Titans

These individuals are No. 1 at their game, each the leading all-star within his or her industry or profession nationally and in some cases, internationally.

November 14, 2014

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Amy Klobuchar Amy Klobuchar
U.S. senator

The classic overachiever, Amy Klobuchar became the valedictorian of her Wayzata High School class and has never stopped working. From her law-and-order platform as Hennepin County attorney, she outmaneuvered other DFLers to win an open U.S. Senate seat in 2006 and now is viewed as unbeatable. What will she do with her invulnerability? While she’s worked on consumer protection legislation and the farm bill, critics wonder if she’ll use her political capital to lead on more controversial issues that face the nation.



Douglas Baker Jr. Douglas Baker Jr.
Chairman and CEO
Ecolab

Doug Baker is rewarding Ecolab shareholders with higher-than-expected earnings for 2014, thanks mainly to last year’s strategic acquisition of Champion Technologies, which is tapping the booming energy market. He is also big-picture guy when it comes to water, the company’s core expertise as a maker of cleaning and sanitation products. Baker remains an evangelist about the world’s diminishing fresh-water supplies and the need to conserve them through continuing research and development efforts.



George Sherman George Sherman
Principal
Sherman Associates

You aren’t likely to see George Sherman at real estate industry networking events; he has too much work to do. Since founding Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates in 1979, Sherman has developed more than 7,000 apartments (market-rate and affordable) and more than 1,200 condo units, as well as commercial projects in the Twin Cities and throughout the Midwest. Sherman has a knack for succeeding where others have failed. One North Loop site sat vacant for a decade after a condo plan went off the rails. Sherman bought it and is nearing completion of the Paxon, a market-rate apartment project.



Glen Taylor Glen Taylor
Owner
Minnesota Lynx, Minnesota Timberwolves, Star Tribune, Taylor Corp.

The newspaper business is in transition. Fortunately, Glen Taylor knows a thing or two about reinvention. The civic-minded Taylor, who’s evolved from farm boy to printing tycoon to state senator to NBA mogul, is the new owner of the Star Tribune. He bought the paper “half with my head, half with my heart,” but turning around the Strib won’t be a half-hearted effort. Neither is his stewardship of the Timberwolves. One of the league’s more hands-on owners, he is hoping new basketball boss Flip Saunders can right the badly listing ship.



M.A. “Mort” Mortenson Jr. M.A. “Mort” Mortenson Jr.
Chairman
M.A. Mortenson Co.

The Mortenson name casts a long shadow in the Twin Cities business community. In 1960 “Mort” Mortenson Jr. joined the company founded by his father in 1954, and became president in 1969. By the 1980s, under the junior Mortenson’s stewardship, the company had grown into one of the largest construction and engineering firms in the Midwest, ranking No. 201 on Forbes’ most recent list of America’s largest private companies, home to 2,500 employees and with estimated 2012 revenue of $2.4 billion. Mortenson is general contractor for the new Vikings stadium, a $1 billion undertaking that ranks as the largest project in the company’s 60-year history.



Marilyn Carlson Marilyn Carlson
Co-CEO
Carlson Holdings

What is Carlson, whom Forbes magazine named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, doing for an encore after handing control of her $37 billion company to her daughter, Diana Nelson, in 2013? Not much—just saving the world. Carlson’s titanic achievements in business are matched by her longstanding advocacy for protecting children exploited worldwide by unprincipled companies. Earlier this year, a committee of Nobel Prize recipients selected Carlson to receive the Oslo Business for Peace Award for her leadership in promoting responsible business practices.



Mark Davis Mark Davis
Chair
Davis Family Holdings

Building a business empire on cheese may not be architecturally sound, but it proved to be a solid foundation for Mark Davis and Davisco Foods International. The $1 billion dairy-processing company, which produces a million pounds of cheese every day, was acquired by Quebec-based Agropur last August. Although Davis has turned operations of the family holdings over to his five “capable and competent” children, his family still owns Cambria, Sun Country Airlines and four dairy farms. Davis notes with a laugh that his career “was too short and I got mature too fast.”



Mary Brainerd Mary Brainerd
President and CEO
HealthPartners

Mary Brainerd first joined Bloomington-based HealthPartners in 1992 and was tapped as CEO of the large nonprofit in 2002. Under her leadership, HealthPartners has grown steadily, its revenue roughly doubling to approximately $5.2 billion, making it one of the largest nonprofits in the state. At the same time, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) ranks HealthPartners in the top 5 percent of health plans nationally, based on clinical performance and member satisfaction. The NCQA has also ranked HealthPartners the No. 1 plan in Minnesota for 10 consecutive years.



Pat Fallon Pat Fallon
Chairman
Fallon Worldwide

Fallon and his ad agency put Minneapolis on the international advertising map. It was the hottest shop in town as the 20th century closed, and though it has lost some big accounts in the last decade, it remains a major force. So does Pat Fallon, who hasn’t rested on his considerable laurels. He’s still pushing for marketing ideas that become ingrained in pop culture—something that’s a bit harder to do in a fragmented media age. We’re still watching, though.



Randall Hogan Randall Hogan
Chairman and CEO
Pentair

The list of accomplishments for Pentair CEO Randall Hogan just got a bit longer. Hogan, who expanded the Golden Valley water technology company’s market cap from $1 billion to $13 billion during his 13 years at the helm, was named this fall by Harvard Business Review as one of the 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World. He is also board chairman of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. From that perch, he says, he will have a platform to “speak the truth” to a financial industry that “brought us to the precipice” during the 2008 financial crisis.



Richard Davis Richard Davis
Chairman and CEO
US Bancorp

Davis is positioning US Bancorp to profit as commercial borrowers, seeking to take advantage of low interest rates and build up inventories in anticipation of a continuing economic recovery. He also remains a driving force in the civic life of the Twin Cities, this year leading a successful drive to land the 2018 Super Bowl. Davis’ term as a Minnesota Orchestra board member and chair officially ended as scheduled in late 2012, but he agreed to become negotiating chair until completion of negotiations. Once those negotiations were completed in January 2014, his extended service ended. 



Sally Smith Sally Smith
President and CEO
Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.

Smith joined Buffalo Wild Wings as CFO in 1994, when the company had just 35 locations. She was named CEO in 1996 and has since led the company’s remarkable growth. The Golden Valley-based company’s revenue has grown ten-fold since it went public in 2003. At the same time, BWW is now investing in emerging restaurant concepts PizzaRev and Rusty Taco. For 2013, BWW posted net earnings of $71.6 million on revenue of $1.27 billion. (In 2003, the company’s revenue was $126.5 million.) Smith isn’t slowing down: BWW opened its 1,000th location in January and opened at Times Square in May.



Stanley S. Hubbard Stanley S. Hubbard
Chairman
Hubbard Broadcasting

Satellite broadcasting pioneer and DirecTV co-founder Hubbard remains, at 81, a guiding force in what is now the last locally owned Twin Cities TV/radio conglomerate (son Rob runs the Hubbard TV group, while daughter Ginny Morris guides the growth-oriented Hubbard Radio operation). Though the satellite business is long spun off, Stan Hubbard has driven a focus on measured growth via acquisition and inevitably rejected offers to put the crown jewels up for sale. Hubbard remains an old-school, community-minded broadcaster, albeit one focused on the leading edge of technology and change.



Stephen Hemsley Stephen Hemsley
President and CEO
UnitedHealth Group

As the CEO of the nation’s largest single health carrier, Stephen Hemsley’s clout in the health care industry is vast—in August he was named fourth on a list of the most influential people in the field, only three spots behind President Barack Obama himself. After announcing an optimistic financial outlook for 2014, Hemsley said UHG will embrace new state health insurance exchanges as a growth strategy, a move that reverberated around the industry.



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