Lonsdale Telephone Co. competes with the big boys I Togetherness not an issue for Northfield Realtors
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
Regional airports have had a big impact on companies looking to relocate along the I-35 corridor.
Operator assisted Lonsdale Telephone Company has held its own against bigger telecommunications companies.
Cover story Northfield’s Greg Carlson has found success in managing other people’s wealth.
A shooter’s paradise
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
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.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C
35Commentary You can be a part of choosing our 35Catalysts
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
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.
6 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C
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
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
>>> “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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A chat with Business Network International’s LuAnn Buechler
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
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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Lonsdale Telephone Company has rich family tradition By AZNA A. AMIRA Photos by JERRY SMITH
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
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: email@example.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 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. â€œA telephone was a luxury back then,â€? he said. â€œOnly businessmen and wealthy farmers had them, even though grandfather Frank charged only a quarter per month.â€? Surviving the Depression was touch and go, Novak said, made possible only by determination, family unity and goodwill engendered in the community. â€œWhen youâ€™re part of a family business, each person is expected to do their part, so you just do it,â€? Novak said.
It was seldom easy. â€œThere were times when there was no money for phone poles and not enough wire,â€? he said. â€œIf a pole would rot and fall over, Dad would just cut off the rotten part, and you would just have a shorter pole.â€? 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. â€œIf we couldnâ€™t afford wire and brackets for the phone poles, why someone would help, saying â€˜You get what you need, and when you get some money, then you can pay me,â€™â€? Novak said. His father had to go on the road throughout >>>
Gene Buhr Executive Vice President
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 â€˘ www1stunited.com
Kelley Watts Personal Banker
>>> 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.
Commerical-Industrial-Residential G a r l i c k ’s Wa t e r C o n d i t i o n i n g S o u t h e r n M i n n e s o t a ’s Kinetico Dealer Sales-Service-Rental Lonsdale (507) 744 3326 Faribault (507) 334-7215 Mankato (507) 345-4334
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g a r l i c k s w a t e r. c o m OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C
35Catalyst Four who are making things happen along the I-35 business corridor
ST. PETER EVENTS PLANNER
RESTORING JUSTICE IN FARIBAULT
NORTHFIELD YOUTH EXCHANGE OFFICER
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.”
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Recognizing individuals and companies in business along the I-35 corridor /NORTHFIELD/
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.
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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
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
$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-
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 >>>
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 35C
>>> 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 â€œBernie Madoff thingâ€? 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 firmâ€™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 havenâ€™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: Itâ€™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 didnâ€™t change directions. I donâ€™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 didnâ€™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 didnâ€™t do it because we had some sense that something was going to happen, rather it was due to
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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 wasnâ€™t reasonable. What the markets were doing was pricing in financial Armageddon. Just as people shouldnâ€™t invest money and be convinced to go in during times of greed and abundance, people shouldnâ€™t get out of the >>>
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