New Ulm: Edelweiss
What used to be Edelweiss Flower Haus, is now Edelweiss, Inc., and has a new owner, location, expanded sales floor, and scads of energy.
New owner Faith Wels, 47, of New Ulm, had been a stay-at-home mom before starting a “fresh flower arrangements” business in 2000, servicing at first only the needs of her family and friends. To earn extra money—her husband taught at Minnesota Valley Lutheran—she worked additional jobs, including at the local hospital, Martin Luther College, Kraft, and Subway. “Then my mother asked, ‘Why not do something to benefit you if you’re going to work that hard,’” said Wels in a telephone interview.
Her flower arrangement business blossomed. In June 2007, she ran across an Edelweiss employee, who told Wels Edelweiss could be purchased from retiring owner Pat Drummer. Wels officially bought the business on October 15, 2007.
It just so happened that Edelweiss had to move at the same time, and Wels opted for 209 North Minnesota. Said Wels, “The space is bigger in the new location. We have room for a huge plant area and for more merchandise and antiques. As for antiques, we have some gorgeous pieces of oak. There is nothing like old wood.”
As for her new job, she said, “I like handling fresh flowers, such as when I take the stargazer lilies from the cooler—they are almost heady with fragrance. I also enjoy dealing with customers and handling their arrangements.”
She added, “All along God has been preparing me for this. And I have good employees who are very competent and know their business. That’s the good thing about getting into an established business. The machinery was in place. I just had to step in.”
Contact: www.edelweissincmn.com. Address: 209 North Minnesota. Telephone: 354-2222.
Vernon Center: Minnesota’s Highway 169 Antiques And Collectibles
For 23 years, Sandy Oppegard was executive director of the South Central Workforce Council, administering employment and training programs in a nine-county area. She retired last August, and in late October 2007 began Minnesota’s Highway 169 Antiques and Collectibles.
“I started out selling antiques on eBay as a hobby,” 62-year-old Oppegard said in a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview. She eventually began specializing on eBay in 1930s-1950s vintage collectibles, and when retiring in August she decided to take advantage of “that big room downstairs” and also her frontage along Highway 169.
“I buy and sell anything, lamps, radios, pottery, china, gadgets—I’m a gadget freak,” she said. “The trick is buying right so you can sell everything at a reasonable price, either on eBay or the shop, and still make money.”
She culls most of her wares from farm auctions in the nine-county region around Greater Mankato. An antique gas iron manufactured by an obscure company from Austin, Minnesota, was one prized find. She said many antique stores have closed in the last few years because of stiff competition from eBay, so to survive she must price most of her items aggressively, usually in the $10-$50 range.
Why an antique store? “There is nothing more fun than when someone comes into your shop and you are able to sell something reminding them of their childhood,” she said.
Contact: www.minnesotas-highway.com. Telephone: 507-549-3452.
Fairmont: HR Advisors
Since beginning HR Advisors in March 2007, Wes Pruett has developed accounts in Minneapolis, Mankato, Fergus Falls, Rochester, Fairmont, Slayton, and other cities. He enjoys the flexibility and challenges of being a human resources consultant for smaller businesses, and the diversity involved in consulting for manufacturing, retail, high-tech, law, bank, and nonprofit accounts.
From 1987-2007, for the most part, he was the administrative go-to person at Fairmont Medical Center-Mayo Health System. “At various times I was administratively responsible for human resources, the nursing home, the Fairmont Medical Center Foundation, nutrition services, laboratory, respiratory care, maintenance, and other departments,” said 56-year-old Pruett in a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview. At his retirement, his title was Chief Support Officer of 680-employee Fairmont Medical Center, which included the hospital, clinic, and nursing home.
He said, “But most of my customers now aren’t in healthcare. The field of human resources is pretty much the same in all types of businesses. The common denominator in my entire career has been human resources—that is the juice that gets me going. My goal is to help align business and people.”
Many small business owners don’t understand federal and state rules and laws, he said, such as wage and hour rules in relation to payment of overtime. “For example, I’ve caught many instances of companies inappropriately paying or not paying overtime,” said Pruett, “and I was able to reduce their risk of a Department of Labor audit. Many things I do help owners sleep better at night.”
Besides other services, he evaluates, writes and builds employee handbooks, and provides training seminars to help employees communicate and productively work together. Pruett has earned two master’s degrees, one each in psychology and healthcare administration.