Fargo INC! October 2018

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There's A Better Way To Get Equipment For Your Business 10 Lessons Learned From 50 Years In Business Nine Fargo Businesses Are The Quickest Growing In The Country




HEITKAMP october 2018



// OCTOBER 2018


26 What This Election

Means For Your Business North Dakota is under the political spotlight as we enter this election season. We sat down with Senatorial candidates Kevin Cramer and Heidi Heitkamp to discuss what this election will mean for your business.

FEATURES 6 Editor's Note 8 Fargo INC! Editorial Board 16 Your Game-Changing Books Five people, five life changing books. 19 Tips From A Young Professional Cecelia Jorud, Personal Banking Officer with Bell Bank, has some advice for other young professionals. 30 There’s Another Way. Scenario: You need new equipment. What you would normally do: Take out a loan and purchase a crap ton of equipment. Well, there’s another way. 24 Show Me The Money! 46 Faces Of Fargo Business Michelle Schumacher, Chelsey Ehlen and Josh Humble 52 10 Lessons Learned From 50 Years In Business As Houston Engineering celebrates 50 years in business, we talk to CEO Jeff LeDoux about what other businesses can learn from their continued growth. 56 What Business Owners Need To Know To Keep Assets Safe When They Are Gone 58 Fargo Businesses On The INC 5,000 With a combined revenue of $163.1 million, there are nine local businesses that made the INC 5,000. Let's meet them.

26 19

62 What’s Your Network Worth? the100,inc. How Kurt McSparron and 100 other business owners can help your business. 66 Advocacy Explained & An Election Preview 69 Saying “Yes, And” To Problem Solving 74 Business Events Calendar



Visit FargoInc.com for extended content covering Fargo-Moorhead's business community and articles from past issues of Fargo INC!




All our stories in one place

Business events calendar

Read all the past issues

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editor's note

The Long Game


ou can learn a lot in 50 years. Jeff LeDoux, Houston Engineering President and CEO, really proved that. As they celebrate 50 years in business, LeDoux had a lot of nuggets of information for business leaders. One of those is the old clichĂŠ in business: If you ain't growing, you're dying. It's the age old problem of business. You have to look ahead to ensure that you survive the long haul but you can't ignore the endless to do lists to make sure you survive to the end of the day. That really rang true to me both professionally and personally this month. Last month, I had the surreal opportunity to marry the love of life (shoutout to Kaitlin Jason!). As we said I do, my mind immediately began thinking of everything we need to do to make sure we'll be set as we grow old together.

Meet Jennifer Gades We are excited to introduce Jennifer Gades as the new Fargo INC! Associate Publisher. Professionally, Spotlight Media, Fargo INC!'s parent company, is undergoing a major expansion. (Stay tuned for some exciting announcements.) However, as we go through this period of rapid growth and bring on some great new employees, I can't help but think about the long-term picture of our company. It's a very exciting time. As I've said many times, Fargo INC! is meant for the business professionals. As you go through this magazine, we want you to stop and think about what this content means for the long-term goals of your company. As always, if there's anything you want us to cover, let me know. We are here to help you.

Andrew Jason Andrew Jason, Editorial Director

Andrew@SpotlightMediaFargo.com 6


I am very excited to join the Spotlight Media team as the Associate Publisher of Fargo INC! My vision is to provide you with resources and stories that will inspire you and address the day-to-day issues you face in business. I want to provide you with information and trends that help you strategically chart a path for success for your business or career and tactically conquer daily challenges. In doing so, I hope we are able to provide a unique resource that is found valuable statewide and across multiple media platforms. I grew up on a step stool scooping popcorn, counting change and filling drinks in my father's movie theatres learning the values of hard work and good customer service. I have watched my mother start her own counseling firm and my in-laws operate three successful businesses. The determination to provide the best level of service and products to your clients and customers is something I not only understand, but I share your passion. My husband and I are raising three beautiful young children and I feel the lessons that you learn as you navigate your professional career can be applied to every area of your life to help you become a strong, well-rounded person.

Kayla likes making her employees happier with health plans that offer lower out-of-pocket costs on many of the services they use most. If you’re like Kayla, you’ll like UnitedHealthcare.

Visit uhc.com/ndsd.

Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates. Administrative services provided by United HealthCare Services, Inc. or their affiliates. 9/18 MT-1182298.0 ©2018 United HealthCare Services, Inc. 18-9723-B


Executive Director

FM Area Foundation


United Way of Cass-Clay

Fall is an exciting time at United Way as we kicked off our 2018 Campaign and continue to see the results of the investments you’re making toward our 4 Bold Community Goals. I am proud to share that this fall, thanks to a collaboration with the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties and the West Fargo Public School District, a new preschool center opened in West Fargo. Because of United Way donors, up to 120 4-year-old children will go to a preschool that is safe, high quality, full day and focused on Kindergarten readiness, which impacts all of us as a community, and our future workforce. It is open to all local families, and scholarships are available for families in need, thanks to United Way. We also encourage you to watch this year’s powerful video and see how students in our region finished this sentence: “I Wish My Teacher Knew…” and learn how United Way is collaborating to ensure that our local students have access to mental health services right on site at their school.

EDITORIAL BOARD We at Fargo INC! want to make sure our content is unbiased and reflects the FMWF business community. That's why we meet regularly with our five-member editorial board to discuss local business issues and trends and ensure we are living up to our core values.



FMWF Chamber of Commerce

Dakota Medical Foundation

The Chamber would like to give a warm welcome to our three newest board members: Anne Blackhurst, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Kevin Christianson, Paces Lodging Corporation, Property Resources Group; and Brittany Montecuollo, Sanford Health. We also are honored to welcome Mark Nisbet of Xcel Energy, as he begins his term as chair of the board. We look forward to another great year ahead!

With Giving Hearts Day coming up on February 14, 2019, we want local businesses to be aware of the opportunity to engage your team in the region’s largest day of giving. Become a Giving Hearts Business and discover an easy way to create a purpose-driven culture. Here are three ways:

President and CEO

Executive Director

1. Become a “Champion” for local charities. Become an ambassador for Giving Hearts Day within your organization, using the day as a way to kickstart a culture of giving at your workplace. 2. Encourage giving by giving. Purchase Giving Hearts Day gift cards to distribute to your employees or customers. Another idea? Offer a match for your employees’ donations. You decide the amount, and we’ll provide you with a link to share with your team. 3. Sponsor the next generation of givers. Sponsor a local school or class by purchasing Giving Hearts Day gift cards as a reward for student service hours or projects.


SVP of Finance and Entrepreneurial Development

Greater FM Economic Development Corporation

I had the pleasure of volunteering and joining in at the recent fourth Annual Unglued (Adult) Summer Camp. In the thank you note I received from the wonderful camp lead organizer Ashley Morken of Unglued, she mentioned that they "...work for this camp to be a magical place of inspiring...to get creative & really LIVE, get connected and break routine." It was extra fun to hear the attendees who traveled here from outside of our region (including CA, LA, MI to name a few) who marveled at the fun, creative and friendly folks from the Fargo area. A special thanks to Ashley, Christina and Justin from Unglued for their tremendous work in events like Unglued Summer Camp and Unglued Craft Fest. Speaking of awesome people, if you are relatively newish to the area or just want to give a friendly welcome to new residents, please consider attending the GFMEDC's "FM Welcome Party" on 10/16. There's more info at fmwelcomeparty.com.

If there’s something here that looks like a good fit for your business, reach out to Jenny Davis at JDavis@dakmed.org or 701-271-0263 to become a Giving Hearts Business today! FARGOINC.COM


OCTOBER 2018 Volume 3 Issue 10

Fargo INC! is published 12 times a year and is available at area businesses and online at FargoInc.com.

Publisher Mike Dragosavich Drago@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Chief Operations Officer Steve Kruse


Editorial Director Andrew Jason Andrew@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Designers Sarah Geiger, Sarah Stauner Photographers Hillary Ehlen, J. Alan Paul Photography

Contributors Andrew Jason, Steve Dusek,

Craig Whitney, Dayna Del Val, Katie Perleberg, Mark Puppe

Social Media Andrew Jason and Jessica Ballou

Web Jessica Ballou


Senior Sales Executive Ryan Courneya Ryan@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Sales Executives Scott Rorvig


Paul Hoefer paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Associate Publisher, Design & Living Chantell Ramberg Client Relations Manager Jenny Johnson Client Relations and Office Assistant Alex Kizima Sales Assistant Emily Freeman Business Operations Manager Colleen Dreyer


Delivery Bruce Crummy, John Stuber, Craig Sheets

Fargo INC! is published by Spotlight Media LLC, Copyright 2018 Fargo INC! & FargoInc.com. All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Fargo INC!, and Spotlight Media 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 Media LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.


Spotlight Media, LLC 15 Broadway N, Suite 500 Fargo, ND 58102 Info@SpotlightMediaFargo.com ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)

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October is National Kitchen and Bath Month, so of course, we here at Design & Living Magazine have decided to honor two of the most important rooms in the home within this issue. Join us as we visit three different homes that have just undergone extensive kitchen and bath renovations. Along the way, we'll see a classic clawfoot tub, timeless tile and so much more. Then, meet the local interior decorators, designers and homeowners behind it all.

When it comes to dining, many of us don't quite understand all that goes on behind the scenes of how delicious dishes get from Point A to Point Belly. We talked with a variety of chefs throughout the area and let them give us a peak into a day in their lives. Join us in exploring what it really takes to be able to don a chef's apron.

Are you a diehard Bison fan? Stumped on what to wear on game day or in the tailgate lot and where to get it? Can't find the right accent for your home? Looking to prove your extreme fandom for North Dakota State to your friends and family? Well, you're in luck, Bison Nation. We found all the gear, products, home accents and opportunities for you to live your best Bison life.

Your Game-Changing

BOOKS According to Publishers Weekly, there were 16,604 business books published in 2014. With this amount of information, it is hard to weed out the good from the bad. That's why we reached out to five local people to give you their best recommendations.

15 SECRETS SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT TIME MANAGEMENT By Kevin Kruse "In today's world, we're all extremely busy juggling work and family priorities, all while trying to stay healthy. This book helped identify ways to better prioritize my time and maximize the hours in a day." - Jason Orloske, Chief of Staff for Dakota Medical Foundation



THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS By Danielle LaPorte "It taught me to lean in to the work that not only comes naturally to me, but also lights me up. I’m of greater service to the world when I’m engaging my strengths and passions rather than always struggling to be better at things that don’t interest me. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no." - Laura Caroon, Co-Founder of Ladyboss FM; Content Strategist at Concordia College

LEAN IN By Sheryl Sandberg "That sounds so cliche, but in all honesty Sandberg puts into words many of the feelings I have had about being a female in a maledominated industry and maledominated world (for now). There were equal parts validation and motivation, and while there are so many books I love and cherish, this is one that I'd recommend to any woman in the workforce." - Meagan McDougall, Account Manager at High Point Networks

SABBATH; FINDING REST, RENEWAL AND DELIGHT IN OUR BUSY LIVES By Wayne Muller "This book was recently recommended to me at a leadership event I attended and has reinforced a personal mantra I have, which lies in a belief that we can't take care of others if we don't take care of ourselves first. It's a great read for anyone looking for a reset or anyone seeking reflection on the pace of their life." - Nicole Turchin, Manager, Communications and Administrative Services for CoreLink Administrative Solutions

TRACTION By Gino Wickman "Our team here at Stoneridge Software is HUGE fans of Traction. We are actively ensuring the six key components are active - this includes running weekly Level 10s. We also ensure every new team member receives a copy of this book to get them going on the strategy and ideas within." - Briana Scearcy, Chief People Officer at Stoneridge Software



Young Professional TIPS FROM A

SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE I keep my social media outlets to a minimum. Instagram is my way to connect with close friends and family, while LinkedIn is for my professional networking. LinkedIn is a tool I use to further a new professional connection, and learn more about the individuals background. Although I see social media as a wonderful way to connect, I prefer to make connections in person.


ADVICE ON NETWORKING Step into networking with a mindset of building relationships. People can smell a sales pitch from miles away, so go in with the intent to introduce yourself and listen to others. There will be opportunities to exchange business later.

STARTING YOUR CAREER, AND EXPECTATIONS. When I first started working full time with Bell Bank, I was fearful of making a mistake but ready to learn. As a young adult, I believe the best thing you can do while starting a career is to be a sponge. Meaning, learn from your colleagues that have been in the industry for years. Ask questions. Having confidence in your ability to do your job and do it with a high level of excellence is imperative.

At Fargo INC!, we believe everyone has advice to give. That's why we sat down with the Chamber of Commerce's Young Professional Network's one to watch to pick her brain on some of her best advice for other aspiring young professionals.

GROUPS / ORGANIZATIONS • Young Professional

Networks monthly events - Thursday, October 18 at the West Fargo VFW • Business After Hours Thursday, October 11 at Holiday Inn Fargo • Volunteer year-round through opportunities with Bell Bank • Serve at my local church

WHY YPN The Young Professionals Network provides monthly events for members to connect at different degrees. From New Member Socials, Off the Clocks and business tours, YPN has something for everyone. If a young adult is looking to dip their toes, they could start with a New Member Social. On the flip side, if a member is looking to become more involved, they can join a committee such as Corporate Cup, social planning, professional development and membership engagement.

FIND A COACH CECELIA JORUD Personal Banking Officer Bell Bank

Find a mentor within your industry or workplace that is willing to push you. The most valuable moments in my career have been when mentors have given me constructive criticism. Also, your first job most likely wont be your dream job. Be prepared to bring a positive attitude and readiness to learn while growing your career.




Take out a loan and purchase a crap ton of equipment.

THERE’S ANOTHER WAY. Let’s look at a scenario. You have a great idea. There’s a new type of gym that you want to open. There’s nothing else like it in FargoMoorhead and you can corner that section of the fitness market. But, there’s a caveat. You need a LOT of equipment. Traditionally, you would go to a bank, purchase all that equipment, find money for a down payment and pledge your business assets as collateral to the bank. What if there was another way? There is and FF Fisher can help.

BY Andrew Jason PHOTOS BY Hillary Ehlen



(Left to right) Dave Groshong, Executive VP and CCO; Bob Prowse, VP of Leasing and Fleet Management; Lucinda Goetz, Business Development Officer; Todd Fisher, President and CEO; Roger Hayenga, VP of Leasing


or more than 28 years, FF Fisher has been helping other companies achieve their growth potential. However, if you drive by their office and their lot full of cars at 500 40th St. S, Fargo, you’d be mistaken to think they just sell vehicles. In fact, FF Fisher provides fleet leasing, fleet management services and equipment leasing. FF Fisher has provided commercial leasing options for anything from computers to large cranes. “We operate in over 50 different business segments and have leases in 34 states,” said Dave Groshong, Executive VP. “We’re generalists. We can lease just about anything. We take the time to structure a lease that fits the customers' needs and financially benefits them. Do they want to take the depreciation benefits, expense the lease payments or look for tax savings? We will help them.” It’s often an age old question in business whether to lease or buy. There are numerous reasons to lease versus buying, including that you can acquire additional equipment and upgrade equipment, you can free up working capital, the fixed payments/terms makes it easier to plan, budget and much more.

aspects for leasing is that it frees up cash flow. “We offer fixed rates so it’s easy to tell our customers, ‘You might want to stretch the term out a little bit because rates are increasing today and you can take advantage of that environment,” said Groshong. “Rates are going up. Our rates are fixed. Our payment schedules are flexible and match your cash flow.” Another appealing aspect, especially for companies just starting out, is that they can structure lease payments to increase over time, which allows you to get the equipment you need to grow your business. If you own a seasonal business, they are also able to structure your payments to your cash flow. However, this isn’t just a good option for companies just starting out. It’s also a great option for companies that are expanding or have seasonal cash flow. President and CEO Todd Fisher gave an example of a local manufacturing company that’s growing quickly that they worked with recently. “The customer just picked up a substantial contract with a very large regional company so they need to expand,” said Fisher. “What happens is that all of a sudden, they’re going to expand quickly and they need to keep their bank line open. They’re moving into a

One of the most appealing



The work they’ve done

You name it and they have probably leased it out. Below is a list of some of the industries and types of equipment they have leased out. • General Contractors: Cranes, heavy construction equipment, vehicles

• Heavy Construction Equipment: Vehicles, trucks, shop equipment

• Mechanical Contractor: HVAC cutter, vehicles

• Retail: Delivery trucks, vehicles, Signage, POS system

• Gym: Fitness equipment, TVs, sound system

• IT Firm: Office furniture, IT, phone system

• Engineering: Technology equipment

• Private Practice: Medical software, IT, vehicles, furniture

• Hospitality: Hotel IT, fit up, room furnishings, signage

• Tattoo Removal: Tattoo removal equipment

• Private Practice: Medical equipment and fit up

• Transportation: HD trucks, trailers, IT equipment, vehicles, logistics system

• Lumber company: HD delivery truck/trailer, vehicles • IT firm: Computer equipment for customers around the country • Wholesale supply company: Delivery vans, vehicles • Distribution: Warehouse shelving, forklifts, inventory management system • Transportation: Fuel trucks and trailers, vehicles

larger building and they’ve got over a million dollars worth of equipment that they need to have. We’ve become a financial partner to help them grow." That ability to work with a business adds value and is what really separates FF Fisher from their competitors. “There’s a ton of flexibility,” said Groshong. “The fun part for us is we have all these different types of businesses to learn about. We’ll spend more time on the front end with a customer saying, ‘How do you make your money? Where are you going? What are your goals?’ We can structure our transactions to follow that plan where there's a lot of leasing companies that will just send you a document through your email, you’ll sign it and send it back and you’ll find at the end of the lease that there are terms not necessarily in your favor."

• Agriculture: Management vehicles, tractors, combines, short line equipment • IT Firm: IT equipment, asset tracking equipment, vehicles • Floral Company: Delivery vehicles • Municipalities: IT, Bobcat, buildings, equipment • Co-Operatives: Vehicles, sprayers, IT, buildings

Over 30 percent of all equipment in the U.S. is leased and over


of all U.S. companies lease.


WISDOM SARA HANSTAD Business Banker Bremer Bank

can manage them right so we can get the customers on the right programs. Also, there’s some tax advantages. At the end of the lease term, we put the customer first with the goal of keeping the total cost of ownership down and working in their best interest." They will go far beyond just finding the right vehicle for you. They can handle everything from fuel management, maintenance and repair management, accident management, license and title services and driver risk management programs. “Whether it’s a vocational truck for a contractor or whether it’s an executive vehicle for the owners or management of the company, it’s structured in a way that comes back in the owner’s control at the end of the lease,” said Groshong. “Our guys do a wonderful job with vehicles.”

Fleet Management Another one of FF Fisher’s unique offerings is their fleet management service. If you have company vehicles, you might want to consider working with FF Fisher. They will listen to your needs and then go out and acquire the vehicles at the right price with the right options that match your planned usage.

“I would be willing to say that from Minneapolis to Spokane, you won’t be able to find any more qualified independent fleet people than what we have here,” said Fisher. “I don’t think I’m exaggerating from that perspective. It goes back to our values and visions when the company was started with my dad Fay and brother Tom.”

“We have the expertise to be your fleet manager,” said Fisher. “We can buy them right. We can cycle them right. We

fffisher.com 500 40th St. S, Fargo

"The #1 worst piece of professional advice I’ve ever gotten was 'Don’t smile so much.' First of all, I don’t even know how I would accomplish that because I’m such a naturally happy person and a smile is pretty much always on my face. Second, I think authenticity is my biggest asset in business and in life." FARGOINC.COM



Understand your financials with three reports


t seems logical that a business owner would have in-depth knowledge of their financial performance, but the reality is that most businesses happen from a dream or hobby and the owners learn by trial and error as they grow. Interpreting and controlling financials is almost a mystery and we see what that means when we get a loan application from a business and their financial statements are riddled with numbers that seem to not make sense. If you are unsure of the value of reviewing your financial statements or understanding what they mean, it’s time to dig in, analyze what’s happening behind the scenes and get down and dirty with your financial statements.

Let’s take a peek at the different statements and why they are important.

INCOME STATEMENT This is also known as a Profit and Loss Statement. At a macro-level, it shows how much you had in sales, what the cost was for the items or services you sold, other business operating expenses and ultimately whether you made a profit. But when you dig into the details, you can find trends – are your sales increasing or decreasing compared to previous months or years? Is your cost of goods sold in line with your industry averages? Do you have any expenses that seem too high or have a negative balance – if so why? This statement reflects a period – whether it be a single month, year to date or full year of income and expenses.



BALANCE SHEET This statement shows what you own and what you owe. It shows the book value of your assets, if you have cash in the bank, how much money customers owe you (accounts receivable), if you have built equity in the business and the balances of your liabilities such as accounts payable and outstanding loans. This statement reflects a point in time or the balances as of a single date. It is a cumulative view of your business since the beginning.

CASH FLOW STATEMENT This statement shows the impact of incoming cash and outgoing cash and if you have enough to run your business, also known as working capital. Many people think this is the same as the income statement – in some ways it is similar, however, things like depreciation, asset purchases and principal payments on loans that don’t appear on the income statement show where the money has come from and where it has gone. This statement is also a reflection of a period – such as monthly, yearly, etc.

BY Steve Dusek President and CEO Dakota Business Lending (formerly Dakota Certified Development Corporation)

Not any one statement is more important than the other as they all serve a different purpose for managing your business and financials. And they all tie together. Changes in values on the balance sheet come from activity on the cash flow or income statements. Another important thing to note is that your reports are only as good as the data going into your bookkeeping system. As the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. It is advisable to enlist the services of an accountant or other trained professional to help setup your bookkeeping system, procedures and best practices. Don’t underestimate the impact of incorrect accounting and the impact it can have on your cash management, tax liabilities and overall performance of your business. As an owner of a business, be curious – if you aren’t doing the books yourself, ask questions. Lots of questions! If numbers don’t seem to make sense to you, figure out why. It is so easy for

errors to happen and things to end up being logged incorrectly through the bookkeeping process. Look at trends. How are the reports as compared to last year? Last month? Are sales up or down? Does it represent what you believe to be true? Unless you have a trusted and proven CFO as part of your leadership team, you are likely to be the only one that can sense if the numbers seem right. If you don’t know what to ask, look for training or reach out to your accountant to help you learn what to look for and how to analyze your financial statements. Setup a schedule to review your reports – at minimum monthly. And don’t forget to also periodically check things like the aging of accounts receivables (money owed to you), accounts payable (money you owe to others), bank reconciliations and account detail listings of your expenses. You can control and change how your business performs financially. After all, you may be in the business for fun, but I’m pretty sure you also want to make money doing it!

Action items


Know the numbers. Dig in, analyze, ask a lot of questions and review periodically.


Make sure to review and look at all business financials and ensure that you understand how they tie together.


If you’re unsure, ask. If you don’t know, seek professional help. If you think something does not make sense, find out why


HEITKAMP By Andrew Jason 26



CRAMER Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography FARGOINC.COM



orth Dakota is under the political spotlight going into this election season. Turn on any cable news station and it’s not uncommon to hear political pundits talking about the battleground our state has become. While we don’t endorse any candidate, we wanted to let you meet the two senate candidates, hear their responses of some of your business questions and let you make an informative choice come Tuesday, November 6. No matter the outcome of this election, there is one thing that we believe is important to note. Toward the end of our interview with North Dakota Senator hopeful Kevin Cramer, he made a good point. “Every state has a governor but most states have more than 700,000 people. Every state has two senators but most states have more than 700,000 people. We’re fortunate here that access to public officials, to the degree it’s valuable, is easy.” While North Dakota’s small population can sometimes be

a challenge to the business community, especially when it comes to workforce, the accessibility to our political representatives should be looked as one of the major benefits of our state’s small size. States with a large population do not have the accessibility that we have. Considering each state only has two senators, a state like California, for example, has one senator for 19,770,000 people while North Dakota has a senator for every 377,697 people. Don’t forget to look at your political representatives and ask the question about what they’re doing for you. As the North Dakota senate race heats up and gains national attention, we sat down with Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer to discuss what this election could potentially mean for your business.

* Interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.



Meet the people behind the questions

We reached out to a number of business and community leaders for their questions they’d like to ask the candidates.

Greg Tehven

Pat Traynor

Executive Director at Emerging Prairie

Executive Director at Dakota Medical and Impact Foundations

Adam Martin Founder of F5 Project and F5 Venture Partners

Kirk Anton

Jessica Thomasson

Owner of Heat Transfer Warehouse

CEO at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota

Meet Kevin Cramer Hometown: Kindred, North Dakota

College: Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College, Master’s degree in Management from the University of Mary and was conferred the degree of Doctor of Leadership, honoris causa, by the University of Mary Number of years in Congress: 6

Q: What is your favorite way to celebrate North Dakota to your friends in Washington? - Greg Tehven, Executive Director at Emerging Prairie

A: I always like to tell them the story of Eric Sevareid, the famous North Dakota native and CBS correspondent who once referred to North Dakota as the rectangular blank spot of the nation’s consciousness. Now we’re this rectangular stage under the nation’s spotlight. The Bakken sort of shined a bright light on North Dakota but while it was shining on the Bakken, the nation got to see all these other things in our state like Microsoft with the second largest campus outside of Redmond. This attention has spawned this entrepreneurial culture, particularly in the Fargo area but up and down the whole Red River Valley and now throughout the state. I love telling the story of North Dakota and how we were once this sleepy agrarian, but very successful, state. Things like oil, technology, and advanced manufacturing really allowed us to diversify not just our own economy, but the nation’s perspective about us.

Q: There were 14,446 open jobs last month, with your tourism director background, what do we need to do to solve that? A: I would submit to you that if Job Service North Dakota is listing 14,000 plus jobs, it’s probably more like 45,000

jobs. I’ve looked at the Job Service website. In fact, I’ve looked at several websites and they’ll list a job opening and you know there’s probably 10 or more of them in that category. What do we do about that? It’s getting harder, because like I said, the workforce challenge is no longer a North Dakota issue or a regional issue, it is now becoming a national challenge. This is what forces wages upward. That’s a challenge to the business owner but it’s an advantage to the worker. You do have to meet that demand. One of the biggest challenges for North Dakota is getting people here. I think keeping them here is not that challenging. I think that people are often surprised when they get to Fargo and some of our other finer cities. As a marketer though, you need to have the jobs to offer, which we do. You have to be able to pay enough to attract job seekers in a competitive market and I think that’s a bigger challenge. In our favor, we have a high quality of life here. When they see great big beautiful hospitals, successful universities and a

“We need a lot of people with CDLs, not MBAs.”

successful startup technology entrepreneurial culture, they want to be here. Here’s another thing I would say that gets wonky but it’s a very real issue. It’s one of my biggest challenges, maybe even frustrations, since being elected to Congress. Our approach to immigration and immigration reform is very challenging. We have an immigration system that is, by any global measure, very liberal. We accept a million legal immigrants a year but there’s no connection between our policy and workforce requirements. Here in Fargo, you have Microsoft employing with a whole bunch of workers with H1-B Visas which allow companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. These workers, who are not only some of the smartest people in the world but some of the most ambitious are also very patriotic and some of the nicest people with great creative ideas. Yet we stifle their opportunity to contribute to our culture and our own economy with all the rules. Per country caps, for example, are the maximum number of familysponsored and employmentbased preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year. The limits are calculated each fiscal year depending on the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based visas available. These rules prevent, say, a software engineer from Pakistan or a physician or surgeon from India from letting



them really grow themselves and their offerings, including their spouse’s ability to work. We need to eliminate per country caps or at least make them more flexible so that these people can get not just a worker visa, but rather a Green Card and work toward citizenship. Right now, we have Indians who would be on a 75year waiting list to get a Green Card and they’re some of the most productive contributors to our society and our economy. I think we need a merit-based immigrant system with more flexibility and we need to eliminate the per country caps. This will allow us, not just to attract a good workforce, but attract the workforce that is in demand and allow us to grow our economy.

Carl Perkins Act:

President Trump renewed this act, which is a $1.2 billion program last overhauled by Congress in 2006. The new law allows states to set their own goals for career and technical education programs without the education secretary’s approval, requires them to make progress toward those goals and makes other changes to federal CTE law.

That’s a big part of the problem. This is an area, frankly, where the President and I disagree. There’s a sense in the administration that we ought to both lower the number of immigrants and have a merit-based system. I think we ought to have a meritbased immigration system but we shouldn’t lower the number. In fact, I don’t know why you would confine yourself to a number if you have more job openings than people looking for work. Today, we have 6.6 million job openings in the United States. We only have about six million people looking

for work but we have tens of millions more who don’t work yet are capable of work. They don’t have the skillset, education or background that allows them to work in highdemand jobs. That’s a failure of education. We’ve put way too much emphasis at many of our universities on fouryear degrees and MBAs and not on the skill sets that are in high demand. We need a lot of people with CDLs, not MBAs. We’re pushing too many people into MBAs. This is a failure of higher education. That’s why in this most recent Congress, the President signed the Carl Perkins Act into law. This skill training technical education reauthorization will put more emphasis and resources toward skills training, and more employers on the advisory boards so we can emphasize the skills and technology training that our economy needs. In addition, we have a lot of Americans who aren’t looking for work because we have so many incentives for people to not work. When these incentives exist, there are going to be a lot of people who prefer not to work. On the other hand, we also aren’t providing the tools, education, emphasis and encouragement for people to go to the skilled trades and we need a lot of people in those areas. My dad was a rural electric lineman and he made



21st-Century Cures Act:

Signed into law on December 13, 2016, promotes and funds the acceleration of research into preventing and curing serious illnesses; accelerates drug and medical device development; attempts to address the opioid abuse crisis; and tries to improve mental health service delivery.

a great living our entire life. He worked really hard to do it and he met a demand that was great in our community.

Q: It has been proven that good prison reentry programs, good work force training both inside and outside the prison has helped decrease unemployment jobs for citizens with felony backgrounds. It also shows when treatment is approached, rather than punitive measures, recidivism rates go down, which directly affects our communities' health in regards to crime and substance abuse. What are you doing to help create more work force and treatment



options for citizens that are filling the employment gap within our state? - Adam Martin, Founder of F5 Project and F5 Venture Partners

A: There needs to be an institutional discipline about it and some guidance to make people comfortable about it. I always say, I would prefer to invest in your education rather than your incarceration. The goal of our justice system should be rehabilitation and making productive members of society, not punitive. We incarcerate way too many people for things that are not related to other people’s danger. I’m a law and order guy, particularly when it comes to violent crimes. But addiction, drug abuse and alcohol abuse

is a different story. Kris and I had a son who died earlier this year from alcohol induced liver failure. We’re very familiar with it. She was with Teen Challenge and I was Chairman of the Board at Teen Challenge, a faith-based addiction recovery ministry. With programs like this, you see much opportunity for effective recovery. From an employer standpoint, you look at it as human capital that could be helpful in your business. As somebody who cares about justice or society, which are usually the same people, you look at it and go, ‘Look at all the human potential and the problems they solve.’ I’ll give you a specific example. When I first introduced H.R.5 in my second term, a bill to

advance the XL Pipeline, we had a debate on the floor. It was my bill, so I was on the floor providing an explanation in order to encourage it. The democratic leader in this particular debate yielded three minutes to the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Scott. I had never met David Scott before. He is an African-American Democrat with a deep voice. He gets up and says, ‘What we need in America is more jobs for young black men. We don’t have a good jobs program. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a jobs program.’ I was stunned. He’s taking three minutes of the opposition’s time to speak on behalf of my bill and I never met the guy. His perspective was as a pro-union, black, Democrat

Timeline 1991 Elected Chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party

1993-1997 State Tourism Director

1997-2000 State Economic Development & Finance Director

from the city of Atlanta, Georgia. You couldn’t be more different than I am. He is now one of my dearest friends and just earlier this week during opening comments on the Farm Bill Conference Committee, he spoke about our work to put more money into black land-grant universities for scholarships to go study horticulture, ag economics and other workforce areas that are important in agriculture. Why did he and I create such a friendship? For him, it was about lifting up his constituency, particularly young black males. He goes through the statistics of how many young black men are in prison, how many young black women have children by these young black men who are in prison, and that the real issue in the inner city is poverty and the lack of jobs, not racism. All of these other things come with it. I’m talking about how we can get more people working.

Population per Senate seat

Ohio: 5,830,000

Q: Addiction, substance abuse and untreated mental health issues present very real challenges in our state's schools and workplaces. What will you do to help create a first class modern behavioral health system in ND to help address these issues?

California: 19,770,000

- Jessica Thomasson, CEO at

North Dakota: 377,697 South Dakota: 434,833 Montana: 525,000 Minnesota: 2,788,500

2000-2003 Executive Director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation, which connects emerging leaders from the University of Mary in Bismarck with community business leaders.

2004 Elected to Public Service Commission

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota

A: I think eliminating stigma is a big part of it. I have a very complex family structure. Kris had two sons when we were married, who I adopted. We had two daughters together and then we adopted a little boy after he witnessed his mother’s murder, now he’s 11. We have this very spread out family with four grandchildren and one on the way. We’ve seen it all and we see it all every day. Mental illness is very real, obviously, but the addiction issues we deal with are so pervasive that these are community challenges, more than government challenges. On the federal level, what we can do and are doing are things like monitoring, overseeing, providing policy when necessary to reign in the overprescribing of addictive drugs, particularly the opioids. We also make sure we have adequate beds. There’s a huge shortage of beds for psychiatric care. We can build prisons but we have a hard time putting in enough beds, which we did a couple of years ago in a bill called the 21st Century Cures Act, which came out of a committee I serve on. It passed in the House and the Senate took it up and they modified it but we did eventually get it done and the President

2012 Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

signed it. One of the things we added was a bill I cosponsored, specific to this point of providing more resources for beds and more treatment centers plus an emphasis on community-based treatment, rather than these large institutional treatments. The prevention side is even more important. I think we need to always aim to prevent addiction, even though addiction is often largely chemical or it might be hereditary in some cases. And then we need to place a stronger emphasis on treatment rather than incarceration and then provide our police officers and law enforcement officers the tools that they need. But then we also need to deal with the supply side. We need to decrease the number of things they get addicted to and that means border security and tighter controls of what comes into our country by making sure law enforcement has the tools they need. If we could kill the demand for the product, there would be no need to worry about the drug dealers if nobody is there to buy it. It has to be comprehensive. A lot of people like to focus on one or the other. Some people are totally focused on enforcement. Some people are



totally focused on treatment. I always think let’s start with prevention and go from there.


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Q: What do you believe is the best way to alleviate poverty? - Pat Traynor, Executive Director at Dakota Medical and Impact Foundations

A: Jobs. I think it is comprehensive. It’s a lot of things we’ve talked about. We have the jobs. We need to have an education system that educates people for the jobs that are open. Frankly, we have to be more efficient within our education system. It sounds harsh, but university presidents love to fill their chairs and have people take five years to get a four-year degree. We need to institutionalize more efficiency in our university system and then make sure people are getting appropriate guidance at younger ages. I think a lot of it starts in high school. We need to expose young people to more realistic employment opportunities and have a clearer picture of what’s available. It’s comprehensive. This is why I’m happy to run on a platform that has created a lot of jobs by rolling back regulations, cutting taxes for corporations and individuals. This makes it more profitable to create jobs so that the jobs are available. However, we have to have an education system that matches that. We

have great education in North Dakota, and Fargo offers a lot of opportunities. Tony Grindberg is doing a wonderful job through the State College of Science and his program up here.

Q: With the new sales tax legislation coming state by state, how do you view that will affect e-commerce and help business grow in North Dakota? Will it be too complicated and cause hardship on businesses? - Kirk Anton, Owner of Heat Transfer Warehouse FYI Since e-commerce’s inception, one of its most appealing aspects was that shoppers didn’t have to pay sales tax. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that internet retailers can now be required to pay sales tax, even in states where they have no physical presence. While there is a lot of confusion over this, the big question remains what will be the threshold for when a company has to pay sales tax.

A: It’s interesting to see what the Supreme Court did because this was a reversal. The Supreme Court rarely reverses a previous Supreme Court ruling. The only way they can, in fact, based on precedent setting law, is if circumstances have changed dramatically enough or there’s new information. Clearly, technology and e-commerce have created new circumstances. The original

President Donald Trump has come to Fargo twice this year to campaign on behalf of Congressman Cramer.

law in the original lawsuit was based on magazine orders, not online orders. How will it affect e-commerce? Not much, I don’t think. I think 10 years ago, it would have affected it a lot. E-commerce is becoming the preferred commerce. Let’s face it, retail is in a tough, tough spot and the trend is not going away. The trend is going further toward e-commerce. I think the culture and the marketplace are good for e-commerce and I don’t think the Supreme Court decision will slow it down much. I think we have to step in and set some basic standards. Since I have been elected to Congress, I have believed that we have to protect the startup, the small e-commerce company. If we apply the same

standard to a company that does half a million, or even a couple million dollars, out of their garage or their basement as we do to Amazon, then we’re giving Amazon all the advantages. All the regulations do that. Regulations, taxes and tax policies are always easier for big companies to take advantage of than small ones. They become barriers to entry into the marketplace. I would set a very high threshold before the tax policy kicks in. I would like to see at least $5 million, maybe even $10 million. I think there’s a big gap between Sam’s Club, Amazon and Best Buy and the person who is making children’s clothing or pillows in their basement. Otherwise, you’re going to see a gobbling up.

Regulations are always a barrier to entry. That doesn’t matter if you’re a welder, you’re a small neighborhood grocery store, you’re an auctioneer, you’re an e-commerce company or a healthcare facility. The more regulations and the more taxes there are, the better it is for the Sanford Health than it is for the small clinic. I think we have to set thresholds that tear down barriers to entry. Otherwise, you’re just going to have a bunch of monopolies and it’s going to be a lot harder for people to get started in business.

Q: What resources are out there that businesses and business owners are taking advantage of?

A: Every state has a governor but most states have more than 700,000 citizens. Every state has two senators but most states have more than 700,000 people. We’re fortunate here in North Dakota that access to public officials is relatively easy. I would say from a constituent standpoint as a congressman, I do a ton of work. Probably most of our constituent work is with veterans and the second is with immigration and that means helping somebody get their H-2A visa available for the seasonal visa or a H-2B. A lot of work is done with the H-1B visa in the high-tech area and helping them get their family members into the country. Sometimes, it’s a regulatory issue that we’re able to intervene on. The business owners and the business people who have gotten to know their members of Congress, their governor along with the attorney general and others that can be helpful in the various industries are all a resource that can be very helpful. We are a small state compared to other places and we all see ourselves in it together. We’re very patriotic. I think our access to each other is pretty cool. I think it’s an asset that businesses can take advantage of.



Addiction is a problem that has hit Fargo and North Dakota hard and the stats can be pretty alarming. • According to the

Meet Heidi Heitkamp

Hometown: Mantador, N.D. College: B.A. from the University of North Dakota and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School Number of years in Congress: 5

Q: What is your favorite way to celebrate North Dakota with your friends in Washington? - Greg Tehven, Executive Director at Emerging Prairie

A: Making them sing the North Dakota song. Seriously. Behind that, probably the accent. John McCain, who was a dear friend of mine, used to tease me so much about the accent and it would make him laugh when I would pour it on. I would then remind everybody that “Fargo,” the movie, is not about Fargo, it’s about Brainerd, Minnesota.

Q: How has the perception in DC of North Dakota changed? A: I think that it’s still an unknown. It’s known for its honesty. It’s known for its practicality but I also think they see now with the Bakken, that obviously got a lot of play, that Fargo is emerging. The Red River Valley is emerging more as a small area to pay attention to.

Q: What do you believe is the best way to alleviate poverty? - Pat Traynor, Executive Director at Dakota Medical and Impact Foundations

A: Education and healthcare. I’m also going to say this. When



you look at adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma, a lot of people who find themselves into pervasive poverty have had a life of poverty and come from poverty. One of the things that I’ve been absolutely adamant about is that we need to understand what happens to children in their childhood and what effect that toxic stress has on kids and the abilities of kids to enter the workforce eventually and perform well in high school or college and the ability to have the resiliency it takes to live an ordinary life. I really focus on childhood trauma as a foundational piece and if we did that right and we prevented childhood trauma, but more importantly, if we treated childhood trauma, that we could avoid future instances of poverty because people would be better prepared.

North Dakota Office of Attorney General 2016 Comprehensive Status and Trends Report, the number of drug cases submitted to the State Crime Laboratory increased by 26 percent from 2013 to 2015, but during the same time period, drug cases involving heroin increased by more than 400 percent.

• According to that

same report, the ND Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that the number of inmates with drug/ alcohol offenses has more than doubled in the past five years, from 334 in 2011 to 779 in 2015, and the number of drug offenders under supervision by Parole and Probation has almost doubled, from 1,306 in 2011 to 2,507 in 2015.

• According to the

Q: Addiction, substance abuse and untreated mental health issues present very real challenges in our state's schools and workplaces. What will you do to help create a first class, modern behavioral health system in ND to help address these issues? - Jessica Thomasson, CEO at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota

A: First off, we need to make

Addiction Center, over 26 percent of employed adults have substance abuse or addiction in their family and over 42 percent of these employees felt their productivity suffer as a result.

• According to the

Addiction Center, drug abuse and addiction cost American companies $81 billion every year.

According to a recent statewide survey conducted by Job Service North Dakota, 28 percent of employers say it takes longer than one to three months to fill a job. Occupations with the highest projected growth over the next 10 years: • Support activities for

mining: 5.1% growth

• Oil and gas

extraction: 3.3% growth

• Primary metal

manufacturing: 3.3% growth

• Truck transportation:

3.2% growth

• Performing arts,

spectator sports and related fields: 3.1% growth

sure we are adequately compensating healthcare providers who provide quality treatment, whether it’s for behavior or mental health, we integrate behavior and mental health into our healthcare system, we adequately compensate our healthcare providers, we build workforce to deal with the challenges. Children who have experienced four serious negative experiences – like witnessing violence, exposure to unaddressed mental health issues, or abuse – are twice as likely not to graduate high school, 10 times more likely to inject drugs and 12 times more likely to commit suicide than children who experienced zero serious adverse experiences. And people with six or more adverse childhood experiences have a 20 year shorter life expectancy than those with zero. FYI Workforce development might be the biggest issue facing the business sector. Last month, there were 14,446 open jobs in North Dakota. How do we fill those jobs? Heitkamp released an economic agenda last month that aims to help workers through the course of their lives. One of those agenda

items include fighting for workers when they start their careers through four points. • Protecting the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program • Reducing student loan debt and making college more affordable. • Supporting vocational training that teaches the knowledge and skills needed for cuttingedge jobs. • Strengthening programs for young and beginning farmers and ranchers in the 2018 Farm Bill.

I think we need to do a better job talking to kids in junior high and high school about what opportunities are out there so they can be better trained. I think a lot of kids enter into their senior year thinking, ‘Oh, it would be good to do this,’ and don’t have a good idea of what the workforce needs are. I’m not saying you should always educate to the workforce but I think parents and kids need to understand that we need plumbers and electricians. We need people who have coding abilities and it doesn’t always take a four year degree to get those skills. I think we need to have a better educated group of students

who understand what the workforce demands are and where the opportunities are. And I think we need an education system that responds more appropriately to the needs of the business community.

Q: It’s interesting you bring that up because last month, we interviewed all the new superintendents and that’s a huge focus for them. Have you seen progress on that front? A: I think you do. It’s slow. We need to change how parents look at it because some parents sometimes feel like a kid would disappoint them if they didn’t go to a four year school. Instead, sitting them down and saying, ‘What is it that you enjoy? Do you enjoy working with your hands? Is being a plumber something you think you would enjoy? Is being a welder something you think you would enjoy? Is being a healthcare provider? What is it that you enjoy and how can we get you the skill sets?’ Especially with so much student debt, I think we need to be really careful on not overspending for skills we won’t necessarily need in the future.

*Data from Job Service ND FARGOINC.COM


Streamlined Sales & Use Tax Project The Streamlined Sales Tax Registration System allows people to register for sales tax purposes with all of the states that are members of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board in a single registration. Once the form is completed, participants will have a sales tax account and will be required to collect, report and remit the applicable sales and use tax in all the following Streamlined member states: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. More information can be found at nd.gov/tax

Q: It has been proven that good prison reentry programs, good work force training both inside and outside the prison has helped decrease unemployment jobs for citizens with felony backgrounds. It also shows when treatment is approached, rather than punitive measures, recidivism rates go down, which directly affects our communities' health in regards to crime and substance abuse. What are you doing to help create more work force and treatment options for citizens that are filling the employment gap within our state? - Adam Martin, Founder of F5 Project and F5 Venture Partners FYI F5 Project was started by Adam Martin, five-time felon turned entrepreneur, and is aimed at giving people released from prison the support as they transition into civilian life. For more information, you can read Fargo INC!’s August cover story with Martin at fargoinc. com.

A: The big discussion in Washington D.C. about criminal



justice reform is that we cannot do criminal justice reform without re-entry programs. I think we can provide greater tax incentives for people who are willing to work with people who are coming out of incarceration. We also need to understand that that transition is not easy and what happens is that they simply go on to the same lifestyle they had before, it’s not going to be very successful. We need that transitional piece to transition back into the workforce. We need housing. To me, you have to look at all the needs that come after the period of incarceration. Listen to people who have been on the list of recidivism and say, ‘Why did you fail? What could we have done differently?’ That’s a critical piece. I sat down with a number of parents of children who are addicted. They are raising their grandchildren. What they told me is that they feel like the system isn’t holding their kids accountable. We need to have that level of accountability that allows people who are transitioning

out of incarceration, we need to have the period where we’re assisting and creating the lifelong habits that are going to result in no recidivism. All of these experiments will fail and a job is hugely important to that. We need to get people integrated into the system. This is a long answer but I used to travel with Winston Satran. Winston Satran was the Prison Warden for a number of years. We were doing a juvenile justice project. We would go into communities and sit at a buffet eating lunch and somebody would come up and greet him and talk to him. When they would walk away, he would say, ‘They’re a graduate.’ What he meant was that he knew them when they were incarcerated. Many times, because of the system and the rehabilitation we had back in the day when it was easier, these folks could transition if they got a little older and dealt with their addiction appropriately. They could be incredible employees and incredible members of society. We know we can do it with the right type of after care.

Timeline 1977 Earned her bachelor's degree from the University of North Dakota

Q: With the new sales tax legislation coming state by state, how do you view that will affect e-commerce and help business grow in North Dakota? Will it be too complicated and cause hardship on business? - Kirk Anton, Owner of Heat Transfer Warehouse

A: I think that one of the challenges that we had was leveling the playing fields between bricks and mortars and e-commerce. The Supreme Court recently issued a decision. There is a de minimis that South Dakota had in each state. Obviously, organizations that don’t want to engage in a collection responsibility in every state can in fact avoid that, I think, by doing business under that de minimis. By that, I mean a certain amount of sales. The one bit of advice that I would have is the State Tax Department here has, for a number of years, been a leader on what we call the Streamlining Project. For small business, it’s the perfect way to guarantee that they’re in compliance. It’s a perfect way to ease the burden of compliance. My advice would be that they



1980 Earned her J.D. from Lewis and Clark College

seek out an opportunity to work with the State Tax Department on getting into the streamline system.

Q: From a business owner standpoint, what resources are out there that you think businesses don't take advantage of? A: I think that one of the things that we need to do is do a better job of recognizing what the needs are. That’s why I’ve been very involved in making sure we have the right kind of business advocate within the SBA that can, in fact, get that small business voice within rules and regulations. On Capital Formation, my bill, which would give small business a say in the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) was signed into law and they’re trying to hire someone for that role that would be that ombudsman who would then reach out to small businesses and say, ‘How can we make the equities market work better for you? What are your challenges in terms of capitalizing your business?’

1981-1986 Assistant Attorney General and Administrative Counsel, State Tax Commission

1986-1992 North Dakota Tax Commissioner

The work that I did on S.2155, which was small bank, community bank deregulation bill should ease capital for small business. One of the biggest challenges that I’ve confronted is that SBA, traditionally, funds bricks and mortars. If you want to rent a welding shop, they’ll help you buy equipment, they’ll help you do this. They’re really bad at providing seed capital for businesses that are engaged in the development of intellectual property. I introduced a bill called the SEED Act (Startup Entrepreneur Empowerment Delivery), which would allow for some very early level development dollars to go to entrepreneurs so they could actually engage instead of doing this in their off-time. There’s a number of models that we can engage and also push out from the SBA side. I think SBA is underutilized by new entrepreneurs. One of the things is making healthcare more readily available to entrepreneurs. Harvard Business Review did a study on one of the chief reasons why a lot of people don’t enter that entrepreneurial world and it’s because of

1993-2001 North Dakota Attorney General

“My point would be that it is really important that people who serve in government bring facts and data and creativity to their ideas and check ideology at the door. Because ideology will lead to decisions that will be subject to the whim of political swings.”

2001-2012 Director, Dakota Gasification

2013-present U.S. Senate

healthcare and if they could find affordable and available healthcare that gives them the opportunity to develop their skills and their products. I think there’s a whole lot of strategies. The real challenge is making the system more responsive to these millennials. I think the system has not been as responsive to this millenial. We need to transition because so much of the new business is service oriented. It’s intellectual property Q: What should the public sector take from the private sector? I think a hyper liked focus to efficiency. I don’t think you survive in the private sector without being highly efficient and highly competitive. I think, sometimes, the private sector has now realized that you can’t do things the way you’ve always done it. You have to always be innovating. You have to be creative. You have to be moving forward. So often, in the public sector, people get stuck in a rut. That’s the way we’ve always done it. There’s no incentive to be creative. There’s no incentive to take risk. I think the one thing I would

Senator Heitkamp meeting at. the Prairie Den, a co-working space in Downtown Fargo, in 2016.

say is we have to make more incentive for risk taking and innovation and efficiency.

Q: What should the private sector take from the public sector? A: That there are intangible values to everything that we do. You see it more and more in corporate America. The ability for somebody to get family leave. In fact, in 2017, I helped reintroduce the FAMILY Act, which would create a federal paid family and medical leave policy. Most public sector entities provide for a family leave policy or they provide sick leave. Private businesses have a harder time providing that, especially if they’re small. I would say that the razor like focus to the needs of their employees as individuals will pay off in the long run. I’m not sure that we do that all that well in the public sector. It’s hard to see the translation sometimes.



One of the roles that I have in Congress is I’m the ranking member on a sub-committee that deals with federal workforce. Here’s an example. I think federal workforce is having a hard time attracting millennials because it’s too rigid. Where the private sector has realized that if you’re going to keep talented millennials around, you’re going to have to think differently about work schedules. You’re going to have to think differently about allowing them creative license and risk taking. I just think that there’s not a lot that the public sector can offer the private sector but also the opportunity to work together to respond to concerns and needs of employees would be one of those issues.

Q: There’s a lot of misconception between businesses and government. What would you say to those business owners? A: I would say that one of the things that concerns me the most about the huge political swings that we’re undergoing is the lack of predictability for business. That business says, ‘Things are OK today but they may not be OK in a couple of years. Or this may not happen in a couple of years.’ My point would be that it is really important that people who serve in government bring facts and data and creativity to their ideas and check ideology at the door. Because ideology will lead to decisions that will be subject to the whim of political swings. The one thing that I would say that’s critically important, and it’s something I think about all the time, is not only making the right decision but making a decision that will have some staying power to provide that predictability.

Faces of

Fargo Business


Microsoft What she did...

Who she is...

Prior to this role, she was part of the Corporate Accounting team responsible for early adopting the new revenue standard (ASC 606) for Microsoft’s revenue, which is over $110 billion. Before joining Microsoft in 2011, her career was spent in public accounting, both at Eide Bailly in Fargo and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Minneapolis.

Group Finance Manager for Microsoft’s Cloud + Artificial Intelligence Platform and Artificial Intelligence Research groups.

Organizations she's involved with... • Board of Directors for the

What she does... Her team and her are responsible for complex technical accounting and operations for Microsoft’s cloud and AI offerings, along with Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure.



North Dakota CPA Society and the YWCA • Previously served on the Board for organizations such as the Fargo Moorhead CPA Society, University of North Dakota Department of Accountancy Advisory Board and Junior Achievement. • Member of the Finance Committees for the United Way and YWCA

A typical day in her life... Meetings, meetings, meetings! Working for a company the size of Microsoft, I get the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing people across the globe. However, with that comes a lot of meetings! We are so lucky to have technology that allows us to be geographically diverse but connect as if we are sitting next to each other.

The worst piece of advice she's ever received... I’m always hearing that I don’t know how to relax. I have started to realize that my vision of relaxing is just very different than most people. Let’s go with it being a bit more “active.”

A local/state resource she has utilized recently... We have so many wonderful leadership programs in the area (ex. United Way’s 35 Under 35, Chamber Leadership Program, etc.) that have provided Microsoft employees with opportunities to learn new skills and network across the community that they wouldn’t otherwise have. These resources can prove very valuable as part of a career journey.

Faces of

Fargo Business

CHELSEY EHLEN Master Barber and Owner

Everett’s Barbershop Ehlen is a third generation barber with more than a decade of experience. Her husband Alex and her opened Everett's in June 2012. Along with her sister, Maureen Robinson and their friend Trever Thompson, they run their shop in Downtown Fargo.

Her TED Talk would be on...

She'd like to thank...

Who’s Ted? Do you think he needs a haircut?

I’d like to thank my sister, Maureen. Without her by my side, being as successful as the shop is today would have taken me a lot longer.

How her job differs from the perceptions... Barbering is much more complex than people think. You have to take each individual’s hair type into consideration when deciding any certain haircut. Managing someone’s expectations when it comes to selecting a cut can sometimes be a challenge. Some people think being a Barber is just some side job that one is doing for fun or extra cash. In reality, it’s an amazing career that I highly suggest anyone look into if they think they may be interested. North Dakota, in general, needs more barbers all over the state.



A leader she's watching... Joel Brehmer. Badass barber and current President of the North Dakota Barber Board Of Examiners.

Our North Dakota State Barber’s Association has been a crucial resource for our business. I encourage fellow business owners to join a similar organization within their own industry.

JOSH HUMBLE Finnu - President Hurd ProNetwork - Co-Founder Cerulean Properties - Co-Founder Meet Josh First and foremost, I'm a lucky husband and father of two girls. My faith is what grounds me and helps me through the ups and downs that life throws at me. I really gravitate to just about anything beyond the norm. If it's a hiking expedition, I want it to be extreme, miserable and challenging. I've found those to be my favorite past times and have learned from each of those experiences. I try to find that in everything, at least in positive creative terms, although I may come to terms that it isn't necessary either.

With Finnu, I focus on longterm goals as well as design furniture/custom builds, etc. We could stop woodworking tomorrow and it wouldn't matter. It isn't what we do that is important, it's how we do it that sets us a part. And with Finnu, there are no limitations; the brand will always continue. Currently, we're building out a new website and launching a new Finnu clothing line that is separate from the Finnu custom furniture and builds. This is going to be an exciting time for us as we develop and launch sometime this winterspring.

Currently, I am working with my church (Hope Lutheran) and Mens ministry, spearheading a Spiritual Leadership Expedition in Voyageurs National Park this fall. I've been fortunate to have the support of my church and mentors on board helping make this possible. And, of course, we will push the limits physically, spiritually and mentally. I love that we can relate this to business as well as in faith.

We're always trying to find ways to give back to our favorite non-profit organizations Unseen and The Village Family Service Center. We believe in what they're doing and love the team dynamic.



Hurd ProNetwork was cofounded by myself and business partner Mike Brevik in 2018. We are a different breed of the so-called networking business. Currently, my role has been focusing on the question,

"What makes us different?" And the reason for that question, is that everyone says, "We're different!" So, when you really dive into that question and you break down all the similarities from one group to another, you could argue that no-one networking group is really, different. Not saying bad by any stretch of the means, but there are so many similarities that it wasn't making sense to us anymore, especially if we were going to accelerate our business relationship development on a higher level. So, you start defining what networking looks like in the market... If you ask a seasoned CEO what networking means to them and, if you ask someone in sales who focuses on the next sale from week to week... You're going to get an entirely different answer. So, we realized there was a gap that needed to be filled. We believe there is just so much more to business relationship development than just "giving to gain." If we're only focused on getting something out of the giving, then we've lost focus entirely. If I shovel my elderly neighbors driveway, should I expect for her to pay me back? Of course not. Although, this is a mindset that is hard to break in networking, but once you understand we're all here to

help, and we have value to give, then it becomes crystal clear. With the abundance of entrepreneurs in this market, we needed to take a leap forward. So, in the next two months we'll be fitting up a space in the Downtown Fargo Meadowlark Building. We expect waves of new business and look forward to making an impact in our business community. I'd encourage all business executives of any kind to check us out and learn how they can get more involved in Hurd. We're looking for motivated, talented business solutions minded people that want to take their business and community impact to a new level. Cerulean Properties was cofounded by my brother-in-law David Newman, myself and my father-in-law Randy Newman. My day to day is really the management side and thinking future plans. David and I really share duties in this and Randy does a great job advising us in planning. We know we want to grow, we're not sure if that means more residential, apartments or commercial at this point. So, we're meeting quarterly to figure out what may be the best plan moving forward for all of us and our tight schedules.

Faces of

Fargo Business


"12 Rules for Life" by Jordan B. Peterson

"The 7 habits of Highly Effective People" By Stephen R. Covey

Podcast: How I Built This with Chip Wilson - Founder of Lululemon

A leader he respects Honestly, I'm always paying attention to what my father in law (Randy Newman) is doing. I ask a ton of questions and ask for advice all the time. When we get together, more often than not we're talking about business. He's a big planner, probably the best I've ever seen in my life. That takes years of practice and learning to be at that level. So, naturally I'm interested in how he does it all and how it relates to my business practices and how to move forward.



10 Lessons Learned From

50 Years

In Business


ccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 21 percent of businesses make it to their 20th anniversary. In today’s age of mergers and acquisitions and startups, businesses come and go. When a business marks an important anniversary, it’s a reason to acknowledge their accomplishments and ask: What made them last the long term? To celebrate their 50th anniversary, we talked with Houston Engineering President and CEO Jeff LeDoux about what other businesses can learn from their continued growth. BY Andrew Jason PHOTOS BY J. Alan Paul Photography

1. There’s no secret formula to make a business last the long term

“I think there are many ingredients that’s part of the secret sauce. First of all, you have to do really good work. We do good work and we treat our clients fairly. That’s the first key. We wouldn’t be in business if we didn’t do a good job at what we do. The second thing is creating a healthy culture for success. I think one of our biggest differentiators is creating a culture for people to succeed. We always try to find the best people to fit our culture.”



Timeline 1968 Company founded by George Houston in Fargo. 1972 Corporation formed. 1980 Expands to Barnesville, M.N. and now have 30 employees. 1997 Lawrence Woodbury elected President/CEO 1997 Opens office in Maple Grove, M.N. 2002 Opens office in Bismarck 2002 Founder George Houston retires

2. You stop growing, you start dying “We always have to be in a constant state of change and adapting to the economy, our industry and to our clients’ needs. That’s probably one of the more critical things. If you become complacent, you dry up and start dying as a company... George Houston, our founder, said this since day one. ‘You have to constantly grow or you’re going to die.’ A company is like a living organism, in fact, there’s a book to that effect called ‘The Living Company.’ It talks about how you have to be in a constant state of adaption and learning."

2005 Opens office in Thief River Falls, MN and now has 65 employees 2006 Opens office in Minot, N.D. 2008 Jeff LeDoux becomes President/CEO 2012 Opens office in Dickinson, N.D. 2015 Opens office in Grand Forks and now has 185 employees 2018 Opens offices in West Des Moines, I.A. and Sioux Falls, S.D. and celebrates 50th Anniversary with more than 200 employees

3. Respect your employees and they’ll respect you

“It’s hard to describe but we try to create a culture of responsible autonomy. There’s a number of different cultures and management styles. There’s the old ‘command and control’ style, which is really dead. We try to create responsible autonomy where we give people and teams the freedom, within boundaries, to think independently, be creative, come up with new ideas and they will succeed. We have to accept that sometimes we’re going to fail, but we know that we’re going to have a lot more wins than failures. We give people a lot of freedom to do some really neat things for our company.”

4. Your employees are one of your most valuable assets

“I don’t take a lot of credit for our growth and success. It’s a team effort. We wouldn’t exist without our staff. As part of our culture, we try to be humble, hungry and smart and be the best team players. On the humble side, we try to hire people who have no egos. They’re looking for what’s best for the company. They’re hungry and always trying to improve themselves, looking for more things to do, more responsibility and trying to improve themselves. They’re also smart. Not necessarily book smart, but people smart. They know how to deal with people in an effective way. We try to focus on those characteristics and traits when we hire people.” FARGOINC.COM


5. As you expand your footprint, recognize that each office will have its own personality

“We try to promote a one company culture but each office really has its own personality, but as long as we’re heading in the same direction, that’s the important part. Obviously, our culture in our Minneapolis office is going to be different than the culture in our Dickinson, North Dakota office. As long as we know where we want to go as a company, that’s the most important thing. You have to accept that offices are going to have different personalities and people, which is good…You have to work with that.”

technology and never stop innovating 6. Embrace “One of our goals and one of our differentiators is that we want to always stay on the cutting edge of technology. For a 200-person firm like Houston Engineering, we probably have more technology than any firm I’ve worked with or seen. We have a number of techsavvy engineers, scientists, surveyors, programmers and software developers. We try to incorporate their knowledge in how we do designs and how we work internally. Also, we use that technology for our clients’ benefits. We’re creating tools that makes their lives easier on managing their responsibilities and making them more successful. We have a lot of different types of technology that a lot of the big firms don’t have. I’m really proud of that.”


WISDOM REBEKAH SCOTT Designer Rebekah Scott Designs 54


podcast recommendation Dale Partridge's "StartupCamp"

the long game 7. Play "We just went through another strategic plan this year where we identified our goals and where we want to be in the next five years as a company. The goals talked about improving client service even more and also the culture we want as a company. It’s been harder as we’ve continued to grow. We’ve identified some of the geographical areas we want to expand in. We just opened up offices in Iowa and South Dakota. We want to focus on growing those offices, as well as supporting our existing North Dakota and Minnesota offices. “We’re also looking at a number of new services that we’re currently not providing. They will be a benefit for our clients and an advantage for us. As I mentioned before, we always want to be in a constant state of change and I think part of our success is that we’re always looking to improve and create a culture that allows our staff to do that.”

9. Employee retention goes back to culture

“I think (the reason we have low turnover) is because of that culture we created as a company. We’re probably a fraction of the turnover rate expected for a company like ours in the industry. It has to do with the kind of culture we created for our employees and making it a good place to work.”

8. A long history with a company isn’t always a good thing “The older you get, you might get complacent, so you have to keep fresh and stay hungry. The benefit is that we’re established but the challenge is that we can’t take that for granted and we always need to continuously change and get better as a company.”

10. The role of the CEO is making sure your customers are happy and your employees have a healthy workplace.

“I try and have a lot of contact with our clients and making sure we’re meeting their needs and finding out what keeps them up at night, how we can make their lives easier and get their thoughts about the future. I also feel it’s important to have a lot of contact with our employees. When I started, we only had one office with about 30 employees. Now, we have nine offices in four different states. I think it’s really important to be at those offices, meet with the people to help foster that one-company culture, making sure we have a healthy workplace and that the staff has the right tools to be successful. It gets more difficult the bigger you get.”

About Houston Engineering With nine offices in four states, Houston Engineering works with water resources, environmental issues, water supply, water quality, municipal, transportation, railroad, surveying, land and site development, waste management, urban planning, GIS and web/mobile technology. Houstoneng.com FARGOINC.COM


in uncertain times BY Katie Perleberg

What business owners and professionals need to know to keep hard-earned assets safe when they are gone There have been recent tax law changes. The political climate is uncertain. People are living longer, and the incidence of dementia is on the rise. This article addresses topics that business

professionals and owners should consider while doing their 2018 estate planning. This column addresses general estate planning topics and is not meant as actual legal advice.

Katie Perleberg is an attorney with Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. She works closely with business professionals to develop a uniquely tailored estate plan that provides for an orderly succession of family assets. She can be reached at kperleberg@fredlaw.com.



I understand the estate tax law has changed? What do I need to know about that, so I can minimize estate taxes? The federal estate tax law changed as of January 1, 2018. The new law doubled the estate tax exemption from $5.49 million to $11.18 million. This means that if a person dies in 2018 with a total estate of less than $11.18 million—which consists of assets owned at the time of death plus the value of certain lifetime gifts—there is no federal estate tax owed. If the total estate of a deceased person is more than the exemption, then a 40 percent estate tax is due on the value of the assets that exceed the exemption amount. Additionally, another estate tax law called portability allows married couples to share their exemptions, effectively sheltering up to $22.36 million from estate tax. The exemption will increase slightly with inflation each year until Jan. 1, 2026, at which time it is scheduled to revert back to 2017 levels—$5.49 million, plus inflation adjustments. The doubling of the exemption means that very few people will be subject to federal estate tax. But given the temporary nature of the exemption increase and the uncertainty surrounding what Congress will do with tax laws in the future, business professionals and owners should regularly review their estate plan. An estate plan usually consists of a power of attorney, health care

directive, will and possibly one or more trusts. If you have a large estate exceeding $5 million, there are some techniques to reduce the value of your estate before the exemption reverts back to original levels, such as transferring life insurance policies to irrevocable trusts or making properly structured gifts to children, trusts or charities. If federal estate tax is not a concern at this time, there are a lot of other good reasons to have an up-to-date estate plan, such as asset protection, income tax considerations or fiduciary nominations. North Dakota does not have its own state estate tax. But Minnesota does, and it operates differently than the federal estate tax. The exemption is a lot lower ($2.4 million in 2018) and there is no portability between spouses. Minnesota residents, and even North Dakota residents who own Minnesota real estate, should visit with their attorney or tax advisor about Minnesota estate tax planning. How can I divide my estate fairly and address each child’s different role related to the business? This is a common concern of small business owners and other business professionals because families are complicated, and children have varying needs, interests and capabilities. One child might be involved in the family business. One might be interested

in the business, but it may be too soon to tell if there is a future in it. One might struggle with managing money. While you want to account for these differences, you still want to treat each child fairly. It is very common for people to divide their estate equally among all the children, but to structure their respective inheritances to account for their specific situations. The child that is working in the family business might inherit part or all of the business using a combination of several business succession techniques. The other children could still inherit an equal share, but their inheritances might consist of other assets, such as life insurance proceeds, investments or non-voting (i.e. financial only) interests in the business. The spendthrift might receive his or her share in a trust that has certain restrictions on how the funds can be accessed. Trusts are a great vehicle for structuring estate planning, and there are a lot of ways that trusts can be customized for different and changing circumstances. What’s the difference between “revocable” and “irrevocable” and how would that apply to my situation? The terms “revocable” and “irrevocable” usually refer to different types of trusts. Revocable trusts are often used as substitutes for wills. Like the term denotes, a revocable trust can be revoked at any time the creator of the trust (the “trustor”) is alive and competent. It can also be modified and amended. It allows the trustor to retain total control over the assets until the trustor’s death, at which time the assets will pass to the beneficiaries in the manner set forth in the trust document. At the trustor’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable and cannot be changed anymore. Revocable trusts are also used regularly for probate avoidance. If assets pass through a person’s will, a court has to approve the will and appoint the personal representative. Because it is a

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, about two-thirds of businesses are owned by baby boomers in the U.S., or about four million companies.

court process, it is a public record and may cause delays in the administration of a person’s estate. Therefore, you may want to avoid that process and maintain more privacy by having your estate pass to your heirs through a revocable trust instead of a will. Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, likely cannot be changed or revoked. They are often used by trustors to hold gifts for beneficiaries. Instead of giving money or assets directly to the beneficiary, the trustor gives them to the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary. There are many reasons a person might do this— estate tax minimization, asset protection or business succession, to name a few. Why is it a good idea to name multiple fiduciaries? Anybody who has acted as power of attorney or health care agent for

another person or has been named in a will as personal representative (otherwise known as executor), guardian for minor children, or trustee of a trust, knows that it can be a daunting task. All those roles are collectively called “fiduciaries.” One way to alleviate this concern is to name multiple fiduciaries. In your power of attorney, for example, you could name two separate individuals as your attorney-infact, each of whom would be authorized to act individually and without the consent of the other. That way both people will have the power to act on your behalf if you become ill or incapacitated or simply need some help. They can share responsibilities and split up the work. This arrangement works very well when the fiduciaries know each other and get along well, so you should make your fiduciary selection carefully.

According to Alzheimer's Disease International, there were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and the estimated economic impact worldwide was $818 billion.

What can I do if one of my fiduciaries is disabled or gets dementia? It is always a good idea to talk to the people you name as fiduciaries to make sure they are willing to serve. Even if the fiduciaries say they would be willing to serve, it is impossible to know whether that will still be the case when the time comes. The person could be deceased, suffering from dementia or otherwise unavailable. If your fiduciary gets dementia, he or she may not know that their ability to handle your affairs is compromised and that it is time to step down. Therefore, it is best to name successor fiduciaries in the documents. If your primary choice is unable or unwilling to serve, the document will automatically allow for the successor fiduciary to step in. The documents should contain mechanisms for removal and replacement of fiduciaries and clear criteria for determining when a person is considered disabled or incapacitated. The “multiple fiduciary” arrangement explained in the last question works very well in this situation. A common arrangement for married couples with adult children is for a person to name his or her spouse along with one of the children on the power of attorney, each of whom can act individually and without the consent of the other. The couple will be able to act for each other as long as they are able, but as couples age and dementia becomes a concern, the named child has authority to act. This avoids the need for a formal resignation from the spouse or a determination of incapacity. The child can simply step in and help as needed. Most business professionals should review their estate plans with their attorney every five to 10 years, depending on how much has changed in their lives. Changes in the organization of someone’s business, marriage or family, or moving to another home can be relevant to your estate plan. And changes to the tax laws are another reason to review your plan.






he INC 5,000 is the who’s who of up and coming businesses. Despite the majority of businesses coming from large cities (San Francisco has 158 businesses on the list and New York City has 381 businesses), little old Fargo appeared on the list with nine different businesses. Let’s take a minute to celebrate these companies.

Toby Kommer, owner of Haga Kommer, an accounting firm in Fargo, came back from vacation a couple of months ago and as he was going through all the mundane activities of returning to work, he was surprised to find a package on his desk. In it was a nice little surprise. Haga Kommer made the INC 500 list. Six months ago, Kommer filled out the form and sent it off, not thinking much would come with it. However, his firm and nine other Fargo companies made this prestigious list. “It’s interesting because four years ago, we weren’t even on the radar screen,” said Kommer. “It’s interesting to see all the North Dakota businesses on there and the other thing that didn’t surprise me, but made me feel good, was that we looked at our

number and we looked at the numbers right before and after that, the numbers that were on there from Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the East Coast and to see little Fargo, North Dakota was pretty cool.” Making the list at number 333 with 1,482 percent growth over the last three years, validated all the hard work that Kommer and his team have put in over the last several years. The only Fargo company to come in above them was CoSchedule at number 153 with 2,771 percent growth. “When we started CoSchedule, we believed the sky was the limit for this company. This achievement is an honor, but to do it here, and with this passionate group of people, gives it so much more meaning,” said Garrett

Moon, CEO and Co-Founder, CoSchedule. “Believe me, many said it wasn’t possible from North Dakota, but there is a legacy of successful software companies here and we are proud to continue and cultivate that tradition. We’ve been saying that we’re one of the fastest growing startups for a while now, it’s finally nice to have more data behind our bravado.” So all this growth begs the question. How did they do it? “I wish it was this huge secret formula but it came down to two things for us,” said Kommer. “I talk about us being an acquirer of choice and an employer of choice.” Over the last several years, Haga Kommer approached many business owners who built their business 30-40 years ago and didn’t want to



Kommer’s advice for other business owners looking to grow “Find like minded people. The old saying is that steel sharpens steel. I like being around people who are growing their company. I actually prefer to be around people who are outside of our industry and growing their company because they don’t bring the same old clichés and the same old view of things. I like to spend time with those completely outside of what we’re doing and completely unrelated to our business. It gives you inspiration. Seeking out advice, whether it’s from someone in a similar situation or somebody in a completely different situation. I think sometimes people are afraid to lay it out there.” When looking at growth, there are oftentimes two ways to do it. Either grow your business organically and grind it out or look at a merger or acquisition. Kommer advises you to ask yourself some questions before diving in to which route to take. “I think it depends on what your long term strategy is. It’s always a combination of growth. It depends on what your strength is and what your strategy is. I think some people know that they’re best in a company of 10 people. They can start with a couple people and grow like that and that’s where they’re strengths are at. “Other people understand that they are better with bigger numbers and bigger organizations and directing traffic. That road, depending on the industry, a merger or acquisition might be the only way to go. I think the big thing is to either way have a plan. It just seems like so many businesses and business owners sometimes can’t articulate what is my plan. If I’m doing this acquisition, why exactly am I doing it? What am I getting out of it? Am I doing it just because it was an opportunity that somebody brought up and it ended up in my lap?”

see their business sold to a big company. They recognized that Kommer wanted to still honor their business. “When I started talking with them about our culture and what we were trying to do, I think they saw themselves in what we were doing and what they were initially doing,” said Kommer. “We’ve done five acquisitions in the last five years and most of those former owners are still with us.” The next ingredient in the not so secret formula is their employees. Haga Kommer invests and spends a lot of time on their culture. “I think the CPA industry, as a whole, is behind the culture movement that has been going on for the last 10 years…” said Kommer. “In the CPA world, there’s so many of the old school CPAs that still wear the 80-90 work week like a badge of honor and this next generation doesn’t want that. Not that they’re afraid to work hard, but they want more of a work-life balance. They want something different.” Obviously, all businesses want to grow, but few actually are able to accomplish this. However, Kommer is the driving



factor behind Haga Kommer’s growth. “I’ve always enjoyed growth. It seems like I get bored, quite frankly, if we’re status quo. I think most employees like to be part of a growing company. They like the fact that the company is being talked about. Everybody wants to have pride in where they work. … Quite frankly, everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and one of my strengths is taking companies that have plateaued out and bringing them to the next level.” Anytime you’re honored, whether personally or professionally, with an award, it is a good time to stop and reflect on how you got there and where you’re going. Despite all the growth, Kommer has no desire to slow down. “I sent an email out to our team saying that we don’t expect to slow down. We’ll probably shift gears a little bit. Acquisitions will slow down a little bit ... We’ll probably be a little more focused on the different services we offer and the internal growth piece. … But it’ll still be at a fast pace. I don’t have any interest of sitting back or coasting.”

By The Numbers

$206.2 billion

The revenue companies on the INC 5,000 amassed in 2017


SwanLeap, a logistics and transportation made the number one spot with an astonishing 75,661 percent growth since 2014.

$79.8 billion

The revenue companies on the INC 5,000 amassed in 2014. The total has increased by 158 percent

$163.1 million

The revenue companies from Fargo on the INC 5,000 amassed

Fargo Companies on the INC 5,000


PRx Performance

153rd 2,771% growth $4.8 million revenue

674th 742% growth $4.1 million revenue

Haga Kommer

Discovery Benefits

333rd 1,482% growth $3.6 million revenue

3,281st 119% growth $81.2 million revenue

3,291 119% growth $4.8 million revenue

674th 742% growth $4.1 million revenue

To be eligible for the INC 5,000, businesses must meet the following five qualifications: Haga Kommer 5195 45th St., S, Fargo

4,227th 80% growth $3.8 million revenue

Thomsen Homes 4,459th 74% growth $42.4 million revenue

Hatch Realty

BNG Team

How to enter

Myriad Mobile


2. 3. 4. 5.

Pedigree Technologies 5,000th 57% growth $14.3 million revenue

Be privately-owned, based in the United States, independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company) Have started earning revenue by March 31, 2014 Had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2014 Had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2017 Revenue in 2017 exceeds revenue in 2014

Applications are currently not open for the 2019 list but watch inc.com/inc5000/ apply for more information.



Getting Real About Business w/ Mark Puppe

What's Your Network Worth? the100,inc.


BY Mark Puppe

business owner was potently clear when he confessed, “I’ve overdosed on organizations.” He explained that he wasn’t necessarily complaining; the business renews memberships and his staff attends events, but his own participation rendered little value. He struggled to find value in the business cards, signup sheets and bulk-order trinkets his attendance rendered. He runs the business and has bigger issues to consider.




If you lead a business or organization and empathize with our overdosed neighbor, set your expertise, acumen, brand and ego aside for a few paragraphs. It’s only been going three years, but already fulfills a categorical yet previously unmet need for a venue where executive leaders’ ideas are free flowing, conceived and engaged; where skepticism is replaced with candor, confidence, and credible suggestions and connections. Kurt McSparron left a national small business organization in 2015 to create a nonprofit business organization. He named it the100,inc. and commits it exclusively to local executive-level networking and a mission of “connecting people to people, connecting people to projects and helping leaders lead.” Very sweet and heroic, Kurt, a new organization, no job and a mission statement. Now what?

When asked for the rationale, McSparron set the stage for a slam dunk discussion with a testimonial he received from member, Goldmark Commercial Real Estate president Jim Buus, who said, “Building professional relationships and networks is the fundamental basis of my business practice.” That’s very profound: “fundamental basis of my business practice.” If someone considers the building of networks fundamental— primary or supporting the very existence—to his business rather than part of his business, his networking activities and investments ought not be tainted by hollow connections or contaminated by frivolous discussions. Otherwise, isn’t that business fundamentally destined to fail? But how can McSparron, president of the100,inc., possibly keep this process fundamentally clean for members? He’s the executive and don’t executives want

KURT MCSPARRON Founded the100,inc. in 2015 to help other business owners grow their business.

Meet Mark Puppe Mark Puppe develops communication strategies and written content as owner of Master Manuscripts. He has advocated for small business professionally at the National Federation of Independent Business and Professional Insurance Agents of North Dakota, and does what he can to ensure entrepreneurs get the credit, protection and veneration they deserve.

and need to increase purchases in as many markets as possible and do so at the highest achievable price? Not McSparron. He’s endeavored to take this organization in exactly the opposite direction. the100,inc. limits membership to only 200 executive-level individuals from exclusively local private businesses or nonprofits, which cannot be a startup. Further, members must agree pay no more $1/day in dues. Huh? If the100,inc. commits to “helping leaders lead,” why are its standards fundamentally antithetical to growth? The selectivity liberates members, McSparron says, and for those of you still thinking like executives, he’s right on track. Executives deserve trustworthy ideas provided by fellow executive leaders who can help fortify their organization rather than be subjected to the trial-and-error sagas of a new structure or someone selling a

product in which they have no vested interest. Relationships among the100,inc. members do not end at “here’s my card.” Doug Johnson, president at Tri-County Insurance says sending upper management to the100,inc. events “has attached a name and face to real business issues and made those folks a ready resource for all that belong to the group.”

His contributed pieces introduce, showcase and personify the real, imminent, yet often overlooked and unknown responsibilities that small business owners experience, endure and strive to overcome.

Digging a little deeper, Ryan Keel founded CollegeSmart to help clients prepare for the crippling costs of college tuition. Keel identified a need, created a service and has been attracting clients left and right for three years, but wants to do what every executive must: avoid learning the hard way. “I’ve found (the100,inc.) extremely valuable. Being a new small business comes with challenges. Most, if not all, of which others in the100,inc. have already faced. It's been FARGOINC.COM


incredibly helpful being able to hear advice on how to handle my current problems...and on what I will be facing as my business grows,” Keel says. FF Fisher Sales and Leasing has been in business over 30 years and president Todd Fisher echoes Keel because “No matter the diversity of what you do, there are common concerns and issues we can all share and learn from each other.” The challenges are perpetual, but the100,inc. removes the hot-potato schedules all executives dread. Fisher also says, “It has been fun to learn about what other companies do as a business that may have never happened without the100,inc.” Executives enjoy a business meeting? That alone is noteworthy. Our overdosed friend didn’t like sales pitches at meetings and if you’re an executive, do you? Todd Fuchs, vice president of Payroll Express, appreciates the authenticity. “I leave every (the100,inc.) meeting with at least two or three nuggets of knowledge without ever feeling like someone is trying to sell me something,” he says. Keel, Fisher, Fuchs and their fellow members have discovered, thrive upon and enjoy their takeaways from organization participation, but it took McSparron leaving his job and starting the100,inc. to provide them. So far so good, but how does the100,inc. differ from some executives crossing paths at another event? Plus, how can the100,inc. actually influence the business community? McSparron says that all executives must develop their own networks and relationships, but the100,inc. members are leaps and bounds ahead because they know exactly whom to call and the person answering their call will be the executive they want to reach rather than the “can I take a message?” who would otherwise answer. That’s how, as the mission states, the100,inc. helps “connect people to people.” We now see McSparron sailing over my head for that previously mentioned slam dunk, but he makes a pass. Sagency president Mike Meagher shatters the backboard when he says, “It was with the connections we made with the100,inc. and Kurt McSparron that we met Brian Rinke, who ultimately became an executive coach and director on our team at Sagency. Kurt is doing some great things in the business community by connecting leaders in a different way.”

Meagher also says, “(t)he people in (the100,inc.) ask for guidance, offer candid feedback and enjoy seeing others succeed.” If you think like an executive, Meagher’s comment dropped your jaw to the floor and sent your appreciation for the100,inc.’s framework gleefully through the roof. Why? Because, if you’re the executive, you cut the checks. If you’re the executive networking with nonexecutives, your contacts measure success by how deep they get into your pockets. However, Meagher lauds the100,inc. as a platform for meeting people who facilitate executives’ prosperity. That’s unique to the point of abnormal and a clue for every executive to consider. To commemorate its second year of existence, the100,inc. hosted the Executive Expo in January and McSparron reports a lofty 200 executives having attended. During his keynote address, PRACS founder Dr. Jim Carlson explained, with forthright flare, the importance of leading one’s business according to one’s own standards and the need for candid communication among executives. He credits the100,inc. for enabling executives to operate with “unfiltered leadership”—words adopted as the theme for Executive Expo 2019 to be held in January. Registration is open to the public, but if your business wants a booth, sorry. Your neighbors bought them out in February. the100,inc. also hosts the very easy to remember Third Wednesday Executive Lunches each month. Coiya Tompkins of the nonprofit Jeremiah Program says these open socials “afford more ability to dialogue and really dive into issues. The environment… provides a ‘safe place’ to dialogue with small business owners who understand and identify with real-world situations.” That’s the environment the overdosed business owner, with whom so many executives empathize, wanted but could not find. In the midst of all this, let’s not forget that every single executive has a natural instinct for identifying and capitalizing on opportunities whereas the100,inc. is a nonprofit networking tool, so it cannot nor does it take credit for ultimate results or relations between or among members.

Upcoming the100,inc. Events Right Person. Right Seat. There IS a Process. Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Sure, you’ve heard “get the right people in the right seats.” But many business leaders don’t know what that actually means. Everybody knows the mantra, but most don’t know how to make it happen. The truth is, there’s a simple process for making sure you hire the right people on your bus and jettison the wrong ones at the next rest stop.

Get a Grip on Your Business 2.0 w/EOS author Tom Bouwer Tuesday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Tom Bouwer, author of "What the Heck is EOS?," has presented to hundreds of audiences, both domestic and international, over the last ten years. His high-energy, high-engagement style keeps people fully absorbed until the last minute. He facilitates a tight session, with ample time for Q&A.

the100,inc. the100.online

the100,inc. does limit the members, but it’s opened the gates to the trustworthy relationships and candid communication executives yearn. McSparron and the100,inc. members opened up and shared some invaluable ideas here that every executive can use and did not charge the $1/day dues. McSparron says few seats remain. Good luck. FARGOINC.COM


Advocacy Explained & An Election Preview

By Craig Whitney | Craig Whitney is the president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.


s we head into another year at The Chamber, our advocacy efforts will only be expanded upon from last year. As the upcoming year has the November 6 general election with contested races on both sides of the river from federal to local races, and spring will bring both North Dakota and Minnesota’s legislative sessions, you can be sure to see The Chamber speaking on behalf of its members on important issues. The Chamber dedicates much of its attention in a wide variety of ways to advocacy. Advocacy, by definition, is the activities in which a group engage in with the aim to influence decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions. At The Chamber, this is seen through the participation of our Public Policy, Agribusiness and Military Affairs committees, the stances taken on many issues, election education and encouragement of voter participation. Our Agribusiness committee represents a collective voice of business leaders to represent agriculture as a key industry in the metro. The Military Affairs committee aims to foster a community of support for the men and women of our military and the missions they carry out on our behalf. Both of these committees engage in advocacy efforts both locally and federally. In the past year, the Agribusiness committee brought in both North Dakota U.S. Senators for agriculture roundtables where the committee voiced agriculture concerns and got a first hand updates on key legislation such as the farm bill. The Military Affairs Committee also had interaction with North



Dakota’s Congressional Delegation through taking representatives of the group to Washington D.C. to attend the North Dakota Military and Congressional Reception. The group was also briefed from National Guard Association of the U.S. President, retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson. These committees have engaged in various other advocacy efforts throughout the year as well. One of the major tasks of the Public Policy committee is to construct a Policy Guide that includes helpful information regarding elected officials, legislative sessions and The Chamber’s policy agenda. We will continue our strong effort for the Diversion as one of our top priorities. Addressing the workforce shortage and retention of students, education will also be of high importance. Specifically, within education, the discussions of NDSCS Career Academy. As before, we commend the Fargo City Commission for putting together a committee to discuss the very complex discussion that was raised before the last election on the elimination of special assessments. We were pleased that we were able to nominate Jeff Volk, who was ultimately chosen to serve on this taskforce. Our Policy Guide will include these issues and more to address: Energy and Natural resources, Education, Training and Workforce Development, Health Care, Regulatory, Economic Development and Tax Policy, Flood Protection, Planning, Transportation and Infrastructure, Residential/Commercial Development and emerging Opportunities for Commerce. These policy issues will serve as our legislative agenda come session this spring. The Chamber will be attentive to both the

North Dakota and Minnesota legislative sessions as they get rolling on January 3, 2019 and January 8, 2019, respectively. Before jumping into session, the November 6 general election is garnering the attention of engaged citizens. The Chamber encourages voter participation. You can early vote or absentee vote in both MN and ND or go to the polls on election day, November 6! Minnesota residents will need to register to vote. Visit the Secretary of State’s website for ND and MN for more specific information regarding voting locations and times as well as necessary means of personal identification. In an effort to help educate the public on the various candidates vying for limited seats, The Chamber’s advocacy efforts are especially strong at this time. This fall, The Chamber looks forward to hosting a Cracker Barrel event on October 18 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. A “cracker-barrel” is a traditional expression used to describe a habitual discussion among a common group or community. At this event, candidates will rotate through tables of community members so that attendees have 5-7 minutes to meet with multiple candidates. Visit our website for more information and to register for this event. Registration is free, but required. For those looking to see more about the local candidates on both sides of the river, we will be highlighting them on our website. Here, each candidate has the opportunity to share their issue of priority. There are several contested races on both sides of the river across federal and local campaigns. In North Dakota, the whole state, along with much of the nation, is watching as there is a highly contested race for the Senate with incumbent Senator Heitkamp (D.) being challenged by Representative Cramer (R.). With Cramer leaving his house seat open, there is a contested race between Kelly Armstrong (R.) and Mac Schneider (D.). In addition, the state will have names on the ballot for Secretary of State, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner and Tax Commissioner. Looking locally, there are six districts in the area, all with contested seats for the senate

and house, they are Districts 11, 13, 21, 27, 41 and 45. In the Cass County Commission, District 2 and District 4 both have elections but have unopposed candidates. In Minnesota, there is a contested race for a new Governor, as well as both Senate seats up for grabs. In Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, where Moorhead falls, there will be a contested election for the House of Representative’s seat. There will also be contested races for numerous other state seats, the State Legislature, City Mayor, City Commission and Clay County Commission. Visit our website to find a complete listing of all of the candidates in the aforementioned races. In addition to candidates, there will also be four measures on the North Dakota statewide ballot, and one additional on the Fargo city ballot. The four ND statewide ballot measures are Measure 1: Pertaining to the Transparency of Funding Sources, Lobbyists, Conflicts of Interest, and the Establishment of an Ethics Commission, Measure 2: Pertaining to the Elections in Which a Qualified Elector May Vote, Measure 3: Pertaining to the Legalization of Marijuana, Measure 4: Pertaining to the Established Personalized Vehicle Plates for Volunteer Emergency Responders. The Fargo city ballot initiate is on approval voting. More information can be found on our website pertaining to each of these measures, and any stances taken by The Chamber. The Chamber is looking forward to another great year of advocacy, and we hope to see you at some of our events and engaged in the upcoming election. Watch our website and social media to hear more about upcoming events, our stances on issues and reminders about the election. All aboard!

FMWF Chamber of Commerce FMWFChamber.com 202 1st Ave. N, Moorhead

Smalli-what? Saying “Yes, and” to problem solving BY Dayna Del Val, The Arts Partnership


n August, The Arts Partnership held our annual board retreat. This daylong event is always an engaging day of getting to know each other better, as well as a chance to dream about and strategize the next year of work. But this year, we did something a little different. This year, we dreamed big by planning small. This year, we brought in Dave Viotti, founder of Smallify, based in Silicon Valley. I had worked with Dave last year when I attended the Presidio Institute Cross Sector Leadership Boot Camp in San Francisco. I loved the little bit of time I spent with the concepts of Smallify there and knew that working with Dave and our board would activate our organization in a new and exciting way.

Dayna Del Val with Smallify Founder Dave Viotti.

When I called Dave to see if he would consider coming all the way to Fargo, he responded

that as a teenager, he had spent time in Pick City, ND, at his aunt and uncle’s and would love to make his way back to the state. Small world! Dave, TAP board chair Ellen Shafer and I started thinking about what we wanted the day to look like. One focus this year is about better engaging the business sector in supporting and utilizing the arts to improve their, and our!, bottom lines. You know how sometimes you have to hear something approximately 65 times before it resonates with you? Dave said something so simple it’s almost embarrassing that I needed to hear it from him to understand it in such a direct way. He said, “The business sector is the customer for the purposes of our work.” That got me thinking about customer service. How is The Arts Partnership



treating our customers? Are we making them feel important? Are we asking them what they want and need and then really listening and responding based on what we have heard? Are we taking them versions of what we are developing and getting feedback throughout the process? Or are we telling them what they *need* based on our own ideas? Are we creating products that we think will serve them without really working with them in the development? Have we created a compelling reason for them to invest in our products, or do we expect them to support us simply because “it’s the right thing to do?” I’m as guilty as many other developers in thinking that I know what businesses need and that I’m speaking a language they understand. But have I really asked and worked through those needs with my customers?


WISDOM JULIE PETERSON KLEIN EVP/Chief Culture Officer Bell Bank 70


We invited 40 business leaders to join us for a 90-minute working breakfast session with the simple starting challenge of, “What might we create for the business community that provides reciprocal benefits for their investment in the arts?” We had two of our three mayors, staff from the Governor’s office, leadership from business, higher education, government staff, nonprofits and foundations and more in attendance. It was an electric morning because we were all invested in hearing from and identifying the unmet needs of the customer, determining how to drill down to the right problem and then

how we might reframe the challenge question to meet the customers’ needs. Perhaps that sounds like other seminars, meetings and workshops you have attended, but have those previous experiences also incorporated the core tenants of improvisation? Have you had to think about how to simply say, “Yes, and…” to an idea?

The Board and staff of The Arts Partnership spent time creating various solutions to the points raised by the business community.

For example, let’s design the perfect toaster. You say, “It has programmed settings that know how each member of the household likes their toast.”

“It takes all 1,100 people to create a culture. It’s every team member and how we treat each other. The little things matter most. We’re very intentional and focused in carrying out our values. My personal values align with the company’s values, so I get to be myself 24/7/365 days a year, and that’s priceless.”

In 90 minutes, The Arts Partnership board and staff really listened to what our customer representatives said they needed. Then we worked together to “solve” some opportunities with “Yes, and…” Then we sent the business sector on their way and got to work. The rest of the day was about responding to the needs of our customers with Smallify’s Five Tools of Rapid Innovation. I answer, “Yes, and it automatically starts the toaster on a timer so that my toast is ready when I come in to the kitchen.” “Yes, and it perfectly warms up the peanut butter so that it spreads smoothly every time,” you add. “Yes, and it has a calorie counter that syncs with your devices to immediately add what you have eaten to your programs,” I continue. “Yes, and it tells you something good about yourself when you remove the toast so that you start the day feeling happy,” you comment. And so on.

The point is, in another setting, someone could pitch the first idea of individualized programs on a toaster, and a colleague could say, “Boy, that’s going to be expensive.” Or, “But toast is largely toast and people should just eat what they get.” Or “But what if you live by yourself?” Dave Viotti says, “The most powerful word in innovation is ‘yes.’ Saying yes removes the blockers that can stifle innovative thinking. It creates a safe space for everyone to contribute solutions to our challenge without fear or judgment. ‘Yes’ allows you to get into a creative space and mindset to generate a wide range of possible solutions to our challenge.“

We drew, acted out and built versions of what we think will serve the challenge set before us at the start of the day. Now we’re taking these early solution drafts to many of the leaders who were at the breakfast to receive more feedback and go back to work again. By working collaboratively, we can provide real solutions to address the problems our customers identified that morning. So much good came from the day, but most importantly, we were there to listen, to explore and to say, “Yes, and…” I can’t wait to see where we all go from here.


WISDOM MARK J. LINDQUIST Motivational Speaker and Entertainer

book recommendation "Where will you be 5 years from today?" By Dan Zadra



OCTOBER 2 The 2018 Midterms and Beyond: A Presidential Speechwriter’s Perspective 7:30 to 9 a.m.

EVERY WEDNESDAY 1 Million Cups 9:15 to 10:15 a.m.

Join the vibrant entrepreneurial community of Fargo-Moorhead and Emerging Prairie by participating in an event filled with guest speakers, plenty of coffee, ideas and excellent networking opportunities. 1millioncups.com/fargo The Stage at Island Park 333 4th St. S, Fargo


Holiday Inn Fargo 3803 13th Ave. S, Fargo

• Chamber Members: $30 in advance | $35 at the door

• Non-Members: $40 in advance | $45 at the door

OCTOBER 11 Business After Hours

6 p.m.- to 9 p.m.

8 a.m.

Fourteen speakers, five minutes each and slides rotate every 15 seconds. Teach us something, but make it quick. If you’re an HR professional, a CEO, a technologist, a community leader – and you’ve got something to say about talent, culture or technology – Disrupt is the place. Speakers include Jessica Shawn, Teresa Sayler, Diane Jones, Heather Ostrowski and Jessica Engel Tvedten.

Hosted by Spotlight Media, Fargo INC!’s parent company, Business After Hours is widely recognized as the region’s most effective networking opportunity. It creates and promotes business opportunities for everyone involved. The social atmosphere allows individuals to network with industry leaders, trade-show vendors and representatives of other organizations.


Holiday Inn Fargo 3803 13th Ave. S, Fargo

• Tickets are $25



DisruptHR Fargo 2018

Plains Art Museum 704 1st Ave. N, Fargo


John McConnell, longtime speechwriter to President George W. Bush, will join the Chamber to offer his perspective on the midterm elections and the upcoming presidential campaign, as well as share some of his experiences in politics and government, at this Eggs and Issues.


OCTOBER 9 Business Builders Workshops - Federal Tax Cuts & Jobs Act 8 to 9:30 a.m.

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law as the biggest tax law change in 30 years. Over 95 percent of the law goes into effect in 2018. Cheri A. Haarstick, CPA, Fiebiger, Swanson, West & Co., will discuss a summary of the changes and the impact they may have on you and your business. Business Builders Workshops are monthly workshops offered by the Small Business Administration and its resource partners. For more information, contact Sherri Komrosky at 701-239-5658 or at sherri.komrosky@sba.gov. Find tickets on eventbrite.com. NDSU Research & Technology Park 1854 NDSU Research Circle N, Fargo

OCTOBER 10 Stress Management: Sleep, Eat, Move, Repeat 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

We all have stress from many sources. The physical stress of work or exercise. The emotional stress of an ever-growing demand on your time form both your work and family. Dr. Chris Dockter will share how to maximize your body’s ability to handle the three foundational pillars to stress: sleep, eating and movement. Courtyard by Marriott, Moorhead 1080 28th Ave. S, Moorhead

• Chamber Members: $30 per person in advance | $35 at the door • Non-Members: $40 in advance | $45 at the door


"77 percent of adults suffer from symptoms of uncontrolled chronic stress, which effects the body’s immune system, heart and mental health. Take time to care for your employees and yourself and learn to manage chronic stress and boost your mental health, work and relationships." - Rachel Asleson, co-owner of Reach Partners * Reach Partners helps organizations hold stand-out events and manage successful projects. reachpartnersinc.com

OCTOBER 17 Right Person. Right Seat. There IS a Process.



Build Your Circle: Empower

Cracker Barrel

7 to 8:30 p.m.

3:30 to 5 p.m.

Sure, you’ve heard “get the right people in the right seats.” But many business leaders don’t know what that actually means. Everybody knows the mantra, but most don’t know how to make it happen. The truth is, there’s a simple process for making sure you hire the right people on your bus and jettison the wrong ones at the next rest stop. This workshop will center on the book Traction.

Build Your Circle is a small group limited to just 15 women. These women come from a variety of career fields with the goal of growing their businesses, their relationships, and themselves by growing their circle of women who want to do the same. The night will include a photography session that doesn’t just take a photo but teaches you how to feel and look confident, comfortable, authentic, and empowered in front of the camera.

The Chamber’s Cracker Barrel initiates or inspires routine conversations between our policymakers and business leaders. The event will kick off with brief welcome remarks before candidates begin meeting with small groups for 5 to 7 minutes. Candidates will continue circulating among the groups. Candidates running for Cass and Clay County Commissions, Cass and Clay County legislative districts and Moorhead City Council, will be invited to participate.



11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Avalon Events Center 2525 9th Ave. S, Fargo

Tonya Kay Photography 405 Main Ave. W. #4f, West Fargo

fmwfchamber.com Hjemkomst Center Auditorium 202 First Ave. N, Moorhead

• This event is free, but registration is required.



OCTOBER 19 Leading From The Middle 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Presented by Hatch Coaching, everyone has a voice. Everyone has influence. Leading from the middle is a delicate balance of giving and taking - and it’s the seat most of us find ourselves in. If you’re at the top of your flow chart, then learning how to help those in your charge is essential. If you’re in the middle, then learning to master this often difficult leadership position is imperative for your growth and those you have the opportunity to impact. hatchcoaching.com Fargo Theatre 314 Broadway N, Fargo

OCTOBER 23 Get a Grip on Your Business 2.0 with EOS author Tom Bouwer


8 a.m. -to 3 p.m.

Tom Bouwer, author of "What the Heck is EOS?," has presented to hundreds of audiences, both domestic and international, over the last ten years. His high-energy, high-engagement style keeps people fully absorbed until the last minute. He facilitates a tight session, with ample time for Q&A. the100.online Avalon Events Center 2525 9th Ave. S, Fargo

• Tickets are $25

Navigating the Leadership Journey 3:30 to 5 p.m. and social 5 to 6 p.m.

A native southerner, Susan Jarvis moved to Fargo in 2010 and took on anything bigger than she’d ever done in her career. At this session, she will share that journey. Learn how she took risks and met challenges along the way, to ultimately execute on the project of her career – being a part of building, staffing and operationalizing the new $500 million Sanford Medical Center. fmchamber.com DoubleTree by Hilton & West Fargo Conference Center 825 E Beaton Dr., West Fargo

OCTOBER 24 Possibility Symposium on Social Business 7 to 9 p.m.

Join the Bush Foundation and Emerging Prairie for the third Possibility Symposium on Social Business. Social entrepreneurs are applying business models and strategies to solve unique social challenges in our communities. Each of their invited speakers has an idea in action in their community. Our hope is to offer them a platform to share their work and ideas with each other and community leaders. eventbrite.com Sidestreet - Downtown Venue (2nd Floor) 404 4th Ave. N, Fargo

NOVEMBER 13 How to Create Superconnected Digital Experiences 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The demands of digital marketing never end. Our time and resources are consumed with feeding and maintaining our digital channels, juggling new projects, keeping ahead of the competition, analyzing our efforts, and developing skills we definitely didn’t learn in college. This session will outline actionable solutions to these gaps, and help you create digital experiences that are more connected, intuitive and audience-focused. fmchamber.com Hilton Garden Inn Fargo 4351 17th Ave. S., Fargo

• Chamber Members: $30 per person in advance | $35 at the door

• Non-Members: $40 in advance | $45 at the door

NOVEMBER 14 Voices of Vision 2018 Noon to 1:30 p.m.

One of the most recognizable professional athletes in the world, Danica Patrick has succeeded in the male-dominated world of professional motorsports. As she hits the brakes on her racing career, it’s full speed ahead now for her entrepreneurial endeavors. At this year’s Voices of Vision, hear her first-hand account of her professional highlights and advice as she speaks on pushing yourself to the limits and following your dreams. fmchamber.com Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd St. SW, Fargo