Small Business Success Stories: 2013 Finalists

Twin Cities Business recognizes these Minnesota companies for their notable achievements as finalists in the 2013 Small Business Success Stories program.

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Alpha Video & Audio
Alpha Video & Audio has installed video and broadcast systems for most of the TV stations in Minnesota; its Sports Group recently began leading major high-definition video projects for universities and businesses nationwide. The company has 90 employees and has been profitable since it was founded in 1970; its $37 million in revenue in 2012 marks a 35 percent boost in three years.

Grazzini Brothers
In 1923, two brothers from Italy began installing residential concrete sidewalks in the Twin Cities area. They soon added terrazzo to their services, a trade they learned back in the old country. The family-owned contractor is now under fourth-generation leadership, and it still specializes in the installation of tile, terrazzo and stone; it employs 200. Grazzini Brothers has worked on such diverse projects as Nicollet Mall and the roof of the Seattle Space Needle.

Lindey’s Prime Steak House
Arden Hills
Lewis Walter “Lindey” Lindemer served his first steak as a chef at a St. Paul café in 1958. He quickly developed enough of a reputation to whet the appetite of meat distributors and investors, which led him to open his own steak joint in Arden Hills in 1961. Revenue has increased since 2007 by more than half, to $1.2 million, under the direction of Lindey’s youngest son, Mark Lindemer.

Morrissey Hospitality
St. Paul
Bill Morrissey founded this hospitality management company in 1995. It currently manages three hotels, seven restaurants, and three sports and entertainment venues in the Upper Midwest; the Saint Paul Hotel and Pazzaluna restaurant are two of the properties it serves. Morrissey Hospitality also provides consulting services for national and regional brands including Hilton, Hyatt and Best Western.

Murphy Warehouse
This 110-year-old public warehousing and contract logistics company places environmental sustainability at the forefront, capturing and recycling more than 5 million pounds of carbon over the last 16 years. It has installed Minnesota-made solar panels and power systems to generate enough energy to meet the annual power needs of 64 homes. Murphy Warehouse projects revenue of $35 million in 2013.

True Source
The technology staffing services firm reached $7.9 million in revenue in 2012, achieving more than 700 percent growth in three years. Founded in 2007, True Source ranked 617 in Inc. magazine’s 2013 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies. Its clients range from startups to Fortune 500 firms.

This audiovisual products manufacturer is the second-largest PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera manufacturer in the world, behind Sony. Vaddio also designs and produces camera control systems and professional USB peripherals used in conference rooms, higher education institutions and health care facilities. Its 2012 revenue was $55 million; the company has 90 employees.

WaterFilters NET
Founder and CEO Jamin Arvig started this online superstore, which sells water, refrigerator and air filters, in 2003 while still in college. Since 2009, revenue has grown nearly 600 percent, topping $37 million in 2012. The company ranked 771 in Inc. magazine’s 2013 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies; it has made the list five years in a row.

Le Center
Founded in 1927, this manufacturer of generator systems for agricultural, government, industrial and other markets nearly went bankrupt in 1989. Then Ralph Call took over as CEO. He directed a turnaround, and the company has been profitable ever since; it had $20 million in revenues in 2012. Now employing 70, Winco hasn’t laid off any workers since Call became CEO.

Xylo Technologies
This technology services firm has placed 450 consultants at client locations nationwide since its inception in 2000. Its customer base includes health care organizations, Fortune 500s and government agencies. In 2012, Xylo Technologies’ revenue topped $7 million.

A.R. Weiler


Two tech execs saw an opportunity to help seniors stay in their homes longer. Venture capitalists caught on—and the company is quickly expanding.

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Maia and Allan Haag

I See Me! Inc.

This creator of personalized books for kids is as much tech company as publisher.

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Christian Petersen

Fantasy Flight Games Inc.

A lot of people still love role-playing games without computer screens. Christian Petersen helps gird them for battle.

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Paul Taunton

Business Impact Group

Paul Taunton built a one-stop source of uniforms, printing, and other services for businesses by putting himself in the customer’s shoes.

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Ken Olsen

Dahl Consulting

What began as a basement IT consultancy now provides contingency support staff to businesses worldwide.

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Deb Erickson

The Line Up

A fitness club conversation led to a business creating cheerleader uniforms for both amateur and professional sports teams.

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Tony Belden

Engineering America

New territories—particularly in the North Dakota oilfields—keep this liquid storage tank company pumping.

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Steve Baumann

Vexilar Inc.

A sonar company in bankruptcy makes a comeback by focusing on the ice-fishing market.

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COO Mark Traynor, CEO Mark Levine, CMO Karina Taylor

Hillcrest Media Group

Mark Levine got in on the first chapter of the self-publishing trend—and rewrote the rules.

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Monica Little and Joe Cecere


Founder Monica Little wanted to work without hierarchies. So she started her own design and branding firm—and earned some big clients.

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