Page 1

Breaking Into Finance

10 Questions With John Machacek: Elinor Coatings

Small Business Financing Basics




octobeR 2021


Business Development


COOPER BIERSCHEID Director of Engineering and Founder of Protosthetics

Did you know Fargo is at the center of


// OCTOBER 2021




Sponsored Content: Education is Key to Keep Ahead of Fraud


Sponsored Content: Hand-inHand in Life


Sponsored Content: Could a Downtown Fargo Office Be Your Competitive Advantage?


Did You Know Fargo is at the Center of the 3D Printing World?


Breaking Into Finance


Doing Good


The Power of Believing United


Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Bridge Bash


Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Shop-With-A-Cop


Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: The Freez


Take a Moment to Read This Article to Understand Why Making Good Fiduciary Designations Takes Real Time and Deep Thought


10 Questions With John Machacek: Elinor Coatings


North Dakota Offers Fun for Everyone


Small Business Financing Basics


Ladyboss of the Month: Grace Heinen


Benefiting From a Lockdown: How Local Entrepreneurs Found a Silver Lining in the Midst of Quarantine


Workplace Culture Encourages Employee Retention


Business Events Calendar







All our stories in one place

Business events calendar

Read all the past issues

Extra video content

E d i t o r ’s n o t e

The Future is Here


hen I first heard of 3D printing in the mid 2000's, the whole thing sounded far fetched to my teenage brain. "This is going to be a fad," I thought. "What could you even use this for," I told my mother. It turns out I was dead wrong. 3D printing is only on the rise and it turns out, you can use it for an almost infinite number of things. Honestly, I'm not surprised I was wrong. I've been wrong about a lot of things in

my life. What I am surprised about is the fact that the largest Largest US Manufacturer of Desktop 3D Printers is located in Fargo, ND, not in Silicon Valley, but right in our town. Truly incredible.

Brady Drake Fargo INC! Editor

This month's cover story takes a look at one of the most unique, innovative and promising businesses in our region. The things they are working on are mind blowing!

Brady Drake, Fargo INC! Editor



Lead Content & Public Relations Strategist


Dakota Business Lending



Moore Holding Company

FM Area Foundation

We can only learn when we listen. And we can only truly listen when we are open to the thoughts and perspectives of others, especially those with whom we disagree.

November is the beginning of the giving season for many of us. Here at the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation, we are kicking off our annual Caring Catalog which is an online giving event for nearly 100 local charities who are working on year end projects to fulfill their very important missions. This year’s event runs from November 29 to December 13. In honor of our 61st year and $61 million granted to the community since our inception and thanks to some amazing friends and supporters, we will give away $61,000 additional dollars during the twoweek event. To learn more and participate, contact the FM Area Foundation today or visit and click on Caring Catalog! I hope you can help!



United Way of Cass-Clay

What if we could prevent homelessness from ever happening in our community? What if the kids on the brink of homelessness today never had to experience the trauma of not knowing where they are going to sleep at night? Instead of trying to solve a problem that exists, United Way is working to prevent the problem from ever happening in the first place – that’s the type of innovation I see every day at United Way and we want our community to see, too. Together with our nonprofit partners, we set a goal to prevent homelessness by 90% by 2023 – the future of our community is in our hands, and United Way has created an easy way for each of us to play a role. Join us for LIVE UNITED Give United Day on October 15. All donations up to $50,000 will be matched thanks to support from local companies. When you give, you help provide a warm, stable home for local families and are a part of preventing homelessness for families in our community. Learn more at



“Habits are the compound interest of selfimprovement.” In his book “Atomic Habits”, James Clear discusses the incredible power that developing habits to make you 1% better every day can make on your overall performance, productivity, and success. While these improvements may not seem noticeable on a daily basis, they can have a tremendous impact in your life long-term. According to Clear, those who work to get 1% better each day for one year will end up 37% better overtime, whereas those who allow themselves to get 1% worse through bad habits can decline to nearly zero after a full year has passed. We invite you to join our team in developing habits to make you better…1% at a time.

Of course, the expectation is that there is good faith on all sides of this exchange. That’s the root of positive relationships – the give and take of constructive conversation, negotiation or debate. However, we know that good faith is not always present. Demagoguery, passion, hyperbole and outright deception poison communication by damaging the good faith people naturally expect and rely on. Too much of this and you get cynicism and mistrust. Each of us gets to decide every day whether to lead with cynicism and manipulation, or honor, honesty and empathy.





Emerging Prairie

The Executives Club of Fargo - Moorhead

Greater FM Economic Development Corporation

FMWF Chamber of Commerce

Director of Ecosystem

This is an invitation. Emerging Prairie believes that entrepreneurs need access to other entrepreneurs, access to customers and access to capital. But, maybe most importantly, entrepreneurs need to be celebrated. That's why every Wednesday morning at 8 through November 17, we hear from a couple entrepreneurs to hear their stories of why they decided to risk it all to pursue their dream. So come gather with us as we celebrate the people who are making our community a better place to live. We'll have the coffee hot and ready to go. Learn more at emergingprairie. com/startupbrew-fargo.

Founder and Director

The Executives’ Club of Fargo-Moorhead is proud to facilitate six Signature Programs, structured for the business, leadership and personal growth of our Members. The sixth (and possibly most-valuable of these) is our Executive Group Mentorship Program, slated for kick-off January 12, 2022. This series will encapsulate my favorite or our five core values: LEARN BY TEACHING. We trust the adage: There are 2 types of best practices, those we learn from others, and those we learn the hard way. Every day, Members of The Executives’ Club contribute to the depth of knowledge and the breadth of experience of our circle. We accept teaching as an integral responsibility of managing. If we’re not teaching, we’re not really leading. If this sounds interesting to you, please contact me.

Chief Innovation Officer

I’m taking a moment to plug our (Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation) virtual community tour The online tour was built to be an asset for our regional companies and partner’s marketing efforts. The tour is intended to support local companies’ recruitment efforts as well as realtors, college admissions and many other partners. Within six main categories and many sub-categories, there are scenes that each provide a 360-degree picture of various parts of our regional community. In each scene, there are several hotspots that contain photo galleries, videos or embedded websites. The combination of 360-degree scenes and hotspots will provide a clear picture of what the region is like and what it offers. And a big shout out to Be More Colorful who helped create the virtual product for us!

President and CEO

It is no surprise that our region's workforce is by far the number one challenge we are facing. Our community, stakeholders, organizations and diverse leaders must continue to collaborate and bring representation and innovative solutions to the table. As we look forward to the next year, talent and workforce will continue to be a major focus of The Chamber. There are many vital initiatives and talent pipelines that are already underway and advancing our community, thanks to the disruptive will of many. To have a vibrant and robust economy, we must continue to educate, train, attract and retain talent in every facet of our industry-divers landscape. We are proud to be able to lift up our local businesses in publications like Spotlight's Fargo INC and The Chamber's Bridge. I also encourage you to learn more about Ignite FMWF, The Chamber's major and most recent workforce initiative. Ignite is a comprehensive and systematic approach to developing regional workforce infrastructure, and is built for businesses of all shapes and sizes.



OCTOBER 2021 Volume 6 Issue 10

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

Publisher EDITORIAL Editorial Team Lead

Mike Dragosavich Brady Drake

Graphic Designer

Kim Cowles

Creative Strategist

Josiah Kopp

Contract Photographer Contributors

Jeremy Albright Shontarius D. Aikens, Brandi Malarkey, F. John Williams III, John Machacek, James Leiman, Paul Smith, McKenzie Schwark, Josh Marineau

INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager

Nick Schommer

Business Development Associate

Kellen Feeney

Videographers Graphic Designer ADVERTISING VP of Business Development Sales Representatives

Client Relations Client Relations Manager Marketing Designer ADMINISTRATION VP of Human Resources Account Strategist DISTRIBUTION Delivery

Tommy Uhlir, Robert Whiteside Ben Buchanan Paul Hoefer Al Anderson Zach Willis Jenny Johnson Christy German Colleen Dreyer Cassie Wiste John Stuber

Fargo INC! is published by Spotlight LLC, Copyright 2020 Fargo INC! & All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Fargo INC!, and Spotlight LLC, is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such information. Spotlight LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.

Spotlight LLC 4609 33rd Ave S Suite #304 Fargo, ND 58104 ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)


EDUCATION IS KEY TO KEEP AHEAD OF FRAUD Business fraud is as old as business, but it’s constantly evolving and taking new forms. Especially over the past year and a half, with many workers first shifting to their homes and now returning to the office, security gaps and changes in behavior have emerged that fraudsters are able to turn to their advantage. Business owners need to know what to watch for and how to be prepared. Often the best defense is simple – stop, think, and ask questions when something unusual comes up. Here are some things to think about:

Keep a sharp eye out for email compromise fraud

During the pandemic, cases of business email compromise (BEC) soared. In BEC, a criminal impersonates a coworker or partner and requests a payment to an account. They may pretend to be a CEO, salesperson, or banker, or may act as a regular employee and ask HR to change their direct deposit. Unlike “spoofed” emails, where the sender address is recognizably fake, today’s BEC often comes from a real hacked account. Keep passwords secure and follow up every email request for funds with a call or inperson verification.

Beware of ransomware

Ransomware is also on the rise. Major attacks make the news, but small companies are a prime target regardless of industry. Ransomware is sold as a package to cybercriminals, so it is no longer the domain of a few skilled hackers. It infiltrates a system, often via an email link, and encrypts files in the background. A victim’s first sign will often come too late – a locked screen demanding payment in exchange for decrypting the data. The best defense: Educated employees who don’t click on strange files and links, internet security software, and robust data backups. A great resource is

Cover your back with backups, tests, checks, and software

Start with internet security software and regular data backups, then go a step further with testing: Test your

data backup to make sure it is copying all expected files, and practice accessing and using the backup. Make sure the backup can’t be infected from the network. Check bank accounts daily for unusual activity. You might even consider testing employees with fake phishing emails to see who clicks. This is a chance to reinforce key lessons and drive home risks.

Check your insurance policies

Active defenses and education are crucial, but its also important for businesses to mitigate risk. Check your insurance policy to confirm it covers cybercrime, fraud, and ransomware attacks. Some companies provide assistance in the event of fraud. Insurance brokers and business advisors can help you identify the best level of coverage for you. It can be the difference between a slight disruption and being down for weeks – or maybe even out of business.

Employee education is the key to blocking fraud

It can’t be stated enough: People are most often the conduit through which fraud hits a company. Make sure all employees are trained. Too often leaders are taught about the risks, but don’t deliver the message effectively to those who need it. Make cyber defense a priority, teach it consistently, and revisit it often.

Alerus has been advising firms on fraud and keeping their financial information secure for decades, from the days of keeping paper checks secure to helping them understand the risks we face today. We offer services like Positive Pay to cut down on check fraud, and we offer presentations and webinars on fraud prevention to our customers and their employees to help make good habits second nature. Talk to your Alerus business advisor to learn more. The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Alerus does not provide legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Alerus Financial, N.A. is member FDIC.


ROBERT - Videography

AL - Sales ZACH - Sales

JENNY - Client Relations TOMMY - Videography

BEN - Design

PAUL - Sales CHRISTY - Design

CASSIE - Admin

JOSIAH - Editorial

KIM - Design

JOHN - Distribution COLLEEN - HR & Operations

NICK - Digital Services KELLEN - Digital Services

JEREMY - Photography

BRADY - Editorial

“We have been working with SWL for 8 years. They help us with HR practices, contracts, and other legal issues that come up. I love how progressive and proactive they are. They have always felt like a partner and not just a law firm we call when we need something.” MIKE DRAGOSAVICH

Founder, Spotlight


It is said a lot, but the arts are so important in our community. They add a level of vibrancy and identity for everyone living in the Fargo-Moorhead area and our local musicians play a huge part in that. In this issue, meet just a couple of the local artists you've never heard of but should.

This is an extremely exciting time for NDSU basketball. Last season marked the first time since 2008-2009 that both the men's and women put together a winning record. Both squads are returning the majority of their rosters from last season's successful campaigns, meaning expectations at the SHAC are sky high for 2021.

October is here–and with it so many nostalgic aromas of harvest and spice filling the air. From new kitchen spaces to cozy coffee nooks, to preparing your home for the fall season, this issue is all about what makes the home such a special place during the autumn season.

HAND-IN-HAND IN LIFE The Yoneys Take the Same Approach to Plan Their Final Chapters


People often refrain from preplanning their funeral simply because it’s an intimidating topic. Terry and Bonnie Yoney once felt that way, but now have a new outlook. They didn’t want their funerals to be a burden on their loved ones or on each other: “We truly wanted our wishes to be known when we pass, and that may sound a bit selfish, but it’s not. It shows consideration of others. It’s better for our two daughters’ heads and hearts because it will allow them to grieve in their own way without having to worry about all of the details.”

The two have decided to be cremated and have chosen their plot at First Lutheran Church Columbarium in Fargo. Their urns and cover stones are already engraved.

The Yoneys have known John and the staff at Hanson-Runsvold for many years and have the utmost respect for them, saying “They are community-focused and we like supporting people who approach business that way. Our meeting with John was easy and comfortable. He was a very good listener, and we knew he had the experience to guide us in the right direction.”

Although they were intimidated at first, it didn’t take long for Terry and Bonnie to realize just how easy the process was, stating “We didn’t expect it to be so easy and comfortable to talk about these arrangements and do the planning. They know the work they do can be hard to discuss, but they have a way of making the conversation flow. It’s light, not heavy, and when celebrating a life, that’s how it should be.”


When asked what advice they would give to someone who is thinking about pre-planning, the Yoney’s said they would tell them to stop putting it off, “Our advice to people would be not to put off making these decisions. We have made our wills and living wills, so this seemed to be a natural next step.”

Bonnie was a music teacher and Terry spent most of his career in the car business. He then became administrator at First Lutheran Church. They both officially retired in 2015 but have since come out of retirement to help as needed. They find comfort in knowing that these arrangements have been made: “Once we retire again, we plan to travel as much as possible. Knowing that, it’s a very good feeling to have these arrangements and plans put in writing and filed with the funeral home.” To find out how you can start the preplanning process, visit or call (701)232-3222.

Could a Downtown Fargo Office Be Your Competitive Advantage?


he headlines can be dizzying… hybrid work, back to the office, remote (or resign!), extreme competition for talent, oh my! There is simply no singular trend to follow; no one-size-fits-all office design. It has never been more crucial to provide a working environment that uniquely fits your business and gives your team members peace of mind.




Office space needs are changing in the wake of the pandemic. Maybe your company outgrew its office space while your team worked remotely, or maybe you need more space between team members. Perhaps your space needs to be more flexible to accommodate when and where employees like to get work done.

Another key factor? Ensuring your office is a more attractive place to work than your team members’ homes. Consider the advantages of claiming your office space in downtown Fargo.

Attracting Talent With 12,928 jobs posted in the Fargo region (Emsi; September 2021) and a 2.7% unemployment rate (August 2021), finding

talented team members is a challenge. Downtown is a differentiator and can be your competitive advantage in the search for the best talent. Many companies tell us a unique office space in the heart of Fargo’s historic, walkable 18-hour city center helps them attract and retain talented employees. “The trends seem to change daily, to the point where there are no real trends in what companies are looking for in office space,” said Mike Peschel, Managing Broker of Kilbourne Commercial Real Estate

(KCR). “One thing that never seems to change is the competition for talent. Everyone is hiring, and everyone wants the best and the brightest. Your workspace is part of that value proposition you offer team members.” With 1,200 businesses and 18,000 employees, downtown Fargo has become a magnet for the region's best talent. A hub of finance, technology, healthcare, design, and creative services, downtown Fargo is changing the way we do business.

creating vibrancy through mixeduse development. Office workers are key to making the mixed-use ecosystem work. Did you know that, according to a study by the Urban Land Institute, each office worker in a mixed-use urban setting supports up to 25 square feet of restaurant and retail space? Being part of a vibrant downtown community is inspiring, and bringing your team downtown is a bold step forward.

Kilbourne Group is dedicated to building an awesome city and



Brand and Culture The brand of downtown Fargo is creative, quirky, full of culture and history; a magnet for those who seek interaction, whimsy, and discovery. Having your office downtown links your company brand to all that is great about the heart of our city. “It’s pretty cool to see what happens when company culture is at the center of workspace design,” said Peschel. “Are you vibrant color, funky fixtures, and collaboration spaces? Or maybe you are timeless and refined. Regardless,



a space flooded with natural light and filled with thriving plants can do wonders for a team.”

Interaction and Amenities Many companies find themselves asking in this moment: What will bring them back? What can an office environment provide that working from home can’t? Think in terms of providing your team with layers of flexibility. Experiment with various seating

arrangements, hybrid models, and collaboration spaces. It’s about maximizing team interactions while providing the right environment to get the work done. We’ve seen game rooms, luxury coffee stations, and even fitness centers as internal amenities. But imagine if your neighborhood were the biggest amenity. Downtown Fargo is where you can run into your friends and colleagues on the sidewalk, and that can mean good things for business. Neighbors support neighbors, and there are countless places

to meet for collaboration, brainstorming and change-theworld conversations. You’ll run into people who inspire you or take you in a new direction. (Plus, it’s healthy for employees to interact with people from outside their company occasionally.)

The neighborhood makes a convenient and lively meeting room for internal collaboration and is an incredibly unique place to host customers and partners. You are near banks, a hospital, city services including the post office and library, and of course, the shopping, eating, drinking, and playing.

Central Business District

“Downtown is often a perfect choice for someone looking not only for office space but a location that drives productivity and profitability,” said Peschel.

Downtown is Fargo’s showcase. It’s how we impress visitors, what we put on our postcards.

“Consolidating team members in one great space fosters the

innovation, collaboration, and camaraderie that happens when teams are together.”

Triple-Bottom Line A company’s investment in downtown has economic, environmental, and social benefits for both the company and the community in which it does business. The math proves that it is good for all taxpayers when we fully utilize and maintain the infrastructure that already exists before building




new. When a company invests in a city center, they are using their purchasing power in a way that strengthens the whole city. Many business leaders say corporate social responsibility efforts are non-negotiable in their ability to attract a new generation of team members. Reinvesting in the historic city center is a powerful and enduring way to give back. Fully utilizing existing infrastructure is also good for the environment, and building the Central Business District’s tax base ensures the financial resources the City needs to maintain that infrastructure. "Our community celebrates companies that are investing in downtown. They're creating a



stronger city and helping everybody with their workforce issues," said Peschel. If you haven't been to downtown Fargo in a while, things have changed. The sidewalks are alive with people of all ages, and buildings are full of new energy and locally owned businesses. Downtown Fargo is a growing neighborhood with countless opportunities to connect with diverse professionals. Downtown Fargo is a great place for businesses to expand—for small, medium, and even larger businesses. From affordable to Class A office space, from 200 square feet to full floors in

towers of commerce, from funky historic buildings with modern amenities to brand-new custom construction, there is a perfect space for every business.

Let the team at KCR help find the perfect downtown office for your team. Visit or email, or call 701-289-7000 for a personal tour.

By Brady Drake




COOPER BIERSCHEID Director of Engineering and Founder of Protosthetics


Business Development




DID YOU KNOW? That most of the Droids from the new Star Wars movies were printed on LulzBots?

Now, realize that the largest US manufacturer of desktop 3D printers, LulzBot, is sitting right under your nose. The well-known 3D printing brand was originally launched by Aleph Objects in Loveland, Colorado in 2011, but was purchased by Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D, LLC in November 2019. Since then, FAME 3D has been growing the LulzBot brand from right here in the Red River Valley. "We're growing and hiring," said President John Olhoft. "It's an exciting technology. If people incorporate it into their

business, they can get the same advantages as Ford and Boeing and that's pretty powerful." "People really love to be able to implement mass customization in their products these days," said Sierra Olhoft, LulzBot's Head of Business Development. "3D printers help immensely with that." The thought of having an advantage like those companies might catch your attention. However, you might think your company isn’t big enough to have a 3D printer or that you wouldn't even know where to start incorporating one into your

business. That's where the FAME 3D team can help. With pricing on machines running from $1,000 to $10,000, it is easy to justify having a LulzBot 3D printer. "Before we ever sell to a company, we interview them pretty heavily on what they are trying to print. We want to make sure that they have the right materials and the right tool," said John. "It's also about making sure that they know what is capable with one of our 3D printers and what is not. If they aren't sure but are interested, we will talk with them about their business to see if there's an application."




Monica Millette

Jana Samek




1202 27th St S, Fargo, ND 58103 | (701) 235-2002


LulzBot's newest release, the TAZ SideKick.




WHAT CAN 3D PRINTERS DO? After our visit to FAME 3D, we're convinced that there aren't many things 3D printers can't do. Even the things that aren't currently possible, don't seem far off. The printers used by LulzBot can make just about any shape imaginable. In fact, LulzBot relies eon its own 3D printers to make 50% of the parts for more 3D printers. To do this LulzBot has a 300 printer "printer farm" operating and making parts for new printers constantly. Thankfully for them, LulzBot printers can print for 12,000 continuous hours before they need to even be evaluated for overhaul. This print farm produces millions of parts every year.

According to the team at LulzBot, a normal product development cycle like this could take years. "It's such a huge advancement having that manufacturing capability in-house," said John. "Because we can print our own parts, it's very easy to create prototypes for our development team, get their feedback, then make modifications and improvements."

This ability to create 50% oftheir parts in-house offers the LulzBot team a number of advantages especially when it comes to product development. Their most recent release, the TAZ SideKick, took just eight months to develop.

All branches of the military FARGOINC.COM


WHY FARGO? We've got a really great entrepreneurial scene and spirit here. There's a real can do it attitude present in the community. We're really not afraid to look at how we can improve a process’s efficiency, whereas some offshore companies just throw labor at a problem. There's a lot of manufacturing happening in Fargo, so the forward-thinking mindset people have here is a plus. A lot of good engineers come out of the schools that are here. Everyone in our ownership group is from Fargo. We like Fargo and are happy to be a part of it." -LulzBot President John Olhoft 44


DID YOU KNOW? The masks on The Masked Singer are printed on LulzBot printers.

Another medical application that Cooper Bierscheid, LulzBot's Director of Engineering and Founder of Protosthetics, has been trying to address is the need for prosthetics and orthotics.

would have to wait weeks in order to get customized products."

"Our mission is to find ways to manufacture these things more efficiently,” said Bierscheid. “LulzBot 3D printers have allowed us to implement a digital workflow that utilizes 3D scanning to remotely manufacture custom prosthetics and orthotics for clinics across the United States. Before this patients

To learn more, visit

With all of these applications, FAME 3D and LulzBot may just be our area's best-kept secrets.

During our visit, we also learned that 3D printers can print artery walls. How cool is that!? Now, they can only be used for research at the moment, but they aren't far off.

A printed artery wall.














Good A Life is Changed With Habitat for Humanity's CEO Build Being a homeowner is an important piece of family and financial stability that a lot of us take for granted. However, for those with a less than stellar credit score out there, homeownership can feel like an out of grasp dream. That's why Habitat for Humanity exists. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit that helps families obtain affordable housing through donations, voluntary labor and mortgage payments from previous projects.

Our area's most recent Habitat for Humanity build by our Lake Aggasiz chapter had a little local business flair to it. Featuring 16 different C-Level Executives in the first annual "CEO Build". This year-to-year event is another great opportunity for our business community to give back. The 2022 CEO Build will be chaired by Katherine Kiernan of Asprie Realty. Others looking to get involved should reach out to



CEO Build Recipient Kathy Benjamin How you got involved with the CEO building Habitat for Humanity? Yeah, that's a loaded question. I had been aware of what Habitat for Humanity was, for a long time. A best friend of mine had a habitat house when she was around 14 years old, so I've been aware of it. I'm a recovering addict, that's the beginning of my story because it's probably the biggest part of my story. I finally got clean a little over five years ago and I was able to achieve a lot once I finally got through that threshold. My addiction took me to some really deep dark places. My kids were in foster care, I was in jail and I had failed to change. I was really motivated to do better and be better because that same friend who had gotten a home through habitat actually passed away right before I got clean. That was my motivation to get clean.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Habitat for Humanity Homes is that they are free to those receiving them. They are not. The recipients of Habitat Humanity homes pay for their homes through a favorable mortgage that allows them to pay as they are able.

When I got clean, I was able to do a bunch of things on my own. I finally got my kids home, I got my first place, I was able to buy my first car, I went back to school and I was working two jobs while I was in school and I took on foster care as well for my nieces. So, I was taking care of five kids and doing all these things. The last thing I needed was a house and I was having troubles with it, because my credit wasn't where it needed to be at because of my past lifestyle. Eventually, I thought about Habitat for Humanity and I knew I needed to ask for help. I tried to do things on my own and I couldn't get anywhere. So now, I needed to ask for help. I applied for Habitat two years in a row. Last year, I had the opportunity but it was too far locationwise from where I was for me to accept it because of my foster care situation, so I had to decline This year, the same situation happened, however, someone eventually dropped out of the CEO Build and I was able to accept it.



What did addiction look like for you? I work on the NA program and we don't ever really categorize use. The substance is a substance–whether you're addicted to one or the other doesn't make a difference. But still, I was what we call a cross addict. Basically, anything you can think of is what I struggled with. It got bad enough where I was actually a needle user and an IV user, which is something I remember as a kid thinking was very gross. I was a very judgmental person which is funny because I came from a family of addiction. I actually have five brothers, a sister, my mom and my dad., but I don't speak to any of my family because unfortunately, they are still lost in active addiction and I am the only one that is not.

Can you tell me more about that turning point? It was my best friend passing away. We called each other sisters and everybody knew us as such. We were close since we were 12. I grew up in foster care up until I was eight, then I lived with my dad for a year. For whatever reason, he wasn't able to take care of me, so, he actually 54


put me back in the system. Because of that happening, I ended up back with my mom and my mom was still in active addiction. She was very abusive, so, I grew up in a very, very, very toxic home. I have a wonderful stepdad from it. He's the one person I do have and consider family. But back then, I didn't really have people around me. So, when I connected with my friend, Laila, we became really, really close. We were like that all the way up through when she passed away. My addiction got really bad the year she actually passed away. It pulled me away from her and I have a lot of guilt for that because she did die by suicide. On several occasions, she would cry for me to get better and stuff like that and I didn't take her seriously because I was using. I didn't have the emotional empathy. I couldn't feel what she needed me to feel. When she died, I decided that I needed to get clean. Her birthday was June 10. I was trying to plan it for her birthday, but addicts don't plan very well. So, I ended up going clean three days later on June 13, 2016. That's my clean date and I've been clean ever since.

This Year's Participating "CEOs" Judd Graham Senior Region President, Bremer Bank Mathew Bitzegaio Founder, DonorDock Doug Restemayer President and Owner, D-S Beverages David White CEO, Border States Electric Ambassador Cleaning Owner, Ambassador Cleaning Peter Stenehjem President, First International Bank & Trust Brian L. Johnson Executive Director of Banking and Business Development, Choice Bank

What was your reaction when you found out you'd be able to participate in the CEO Build? I was super excited. I feel like CEOs are such a great example and people to look up to. I have a high level of motivation and I feel like I can relate to them.

Does it feel like this adds to your "second chance" in life? Yes, this is literally like the missing block to it. I needed to get a house, but everything was keeping me held back. So, when I finally got that opportunity, I felt like my life's complete. I'll still come up with a new goal now, you know, because that's just how I am, I'll find another one. But was like the biggest one that I had. It's really setting my

family up for success. I have two foster kids, my nieces, and they've never known having their own house. My children are going to finally found out what its like to have home. Hopefully, it sets a standard for them of how things should be when they become an adult.

Is there anything fun that you are you most excited about with home ownership? I obsess over the thoughts of what I would do at my own house all the time. I do rent a house right now, but you can't really make it your own. I want a hammock in the backyard. I want to get a really nice playground for my kids and I'm very excited to start some family Christmas traditions.

Is there anything else we should know? Just that I'm really super appreciative and I'm really thankful for anything that comes my way. This is a huge opportunity, and I'm not going to forget it and neither will my kids.

EricMauch Partner/CEO, Razor Consulting Solutions Sandi Piatz Sr. Director RE&S Community Program Management and Site Leader, Microsoft in Fargo Campus Ron Fuhrman President, Liberty Business Systems Chris Thomsen Owner, Thomsen Homes Beau Flom Real Estate Broker/Owner, FpG Realty Kevin Christianson Owner, Christianson Companies Brady Nash CEO, BNG Team Brian Houkom CEO, Western State Bank Joe Tjosvold Founder, Chezy






The Power of Believing United Meet Karla Isley, United Way President & CEO

By Brady Drake




of strategic business leadership. She has extensive experience in corporate strategy, organization planning, budget administration and proven leadership. Before joining United Way, Karla had been with Noridian Healthcare Solutions since 2000 in various leadership positions, most recently in the role of Vice President of Strategy and Innovation where she led initiatives focused on organization wide innovation and driving growth. Karla is known for her “give 120%” attitude that originates from her time as a basketball player and is driven by building teams through mentoring.

Let’s get to know Karla. What motivated you to want to take the leap and become United Way’s leader?

Karla Isley, newly named President & CEO of United Way of Cass-Clay, accepted the new role because it offers an opportunity to build the type of community she wants her children and all members of our community to live in. “There are moments in your professional life when you pause and reflect and ask yourself if you can do more–if you can utilize your skills and abilities to create a better community for

the next generation,” Isley said. "Asking myself that question led me to accept this position. I've been thinking a lot about the mission of United Way to create a better tomorrow for everyone and how I can take an active role in creating a better tomorrow.” Karla’s Isley’s first day with United Way of Cass-Clay was September 14, 2021. She joins the United Way team with more than 15 years

I think about United Way’s bold goal to help children succeed, and I think about my 5-year-old starting kindergarten this fall. He was ready to go and prepared to be successful. I can’t help but ask myself, “what can I do to help all kids have the opportunities to succeed?” Creating the type of community where all kids can succeed is what motivated me to want to serve in this leadership role. All children deserve opportunity, all people should have the tools to be independent and together we can reduce hunger and homelessness. United Way is leading these efforts. I believe when we help our neighbors, we can solve problems, we can create change and make a better tomorrow for everyone.



This community is my home – my family’s home. My husband, Michael, and I live in Reile’s Acres, located just northwest of the metro. We are blessed to be raising our two boys, Oliver and Isaac, in this community. I am honored to be joining the United Way team and to be serving and helping the communities I call home. I am so passionate about helping others and building relationships. I look forward to continuing the amazing work I have witnessed through the power of community and getting to connect with business leaders and community members who share our vision and values. Tell us about your background – where did you grow up? I grew up on a small dairy farm in Dalton, Minnesota, not too far from here. I graduated from college at the University of Minnesota Crookston. During my time at Crookston, I had the opportunity to play basketball which really influenced my “give 120%” attitude that I still believe in today. Growing up I was taught the importance of family–I saw that neighbors helped neighbors, and

how our family values play a role in our careers. When I was recruited to serve in this leadership position for United Way, these questions, realizations and experiences fueled my passion for community, and I knew it was the right time to take on a new challenge that was meaningful for myself and my family. What challenges do you see on the horizon for our community?

it was neighbors who took an active role in building community. Who or what has shaped your leadership journey? I have had amazing leaders in my career always willing to support, encourage and give me grace to have a healthy balance between work and home. In early 2020, my dad had been diagnosed with stage four cancer. In the thick of the pandemic, I watched him battle with his health, all while having to stay isolated because of COVID-19. It was difficult for our family to not be able to see him in person

as he endured this challenge, and I saw his mental health decline. Through this experience, I took time to reflect on the importance of the community and how we all need support and care from others at various times in our lives. When my dad passed away last July, I began to think more about the opportunity we all have to create the type of community we want to live in, and the type of community we want our children to be a part of in the future–it shaped my decision to take the next step in my leadership journey and questioned what more I could do for others and

I know there may be “COVID fatigue” for many in our community, but I know what will bring us through as a community is a focus on collaboration. I can see a strong feeling of comradery, excitement and generosity throughout our business community. I am so glad United Way can foster that collaboration and be the strategic partner that can create a better tomorrow for all of us. United Way is very focused on innovation–what are some of the newer projects you are working on? United Way is committed to innovative solutions toward community issues like homelessness.





Currently, our goal, by 2023, is to prevent 90% of local families and children from becoming homeless, and we are on track to meet that goal. At United Way, innovation is important to us when we work to solve our communities’ biggest issues – in addition to trying to solve a problem that exists, we are working to prevent the problem from ever happening in the first place. The solution was a new approach – Housing Stability Specialists who could provide the right help at the right time – preventing families from entering what is often times a downward spiral of homelessness. Housing Stability Specialists specifically help people who are on the brink of becoming homeless – they help people, specifically families with children, who are housed, but in need of resources to avoid eviction and/ or becoming homeless. They also help families who are at imminent risk of homelessness and are likely to lose housing in the next 14 days. These specialists focus on helping families get connected to existing services and find resources to help fill the gaps.

For example, a Housing Stability Specialist may help a family access a food pantry or some assistance programs so they are able to allocate the resources they have to paying rent, or they may help with temporary assistance until a family member starts a new job – the focus is on preventing families from becoming homeless and ever having to enter a homeless shelter or experience what it is like to have to sleep in their vehicle or somewhere unsafe for their family. What is your leadership philosophy? I lead with kindness and integrity first. I believe that a good leader can be effective and successful while still being kind. Leading with authenticity is important to me and I focus on building relationships as the foundation. What does United Way mean to you? I have been a part of the local community living and working in Fargo for the last 20 years and have witnessed the power of community through United Way. To pass the values of community and helping one another on to my children and to other young people is so important to me.

As a neighbor and parent, I look forward to continuing to grow this organization to make a better tomorrow for everyone. I see the tremendous potential our community has to create positive, lasting social change. What inspires you? Last week, my son came home from school and told me about a new word that he had learned that day. He described a situation where someone was walking along and saw a piece of trash on the ground and just walked by without picking it up. He said to me, “Mom, what is that called? When someone just keeps walking by even though they know they could have helped?” We dug through his backpack together and found a worksheet about the word they learned that day which was “initiative” and we had a great discussion about what the word initiative means for all of us.

also be inspired to take an active role in improving our community. Our hope is that United Way is a kind, relatable place where it’s easy to take action. You can give a gift online on LIVE UNITED Give United Day on October 15, make a blanket for our Home for Good program that we provide to families transitioning out of homelessness, or choose to show this year’s United Way video “We Are All Connected” during an upcoming team meeting. I believe when leaders take the initiative to help our community succeed, we’re all positively impacted. That’s what it means to believe UNITED and succeed UNITED.

We read the definition: “the power or opportunity to act.” This interaction inspired me because I thought about the tremendous amount of potential we have as a community to take action. I know I myself throughout the years could have taken more initiative to help others. And it’s exciting to think about how I can help others find initiative and




Bridge Bash For the past five years the Moorhead Business Association has welcomed area college students to town by hosting a party known as the “Bridge Bash” shortly after the area colleges resume classes. This past September’s was noted for some significant project changes.

area where they can volunteer, like the River Keepers or Churches United. We work with small, medium and large businesses who really care about making the community a special place whether they are a cottage bakery or provide financial services and insurance. We don’t want to welcome the students to just one day, we want to continue the relationship and help them be part of our community.”

A business advocacy nonprofit, the Moorhead Business Association works with businesses and nonprofits from Minnesota and North Dakota to develop the Bridge Bash event as a way to introduce students to what the local communities have to offer, provide connections for employment and service opportunities and familiarize them with social programs that are available in the community should they be needed.

All the changes made to the event this year reflected its customary core purpose in helping connect students to the community.

“As a new resident, it is hard to know what fun things and social resources are available,” says Nick Lehr, the Moorhead Business Association’s Assistant Director. “We work with the university-college staff, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and many other organizations to familiarize students with what is accessible to them not just in Moorhead, but in Fargo and West Fargo. We want to provide more ways to get students engaged in what parks exist and have to offer, like kayaks and canoes, amazing bike trails and so much more. We introduce them to other fun things, like the Clay County Historical Society, the community theater or the many non-profits we have in our

BY Brandi




“Traditionally the event has been held on a Thursday evening. This time we coordinated with the universities and hosted it on Saturday, September 18th, to make sure we didn’t compete with student union activities that they work really hard on, or large events like football games. We also wanted to give students a few weeks to get settled in before inviting them out,” says Lehr. Entitled the “Bridge Bash” as it has previously been hosted on the Main Avenue bridge, this year also saw a venue change to Viking Ship Park. The change also allowed the event to coordinate with Red River Market’s “Student Day” in downtown Fargo, as the FM Link bus ran participants from one event to the other with only a slight walk. However, the most significant change to this year’s event was evident in the entertainment provided. While the event traditionally featured a large band

for its duration, this year the Moorhead Business Association took things in a brand-new direction by hosting a variety show with the Fargo concert and event company, Wicked Good Time, acting as Master of Ceremonies and DJ, to highlight the continually changing performance artists and singer/ songwriters local to the area. With the help of a $1000 gift from the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, who named the Bridge Bash as one of their two August 2021 grantees, the Moorhead Business Association was also able to support and highlight other local artists. This year’s event included performance art, concrete carving, hula hooping and pole dance routines. “We are always trying to showcase our area’s diversity. We want to invest in our local and student artists. We also want to build familiarity and connection," Lehr states. “This was a good way to do that.” Some of the local artists featured at this year’s Bridge Bash: Wicked Good Times (DJ as Master of Ceremonies): Kim Jore (Chalk art): FM Aerial and Movement Arts, Yevette Reyes, Pole Dance:

Honeysuckle Hooping, Brittany Colbert: Singer/songwriter James Bergman: Team SnoKraft of Mothership Workshop, Mike Nelson and Josh Zeis, (Live chainsaw carving):

**While the Bridge Bash is designed specifically for college students, don’t feel left out. Frostival Moorhead will Kick off on January 28th. A complete calendar of Frostival events is available at frostival. com/schedule/


Shop-with-a-Cop The holiday season is quick approaching, and the Moorhead Police department is gearing up—to go shopping. December 2021 marks the fourth year that the Moorhead Police Athletics and Activities League (PAL) will be hosting Shop-with-a-Cop, a program designed to connect with at risk and underserved Moorhead children while also providing them, and their families, with a little Christmas cheer. “It’s a fun way to connect with the community,” says Sergeant Scott Kostohryz, one of the organizers of the event. “Unfortunately, a majority of contact between the police and the community is negative in nature—people don’t call and tell us they are having a good day—and that can be even more traumatizing for a kid. So we want to build those positive interactions; build trust in us, and trust in the community itself. There are a lot of options for adults, not as much outreach for kids.” To proactively reach out to the youth of the community, the Moorhead Police Department has been creating opportunities to interact. Since their first event, a kids hockey game in 2007, they have created multiple programs to connect community children with police officers: such as providing bikes for area children or hosting their first baseball game this past July. To make it

BY Brandi




easier for the community to assist and donate to their endeavors, the non-profit, Moorhead Police Athletics and Activities League (PAL), was formed in 2017. “The nice thing is that we don’t have any parameters,” laughs Kostohryz. “We can try different things. Our imagination is our only limitation.” For Shop-with-a-Cop, each child is paired up with an individual police officer and provided with funds to purchase holiday gifts for their family members. The pair spend time shopping and getting to know each other before going to the volunteer gift wrapping station set up at the front of the store. While the child gets their presents wrapped, the officer sneaks away to purchase and wrap a Christmas gift for their partner. In this way, each child returns home with wrapped gifts for everyone in their household, including themselves. The first two years of the program served between 30 and 50 community children nominated by schools, counselors, probation officers, and occasionally judges. Last year the program helped over 70 kids get presents, and Sergeant Kostohryz is hoping 2021 will expand their reach even further. “Last year we just grew. We’re starting to have parents call, which means we are building relationships with the parents and family, too. We’ve been really lucky. Target has been a great corporate

sponsor and a lot of organizations and people help keep us going. We’re still growing and so far we haven’t had to turn anyone away. Ideally, we’d love to expand to help kids all over Clay County.” Funding for the Moorhead Police Athletics and Activities League changes every year, as PAL doesn’t have a specific funding source. This year Shopwith-a-Cop will be partially funded by a grant from the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, who named the program their September 2021 grantee. Their gift of $1000 will assist PAL in reaching out to ten additional families this holiday season. Sergeant Kostohryz is firm that it is the continual combination of support from organizations, companies, and individuals that make the Shop-with-aCop program successful. “We appreciate groups that step up and support programs like Shop-witha-Cop. It’s amazing how expensive doing good is. It takes money to do programs like this, and you need public support. In other parts of the country this program would not exist. It is the community supporting the program that has kept us going these four years. The continued support of law enforcement in general, and programs like this. It really is building a community together.”

Community members who wish to learn more, support the Moorhead Police Athletics and Activities League, or a specific program like Shop-with-a-Cop, are encouraged to contact Sergeant Scott Kostohryz directly. Phone: 218-299-5283 Email: Website: Facebook: @MoorheadPAL

The Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a non-profit. Applications can be made at cassclay.


The freez “When a little kid comes up to the window and sees their cone and their eyes get all big—that’s my favorite part. I love that,” smiles Jessica Malvin, one of the co-owners of The Freez in Moorhead. Formerly the Tasty Freez, the Moorhead ice cream shop has been a community favorite, dispensing smiles and sweet treats alike. Since 1963. When the previous owner received an offer for the building, with the understanding that it would be demolished and an apartment built in its place, current Owners, Jessica Verdi and Jessica Malvin, knew they needed to step in. “We’re more than a community. Even the coworkers and regulars become a family. We get to know each other. I have a group that comes in every Tuesday night. When I got engaged, they were the first people I told,” continues Malvin. “When we heard about the offer, Jessica [Verdi] said we couldn’t let that happen. We didn’t want to see it go away. We wanted everyone to have the same happy memories that we did.” Since purchasing the business in 2018, the co-owners have had no reason to doubt that their decision was the correct one, citing huge support from

BY Brandi




the community, especially after they were subjected to a break-in during the summer of 2020 resulting in significant damage. “We received so much encouragement and support. We have customers make a point to come on a rainy or snowy day, letting us know they really want us to be here.” The name change from the former Tastee Freez to “The Freez” earlier this year is part of the co-owners efforts to ensure that The Freez remains an active and 100% locally owned part of the community. “I’m in love with Moorhead,” laughs Malvin. “Moorhead is so supportive of art things and fun changes. Not being part of a franchise gives us room to explore fun and creative ideas. We can try different menu items, like an ice cream bar shaped like Minnesota, for part of the summer. Some of our employees are great artists who also have ideas. We want to work with the community and highlight different individuals when we can, while remaining the same great place for the community to come to.” One of those ideas is a new mural to be installed on the east side of the building, facing the coming underpass. However, while the mural may be a brand-new addition to the establishment, it is important to note that the concept is firmly rooted in the past.

“The Freez means so much to me personally. I have a lot of connections to the building and place. My aunt worked here for many years and actually trained in the previous owner. My grandfather used to mow the lawn. The owner took a chance on me as a teenager, and I never left. I have been here over 20 years, and Jessica Verdi has been here longer than I have,” says Malvin. “Our past as a Tastee Freez is important to us. We want the mural to incorporate that, to incorporate our new branding of The Freez, and pay tribute to the former owner, Dr. Freez, who was such a big part of the building and who recently passed away.” With the help of a $1000 gift from the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, who named The Freez mural one of their two August grantees, the owners are now reaching out to local artists to begin the artist selection process. As development is affected by both the design process and the weather, the completion date for the new mural is currently undetermined, but is expected to be complete by the end of summer 2022 at the latest. “This project is really important to us,” continues Malvin. “Our community is rich with diversity and long-standing traditions. We’re a part of that. Families meet and gather here. We want to give them a place to take pictures and remember their time here. We want it to

reflect our history in Moorhead. And we want it to truly reflect how much we love being part of this community.”

The Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a non-profit.

Applications can be made at chapters/cassclay.


By F. John Williams III

Who will raise my children if I die?...” It’s a question every parent has asked him or herself, but the problem is it’s a lot easier question to ask than it is to answer. And if you’re like most, the answer will change over the course of your lifetime, but the gravity of the answer will not. For any parent of young children, the most important decision in their estate plan is exactly this. And the answer won’t ever be less important until the youngest child reaches the age of 18. In my practice, this is the most important question my clients will answer, but there are a lot of other important questions they must answer as well. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of them struggle with their answers. So I’d like to share what I’ve learned about this most important question and others like it.

F. John Williams III is an attorney with Fredrikson & Byron in Fargo. He provides sophisticated estate planning, business succession, and trust and probate administration solutions for business owners, farmers, ranchers, executives and professionals. He can be reached at



The person you name in your Will to raise your children is called a “guardian.” A guardian is broadly classified in the estate planning context as a “fiduciary,” which is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as, “One who owes to another the duties of good faith, trust, confidence, and candor…One who must exercise a high standard of care in managing another’s money or property.”

In estate planning, the most common fiduciary designations are a guardian, personal representative or executor, trustee, health care agent and attorney-in-fact. Let me help you figure out who should be designated in each of these positions, based on hundreds of conversations I’ve had with clients during the last 16 years. Roles of people appointed in your will As mentioned earlier, the most important fiduciary position is naming a guardian. It is reserved for those people who have children who are minors. While this decision is often the most personal to make, I often tell clients to put themselves in the shoes of their children and think about not only who would raise your children like you, but who could make the transition the most smoothly. And keep in mind that if this position is needed, a minor child has just lost a parent. This is an extreme tragedy. If this occurred and you were in high school, would you want to move out of state? Or would you want to remain in the same community with your same friends? If your children are five and under, would you name an aging parent or another younger couple who can better manage the physical nature of raising small children? Would you name a parent at all? Is that fair to the other grandparents?

What about how many children your named guardian already has?

often manage assets for the beneficiaries for a longer period of time.

If you have three kids, does it make sense to name a friend or family member that has four kids of their own? If so, what kind of car will that family need if you die? A bus? You see, there is a lot to consider, but if you don’t ask yourself these questions, your designation is going to be wrong from the start.

Trustees can also be individuals or organizations; they must be good at asset management, accounting and understanding the needs of the beneficiary. This last characteristic is why many will choose a family member or personal friend to be a trustee. They know how the decedent would want to benefit the beneficiaries. On the other hand, a trust company doesn’t have any personality conflicts, has all of the systems in place and has the expertise to manage just about any type of asset.

The next most common fiduciary my clients select is a personal representative or executor. Both terms mean the same thing. A personal representative is nominated in the Will in the same fashion as a guardian. The nomination does not become official until the person dies and the court approves the nomination. Once appointed by the Court, the personal representative’s job is to collect the assets of the decedent, pay the bills and expenses of the decedent, and then distribute the remaining property of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will. Because most of this job entails organization and managing money, people or professional organizations (like a trust department) who are good at managing money are best suited for this job. If you choose an individual as your personal representative, my general advice is not to name more than one individual. The nomination of multiple individuals as a personal representative can lead to disagreement between the two and difficulty arranging a time for the two to sign or act simultaneously. Some of my clients persist and will name two individuals, but they should never name more than two. What do trustees do? A trustee is a fiduciary position that is only needed if a trust is being created, either upon the signing of the document or within the Will as a testamentary trust. The personal representative’s job is often temporary, lasting until the last of the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. However, a trustee will

You can designate co-trustees, one of which is a trust company and the other of which is an individual and get both strengths. However, you should make sure the two are compatible and are not just creating extra work for the other. Meaning, if your individual trustee spends three months a year in the Amazon Rain Forest, perhaps naming them as a trustee would just frustrate the trust company and lead to needless inefficiencies. Fiduciaries appointed for lifetime decisions The last two fiduciary positions that your lawyer will ask you to name are a health care agent and an attorney-in-fact. The health care agent is the person you name to make your medical decisions for you, and the attorney-in-fact is the person you name to make your financial and legal decisions for you. Both of these positions are only effective during your lifetime. Once you die, these positions no longer have any authority. An attorney-in-fact should possess the same characteristics as the personal representative and trustee. A health care agent should be a person who might be with you when medical decisions are being made and who also is willing to implement your end-of-life decisions. For example, if you choose to not take life support, but your health care agent won’t step on a cricket because it is the taking of a life, then perhaps you’ve got the wrong

person. Furthermore, if your health care agent lives in Dallas and only visits you in Fargo twice a year, you might want someone who lives a little closer. Can one person fulfill multiple fiduciary roles? The short answer is “yes!”. A person can fulfill multiple fiduciary roles. I don’t really advise against someone holding any combination of roles, including all of the roles. However, there is one exception. I don’t think it is a great idea to have the same person hold the role of a trustee and a guardian. If a guardian is appointed, he or she will be the one requesting distributions from the trust set up for the minor children to pay for their expenses. Frequently, these payments are made directly to the guardian to offset the additional costs of the new family members for groceries, gas, trips, sports fees, etc... The trustee has the power to decide when to make a distribution or when not to make a distribution. If the person asking and receiving and the person giving are the same, it is fairly easy to misappropriate trust funds. All it takes is the fact that there are no checks and balances to lend itself to an allegation of impropriety. And with a guardian and a ward (the child of the decedent), that allegation or even perception could ruin the relationship forever. In the end, choosing someone to make decisions for you or on your behalf is never easy. This is why we all tend to think we make our own best decisions, not someone else. However, when the time comes, you are going to need a fiduciary to take control. Hopefully, it’s not to raise your children; but if it is, then at least you’ve spent some time to make your best decision.



10 Questions


Questions ohn Machacek, Chief Innovation Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, has worked with countless startups throughout our community over the past seven years. He knows their ups, their downs, but most of all, he knows the questions to ask them. Here are John Machacek’s 10 questions for the Co-Founders of Elinor Coatings Holly Anderson and Dante Battocchi.

By John Machacek Photos by Josiah Kopp and Hillary Ehlen



01 Tell me your Elinor Coatings elevator pitch. Elinor Coatings reduces downtime and costs due to corrosion and increases readiness for vehicles, communication systems, and maritime infrastructure by replacing toxic and cumbersome coatings of the past with solutions designed for modern hassle-free maintenance. We develop chromatefree coatings and metal protection for the U.S. Department of Defense and commercial use. We’re really focused right now on protecting aluminum and multi-metal assets.

02 Please tell me more about the chromatefree part of your work. That’s the Erin Brockovichtype stuff, correct? Yes, exactly. Erin Brockovich hunted down the cause of the hexavalent chromium giving everyone cancer after it leached into the

groundwater from a water cooling system. It’s the same ingredient used in paint that we set out to eliminate when we started the company. It’s a heavy metal that is great for inhibiting corrosion; it’s also great at causing cancer. Holly met Erin Brockovich at a National Association of Women Business Owners conference a few years ago. Erin is still fighting to eliminate industrial contamination. We have so many better solutions. It’s stupid that humans are using ingredients we know are deadly. Science is so far beyond that. At least we are at Elinor! The Pentagon has been slowly turning away from chromates. The Air Force and aerospace industry finally eliminated chromates in all their systems, but the other branches of the military and industry are lagging behind. Europe banned chromates across the board ages ago.

Lab in 2019. We are subcontractors under the University of Dayton Research Institute, which has amazing coatings research labs. We work on corrosion and multi-metal primers. We’ve since been working with the Army Research Lab on their corrosion needs and are regularly in discussions with the Navy for similar issues. NASA was recently in North Dakota scouting out capabilities and stopped by to visit us. The interesting thing about working with the various agencies of the Department of Defense is that they all tend to do their own thing, but our research in chromate-free coatings is something that everyone can use. Aluminum used to be only for aerospace, but because of its lightweight and endlessly recyclable lifespan, it’s used in more and more applications.

03 That was such great news when you were awarded the Department of Defense contract. What does that entail? We started working on the first research contract with the Air Force Research



10 Questions 04 There is a persistence to going after these research projects, and also being a research company in itself. Would you agree with that? We started our company in 2006. New materials take on average a decade to go from concept to final approved product. Investors aren’t interested in that business model. Entrepreneurs are told constantly to fail fast, but everything requires incredible patience in our world. More patience than Holly has sometimes! It’s all about building relationships, being persistent and lasting long enough to be dependable. And obviously being good scientists. We work regularly with Cathy Lindquist at the local PTAC office and Sherri Komrosky at the local SBA office for help navigating federal contracting. We showed up at a lot of annual DoD conferences year after year just to let people know we were still around. Customers want to know that you’ll still be around when they are ready to move forward. For years we were told by investors and business consultants this was more like a hobby, or an eternal state of “prerevenue.” We didn’t ever fit the applications for start-up



programs because they were always, “three years old or less.” We were 10 years old and still starting up. We took advantage of every single program, accelerator, class, workshop and grant for startups we could find, even 10 years in. We still do!

05 From the GFMEDC working with you over the years, I know that you initially attempted to produce some of your own products, but that it proved to be difficult. And a bit of a David vs Goliath situation with some of it. What did you learn from that? We learned that it was not something we could do on our own financially or logistically in the beginning. However, we did learn the entire process of formulation, manufacturing, packaging, sales, etc. in our attempt to do it. We bootstrapped it all and paid for everything ourselves. We maxed out credit cards, home equity, lines of credit. We worked other jobs. We had three

products that we were trying to introduce to commercial markets, but competition in coatings is about getting your one coating into a system, and most systems are controlled by giant paint companies you’ve heard of. No one had heard of us, and our coatings are specialty and high-end, high-performance. Not many engineers or technology scouts want to be the first to ok a new coating that would be very detrimental and expensive if it failed prematurely. So they all wait for someone else to validate it. That’s why we eventually switched back to contract research. The DoD is validating our coatings, so now we’re moving back to commercialization and growing that team.

06 I know one of the products you’ve been working to commercialize combats a really big problem in our area. I love the idea of what your ZebraShield product does. What would it take to make the production of this reality? ZebraShield really captures everyone’s attention because

it’s designed specifically to prevent invasive zebra or quagga mussels from attaching to any underwater surface. In our region – and a lot of the U.S.–the zebra mussel invasion has really been devastating to lake and river life. They attach to anything–docks, lifts, boats, rocks, pipes. This is common to deal with this “fouling” in the ocean, but not in freshwater. There is no way to control the mussels right now; the DNR has tried so many mitigation techniques, but they involve some sort of chemical in the water and it’s just not sustainable or effective. Our coating is nontoxic and doesn’t leach so it’s also safe for drinking water or hydroelectric facilities, which are truly the problem. Our national security and our water supply shouldn’t be compromised because of pipes and pumps clogged with mussels. Mussels have a really special “glue” that other scientist are studying because of its amazing adhesive property. We’ve created the “antidote” to that. Plus, the coating protects from corrosion and general wear. Performance-wise, it’s good to go. But coatings are also about usability and lifecycle. How easy is it to apply? How do you recoat? Does the coating tolerate our extreme temperatures and multiple seasons? How much does it cost to make? These are now the questions we’re working on, and that takes a lot of smart people and a lot of testing equipment and all that takes a lot of money. Plus, this coating has a unique hurdle: we can’t have invasive species in our labs to test, so we have to

10 Questions rely right now on field trials every summer in area lakes. That slows everything down even more. We’re looking for funding for that final stage to dedicate a few people to bring it across the finish line and to conduct testing down south where we don’t have to wait for summer.

07 For the longest time you were a team of 2 or 3. How has the adjustment been growing to a team of 11, with more hires on the way? We would be a team of 20 if we weren’t in such a candidate crunch. We cannot stress how much we need scientists and scienceminded professionals! As a nation, we are scrambling to fulfill our needs for engineers, chemists, programmers, biologists – scientists in general. We really look to the universities for interns who can become employees and to retirees who can offload some of their wealth of knowledge to us. It was scary hiring people and realizing they are now depending on you to provide a stable employment. But getting great people on board is such a thrill. We no longer have to do literally every aspect of the business from bookkeeping to formulating.

We now have people way more qualified than we are to do those functions. And some things we gladly outsource, like HR and payroll. We used to have sticker shock hiring any professional, but then we sat down and added up the expense of doing it ourselves–as if we even had that ability or expertise–and the numbers always came out ahead for hiring an expert and just letting them handle it.

08 What are some examples of outsourcing tasks? Payroll, HR, managed IT, cybersecurity, marketing, tax and contract accounting, legal, insurance, manufacturing, distribution, even some admin support. No matter your company size, you need all the departments, but we only needed them every quarter or every year or every month. Not enough to have an expert on staff, but enough that we needed an expert to do it for us so we didn’t screw it up. We stick to research and technical work, business development and operations. We work in our wheelhouse and try to learn as we go from our community of experts.

09 If you could go back in time to Dante and Holly from several years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself? Budget for and hire a housekeeper the day you start a business. With all the stress, financial drain, dead ends, and ups and downs, you at least have a nice, clean house of respite.

About John

10 What can we do as a community to help Elinor succeed? Tell everyone you know we’re hiring! And invest in clean technology. Our planet is amazing. Every day our research uncovers a new possibility to appreciate that.




for everyone

By James Leiman, Ph.D., Commerce Commissioner

all in North Dakota is a lively season filled with activities and adventures across the state. As a father of two young children, this season is great for spending time with the family. From the many markets, festivals and fairs, to the pumpkin patches and Halloween activities, North Dakota does not let the quick season hamper the experience of fall.


In almost every community, you will find a weekly market offering locally grown fresh produce and goods from local artisans. These events are a great way to connect with your community while grabbing a quick treat or fresh ingredients for your next meal. If you’re looking to skip the meal prep, stops along the culinary trail bring you food from lefse to knoephla soup, and rommegrot pie to kuchen.



Fall is also the time for festivals in vibrant communities large and small. From multicultural celebrating diversity in our state and communities, to themes that promote local artists and businesses–you will find a festival that fits your current interests and/or introduces you to something completely new. The cool fall weather makes it one of the best seasons to enjoy outdoor activities. Dress up the family and go to Zoo Boo at the Dakota Zoo in Bismack. This afternoon event that combines animals, trick-or-treating, concessions, and decorations is guaranteed to be a hit for any family. Pumpkin Patches are another great option to enjoy the outdoors. Games, refreshments,

entertainment, and endless rows of pumpkins are what you will find at the seven pumpkin patches across the state. For those who are more into the spirit of Halloween, the many haunted destinations are a great way to escape into the world of ghosts, goblins and spirits. I hear the Haunted Fort at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park attracts thousands from the region as one of the most popular fall activities. In addition to all the events and activities, the simplest most serene way to enjoy the season is by just taking in the scenery. From the ground to the sky, the colors of fall illuminated throughout the state epitomizes the allure of fall. With the colors peaking, this is the perfect time to take the family for a



Current Commerce Commissioner, spent over a decade fighting terrorism before deciding to focus his efforts on domestic issues. in his most recent position as the Department of Commerce's director of Economic Development and Finance, Leiman was involved in statewide economic development and finance initiatives.

memorable autumn day trip. These can be found in the Rendezvous Region with breathtaking views in the Pembina Gorge and along the mountain biking trails at Frost Fire Park. Go for a hike, ride a bike or rent other equipment to enjoy any of the 13 state parks open year-round. Lake Metigoshe State Park near Bottineau provides both paved and single-track trails and is also close to Mystical Horizons, an eye-catching “Stonehenge” right on the North Dakota prairie. Designed to view the summer and winter solstices and the equinox, these stone and cement structures are both functional and beautiful. While in the area, stop by the International Peace Garden.

Here you can explore a vast network of hiking and biking trails that connect 2,400 acres of pristine prairie and wilderness overlooking picturesque lakes and the natural beauty of the Turtle Mountain region. This time of year is also prime time for hunters to practice their skill. North Dakota prairies stretch underneath the Central Flyway, making it well-known as a waterfowler’s paradise. The vast flights of geese and ducks keep hunters busy through the end of the year. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to enjoy and cherish the season with your friends and family.

Small Business Financing Basics BY Paul Smith


f small businesses power our economy (99% of all U.S. companies), capital is the “rocket fuel” that powers small businesses. Without capital, businesses can’t start or grow. In fact, the two most common reasons cited for small business failure are no market need (42%) and lack of sufficient capital (29%).

Uses of Capital Businesses seek capital for a variety of reasons including: • Starting a new business • Purchasing equipment • Working capital • Expansion/growth • Acquiring a business • Refinancing/restructuring Companies in rapid growth mode require significant capital because increased sales typically result in higher inventory levels and increased AR, both of which need to be funded. Without sufficient capital, a company may not be able to “digest” its own growth. Sources of Capital While sources of capital vary depending on the industry, needs and stage of



the business, funding sources can be grouped into four major areas:

the basis of what is commonly referred to as the “5 C’s of Credit:”

1. Grants

• Capital (borrower equity contribution, typically cash) • Capacity (sufficient cash flow to repay the loan) • Collateral (assets that provide a secondary source of repayment) • Conditions (may include loan terms or market conditions) • Character (credit score, industry and business experience, drive to succeed)

Grants are generally awarded by federal, state or local government entities or local economic development organizations. They are typically targeted to specific industries and often require a match of cash and/or in-kind services. Examples of State grant programs include Innovate ND, Agricultural Products Utilization Commission (APUC), the Bioscience Innovation Grant Program (BIG) and Operation Intern. The SBA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs award grant dollars to small businesses for research and development of a technology with the potential for commercialization. 2. Debt financing Debt financing typically is credit extended by banks, credit unions or other financial lending institutions with specified repayment terms. The most common types of loans are long-term loans for financing fixed asset purchases and short-term loans and lines of credit for financing temporary or seasonal needs such as inventory or construction. Lenders typically evaluate loan requests on

When you meet with a lender, be prepared to answer the following questions: • How much capital do you need? • How will the money be used? • How will the loan be repaid? • What collateral do you have to offer as a secondary source of repayment? • How much equity are you investing? In deciding on a lender to work with, start with your current financial institution. If you don’t have a current lender, look for banks or credit unions that work with small businesses and are familiar with and use SBA and/or Bank of ND loan guarantee programs. The result is less risk for the lender and often reduced equity required for the borrower. If you are declined, ask for the reason in writing and find out if this is a permanent denial or if the loan request can be

resubmitted if concerns are addressed. Consider meeting with at least one other lender, or if the amount needed is less than $50,000, you can apply for an SBA Microloan. 3. Alternative financing Founders may look to alternative financing (alternative to banks and credit unions) for a variety of reasons such as lack of capital or collateral, to test market demand or generate pre-sales for a product launch. Examples of alternative lending include: • Crowdfunding • Online Marketplace Lending • Peer-to-Peer Lending • Merchant Cash Advance & Alternatives • Program Related Investments (PRI) via foundations • State/city economic development programs Crowdfunding can be donation-based (GoFundMe), reward-based (Kickstarter, Indiegogo), lending-based (kiva) or equity-based (Wefunder). Campaign size and

success rates vary based on the type of program. Examples of online marketplace lenders include Lending Club, Prosper, Funding Circle, OnDeck, Kabbage (lines of credit), PayPal Working Capital and Square Capital. Marketplace options can provide fast and easy access to capital (typically for smaller amounts), but do your homework as interest rates, fees and penalties can be substantially higher than a bank or credit union. 4. Equity financing Equity financing (aka venture capital) involves raising capital by offering investors shares of ownership in the company, typically in the form of preferred stock. Potential investors often include family and friends or accredited angel investors (or angel funds) who can leverage their industry or business expertise and connections to advance the business. Investors are looking for a return on their investment over a specified period of time. The most important tools in approaching potential investors are a pitch deck and pro forma.

Paul Smith is Director of the Fargo and Southeast Center of the ND Small Business Development Centers (ND SBDC). Last year, the program assisted nearly 1,500 clients through nine service centers located across the State. The Fargo Center is located in the NDSU Research and Technology Park. For more information, please visit

State venture capital programs include: • ND Innovation Technology Loan Fund (LIFT) • ND Development Fund • Venture Capital Fund (managed by ND Development Fund) • ND Growth Fund (direct and indirect investments) Business Plan Regardless of whether a small business is seeking financing through grants, debt or equity investment, having a business plan is vital. Depending on the objectives and audience, a business plan can take several forms from a one-page plan (Business Model Canvas) to an investor pitch deck to a detailed plan, which generally includes a narrative section, financial projections and appendix of supporting documents. A business plan should address the following questions: • What’s the BIG IDEA? (your “pitch”) • What’s the problem you’re solving? • How does your product or service solve the problem? • How big is the market opportunity?

• How have you validated sufficient demand for your product or service? • Who are your competitors? • What’s your competitive advantage? • Does the company have differentiated technology or IP? • How is the team uniquely capable of executing the plan? • How are you going to make money? • How will you grow your business? • What resources and capital will it take? • What are the potential risks to the business? The plan should include detailed three-year financial projections– balance sheet, profit & loss and cash flow statement–which are consistent with the narrative and supported by critical assumptions, which explain the “logic” behind the numbers. Capital is vital to business startup, survival and sustainability. If you would like assistance with business planning, financial projections and/or information regarding financing and programs which might be a good fit with your business and needs, please visit our website to register for our free, confidential business advising services delivered by certified small business advisors.



Grace Heinen Owner of CreatedxGrace and student at Grand Canyon University

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. A. I am a 20-year-old student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ, but when I’m not studying in the south, I live in Fargo, ND. I enjoy hiking, longboarding, crafting, collecting plants, and running my small business of handmade macrame pieces! Q. How did you get involved in your work? A. I started making macrame pieces in 2017 as a hobby. I enjoyed making and creating different pieces and challenging myself to make new patterns. I eventually didn’t have enough wall space to keep all my work, so in 2019 I started selling on Etsy. Since then, I have started selling a handful of macrame creations at Unglued in Downtown Fargo, while continuing to create unique pieces for my Etsy shop, CreatedxGrace. Some of my favorite pieces have been macrame wedding arches and large custom pieces. I love the creative aspect of macrame and have also found it to be a great stressrelieving activity. I continue to try new things and push myself to make more challenging pieces. Creating knots is forgiving because it allows you to try new patterns and layers, and if it doesn’t look the way you want, it’s easy to undo knots and create new ones. Because of its forgiving nature, knotting has become my favorite way of expressing my creativity.

Grace Heinen is only 20 years old and owns her own small business. She talks with us about turning her hobby into an Etsy shop, and why knots have become her favorite form of art and self-care. Photo provided by Ladyboss Midwest



Q. What does it mean to be a Ladyboss? A. One important aspect of being a Ladyboss is understanding your identity and self-worth. Knowing who you are and being confident in your abilities empowers you and other women around you. Being a Ladyboss also means you’re always up for a challenge and are willing to put in the hard work, even if it’s outside your comfort zone. Q. Who inspires you? A. The amazing sister duo Katie Schiltz and Sam Klinkhammer of The White House Co. inspire me every day. Being able to work under them and seeing them run a womanowned small business has been so inspiring. They have managed to turn something they did as a hobby into a business and seeing their creativity inspires me to do the same with my small business. Q. What is your favorite form of self-care? A. My favorite forms of self-care are finding ways to incorporate things

that I enjoy in my everyday life. Setting aside time for the things that I love to do helps me to relax and unwind. Those things include baking, reading a good book, creating macrame pieces, spending time with friends and family and, of course, drinking an iced coffee always helps to put a smile on my face! Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?

need a group that they can come to at the end of the day that listens and understands their struggles, yet still finds a way to bring light to their life. Be the one to encourage and build others up and find a group of women that will do the same to you. Know that being proud of your accomplishments as a woman should be celebrated and find time to celebrate being who you are!

A. Try not to focus on what others think in your creative process. Personally, I have found that trying to please others when creating something can make the process a lot harder and it is not as fulfilling. When I am being creative, the best way I can do things is to try my best, be willing to fail and find what works for myself. Finding my own groove and not trying to fulfill the expectations of others is the most rewarding and fun process of creating and owning a small business. Q. What do you think women need right now? A. I think women need other supportive, innovative and attentive women in their lives. Women really



In recent interviews I conducted as part of my work with NDSU’s Challey Institute over the last few months, I asked entrepreneurs and leaders about benefits entrepreneurs experienced due to the COVID pandemic—especially related to the effects of the lockdown. Results suggest many entrepreneurs identified it as a moment where they got a “start over” or redo credit—something like a “strategic pause” and were able to imagine new business ideas and products. In other words, they responded to the event as an opportunity. As one entrepreneur described it: “…we are going to get the opportunity to rebuild our whole new model with the bedrock of our business. Let's put it that way… I told a lot of our employees… ‘I feel like we're almost... It's like we're starting over.’ Which we kind of are, we're basically starting a new business.” Another said: “I consider the ability to look at your business and make changes as an opportunity…we have had an opportunity over the last year to make changes in how we operate as a business.” One entrepreneur found he finally had time to really “dig in” to the financial aspects of



the company, something he had put off for years. Another entrepreneur began to consider her overall approach to the business and decided to finally refocus on new markets. The examples go on.

approaches. When entrepreneurs focus more on what is possible now, with their current resources, in the current situation, it can result in creative and surprising new goals and ideas.

I learned that for some entrepreneurs there was value in having to step outside the day to day for a prolonged period. It allowed entrepreneurs and business owners to take stock, think about areas that have been neglected, and for some, to dive into strategy, purpose and mission based on the new reality.

Traditionally, we teach being an entrepreneur is generally a cause-andeffect approach. First, think of a market you want to enter, come up with a product, create a plan to get that product to market, then work tirelessly on this pre-determined goal until you find success. This process, once put in motion, requires few other ingredients other than hard work, grit and perseverance. As one entrepreneur described it “…passion, relentlessness or persistence, like they just will not give up …there is just that incredible drive, the willingness to put the rest of their life on hold basically and say, ‘This is my life,’ there is no balance…”

Another person I interviewed articulated it this way: “I think a lot of people got to sit down and… have some time to think what could I be doing differently? How could I pivot to address a market need that I hadn't really thought of before but I got the time? Or, people's ambitions, people's goals do change during an event like this. And so, how can I accommodate or use my product, my services, to address those new needs, those new focuses, in commerce?” The rigor of the day-to-day grind can reduce our responsiveness to the changing environment, keep us too planted on the status quo. Staying focused on the main goal and following the pre-determined plan can obfuscate opportunities and new

Many entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders have this kind of experience—the all-consuming dogged pursuit of a pre-determined goal—such as opening a taco shop or creating an accounting app. While grit passion and perseverance are important qualities for success, they might at times make necessary change difficult—or at least hinder entrepreneurs from taking

advantage of surprises, such as the global pandemic. Others consider entrepreneurship differently—by first asking what is available to me now and what new possibilities exist based on my current resources and situation? Entrepreneurship scholars identify this as effectuation. Effectuation doesn’t begin with a specific goal and detailed plan but is flexible and responsive by leveraging available resources, allowing for goals to change and emerge over time. Effectuation takes advantage of surprises, rather than avoiding them. Entrepreneurs who took advantage of the terrible situation resulting from COVID exercised effectual thinking to realize new goals, products, and markets. What lesson can we learn here? I believe we can all be more effectual in our thinking about work and other pursuits. For example, consider what you know, who you know, and who you are: How can those things be focused toward some new and exciting product or business? How might we leverage our current resources and abilities to imagine exciting new pursuits or projects? Give it a try! To learn more, go to

Josh Marineau, Associate Professor of Management at North Dakota State, has had research published in Social Networks, Group & Organization Management, andJournal of Business and Psychology. He has presented his research at academic conferences around the world, most recently at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, and at the International Network for Social Network Analysis Annual Meeting in Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Academic Insight


want you to imagine or visualize your favorite place in the world. A place where you feel connected, energized, engaged, or that has a special purpose and meaning in your life. For some of you, this place may be on a beach, at the lake, on the golf course, or perhaps it could be in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of your home. If it is a place that you truly enjoy being at, then your desire is to stay there as long as possible.

BY Shontarius D. Aikens, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management at Offutt School of Business at Concordia College



Now, let’s come back to reality. Roughly a third of a person’s day is spent at their place of employment. For some employees, their work environment can provide similar feelings of purpose, meaning, and engagement. For others, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve had conversations with several of my friends who have indicated that the pandemic has caused them to re-assess their purpose and life goals. As a result, they are contemplating leaving their current organization in pursuit of a better opportunity. Even prior to the pandemic, companies in various industries have often indicated a shortage of talent. Given the current labor shortage, hiring talented individuals would become even more competitive. If organizations are having difficulty bringing in new employees, what would happen if organizations started losing their existing employees? This should be concerning to organizations. So, what can organizations do? One solution is to focus on employee retention by improving the organization’s workplace culture. According to a 2015 Gallup study on Well-Being and Employee Engagement, employees who are engaged at their work and have high well-being are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization over a 12-month period. Since creating a


Workplace Culture Encourages Employee Retention workplace culture where employees can thrive, be engaged and feel valued would result in them staying at their current organization, managers should make this is a priority given the current labor shortage. Below are three things to consider and possible action steps. Understanding the Existing Workplace Culture Workplace culture begins in a top-down approach with senior leadership and management. And it is recommended that top management have a true understanding of the existing workplace culture to the point that they can define it and articulate it. In addition, it is important to answer two workplace culture questions: • Is the culture Strong or Weak?: A strong culture exists when there are 1) high levels of agreement among employees about what is valued and 2) high levels of intensity about these values. If both items are low, then the culture could be characterized as weak. • Are cultural components Observable or Unobservable?: Pay particular attention to aspects of the workplace culture that are observable (can be seen or witnessed)

Dr. Aikens can be reached at:

and aspects of the culture that are unobservable (components that lie beneath the surface of an organization and are not as easily seen or witnessed). A tool that can be used to analyze an existing workplace culture would be the Cultural Web tool developed by Gerry Johnson. If one is looking for a resource that explains the process of re-assessing or re-defining the values of an organization, I highly recommend Patrick Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player. Gathering Employee Feedback One tool that can be utilized to gather employee feedback on the workplace culture is the Stop-Keep-Start (SKS) reflection method. During a large group or town hall session including employees, a facilitator presents three questions to employees: • What is one thing that our organization should Stop doing? • What is one thing that our organization should Keep doing? • What is one thing that our organization should Start doing? Attendees would answer the questions anonymously on either a postit note or a notecard. The results would be collected and discussed in the large group setting for further clarification and understanding. In addition to creating an atmosphere of communication, transparency and openness, the additional benefit of this is receiving direct feedback from employees on how they perceive the existing workplace culture. The Important Role of Managers Not only do managers play a key role in influencing and implementing the

workplace culture, but they also play a key role in employee retention. Why? Because it is well known and documented that employees don’t leave organizations; they leave managers. Managers should meet with their supervisees via 1 on 1 meetings on a regular and frequent basis to celebrate their achievements, discuss their challenges and ideas for future development. Conclusion Laurel J. Richie, former president of the WNBA (2011-2015), said the following: “I want people coming in every day thinking this is a place where they can bring their very best, and I believe that if they feel that way, they will actually do it. I just don’t believe in terrorizing, intimidating, testing, catching people off guard. I don’t play games. Life’s too short and we’ve got too much to do. I want people focusing on the work, not how to navigate politics. It’s my job to create an environment where they can bring their best selves, and good things will happen as a result.” The success of the WNBA during Richie’s tenure is well documented, and it is a great example of how a focus on workplace culture can result in an organization’s success and growth during critical times. It is my hope that the information and resources provided in this article will help your organization address the relevant and critical need for employee retention through an intentional focus on improving the workplace culture.




Fargo Events

OCTOBER 20 Mind Your Mind And It Will Mind Your Business

Wednesday, October 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Your business will grow to the extent you do. Intellectually, we know that. So we do the things: we take the classes, we hire the coaches, we attend the workshops. We tell ourselves that when we learn enough or know enough, we will be growing and our businesses will follow suit. But if we are honest with ourselves (and why wouldn’t we be?), chasing training and learning doesn’t always produce the result on the bottom line. So what's missing? Courtyard Marriott Moorhead and livestream 1080 28th Avenue South Moorhead MN 56560

OCTOBER 22 Networking Before 9

Friday, October 22 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Join this virtual networking event to grow your personal and professional networks; make sure to invite someone to join this conversation too! Throughout the 60 minutes, you’ll be able to connect with multiple individuals and get to know everyone on the call – we look forward to you joining us.

OCTOBER 26 Leaving Your Lane

Tuesday, October 26 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Have you heard the phrase, "Stay in your lane"?

According to Merriman-Webster, the phrase “Stay in your lane” is a rebuke or advice against those who want to express a thought or opinion about a subject they’re not an expert on, or perhaps don’t have a lot of experience with.



"I'm not a fan of this phrase. I want you to know that it's OK to leave your lane and try new things. I'll share some stories about how I've left my lane at work and at home...and how it's changed my life." -Sally Erickson, Senior Content Strategist, Microsoft Avalon Events Center and livestream 2525 Ninth Avenue South Fargo ND 56103

NOVEMBER 2 Eggs & Issues: Looking Toward the Future

Tuesday, November 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

It’s no secret that our region has recently seen a lot of success! With the diversion being fully funded, career academies well on their way in both Cass and Clay counties, and the metro gaining national recognition, many are wondering what’s next. The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metro must continue to grow, evolve and innovate. Hear from past Chamber Legacy Leaders as they look toward the future and share

their excitement for what’s to come. More information will be available as we get closer to the event, but this is an Eggs & Issues session you don’t want to miss. Join November 2 to find out what’s next! Courtyard by Marriott 1080 28th Avenue South Moorhead MN 56560

NOVEMBER 4 The Human Aspect of Human Space Flight

Thursday, November 4 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Chamber is excited to bring this special event to our community and Chamber members. These two inspiring leaders will share their journeys, as well as the human aspect of their life and difficult missions, and how we too can overcome personal and professional challenges. "This is a look into our personal lives and how we navigated through our marriage, space missions, raising a son, and all the day-to-day challenges that come with it.

During that same time, we were flying multiple space missions to complete assembly of the International Space Station (ISS), serving on long-duration missions onboard ISS, as well as closing out the space shuttle program and developing and flying the Space X Crew Dragon on its historical first test flight." Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd Street SW Fargo ND 58103

DECEMBER 7 December 2021 Eggs & Issues

Tuesday, December 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Courtyard by Marriott 1080 28th Avenue South Moorhead MN 56560

DECEMBER 8 Business Training December

Wednesday, December 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd Street SW Fargo ND 58103

DECEMBER 14 Women Connect December Social

Tuesday, December 14 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Avalon Events Center and livestream 2525 Ninth Avenue South Fargo ND 56103

Profile for Spotlight

Fargo INC! October 2021  

Imagine being able to print a jig, component, or widget that you need for an important job. Imagine being able to make promotional items in-...

Fargo INC! October 2021  

Imagine being able to print a jig, component, or widget that you need for an important job. Imagine being able to make promotional items in-...

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