Editor’s Note-Hall of Famers (1)
This issue you will be introduced to this year’s inductees into the Twin Cities Business Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, five of Minnesota’s most accomplished business leaders of all time.
Lee Anderson, Gary Holmes, Horst Rechelbacher, Guy Schoenecker, and Gene Sit have each led at least one competitively superior business organization while making substantial contributions to communities outside of business. They join a group of 46 outstanding Hall of Fame members inducted since 1999 who have discerned opportunities unnoticed by others; pursued those opportunities with imagination and persistence; conducted their activities with integrity; and enjoyed a lifetime of achievement and service.
We are pleased to be able to honor them in this issue—and in person, at an induction dinner at the Minneapolis Hilton hotel on July 24 (details).
We are especially pleased that they and all of the previously inducted members will be permanently enshrined this fall in a physical Minnesota Business Hall of Fame at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, where Dean Allison Blake is committed to creating ties among students, faculty, and Minnesota’s business community.
Next to the skyway that connects the school’s soon-to-open undergraduate building and its existing building, the accomplishments of each member will be commemorated on a plaque, and the stories of their achievements that have appeared in Twin Cities Business will be available to read electronically. We also expect to show highlights from recent induction dinners on a video screen.
Thanks to contributions by companies associated with Hall of Fame members, families of members, and the company that publishes this magazine, an endowment will allow new inductees to be added to the display for decades to come. They will join this year’s inductees and the following distinguished members.
Al Annexstad , who joined Federated Insurance of Owatonna as a sales representative, and in the next 17 years opened offices in five states and doubled the number of Federated clients in the South. From the time he became CEO in 1999 until his induction in 2006, he built Federated into a company with $4.5 billion in assets, annual premiums of $1.4 billion, and a surplus of nearly $1.5 billion.
Elmer L. Andersen , newspaper owner, one-time governor, and long-time chairman of H. B. Fuller. Anderson, who died at age 95 in November 2004, was known for setting and achieving ambitious goals at Fuller. His favorite newspaper task was writing editorials.
Bill Austin , founder of Starkey Laboratories, the largest hearing aid company based in the United States. As CEO, he guided the company’s growth to more than $420 million in revenues and 3,700 employees while also establishing the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has fitted 100,000 needy children with hearing devices.
Dale Bachman , who in 1992 became a fourth-generation president of his family’s floral and nursery company and expanded its business into plant-care products, tools, and home-dÃ©cor items. At the time of his induction, his company employed approximately 1,100 people plus another 500 during peak seasons.
Ray Barton , whose insights into the power of franchising led to the expansion of Great Clips into the biggest single hair-care brand in the world—a company with $700 million in system-wide revenues and 2,730 franchise stores in 34 states and western Canada when he was inducted.
Earl Bakken , inventor of the modern battery-powered heart pacemaker and cofounder of one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, Medtronic, where he was CEO from 1957 to 1976 and senior chairman until 1989.
Jill Blashack , the founder and CEO of Tastefully Simple, a retailer of gourmet foods that grew from revenues of $1 million in 1998 to $110 million at the time of her induction in 2006. In addition to its 320 employees, the company engages 20,000 consultants to sell products at home tasting parties.
Ralph Burnet , who developed Coldwell Banker Burnet into Minnesota’s number-one residential realty company, with more than 3,000 sales associates. He founded Burnet Realty, a predecessor company, in 1973 with a personal investment of $18,000.
James Campbell , a leading spokesman on public policies affecting business and the former CEO of Minnesota’s largest bank, which he developed into a leading commercial lender. During his tenure, the assets of Minnesota banks within the Norwest and Wells Fargo system grew from $5.9 billion in 48 separately chartered institutions to $52 billion within 166 branches of one institution.
Curt Carlson , widely proclaimed “ultra-entrepreneur” and founder of the Carlson Companies—shortened to Carlson—which includes Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Country Inns & Suites, and T.G.I. Friday’s.
Kenneth Dahlberg , heroic and heavily decorated World War II pilot who developed the first all-in-the-ear hearing aid and founded Dahlberg, Inc., which he expanded to $100 million in revenue before selling to Bausch & Lomb in 1994. Since 1995, he has been a venture capitalist.
Mark Davis , who transformed the humble St. Paul Creamery into Davisco Foods International, the largest supplier of cheese to Kraft and the world’s largest producer of whey protein isolates. Davisco produces a million pounds of cheese per day and generates $900 million in annual revenues. Another Davis company, Cambria, produces more than $100 million in quartz countertops per year.
Dorothy Dolphin , who founded Dolphin Staffing—a temporary services firm dispensing 20,000 W-2 forms a year—and became owner of 14 fast-food restaurants and a six-branch bank with more than $200 million in assets.
Ronald Fagen , Granite Falls–based builder of flour mills, power plants—and more than 70 percent of the nation’s ethanol production plants. At the time Fagen was inducted in 2005, his Fagen, Inc., had grown to $500 million in annual revenues and employed 1,400 construction workers in 37 states. In 2007, it had $2 billion in revenues and employed more than 3,500.
Tom Gegax , cofounder of Tires Plus, which improved the experience of tire buying with professional assistance and waiting-room amenities. When he sold it in 2000, it had 1,600 employees, 150 stores in nine states, and $200 million in annual sales.
Don Helgeson , president and chairman of Gold’n Plump, a $250 million integrated breeder, feeder, processor, and marketer of chickens. The company, which has 1,500 employees, three production plants, and two hatcheries, was among the first to brand fresh processed chickens.
Donald Kotula , an Iron Range–bred former bulldozer salesman, responded to rising energy costs in the early 1980s by selling parts for log-splitters to owners of wood-burning stoves. That led to the sale of tarps, tools, and other equipment—and to the creation of Northern Tool & Equipment, which at the time of his induction had $700 million in annual sales and 62 stores.
Edgar Hetteen , the “grandfather of snowmobiling” and founder of the companies that became Polaris and Arctic Cat, and all-season-vehicle maker ASV.
Ebba Hoffman , who in 1955 was a newly widowed homemaker with two small children, an eighth-grade education, and a debt-hobbled company. At the time of her death in 2000, she had expanded Smead into a 2,000-employee, $300 million office-products powerhouse.
Stanley Hubbard , known for transforming “unworkable” ideas into successful enterprises, the biggest of which has been United States Satellite Broadcasting, which was founded in 1982, when few homes had satellite dishes. Equally innovative was CONUS Communications, which allowed local U.S. stations to gather news reports from around the world.
Irwin Jacobs , who built Genmar into the world’s largest maker of recreational watercraft, with $1.1 billion in sales and 5,000 employees when he was inducted. He is best known as an investor in underperforming public companies who awakened management groups to their obligation to deliver value to shareholders.
Robert Kierlin , Minnesota state senator and cofounder of Fastenal, Inc., in a tiny Winona storefront in 1967. He had built it, by the time of his induction, into a 7,000-employee company operating 1,600 stores, 12 distribution centers, and a fleet of 3,500 vehicles.
Harvey Mackay , author of six business books, including Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. He turned modest Mackay Envelope Corporation into a 500-employee, $100 million business, and exercised community leadership that helped keep the Twins in Minnesota and build the Metrodome.
Whitney MacMillan , who in 18 years as CEO of Cargill, when it was the world’s largest privately held company, led it to a threefold increase in employees and a fivefold increase in earnings.
William S. “Bill” Marvin , known for single-minded devotion to Marvin Windows and Doors, his family’s 103-year-old company, where he was president and chairman from 1960 to 2001, CEO from 1986 to 2000. When he joined the company in 1939, he was “employee number eight.” He grew it to 5,500 employees and an estimated $600 million in annual revenues.
Richard “Pinky” McNamara , who made a 36-year career of buying and resurrecting bankrupt or foreclosed-upon businesses, and became the CEO of Activar, a 600-employee, $100 million holding company. At one point, he owned and directed 25 companies at once.
Ken Melrose , who became CEO of the Toro Company in 1983 amid doubts that it could survive, refashioned its product portfolio, and helped achieve a 25-fold increase in its stock price in the next 22 years.
M. A. Mortenson, Jr. , a builder of skyscrapers, airports, sports arenas, schools, and manufacturing plants. When he became president of the M. A. Mortenson Company in 1969, it had 15 employees. By 2007—when he said he planned to be part of his company “forever”—it had 2,500 employees and annual revenues of $1.4 billion.
John Mooty , partner for more than 50 years at the law firm now known as Gray Plant Mooty, and 24-year chairman of International Dairy Queen, which he and partners rescued and refocused in 1970, after performing a similar turnaround at National Car Rental. Mooty later became a developer of real estate in Arizona.
Mahendra Nath , who arrived in the United States with $800 and a mechanical engineering degree, and became an employer at Nath Companies of 3,500 people at 130 fast-food restaurants, two hotels, and nine commercial and residential properties.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson , longtime businesswoman and community activist who became CEO of the $7 billion Carlson Companies in 1998 and promptly implemented plans to expand. As vice chair in 1994, she arranged a merger of Carlson Travel and Wagonlit Travel, expanding the company’s reach to 140 countries.
Ron Offutt , one of the world premier farm operators. At the time of his induction, he had more than 200,000 acres of potatoes and other vegetables, a 21,000-cow dairy, three potato processing plants, and RDO Equipment dealerships in nine states selling $535 million in John Deere equipment, Volvo and Mack trucks, and new and used construction equipment.
Earl Olson , the founder of Jennie-O/The Turkey Store, Inc., the world’s largest grower and processor of turkeys. By the time he sold his $135 million (in revenue) company to Hormel in 1986, it had developed hundreds of new products—turkey loaves, hot dogs, pastrami—and entered dozens of non-U.S. markets. He joined the Hormel board, stayed on as Jennie-O’s chairman, and took pride in the company’s growth to more than $1 billion in revenue.
Jeno Paulucci , founder of Chun King, Inc., Jeno’s, Inc., and LuiGeno’s, the maker of Michelina’s and Yu Sing foods. He later became the second-largest landowner (after the Walt Disney Company) in Florida.
John Pellegrene , marketing paragon and retailing innovator who transformed Target’s bull’s-eye into an icon of branding, invented the Dayton’s Santabear, created the first computerized bridal registry, and promoted the Target-funded restoration of the Washington Monument.
Carl Pohlad , buyer and builder of soft-drink bottlers, banks, and companies engaged in investment management and broadcasting—and owner of the two-time world champion Minnesota Twins, which he kept from leaving the state in 1980.
Gerald Rauenhorst , founder of the Opus Corporation, which in the past 50 years has built more than 2,000 commercial buildings throughout the United States, and changed the skylines of the Twin Cities.
Thomas Rosen , who joined his family’s feed, fertilizer, and farm-chemical business in 1972, became CEO of Rosen’s Diversified, Inc., in 1991, and expanded its revenues from $550 million in 1998 to $2 billion in 2005. Five of its beef plants process 7,000 head of cattle per day, and its chemical and fertilizer business spans 17 states.
Alan “Buddy” Ruvelson , who opened the nation’s first Small Business Investment Company and helped build Minnesota’s venture-capital industry.
Richard Schulze , founder and chairman of Best Buy. Schulze opened his first store in 1966. By the time of his induction, Best Buy had become an international $36 billion, 1,120-store retailer of electronics equipment, appliances, and recorded music and movies.
Robert Sparboe , who moved to Litchfield, Minnesota, in 1954 to establish the Sparboe Chick Company with his life savings of $5,500. By the time of his death in November 2005, he had developed a $260 million operation that annually sold 2.4 billion eggs laid by more than 10 million hens.
Glen Taylor , who in 1967 bought a company with 30 employees and expanded Taylor Corporation to more than 14,000 employees, including the members of the Minnesota Timberwolves, which he bought in 1994. Taylor served for more than 10 years in the Minnesota Senate and started the state’s first company-owned daycare center.
Daryl “Sid” Verdoorn , who in 25 years running C. H. Robinson, from 1977 to 2002, transformed it from a $150 million seller of fruits and vegetables to a $3 billion, 3,900-employee, international shipping and logistics company.
Manny Villafana , a “serial entrepreneur” who founded Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. (CPI), which developed pacemakers now worn by 2.3 million patients, and St. Jude Medical, which developed mechanical heart valves worn by 1.5 million patients.
Win Wallin , chairman and CEO of Medtronic from 1985 to 1991, who continued to serve as chairman until 1996. During his tenure as CEO, Medtronic’s revenues rose from $370 million to $1 billion, and employee numbers nearly doubled to 8,500.
Wheelock Whitney , former star investment banker, CEO of Dain & Company, candidate for governor, teacher of management at the University of Minnesota, and part-owner of the Minnesota Vikings.
With your guidance, next year’s inductees will be every bit as impressive as these. E-mail your nominations to me any time in the next eight months at firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at 612-336-9299, or write to me at Twin Cities Business, 220 South Sixth Street, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55402.