Changes

Nice to have you back for another issue. As for the Presidential election, at this writing, the results aren’t yet in. Either way, Barack or John, change is imminent, and your small or large business will be affected. So buckle your seat belts and away we go……….

Three major corporate changes occurred since last issue……….First: On October 1, Ed Welch became CEO/president of $1.6 billion Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI). He replaces Mark Furth (featured May ’00), who leaves after 38 years, including 19 years at the helm in New Ulm. Furth literally grew up across the street from what became AMPI headquarters and earned his first paycheck there, as a teen, when the building was a grocery. He stays on board until year-end to help with transition……….In a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview on his first day as CEO/president, Welch said, “Mark Furth’s greatest attribute has been keeping AMPI a dairy-owned co-op. I couldn’t have had a better mentor and have really enjoyed working under him for 25 years, with the last six in an office directly next door to his. AMPI had its best year ever in 2007, and 2008 will be another strong year”………

Second: On September 22, Capstone Publishers (featured July ’02) acquired the assets of UK-based Heinemann-Raintree from Pearson, an international media company. Heinemann-Raintree has more than 6,000, pre-K to secondary nonfiction book titles. The acquisition gives Capstone Publishers a strong presence in England, doubles its titles to more than 12,000, and makes theirs the largest family of supplemental publishers serving the school and public library market……….So will this acquisition affect Mankato operations? Said Jennifer Glidden, company spokesperson, “Capstone Publishers and Heinemann-Raintree will operate as they are today, and Heinemann-Raintree will benefit from back office support in the U.S.  Pearson had previously outsourced these operations and they will be combined into our operations in Mankato. We will be hiring more staff in our distribution center and customer service department to help fulfill customers’ needs”……….

Third: On September 24, Fairfax Financial Holdings purchased 69 percent of Ridley Inc.’s shares from Ridley’s Australian parent. The deal was too good to pass up: Fairfax was able to purchase 9.5 million shares for $81 million. In terms of revenue, $610 million Ridley Inc. (featured Sept. ’03) has been the largest company headquartered in Mankato……….”It is good news,” said Steve VanRoeckel, Ridley Inc. CEO/president in a telephone interview. “Fairfax Financial Holdings, which is a very large financial company in Toronto and one of the largest insurance companies in North America—traded on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges—purchased our Australian shareholders’ holding in Ridley Inc. in a private transaction. It really is no more complicated than that. (Fairfax is) not an operating company; the purchase is purely a stock investment for them. They liked the company, thought they were getting good value, and have no intentions to take us private or be involved in managing the business. Their investment style has been to buy and hold”……….Ridley Inc. Mankato headquarters employs 100, including about a dozen Ph.D.’s, and its Third Avenue Hubbard Feeds facility employs another 35. The company has 1,000 North American employees……….

While at MSU in September, the Editor ran across Tom Riley, Greater Mankato Growth director of new business development. Riley was working the International BioEnergy Days Congress, which involved the sharing of bioenergy technology and ideas with people the world over, especially Sweden, Ireland and Norway……….Said Riley in a telephone interview, “There were people there from businesses that convert either agriculture or animal waste into energy—and there were solar and wind energy people, too. We were trying to show these companies that by working in concert with our region and university, our area would be an ideal landing place for them to put down roots in North America.” In that vein, Riley helped introduce representatives from three mature Swedish companies to five southern Minnesota businesses……….

On September 15, Country Inn & Suites in Mankato named Margaret “Mugs” Snaza (featured Jan. ’97 with Kitchen Tune-Up) as sales and event manager. In a telephone interview, she said, “In my new job, I’ll be helping people with business meetings, wedding receptions—any kind of event needing meeting or reception space. I absolutely love the people here”……….


Finally, we simply can’t wait to reveal our Business Person of the Year 2009. Thank you for the nominations. Our excitement is palpable. See you in 2009! 

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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