Anne Behrendt took an unlikely path to the corner office. She joined Bloomington-based Doran Cos., a development and construction firm, as general counsel in 2011. She was promoted to chief operating officer in 2015. Kelly Doran, who founded the company in 2007, was clearly impressed. Doran sold a majority interest in his company this year to Behrendt and CFO Ryan Johnson; Behrendt owns 51 percent. Doran Cos. is now one of the most prolific local apartment developers. Behrendt has been a key part of that success and is a good reason to bank on a bright future for Doran Cos.
Joe Ryan is connected to Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. US Inc.—Ryan Cos. chairman Pat Ryan is his brother—but he chose to cut his own path. In 1991, Ryan founded Excelsior-based Oppidan Investment Co., a commercial real estate developer. Oppidan has a long list of clients and has done projects all across the U.S. For many years Oppidan focused on retail developments, including national work for clients such as Orchard Supply Equipment and Duluth Trading Co. But Ryan knows that the firm’s future hinges on diversification. Oppidan’s brand-new Lowa46 in Minneapolis is a prime example: market-rate apartments combined with Cub Foods’ first-ever smaller-format store.
When Charles Kummeth joined Bio-Techne in 2013, the purified protein development company was experiencing a downturn. He was tasked with rejuvenating it, and so far, under his leadership, the company has more than doubled revenue. Externally, it’s made 15 acquisitions in five years, with an eye to getting involved in the complete workflow of cell and gene therapies, from reagent development to diagnostics and treatment efforts to investing $45 million into a new protein manufacturing facility. Kummeth’s job now is to get new offerings to market with Medicare approval and to continue making acquisitions to achieve Bio-Techne’s goals, while facing challenges such as the trade war with China.
Under Randy Newman’s watch, Alerus Financial Corp. expanded far beyond its North Dakota roots. He joined Alerus—formerly the First National Bank of North Dakota—in 1981. He was promoted to president six years later. Meanwhile, the Grand Forks, North Dakota-based bank established a presence in Minnesota in 2003 and later expanded into Arizona, New Hampshire, and Michigan. Alerus, which reports more than $2 billion in assets, is taking another big step under Newman’s direction: In August, it filed for an initial public offering.
If you want to look beyond the “Uber of this” headline and see where lifestyle trends are actually heading, watch Jim D’Aquila. A longtime Minneapolis-based investment banker who has worked with large companies and small firms of his own creation, D’Aquila founded Rendersi in late 2017 to advise (or invest) in smaller, forward-thinking startups like Under Canvas, a travel service that creates luxury camping (“glamping”) experiences. “We don’t think in terms of industry,” D’Aquila says. “We think thematically. I’m focusing on the experiential economy: customization, retail, lodging, adventure-based activities. I’m looking for companies people don’t even know they need.”
Gov. Tim Walz will enter the 2020 legislative session with functional working relationships with DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. While national politics are hyperpartisan, Walz focused on reaching compromises with legislators in 2019, which places him in a solid position to negotiate the 2020 bonding bill that will include road, bridge, and education projects. Although the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Business Partnership have disagreed with Walz on some policy proposals, they’ve given the governor high marks for finding common ground. Thorny issues such as raising the gas tax remain on the governor’s agenda. In 2020, expect Walz to travel extensively to campaign for DFL legislative candidates in hopes of recapturing the state Senate to create a DFL legislative majority for governing.
Bill Katter is a busy guy these days. United Properties wrapped up construction of The Nordic, a new North Loop office building. It is also developing Target Field Station, which will house the new Fillmore music venue, and is a development partner on The Dayton’s Project. Katter proves that often the greatest asset for a developer is patience. After several years of work, United is now under construction on the RBC Gateway project, which will include office space, condos, and a Four Seasons hotel. Katter and company are changing the future Minneapolis skyline for the better.
There’s a reason why national business outlets like the Wall Street Journal and CNBC look to Neel Kashkari for smart, savvy—and at times contrarian—views on big-picture economic issues. We’re lucky to have him in Minneapolis. Kashkari started his career as an aerospace engineer. Just accept the facts: He’s smarter than most of us. Earlier this year, a writer with New York magazine argued that President Trump should have tapped Kashkari as Fed chairman. If the economy becomes increasingly shaky, Kashkari’s perspectives and insights will become increasingly important in 2020.
Ann Kim and husband/business partner Conrad Leifur are responsible for a group of the Twin Cities’ most original restaurants, starting with Pizzeria Lola in south Minneapolis and more recently the innovative and much-lauded Young Joni in Northeast, which remains a long wait almost every night of the week. Soon they will open Sooki & Mimi, a Mexican-focused eatery in the old Lucia’s space in Uptown. Kim, winner of 2019’s James Beard Best Chef Midwest award, was recently the subject of a lengthy New York Times profile about her distinctive backstory and Korean-influenced culinary vision, which will likely continue to set the pace for innovation in the Twin Cities.
Sri Zaheer may have the biggest business network in the Twin Cities metro area. She became dean of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School in 2012. Since then, she has reached out to business leaders to serve on advisory boards and in other capacities that enhance the learning and career prospects of Carlson students. She also has her finger on the pulse of the regional economy through her service on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. At a September celebration that marked the Carlson School’s 100th anniversary, Zaheer noted that “business is a force for good.” Now she’s assessing which educational programs Carlson needs to support business students in 2020 and beyond.
Some may have presumed Kathy Tunheim brought on John Blackshaw as president of her 30-year-old public relations firm so she could slow down. To the contrary, she’s revving up new projects like Manova, a summit on the future of health care that, in its second year, brought policy makers, business leaders, and health care professionals together in Minneapolis. “We’re affirming the idea that this is the place for medical and health innovation,” says Tunheim. A second side hustle: Tunheim is building a software platform to find employees with specific skills. “In a world where information can be accessed in so many ways,” Tunheim says, “we have to keep evolving.”
Jean Taylor, working with publisher Mike Klingensmith, is focused on building a robust revenue model that will support journalism. Her father, Glen, bought the media company in 2014, and she was elevated to chair in late 2018. She says the Star Tribune is “transforming into a digital majority business,” which means in the coming years most of the revenue will flow from digital editorial subscriptions and advertising. To support that shift, she brought four independent directors onto the board in early 2019 who she says have experience in creating growth and developing digital businesses.
After serving nearly three decades on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, Peter McLaughlin needs no introduction. But in 2018, McLaughlin lost his reelection bid to newcomer Angela Conley. You’d think a guy nearing 70 might be interested in retirement—not McLaughlin. In May, he was tapped to lead LISC Twin Cities. The Local Initiatives Support Coalition is a national nonprofit that helps provide funding for revitalizing communities and expanding economic opportunities. That’s in tune with much of the work McLaughlin supported on the county board. He sees the big picture but pays close attention to the details needed to realize the vision.
Old-timers know that TCF stood for Twin City Federal, the bank’s name back when it was a savings and loan. So it’s a little strange to see TCF headquartered in Detroit. That happened officially in August, when it merged with Motor City-based Chemical Financial Corp., creating the country’s 27th-largest bank. The merged entity retains the TCF name and its CEO, who succeeded the legendary Bill Cooper in 2016. Mergers and acquisitions have become familiar transactions in the retail banking industry; Craig Dahl has the new TCF poised to acquire smaller institutions far beyond the Twin Cities.