Bis-Man INC! June 2024

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A Bismarck-Mandan Business Magazine Baking Dreams Into Reality P.36 The Business Life Cycle P.46 Women You Should Know: Monica Soto P.62 June 2024 //
CONTENT// JUNE 2024 LIKE OUR CONTENT? Check out our website at 58 16 36 46 Game Changers Baking Dreams into Reality The Business Lifecycle An Update from Pavewise: Construction Season is Here: Let's Roll Artificial Intelligence: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going? Women You Should Know: Monica Soto 16 36 46 48 58 62 BISMANINC.COM 5

Mike Dragosavich

Brady Drake

Geneva Nodland, Grant Ayers Kim Cowles Ty

Josiah Kopp Arielle Windham (Ladyboss Lifestyle)


Wuori (Pavewise) Doug Sanzone (VBOC of The Dakotas) Nick Schommer

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. JUNE 2024 Volume 3 Issue 6 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 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
Kellen Feeney Megan Suedbeck Ben Buchanan Austin Smith

Editor's Note:


appy June, everyone! This month, I'm thrilled to bring you a special edition of Bis-Man INC!, "The Game Changers Issue." Our cover story dives into various gamechanging tools, tips, tricks, and hacks that local business leaders and entrepreneurs have discovered and developed through their experience in the region.

As we explore these insights, we celebrate the successes and wisdom that these trailblazers have to offer. Their innovative approaches and relentless pursuit of excellence continue to shape and mold the business landscape in our area.

This month, we also feature Steve and Sandy Jacobson, the duo behind Brick Oven Bakery. Their story showcases the power of community support and entrepreneurial spirit as they expand their rising, beloved bakery to a second location next year.

We also bring you another update from Bryce and Brittany Wuori of Pavewise, who share their latest highs, lows, and approaches to staying competitive and sustainable in the asphalt industry. Additionally, Doug Sanzone from the VBOC of The Dakotas offers invaluable advice for business owners and employees to implement artificial intelligence into certain aspects of their daily routines and tasks.

Lastly, don’t miss this month's "Women You Should Know" from Ladyboss Lifestyle, where we highlight remarkable women making significant impacts across various sectors in Western North Dakota.

Join me in diving into the stories and insights that paint a picture of a community constantly on the move, always evolving, and continuously inspiring others. Here's to the game changers among us who challenge the status quo and pave the way for future generations.

Wishing you a month filled with innovation, growth, and community spirit!



today’s digital age, most businesses rely heavily on technology to streamline their operations and stay ahead of the competition. However, managing an entire IT infrastructure in-house can be overwhelming and expensive.

That’s where outsourcing IT services comes into play. By partnering with a reliable and efficient outsourced IT provider, you can offload the complexities of managing your technology infrastructure and focus on your core objectives.

However, with a myriad of IT service providers in the market, how can you ensure that you choose

the right one for your business? In this article, we’ll take you through a few important things you should consider when browsing for an outsourced IT partner. By clearly understanding what to look for, you can make an informed decision and find a partner that aligns with your organization’s goals and requirements.

Factors to Consider

Here are a few key factors to keep in mind before you commit to an IT partner:

Cultural Alignment

Choosing an IT service provider that aligns closely with your organization’s culture is crucial for a successful partnership. Cultural alignment means the IT service


provider shares values, work ethics, and communication styles with your business.

With a strong cultural fit, the collaboration becomes seamless, and both parties can work together more effectively. This alignment enhances communication, trust, and mutual understanding, leading to smoother project implementation and better results.

By selecting an IT service provider that understands and respects your organizational culture, you can foster a productive working relationship and achieve your IT objectives more efficiently.

Vested Interest and Industry Knowledge

A reliable IT service provider should demonstrate a vested interest in your organization’s success. This means they are genuinely invested in building a long-term partnership and are committed to understanding your business goals and challenges.

The IT service provider should also possess industry knowledge and experience relevant to your specific sector. This understanding allows them to provide tailor-made IT solutions that address your unique needs.

By partnering with an IT service provider with a genuine interest in your success and industry expertise, you can benefit from their insights, strategic guidance, and proactive support. Their knowledge of industry best practices can help you navigate technological advancements and make informed decisions that drive your business forward.

References and Value Demonstration

When evaluating potential IT service providers, it is essential to seek references and ask for evidence of the value they have provided to their clients. Speaking with their current or past clients allows you to gain valuable insights into their performance, reliability, and customer satisfaction.

Requesting real metrics and use cases enables you to assess the IT service provider’s track record and evaluate how their services have benefited other businesses. This information gives you confidence in their capabilities and helps you gauge how suited they are for your organization.

By choosing an IT service provider with positive references and a demonstrated ability to deliver value, you can minimize risks and make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals.

Round-the-Clock Service

Technology disruptions can occur anytime, and prompt resolution of IT issues is crucial to minimize downtime and maintain business continuity.

An IT service provider offering round-the-clock service ensures that technical support and assistance are available whenever needed. This 24/7 support can be crucial if you operate across different time zones or have critical operations outside regular business hours.

By partnering with an IT service provider that provides continuous support, you can have peace of mind knowing that any IT issues will be addressed promptly, reducing the impact on your operations and enabling your business to run smoothly without interruption.

Act Before It’s Too Late

Ready to find the perfect IT service provider for your business? Don’t wait any longer—reach out to NorthStar Technology Group today and schedule a no-obligation cyber strategy session. /NorthStarTG 866-337-9096 @NorthStarTechno @NorthStarTechno Our team of experts is eager to understand your unique needs and discuss how our services can help your organization thrive. BISMANINC.COM 15

Tools, Tips, Tricks, and More!

n "The Game Changers Issue," we dive into some of the many local business leaders and figures who thrive by harnessing the expertise of local service providers and networking groups, discovering savvy cost-saving techniques, and more knowledge to grow.

In the following pages, we're first going to meet these exemplary business leaders. Then, they're going to give us recommendation on everything from software, to books, and so much more. Get ready to learn!

16 JUNE 2024


What is HexaHive?

HexaHive is a strategic marketing agency focused on helping businesses grow and succeed through marketing. Founded in 2019, we are Bismarck-Mandan’s go-to, long-term partner for businesses tired of generic marketing approaches. Recognized as a Top 10 Employer in BismarckMandan for three consecutive years and honored by the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC as the 2023 Women-Owned Business of the Year, we partner with a diverse range of clients, from billion-dollar corporations to local, family-owned businesses.

Our specialty isn’t in certain industries but in our way of thinking. We identify and execute the most effective marketing strategies, turning marketing from an expense into a key driver of growth. We focus on the efforts that yield results, even if they’re outside traditional marketing and advertising tactics. We go beyond standard marketing services by understanding each client's unique needs and developing tailored strategies for long-term success. Combining innovative thinking with practical execution, we've built a reputation

Jade Scherr CEO of HexaHive

as a trusted partner for businesses looking to enhance visibility, build strong customer relationships, and achieve sustainable growth. Our impact extends through our clients' successes, as we help them grow and prosper.

Additionally, we contribute to the Bismarck-Mandan community through volunteering and involvement with local colleges, encouraging and shaping the next generation of marketing and design professionals.

Are you currently working on anything interesting, or do you have any exciting news to share?

There are so many things I could talk about! First, we’ve leaned into working with the businesses that bring us the most joy. We’re able to add a ton of value for them and really focus on doing high-quality work that brings long-term success. This has contributed to the growth of our team in the last year. In fact, we’re now a team of nine!

Even with this growth, we focus on saying "yes" only to organizations where we feel we can bring the most value.

Here are a few projects I’m excited about:

» Partnering with a local community bank to develop and help sustain a long-term marketing strategy. It’s exciting to witness that ‘aha’ moment when organizations see how their goals and our marketing strategy can work together.

» Diving deeper into statewide political efforts with New Economic Frontier, the organization striving to legalize cannabis in North Dakota. We’re spearheading a variety of activities, from branding, polling, and opinion research to campaigns and grassroots efforts. While it’s a nuanced subject, it’s rewarding to help lay out the facts so voters can make an informed decision on election day.

» Helping North Dakota’s leading safety organization boost an essential program that ensures that bars and restaurants serve alcohol safely. Think you can guess who it is?



Phillip Voeller

Owner of Hi5 Media Solutions

What is Hi5 Media Solutions?

Hi5 Media Solutions helps businesses market themselves through video production with narrative storytelling that sells and closes leads 24/7. I taught music for 13 years in Beulah, ND where I still live, and worked at a surface coal mine for 15 summers. Little did I know that those two jobs would collide and lead me to a career in video production. I've had projects achieve over $100,000 in return on investment, and people have mentioned that they moved from the coast to Hazen, ND, because of a video I produced.

Jason Richter

Owner of 701 Studios, LLC

What is 701 Studios?

701 Studios plays a vital role in the local community by helping businesses succeed online. We offer friendly, local website creation services tailored to meet the unique needs of our clients. By providing personalized attention and support, we ensure that each business we work with has a strong, SEO-optimized online presence that drives growth and success. Our commitment to the local community extends beyond just business; we value the relationships we build with our clients and strive to be a trusted partner in their journey.

Are you currently working on anything interesting, or do you have any exciting news to share?

Yes, we have some exciting news to share! Over the past year, 701 Studios has experienced significant growth, and we anticipate even more expansion in the near future. We are currently working on something cool, so stay tuned for more updates as we continue to evolve and innovate in the web development and online marketing space.

Courtesy of Phillip Voeller Courtesy of Ben Weisbeck
18 JUNE 2024

Past Positions & Titles

Mechanic, Business Owner, Farmer, General Manager, Salesman, Company Representative & Market Development for USA, and Business Entrepreneur.

All the businesses I have been involved in have brought economic value to the Bismarck-Mandan area, the state of North Dakota, and multiple other states across the country. The financial value comes from increased job opportunities, local purchases, sales, building local infrastructure, and bringing outside investors into the Bismarck-Mandan region. I have worked with companies worldwide during my business career and truly enjoyed the experience.

Can you give me a timeline of your endeavors?

Most of my life’s work has been with startup companies, apart from our farm in the Devils Lake area, which was started by my grandpa Lannoye in the early 1900s. Eventually, I needed to move from the farm at the age of 46 due to overland flooding that covered most of our farm. We had been fighting the flooding for approximately 16 years, and towards the end of those 16 years, two close friends of mine passed away. The

Byron Lannoye

Semi-Retired, Seasoned Entrepreneur

flooding and the loss of my friends took a toll on me mentally, and we decided it was best for me to leave the farm battleground in 2006. Prior to leaving the farm in 2006, a group of farmers, including myself, started the Pulse USA seed company in Bismarck, ND, in 2001.

In the spring of 2006, the general manager at Pulse USA resigned to pursue other business ventures, and this gave me an opportunity to apply for the GM position with my partners. They hired me as the new GM, and I stayed with Pulse USA from 2006 through 2017. Then I went on to work for a Canadian company as their only representative in the USA. Startup companies will take 120% of your personal involvement to get them off the ground, so be prepared to work!

Can you give me a timeline of your endeavors?

Everyone scratches their heads when they find out I am in the tattoo business. I am in recovery myself, and I started the first tattoo company to help artists in the recovery community who had trouble getting work at local tattoo shops. We started the first company in the middle of 2019, and I exited that company at the end of 2020. Designer Tattoo Inked opened at the beginning of 2021 and is still running strong with an excellent reputation.

Designer Tattoo Inked initially offered mental health awareness tattoo specials, leading to a self-help group called Holding Hope in Bismarck. It is free to attend, and we hold three meetings weekly at 7:30 p.m. We have had thousands of attendees since its inception in 2020. The meetings work well for people in alcohol and addiction recovery, those struggling with mental health and behavioral issues, and people trying to keep their emotions in check.

Holding Hope has provided a way for me to give back to a community that has treated me fairly and a community that I call home.

Do you have any exciting news to share?

In 2022, I began the transition process of turning Designer Tattoo Inked over to a young woman from Mandan, Molly Gress. In 2023, she took the reins and took over 100% while keeping me on as a staff member and mentor. The change of leadership roles has been an enjoyable experience for both of us, and once again, the money earned at the shop stays local and multiplies many times over. Molly is doing an amazing job of running the company, and she treats each client exceptionally, which results in many return customers. There is no better advertising than a happy customer!




Byron has an extensive resume with many past positions and titles that include:

» Lannoye Farms/Seed—Owner/CEO

» Lannoye Grain Cleaning—Owner/Operator

» Pulse USA—Partner Owner/General Manager

» Heads Up—Company Representative & Market Development for USA

» Resurrection Tattoo—Owner/Business Startup

» Designer Tattoo Inked—Owner/Manager/Sales and Marketing/ Secretarial Duties

» Holding Hope Nonprofit 501(c)(3)—Founder

Byron Lannoye Recommends


These social platforms not only allow us to remain in constant contact with our customers, but they also are our main marketing and advertising tools.


We use this equipment and software to manage and retain customer sales, interactions, and appointments, giving us a complete view of each customer.

Social Media

These social platforms not only allow us to remain in constant contact with our customers, but they are also our main marketing and advertising tools.

iPad Pro

This piece of equipment and software has revolutionized the tattoo industry. Tattoo artists can do most of their smaller artwork digitally with an iPad Pro instead of sketching with paper and pencil. However, we still have large tattoos that require good old-fashioned artwork drawn by hand on the clients.

Phillip Voeller Recommends


Driversnote has been extremely helpful for keeping track of my business mileage!


For video calls, I love Whereby. It's always the same meeting link, you can customize the colors to your brand, and overall I feel like it just looks better than Zoom.

Sun Seeker

I love Sun Seeker to help determine where the sun will be when I am scouting filming locations.


Although I now do most of my captions right in my video editing software, Descript can be a great option to add captions to your video content.

20 JUNE 2024

Jade Scherr Recommends

Google Voice

The days of having a separate phone for work and personal are over. This app allows you to have a different phone number for work, receive those calls on your personal phone, and set hours to receive calls, giving some work-life separation.


This video messaging app allows you to record your screen, voice, and face simultaneously. It’s a game-changer when you need to present things that don’t warrant a meeting but that would be hard to explain through email.

ChatGPT x Claude

Work smarter, not harder. Both of these generative AI tools are great for brainstorming, grammar checks, checking the tone of your writing, and so much more. They’re great tools that can help streamline the creative process, but I’m an adamant believer that you shouldn’t just use what AI gives you.


Zapier automates and integrates the various applications that we use so that they work together seamlessly, saving us time and headaches. With Zapier, we were able to set up a simple integration that allows updates in Trello to be reflected in its respective Slack channel. If you can dream an automation, there’s a good chance Zapier can do it—and do it easily.

Jason Richter Recommends


Adobe Photoshop is essential for our design team. It allows us to create stunning visuals, edit photos, and develop graphics that enhance the visual appeal of our clients' websites and marketing materials.

SEO Optimization Tools

We use several popular SEO optimization tools, that we’ve trained with our data over the years, that help us analyze and improve our clients' search engine rankings. These tools provide critical insights into keyword performance, marketing strategies, and on-page SEO elements.


WordPress is our go-to platform for building and managing websites. Its flexibility, extensive plugin library, and a user-friendly interface allow us to create customized, SEO-optimized websites that meet our clients' specific needs.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides us with invaluable insights into website traffic and user behavior. This data helps us make informed decisions to improve website performance, optimize marketing strategies, and enhance the overall user experience.



Have you found any interesting, new ways to use software that you were already using?


Video editing software has been evolving so fast that it can be hard to keep up with the latest and greatest tool that's been added to the platform. However, text-based editing is pretty great! It will give you a text readout of an interview, you clip out the words you'd like, and the software automatically makes the video selection for you.

Many of the software solutions we've been using for years have now integrated artificial intelligence features. This advancement allows us to build more robust and SEO-optimized websites. AI-powered tools help us conduct advanced keyword analysis, and personalize user experiences based on real-time data. These enhancements enable us to deliver even greater value to our clients by improving website performance and search engine rankings more efficiently than ever before.

Jade Jason

There are endless opportunities to use both ChatGPT and Zapier. It seems like every week we’re finding new ways to leverage them, allowing us to automate everyday tasks and spend more time on our most valuable, creative, and strategic efforts.



» Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC): While they’re not a traditional service provider, GNDC is a behind-the-scenes superhero. They’re advocating for public policy that sets businesses in our state up for success. Many laws and policies are constantly being developed and refined; I rest easy at night knowing that GNDC is working with lawmakers and key stakeholders as an advocate for small businesses like HexaHive.

» Steven Richard with Lux Wealth Advisors: It’s important to have a clear vision of financial success for your business. Steven helps us do all that and


more. We’re lucky to have his insight and expertise in managing our healthcare plan and IRA, and helping with financial planning.

» Nurtured Home Cleaning: If you’re a business owner, look at what you can outsource in your personal life. For me, it was cleaning. Nurtured Home Cleaning makes it so much easier for me to focus on other things in my life because I don’t have to worry about cleaning my house. Even better? They’re huge about supporting local businesses and are the most thoughtful humans, surprising us with donuts for our birthdays or with local goods as a sweet surprise.

» Haga Kommer: Provides expertise in all areas of tax and accounting services.

» Gate City Bank: Great to work with and offers impressive online banking features.

22 JUNE 2024



My local chamber has been great, and Master Networks and IABC Great Plains have been great places to meet people! Furthermore, I'd love to attend more 1 Million Cups events in Bismarck.

We've really enjoyed following and engaging with 1 Million Cups in Bismarck. 1 Million Cups brings together local entrepreneurs who share their stories and experiences. This community has been invaluable to us, as it allows us to learn from the successes and challenges of others, gain new insights, and foster meaningful connections within the local business ecosystem. Being part of such a vibrant group has helped us grow both professionally and personally, enhancing our ability to serve our clients better.

Networking has been an essential aspect of our growth. The Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s membership mixers have been a game-changer for us in reaching and connecting with our ideal customers. We’ve identified and secured several opportunities and partnerships directly as a result of these events. If you’re considering joining the local chamber, do it—the investment is a nobrainer if you get actively involved.

We’re also involved with industry-specific associations like IABC Great Plains, which helps us grow our connections while staying on top of ever-changing marketing trends. I also have gotten a lot of value out of my local rotary group—the group’s volunteer, leadership, and community mindset inspires me.

"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill

We enjoy the book "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Despite being written in 1937, its messages and principles are timeless. The book emphasizes perseverance and the importance of not giving up, especially when you might be just inches away from success. These lessons have been crucial in guiding our business philosophy at 701 Studios, encouraging us to remain resilient and persistent in the face of challenges. This mindset has helped us navigate difficult times and continually strive for excellence in our work.

24 JUNE 2024

Jade "The Pumpkin Plan" by

"The Pumpkin Plan" by Mike Michalowicz is a book that brought pivotal change to HexaHive. The premise behind it is to grow your business like a pumpkin farmer. At first, I thought it sounded ridiculous, but our reputation and profitability both skyrocketed after implementing techniques from this book. Also, I’m hooked on audiobooks! Here are some more recommendations.


"Buy Back Your Time" by Dan Martell "10x is Easier than 2x" by Dan Sullivan "The Win Without Pitching Manifesto" by Blair Enns "Profit First" by Mike Michalowicz




"Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert T. Kiyosaki

"Rich Dad, Poor Dad" was the first 'Aha' book. I read it just prior to starting my business.

"Be Your Future Self Now" by Dr. Benjamin Hardy "Atomic Habits" by James Clear "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek "Crucial Conversations" by Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Kerry Patterson "Who Not How" by Dan Sullivan with Dr. Benjamin Hardy "Crucial Accountability" by Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan,
26 JUNE 2024



One unique cost-saving measure we implemented recently is adding two international, remote employees to our team as support staff. Through a company called Somewhere, we found two stellar employees who allow us to keep our pricing competitive and streamline our operations so we can add more value to our clients.

[Somewhere] reports that this tactic can lower costs by up to 86% per role. As a strong supporter of our local community, I initially hesitated at the idea of hiring outside our market. However, two things changed my mind:

North Dakota has a limited labor pool. It seems like everyone is struggling to hire. We needed to fill these critical roles, and fast.

While this approach brings significant cost savings to HexaHive, the income these team members are receiving is significantly higher than what they would be paid doing the same thing in their local market.


One of the cost-saving measures we've implemented is maintaining a simple, functional office space. While it might not be flashy, it provides a comfortable location for us to meet with clients. Additionally, in today's digital age, many clients prefer virtual meetings and Zoom calls, reducing the need for an elaborate office setup.

By building and managing our own hosting infrastructure, we can keep costs low and offer top-notch hosting services. This approach also enhances security, allowing us to provide these benefits at an affordable rate.


One cost-saving measure that I have used in the last six to seven years is hiring contracted help. You agree on the price for their contracted service, and you only need to keep track of what you pay the person or company—no benefits, no time off, etc. For example, they might be a local consulting company, and you only pay for the time they work on your projects.

By using this strategy, you won't need to hire a full-time employee when there isn't enough work to justify another staff member. I have used this tactic and have also filled in for companies as needed. It is an uncomplicated way to work with companies that are not based in the USA.

28 JUNE 2024


Honestly, having as much routine and structure at the beginning part of my day as possible is crucial. If my first half hour is productive, I'm set for the day. However, if I have a slow start to the day, I'll be dragging the rest of the day.

Having a clear vision of where you’re going ensures you’re putting energy into the things that matter. Take advantage of tools like Slack and Trello to streamline your work, and keep looking for ways to improve. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of business—if you can step back and look at the big picture, you’ll save time and energy in the long run.

Jade Jason Phillip

We rely on a good old-fashioned calendar to manage our time effectively. When we schedule tasks on the calendar, we make it a priority to complete them by the designated dates. One of the most common complaints we hear from new clients is that their previous providers were not efficient on time and often failed to complete work promptly. By adhering to our calendar and maintaining a disciplined approach to deadlines, we ensure that we deliver our projects on time and meet our client's expectations consistently. This commitment to punctuality and efficiency has become a cornerstone of our business operations.

By ensuring that we meet all our time commitments and deadlines, we avoid the need to push projects back, preventing them from overlapping with the start times of others. This strategy prevents a cumulative effect that could hinder progress. Staying on top of our schedule helps us keep our calendar orderly and accurate!


If your budget allows, hiring an assistant on staff can double your work output.




My best marketing is being out and about in my community! Attending a variety of networking events can make a significant impact on your business' growth.

We’ve approached marketing in a non-traditional way, which might seem ironic for a marketing company. It’s what we do for clients too though—focusing on the efforts that yield results, even if they’re outside of traditional marketing or advertising.

Networking & Building Relationships: Simply put, referrals and relationships are always going to go further than a traditional ad.

Striving For Awards: This has been a pivotal way of building name recognition and credibility in the community.

Publication Features: This keeps us top-of-mind as an expert opinion on marketing and as a credible leader in our community—two things we know our ideal clients value.

Posting on my Personal LinkedIn: Too often when people hear LinkedIn is crucial for your business, they think of creating a company page and posting on that. In truth, people connect with people. Sharing behind the scenes of my day-today has built essential relationships, credibility, and trust that standard company posts just don’t do. It’s been a key factor in our growth.

Jade 30 JUNE 2024


Consistent social media presence on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Meta Business Suite, along with a website, comprises our entire marketing campaign for the tattoo shop.

If you have your own consulting company and contract your services to different businesses, it is essential to sell yourself in person whenever possible. Bring proof and research to the meeting so you can physically demonstrate why they should collaborate with you and what you can do to enhance their business. Texts, emails, and phone calls are effective once you have earned their trust.

If you are in sales or tasked with representing a company or product, you need to personally meet your clients and cultivate a good working relationship. I have had customers call me at noon, and I drove 800 miles the same afternoon to be at their office or field by 8 a.m. the next morning. This is how you can gain a loyal customer who knows they can count on you when they really need you.




Offer to conduct seminars onsite at company locations to teach staff members about your products and provide them with concise, accurate product information.

When necessary, supply your customers with every mode of direct communication to reach you. Sometimes, a job isn't just 8 a.m. – 5

when your customer needs you.

Some customers prefer personal service, while others do not want to see you unless they really need you. Determine what kind of customer you are working with to keep both types of customers happy.

32 JUNE 2024



I always follow up at least every 3, 6, and 12 months after a project; usually several times even after that.


I go above and beyond for my clients! Extra deliverables are a common way that I show them that I care about their success!

This list is simple, but it really stems from us knowing who we are and who we want to work with.

Working with people we align with and that bring us joy.

Being genuine, transparent, and authentic.

Long-term partnerships, rather than one-and-done campaigns or projects.

Not rushing the sales process. We want people to feel comfortable and confident making a commitment with us.



We give our team members context and insight on what’s ahead. It’s hard to be motivated when you don’t know where you’re going. This means helping employees understand their role, what role they could grow into, the impact their work has, and the impact and future of our team as a whole.

We’ve been recognized as a Top 10 workplace three years in a row, and I really think it’s in part because we offer benefits our team cares about outside of the traditional benefits. But even more than that: We actively strive to ensure that each team member feels valued and heard. What’s more motivating than that?

Courtesy of HexaHive
Jade 34 JUNE 2024


Servant leadership and honesty are key. Employees appreciate seeing everyone work hard, and leading by example is the best way to motivate. It's also important for employees to know that their leaders support them. Leaders should always clear obstacles to help employees succeed. However, trust is crucial, and it starts with honesty—not just when it's easy, but especially when it's hard. Building trust means being honest and respectful at all times. That's how real growth happens.


I have never asked an employee to do something I would

36 JUNE 2024
Courtesy of Tosha Rochelle Photography



rick Oven Bakery, which opened in 2019, was founded with the goal of making breads "as they should be made, bringing traditional baking methods to life," and providing them to the Bismarck-Mandan community. What initially started as a small passion project for Steve soon turned into a storefront with a continually expanding audience in the area.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Steve and Sandy Jacobson, owners of Brick Oven Bakery in Bismarck. We discussed their entrepreneurial path, how they aim to work with more business owners and companies across town this year, their plans for future expansions, and much more.


The journey of Brick Oven Bakery began with a simple love for baking at home. In 2018, they were operating Jacobson Landscaping, which was "running itself" already, according to Sandy. With more free time to explore passions and hobbies, Steve wanted to get more into the world of baking, especially sourdough bread.

"Eventually, he was making a lot of bread loaves and we were giving it away to friends and family and eating a lot of bread at home. We started thinking, 'Maybe people want this and we should sell it,' so we decided that we'd consider doing a farmers market to start." Sandy said. The hobby quickly outgrew their home kitchen, leading to thoughts of sharing their product with a broader audience.

After 16 years of successfully operating Jacobson Landscaping, Steve took a leap of faith to follow his passion for baking. Steve traveled to San Francisco, where he attended the San Francisco Baking Institute. Not long after, Steve was on his way back to Bismarck to explore their business opportunities moving ahead.

"We looked at converting a pole barn on our land into a bakery, but it would have cost us around $30,000 to convert, and I didn't know how we would sell enough bread to make that money back," Steve said. "So, we decided that we were going to have a small storefront as a hobby, but it was still originally supposed to be much smaller with one employee."

The transition from a home-based hobby to a storefront was challenging


for the Jacobsons. They began looking at potential storefronts for the business, but nothing leaped out at them until October of 2018 when they took a "haunted" tour in downtown Bismarck and their current building caught their attention. Within a few weeks, they started to look deeper into the location and began work on developing a formal business plan to showcase.

"We knew that we needed to know exactly what we were going to do before going to a bank and taking the next steps," Sandy said. "Steve and I sat in our vehicle in front of the building a few times, counting and placing tick marks on a piece of paper whenever somebody walked by the building. Through that, we had a concrete idea to take to the bank and show how many potential customers could come to a location in downtown Bismarck."

They were remodeling the space by April of 2019, with the business open to the public later in September of that year. In the five years since, business has boomed for the Jacobsons. As they continue to serve long-time regulars and first-time customers alike, still meeting and serving new people every day, they've achieved enough success and growth to recently open a larger production space nearby.

"We now have roughly 3,000 square feet of space devoted to production at another location, which is only a few blocks away from our downtown location," Sandy said. "That tiny little bakery that we thought we would never outgrow, we outgrew within the last couple of years. We can produce even more now for all of our customers who have welcomed us with open arms."


40 JUNE 2024


"We've always worked very well with Dakota Refrigeration, and they've helped us out significantly in the past. They've helped us fix things that even they've never worked on before because there are things in our bakery that nobody else in this town has, such as proofers and brick ovens. Thankfully, we haven't had many things that need repairing, so we've been very lucky in that sense."

Looking ahead, the Jacobsons and the Brick Oven Bakery team have no shortage of plans, goals, and ambitions for the very near future. This summer, Brick Oven Bakery is launching its plans for corporate catering to businesses and large events across the BismarckMandan region.

"We've been putting the menus together for larger businesses now that we have the scale to produce hundreds and thousands of pastries a day and accommodate them with our lunch and pastry options," Steve said. "Now, we can approach people who may order 300 pastries or 100 boxed lunches for their in-house meetings and other corporate events. There's no way in the world that we could have done that before having the production site, so we're excited to talk about it and looking forward to it."

Furthermore, the team is also collaborating with the local food truck, Hensley's Tasty Truck, another small business local to the area. Hensley's Tasty Truck will be serving their pulled pork, burgers, and other items on Brick Oven Bakery's freshly-made buns.

"We're very excited about that collaboration and putting ourselves out into the community more often," Sandy said. "The biggest reason that we haven't been able to do those things is because we got so busy, so fast, at the beginning. We didn't have the time to take a step back and consider what more we could do for Bismarck-Mandan, Now that we've settled into the operations, and have plenty of space, we're able to do that."

Fear not, downtown residents, as they will continue with their current location as well, for the time being.

"Over time, we'll be expanding our team with our second location. We just really want to serve more of the community. So many people come here, even to this day, saying 'This is my first time here because I live way up north,'" Sandy said. "We want them to be able to enjoy the pastries and coffee that you just can't get anywhere else but here."



Q: In terms of marketing and customer engagement, what has proven most effective for getting the name "Brick Oven Bakery" out there?

Sandy: Word of mouth, social media, customer reviews, and feedback have significantly helped us out. I do fiveminute segments or appearances on "North Dakota Today" and "Studio 701," which have really helped us in getting our name out there. We recently hired a full-time social media specialist, focusing on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to help promote the brand. The positive reviews and feedback there have been so encouraging to us. We're deeply grateful for the support and recognition from our community, acknowledging the effort we put into our work. Their appreciation for our products and understanding of the challenges we face are invaluable to us.

Q: Has any specific customer feedback ever encouraged you to make a change within Brick Oven Bakery for the better?

Sandy: Absolutely. Oftentimes, people will suggest different kinds of sourdough bread that they may want to see, so we're open to suggestions. Furthermore, many people wanted more seating, which has been huge for our growth. While we can't take every single piece of advice and follow through on it, we try to accommodate our customers the best that we can. Now that we have the new production space, gluten-free options will be coming soon (sometime this summer), which is another recommendation that we've received.

Steve: We're still settling into the new production space. However, our goal is to offer a gluten-free sourdough bread to the public within the coming months, so keep an eye out for updates on our social media. We hear the community and know what they want; it just takes some time to develop a process and make sure that it works, and that the final product looks great. We would never throw something together, try to sell it, and let it fail because it was rushed. So we're trying everything five, six, seven times before we approach the community with it.

CONTINUE Courtesy of Tosha Rochelle Photography 42 JUNE 2024


Try not to let anybody's negativity stand in the way of your goals.

"90% of the people we talked to in the beginning thought that this would be a terrible idea to pursue. If you love what you're doing, just go for it, because there's no way that you're going to know if you'll succeed or fail without trying. Even if you do fail, it's a learning experience and you can move on to something else. When we first started, we wanted to do fruits and vegetables at the farmers market as well, and we completely failed at that but moved forward. Don't let people tell you that it's not going to work, because you have to make it work for yourself."

Reach out to local small businesses for startup advice and support.

"It's important to reach out to small businesses, even those not in the same industry, for startup advice. They can share what they might have done differently and the mistakes to avoid. We called some bakeries that we thought would be similar to us in Montana and North Dakota, but there was nothing similar to us, so we didn't reach out and call on many others, but it could have helped, looking back. We're happy to help anyone with startup questions, across any field, because we understand the value of having support and guidance from the start."

Be prepared for the long haul.

"Sometimes, people have the financial backing to try out whatever they have in mind for a business. We didn't have that money to put into it, especially with a large remodel right at the beginning. We were working 90 hours a week for something that we wanted badly. If you want something, you have to be willing and ready to put the proper time and effort in. If we hadn't worked so hard at getting Brick Oven Bakery off the ground, it probably would have failed. There were many times when we were at a crossroads and had to keep building the business to keep up with growing demand. It's tough, but you have to keep pushing forward and put in the work."

Recognize your background.

"It's great to know your worth, your skills, and what drives you at the end of the day. At the beginning of Brick Oven Bakery, for example, we were originally going to just do black coffee, but then we decided to offer lattes. I had a background in working at coffee shops and Steve had a background in cooking, so we just went for it, using what we had."

Courtesy of Tosha Rochelle Photography
44 JUNE 2024


Search 'Brick Oven Bakery Bismarck' @BrickOvenBakeryND 112 N 4th St, Bismarck, ND 58501


The Business LifeCycle

There are four phases in a business lifecycle, and each phase presents excitement and challenges. As a small business owner, awareness of where their business is in the life cycle provides key insight into keeping the business healthy and avoiding detrimental decisions.

Phase 1: Start-Up

This is the “Wonder Phase” due to a lack of industry knowledge, funding, and business acumen. The wonder phase is full of questions and doubts but a lot of excitement and energy. This phase is a complex and taxing stage, requiring lots of overtime. Due to a lack of resources and planning, this stage often struggles to become a reality. Common symptoms of the wonder phase are:

1. Lack of capital

2. No to low cashflow

3. Lack of experience

4. Little to no financial Information

46 JUNE 2024

Phase 2: High Growth

This is the “Blunder Phase” and is where most businesses fail. The owner operates all facets of the business and is financed by personal savings/credit, family, and friends. The company is growing with substantial revenue and net profits, but cash flow is erratic and often negative. To even out the cash flow, debt increases. This creates a high debt-to-equity ratio that produces concern for lenders. The growth tends to be fast-paced and challenging to manage. Owners at this stage veer into making misinformed decisions that fail. The symptoms found in this phase tend to be:

1. Strong growth in revenue and net earnings

2. A shortage of capital to sustain the fast growth rate

3. Cash flow tends to be touch and go, at times negative

4. Management moves from reactionary to formal

5. Clearer financial data

Phase 3: Maturity

This is the ideal place for a business and is the “Thunder Phase.” The business is on cruise control; cash comes in, and confident and informed decisions are made. The competition looks to the business as a model to exemplify. The sweat, blood, tears, and sleepless nights have paid off. Debts are paid down, and the net profit line grows. Staying on the peak is the challenge at this phase. Symptoms of this healthy phase are:

1. Sturdy capital (equity)

2. Firm and reliable profits

3. Cash flow is like a mighty river

4. Strong confidence and business acumen

5. Up-to-date and accurate fiscal information

Phase 4: Decline

Decline is inevitable for all business, even after being “King of the Mountain.” Soon, complacency sets in, adaptability is foregone, and risk tolerance decreases. This phase is the “Plunder Phase”; it starts as an owner's age or burnout sets in. This is the time to enter a succession plan and pass the business to the next generation or sell the business for a profit. The other option is to correct and start the challenging blunder phase again. The following symptoms mark this phase:

1. Abundant capital (equity)

2. Strong but weakening cash flow

3. Firm but declining growth and profitability

4. Complacent, detached, status quo ownership

5. Adversity to risk


After reading the business life cycle phases, where in the life cycle is your small business? The Dickinson SBDC can advise a business at any life cycle phase by providing resources to help a business transition through any phase.

(This article is based on Bech, Tracy & Duryee, David. “60 Minute CFO”. 2017)


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

Pavewise’s web-based software maximizes productivity and improves project quality resulting in increased incentives and profits for paving contractors. Variables such as weather, project specifications, and equipment operations impact every paving project. By efficiently managing project variables and integrating paving solutions, Pavewise develops a strategy for success for every paving project.

In 2023, Pavewise successfully assisted in managing over $13 million in paving projects across the United States.

We are the first intelligent construction software built for improving asphalt paving efficiencies and profits.


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

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


• As a team, we gained an immense amount of industry knowledge at World of Asphalt (WOA), the premier stage for innovators committed to reshaping the pavement industry landscape. During our attendance, our team had the incredible opportunity to explore innovations within the paving industry, engage with clients to understand their specific needs and challenges, advocate for Pavewise's

solutions to enhance their operations, partake in various educational sessions offered at WOA to further enrich our knowledge base, engage in conversations on future synergies, as well as meet face-to-face with other industry professionals.

• We had a booth set up at the ND Transportation Conference last month where we showcased our products and met with customers.

• Bryce and Jase were in Austin, TX at the 2024 SXSW Pitch event where Bryce was able to pitch in the Smart Cities, Transportation & Sustainability category. While they were not selected as a winner, they gained many valuable connections.

• Bryce presented at the ND Asphalt Conference in Bismarck, ND, as well as the Montana Asphalt Expo Construction Technologies and Pavewise.

• Brittany was listed and recognized as one of five Women You Need to Watch in North Dakota Business for 2024!

• The ND Research and Technology project has made significant progress in locking down an equipment manufacturer to test new technologies including Pavewise’s GroundTruth in an upcoming project in August 2024.

• Pavewise was pre-selected to join the next steps of participating in CRH Ventures’ Accelerator Program 'Roads of the Future.' We are excited about this opportunity and the potential benefits it could bring to our company.

• Bryce was featured in the "Talking to Cool People" podcast with Jason Frazell this month.

• Pavewise was awarded additional ND lift funds to help grow our team.

• Asphalt Pro did a short feature on our GroundTruth software solution at the WOA showcasing the added value to be brought to the horizontal construction industry.

• Bryce was asked to be featured in the Big Tech Roundtable again this year in the Asphalt Contractor Magazine with an issue coming in June/ July to feature the technology advancements in the asphalt industry.



• The pilot project with Cat Global Paving Equipment is scheduled to start this month. We are excited to demonstrate the value of our technology solutions this season with them!


• Unfortunately, a company that we had high hopes of partnering with to test device integrations, is not able to perform at a level that is expected which has forced us to discontinue the partnership and bring a solution in-house.

• As the construction season gets underway, we are trying to find the right balance between sales and implementation—ensuring our existing customers are satisfied while also welcoming new ones.

• Building trust with customers and providing a technology that can automate a process that traditionally was done manually is timeconsuming and challenging. Change is hard.


New Features:

• Project/Company Notes.

• New Charts: Weather Impacts; Production Impact.

• New View: “Daily Journal” / Daily Snapshot.

• Map Upgrades: Show photo and weather station locations.

• Project Notifications now include state specs (ND, MN, SD) and SWPPP inspection triggers.

• Improved UX: Quick Add buttons and header organization, hourly precipitation aggregation.

• Fixed known bugs related to notifications, map zoom, creating project maps, calendars, and team members.

• New UI: Profile Page, Map, in-app notifications, login/signup.

• Backend speed and performance updates.

• Check out our app for a free trial today at


• Active Users (# of users that have been active in the software in the last 30 days): 135

• Paid Accounts (# of Companies with a paid subscription): 15

• Hyperlocal Weather Stations deployed in the last 30 days: 18

• Pipeline: currently 4,206 leads in the CRM

Provided by Pavewise
50 JUNE 2024


• 2024 Dirt World Summit - San Antonio, TX


• Thank you to the Illuma team for their recent partnership and the time/effort they have put into the Pavewise team thus far. We're excited to see the outcome of working together in the upcoming weeks.

• Thank you to the InstroTek team for the WOA social event, fostering team building, and the special shoutout in their first of the season 2024 Hot Mix podcast!

• Thank you to Asphalt Pro magazine for the product coverage and press release at WOA. We appreciate your continued support!

• Thank you to the Asphalt Contractor magazine team for the upcoming article on Pavewise’s software solutions.

• Thank you to Calvin Harris III with CNET for the interview about Pavewise.

• Thank you to the Pro Resources team for the invaluable extra support!

• Thank you to all the contractors for allowing us to showcase the value that Pavewise can bring to them this season! We appreciate the trust you have put into our software solutions and look forward to the future roads paved together.

• Thank you to Troy and the Kitcaster team for the support these last few months with the podcast features. We’re starting to see the benefits of reaching a larger/diverse audience.

• Also, a big twhank you to the ND Commerce Department for allowing us access to additional lift funds to help support/grow our team!


Provided by Pavewise
52 JUNE 2024

Artificial Intelligence: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?

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.

Not a day goes by without some mention of artificial intelligence or AI. On one side are those who claim that AI will solve all our problems, leaving humanity with little to do other than maintain our technology. On the other side are those who think that AI will take over the world, creating a dystopian existence of humanity serving superior machines or even deciding to end humanity's existence itself.

After spending more than 30 years in the technology field, witnessing its ever-forward evolution, I can unequivocally

58 JUNE 2024
Photo Courtesy of VBOC of the Dakotas


iness Outreach Specialist

state the answer will lie somewhere in between those extreme points. AI has been and will be a larger part of our technological toolkit as time goes on. Let's learn some more about AI so we can both embrace the new applications and understand artificial intelligence's limitations.

It began in 1763 when Richard Price posthumously presented “An Essay Toward Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances” by Thomas Bayes, an English Presbyterian minister, statistician, and philosopher. This essay laid much of the foundational groundwork that would evolve into Bayesian probability theory, which fundamentally altered our approach to uncertainty and predictive analysis.

Bayes' theorem revolutionized statistical methods by providing a systematic approach to making decisions where both uncertainty and the integration of prior knowledge are important inputs. Bayes heralded a paradigm shift underscoring the significance of prior

information in forecasting and the decision-making process. Bayesian statistics are at the core of modern conditional probability estimation approaches, including probabilistic machine learning, sequential estimation, risk assessment, mapping, and information theory. A theory more than 250 years old is one of the backbones of our current AI craze.

The strategic adoption of AI technologies mirrors the principles of Bayesian inference, where existing knowledge and historical data serve as guideposts for future decisions. This approach gains importance as businesses traverse the complexities of integrating AI products, needing to emphasize the continual refinement of strategies based on emerging data. Let's look at AI as not merely a technology tool but as a strategic asset grounded in principled, datainformed decision-making.


AI's Application

AI’s application already covers a diverse spectrum, reshaping industries in some of the following ways:

1. Customer Service: AI-driven chatbots or virtual assistants can deliver service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for almost all frequently asked questions.

2. Personalized and Automated Marketing: AI algorithms can analyze customer data to better target email campaigns and other online advertisements or personalized recommendations.

3. Virtual Assistants: AI-driven systems like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant can help small businesses manage their day-to-day activities, improving productivity.

4. Automated Bookkeeping: Bookkeeping tasks such as invoicing can now be automated.

5. Data Analysis and Predictive Analytics: Open-source, freemium, or paid AI frameworks

and libraries can analyze data quickly and accurately. These insights can help you make more informed decisions across your whole business process, including inventory management, pricing, and identifying customer trends.

Self-driving vehicles, new medicines derived from genomic analysis, and facial recognition are just a few of the new AI-driven technologies. The possibilities seem only to be limited by our imagination and the various legal challenges surrounding AI. The legal challenges surrounding AI span diverse domains.

Here are some of the legal considerations businesses must monitor to navigate the quickly evolving AI landscape:

1. Intellectual Property and Copyright: Are the works generated by AI eligible for copyright protection and ownership? Was any of the data you used to create it copyrighted? Is there a legal difference between human and

AI-generated works? These are all questions that need to be answered and could affect your business if you have integrated AI products.

2. Data Privacy and Protection: AI relies on large datasets for its training and operation. Existing regulatory frameworks such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe mandate strict guidelines for data collection, protection, and storage. Violations of these regulations can lead to punitive fines. Businesses leveraging AI must ensure compliance with these regulations, particularly regarding the handling of any personal data and getting user consent.

3. Liability and Accountability: As AI begins making more autonomous decisions, delineating where the liability lies in instances of malfunction or actual harm poses intricate legal dilemmas that have yet to be answered. Identifying culpability amidst a distributed decisionmaking framework entails

60 JUNE 2024

establishing legal concepts for what entails negligence, fraud, and product liability. These concepts will take time and legal challenges to evolve.

4. Bias Mitigation: Discriminatory outcomes from an AI model could contravene current civil rights and equality laws. How your AI behaves will expose your business to both legal and reputational risks. Regulatory bodies are focused on enforcing fairness, transparency, and non-discrimination in AI deployment. Make sure you understand the rules so your AI doesn’t violate them.

The adoption of any new technology or process brings along with it the need to develop different procedures for handling contracts and disputes. With time, new and different use cases will be created and put into implementation. These cases will lead to the creation of whole new areas of regulatory and legal structure for businesses to follow.

The need to define responsibilities will be necessary to resolve conflicts among interested parties. Since this is all new, the whole infrastructure needs to be developed. Not only will everyone be dealing with new technology but the rules of the game itself have changed.

Will the framework for the different types of artificial intelligence be a defining characteristic of the legal treatments these products will experience? AI already has applications in the creative fields of art, music, and composition, with it still needing to be discovered exactly how to treat such creations.

When implementing probabilistic models that combine multiple decision trees to train a system’s operation, such as a self-driving vehicle, where does the liability lie? How can it be proved whether the software, hardware, or user is at fault in an accident? These are examples of the possible legal issues that will need to be resolved before we can see a full-blown implementation of AI.

There is no doubt that AI and all the derivative software developed over the coming years will transform many of our current business practices. Exactly how things will change and the speed at which these changes will occur is impossible to predict. Though technology moves fast and can do new and useful tasks, the actual adoption of novel technology products is often more difficult than anticipated.

Integrating new processes into older legacy systems takes time and costs. Businesses will only decide to use these new technologies when they know that the time and effort to integrate them into their existing processes is worthwhile. Until there are policies and procedures for older businesses to follow, the adoption of AI will move relatively slowly. As with any new product or service, once a routine is established, the overall use and speed of adoption will increase.

The implementation of AI products will be much easier for new businesses than the old ones. This may lead to a real competitive advantage for new entries into varying marketplaces. Processes that once took multiple people or systems may now be put together in more efficient structures with the integration of AI products.

Without the need to bolt AI to existing business processes but by beginning from scratch, where once the advantage went to the legacy business with legacy processes, the winner may now be the one who can implement the paradigm-shifting power of artificial intelligence most quickly and efficiently. The adoption of our current improved AI may lead to a small first mover creating the next great company.

It is impossible to predict how AI will affect the business world, but we know for sure it will.

VBOC of the Dakotas

701-738-4850 /dakotasvboc @DakotasVBOC

4200 James Ray Dr Grand Forks, ND


Women You Should Know

Monica Soto

Photos Courtesy of Monica Soto
62 JUNE 2024
Lay Health Ambassadors

Dickinson Woman

Helps New Americans Navigate Challenges

Monica Soto is a familiar face among Dickinson’s new American community and with the area's health providers. As part of the Lay Health Ambassadors, Soto provides translation services and other assistance to help new Hispanic residents navigate the challenging healthcare system.

It’s a challenge that Soto knows all too well. When she moved to the area nearly 20 years ago with her young family, there was no Hispanic community to welcome them. Her daughters were the first Spanish speakers enrolled in the local school. Her husband found ready work in the booming oil fields, but the language barrier made it difficult for Soto to find employment. Additionally, the lack of Spanish-language resources for important things like health care, education, housing, and other government services left Soto feeling alone in this new environment.

Determined to create a safe space for her children and other Hispanic families moving to the area, Soto began building the supportive community she would have wanted two decades before.

Home on the range

Soto grew up in Mexico before immigrating to Watford City via California. To say she suffered culture shock is putting it mildly. Everything was different—from the weather to social situations.

She didn’t have a driver’s license, so something as simple as getting her children to school in the winter became an overwhelming experience. “I didn’t have a coat for that type of cold,” Soto said.

The loss of cultural support compounded the daily challenges. Even in California, she had been surrounded by Hispanic families and culture. Now, she was trying to raise her children to appreciate a heritage they no longer saw in their daily lives.

“Today it is much different,” Soto said. But when she first arrived in the area, finding the foods and decorations needed to celebrate her eldest daughter’s quinceañera was difficult, not to mention inviting guests. “I invited the whole community,” she said.

It would have been easy to retreat to her family. Like many new Americans, Soto struggled with mental health issues. She could focus inwardly and work to bring as much of Mexico as possible into her home. But what about others? There were jobs in North Dakota. Other new Americans would come. So instead, Soto looked outward.


Building bridges

She began building the local Hispanic community one family at a time. From translation services to helping new families find housing and jobs, Soto worked tirelessly to help new Americans find their footing. She worked with school and community groups to highlight Hispanic culture. She operated La Cocina d' Monica, a food truck that later turned into a brick-andmortar restaurant that helped her share her culture through its delicious flavors.

She would often host families in her own home while they sorted out living and transportation arrangements. As entrepreneurs, she and her husband learned the ins and outs of starting and maintaining successful construction businesses—A.R.M. Construction LLC in Dickinson, and A&R Construction, which specializes in pipeline construction—a challenging process they’ve been happy to help new Americans navigate. And, family by family, the community grew.

Access to health care was one of Soto's primary challenges when she moved to the area. It was almost impossible to schedule an appointment or understand a diagnosis without being able to speak English. Soto started out simply sitting in on friends’ clinic visits and translating.

However, with more demand than one person could handle, she worked with the Women Empowering Women

organization to secure funding for the Lay Health Ambassadors program, allowing her to provide much more than simple translation services. From health and hygiene education to assistance in navigating the health care and health insurance system, the program hosts health fairs to serve Hispanic, Russian, Ukrainian, and African communities in the region.

A bright future

For Soto, the years of hard work building a Hispanic community in Dickinson weren’t just an investment in herself.

“I had a duty to take care of my children’s identity. To make them feel at home in both worlds,” Soto said.

From sitting on her lap during city council meetings to helping new Spanish-speaking students adapt to life in the Dakotas, Soto has instilled the importance of service in her children. Today, her eldest daughters are heavily involved in Lay Health Ambassadors, with her eldest pursuing a career in medicine to return to the area as a Spanishspeaking doctor hopefully. The work of building a community will never be done, but Soto is proud of how far things have come in almost 20 years.

Lay Health Ambassadors

Search 'Lay Health Ambassadors'

PO Box #2092, Dickinson, ND 58601

64 JUNE 2024
Monica Soto with Lay Health Ambassadors

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