Small-Business Success Stories 2007

Photograph by Paul Sinkler

Dr. Kou Vang

Nine stories of big achievements from smaller enterprises.

by Phil Bolsta

December 1, 2007

Born of eternal optimism and a desire to be one's own boss, small businesses engender ideas, create new and cheaper products and better ways to deliver service, and form the base of our entrepreneurial economy. Sources of wealth, employment, and innovation, they advance enterprise itself.

The nine stories that appear below describe companies of substantial variety and entrepreneurs of widely varying backgrounds. As you will read, the efforts of those entrepreneurs have produced unpredictable—and sometimes unlikely—outcomes.

The stories all have this in common: Each focuses on a small Minnesota company, and each is compelling. Moreover, each provides an example of entrepreneurial insight—the ability to detect opportunities not perceived by others—combined with diligence, marketing acumen, managerial skill, and an eagerness to achieve.

Each also demonstrates that businesses needn't be large to be sources of invention and innovation, and certainly not to be interesting. In terms of their impact on the overall economy, some of the companies featured here are slight. But in sufficient quantity, such endeavors lead to great economic benefits.

We inaugurated this annual celebration of small businesses five years ago in collaboration with Associated Bank, the sponsor of Small-Business Success Stories. Last summer, we asked readers to help us identify small companies of notable achievement. We received more than 60 thoughtfully written suggestions touting a remarkable variety of companies of substantial quality. We think you'll agree that our selections are good ones.

AGA Medical

Healthy Once Again

Read Story

Certes Financial Pros

Financial Freedom

Read Story

Innovative Power Systems

Bringing the Light

Read Story

Pinnacle Services

Making An Impact

Read Story

Rock On Trucks

A Rock-Solid Business

Read Story

Sensor Electronics

Picking Out Poisons

Read Story

Snap Fitness

Getting Fit Fast

Read Story

The Thymes

Fresh Scents

Read Story

Vang Dental Clinic

A Hero to His Patients

Read Story

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