MEET TEN BUSINESS LEADERS, BUSINESS OWNERS, AND ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE GROWING MINNESOTA’S ECONOMY.
MEET TEN BUSINESS LEADERS, BUSINESS OWNERS, AND ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE GROWING MINNESOTA’S ECONOMY.
With an introduction by Bev Bachel
Industry magazines often point to Minnesota as a top state for business.
You could cite the strong network of business associations, business owners, and entrepreneurs who are growing Minnesota’s economy. Or perhaps it’s the business leaders who are acting as good stewards of our state’s resources and talent. No matter where you look to reveal the reason behind Minnesota’s thriving business sector, chances are you’ll bump into one of these ten 50 Over 50 business honorees.
Some have well-recognized names. Others steadily go about their work with little fanfare. They’ve all been at the top of their game in their respective industries, and instead of letting off the gas and coasting for a bit, they’ve launched new ventures—from corporate diversity initiatives to a Junior A hockey team.
Some were spurred on by good fortune, while others overcame enormous odds. A few even made the most of personal tragedy. Many are mentors, and at least one turned the tables by seeking out a team of millennials to “reverse mentor” her on how technology can be used to improve both business and society.
“Famous Dave” Anderson
A rib above the rest
What makes 63-year-old Dave Anderson so famous? Countless professional and personal accomplishments, including his most well known achievement—creating and founding Famous Dave’s of America, his namesake BBQ franchise, now with 179 locations. Dave’s “against all odds” story has inspired millions—the journey of a Native American kid at the bottom half of his high school class that eventually earned a master’s degree from Harvard, without ever having received an undergraduate degree; his victory over alcohol abuse; his presidential appointment to the U.S. Department of the Interior to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs—all stand as testament to a remarkable individual. But Dave is also “quietly famous” to many, with his ongoing leadership work with at-risk youth and financial support of underprivileged teens to attend college. He and his wife Kathy have also created hope for individuals of all ages, by personally paying for chemical dependency treatment programs, and making it possible for a new start in life.
Thief River Falls
Fostering economic, civic, and educational health
At 55, Dave Beito remains more active in business—and his community—than ever. His five Thief River Falls area banks work hard to support the financial needs of individuals and businesses in northwestern Minnesota, adding to the economic health of the region. Dave recently teamed up with a former NHL player and a Canadian citizen to co-found the Thief River Falls Norskies Jr. A hockey team, whose inaugural season is 2016-2017. Dave helped initiate an annual Thief River Falls Day at the Capitol for the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce and served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, where he continues to serve on the Finance Committee. Most recently, Sanford Health elected Dave chairman of the board of trustees, allowing him an ideal platform from which to advance health care quality in Sanford’s multi-state and international footprint. Dave’s philanthropic interests include serving as chairman of his family’s Beito Foundation and as board member of the Hartz Foundation, which fund student scholarships and multiple civic improvements annually.
Marcia Ballinger, PhD
Helping organizations succeed through leadership transitions
Marcia Ballinger, 57, is cofounder of Ballinger | Leafblad, a St. Paul-based executive search firm with a unique focus: the civic sector. As such, she has helped scores of nonprofit organizations successfully navigate the challenge of leadership transitions. She’s worked with a variety of client organizations, including social service providers, foundations, higher education institutions, and member/professional organizations. In the process, Marcia challenges outdated beliefs about aging by helping both clients and candidates realize the value of third and even fourth “career chapters.” Casting an even wider reach, Marcia also co-authored the book The 20-Minute Networking Meeting, a go-to guide for people in career transition. She speaks frequently to groups and hosts an hourly call-in time to counsel business executives who seek to transition to the nonprofit sector.
A taste for business and community
If you dine out in the Twin Cities, chances are you’ve eaten at one of Kim Bartmann’s restaurants. Driven by a desire to create better work environments than she experienced as a young cook, the 53-year-old James Beard-nominated restaurateur has created a family of soulful, artistic, locally-sourced restaurants, including Barbette, Red Stag and Tiny Diner. All enable Kim to use her love of food and art to improve neighborhoods and support communities. Take Bryant Lake Bowl, for instance. Since its opening in 1993 and thanks to its unique business model, the restaurant has put more than $2 million directly in the hands of local artists.
Turning inward, giving outward
At 54, Ralph Bernstein finds himself in a completely new chapter of his life. That’s because, after 25+ years in banking, he started over, a journey that began with the sudden death of his wife. Looking around at the 600 people who attended her funeral, Ralph began thinking about reprioritizing his life to focus on relationships. When the family’s dog was killed a few months later, Ralph knew the time had come. He left his job. Shortly after, he bought a doggie daycare, in part as a way of giving back to those who had taken such good care of his dog—and of Ralph and his family—after his wife’s death. Next, Ralph reached out to a struggling entrepreneur and became his primary investor. Finally, he helped his two sons start a small business of their own. Although this new life chapter presents a few challenges, Ralph feels fortunate to realize his own dreams and in the process help others realize theirs.
Making meaningful connections for the good of all
PadillaCRT CEO Lynn Casey, 61, has witnessed the blurring of the lines between public relations, advertising, social media, and digital engagement. She also knows that humans long for meaningful connections. That’s one reason why the employee-owned firm gives every employee two paid half-days each year to assist nonprofit organizations and encourages active participation in community organizations of their choice. The agency also sets the pace among the region’s communications agencies with its generous pro-bono program, as well as a longstanding commitment to Minnesota Keystone, which recognizes companies that contribute at least 2% of pretax earnings in financial and in-kind contributions to the community. Lynn actively practices volunteerism herself, chairing the Greater Twin Cities United Way board of directors, and serving as vice chair of the University of Minnesota Foundation and as a member of the Itasca Project’s working team.
Making health challenges a footnote
Dan Klassen, 73, has Parkinson’s disease. Despite the challenges he faces on a daily basis—or perhaps because of them—Dan decided to use his software development skills to improve the lives of others. He’s developed a healthcare app and currently leads two major Small Business Innovation Research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. Both projects improve the quality of life of those with dementia as well as their caregivers and family members via mobile games and reminiscence therapy, which involves discussing past activities, events, and experiences with others, usually with the help of tangible prompts such as photographs and music. Through it all, Dan turned his late-in-life challenges and personal experiences into an opportunity to improve the quality of life of patients and caregivers alike.
Bridging generations of IT expertise
At the tail-end of a successful career that included serving as chief information officer (CIO) for Thrivent Financial, American Express, and the City of Minneapolis, Holly Morris, 64, turned the tables and engaged a team of millennial “reverse mentors” to help her discern how cutting-edge technology can be used to improve both business and society. She understands technology’s impact on the quality of life the world over. She has personally witnessed the value of having IT professionals at the table. That’s why she advocates for placing more CIOs (and more women!) on corporate and foundation boards. To ensure students emerge from college proficient in technology, Holly sits on the advisory board of the University of St. Thomas Graduate Programs in Software and works closely with other Twin Cities tech executives to annually redesign the program’s curriculum.
Richard Murphy Jr.
A true renaissance man, lifelong learner Richard Murphy Jr., 64, has not only enjoyed multiple careers—as a landscape architect, teacher, business executive, amateur photographer, mentor, and industry and community leader—he has also managed to integrate them all, thanks in part to his position as president and CEO of Murphy Warehouse Company. The fourth-generation, family-owned business has grown 175% in warehouse space and 178% in revenue under Richard’s watchful eye, and the company now stands as one of the Upper Midwest’s largest asset-based logistics firms. The organization also enjoys the distinction as one of the nation’s greenest companies thanks to Richard’s commitment to environmental sustainability, which earned Murphy Warehouse Company LEED Gold and Energy Star certifications.
Philomena Morrissey Satre
Taking the crisis out of midlife
As an organizational development and diversity and inclusion leader at Wells Fargo, Philomena Morrissey Satre, 54, radiates passion for an often overlooked dimension of diversity. She is member of the Twin Cities Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable Steering Committee and board chair of SHIFT. She champions business cultures that accept difference because it results in better decision-making, innovative solutions, and provides a competitive advantage in the market place. Satre is an adjunct professor in the St. Catherine University’s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program where she gives people of all ages the skills they need to advance their careers.
What these leaders teach us:
This is not just a young person’s game. The percentage of startups by entrepreneurs ages 55 to 64 is rising steadily. And while many people still think of retirement as a permission slip to relax, our oldest Business honoree, 73-year-old Daniel Klassen, is proving that success is ageless by leading two major National Institutes of Health projects and developing an app to help those with dementia. All this while living with Parkinson’s disease.
These entrepreneurs are generous. Take restaurateur Kim Bartmann. She uses her family of locally-sourced restaurants to improve neighborhoods and support communities. Thanks to a unique business model, her Bryant Lake Bowl restaurant—open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, theater, and bowling—has put more than $2 million directly in the hands of local artists.
People over 50 are not afraid to take risks. Just ask 54-year-old Ralph Bernstein. He left a 25-year career in banking to start a doggie daycare. He also used his savings to help his two sons start a small business. And if all that wasn’t risky enough, he became a struggling entrepreneur’s primary investor.
This is the third of a five-part series celebrating the inaugural 50 Over 50 recognizing Minnesotans over the age of fifty who have made significant contributions and achievements in their communities.
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