has the ability to offer a much wider variety.

Though their wine selection may seem overwhelming at first, that's where Williquors customer service shines. "That's why we're here—to guide them through and help them find that perfect wine for them," Skjerseth said.

Beyond Retail: Educating Customers

Education has been a significant focus for Williquors. Every month, Williquors holds classes, led by distributors, focusing on various wines and regions. These classes offer customers an educational experience alongside the opportunity to purchase the wines they taste.

This blend of retail excellence, adaptability, and education showcases Williquors' approach to serving its community over the past decade. These classes are typically announced on Williquors' Facebook page and are often free to join.

10 Years of Business: Keys to Success

As Williquors approaches its 10th anniversary this December, Skjerseth reflects on the significant milestones that have marked the store's journey over the last decade. "Obviously, steady sales growth over the years has been a

significant milestone, along with getting through the pandemic and adapting to changes during that period," Skjerseth said.

Flexibility has been a central theme in Williquors' success story. "We have the flexibility to bring in new products before other stores and adjust our shelves and floor layout. Our store is very fluid, allowing us to adapt and change with trends."

According to Skjerseth, being locally owned and operated is pivotal in maintaining excellence in a competitive industry. He also attributes much of Williquors' success to the trust and confidence the owners place in the team for significant autonomy in decisionmaking."We can get our guys together very quickly to pivot to new strategies," he said. "We all have the same vision and want to see growth in the BismarckMandan area."

Looking to the future, Skjerseth remains ambitious. "We're always looking to expand, whether it be in Nebraska, South Dakota, or more in North Dakota. We want to keep a decent footprint within the Midwest," he said.

Staying relevant in the industry is a major factor in Wlilliquors’ success. For example, Williquors has the ability to select newlyannounced or trending products before they're publicly available. Once these products are available, management becomes key. "It's about managing those products, especially the allocated items. We limit purchases to make sure everyone gets a chance to try [new products]," Skjerseth said. Beyond product management, Williquors places a significant emphasis on store presentation, always

Spotlight Media

Providing more than just spirits

In addition to beverages, Williquors also offers accessories such as cigars, which Skjerseth says is a significant part of their business.

updating the front-end layout to showcase both new and popular products.

This proactive and responsive strategy in both product offerings and store aesthetics keeps Williquors at the forefront of the industry, continuously attracting customers by offering both the latest products and an engaging shopping experience.

Unmatched Customer Service & Exptertise

Skjerseth sees the importance of guiding customers in their selections, whether for wine, beer, or spirits. "A lot of people come in looking for a specific type of wine, maybe to pair with a meal, or they need a gift. We lead them to options we know are broadly appealing," Skjerseth said. He and his team's hands-on approach ensures customers leave with the right product that they're sure to love.

"We often get asked about cocktail ingredients," he said. "We provide

them with everything they need for their event to be a success. I have customers who just ask me to pick out their wine because I’ve never steered them wrong. They keep coming back, so it’s working," he said.

Williquors Core Philosophy

Skjerseth's core philosophy that defines the store and its relationship with customers is offering the best service and selection in the area—but going also step beyond that, by emphasizing a friendly and familiar atmosphere where customers are treated like family. "A lot of our customers, we know by name and have their loyalty account ready by the time they reach the register."

The sense of community is a significant aspect of Williquors' identity. "The community has been great in accepting us, and we just want to serve them the best we can, providing the best service, selection, and pricing," Skjerseth explained.

Check out Williquors' wide selection and ask about their loyalty program! | 701-751-7373 3025 Yorktown Dr, Bismarck, ND 58503 Williquors storefront, showcasing trending selections and customer favorites.
/Williquors 16 APRIL 2024
Follow Williquors' Facebook page to stay up-to-date on educational classes!

The Hidden Costs of

Ineffective Data Management

today's business landscape, data is the very lifeline that fuels decisions, drives innovations, and shapes strategies. However, organizations often find it challenging to effectively manage the massive amounts of data they hold. That's where data management comes into play.

Data management is all about collecting, storing, and analyzing data in the most efficient way possible to help businesses make informed decisions, optimize operations, and unlock invaluable insights.

Read on as we look at the consequences of improper data management and discuss how organizations can effectively deal with these challenges.

Potential consequences of improper data management

Failure to manage data effectively can lead to the consequences listed below, including missed opportunities, inefficiencies, and even business-ending events:

Poor decision-making

Imagine navigating the roads using a faulty map. You’re bound to end up in the wrong place. Without accurate data, organizations will be charting a flawed business course toward wasted resources, missed market opportunities, and ultimately, strategic missteps that hurt the business.

Reduced efficiency

If employees are working in siloed systems, drowning in a sea of duplicate data, and wasting precious manhours sorting the mess, businesses won’t have time for productive work. Ineffective management erodes productivity and keeps companies from growing.

18 APRIL 2024

Increased risk

A leaky boat is bound to sink. Poor data management can sink a business by exposing it to security risks and even data breaches that could result in noncompliance with regulations, which can lead to legal issues and fines.

Decreased customer trust

Mishandling of customer data is like breaking a sacred covenant. It fractures an organization’s reputation and erodes trust, leading to client disengagement and a tarnished brand image that could be difficult to rebuild.

Competitive disadvantage

Think of a large, inaccessible gold mine. Now, imagine all that untapped precious metal. That’s exactly what businesses that lack data management strategies resemble. If a company fails to leverage data, it’s bound to lose ground to businesses that use analytics and AI to unlock groundbreaking insights and fuel future success.

Increased costs

Poor data management slowly eats away at revenue and balloons expenses. Businesses end up incurring expenses on storing duplicate or irrelevant data that do not contribute to its growth.

How we can help with data management

The good news is that organizations can partner with trusted guides who are equipped with the expertise and resources to transform hidden data liabilities into revenue-churning assets.

Here’s how an IT service provider can put your business on the road to success:

Never worry about data loss

A trusted IT service provider will deploy robust backup strategies and comprehensive recovery plans that will help prevent data loss.

Get advanced protection

Your IT service provider is like a guardian, keeping you safe from cyber threats lurking in the dark. You can focus on your business knowing that your assets are being protected with advanced security measures that can repel sophisticated attacks.

You have access to top IT experts

Imagine having a team of IT experts working for you without breaking the bank. Data problems can bring your

business to a halt, but with the help of top IT professionals, you can easily manage or resolve any data-related issues anytime, anywhere.

Always stay compliant

Data compliance regulations related to privacy and security are always evolving. It can be tough to keep up with rules and regulations while managing the day-to-day activities of your business. However, an IT service provider can help you stay ahead of the curve and ensure you meet the stipulated regulations.

Tailored strategies that lead to success

An experienced IT service provider can tailor data management strategies to meet your business goals and help you transform your data into a strategic asset.

Secure your future

Your data is your gold mine with precious untapped potential. However, navigating the tricky data management terrain on your own can be challenging —and that’s where IT service providers come in. /NorthStarTG Consider partnering with NorthStar Technology Group so we can help you unlock the power of data for your business. 866-337-9096 @NorthStarTechno @NorthStarTechno BISMANINC.COM 19

hreefold's story began in 2014 when Keenan and Caleb Hauff turned their vision into reality. This local video production company, born during the excitement of college graduation, showcases their enthusiastic and creative approach to business. I sat down with both Caleb and Keenan to discuss how Threefold has risen over the last 10 years, their new studio space, and much more.

Threefold's Early Origins

In the business world, the journey of a company is often as inspiring as its successes. Threefold is a perfect example of this. "In 2014, we were both finishing school in Fargo at NDSU. By the time of graduation, we already somewhat started. We were working on a website and the logo was officially launched previously in January of that year," Keenan said.

Upon returning to Bismarck, the Hauff brothers had a few projects lined up, signaling a promising start for the business. "We went full-time by May 2014, developing the mentality of working hard at this job so that we didn't have to find another to make


ends meet. Caleb was doing a lot of freelance work in Bismarck and even in Fargo for some agencies out there," Keenan said.

They saw an opportunity to do higher-end video production to set themselves apart, and noticed that many out-of-state advertising agencies were spread thin between websites, TV commercials, print advertising, billboards, and so on. It was then that they decided to focus on specific niches for the community.

According to both Caleb and Keenan, they're fortunate to have grown up in Bismarck and been connected to the community, having both served on the Junior Chamber of Commerce in

20 APRIL 2024

high school at different times, leading to great relationships and multiple projects with the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC That connection gave them a great jump start for exposure and made it much easier to put themselves out there.

"We had an idea or vision that could help promote the City of Bismarck since we're passionate about calling this place home," Caleb said. "We created an additional video for the Chamber which allowed us to flex what we were capable of creatively in a video that celebrates the BismarckMandan community and features a lot of recognizable businesses throughout the project. That project was a great piece of advertising for us that showed others what we were capable of, which happened to go 'Facebook viral,' connecting us with people and organizations we could have never imagined we would have been working with at the time."

For Caleb and Keenan, growth was not just about expanding their client base but also about developing a team that shared their vision and passion.

"Zack and Adam were the first two that we hired, so we doubled our team pretty quickly with two people who were very well-versed in the production world," Keenan said. "As our team has grown over the years, every person's role has become a bit

more defined. We hired Joel around six years ago, who's in a similar position to me in terms of client and project production management. He's originally from Bismarck but was living in Tennessee when we recruited him to start with us."

"Danielle joined us two years ago and has been a great asset. She fills in a lot of gaps that our team had with hair and makeup and provides a lot of great art direction. She's very familiar with a lot of the video production world from doing freelance solo work and juggling all of the hats by herself, so she's able to jump in wherever needed, whether it be editing or any other role along the way," Caleb said.


According to Keenan, everybody that Threefold has hired full-time, since the beginning, is still with them to this day. This retention speaks volumes about their commitment to their employees and investment in professional growth.

We see [Threefold] as an opportunity for North Dakota people to tell a North Dakota story together, whatever that looks like for the client. Over the years, we've invested a lot into our equipment and gear, as well as the team around us. We've aimed for a very strategic addition of team members over the years and were very deliberate in the way that we hired people. We didn't want to just burn through employees or fill a temporary need, so we're glad that we took the time to search for the right people who share the same passions as we do."

MEET THE TEAM KEENAN HAUFF Director and Co-Founder CALEB HAUFF DP and Co-Founder JOEL LAND Producer and Project Manager ZACH WENTZ Senior Editor and DP ADAM KEMPENICH Audio Tech and IT DANI MONZELOWSKY Junior Editor and PA BISMANINC.COM 21

Our new studio space allows us to do work for any company in the region, no matter the size. We're able to do projects that fit their budget and goals with more room to work and grow. Our LED walls in our new space also push us to new creative heights in terms of visual production."

Embracing Change and Expansion

The year 2024 marked a significant milestone for Threefold, with their transition into a new studio space. This move was not just a physical change but a strategic leap toward realizing their ambitious vision. The new space, with its expanded capacity and advanced equipment, opened doors to a world of possibilities for the team.

"We have a lot more potential of what can be physically captured and built with this new space, so that's our focus going into 2024 and beyond. It's really about growth and pushing forward to new heights," Keenan said.

"We have a space that provides an opportunity to both grow our team and expand what we're able to do with projects for clients. It allows us to add a couple more teammates and do some larger-scale projects in-studio. Essentially, our options for our dayto-day operations and potential have had the door blasted open from this opportunity," Caleb said.

The team went from roughly 2,500 square feet in their former space to just over 10,000 square feet in the newly finished upgrade, with plenty of new additions and benefits. "In our last space, we had a 36-inch door, and those 36 inches were essentially the constraints of what we could fit into

Check out Threefold's new space! 22 APRIL 2024

When we first began, we started by focusing on over-delivering and letting the work speak for itself. Both of those, and especially delivering the highest-quality work possible, are still important to us to this day. While we've gotten a lot of work from people seeing our past projects, we've had just as much, if not more work come from networking at events and making connections through meeting new people. Staying engaged with community events and people within the community has been critical to our success; it's something that we value because we've seen just how important it is to Threefold's success over the last decade."

- Caleb Hauff, DP and Co-Founder

the studio to film. We've been doing work with Bobcat for a while, but now we're able to bring machines and vehicles in and film them right instudio," Keenan said.

The new Threefold space offers higher ceilings and a garage door to bring larger equipment in to accommodate more grand-scale sets. "We also have the ability now to start working towards virtual production with LED wall backdrops with this much area to work with. The other space was great for us to grow in, but we felt that we outgrew what we were capable of doing in there, and we were ready for something bigger, both physically and with Threefold's goals," he said.

"Another large aspect of this transition for us is that we've always wanted to own our own space. We were leasing the first space from an amazing landlord, and we're beyond grateful for that relationship, but it's been in the back of our minds to build and own something that we could call our own. We waited for the right space to come by, and we knew that it would require a lot of work, but we were able to create something that we're proud of," Caleb said.

Submitted by Threefold

Check out some behind-the-scenes shots from a recent project!

Navigating Competition and Setting Industry Standards

Owning everything ourselves and keeping most aspects of Threefold in-house has brought our team closer together than we could have ever imagined and has made us a lean, efficient team that can handle more than we ever thought during the founding days of Threefold."
- Caleb Hauff, DP and Co-Founder

Threefold's philosophy is all about their genuine commitment to the BismarckMandan community and maintaining top-notch quality in their work.

"There's always healthy competition sprouting up in the video production industry," Keenan said. However, he points out that Threefold's approach, focusing on high-quality studio production, sets them apart in this competitive arena. "The industry as a whole has become naturally easier to get into between prices and technology becoming more accessible, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's easier to know and understand the business. Access to education and resources online has grown in the last decade, but there are not many competitors in terms of studio production companies like Threefold, with a large studio space for shooting, which is something that I think sets us apart."

The collaboration process with clients is a critical aspect of Threefold's operations, where they ensure that the end product meets and exceeds client expectations. "Something that I believe differentiates us is the amount of time that we spend in pre-production. We want to have an excellent, mapped-out plan for the project before the cameras ever get pulled out in the studio," Keenan said. This way, there are no surprises for anybody on either side, client or creator, and this also helps to answer any questions that the client may have, while also making sure that there aren't any major problems that arise that could have been figured out beforehand.

"We're doing more than just shooting your idea after some light pre-production; we're doing the storyboarding, script writing, helping with creative concepts. We have to consider the client's target audience, whom the video is crafted for, and what's going to connect best with that audience," Caleb said. A lot of time and effort goes into their pre-production process, but it pushes the final product to the standard that Threefold holds.

24 APRIL 2024
Threefold's new space is equipped with an audio room for podcasting and more.


Below are some of the many notable clients that Threefold has had the honor of working with over the years!

"Some of our most memorable and enjoyable projects have been with Bobcat and the Doosan Acceleration Center. We've had the opportunity to work on unique, cuttingedge prototypes— machines so rare that only one exists in the world, and we've had the thrill of having them right here in our studio."

"We creatively stretched the limits of our previous space on a Wex project, fully utilizing every inch available. Despite the tight squeeze, we successfully produced some exceptionally cool studio-style videos that are a source of great pride for us."

"Our work with BIO Girls from Fargo in fall 2022 was another enjoyable project. A few years back, they approached us, eager for something unique. BIO Girls' mission to boost confidence in young girls resonates deeply, particularly with our team members who have young children. We created a compelling three-minute short film for their annual fundraiser, a project that was close to our hearts. It gave us the chance to showcase our storytelling and scripting skills, and we were passionate about the project due to its impactful mission."

"Looking back, our project with CoSchedule was a real game-changer for us at Threefold. It was an exciting adventure that opened our eyes to what our studio could achieve. We dived into new, creative territories, making full use of every nook and cranny of our space – it was so packed, it was tough even getting through the front door at times! This project was a bit of a leap in terms of our skills back then, but it brought us together as a team and gave us a glimpse of what our studio could become in the future."



A: Our industry as a whole has been slowly transferring more work to a remote setting when it comes to editing and reviewing through file sharing. To echo what Keenan mentioned, virtual production is becoming a trending thing within the video production industry as a whole right now. There's a lot of creative potential right now by blending a marriage between practical set building and virtual production. I don't think that virtual is going to completely replace practical, but there are plenty of opportunities to use both to get the greatest finished product possible.


"It's a lot more about who you know than what you know. You could have the best equipment, skills, and so on, but that doesn't matter if you're not getting in front of the right people at the right time to showcase yourself. You can work hard to be the best at your craft, but it won't matter if you don't make those connections, as nobody's going to hire you."

"For any entrepreneur, it's crucial to get connected to as many people as possible in your community. Whether it's 1 Million Cups in Bismarck or StartupBREW in Fargo, opportunities like those are undervalued in the world of virtual connections today. Whether you have an idea or not, you can meet somebody that inspires you to start something new."

Looking Ahead

From their small beginnings in 2014, Keenan and Caleb Hauff have built a thriving company and laid the groundwork for a "creative ecosystem in Bismarck-Mandan" with Threefold, as Keenan described. "We're passionate about doing it in North Dakota because it's the place that we've always been proud to call 'home,' and we don't want to see that change anytime soon," Keenan said.

As they continue to navigate the challenges of an ever-changing creative industry, Threefold stands as a leader of Bismarck-Mandan that thrives in storytelling through a camera lens.

26 APRIL 2024


When: Thursday, April 11, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: 1125 E Main Ave, Bismarck

Why: "This is a really exciting step for Threefold. This open house is an opportunity to make a big announcement to the area and the state. Having a grand opening to celebrate this milestone is a huge accomplishment. The full story is that we've been consistently operating in this studio since our first production here in January of 2022.

As a team we set out with a huge goal in mind: to buy a building that we could turn into a large production studio with modern office and storage space. We knew it wasn't going to be fast, cheap or easy. Now, almost three years later, we're finishing this "ultra marathon" and getting to work and operate in this space every day. With all the renovations complete, it will be exciting to have the team fully back into what we do best. Video production."

CONTACT THREEFOLD TODAY! 701-426-0893 /Threefold @Threefold @ThreefoldTV 1125 E Main Ave Bismarck, ND 58501

Get Ready for GABR 2024!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Bismarck Event Center

ark your calendars for an exciting Saturday morning on April 27, as the Bismarck Event Center transforms into the Great American Bike Race (GABR) 2024! From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the unique event will bring our community together for a heartwarming cause hosted by the Sanford Health Foundation. Whether you're assembling a team of eight or more to compete in the stationary bike race, or you're simply there to soak in the fun and support the cause, GABR promises an experience filled with high energy, touching stories, and something for every age group.

From competing for the most inventive team theme to plenty of activities outside of cycling, there's something for everyone. And the best part? You don't need to be a cycling enthusiast to enjoy the festivities and make a meaningful impact on the lives of local children in need. I spoke with Kortney Moore and Jenna Moran from the Sanford Health Foundation regarding the event's growth, how the mission is impacting our community, and how you can make a difference. Kortney Moore

28 APRIL 2024
Development Officer at Sanford Health Foundation Jenna Moran Senior Development Specialist at Sanford Health Foundation
"We have a lot of loyal sponsors throughout the BismarckMandan community that get involved with GABR every year. We're beyond grateful for them because they not only generously support the event through donations, but many of them also create their teams and participate in the event itself. From a community standpoint, it's great to see everyone come together like this."
- Sanford Health Foundation Development Officer Kortney Moore

The Great American Bike Race (GABR) first began as a focused initiative to support kids with cerebral palsy. Over the years, the initiative has grown into a symbol of hope for children with a wider range of challenges.

"It started as a way to raise funds for kids with cerebral palsy," Moran said. "As the program grew and raised more money over the last 28 years, our reach has expanded to help more children every year, and we've expanded our mission to help all kids, so it's an extraordinary mission. It feels great to know that we're making a positive difference in our community's children's lives year after year."

The GABR 2024 race aims to introduce a new format that will get more people involved to support the mission this spring. This year, participants can form teams of up to eight or more riders for this one-of-a-kind stationary bike event, where they'll take turns cycling for 20-minute heats. "As long as you can ride safely on a fullsized stationary bike, the event is truly for anyone to come and participate. You don't have to be a professional stationary cyclist," Moore said.

Furthermore, they're adding to the excitement through a new partnership with CycleBar Bismarck

this year. The race invites participants to experience a high-energy environment led by expert local CycleBar instructors, who will be guiding and motivating cyclists while showcasing the GABR mission for everyone.

"They have a cycling studio in Bismarck that offers great cycling classes," Moore said. "This is an opportunity for them to engage with and motivate the riders. It's something that anyone can participate in at any level as we're working with CycleBar to design a welcoming, encouraging environment. It's going to be exciting to have instructors on stage along with moments sprinkled in with stories about the kids that we're serving."

Looking beyond 2024, the goal is clear for the team behind GABR: to grow in participation, raise the bar for fundraising, increase support offered to the children. As the event grows and more funds are raised, more of our community's children can receive greater care and support with greater resources right here at home. "We'd just love to grow the event," Moore said. "We hope that when people walk through the doors and experience GABR, they want to come back time and time again and make it part of their annual plans."


A Call to Action for Newcomers

For those new to GABR, Kortney and Jenna offer words of encouragement and insight. The event is about more than just cycling; it's about supporting the children, programs such as Child Life services at Sanford Children's, and much more. "It's a fun atmosphere; people decorate and show up in costumes," Moran said. "It's a day that's all about people uplifting the kids in our community and celebrating them. People can learn a lot from the event and truly make a difference."

What Are The Child Life Services Being Supported?

"Child Life services and specialists are an integral part of the care at Sanford Children's. They're trained and have expert knowledge of child development and work directly with healthcare teams to determine the best therapeutic interventions for kids. They work with the whole family as well to make the experience a little less stressful for everyone who walks through our doors."

While Moran emphasized the fun celebrations, she also urged the community to get involved for the impact that their mission has on our community. "Spread the word! If you hear of anyone interested, encourage them to do it; it's so much fun," Moore said.

"Everyone is there to have a good time and support one another for the children at the end of the day, and it's an event that's built for anyone of any level to get involved in. I think that our GABR Stars showcase exactly why it's so important to fundraise and ride for a cause. We're impacting people who are close to home and in our very own community, and we want to change the lives of these kids."

Did You Know?

This year, GABR is celebrating its 28th year of cycling for change!


Why Ride GABR 2024

Funds will stay local to support:

Direct assistance for qualifying kids in our community through the GABR Children’s and GABR Legacy funds

Programs and services like Child Life

Lifesaving medical equipment

Specialized staff education and training

And more!

- GABR 2024 Website

Meet 2024's GABR Stars

Our 2024 GABR Stars remind us why we ride. They are ambassadors for all local kids who count on life-changing care at Sanford Children’s, and the generosity of people like you!

- GABR 2024 Website


Age: 10 | Hometown: Bismarck, ND

Owen lives with a rare autoimmune deficiency that previously caused serious inflammation to his brain. While he is fully recovered from anti-NMDAR encephalitis, he continues to rely on Sanford Children’s in Bismarck for monthly Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy to support his deficient immune system.


Age: 13 | Hometown: Moffit, ND

After a serious bacterial infection, Lilah suffered kidney failure followed by a massive stroke. She’s alive today thanks to life-saving care from Sanford Children’s. “The intensive care team in Bismarck was amazing. We got pretty attached to the nurses—they treated Lilah like she was their daughter."

- Lilah's mom, Brenda.

"We also have an opportunity to volunteer if you are looking for other ways to support GABR! We have a volunteer platform on our website, where you can read about positions and sign up. Whether you can't cycle or be there physically, there's something for everyone."
- Kortney Moore

What Makes GABR Unique?

1. 100% of every dollar raised supports kids in need of care at Sanford Children's hospitals and clinics, directly impacting thousands of infants, children, and teens across the Bismarck region.

2. Funds that are raised at the event stay local in Bismarck to provide direct assistance through GABR Children's and GABR Legacy funds, which go to support specific needs for families including supplies, programs and services, and life-saving medical equipment. Furthermore, funds also support staff education and training to provide the best care possible.

3. Riders can cycle competitively or non-competitively! Participants can compete for the highest mileage and other goals, or go at a comfortable pace. At the end of the day, the event is all about having fun.

4. GABR is a very family-friendly event with something for everyone. If a kid wants to come and cannot fit on a regular-sized bike, there are plenty of activities for them at the GABR Kid Zone, so that families across the region can participate in some form.

5. If someone cannot physically attend the event, a virtual participant option is also offered! If a family member or friend wishes to join from afar, they can create their fundraising page, create activity goals, and continue to make a difference.

- Sanford Health Foundation

The GABR Kid Zone!

This year, the GABR Kid Zone will include inflatables, Balloon Ninjas, visits with the Bismarck Police Department, a photo booth hosted by DY Photobooth, craft activities, and more.

34 APRIL 2024

Schedule of Events

8 a.m. - Doors Open

8:30 a.m. - Opening Ceremony

8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. - GABR Kid Zone

9 a.m. - First Heat Begins

12:30 p.m. - Last Heat Begins

1 p.m. - Closing Ceremony

As the Sanford Health Foundation and the entire community rally together for this cause, GABR 2024 promises to be a landmark event, showcasing the best qualities of Bismarck-Mandan. More than just a day of cycling, the Great American Bike Race is a movement supporting the community, united in an effort to make a difference in the lives of children in need.

Join in to make this year's Great American Bike Race a success, paving the way for a brighter future for the children who inspire us all.

Registration is live! Head to their website below to learn more and register.


Bismarck Event Center 315 S 5th St Bismarck, ND 58504

City GIS Division Providing Pathway for Data to Become DecisionMaking

From Information to Insight

The world of Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, centers on managing data. That is a simple enough definition, but it doesn’t exactly describe in detail why it works and how it is so effective.

And so, digging into what GIS really does, becomes rather daunting until you look at the products it produces. As you see these projects, you start to get a better sense of the power of a system and approach that is a little bit art, and a little science, but the end result is something every department in the City of Bismarck can utilize.

Presently, there are more than 100 maps that city departments use, with files ranging from as small as kilobytes, or as large as a terabyte, delivering a variety of information. The City’s interactive map gallery, a public portal with a variety of maps, boasts a variety of interesting, evolving points of data at

36 APRIL 2024
Mike Schmitz, Mayor of Bismarck

Much of the power of GIS comes from the combination of maps and layered data.

So, what is GIS?

The City of Bismarck’s first steps in the realm of GIS began in 1998. At that time GIS was housed in the City’s Community Development department. As people became more familiar with the applications, and departments requested more services, it made more sense to house GIS with an IT division that was housed as part of the finance department in 2003 because of its connection to ever-evolving technology.

Darrel Nucech’s fascination with components of GIS began early on. A student of land spaces took Nucech through bachelor and master degrees in geography and built his foundation on a career with the City of Bismarck that began in 2009.

“I’ve always loved maps,” said Nucech. “And I’ve always loved natural resources, I love to hunt and fish, and so I feel like this path made sense. I came to Bismarck looking to help and to learn. Initially, I thought I would work here for a few years and move

on to another organization, but I have found I love Bismarck a lot. I’ve worked my way up from a GIS technician to an analyst, and eventually, the GIS coordinator position opened up and I was selected for that.”

At its core, GIS is a tool that helps understand and manage large quantities of numbers and data. Think of it in these terms: To explain where Bismarck is located in North Dakota, you could tell someone that Bismarck is located about a third of the state away from South Dakota, two-thirds of the state away from Canada, and about 150 miles from Montana and 200 miles from Minnesota. Or you could create a visual representation of those data points, commonly known as a map.

“That it is easily understandable is the real power of a map,” said Nucech. “They are an incredible visual tool.”

But the map component just scratches the surface of how GIS can help manage information. As you begin to track data occurring at a specific location,

Courtesy of Darrel Nucech

you can use the computing power that takes seconds to do what a group of individuals may need hours to create. The information created from this system allows for more informed decisions to be made. But the purposeful planning that goes into the creation of a dashboard means ensuring that the right data is captured and that it will continue to be available, so the system can always create that apples-to-apples comparison that makes comparing data over time effective.

“Sometimes you end up creating more work,” said Nucech. “The system is pretty dynamic but you can get part way through a project and maybe we learn the information might be more useful if it is

conveyed differently. So, purpose and audience are two things you want to keep in mind."

“The biggest thing recently is that GIS has all these applications that are open to the public through the Internet,” said Nucech. “We get maps into everyone’s hands and information at their fingertips. It can be communicated much more easily than it could before. It used to be that we had to export and create copies of data, where now, as soon as you update it, it shows that change.”

Today, the city’s website houses 39 public maps tracking information such as all of the city’s bike racks, Bismarck’s flood zones, land parcels, zoning

GIS Coordinator Darrel Necech, left, and Jared Auch, right, one of the GIS Developers, along with GIS Analyst Jami Wangler and IT/GIS Manager Andrew Milas received North Dakota’s only Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award in 2021 from ESRI.
38 APRIL 2024
Courtesy of Gloria David

Before GIS, many of the maps used were black and white, and likely photocopied from other documents.

districts, and a dashboard of incidents that Bismarck police officers respond to. These maps are dynamic, layers can be clicked on and the data is interactive.

“Years ago, we used to have to wait until the end of the day to make updates, because we didn’t want to have to kick people out of the system to make one little change,” said Nucech. “Now the systems have advanced to where we can make all of the updates without interrupting the user experience.”

Three projects with three different departments (Police, Public Works Service Operations, and Public Works Utility Operations) begin to paint a descriptive picture showing the use of GIS.

Courtesy of Paul Lies

Police Department Application

In May 2023, the Bismarck Police Department unveiled a public-facing dashboard displaying crime, service, and traffic statistics for the city over a 24-hour period, as well as a period of 3, 7, 14, and 30 days. The statistics are represented by color (red for crime, yellow for traffic, and blue for service incidents), and the larger the number of occurrences, the larger the colored dot becomes at that location.

Depending on how zoomed in your view of the map is will determine how combined the data will present itself. As you zoom in on the map, the location of incidents will become more specific.

With this data, the police department can work off real-world data to determine times when more officers may be needed to work shifts, areas of town that may need a higher volume of patrols, and departments such as Engineering and Community Development can see if there are specific areas of town that are experiencing higher traffic incidents and start the conversation on potential mitigation needs.

“It’s interesting—when I started working for the city, GIS wasn’t even a thought,” said Bismarck Police Chief Dave Draovitch. “But it is very helpful for law enforcement to see things on a map. It helps us solve crimes and see patterns so we can address issues that need attention.”

Along with the heat map, the total amount of the three types of responses is totaled and various subgroups are denoted. These subgroups give a more complete picture of the workload that the police department performs. In early March, as an example, there were an estimated 910 crime incidents displayed over the previous 30 days. These incidents included trespassing (5.2%), forgery/ counterfeit (2.6%), DUI or APC (7%), warrant (5.9%), harassment (3.1%), theft (8.6%), suspicious activity or person (14.3%), noise complaint (6.3%) shoplifting (7.5%), unwanted subject (13.7%), motor vehicle theft (3.1%), burglary (3.8%), vandalism (3%), and disorderly conduct (4.9%).

“I get to see the passion of our police officers nearly every day,” said Draovitch. “When I have the opportunity to meet with GIS personnel, I see that

40 APRIL 2024
Bismarck Police Incidents Dashboard found on BismarckND.Gov

same passion. They love what they do and it shows when they are helping you to solve a problem.”

Street Lights Application

There are nearly 9,500 streetlights maintained by Public Works Service Operations staff within the City of Bismarck and every year that number increases. For years, these lights were High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights, but in recent years, finding parts for these lights has become increasingly difficult, and the quality of the lights have decreased in many aspects.

This, coupled with the rise of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights, has caused the city to begin switching from the old technology to new. The LED lights use about 60% less power than their HPS predecessors and are expected to last longer and require less maintenance. These benefits mean less street traffic impact through repairs and also mean staff will face fewer hours working in a potentially dangerous roadway. However, to manage this changeover, a system was needed to manage the catalog of information in steps GIS.

In working with Nucech and his staff, Public Works was able to enter the location of all the lights, determine where the greatest need for the new lights existed, and begin the changeover process.

“Before we had GIS, we had to utilize 11x17 paper maps,” said Traffic Maintenance Superintendent Paul Lies. “These maps were black and white and very hard to read. The GIS system has made doing our jobs much easier than it used to be, with far more accurate information. We now have the ability to use aerial photos, identifiers, and zoom features. Having this system has made creating projects that keep our infrastructure up to date and gives us the ability to move towards a preventative maintenance program instead of a reactive maintenance program.”

As GIS has become more mainstream, and the systems used have become more user-friendly, Nucech and his staff have been able to create systems that other departments maintain. And so when Public Works upgrades a section of HPS lights

for the LED versions, their own staff perform data entry and free up GIS staff for their next project.

“I have worked with GIS staff since the beginning,” said Lies. “They have always been very helpful and good to work with. And knowledgeable … the work they do has really been a benefit to staff and budgets and so that means they benefit our citizens, too.”

Sanitary Sewer Application

Running beneath the surface of the City of Bismarck is hundreds of miles of piping. This network of pipes brings necessary water from the City’s water treatment plant to homes and then transports water away from a home, to the wastewater treatment plant.

Tracking data such as the pipe size, length, and material would be nearly impossible on a paper map. But with a GIS system in place, this task is suddenly manageable.

“All of our water and sewer infrastructure is housed within GIS maps that we use for utility locating, planning, tracking historical data, record drawing review, and creating work orders for our staff,” said Matt Routledge, the City’s Water Distribution and Collections Supervisor. “Outside of our regular daily uses, GIS has helped our staff by creating dashboards for hydrant snow removal and quickly identifying water and sewer pipe material, size, length, and quantity in the city. GIS created maps that allow us to GPS all water curb stop shutoffs in the city and most recently, they are active in supporting our needs with the new Lead and Copper Rule set forth by the EPA to help keep us in compliance.”

Public Work Utility Operations has been using software from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) to keep track of maintenance activities for four years. The flexibility of the ArcGIS software to run on a variety of platforms has been key to its success.

“It is the first thing I open up on my computer each morning and it even works great on an iPad or


phone,” said Routledge. We used to have laptops for all of our employees to have access to GIS, measurements, and record drawings. Now, we can access it all on our phones so we no longer need laptops for everyone.”

“I’m not an expert in water distribution systems,” said Nucech. “But I can get the information that I need from them and update the data for what they need to do their job.”

Engineering Application

Another department that uses GIS daily is Engineering. The department maintains a database of as-built drawings showing the various infrastructure they help manage.

“GIS weaves together different data sets that can be simultaneously visualized to help answer questions and inform decisions,” said City Engineer Gabe Schell. “It also serves as a data gathering function for the public to voice their input on proposed improvements and for staff to collect geospatial specific data in the field.”

Most of the project collaboration between Engineering and GIS starts with a problem, and the two sets of staff work towards a path to fix that problem. These projects include survey applications, maps, data management, as-built drawings, aerial drone survey processing, and capital improvement planning.

GIS has developed into an indispensable tool that contributes to the efficient delivery of municipal services for all departments and helps with informed decision-making. And in looking at all the projects that have been created, the projects of tomorrow appear to know no boundaries, as these scopes continue to expand the ways the City of Bismarck serves its citizens.

Bismarck GIS/Maps Homepage 42 APRIL 2024


1984, General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. was founded by Don Shilling, Jerry Kern, Gene Hestdalen, and Orvis Stockstad, all former employees of General Diesel and Equipment. These founders set out to create a company that would stand the test of time while supplying heavy construction and aggregate equipment to the construction, mining, and oil exploration industries, as well as the municipal governments in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa.

Initially beginning with 1 location and 22 employees in Fargo, ND, General Equipment has grown to have over 280 employees across 10 locations in the United States, as well as an additional 2 locations in Canada. I had the pleasure of connecting with Don Shilling, Jon Shilling, and Jerry Kern to discuss their roles in the company, the growth of General Equipment from each of their perspectives, what business practices and advice they would promote to other businesses, and the company’s evolution from their unique perspectives.

Our main focus here at General Equipment & Supplies is our people. Our people are outstanding and we live by our core values, which are how we hire, fire, and promote, as well as how we determine what customers and manufacturers we're going to work with."

In the early 1980s, America experienced a recession in which General Diesel and Equipment faced prime interest rates of 14.5%. When this happens, commercial development stalls in the construction industry. Choosing to opt out of weathering the storm, the former owners of General Diesel and Equipment decided to seek out an exit strategy.

Knowing of this opportunity, Don Shilling (Sales Manager), Jerry Kern (Fargo Territory Salesman), Gene Hestdalen (Bismarck Service Manager), and Orvis Stockstad (Secretary-Treasurer and CFO) saw an opportunity for a parallel transition as General Diesel and Equipment made the decision to cease operations and liquidate.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment by heavy construction contractors declined by over 130,000 positions across the United States in the 1980s due to high prime interest rates.

44 APRIL 2024

Don Shilling (right) began working for General Diesel through a part-time position in college and worked his way up to sales manager, before moving up to both sales manager and part-owner at General Equipment & Supplies. Jerry Kern (left), another founding member, began in a sales trainee role before moving into aggregate equipment-focused sales.

This transition would come with a new name, General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. Stockstad helped the others in putting together a business plan, operational budget, and processes, and hiring General Diesel and Equipment employees to retain hard workers and fill the void of General Diesel's market exit. The group of four became part-owners in 1984, with Stockstad becoming the President of General Equipment & Supplies. Soon after, General Equipment & Supplies launched in April of 1984, slowly absorbing the former's inventory and staff throughout the remainder of the year.

Q: When General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. officially began in 1984, what did you think the potential for its success would be?

A: It was a challenge, that's for sure, but I wasn't nervous. I don't think I ever had the thought that we wouldn't make it; we seemed like we were growing every year more than the one before. I think that everyone felt good about having a routine in their job and that they were excited about things changing for the better.

A timeline of General Equipment's history Josiah Kopp
Former President of General Equipment & Supplies

General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. focuses on two areas: rolling stock and aggregate rockcrushing equipment. Today, the company operates in several states, specializing in rock-crushing equipment in most locations, with a mix of both sectors in North Dakota and Minnesota.

"When we transitioned the company, we streamlined the business to be profitable and expanded the product lines that we took over and, by the end of 1984, we were officially off the ground," Don said. "I handled the rolling stock side of the business while my partner, Jerry Kern, took care of the aggregate sector."

Over the next 10 years, General Equipment & Supplies was appointed the Komatsu dealer for North Dakota and 11 counties in Minnesota and expanded their reach to Bismarck and Minot through purchases and acquisitions. Seeing this success come to fruition was a proud moment for Stockstad as the company’s president.

After 16 years with General Equipment & Supplies, Stockstad retired in 2000. It was at this time that Don stepped up as president and appointed a sales manager for the rolling stock division so that he could focus on the broader aspects of the business while continuing to work closely with both sides of the company.

In the years since Stockstad’s retirement, General Equipment & Supplies has expanded its reach across North Dakota and western Minnesota, and eventually into the Twin Cities metro area and Canada. As the team grew General Equipment & Supplies, they settled down into comfortable lives, having children and growing their families. Don’s son, Jon Shilling, is one of those children who grew up alongside the company.



With all team members, business partners, customers, vendors, and communities.


There is an urge within us to know more because it's within us to solve problems.


Always, in everything we do.


Bring ideas, challenge the status quo, and think creatively.

Jerry [Kern] and I are so grateful that Orvis [Stockstad] had the insight, knowledge, and relationships with lenders to get us up and going. General Equipment & Supplies wouldn't be where it is today without his leadership and vision for the company’s future.” - DON SHILLING

Josiah Kopp


Don Shilling and Jerry Kern will officially retire 40 years to the day after General Equipment & Supplies' founding.

Q: How has having different sectors within General Equipment & Supplies benefited the company?

A: I think that it's helped us balance our market a lot. Sometimes, when one area dips, another picks up. Our aggregate side might boom while rolling stock stays steady, and it can flip the next year, so it brings a bit more security to the operation.


Jon, who is now the current president and CEO, initially began with General Equipment & Supplies by performing odd jobs around the company at 14 years old. "It wasn't really my thing per se, especially in the cold, but my dad, Don Shilling, was teaching me the value of hard work," Jon said.

Jon took that hard work with him to UND in Grand Forks, where he pursued a degree while, of course, working. On the side, Jon grew to love the world of sales while selling cell phones during his part-time gig. With a hard work ethic and several professional interests, it was no certain thing that Jon would end up back at General Equipment & Supplies.

Of course, his father mentioned to him that he could pursue a position at General Equipment & Supplies if he wished, but never pressured him. After graduating with an aviation degree, Jon was just getting his footing when many airline jobs disappeared after the tragedy of 9/11. This tightened the industry's competition, leading Jon to take his father up on the offer in early 2003.

Over the next 13 years, the next generation became more heavily involved as Matt Kern, Don Kern, and Sara Frith (Jerry's children), Tanya Groft, and Steve Stafki, alongside Jon and others, developed their skillsets under the founders' guidance.

In 2016, the oil economy faced a downturn, impacting much of General Equipment & Supplies’ bottom line. Much of their work supplies heavy construction and aggregate equipment to oil exploration companies. "It was a scary time for us, but it was also one of the most pivotal moments in the business for us," Jon said. "Don and Jerry were getting ready

to hand the next generation the 'keys to the castle,' in a sense, during challenging times to push us to step out onto our own path."

In 2017, Don and Jerry semi-retired and the next generation stepped in to begin running the company. Since then, the new generation has found secure footing once again and even expanded to new regions including South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Duluth, MN. Looking ahead, Jon shared the company's ambitious goals, which include aiming to exceed their financial targets years ahead of schedule.

"Our 10-year target is always in sight, and our objective is to move closer to hitting that goal each year," Jon said. "In 2017, we established a financial goal to hit by 2027. Last year, we nearly hit 97% of that goal, and I believe that we'll exceed our goal ahead of schedule this year."

One way that General Equipment & Supplies stays on track while trying to reach their achievements is through building quarterly revenue goals and determining three to seven major things that need to happen each quarter to help push them towards their target. "We make those goals visible to our employees by connecting either in-person or over a video that shares that information each quarter so that we're all on the same page and can tackle those goals together," Jon said.

General Equipment & Supplies' growth over the last four decades can be credited in part to each generation’s hard work and vision for the company’s future. With each generation that’s stepped in, the company has been forced to adapt and set ambitious goals, yet has still been achieving them consistently.

Q: How do you think that General Equipment & Supplies' transition during a challenging time helped you and the next generation of leaders in the company?

A: All of us, my partners and I, were a little scared. Don and Jerry were our "safety nets," in a sense, with over 35 years in the business. Eventually, Don encouraged us to make our own strategies our own strategies. While they would review our plans, the responsibility to direct the company's future was ours, especially as we would be taking full control in 2017. We faced some heavy decisions in 2016, but had we not moved as quickly as we had, we certainly wouldn't have been profitable. It was a scary time, but it was also a huge learning curve for myself and my partners.




As General Equipment strides into the future, the leaders shared insights for entrepreneurs and business owners in North Dakota. Check out some of the most notable lessons learned over their careers, and what's helped General Equipment & Supplies grow over the last four decades.

Transition during the RIGHT time, NOT during an easy time.

"When Don and Jerry handed us the keys to the castle during a time of hardship, it did wonders for us as professionals to grow into our positions and prepare us for any situations that would be thrown our way. Anyone can take over a business while it's booming, but it's very difficult to take on a transition like that during a downturn as severe as ours was."

Connect with your team, no matter the distance.

"I'll visit and connect with other branches every other quarter to discuss our current position as a company, General Equipment's quarterly goals, and more. In the quarters that I’m not physically visiting, a video update is sent through our system to employees. Once we get through that, we like to mix in some fun for them. Also, every other quarter, we put together a video spotlighting one of our customers. We make it a point to select customers from different regions to keep things interesting. We go out, chat with them, showcase what their business is, and highlight why they enjoy working with us."


The Original Leaders of General Equipment & Supplies.


to Right)

Orvis Stockstad, Jerry Kern, Don Shilling, Gene Hestdalen Courtesy of General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. #2

Highlight and uplift your team frequently, just like family.

"We also have what we call a 'Quarterly Core Values Champion,' which is someone from our team who embodies our core values. We share stories about their daily life, why they love being part of General Equipment, and what their day-to-day work looks like. We aim to feature different job positions or roles each time so that everyone gets a glimpse into the different positions across our company."

"While General Equipment isn't necessarily a family business, we operate like one and make a lot of decisions based on that idea. A big deal for us is our annual post-Christmas appreciation party in Fargo, where all of our employees, whether they're from Williston, ND, or Cedar Rapids, IA, come together. It’s our way of saying thank you and keeping that close, family-like connection strong. It really makes our business feel like a big family gathering."

#4 #3


A Level 10 meeting is a weekly, collaborative meeting with the same agenda every week to ensure that everyone is on the same page. At the end of each meeting, participants quickly rate the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how well they followed the meeting format and how productive the meeting was.

Develop a Customer Experience Philosophy (CEP).

Promote frequent communication between employees.

"Our Level 10 meeting system is a big deal here for promoting employee communication. Every team, from the top executives to the technicians, holds structured meetings to keep everyone in the loop. For example, the executives meet every Monday from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and it’s an hour and a half of solid planning and problem-solving. Technicians have their own version, even if it's just 15 minutes, but it's still structured and keeps things consistent across


(Pictured Left to Right)

Jon Shilling, Tanya Groft, Matt Kern, Steve Stafki, Sara Frith, Don Kern Geneva Nodland


Feedback from customers goes a long way.

"To really nail down what customers want, we ditched surveys and started having real talks with them annually. Our Vice President of People & Culture, Sara, leads this by chatting with a mix of customers. Their feedback has been incredibly helpful, leading to better relationships and even bringing some old customers back. Based on what we've learned, we rolled out a comprehensive training program focused on improving the customer experience, which everyone goes through. It's all about keeping a consistent, friendly environment across the board." - Jon

Set your strategic plans to paper.

"There's truth in the saying, 'Be careful what you put on paper because it might just happen.' If you don't lay out your goals and the direction that you want your business to head in, and if you're not sharing that with your team, you're only holding yourself back. We make an effort to communicate everything that we can publicly with our employees, so they know exactly where the company is heading. This helps us avoid any lack of communication between employees, manufacturers, and partners." - Jon

Q: Reflecting on the 40-year journey of the company, how do you feel about this milestone?

A:When we do the annual employee parties, we always have a theme. Years ago, I went ahead with a theme called ‘The future's so bright, you have to wear shades.’ As I look at the present team that General Equipment has and where the company is going, I would say it's still the same thing. General Equipment & Supplies' future looks very bright. They should all be very proud of what they're building and it's fun to see the direction that they're taking it in. I feel comfortable that we've made the right choices over the years and we're sending it in the right direction.


A:When I think back on it, I never would have dreamt that we'd be where we are today, knowing where we started, and it all comes down to the people. I'm proud of the current organization and the next generation. We're transitioning to the second generation and it's been going very, very well, and the thing that makes me the happiest is seeing it continue on with that generation.

Be hands-on in everything you do.

"Being hands-on at job sites has helped us understand our customers' needs, leading to better solutions and successful products. Our service department was crucial, providing excellent support that helped us build long-term customer relationships. In essence, we’ve thrived by being willing to get our hands dirty and really understanding the work, which has been key to our success."

I moved to North Dakota when I was much younger, and I noticed a lot of chances to start a business in rural areas around here. If I had gone back to the West Coast, I probably would've worked for someone else instead of having my own business. North Dakota is a great place for business, but you still need to take risks and go after what you want. Stepping out of your comfort zone is key, and I've never looked back since doing just that."

#7 #8 #6

Promote community involvement across your team.

"We encourage our employees to be active in their communities and participate in fundraising activities across the state. We urge them to take time, even during the occasional work hours, to make a positive impact, such as helping with leaf raking. We support our employees by providing them with a $600 fund, which they can use to advertise a cause, join a softball team, or any other community event.”

Look to your community to invest in.

"Our growth has really been driven by investing in our people and building strong ties with our customers through education and support. As we were expanding during the initial phases, we were sometimes going into a market that we weren't as familiar with, so we were always on a continual learning curve. But if you focus on hiring good people and continuing the process of education and training, everything will work itself out. You may have issues that come up, but it's important to have people in place who, with a little guidance, can make a big difference." - Don Shilling


Jon Shilling and the General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. team recommend The Traction Library from EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to any business owners looking to take their business to the next level. According to Jon, this approach has steered the company towards hitting its financial targets more efficiently and has also strengthened the team.

"Back in May of 2017, we ran into a Traction speaker at a conference. He wasn’t pushing services, just talking about the books. I saw the value in that and felt it could help us grow as a company. I brought it up with my partners, and they were all on board, thinking it was the right move for us if we were going to do it. Now, seven years down the line, it’s become a big part of who we are. It’s helped us, both as employees and as a team, to dig deeper and develop creative and efficient solutions. We’re over seven years into the Traction journey now, and it’s become central to our culture and core values." - Jon Shilling

To learn more and get started, head to

As General Equipment celebrates 40 years, there’s a sense of gratitude toward the founders and their families for taking the initial steps, no matter how challenging they have been at the time. Their vision and grit laid the foundation for the General Equipment & Supplies that we know today, which is pushing for a greater North Dakota.

"I want to honor and thank Orvis Stockstad, Don Shilling, and Jerry Kern, and their wives, Diane, Kay, and Jean, for their sacrifices that pushed General Equipment to where it is today. They started with only a little traction, but a strong vision of putting their employees first. We're beyond grateful for them, especially the wives for supporting the home front and allowing them to focus on growing the business. Without them, General Equipment wouldn't exist," Jon said.

Bismarck: 701-223-9700

Fargo: 701-282-2662





#9 #10
54 APRIL 2024

The Advantages of Motivated Employees in the Workplace

About the VBOC

The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has 22 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as VBOCs.

For business owners, maximizing workforce potential is critical, with the bottom line being the ultimate measure of success. At the heart of operational efficiency is a connection between employee motivation and engagement—a correlation garnering heightened attention in today's competitive business arena. Recent findings from Gallup reveal that nearly half of US employees were actively seeking alternative job opportunities in 2021, with disengaged employees looking elsewhere for jobs.

58 APRIL 2024
Photo Courtesy of VBOC of the Dakotas

As employers aim to retain top talent, they should recognize the importance of developing a compelling employee experience through workplace engagement and positive motivation. Yet, the benefits of a highly motivated workforce extend beyond retention metrics.

Increased Employee Engagement

Elevated levels of employee motivation are closely connected with heightened levels of engagement, which in turn can significantly impact your organization's bottom line. When an employee is motivated to accomplish a specific task, they're more likely to be engaged in the process and company.

Employee engagement can be categorized into three levels: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. Engaged employees work with passion and dedication, while those who are not engaged may feel somewhat disconnected or "checked out" from their responsibilities. Actively disengaged employees, on the other hand, may demonstrate behaviors that undermine the workplace environment.

Understanding each employee's level of engagement is instrumental in pinpointing their motivation levels and developing strategies for improvement.

Suppose an employee is disengaged due to feeling undervalued or unrecognized. In that case, this can serve as an extrinsic motivator, reigniting their connection and commitment to the company and effectively reengaging "quiet quitting" employees, fostering a more vibrant and productive workforce.

Increased Productivity

One of the primary benefits of having highly motivated employees is the increase in productivity levels. When a sense of purpose and enthusiasm drives employees, they tend to exhibit greater focus, efficiency, and commitment to their tasks. As a result, businesses experience enhanced output, streamlined processes, and improved operational efficiency, ultimately contributing to higher profitability and greater growth.


Enhanced Morale and Job Satisfaction

Motivation can push for more positive attitudes and morale within the workforce. Employees who feel valued, appreciated, and engaged are more likely to experience higher levels of job satisfaction and overall well-being. A motivated workforce cultivates a culture of enthusiasm, camaraderie, and mutual support, creating an environment to thrive in. Moreover, when employees feel fulfilled by their roles and contributions, they show greater loyalty to the organization, reducing turnover rates and enhancing employee retention over the long term.

Innovative Thinking and Problem-Solving

Motivated employees are inherently driven to seek out challenges,

embrace new ideas, and build solutions to complex problems. Their desire to excel and make meaningful contributions that propel them to think creatively, explore alternative approaches, and push the boundaries of conventional thinking.

Improved Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Employee motivation directly impacts the quality of customer interactions and service delivery. When employees feel empowered in their roles, they're more likely to have positive attitudes and empathy when engaging with customers. As a result, businesses experience higher levels of customer loyalty, repeat business, and positive wordof-mouth referrals, which drive sustainable revenue growth and market expansion.

Optimized Leadership and Team Dynamics

Motivated employees can further inspire leadership and build cohesive teams that work well with one another. Leaders who prioritize employee motivation demonstrate empathy, communication skills, and a commitment to nurturing talent and potential within their teams.

Motivated teams showcase a shared sense of purpose, mutual respect, and alignment toward common goals, enabling them to overcome challenges, adapt to change, and find greater success together.

The Bottom Line

Employee motivation is a driving force behind why employees behave a certain way to achieve a goal.

60 APRIL 2024
If you're looking to inspire greater motivation among your workforce, here are some strategies to consider implementing as a foundation:

Solicit (and Act Upon) Employee Feedback

Actively seek feedback from your workforce regarding their experiences and perspectives. By inviting open dialogue and listening attentively to employee insights, you can gain a valuable understanding of what drives and fulfills them in their roles. Use this feedback to adapt responsibilities and strategies, aligning them with individual motivations and aspirations to build a more meaningful work environment.

Foster Positive ManagerEmployee Relationships

Cultivating positive, supportive connections between managers and their team members is essential. Encourage consistent communication and mutual respect, ensuring that managers demonstrate genuine investment in their employees' growth and success. Regular one-on-one meetings provide valuable opportunities for managers to create meaningful connections, understand individual motivations, and provide tailored support to employees.

Establish Clear Expectations

Clarity in communication is key to mitigating frustration among employees. Set clear, transparent

expectations for performance and behavior, providing employees with a clear roadmap for success. Regularly discuss these expectations with your team members, ensuring alignment and understanding to minimize ambiguity and promote accountability. Clear expectations empower employees to confidently navigate their roles, providing a sense of purpose and direction.

Emphasize StrengthsBased Development

Rather than focusing solely on remedying weaknesses, prioritize the identification and cultivation of employees' strengths. Encourage a strengths-based approach to talent management, where individuals are recognized and celebrated for their unique abilities and contributions. By aligning tasks and responsibilities with employees' strengths, you can create opportunities for personal growth, job satisfaction, and enhanced performance.

Recognize and Celebrate Achievements

Acknowledgment and appreciation are powerful motivators in the workplace. Establishing formal employee recognition programs that highlight outstanding contributions and achievements, and provide incentives. By promoting a culture where small victories and milestones are acknowledged and celebrated, you reinforce a culture of positivity, camaraderie, and motivation throughout the organization.

If you're aiming to enhance motivation within your organization, these listed strategies can provide a strong starting point for you.

By incorporating these into your approach to employee motivation, you can grow an engaged workforce that's prepared for success and committed to achieving shared goals across your organization. Additionally, pushing for high levels of motivation among employees can bring benefits that extend far beyond individual performance metrics. From increased productivity and morale to enhanced customer satisfaction, motivated employees serve as invaluable assets to any organization.

VBOC of the Dakotas

701-738-4850 /dakotasvboc


4200 James Ray Dr Grand Forks, ND


Step into the fascinating world of Pavewise, an upand-coming asphalt software startup that's on the path to success! In this monthly feature, we'll be right there alongside Pavewise, cheering them on as they grow and face various challenges.

From their victories to the obstacles they encounter, we'll witness it all. Get ready to be inspired by their journey as they strive to make a difference in the asphalt industry. Join us as we hear from the Pavewise team and how they navigate their way to the top!

Bryce Wuori CEO/co-founder Brittany Wuori COO/co-founder


• We're always looking for connections with state DOTs and Infrastructure Agencies.

• We're looking to connect with any paving contractors or asphalt professionals.

• We are searching for an Intern or part-time Office Assistant. To obtain more info on this job opening, check check our website or scan the QR code:


• Our CTO, Jase, was able to present an update on Pavewise at the StartupBREW Fargo this last month.

• We attended two more expos this month: the 51st Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference in Denver and the 2024 Utah Asphalt Conference in Salt Lake City.

• Bryce had the opportunity to present on Construction Technologies and Pavewise at the 2024 Utah Asphalt Conference.

• Bryce, Brittany, and Jase did a corporate company onboarding this week with one of our biggest companies where we have the opportunity to add over 200+ users into our software.

• We are working diligently as a team preparing for the SXSW Pitch 2024 event, spotlighting our innovative paving software in the Smart Cities, Transportation & Sustainability category in Austin, TX next week!

• We were approved as members of the AGC to receive 50% discounts for shipping expo materials through FedEx. This saved us over $400+ from just one shipping event alone!

• Bryce was invited to speak at the Montana Asphalt Expo in April on Construction Technologies and Pavewise!

• Pavewise was approved for the Operation Intern Grant to help cover the costs of up to $4,000 for 4 intern positions between May 1, 2024-June 1, 2025.

• Bryce was featured in the Startup Hustle podcast that was published recently. He also participated in a podcast with Titans of the Trades on February 29. Links to all podcasts will be put on our website as they are published.

• We are excited to announce that we have hired a Customer Success Manager for our growing team. Please welcome Ben Griep! We are happy to have him on our team!


• Great opportunities abound, but it's crucial to carefully select those that optimize time management and enhance business prospects.

• The cold and flu season has been among us.

Provided by Pavewise

Provided by Pavewise


• Complete redesign of individual project pages with improved organization and easier navigation.

• The project page dashboard section is updated with project overviews of days left and the status of project goals and tasks.

• Revamp of quality goals module (introducing overall and daily graphs).

• Additional various design/UX updates to the calendar, weather, map, project goals, tasks, contacts, equipments, and mix modules.

• New “dark mode” for map.

• Reimplementation of project notifications with email, SMS, and push notification settings customizable on a per-project basis.

• Check out our app for a free trial today at


• 2024 North Dakota Transportation Conference in Bismarck, ND.

• SXSW Smart Cities, Transportation & Sustainability Pitch Event in Texas.

• World of Asphalt 2024 in Nashville, TN.


• Thank you to Mike Weisbeck for your expertise and strategy support this week.

• Thank you to Northern Improvement for the corporate Pavewise onboarding session.

• Thank you to all the UAPA members for the opportunity to present on construction technologies and Pavewise.

• Thank you to Kyle Houghes with MNDOT for the opportunity to discuss Pavewise with state ideas around technologies.

• Thank you Jonathan with SXSW for all the wonderful feedback and tips with coaching in preparation for our upcoming pitch event.

• Thank you to Joey Gilsdorf with Bowes Construction for the invitation to their HQ for onboarding in Brookings, SD.


64 APRIL 2024
Brittany Wuori, COO & Bryce Wuori, CEO
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.