2015 Finalists

2015 Finalists

Finalists from the 2015 competition

Michael James Wolbrink

Azule Staffing 
Year Founded: 2012
Headquarters: Eagan
Annual Revenue: $10.6 million
Employees: 306
What it does: Azule Staffing was founded with the goal of employing veterans in good-paying and rewarding vocations outside of the military. It helps with job coaching and housing assistance for military veterans. “We never turn away a vet” is an unofficial company mantra.


Kim Bartmann

Biltwell Restaurant LLC
Year Founded: 1991
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Annual Revenue: $12.5 million
Employees: 295 year-round and 35 seasonal
What it does: Biltwell is a group of restaurants and eateries in the Twin Cities including Gigi’s, Pat’s Tap and Bread & Pickle. This restaurant group functions to build community relationships, focus on the arts and prioritize sustainable agriculture.


Nancy Lyons

Year Founded: 2002
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Annual Revenue: Not available
Employees: 70
What it does: Clockwork is a technology company that used to focus heavily on the design and development of websites, but has since grown into a business focusing on solving business-related problems through the use of technology. It works with sales and life cycle systems, content management systems, mobile apps and intranets.


Paul Lidsky

Year Founded: 1987
Headquarters: Eden Prairie
Annual Revenue: $630 million
Employees: 630
What it does: Datalink is a data center services and solutions provider. It built a new Cisco practice, and retrained the engineering and sales organization to close the skills gap to support new offerings. It continues to expand its offerings portfolio and capabilities.


Brad Fick

Direct Source
Year Founded: 1992
Headquarters: Chanhassen
Annual Revenue: Not available
Employees: 100
What it does: Direct Source is a technology reseller and services provider that works with emerging technologies and cutting-edge retail technology partners. Retailers bring technology into the store through beacons, mobile handhelds, mobile commerce, smart dressing rooms, geo-location and other approaches.


Mason Thelen

Year Founded: 2009
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Annual Revenue: Not available
Employees: 31
What it does: Elicit has moved away from the traditional approach to relationship marketing, with a combination of data and technology, analytics and marketing execution. Its business is built around “customer science,” which merges math and technology with business strategy, advertising and marketing to create a better customer experience.


Jerry Johnson

Energy Management Collaborative
Year Founded: 2003
Headquarters: Plymouth
Annual Revenue: $60 million
Employees: 50
What it does: The Energy Management Collaborative educates organization decision-makers and finance officials about their energy-saving opportunities. The company celebrated a milestone in 2013 when savings reached 1 billion kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to shutting off the Black Dog coal plant in Burnsville for over six months.


Bjorn Stansvik

Year Founded: 2001
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Annual Revenue: $12 million
Employees: 300
What it does: MentorMate is a consulting firm that focuses on business strategy, custom mobile and web software, user experience design, back-end integration and data analytics. It was acquired by Taylor Corp. in 2014.


Nicolas Thomley

Morning Star Financial Services
Year Founded: 2006
Headquarters: Golden Valley
Annual Revenue: $44.2 million
Employees: 121
What it does: Morning Star serves as a bridge between public funding mechanisms, primarily Medicaid, and the individuals who receive those funds. Morning Star handles administrative functions, which allows individuals to direct and manage their own care.


Don Rachel

Rachel Contracting Inc.
Year Founded: 2006
Headquarters: St. Michael
Annual Revenue: $100 million
Employees: 220
What it does: Rachel Contracting is a construction company that does earthwork, demolition, environmental and utility construction projects in public and private markets. In recent years, it has been involved in several energy and oil industry projects.


Dean C. Atchison

Spectrum Aeromed
Year Founded: 1991
Headquarters: Fargo
Annual Revenue: Not available
Employees: 32
What it does: Spectrum Aeromed designs and manufactures products for fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft. It makes interiors for single-mission aircraft and modular systems for multi-mission aircraft.


Maureen R. Steinwall

Steinwall Inc.
Year Founded: 1965
Headquarters: Coon Rapids
Annual Revenue: $23.3 million
Employees: 150
What it does: Steinwall Inc. is a custom precision thermoplastic injection-molding company. Carl Steinwall incorporated the company in 1965, and Maureen Steinwall, who started her career as an accountant, took over the family business about two decades later and led it through the recession and challenges caused by global competition.


Mike Derheim

The Nerdery
Year Founded: 2003
Headquarters: Bloomington
Annual Revenue: $60 million
Employees: 470
What it does: The Nerdery is a custom software design and development company. It launched the Prime Digital Academy in December to increase the number of qualified software engineers in the marketplace. The Nerdery is well-known for sharing leadership responsibilities across the company.


Thomas Siering

Two Harbors Investment Corp.
Year Founded: 2009
Headquarters: Minnetonka
Annual Revenue: Not available
Employees: 100
What it does: Two Harbors Investment business lines include a mortgage loan conduit/securitization platform and investments in mortgage servicing rights. It recently announced that it is delving into commercial mortgage loans in an effort to build franchise value for stockholders.


Stuart C. Henderson

Western National Insurance Group
Year Founded: 1901
Headquarters: Edina
Annual Revenue: $480 million
Employees: 570
What it does: Western National Mutual’s history is rooted in providing insurance for creameries throughout Minnesota, but it has since expanded into home and auto insurance. It has also been an active contributor to workers compensation insurance, which operates across state lines in other regions of the Midwest.

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