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Lonsdale Telephone Co. competes with the big boys I Togetherness not an issue for Northfield Realtors

35C

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009

Commerce along the I-35 Corridor

Staying the course Northfield’s Greg Carlson successfully manages wealth with a long-term focus.

Regional resource: Airports along the I-35 corridor serve region well.

35C Business Magazine • P.O. Box 537 • Northfield, MN 55057

Small town, big business: Ahlman’s Gun Shop takes aim at Midwest shooters.


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35Contents Business of airports

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Regional airports have had a big impact on companies looking to relocate along the I-35 corridor.

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Operator assisted Lonsdale Telephone Company has held its own against bigger telecommunications companies.

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Cover story Northfield’s Greg Carlson has found success in managing other people’s wealth.

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A shooter’s paradise

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Inseparable

Three generations of Ahlmans have built a real success story in small town of Morristown.

35Caricature: Northfield Realtors Sid & Martha Kasper work together and play together.

Departments 4 10 11 16 17 23 28 29

35Commentary 35Confab 35Construction 35Catalyst 35Commendation 35Charitable 35Culinary 35Chamber 35C photo by Jerry Smith

Cover Photo

About Us

Greg Carlson, one of three principals in Carlson Capital Management in Northfield, believes we are shaped by values gained in our younger years.

Volume 2, Issue 2 Copyright © 35C 2009 Published Oct./Nov. 2009 by: I-35 Target Media, P.O. Box 537, Northfield, MN 55057 / 507-645-1136 Send releases and story ideas to: Jerry Smith at 35C Business Magazine, jsmith@I35targetmedia.com

(Photo by Jerry Smith)

Publisher: Sam Gett Sales Director: Julie Frazier Associate Editor: Jerry Smith Account Executive: Machelle Kendrick Graphic Designer: Ashley Ptacek Contributing writers: Azna A. Amira, Jerry Smith.

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35Commentary You can be a part of choosing our 35Catalysts

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ike all good publications, 35C is evolving. For more than a year now, we have provided our readers with success stories about companies along the I-35 business corridor, stories about relevant business issues and trends, and profiles on the movers and shakers in our region. What’s been an ongoing challenge, though, is identifying folks behind the scenes who are the true catalysts of business success along I-35. Going forward, we’d like your help in doing so. In the “35Catalyst” section of the magazine, including this issue, we’ve been able to recognize 38 men and women “who are making things happen along the I-35 business corridor.” Bob Kell (August/September 2009 issue) is one of those people. He is known as a catalyst to folks in Faribault and Rice

From the Editor Jerry Smith County for his work as the director of the Welcome Center, where among other things, he matches the working skills of immigrants and others with employer needs. Another is Northfield business owner Brian Parrish (June/July 2009 issue), who not only helps people of his community through generous fundraising efforts, but also through the Northfield Youth Hockey Association.

For nine years now, the owner of three Papa Murphy’s Pizza franchises has helped raise money for families touched by cancer. Faribault’s Kathleen Jansen (April/May 2009 issue) is another example of a catalyst in our region. She not only works diligently to keep Faribault schools strong and vibrant through her volunteer efforts, she has been a major advocate of women business owners. Among the things the now retired Senior Vice President of Business Development at 1st United Bank in Faribault has achieved is forming the first all-female women’s advisory board at the bank. The board helps bring community issues and concerns to the bank by hosting meetings and events. While there are far too many people to mention here, the corridor is chock >>>

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>>> full of catalysts like Kell, Parrish and Jansen. These are people who go the extra mile in completing tasks for their companies and communities. There are others out there just like those who have been recognized on our 35Catalyst pages and we want your help finding them. Moving forward As 35Catalyst evolves, we would encourage business owners and managers to nominate people in companies who have done an outstanding job at the forefront or behind the scenes. Every business has at least one of these people. They are the ones who worked extra hours to complete a project, or the ones who took on extra duties in order to free up someone to perform another task. They are the folks who went the extra mile in ensuring a company’s success, despite overwhelming odds. With the help of owners, managers and co-workers, we hope to spotlight these business heroes. Through our Web site (35Cbusiness.com), emails and letters to the editor, we would like for you, our readers, to start recognizing those who are catalysts in your company. In each issue of the magazine, we would like to recognize at least two 35Catalysts in the region. After receiving a

Who is your 35Catalyst? To nominate someone from your company as a 35Catalyst for the December/January issue or future issues, please visit 35Cbusiness.com and click on the 35Catalyst link. You can also submit nominations to Associate Editor Jerry Smith at jsmith@I35targetmedia. com or send a letter to: 35C business magazine, P.O. Box 537, Northfield, MN 55057.

name and a short sentence on why the person nominated is worthy, we’ll do the rest. We’ll tell the stories of each 35Catalyst through the words of their nominator and/or co-workers and expose them as the great employees they are. The staff of 35C sees the importance of recognizing people on a regional scale and we hope the owners and managers of businesses up and down the I-35 corridor do too. We look forward to being flooded with nominations, but this can only happen with your help. r — Jerry Smith is the Associate Editor for 35C. He can be reached at 507-645-1136 or by email at jsmith@I35targetmedia. com.

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The sky’s the limit Regional airports are the gateway to the cities they serve Story and photos by JERRY SMITH

D

ave Beaver believes that the Owatonna Degner Regional Airport is the front door to the community. If that’s the case, when city and airport officials opened its new 3,000-foot crosswind runway on Sept. 10, it was like rolling out a red carpet to the city of Owatonna. “When companies are looking to relocate, the first thing officials see is the airport,” said Beaver,

Owatonna Degner Airport’s T-38 Talon Thunderbird jets From 1998 to 2006, the three T-38 Talon Thunderbird jets were on display at the Heritage Halls Museum before being moved to the Owatonna Degner Regional Airport. It was the dream of Heritage Halls founder R.W. “Buzz” Kaplan to create a realistic display of aerobatic flight to honor our United States fighter pilots who help protect our great country.

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the airport manager since 1996. “It’s an impression of Owatonna, so we not only want to have a first-class facility, we also want to give those seeking to come here the best possible amenities, and it starts with the airport.” The runway, which has been in the planning stages for years but has been delayed for various reasons, was started last year and cost $4.2 million to construct. It took about nine months to complete and intersects with the 5,500-foot primary runway. About 95 percent of the construction was funded through federal and state grants, Beaver said, specifically the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which collects money through user fees and fuel surcharges. The remaining 5 percent was paid with local tax money. “The new runway definitely improves access

and utilization of the airport and enhances safety,” Beaver said. “Not only are we providing good access to the city, we’re also looking into the future needs of the community and economic development.” Doug Hughes, chair of the Owatonna Airport Commission, believes that and more when it comes to offering and maintaining a first-class airport. “The airport is a catalyst to bring new jobs to the community,” he said. >>>


Airport strategies While each of the airports in our region has a unique way of operating — the Owatonna and Faribault Airports are owned and operated by their respective cities, Waseca Municipal Airport is city owned and privately operated and Stanton Airfield (Northfield) is privately owned and operated — each must rely on the same strategies to make enough money to stay afloat. High on that list is hangar rental, which each airport uses as an effective way of bringing in money. It is so important to Beaver and Owatonna city officials that land has been set aside for future expansion. “Businesses are seeing the value of using corporate aviation as a tool,” Beaver said. “If companies can use local airports, there are

a lot of efficiencies. You are on your schedule and not the airlines’ schedule. “So having a first-class airport with enough hangars and space to build new ones to accommodate the businesses that are interested is key.” That strategy has worked well for Beaver and the airport. Having a first-class airport was instrumental in attracting John Klatt Airshows. The company is nearly finished with its new hangar, which will be the home base for 5-7 people and a place to house some of the company’s airplanes and exhibits. “It’s very simple. It’s a convenient place for our staff to get together because we are scattered,” said Jerry Carlson, vice president of business development and COO of the company. “It’s a well-maintained airport and has instrument-based runways, which we need. The city of Owatonna has been very receptive and we look forward to a long working relationship.” Maynard Stensrud has been at the Waseca Municipal Airport for 19 years and says there has never been an empty hangar in his tenure. “We’re different than many airports in that we are self-sustaining,” Stensrud said. “In all of my years here, we haven’t had an empty hangar and have sometimes had to turn away folks looking to rent our facilities.” Stensrud said the airport has three revenue sources: farm land rental, hangar rental and a combination of state aid and FAA grants. >>>

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Celebrity sightings not a rarity at regional airports

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hile small regional airports don’t get the attention or traffic like those in large metropolitan areas, there still is plenty of action and excitement. That was the case at Stanton Airfield in 2001, when President Clinton came to Northfield to give the commencement address at Carleton College. Kent Johnson remembers the day and the time leading up to it like it was yesterday. “It was a very exciting day,” said Johnson, the manager of Stanton Airfield who said he has also had brief encounters with Bill Murray and Harrison Ford at the airfield. “There were five helicopters that landed out here, two for the president’s people and three for the press. “We were able to stand out by the president’s helicopter and chit chat, too. He was the one who suggested taking a family photo with him.” But what struck Johnson more than the visit itself was the preparation before the president’s entourage arrived. “All of the activity ahead of time was exciting, with the Secret Service here and all,” said Johnson, who had to shut down the airport while the president was in the area. “They were definitely into communication. All of the sudden, we had five new telephone lines here.” • Dave Beaver has seen his share of celebrities at the Owatonna Degner Regional Airport as well. Among the famous folks who he’s seen are actors Charlton Heston and Harrison Ford, former test pilot and Air Force hero Chuck Yeager and Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. • Celebrity sightings at the Faribault Airport are few and far between, according to airport manager Jerry Serres. His fondest memory is seeing Wayne Gretzky in Faribault as he was there visiting Shattuck-St. Mary’s. — Jerry Smith

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>>> “It starts right here. It takes us from a local market to a global market. It’s a real asset to the community.” Degner Regional Airport has something else that makes it attractive to companies that might want to relocate and have the need for corporate aviation. It is one of only 25 airports in Minnesota that offers a 5,000-foot primary runway that is lighted. Its runways are also equipped for instrument landings. “It enhances our competitive edge with other airports, that’s for sure,” said Beaver, who noted that 15 or 16 companies currently use Degner for their corporate aviation needs. “It’s been said that our (primary) runway is the most important mile of pavement in town.”

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>>> “Our primary income is from the rental of 305 acres of farm land surrounding the airport,” Stensrud said. “Also a good source of income is the rental from the city owned hangars.” But it has been the grant money that has helped the Waseca airport survive and thrive. Stensrud said the vast majority of the new building constructed two years ago came from grants, as did the reconstruction of the 3,400-foot runway in 2001. “Each year, we have a $150,000 grant to update runways and facilities and that has been key in allowing us to be a top-notch regional airport,” Stensrud said. “It allows us to maintain and make improvements to the airport and none of it comes out of tax dollars.” Stensrud believes the Waseca Municipal Airport is in a prime spot to provide corporate aviation services to larger companies. He also feels that having a first-class facility helps. “Big aviation is vital and important to small and large businesses,” he said. “We provide an opportunity for businesses to be able to

utilize aviation as transportation, especially as the economy picks up.” Faribault Municipal Airport manager Jerry Serres believes that the city’s proximity to the Twin Cities makes it a prime spot for businesses to relocate, thus making its airport an important entity in the city. “The airport is another feather in the city’s cap,” said Serres, who has managed the airport since 2000. “With the I-35 corridor, it’s a pretty essential piece of the puzzle that makes it work. This airport is going to be very critical in a decision if a company is going to build a plant here.” Much like the other regional airports, Faribault depends on revenue from hangar rentals and land rental to help foot the bill. “Your goal is for the airport to break even and we do the majority of the time,” said Faribault’s Director of Finance Terry Berg. “Airports are looked at as a good economic development tool and ours is no different. We currently have three inquiries from companies looking to relocate here in the works.” >>>

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TOP: Waseca Municipal Airport is city owned and operated and maintained by Maynard Stensrud of Stensrud Aviation. LEFT: Faribault Municipal Airport is the site of the Airfest and Balloon Rally. Thousands of people were on hand Sept. 18-19 to watch aerobatic racing and take in the ground displays.

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A unique airport Historic Stanton Airfield, located between Northfield and Cannon Falls, is in a unique situation among the other airports in the region. Being one of the only privately owned airports in Southern Minnesota requires that the airport be self-supportive. For airport manager Kent Johnson, that sometimes is a challenge. “Everything we do is selfsupportive,” said Johnson, who started flying out of Stanton in 1972 and now operates the facility and lives in an apartment above the administration building. “That’s why we offer so much here.” Johnson said revenue used to run and maintain the two grass airfields — the 2,400-foot north-south runway and the 2,200-foot east-west runway — and the buildings and hangars comes from many different sources, including hangar rental, flight school, aircraft

35C photo by David Henke

TOP: The Minnesota Soaring Club — with its 100 members — is based at the Stanton Airfield near Northfield. Each weekend, the club offers glider rides to the general public. RIGHT: A commemorative Air Force B-25 Bomber was on display at the Faribault Airfest and Balloon Rally. Hundreds of people toured the World War II plane.

rental, aircraft maintenance and sales and by charging for glider and airplane rides. Also in the equation is farmland rental. “The biggest amount of money comes from the maintenance shop,” said Johnson, who answers to 47 shareholders. “Then it would be the flight school, aircraft rental and hangar rental.” While Johnson says it is vital for the airport to offer all of these services, he said the success of the airport ultimately comes from the people who work there, mostly on a volunteer basis. “We rely heavily on the volunteers because it’s a lot of facility to maintain,” said Johnson, who is one of the three paid and three volunteer employees on site. “It’s really the only way we can keep going. The whole mission of the corporation is to keep everything affordable and to keep general aviation alive.” r

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35Confab

A chat with Business Network International’s LuAnn Buechler

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?

5 Takeaways from LuAnn Buechler

1. It’s back to basics. It’s all

about fundamental loyalty to the people you do business with.

2. We all do business with

people we know, like and trust. We have to remember to refer them to others.

3. Relationships! Relation-

ships! Relationships! Build on relationships with your friends, family and clients and ask them to refer business to you.

4. Word-of-mouth marketing will always be the most cost effective. BNI teaches people how to use it as a marketing strategy.

uAnn Buechler is a firm believer that referring the people she trusts to others is the best way to do any type of business. That’s why she fits in so well in the Business Network International organization, where she has been the assistant director for the Southern Minnesota franchise for four years. “The philosophy of BNI is built upon the idea of “Givers Gain,” said Buechler, who has been involved in BNI for five years since she opened her own business PMC Events & Travel. ”By giving business to others, you will get business in return. It’s human nature.” BNI is a business and professional organization that helps members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional word-of-mouth program, Buechler said. That enables members to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. What’s unique about BNI, Buechler said, is that each chapter allows only one person per professional classification or specialty to join. “All the tools you need to start a business are right there,” she said. “Everybody in the organization is there to help find you business, to be a support system and even a business advisor. “I give the members in my chapter and other chapters the credit for the business I have.” In Minnesota, there are 153 chapters, 25 of which are in Southern Minnesota. To find out more about BNI, visit www. BNI-MN.com or www.bni.com. Q: What is the mission of Business Network International? A: Our sole purpose is to help our members grow their business. We’ve re-created loyalty. People help each other by referring them to their friends and people they know. Each chapter is like its own little community and we are there to help each other. We have a code of ethics in BNI. I don’t have to worry about people taking advantage of me. A business’ reputation depends on taking care of their referral partners. I

5. Givers gain. Remember to

give of yourself first. People will naturally help you in return. 10 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C

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work with people I know I can trust. Q: What is the benefit of being a member of BNI? A: Again, being a member helps you grow your business. I’ve been in business for five years and I honestly don’t think I would be in business without this organization. Whenever I plan events in different places, I go right to the people in BNI to find the services I need. There is a network world-wide. As a director, I go to two conferences a year and I meet great people from around the world that are now in my network. Q: Does one BNI chapter network with another within the region? A: Yes, we can visit other chapters, be a substitute and we do business across chapters even around the world. There are a lot of ways to use the organization to expand your networking opportunities to grow your business. One of the skills we teach is what is called a “Power Team,” which is when people have a shared client base but are not in competition. These teams share clients, refer each other, and even do joint marketing. Q: How has technology affected or changed BNI? A: People believe that social media is going to replace face-to-face communication. That’s not the case. We’re human beings and we want that face-to-face interaction. I believe it will never go away because we need it. That being said, we just went live in a beta test with BNI Connect, which will help members become more successful with their BNI membership than ever before by connecting all of our organizations and chapters world-wide. What BNI Connect does is open each member to the world. If you want a business and you want it to be global, there is no better place to be. BNI can put you in touch with trusted members all around the world. r

Our sole purpose is to help our members grow their business.


35Construction Projects contributing to the growth of the I-35 corridor

TOP: Construction continued on the $17.2 million Waseca wastewater plant project, which will be partially funded by federal stimulus money. RIGHT: The $2.2 million expansion to the existing Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation is on track to be finished by year’s end.

Highway 169 in St. Peter on pace to be finished in 2010 St. Peter residents have been watching the progress of the $17 million Highway 169 St. Peter Design-Build project with much interest this summer. The project, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, began in June and is on pace to be finished in early 2010. The project extends from Highway 22 South to Union Street, a distance of 1.5 miles. — 35C photos by Jerry Smith and Ed Lee

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Dialed in

Lonsdale Telephone Company has rich family tradition By AZNA A. AMIRA Photos by JERRY SMITH

T

he Lonsdale Telephone Company is an arch anomaly in the wide and crowded field of telecommunications. This small, family owned and managed firm has been holding its own against the Charters

and Qwests of the world for three generations, and appears poised to survive and thrive for yet a fourth. “I don’t know whether we’re exactly beating the big boys at their own game, but we have kept them from swallowing us up,” said Bonnie Simon, part owner, general manager, and granddaughter of the compa-

ny’s founders. “We just keep changing to meet the customer’s ever-changing needs.” That assessment may be a tad too modest as Lonsdale Telephone’s formula for success — strong family values, community connections and an uncanny ability to spot and exploit new trends in technology — has positioned the >>>


>>> company strongly in its local market. While the population of Lonsdale is just under 2,000, Lonsdale has 1,650 customers who are also neighbors and friends. Whereas Charter, Qwest and DirecTV’s size and ubiquity are sometimes a plus, critics say they are too big to treat their customers with singular care. Complaints of circular menus leading nowhere and leaving customers alienated are legion. Their emphasis on volume and saturation strategies seemingly leaves many falling through the cracks in unserved pockets. Many potential rural customers are out of range or otherwise ineligible for service, too. And at the rate communications technologies have turned on a dime, large companies with much invested in inventory and infrastructure are often too slow — or too conservative — to respond quickly enough to capitalize on them. On the cutting edge Tiny Lonsdale Telephone, on the other hand, has been almost prescient in its ability to foresee trends that could benefit its customers and preemptively strike to preserve its niche. The most recent case in point would be the coup that enabled Lonsdale Telephone to wire Lonsdale’s new housing developments with fiber instead of copper cable, enabling them to offer their Triple Play Pack, an economical bundle of Internet, telephone and TV. In 1936, when Frank and Emily Novak, Simon’s grandparents, married and bought Lonsdale Telephone from Webster Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company, Lonsdale was a farm community of about 300 people. Since 2000, the population has mushroomed as new housing developments proliferated. Lonsdale Telephone’s engineering firm, Communications Network Engineers, advised them to invest in

Owner/manager Bonnie Simon sits at the old switchboard that her mother used in their home when Bonnie was a little girl.

A real family affair

T

he Lonsdale Telephone Company has been a family affair for the Novaks for nearly 70 years and seems poised to remain that way. The company was founded when Frank and Emily Novak, parents of Robert and Marcella Novak, and grandparents of Bonnie Simon and Don Novak, bought the company from a farmers coop in 1936. Bonnie Simon and Don Novak are present and past general managers, respectively. Don has recently retired. Casey Gregor, Don’s grandson, is learning the ropes as an installer. Bill Klaras, who is Don’s son-in-law, is working his way up the ladder as an outside plant locator and installer. The company is located on the village Main Street, just half block south of its original site, which was in Robert and Marcella’s home. Don recalls that the telephone switchboard occupied the family’s living room, while they ran a small general store from the front of the home. Known both as good corporate citizens and friends of the community, the company has organized its schedule of services so that even the economically disadvantaged can get telephone services at a discount. Those wishing Internet services and TV can get all three at rates below the industry norm, according to Simon. — Azna A. Amira

The Lonsdale Telephone Company What: Telephone, Internet and cable TV provider for Lonsdale and environs Where: 126 Main Street S in Lonsdale Web site: lonsdaletel@means.com E-mail: lonsdaletel@means.net Phone: 507-744-2311 Owner/manager: Bonnie Simon Staff: Geralyn Sticha and Deb Wagner Technical staff: Matt Brennan, Roger Gagner, Bill Klaras, Casey Gregor getting the new homes wired with fiber.

“We decided to bite the bullet and get it installed,”

Simon said. “It was the newest technology out, and it cost a heap of money, but it paid off.” The new technology allows the company to offer TV via the Internet (Digital Internet Protocol Television) to rural householders who get only spotty service, or are otherwise overlooked by the larger service providers. From 2004 to the present, the company has seen sales steadily increase in its exchange area, which extends 7 miles in all directions from its downtown office. Though Simon downplays its influence, the family has also had the political clout to help turn dreams into reality: Simon’s father Robert Novak rose from village clerk to serve as mayor of Lonsdale for l6 years. Her brother Don, now retired, also served a lengthy stint on the city council, while serving as CEO of the telephone company. Don was the man most responsible for keeping Lonsdale Telephone on the technological cutting edge. Novak, by conferring with peer organizations in the Minnesota Telecom Alliance (an advisory association for the industry) or by heading south to a special industry-wide training center in Raleigh, N.C., kept his company so far out on the cutting edge that officials of Rice County have asked its assistance in updating its own telecommunication equipment. “It was kind of a one-man show,” said Novak, who admitted that it had its advantages, but came at a price. Novak said he handled everything from making deals (former city councilman) to stringing wire. “When you’re that small, you can maneuver more quickly — if you’re willing to put in a lot of long, hard hours. It’s a 24/7, 365 job.” Hard work has ever been the hallmark of the family as Novak — now a part-time farmer with his wife, Karen, and the family’s unofficial historian — can attest. >>>

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14 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C

Family values Opening any business in the midst of the Great Depression was an act of faith; buying a phone company in little Lonsdale must have seemed like madness to many, Novak said. “A telephone was a luxury back then,� he said. “Only businessmen and wealthy farmers had them, even though grandfather Frank charged only a quarter per month.� Surviving the Depression was touch and go, Novak said, made possible only by determination, family unity and goodwill engendered in the community. “When you’re part of a family business, each person is expected to do their part, so you just do it,� Novak said.

It was seldom easy. “There were times when there was no money for phone poles and not enough wire,� he said. “If a pole would rot and fall over, Dad would just cut off the rotten part, and you would just have a shorter pole.� Fortunately, the l930s was also a time when business was done with a word and a handshake, when credit was secured with the collateral of neighborly good will. “If we couldn’t afford wire and brackets for the phone poles, why someone would help, saying ‘You get what you need, and when you get some money, then you can pay me,’� Novak said. His father had to go on the road throughout >>>

Gene Buhr Executive Vice President

507.333.0420

Michelle Wieber Wieber Physical Therapy Business Owner

Lonsdale Telephone Company has been serving its community for nearly 70 years. One look inside their office, and you will see the rich tradition of this family owned company.

430 NW Fourth Street, Faribault, MN 55021 507-334-2201 • www1stunited.com

Kelley Watts Personal Banker

507.333.0417 35Cbusiness.com


>>> Minnesota and Iowa, doing the manual work of stringing poles for other operators in order to earn the money to pay back such loans. “He had to do that for years,” Novak said. “The only reason we survived is that our grandparents maintained a small farm. Without that, we’d have had no groceries.” The hub of the community At a time when multimedia ads for Charter, Qwest and DirecTV are almost omnipresent throughout the state, Lonsdale Telephone’s best PR for its panoply of thriftily priced services is its base of satisfied customers. “We do better with customer service than the bigger companies because we know people and people know us,” Simon said. “It’s our hometown, so we know how to serve it better.” Patrick Wallin, owner of Lonsdale Country Market, has been a customer and family friend for 30 years.

“They’re more than just a telephone office, they’re the hub of the community,” he said, adding that the Novak family members are also prominent in the Lions’ and Eagles’ Clubs, sportsmen’s clubs and church activities. “During Community Days (a yearly celebration of the city), you can count on Bonnie being there with the free doughnuts and coffee — from her sister Mary’s shop.” That neighborly altruism is reflected in Lonsdale Telephone’s pricing policy, which offers discounts on basic telephone services to clients on various types of welfare assistance, and to those living on tribal lands. The family firm has no radical plans in mind for the future. “We’re just going to keep on doing what we’re doing,” Simon said. “We’ll just keep changing to meet our customers’ ever-changing needs.” r

TOP: The folks at Lonsdale Telephone Company are proud of the service they offer their community. Pictured from left are: Bill Klaras, Bonnie Simon (seated), Casey Gregor (Bonnie’s nephew), Geralyn Sticha, Matt Brennan and Deb Wagner. LEFT: Matt Brennan has been busy switching the old technology to the new fiber optics.

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g a r l i c k s w a t e r. c o m OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C

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35Catalyst Four who are making things happen along the I-35 business corridor

1.

2.

3.

4.

ST. PETER EVENTS PLANNER

RESTORING JUSTICE IN FARIBAULT

NORTHFIELD YOUTH EXCHANGE OFFICER

WASECA ENVIRONMENTALIST

Dean Wahlund has always been good at planning events and making things happen. Not long after he started attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Wahlund started volunteering at the college and looking for roles where he could help plan events. Nearly 40 years later, Wahlund is still at it. Only now it’s his job. As Director of Communications Services and Special Events at Gustavus, Wahlund has his fingers in planning all of the big events for the college. But that’s not enough for this long-time St. Peter resident. Wahlund believes that to be a part of a community, you have step up and do your part. He’s done this in a big way. “I got involved in the community the last 17 years and I have been afforded time to be a community liasion,” said Wahlund, who chaired the annual 4th of July Celebration this year and who will be stepping down from the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce board this year after 14 years. “I really believe in this. It takes a lot of people to make St. Peter great.”

Deacon Dan Wesley of Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault believes that a person must take responsibility for his or her actions. He also thinks that people who don’t make the right decisions in life deserve to make “restitution.” As a member of the Faribault Prison’s Restorative Justice Committee and someone who is involved in prison ministry, Wesley preaches this to any inmate who will listen. “It’s very rewarding seeing inmates take responsibility for rehabilitating themselves and seeing the community taking responsibility to insure there is an opportunity for rehabilitation,” said Wesley of the inmates who make children’s chairs for different places in the community and wooden tombstones for annual events put on by the Rice County Homeless Response Team. “It’s very rewarding to see these guys do something constructive with their lives.” Wesley has been on the Rice County Homeless Committee for 13 years.

Vicki Dilley was introduced to the Northfield Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange Program nine years ago and became a Youth Exchange Officer in 2004. Those are important dates for Dilley, who is one of the program’s biggest advocates. The Rotary Youth Exchange Program has been in existence since 1969 and more than 80 countries and 8,000 students each year participate. “I know I’m supporting these kids as they are making a difference in the world,” Dilley said. “They learn so much about what they are made of. When we send young students to other countries on an exchange, we know they will come back as young adults.” Before going exclusively to the Rotary Exchange Program, Dilley had hosted with other organizations, which she said really didn’t stack up. “I believe in Rotary and am now exclusive in Rotary,” said Dilley, who now helps facilitate the exchange process. “I was interested in the changing lives aspect and am a true believer of the program.”

Chris Waldron likes to give credit where credit is due. As the director of operations at Clear Lake Press in Waseca, Waldron has helped institute a program that not only managed the company’s hazardous waste, it all but eliminated it. But he said he didn’t do it alone. “It’s not a one-man show,” Waldron said. “You can’t be environmentally friendly without everybody’s involvement.” The model recently received accolades from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Because of the efforts of Waldron and the other employees, Clear Lake Press produces no hazardous waste. Currently, according to Waldron, the company is using about 40 rolls of paper a month less to produce the same amount of finished product they were producing last year due to improved press running procedures. “That equates to roughly eight tons of paper a month that does not enter a recycled waste stream,” Waldron said. “It’s a win for the environment, for our customers and for the company.”

16 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C

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35Commendation

Recognizing individuals and companies in business along the I-35 corridor /NORTHFIELD/

/OWATONNA/

/OWATONNA/

ID Insight, Inc. a finalist for 10th annual Tekne Awards

Albrecht named president of Owatonna Hospital

Cybex International outfits PGA Tour mobile fitness centers

The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) has named ID Insight, Inc. as a finalist in the IT-Software & Hardware, Communications and Infrastructure category for the 2009 Tekne Awards, which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday, Oct. 22. The Tekne Awards recognize Minnesota companies and individuals who have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. Presented by the MHTA in partnership with LifeScience Alley and Enterprise Minnesota, the Tekne Awards annually recognize Minnesota’s best and brightest technology users and developers in innovation, development, education, commercialization and management. A full list of finalists is available online at http://www.tekneawards.org.

David Albrecht has been named the new president for Owatonna Hospital. Albrecht has been acting as interim president since July 4, along with his other responsibilities as director of operations and finance/assistant administrator. Albrecht has been with Allina Hospitals & Clinics since June 2006. Prior to joining Owatonna Hospital, Albrecht was the interim chief executive officer of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Huntingburg, Ind. He was previously executive vice president for Bellin Health, Green Bay, Wis., where he led the operations of Bellin Hospital including its employed primary care medical group and an affiliated HMO. He began his career in public accounting serving numerous manufacturing and health care clients.

Cybex International of Owatonna was recently invited to exclusively outfit the mobile fitness and therapy centers on both the PGA and Champions Tours with high-performance equipment. The mobile centers travel to tournament sites throughout the season — including the PGA Championship held at Hazeltine National in August — supporting the rehabilitative, preventive care and personal conditioning program needs of all of the golfers. Staffed by professional therapists, chiropractors and athletic trainers, each trailer has been outfitted with an array of premium cardiovascular and strength training equipment, including Cybex Arc Trainers and FT-450 Functional Trainers.

We get you connected. • Consulting • Phone Systems • Voicemail Systems • Cabling: Voice, Data and Fiber • Adds, Moves and Changes • Testing and Certification • Networking LAN, WAN Wireless • Paging System • Remote Maintenance • VoIP

Safe. Sound. Stable. A cornerstone of its community for 126 years, Nicollet County Bank has once again earned the nation’s highest 5-Star superior rating for financial strength and stability in 2009.

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Phone Station Station Inc. Inc. is is your your total total communication communication Phone source for for sales, sales, service service & & installation. installation. source Our Certified Certified Technicians Technicians receive receive on-going on-going Our training servicing servicing all all types types of of phone phone systems systems training from Samsung, Samsung, Mitel, Mitel, & & Avaya Avaya to to voicemail voicemail from systems and and overhead overhead paging. paging. systems Serving all of Southern MN, Northern Iowa, parts of Wisconsin and South Dakota

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Celebrating 25 Years of Service!

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A wealth of success Northfield’s Greg Carlson manages customers’ financial lives with a long-term focus Story and photos by JERRY SMITH

G

reg Carlson believes that much of who we are as adults comes from the values we gain as children and young people. Growing up in western Minnesota where he was exposed to hard work, discipline and honesty, Carlson

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gained a strong work ethic and a sense that you reap what you sow. That approach to life has served Carlson well. As a principal in Carlson Capital Management in Northfield, Carlson has been successful in managing the wealth of others since starting the firm with his brother, Jeffrey, in 1986. The firm now has more than

35Cbusiness.com

$700 million in assets under management. Entrepreneurial spirit While he admits he didn’t exactly know what his future would hold, Carlson did have an idea at an early age which direction his career might be headed. He had an interest in the stock market and the concept of owning his own business or being in

charge of his own destiny. Those thoughts were the catalyst for the path Carlson eventually took. “I could have gone down a number of paths,” Carlson said. “But I knew I wanted to build something instead of going to work for some large entity.” After graduating from St. Olaf College in May of 1982, Carlson started a journey >>>


>>> that eventually landed him in Northfield as one of the three principals in his own firm. A week after graduating from college, Carlson got married and he and his wife Nancy (also a St. Olaf graduate) moved to Mauston, Wis., where he worked for IDS/ American Express for four years. Carlson went “truly independent” in 1986 when he put some investment centers in a bank in Mauston and in several other communities, including Northfield. He stayed in the small Wisconsin town for three more years before making what has turned out to be a very wise move. Since moving to Northfield in 1989, Carlson and Carlson Capital Management have experienced a lot of success. With four locations (Northfield, Hastings, Rochester and Bloomington), 22 employees and hundreds of clients, the firm is recognized as one of the top wealth management firms in Minnesota. “We’ve always been opportunists,” Carlson said of the company’s steady growth. “Where we see an opportunity, we’ve been quite entrepreneurial in our thinking, but we’re not big risk takers. We’re very calculated risk takers. “We’ve tried to take what we do and do it better and better and that attracts people who want to work with us. We will grow as fast as people are attracted to what we have to offer and we’ll make sure we have the foundation to support and nurture that.” In a 35C interview, Carlson talks about wealth management, philanthropic endeavors and his need to give back to the community. Q: Where are the bulk of your clients located and do you specialize in serving certain clientele? A: The majority of our clients are in Minnesota — roughly 90 percent — al-

company?

Greg Carlson is the founding principal of Carlson Capital Management in Northfield. Carlson has provided investment counsel and advice to clients for more than 25 years.

though we do have an increasing number that are outside of the state. With technology and communication the way that they are, you don’t necessarily have to be where the client is. In fact, just this past year we invested in several new technologies that allow us to communicate quite effectively despite physical distance. All of our locations have Smart Boards and software that allows a client to share the view on the screen from their home computer. This also provides efficiency amongst our Minnesota offices. For example, I can have our tax experts on their Smart Board in Hastings and I can be here in Northfield with a client and we can all be looking at the same piece of data and information. Utilizing technology has always been a priority for us and I would say that recent developments are really enhancing the experience for our clients.

Generally, the types of clients most attracted to working with us are those people who truly want and need an integrated wealth management platform. That is who we are best poised to serve, people who can benefit from the integration of their investment, retirement, tax, estate, insurance and philanthropic plans. In terms of specific niches, our expertise and experience are such that we attract business owners, physicians and others in the medical field, professionals in higher education and business executives — but we really have clients from all areas of business, in addition to numerous retirees. Q: You frequently hear people referring to the current economic climate as the worst since the Great Depression. How has this affected the business of wealth management, and in particular, your

A: There has been a lot of comparison to the Great Depression, which obviously I didn’t live through so I can only speak from the textbooks and experience of others. In terms of how it has affected wealth management, I would say there are several things. Wealth management, as I define it, is a different approach than what I would describe simply as investment planning. Wealth management has more structure and discipline to it and a great deal more measured response. Subsequently, if it is done well, it doesn’t get quite as emotional. I think in the last 12 months, there was a tremendous amount of emotion that was tied up into what was going on, and for good reason. It was a scary time for people. It really froze people. People did not know how to respond or what to do, so for a short time, I think it really kind of stopped things. Those who are truly providing wealth management have a deeper relationship with their client. When you have that kind of relationship, it allows you to work through the volatility — in that way, financial planning and investment management work hand in hand. When you understand who your clients are as people and you understand their goals and objectives, when you go through volatile times such as this, it allows you to make decisions on longer-term goals while being rational and reasonable. If you are just coming in it from an investment perspective, you look at all this wild fluctuation and it can cause one to make decisions that are not rational, that are kind of knee-jerk that aren’t good long-term decisions. In the end, what this will do is show that the wealth management platform is the platform that is going to grow through this. It should be the platform of choice. It connects all of the dots and puts all >>>

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>>> of the pieces together. Although there were a lot of businesses and industries that were affected negatively around the world, integrated wealth managers as a whole have weathered the storm very well. Q: In the wake of highprofile scandals involving people who manage large investments, has Carlson Capital Management had the need to re-gain the trust of some of its clients? A: I think that the consumer in general is having to regain trust in the financial sector and some of the foundational pieces of our economy, but we have not had to regain trust at the firm level. Are people more concerned? Are they asking a few more questions? Yes, and they should be asking these questions. People need to know, if the “Bernie Madoff thing� can happen to them and what are the structural mechanisms in place that allow for transparency and total disclosure. The ability to trust is at the core of any successful relationship and it is really destructive to have that violated. It makes me sad that so many people have had to call in to question that fundamental component of a relationship, especially when it is greed that has clouded good judgment.

Greg Carlson and Justin D. Stets are two of the three principals of Carlson Capital Management. Stets, who joined the firm in 1998, directs the firm’s human and capital resources.

So, if you ask me if the financial service industry has to regain the trust of the general population, absolutely. Have we had the issue of having to regain trust with our clients? We haven’t. I would differentiate it that way. Q: The stock market in 2009 has shown some pretty significant gains. How do you convince the clients who have gone a different direction with their investments to get back in? A: It’s a great question for the general investing population. The answer to it is different than the answer for our client base because more than

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99.5 percent of our clients stayed the course. They didn’t change directions. I don’t have to convince our clients to go in a different direction to get back in, because their financial plan and investment policy defined their investment strategy and thus timing and emotion didn’t play a part in the decision making process. The discipline that we employ to manage money led us to start re-balancing in 2007. What that means is that we were taking some of the profits off of the table back in 2007 before all of this happened. We didn’t do it because we had some sense that something was going to happen, rather it was due to

• Waseca nna • St. Peter thfield • Owato Faribault • Nor

en turn where local wom SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER 2009

the investment philosophy we embrace. It says that when things have gone up as much as they had, you take some of your profits and rebalance back to your investment strategy, that is, your target allocations. And quite frankly, from 2002 to 2007, the stock markets throughout the world went up so significantly above their averages, they had to come down. The discipline worked in 2007 during the good times. The discipline also worked in 2008 and 2009 in the hard times. Having said that, there are a lot of investors who did get out, and quite frankly, they got out at the wrong time. They responded very emotionally rather than rationally. Hindsight is perfect, obviously. When people started thinking that their housing values could do nothing but go up and they started spending the equity in their house as if it was in their checkbook, you could see how this whole thing was getting set up for potential problems. In early 2009, you had panic and fear. It was real, but it wasn’t reasonable. What the markets were doing was pricing in financial Armageddon. Just as people shouldn’t invest money and be convinced to go in during times of greed and abundance, people shouldn’t get out of the >>>

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>>> markets during times of panic and fear. It is more important to stay the course and have appropriate asset allocations and risk measures in place consistent with a financial plan and investment strategy. Q: The past couple of years haven’t been the best in terms of investing. Has this affected the way you advise people on philanthropic endeavors? A: Unfortunately, economic turbulence does have some effect on philanthropic planning, which adds to the struggle for a lot of non-profits who are seeing their own investments fluctuate and giving decline. When people don’t feel as wealthy, at some level, they tend to give less. In 2007, when the stock market was up and we re-balanced many of our portfolios — reinvesting profits — a part of those profits were used to fund charitable endeavors.

The Carlson file Name: Greg Carlson Company: Carlson Capital Management Title: Owner (along with principals Jeffrey Carlson and Justin Stets) Location: Northfield Type of business: Wealth management Age: 49 Family: Wife Nancy and three daughters (Katie, Rebecca and Elizabeth) Accolades: Recognized and Because of that, within our client base, people in fact, did give more money to charity because their intentions were there and there were some tax incentives to give more at that time. One of the things that I have learned over the 27 years I have been doing this, is that while economics and taxes do affect charitable giving, what

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I’m finding increasingly is that for many people charitable giving is just a part of who they are and has less to do with economics. There is very much the heart side of giving. People want to give because they want to help. At CCM, intentional philanthropic planning is as important as being intentional in other areas of an integrated plan. All of the pieces must be in order such that a client is comfortable executing on that part of the plan, so no matter what is going on in the economy we continue to focus on helping our clients articulate a personal philanthropic plan. Q: You are one of the co-founders of 5th Bridge in Northfield. Can you tell us about the organization and what led you to start it?

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ranked as a Top Wealth Manager by Bloomberg Wealth Manager magazine in 2004 and 2005; Recognized and ranked by Financial Advisor magazine as a Top Registered Investment Advisor and as one of America’s Top Wealth Managers in Wealth Manager magazine’s annual rankings in 2007, 2008 and 2009; Principal Greg Carlson is named among the nation’s 150 Best Financial Advisors for doctors by Medical Economics magazine in 2008.

1010 Raintree Road • Mankato, MN

(507) 720-0909

Sun-Thurs 7:00am-8:00pm • Fri-Sat 7:00am-9:00pm

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A: Back in early 2000, we established an organization called the “American Center for Philanthropy (ACP).” ACP is a non-profit organization that aspires to support donors in their philanthropic endeavors — increasing charitable giving while providing donors with information, guidance and advantageous ways to give. At its core is a technique called a donor-advised fund. One of the features of a donor-advised fund is that people can take certain types

of assets that are highly appreciated, contribute them to a donor-advised fund, and it then acts as a mini foundation for them. Ultimately, it allows people to contribute more capital to charitable organizations because they don’t pay taxes on the highly appreciated assets, get a full tax deduction for the amount they put in, then are able to distribute gifts out to multiple charities over a longer time period. This is the head part I talked about. We put together a vehicle that allows people to give more of their capital in a tax efficient way. The concept of 5th Bridge, on the other hand, is moving away from the capital side with the acknowledgement that your gift of time is just as important as your gift of your money. Our vision is that the two organizations would ultimately work together. 5th Bridge is a unique approach. I articulate it this way: usually what you think of is you look out into the landscape and you see that people have needs. Because they have needs, you may give money to alleviate some of that need. At 5th Bridge, we’re trying to affect the human supply side related to those needs — in other words, those out there helping to address the needs. The mission of 5th Bridge is designed to deepen the culture and habit of volunteerism. With ACP and 5th Bridge, we hope to marry the capital side with the volunteer side. It’s to honor the fact that to give of one’s time is just as important, if not more important, to give of one’s money. Our hope is that 5th Bridge can make those communities that we are a part of that much richer and stronger. 5th Bridge has grown thanks to the community of Northfield, where more than 1,200 people have taken the 5th Bridge pledge to give at least five hours of service per month to others. If that can work here, maybe we can somehow take this model and have other communities embrace it. >>>

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>>> Q: You and your wife have personally been involved in charitable mission work. What has inspired you to do this?

Business Relationships Matter

James Schlichting

A: I would say that Nancy and I were both raised in families that were oriented around community and giving to others, so to some extent, it has been a part of the fabric of who we are since we were both young. At the same time, as someone who has been part of growing an entrepreneurial company, with so much of your life and thought concentrated in that, at some point you realize that it is really important that you have a conscious awareness that things are bigger than just that and you need to find ways to integrate what you do in your work with how you are engaged in the community —so it isn’t just about how you earn a living, it is about how you live your life. One of the charitable missions (Interfaith Service to Latin America) we’ve been involved in has taken us to Nicaragua. My wife Nancy has

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been there seven times now. She traveled there by herself the first time, inspired by the work that was being done there and returned saying that it was something we needed to share with our children. The next time she went, she took our daughters and now we’ve gone as a family several times. We live in an affluent country, quite frankly, and we live in abundance. We wanted our children to recognize and experience that that’s not necessarily “normal.� So part of the reason to get engaged was to pass on to our children that you can’t take what you have for granted, and more importantly, you need to share what you do have. It was an incredible experience for them because they got to see a whole different way of life, they saw poverty and they actually did physical work to help make people’s lives better. I think they’ve learned through that experience that they are blessed. r — Visit www.35Cbusiness. com and click on the 35C Cover Story link to read the entire Greg Carlson interview.

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A Professional Limited Liability Company

Office: 507-645-0555 Fax: 507-645-0567 516 South Water Street • Suite 102 Northfield, MN 55057 w w w. j s l aw. n e t • E-mail: j am e s @ j s l aw. n e t

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35Charitable OCTOBER 2009

SEPTEMBER 2009

Waseca has a neighbor who cares

Owatonna Arts Center holds its largest fundraiser

The Waseca Area Neighborhood Service Center originated in the 1970s starting as a gathering place for sharing garden produce, used clothing and great ideas. The bottom line then and now is that activities at the Center are based on the needs of the people in the community. That is why we are very thankful for the community’s participation in food drives, the biggest of course being the Minnesota FoodShare Campaign March, organized by the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. The 2009 March Campaign raised $29,289.01 in cash and 9,535 pounds of food for the Waseca County food self, a 29 percent increase over the 2008 campaign. Donations of perishable food and money are accepted year round at the food shelf and our Thrift Store does well as a fundraiser to support

With a goal of doubling last year’s donations of $5,000, the Owatonna Art Center held its annual fundraiser gala on Sept. 12. “We’re very pleased that we surpassed last year’s total, especially in today’s economy,� said Owatonna Arts Center business director Scott Roberts. Roberts said that while they are still tallying donations and balancing the books, the gala “went beyond expectations.�

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our programs and staff. You can be involved in helping others improve their lives by participating in upcoming charitable activities: • Oct. 10 — Girl Scouts Food Drive. • Nov. 23 — Empty Bowls: Join us for a soup meal and fundraiser. • Nov. 28 — Auction at the Box Car Bar in Waseca to support our Santa Anonymous Program for our children.

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Submitted photo

Christine Baidoo (front and center) is pictured with eight Waseca High School students who donated time and effort to help the needy.

Submitted photo

Visitors to the Owatonna Arts Center gala peruse the silent and live auction items.



   

 

      

345 Florence Avenue, Suite 102 • Owatonna

507-451-0055

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A call to arms Ahlman’s has been serving gun aficionados since 1943

By AMY ROEMHILDT Photos by JERRY SMITH

I

t might appear that things move mighty quickly at Ahlman’s Gun Shop outside Morristown. But like the report of a firearm, there’s considerable deliberation, training and careful aim behind the success of the 66-year-old family business. Some things do happen fast, though. Ahlman customers are greeted as soon as they enter the door. The hundred or so guns that are shipped in each day for custom work and

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repairs are returned with fast, efficient service. And during one of Ahlman’s many events, skilled competitors — from cowboy action shooters to trap shooters — compete against the clock with quick draws, fast targets and impressive accuracy. But one aspect is kept at a surprisingly slow, deliberate pace: company growth. Larry Ahlman, the company’s second-generation owner, is in the process of passing the business on to his son, Mike. Both Ahlmans agree that growth is steady and the business is successful because they don’t let it grow too

fast. That decision has helped keep the business strong, viable, and like the hands of their many customers, steady. Business decisions for Ahlman’s Gun Shop became Larry’s to make when his father, M.J. “Cap” Ahlman, passed away in 1965. Making a living as a rodeo cowboy during the Great Depression, Cap decided to transition to an “easier” profession and started farming and being a part-time gunsmith. After a farm accident, he turned to gunsmithing as his full-time profession. It was 1943, and that was the beginning of Ahlman’s. >>>


On-the-job training Growing up in the business, Larry saw good customer service as a way of life. He also appreciated customer loyalty, and worked hard to keep it as he expanded Ahlman’s to include all aspects of gun repair and service. This created more customers, and Larry slowly started to add employees. Ever mindful of quality and customer service, he carefully considered the best way to grow. He focused on his customers and his employees. “A typical gunsmith must be proficient at all aspects of the business,” Larry said. “They are working in wood, metal, scope mounting and finishing. It requires them to be a jack of all traits.” Larry decided to train employees for very specific gunsmithing skills, allowing them to become proficient at one thing — which they eventually would be able to do faster than anyone else, while maintaining exceptional quality. “If our employees can do a job in a shorter amount of time, we don’t have to charge as much for it,” he said. “That helps keeps us competitive.” The value of service Ahlman’s provides attracts work from gun manufacturers. But Larry and Mike agree that although contract work from large companies might seem appealing in the short run, they don’t want to take a chance on the future because Ahlman’s is in it for the long haul. Larry and Mike turn down considerable orders each year from corporations to remain loyal to the thousands of individuals who they say have been loyal to them. “I’d rather have 10,000 small customers than a dozen

have fun — has become the cornerstone for Ahlman’s business decisions.

Ahlman’s Gun Shop

Deuce Stevens of Grand Rapids, Mich., took part in the State Cowboy Championship, held at Ahlman’s in September.

What: One of the Midwest’s largest gun stores and repair shops, offering the largest selection of guns (5,000) and gun parts (20,000) in Southern Minnesota, along with all gunsmithing services. The family owned business also offers more than 100 events each year at its shooting range and outdoor facilities. Where: Located just 2 miles north of Morristown on County Rd. 71. Just follow the gun signs! Contacts: Larry or Mike Ahlman at 507-685-4244 Web site: www.ahlmans.com

big ones,” Larry said. Each year, Ahlman’s adds more customers than the company loses. That’s how the Ahlmans define steady growth. They now serve nearly 30,000 customers from all 50 states. Business is as steady as it has ever been. “We heard there was a recession,” Larry said, “but we opted not to participate.” Potential new business is carefully evaluated and marketing is targeted to a specific audience that consists mostly of gun enthusiasts and sportsmen who according to Larry, are “good,

decent people.” “When you like your customers, it creates a friendly atmosphere and a fun place to work,” Larry said, pointing out that he is proud of Ahlman’s 27 employees, some of which have been with him for over 30 years. And he’s proud of the work they do. “If we neglect our customers, we lose their loyalty,” he said. “If we want our customers to stay loyal to us, we have to stay loyal to them.” The dedication of everyone at Ahlman’s to the sportsman — the people who shoot to

Branching out Skill, quality and fair prices brought customers to Ahlman’s through an impressive mail order business. Once the company was established, Ahlman’s added retail sales to its growing business. Now Ahlman’s features 5,000 guns and more than 20,000 gun parts at the Morristown location. Shooting ranges surround the rural facility so customers can practice. Ahlman’s loyalty to its customers has resulted in nearly 100 special events — almost every weekend — featuring fun attractions for all types of shooters, including men, women and children. Gun safety classes, geared toward youth, are offered annually. “Shooter’s Paradise” Tucked away between cornfields and gravel roads just outside of Morristown, Ahlman’s lies just two miles north of Highway 60. Surprised by the magnitude of service and business that flows through Ahlmans, visitors dub the location a “shooter’s paradise.” So, what kinds of people like to shoot? Larry says Ahlman’s customers include trap shooters, cowboy action shooters, archers, hunters and paint ball enthusiasts. Larry says he enjoys them all. “They all have that common interest,” he said. “The fun is in the shooting.” The gun shop’s rural location allowed the facility to become a place to shoot and a place to play. Ever mindful of his surroundings, Larry says they adjust shooting range hours as needed, doing their part in being a good neighbor. >>>

“If we want our customers to stay loyal to us, we have to stay loyal to them.” — Larry Ahlman, Ahlman’s Gun Shop OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C

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25


Meet your

Drinking Water Experts

Larry Ahlman (left) is in the process of passing Ahlman’s Gun Shop in Morristown, to his son Mike Ahlman. The family owned business has been serving the area since 1943.

Gary Thompson

Dan Homan Faribault

Ed Atherton Waseca

Jim Stein

Northfield

>>> “We’ve brought some of our shooting indoors, and you really can’t hear much outside,” he said. “If we know our shooting hours are a problem with a neighbor, we try to adjust for them. We try hard to be good neighbors. “That’s one thing about being in a rural setting. People understand about shooting. They don’t equate guns with crime. It’s an entirely different mindset than what you might face in a city.” Ahlman also said they communicate with surrounding homeowners when shooting events will occur. During this year’s annual “Shooter’s Roundup,” held each year at the end of August, more than

Mark Spurgeon Owatonna

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Lawrence is a member of the NationaLease GreenShop©

500 people attended. “It was great to see everyone smiling, shooting and having fun,” Mike Ahlman said. “It’s a real family event.” Visitors can compete in a variety of events, watch shooting demonstrations, and laugh at cowboy re-enactments and comedy sketches written and directed by Larry Ahlman. “Mike really runs the business now,” said Larry — with his trusty canine friend “Winchester” at his side — from his large office overlooking the retail store. “I spend a lot of my time writing.” Outdoor magazines and newspapers feature articles written by Larry every so >>>

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y ou >>> often. He has completed several adventure books, which are published and on sale at Ahlman’s Gun Shop and through the company’s catalog. Ahlman’s Gun Shop is still located at its site of origin. Larry said rural living and relationships with the customers he enjoys inspires him to write. Fact or fiction, he enjoys telling a good tale. And, fact or fiction, he refers to his business as the best-kept secret in Southern Minnesota. But ask one of the thousands of gun enthusiasts across the nation who are customers, and you are sure to hear the truth about Ahlman’s: In the shooting world, Ahlman’s is no secret. Just like it did with his father before him and his son after him, Larry hopes the Ahlman legacy can continue. Mike’s 6-year-old son, Dylan, recently fired his first gun, just like Mike did at that age. Should he show interest in the business, it’s possible Dylan could bring

Buying or Selling a Home

Should not feel like searching for

Ahlman’s gunsmith Bob Kolling works on a Model 81 Remington shotgun for a customer.

Ahlman’s into its 100th year of business as the fourth generation owner. r — Amy Roemhildt is the owner of Akorn Creations, a Janesville company specializing in freelance writing and photography. She can be reached at 507-234-2266.

a needle in a haystack The economy may not be a hayride, but buying or selling your home can be fun.

Sid & Martha Kasper 612-483-3303 or 612-483-1323 SidandMarthaKasper@edinarealty.com

Historic Konsbruck Hotel graces St. Peter, Minnesota, at the heart of the picturesque Minnesota River Valley. Relax in the setting of classic charm with modern amenities.

Konsbruck Hotel Richard’s Restaurant & Pub 408 South 3rd Street St. Peter, MN 56082

Inviting guest rooms feature upscale details that include separate bathing and powder rooms, fireplaces, stocked mini-refrigerators, Egyptian cotton terry cloth robes and HD flat-screen televisions. Stay in a room with a two-person air-jetted or claw foot slipper tub and tiled shower. Schedule a soothing massage and enjoy elegant meals downstairs in Richard’s Restaurant and Pub.

507-934-3154 or 507-934-4988 Please contact us to personalize your stay or visit our website for special packages including our Romance Package, Girls Getaway, Spa Package and many more.

www.konsbruckhotel.com www.richardsrestaurantandpub.com

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35Culinary Top restaurants serving the I-35 corridor

503 Division St. Historic Northfield An area classic sprawling into three historic buildings on Northfield’s main drag, the “Rueb ‘n’ Stein” has a long list of tradional American food and great spirits. With an all-new expanded menu, the best burger in town and the famous Rueben sandwich, the Rueb offers something for everyone at a great price.

The Rueb also offers a classic bar with drink specials and “Upstairs at the Rueb,” which features live music and dancing separate from the dining area. Specialties: The Rueb’s famous appetizers and build-your-own burgers. Information: Call J Grundy’s Rueb ‘n’ Stein at 507-645-6691 or visit www.ruebnstein.com. Pictured: Jody and Joe Grundhoefer show off the restaurant’s famous “Monster Burger,” which is two 1/3-pound burgers.

The Cheese Cave

Costas Chocolates

318 N. Central Ave. Faribault

112 N. Cedar Ave. Owatonna

It has been said that cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love. That’s the idea behind the “Cheese Cave,” a unique gourmet destination in Faribault. The Cheese Cave serves award-winning cheeses from the Faribault Dairy, and also offers cheeses from the great artisanry cheesemakers from around the U.S., along with high-quality, high-end foods that pair perfectly with cheese. Customers will be treated to instore cooking demonstrations by Chef Jeff LeBeau. Reservations: To arrange for an affordable and unique cheese pairing event­, sample cheeses, microbrew beer, wine and tea — for groups of up to 24 people — contact Laura at 507-334-3988.

The Boosalis family has been serving the area’s finest chocolates, lunches and baked goods for 90 years. From specialty salads to pita specialties to a complete breakfast COSTAS menu, chocolates Costas is the place to go for great food and delectable desserts. Made from the finest vegetables and ingredients, salads at Costas are mouth-watering good. With offerings like Costas’ Greek Gyro Salad, the BIG Salad and many other healthy choices, you can’t go wrong. Costas uses premium meats, cheeses and fresh-baked breads in its sandwiches. To top things off, Costas offers its renowned cakes, scones, cookies and palettepleasing chocolates. Information: Call Costas Chocolates at 507-451-9050.

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Jerry Smith photo

J. Grundy’s Rueb-n-Stein

Torey’s Restaurant/Bar

Patrick’s on Third

Torey’s, located one block east of the Bridge Street exit off I-35, has fantastic food and friendly service and offers a full service bar and an extensive wine list. Offering an extensive lunch and dinner menu, including a lunch buffet, Torey’s is the perfect place for a casual meal or special occasion dinner. Torey’s offers an 85-person capacity banquet room, perfect for all of those business dinners, groom’s dinners or any special event. Torey’s also offers additional areas for your smaller group meals. Specialties: Hand cut chargrilled steaks, a large array of seafood and award-winning BBQ ribs. For a full menu and wine list, visit www.toreys.net. Information/reservations: Call Torey at 507-455-9260.

Welcome to Patrick’s, home of the World Famous Patty Melt, Best Burger on the Planet, Bucket of Death, Govenaires Drum & Bugle Corps, Drum Corps Museum and a number of other really weird and wacky things. If it’s an amazing burger you crave, Patrick’s on Third is the place to go. Patrick’s also offers a variety of menu items from burgers to pasta and Mexican to Italian. If it’s beer you crave, Patrick’s on Third offers 20 craft beers on tap. Enjoy a casual atmosphere where there’s “Trivia Night” each Tuesday, “Karaoke Buffet” every Wednesday, kids eat for $1 on Thursdays after 4 p.m. and Cribbage on Sundays. Patrick’s on Third is open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. For reservations, call 507-931-9051.

685 W. Bridge St. Owatonna

125 S. Third St. Saint Peter


35Chamber

A look at what’s new in the region’s Chambers of Commerce

Faribault

Northfield

Owatonna

Waseca

Chamber offers ‘Energy Smart’ program The Faribault Chamber will be hosting an “Energy Smartâ€? program for local businesses on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Faribault Chamber office. Energy Smart, a program of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, helps businesses and organizations save energy and money by connecting them to informational resources and utility programs. Since launching last year, Energy Smart has helped dozens of organizations save thousands of dollars in energy costs. Energy Smart offers the following services: • Personalized Energy Efficiency Assistance • Energy Smart Site Visit • Project Funding Assistance For organizations interested in learning how to reduce their energy costs, Energy Smart will present a business-focused workshop at the Faribault Chamber luncheon on Oct. 13.

‘Business Connections’ is a valuable resource The Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce provides many membership benefits and services. One program, called the “Chamber Member Business Connections,â€? has proven to be a valuable business resource and important opportunity for Chamber members. Reasons to attend: • Meet other business and professional leaders in the community. • Promote one’s business or organization and their products and services. Individuals attending the Oct. 13 and future Business Connections must be a member of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and one of the primary contact people at their place of business. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting the Chamber office at 507-6455604 or info@northfieldchamber.com.

Women’s Health Day set for Oct. 10 Holiday Inn The 7th Annual Women’s Health Day will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Owatonna Holiday Inn. Tickets for the event are on sale for $8 at both Owatonna Clinic locations and at Community Education. Enjoy shopping, and presentations from Owatonna Clinic providers & keynote speaker Karla Heeter. A Night of Homelessness scheduled for Nov. 29 Experience A Night of Homelessness on Friday, Nov. 20 as Transitional Housing hosts its ninth Annual Sleep Out. Participants sleep outside at Morehouse Park to learn more about homelessness in Steele County. Learn how you can make a difference. Open to students in grades 7-12. To RSVP, please call 507-4469315.

Waseca Chamber highlights a busy month events Discover Waseca and experience a city full of opportunity and fun. We invite you to enjoy our beautiful lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and picturesque homes. Stop and shop our antique, craft and charming specialty shops. Love history? Tour our historical museum, Farmamerica, arts center and so much more. October community events: • Oct. 19: Business After Hours Chamber Mixer Hosted by Waseca Board of Education and Waseca Education Association. • Oct. 9-10 and 16-17: Haunted Corn Maze at Farmamerica. Visit www.farmamerica.org. • Oct. 24: All Hallow’s Eve – Old Fashioned Halloween at Farmamerica, noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 29: Annual Brick and Block Halloween Trick or Treat Walk at Downtown businesses (4-7 p.m.)

• Get connected in Faribault by clicking into EVENTS at www.faribaultmn.org.

• To see more Northfield events, log onto www.northfieldchamber.com.

• To see more Owatonna Chamber events, log onto www.owatonna.org

• To see more Waseca Chamber events, log onto www.wasecachamber.com

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35Caricature

Corridor professionals draw strength from outside the office

The Kaspers are bound by work and play Story and photo by JERRY SMITH

S

id and Martha Kasper live by their golden rule of “the more the merrier.” One peek at their individual planners and there is no doubt that they are very busy people. But make no mistake about it, where one is, the other is not too far away. You could say Sid and Martha are the poster children for husbands and wives who do almost everything together. She’s my buddy,” Sid likes to say. “We like to do things together. When people think of us, they think of us together.” That’s most evident in their work as Realtors for Edina Realty in Northfield. The Kaspers are side by side in the photo on their business cards and market themselves as a team. But there is way more to the Kaspers than their work, even though Sid works long hours as both a Realtor and in his own dairy supply business, and Martha is equally busy showing houses, selling real estate and “keeping the home fires burning.” Life outside of work is very interesting for the Kaspers. But there is one thing that ties their work lives and personal lives together and that is the people they work with and they know. Martha says it’s where they draw their strength. “To us, the people in both our personal and business lives are our family,” Martha said. “We enjoy having so many friends. It’s part of the ‘more the merrier’ theme in our lives.” The Kasper family grew by one recently when Sid and Martha agreed to take on a high school exchange student from Italy. Martha said the addition of Edoardo Anedda has made life very interesting. “We haven’t had kids in high school for nine years,” she said. “Taking the dog out used to be our biggest concern. Now we have to worry about another person. It’s been interesting figuring it all out.”

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When Sid and Martha Kasper aren’t selling real estate, making 250 dozen cookies for the clients in Sid’s dairy supply business or working on tractors, they take long motorcycle rides together and take care of their new foreign exchange student Edoardo.

Fast-paced leisure When the Kaspers are not selling real estate, hosting their annual hay ride or taking care of Edoardo, they find time to do things for themselves. Atop that list is taking long motorcycle rides together. It’s a way for the two to relax, but also to be close. It’s also a way for Martha to get a little reading in. “Martha sits behind me and reads a book when we are on longer rides,” Sid said. “It’s good for me because I get cold between my shoulder blades and she is there to keep me warm.” Another “leisurely” thing the two do together is bake cookies for Sid’s clients as Christmas gifts. It’s a 20-year tradition that has grown into a large undertaking. Each year, the Kaspers hire help — mostly high school kids — to help them bake 250 dozen “monster cookies” for the folks who do business with Sid in his dairy supply business. He figures a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and so far that has been accurate.

“You give them monster cookies and they will remember you,” said Sid, who starts the three-week process of baking, packaging and shipping the cookies on Thanksgiving weekend. “I have people calling me and asking when they will get this year’s shipment. It’s something my clients look forward to every year.” It helps that Martha likes to bake and cook, too. She is a big part of the Christmas cookie bake-a-thon. “It’s something I really enjoy,” Martha said. “Making the monster cookies is fun because cooking is one of my passions. I told Edoardo before he came here that he would gain 20 pounds by the time he leaves.” While too numerous to list, the Kaspers enjoy doing many things in their lives. But those activities would never be as enjoyable if they didn’t have each other. “We just want to be together,” Martha said. “Life is so much more enjoyable with Sid at my side.” r


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