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Entrepreneur of the Year Heartland Finalists Announced, Minnesota Continues to Dominate

Minnesota holds 21 of the 29 spots in the seven-state Ernst & Young regional competition.

Entrepreneur of the Year Heartland Finalists Announced, Minnesota Continues to Dominate
The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Heartland Finalists celebrate their victories at last year's awards gala. (Photo courtesy of Entrepreneur of the Year)

Finalists for the Heartland division of the 33rd annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards were announced Wednesday. Leaders of 29 businesses—chosen for their innovation, financial performance, personal commitment to their work and communities, and other factors—make up the 2019 winner’s circle. Twenty-one are from Minnesota.

One of about 20 separately considered regional sects, the Heartland division covers Greater Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota.

But Minnesotans dominate the list of finalists, again. From a couple of teen sisters who started their own bath bomb company, to a millionaire CEO with a biotechnology holding company, to the owner of a prank gifts company featured in TCB earlier this month, 70 percent of the finalists are from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. They are:

  • Janet Johanson of St. Paul-based BevSource, Inc., which provides beverage outsourcing, development, and start-up services
  • Charles Kummeth of Minneapolis-based biotechnology and clinical diagnostic holding company Bio-Techne
  • Richard Ward of Corporate Direct Apparel dba Merchology, a promotional products supplier based in Minnetonka
  • Benjamin, Caroline, Isabel, and Kimberly Bercaw of Minneapolis-based bath bomb company, Da Bomb LLC
  • Paul Sween of Plymouth-based affordable housing development and management company Dominium
  • Timothy Herbert of obstructive sleep apnea-focused medical technology company Inspire Medical Systems, Inc., based in Golden Valley
  • Mark Gorder of Arden Hills-based IntriCon, a biomedical and hearing health devices manufacturer
  • Christopher Smith of Minneapolis-based Kipsu, Inc., a digital messaging platform for the service industry
  • Krista Carroll of Minneapolis-based brand experience design agency Latitude
  • Richard Murphy of Minneapolis-based Murphy Logistics Solutions dba Murphy Warehouse, a warehousing and logistics provider
  • Bach Parker, Blake Elliott, Luke Wendlandt, Patrick Kemper, Paul Gans, and Ross Denne of opioid dependence-focused behavioral health organization, NorthBridge, located in St. Paul.
  • Bruce Zeilinger of Minneapolis-based radiology medical equipment provider NXC Imaging
  • Heather Manley of Minneapolis-based IT consulting services firm On-Demand Group
  • Ryan Walther of Minneapolis-based prank gift company PrankO, LLC.
  • Jeremy Segal of Eagan-based athleticwear company Proozy
  • Shelly Ibach of Minneapolis-based mattress and bedding manufacturer Sleep Number (Ibach was recently featured in TCB’s special publication of St. Catherine University’s 2018 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership)
  • Eric Newell of accounting and operations software company Stoneridge Software, LLC, based in Barnesville
  • Daniel Oskey and Jon Kreidler of Minneapolis-based craft spirits distillery Tattersall Distilling Company
  • Eric Grilly of VStar Entertainment Group, a production services company based in Minneapolis
  • Jason Von Bank of St. Louis Park-based virtual fitness trainer Wellbeats
  • Benjamin VandenWymelenberg and John Guenveur of WOODCHUCK USA, maker of laser engraved wooden products based in Minneapolis

Of the remaining eight finalists, five hail from Missouri, leaving one each from Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas.

Regional award winners, selected by a panel of independent judges, are eligible for consideration for a National award. National winners will be announced at the Strategic Growth Forum and National awards gala in Palm Desert, California, in November.

A reception for the Heartland Finalists is being held on May 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Radisson Blu Downtown Minneapolis.

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