Minnesotans Dominate List of Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists

All but two of the 31 business leaders chosen by EY were from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Finalists were announced Thursday for the 31st annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards event hosted by professional services firm EY.

A total of 31 men and women in business were selected for the Upper Midwest region competition, which includes Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Like years past, Minnesotans dominated the list with all but two of the finalists represented by a company in the state:

  • Tony Jacobson of Plymouth-based marketing firm AllOver Media
  • Amit Gupta of Minneapolis-based natural stone product wholesaler Amsum & Ash
  • Joel Conner of Minneapolis-based frozen foods maker Bellisio Foods Inc.
  • Charles Kummeth of Minneapolis-based BioTechne, a manufacturer of hematology controls and biotech products
  • Joyce Brenny of St. Joseph-based trucking company Brenny Transportation Inc.
  • Jerry Baack of Bloomington-based Bridgewater Bank
  • Tom Goodmanson of Minneapolis-based call center software manufacturer Calabrio Inc.
  • Ben Gray, Jeff Gray and Scott Gray of New Hope-based screen-printing company Creative Apparel Concepts Inc.
  • Lisa David of Bloomington-based business management consultancy eCapital Advisors
  • Chris Staley, Jeremy Langevin and Sabin Ephrem of St. Louis Park-based employment agency Horizontal Integration
  • Jason Hammerberg of Edina-based apparel retailer Hammer Made
  • Jennifer Smith of Burnsville-based office supplies provider Innovative Office Solutions LLC
  • Joel Theisen of Edina-based senior care service prodiver Lifesprk
  • Zachary Quinn of Minneapolis-based apparel brand Love Your Melon
  • Curtis Steffen and Daniel Gage of St. Paul-based heavy equipment supplier MacQueen Equipment Group
  • Eric Dayton of Minneapolis-based North Corp, which owns and operates Askov Finlayson, The Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar
  • Bruce Zeilinger of Minneapolis-based medical imaging solutions company NXC Imaging
  • Dale Nitschke of Minneapolis-based marketing agency Ovative/group
  • Jamie Candee of Apple Valley-based education consultancy Questar Assessment, Inc.
  • Kari Rihm of St. Paul based truck dealer Rihm Family Companies
  • Chris Homeister of Plymouth-based natural stone tile and maintenance materials retailer The Tile Shop
  • Mark Summers of Eden Prairie-based clinical trial recruitment agency ThreeWire Inc.
  • Gwen Stanley and Michael Zenk of Venture Bank, which operates Bloomington, Golden Valley, Eagan and Roseville

The only non-Minnesota finalists were Grant Kvalheim and Jim Belardi who collectively work at West Des Moines, Iowa-based insurance company Athene Holding Ltd.

“EY has honored outstanding entrepreneurs for over 30 years,” said Dominic Iannazzo, EY Entrepreneur of the Year program director for the Upper Midwest region. “These business leaders are accomplished entrepreneurs who have contributed a tremendous amount to the community.”

Winners of the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year awards will be announced on June 8 at a gala in Minneapolis.

As a sponsor of the event, TCB profiled the 11 winners from eight companies that were named Entrepreneurs of the Year during last year’s event.