Each year, Twin Cities Business recognizes the accomplishments of Minnesota executives who have made lifetime contributions to our state’s economy and to our greater community. Each has developed industry-leading businesses that are poised to continue such leadership well into the future. Each has persisted through extreme business and economic challenges and in some instances, personal tragedies as well. Each is inspiring—to colleagues and employees, as well as to the next generation of business leaders in Minnesota and beyond. The following pages tell their stories:
Jim Graves is a teacher turned hospitality entrepreneur who developed the AmericInn small-hotel chain in markets previously unserved by such hotels. He then shifted to upscale hotels, building the Graves 601 in downtown Minneapolis, one of the first of the new-wave of luxury hotels in the Twin Cities. His company now manages several hotels and restaurants in Minnesota and elsewhere, and is making plans for new properties.
Dale Klapmeier co-founded Cirrus Design in 1984 to produce an innovative type of personal airplane that included a parachute for the plane itself. The SR20 that Klapmeier helped create was designed to be easy to fly and as comfortable to ride in as a luxury automobile. The Duluth-based manufacturer has built more than 6,000 planes for customers worldwide, and Klapmeier already has orders for his next industry-altering innovation: a personal jet with a built-in parachute.
Steven Leuthold created the Major Trend Index, a highly detailed tool for analyzing companies and stock performance, at a time few others were doing so. Founding his own investment research firm in 1981, he became Minnesota’s best-known investment strategist globally, gaining a reputation for foresight and innovative research, while bucking Wall Street’s herd mentality—to great success.
Robert Senkler became CEO and president of Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance in St. Paul in 1994 at the age of 41. He led the company, now called Securian Financial Group, through two major economic crises, acquisitions and divestitures by focusing on conservative investments and serving the life insurance market with seamless service and digital efficiency.
Mark Stutrud founded Summit Brewing in 1986, building his pioneering St. Paul company into one of the country’s most successful and largest craft breweries, even though nearly all of its sales are in the Upper Midwest. Stutrud’s success and his commitment to quality have inspired the numerous craft brewers that have opened in Minnesota in the past few years.
Twin Cities Business also is remembering the legacy of David Olson, the longtime president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce who passed away last year at the young age of 57. Olson was one of our state’s most passionate business advocates. Besides his effectiveness at the State Capitol, he is revered for his ability to bring opposite sides together, his support of small businesses throughout the state and for his focus on sustainability and workforce development.
The five 2015 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.