Each year, Twin Cities Business recognizes the accomplishments of Minnesota executives who have made lifetime contributions to Minnesota’s economy and greater community.
Each has developed industry-leading businesses that are poised to continue such leadership well into the future. Each has persisted through numerous business and economic challenges. Each is a leader in our community through participation in and support of nonprofit organizations. Each is truly inspiring—to colleagues and employees, as well as to the next generation of business leaders in Minnesota and beyond.
Lynn Casey didn’t join prominent Twin Cities public relations firm Padilla Speer Beardsley expecting to someday lead it. But when the opportunity came in 2001, she took firm hold, leading Padilla through difficult times and making it stronger and more broadly based than ever. The merger she directed with a similarly sized agency in 2013—her firm now is called PadillaCRT—added new markets and capabilities. In addition to traditional media relations, PadillaCRT provides a wide range of communications services including brand strategy, website design and content development.
Pat Fallon co-founded an advertising agency in 1981 with big ambitions and no clients. Three years later, the agency, known today as Fallon Worldwide, won a major industry award and began earning national clients, including the Wall Street Journal, Lee Jeans, BMW and Citibank. He has more than fulfilled his original vision of an agency focused on creative messages backed by deep understanding of the consumer—and with all its national campaigns for well-known brands, it remains based in Minneapolis.
Mark Larson took over a small electronics reseller in rural northwestern Minnesota and turned it into a $1.75 billion worldwide distributor of components to designers of electronic device prototypes. Based in Thief River Falls, where most of its 2,600 employees work, Digi-Key picks, packages and sends out 16 million parts annually from more than 650 vendors. Larson also set up arrangements for FedEx and UPS to send Digi-Key orders directly to their hubs, so the company can ship nearly all of its orders on the same day to customers around the world.
Mark Sheffert is the first person whom numerous troubled companies have called to guide them back to profitability. Minnesota’s premier turnaround expert, Sheffert took his banking and management skills honed at First Bank Systems and founded Manchester Cos., which since 1989 has provided financial restructuring, management consulting and investment banking services, to more than 700 clients. Thanks to his work, he has kept companies operating in Minnesota. He also is a highly respected member of several corporate and nonprofit boards.
Bill Sweasy represents the third generation of leadership and ownership at Red Wing Shoes. During his tenure, he kept the 109-year-old boot and shoe manufacturer operating and thriving in its small-city hometown of Red Wing. He also acquired a tannery, opened additional stores and expanded its footprint in other countries, where Red Wing’s made-in-the-USA ethos has given its products cachet among younger consumers.
The 2014 Minnesota Business Hall of Fame honorees join an elite group of individuals who rank among the most accomplished and respected Minnesota business leaders of all time. Follow the links below to read their stories, and they will share more about their journey at our annual Minnesota Business Hall of Fame dinner July 23. Please join us in celebrating their lives and accomplishments.