Dan Oskey knows how to make a good cocktail. From bitters and tonics to spirits and liqueurs, Oskey has made them all. During his time bartending at the late, great Strip Club Meat & Fish, Oskey was repeatedly recognized for his alchemy. Since he opened Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis in 2015, business has taken off. The distillery makes 23 spirits and liqueurs, ranging from barreled gin to an Americano liqueur. Last year, Tattersall completed a 6,000-square-foot expansion to keep up with demand from out-of-state distributors, and in 2018 Tattersall will open a cocktail room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.
Maplewood-based 3M continued toward a leaner operation in 2017, completing the sale of several business units and simplifying its structure. Since Thulin took over in 2012, the industrial supplies manufacturer has seen business sectors shrink from six to five, and business units downsize from 40 to just over 20. The condensing—all by Thulin’s design and part of his now-complete five-year growth plan—was meant to make 3M “more relevant to customers, more agile and more competitive,” the company says. With Thulin at the helm, 3M sees further payoff on the horizon, particularly for shareholders, as the company expects shares to experience double-digit percentage growth by the end of the decade.
Since becoming CEO in 2013, Alan McLenaghan has continued to build on the growth pace set by SageGlass founder John Van Dine. To date, SageGlass has installed its electrochromic (electronically tintable) glass in more than 700 projects and buildings worldwide, including Mall of America and the Warwick Geneva Hotel in Switzerland. In his four years as CEO, McLenaghan has grown headcount from 150 to more than 230. In October, the Faribault-based manufacturer added teams in Denmark, Norway and Sweden to continue expanding its market reach.
Lake Superior Warehousing Co.
The Duluth-Superior port has always been known for ships, of course. Now Lamb is leading the effort to make it an intermodal hub as well, transferring container cargo between trains and trucks—no boats involved. Lamb’s company, which manages and markets the port’s physical operations for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, launched its intermodal service this past March. If successful, it will provide the port income during the winter months, when the docks are closed. Lamb, whose career includes executive positions at Texas-based BNSF Railway, is directing the service, which is off to a promising start.
Founder and Principal
After a career mostly spent in shopping center development, Doran switched gears when he started Bloomington-based Doran Cos. in 2007. Over the last decade he has become one of the top multifamily residential developers in the Twin Cities. After starting in Minneapolis with student and market-rate apartment projects, Doran branched out to the suburbs with projects in Brooklyn Park, Hopkins and Maple Grove. The company’s Doran Construction division has a growing book of business and has built numerous apartment projects for other developers. Now the company is reaching beyond the Twin Cities, expanding to Denver.
Goncalves’ Cleveland-based company has major taconite operations in Hibbing, Silver Bay and Eveleth. In the past year, iron mining has been coming back, and Cleveland-Cliffs’ fortunes have also improved. That’s due partly to the economy, and partly to Goncalves shrinking the company’s debt load, allowing it to pursue new projects. Goncalves had hoped to produce direct-reduced iron pellets at the former Essar Steel facility in Nashwauk. Chippewa Capital Partners triumphed for ownership of the site. Goncalves has announced a $75 million upgrade of its Northshore mine to produce a specialty type of iron ore pellet.
Allina Health System
After a rough 2016, during which her leadership was tested by a lengthy nurses’ strike, 2017 has been a bounce-back year for Penny Wheeler, during which she has reestablished her credentials as a key corporate leader. The financial markets gave her a vote of confidence by granting favorable ratings to Allina’s $231 million bond issue, which will mainly be used for facility improvements throughout its extensive system. Look for Wheeler to maintain a high profile in the national health insurance debate in the coming year.
Upper Midwest Lead Region President/Minnesota CEO
Wells Fargo & Co.
Wells Fargo’s David Kvamme has distinguished himself as one of the Twin Cities’ top business leaders since his elevation to regional CEO in 2011. He played a key role in the bank’s decision to locate its new corporate campus in downtown Minneapolis, and last year was re-elected to serve on the board of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. His stature at the bank will likely only grow in the coming year after emerging as head of its Midwest/East region following a leadership shake-up.
Marco Technologies LLC
Jeff Gau started with Marco Technologies as a sales rep in 1984 and worked his way up to CEO, forging a reputation as one of the most honored leaders in the Upper Midwest as he built the St. Cloud data networking company into a powerhouse, with estimated revenues of $275 million. When the firm was sold to Norwest Equity Partners in 2015, Gau agreed to stay on for five more years, saying he will continue Marco’s aggressive acquisition strategy into the future.
Opus Holding LLC
Like many developers, the former Opus Corp. was stung by the Great Recession. Opus veteran Tim Murnane took the helm of the company in 2010 and rolled up his sleeves. Under Murnane’s leadership, business is booming again. The company has struck gold in the Twin Cities and around the country with market-rate and student apartments, spec industrial projects and build-to-suit office deals. Opus and Murnane are bullish on the future; in downtown Minneapolis, a 30-story, 370-unit apartment tower at the north end of Nicollet Mall is set to open in summer 2018.
Wall Street considers Gene Munster one sharp guy. During more than two decades at Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray Cos., he drew national attention for his analyst coverage of Apple and other tech companies. At the outset of the year, Munster launched Loup Ventures, a research-driven, early-stage venture capital firm with offices in Minneapolis and New York. With an initial goal of raising $20 million for its fund, the future-focused firm is looking to invest in artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality and augmented reality. Given his history of tracking tech trends, it’s tough to bet against Munster.
Senior Managing Director
Business services giant Accenture Holdings is based in Ireland, but David Wilson’s desk is in downtown Minneapolis. Wilson has long been a key booster for downtown Minneapolis businesses, residents and culture. He’s active on the Minneapolis Downtown Council, where he chairs its Greening and Public Realm Committee. In the same spirit, Wilson chairs the board at nonprofit Green Minneapolis, which seeks to bring more green space to the cityscape. Wilson regularly rolls up his sleeves to help make downtown better for workers, residents and visitors.
Summit Brewing Co.
After 31 years and an increasingly crowded market, Summit Brewing remains Minnesota’s second-largest brewer and is ranked by the Brewer’s Association as the 26th-largest brewer in the U.S. based on 2016 sales volume. But with Summit’s announcement earlier this year that it will cease distribution in six states, it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, Stutrud makes in 2018. One that’s already occurring is a remodel of Summit’s beer hall.
David Burley and Stephanie Shimp
Blue Plate Restaurant Co.
It’s hard to understate how difficult it is to do what Burley and Shimp do—concept restaurants more for customers than critics, while moving from success to success with nary a clunker in the bunch. Whether it’s the State Fair’s wildly popular Blue Barn or taking a failed restaurant location in downtown Minneapolis’ financial district and turning it into the jumping Mercury, these two know their customers and what the Twin Cities customer is looking for. The common denominator is a customer-centric approach and concepts that feel right for where they are.
City of Edina
Edina residents clearly like Mayor Jim Hovland’s leadership. He was reelected to his fourth term as Edina mayor in November 2016 with 97 percent of the vote. He had no opponent. There has been a fair amount of new development in Edina during Hovland’s tenure, and there’s more to come: a hotel is under construction and a major makeover of the 50th and France retail area is in the works. Hovland has been a key player encouraging new investment in the first-ring suburb and advocates for its NIMBY-inclined officials to aspire to a higher vision. He’s also working on larger, regional issues; in 2015 the Met Council tapped Hovland to chair its Transportation Advisory Board.
When Leadpages founder Clay Collins stepped down as chief executive earlier this year, he cited the need for a leader who could scale the company. “It’s time to have the scaling dude in the seat to take us to $100 million-plus. And that dude is John Tedesco,” he said. Colloquially expressed, but not wrong. Tedesco has worked at several fast-growing companies, including When I Work, SportsEngine (acquired by NBC last year) and Ovative/group. He joined Leadpages as COO and mentor to Collins. Now it’s his time to prove he can take one of Minneapolis’ most-successful startups and bring it into the big leagues.
Andy Cecere leads the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States. High-profile CEO Richard Davis passed a very weighty baton to him on April 18. Cecere, promoted from president and COO, now heads a company of about 73,000 employees well-positioned locally against a Wells Fargo struggling to emerge from a year of scandal. Cecere, a U.S. Bank employee since 1985, is now in charge of dealing with a slow-growth economy that has stressed the banking industry. He serves on the board of trustees at the University of St. Thomas and on the board of overseers of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen
Self Esteem Brands LLC
Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen moved the headquarters of Self Esteem, the parent of Anytime Fitness and Waxing the City, from Hastings to Woodbury in 2016 to better position the company for growth and attracting talent. Earlier this year, Anytime became the first U.S.-based fitness franchise to be granted a franchising license in China. Today, there are more than 3,600 locations in all 50 states and nearly 30 countries, and Runyon and Mortensen have plans to open 400 annually for the next five years.
Nothing Short of Greatness Campaign
Lou Nanne is the consummate insider in the sports, business and media worlds, which is why he’s chairing the University of Minnesota’s $200 million fundraising campaign to upgrade its athletic facilities. (About $130 million has been raised to date.) A former Gopher and North Stars hockey player, Nanne raised money for the Athletes Village that’s set to open in early 2018. Naming rights are part of the fundraising strategy, with the hockey arena becoming 3M Arena at Mariucci. Nanne is also senior managing director of institutional sales at RBC Global Asset Management and a blunt hockey analyst on radio and TV.
PolyMet Mining Inc.
In March 2016, PolyMet’s proposal for an open-pit copper-nickel mine and metals processing plant near Hoyt Lakes cleared Minnesota’s environmental review. Now the Toronto-based company, part-owned by Swiss commodities giant Glencore, awaits approval on over 20 state and federal permits. It’s been a long slog for Cherry, who’s been PolyMet’s top exec since 2012. If the company can obtain the permits, raise $550 million to start construction and overcome any lawsuits, he’ll finally be able to build PolyMet’s first mine.
An engineer with a Harvard MBA, Cathy Connett is a force in the Twin Cities, supporting and advising businesses. She heads the Sofia Fund, which provides investment capital for women-led companies, particularly with a technology focus. It has deployed about a third of its funds in a $5.5 million investment pool, and is looking for early-stage companies for strategic investments. Connett is a connector who has deep relationships with businesspeople in every kind of organization, from giant public companies to small startups. She also works on new business initiatives and ownership transitions as president of her consulting company, CorConnections LLC.
Executive VP/Chief External Engagement Officer
More than Bullseye the dog or its iconic logo, Laysha Ward is the face of Target as it introduces itself in new markets across the USA. In 2017 Ward—who once helmed social responsibility and philanthropic efforts for the Fortune 500 retailer—took on a new role, leading "external engagement" at the company. Ward lives on the road, telling Target's story—from its celebrated cheap chic to its 5 percent philanthropic efforts—to elected officials, corporate and community leaders and new store guests alike. In an era when executives are asked to "be the brand," Ward walks that walk like few others.