Regular readers of Twin Cities Business know that every summer, we help sponsor the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® awards for Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas, recipients of which are featured in each August issue. When it appears likely that a winner from our region is going to be a finalist for a national award, our agreement with Ernst & Young compels us to attend a late-November Strategic Growth Forum and awards program near Palm Springs, California. At least three individuals with strong ties to Minnesota fared especially well in this year’s national competition, which enhanced what was already one of our more pleasant obligations of 2009.
Lee Anderson, the chairman of APi Group, Inc., in New Brighton, was named national Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of Real Estate, Hospitality, and Construction. Anderson expanded a small plumbing supply company into a $1.6 billion holding company with at least 33 operations providing products and services related to construction, including fire-protection equipment, sprinkler systems, steel fabrication, and garage-door production.
At the awards ceremony, he credited his father with instilling in him a strong work ethic. “My dad,” he said, “thought warehouses were invented so teenagers had a place to work in the summer.” He said that his West Point education honed his own decision-making skills and helped to shape his character. “I’m always trying to be honest and forthright,” he said in a pre-awards interview with representatives of Ernst & Young. “The way you conduct yourself and make decisions is something people can’t take away from you. They can’t destroy it; only you can do that.”
David Meyer, the CEO of Titan Machinery, Fargo, was a finalist in the category of Distribution and Manufacturing and a recipient of a special “Venture Capital Award of Excellence.” Meyer, who started out with a small share of a single, small farm-equipment dealership, now owns 70 dealerships in seven states generating approximately $700 million in annual revenue. Titan completed an initial public stock offering in 2007 after several years of operating the company as if it were public, with outside directors and reporting disciplines similar to those of public companies.
Meyer and his team financed part of Titan’s expansion with capital provided by Cherry Tree, the Minnetonka-based provider of venture capital. Cherry Tree’s Tony Christianson serves on Titan’s board.
A former Minnesotan received the Entrepreneur of the Year award in Media, Entertainment, and Communications: Timothy Leiweke, the president and CEO of AEG, a collection of companies that ranks among the world’s leading presenters of sports and entertainment programming. Leiweke directed the development of the Los Angeles Staples Center, home to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings, and Clippers. An AEG division produces and promotes concerts by groups that have included Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, U2, and Britney Spears.
In 1988, Leiweke was the first employee of the newly franchised Minnesota Timberwolves. In the first of his four seasons as vice president, he helped the club set an NBA first-season attendance record of averaging 26,160 fans per game. He also negotiated naming rights and directed sales and marketing for all events at the Target Center.
Twin Cities Business received a silver second-place award in the category of “Overall Excellence” among large-circulation business and trade publications at the Minnesota Magazine and Publications Association (MMPA) awards event in November. The gold first-place award went to Exhibitor magazine, a colorful monthly focused on trade-show marketing that is published in Rochester. Twin Cities Business also received 12 other awards—six gold, four silver, two bronze—in the competition.
Three were for writing: a silver in “Best Feature Article” for “The Family Business,” a profile of Tom Petters associate Michael Catain; a silver in “Best Regular Column” for “Corner Office” by Mark Sheffert; and a gold in “Best Editor’s or Publisher’s Editorial or Letter to the Readers” for the October 2008 “Editor’s Note,” a reminiscence about metals speculator James Cook.
Six awards were for design: a gold for “Best Single Cover,” an April 2009 portrait of four University of Minnesota medical researchers; a silver and a bronze for “Best Use of Illustrations”; a gold and a silver for “Best Use of Photography”; and a gold in “Best Overall Design.”
Three awards were for a combination of writing or research and design: a gold for “Best Single-Topic Issue, Special Section, or Supplement,” for a focus on commercial real estate that appeared in December 2008; a gold for “Best Table of Contents,” and a bronze for “Best Directory,” last year’s Business Information Guide.