Connect Business Magazine

Since 1994: The Magazine for Growing Businesses in Southern Minnesota

Off-The-Cuff

By • Jul 2009 • Category: Off-The-Cuff

On July 4 or thereabouts, the Editor will be catching candy cast from noisy fire trucks at the Vernon Center parade shindig. The sparkling fireworks that night should brighten up the countryside and the eyes of deliriously happy children. Be sure to remember your freedom and independence. So buckle your seat belts and away we go…,

Obviously, this issue we departed from our usual practice of interviewing “live” businesspeople for our cover. However, having the opportunity to interview Sir Henry Wellcome, south-central Minnesota’s greatest businessperson, was simply too choice to ignore. Our thanks go to Roxie Brandts (cover, Jan. ‘07) for providing a treasure trove of historical material on Sir Henry that comprised more than fifteen sources. Two especially helpful biographies were Helen Turner’s Henry Wellcome and Robert Rhodes James’ Henry Wellcome. Obviously, we don’t know what Sir Henry would have said, but the interview does hold to basic fact and attempts to capture the right spirit. You can expect our usual “live” fare next issue….

The Editor and family six weeks ago attended the annual Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival east of the Twin Cities near Lake Elmo, where my knitting- and spinning-mad wife dove headfirst into a mountain of smooth sheep’s wool. Besides sheep, which my grandfather used to raise, the festival featured llamas, angora rabbits, and goats. It brought in thousands of enthusiasts. On these family field trips, I try spying out southern Minnesota businesses and was heartened eyeing a booth at this festival from Big Gain (featured July ‘00), the LeHillier-based feed company always heavily involved in helping producers manage their businesses. Big Gain representatives were promoting the company’s goat feed line that contains “apple flavoring in all products to enhance palatability and to maintain continuity among the products.” Let’s hope they gained many new customers….

With all the soybeans, cheese, and butter in south-central Minnesota, the Editor is surprised no one has started a regional festival highlighting one of them. (Le Sueur and Sleepy Eye festivals already feature corn and Mankato does hogs with Ribfest.) Perhaps Velveeta Days, New Ulm? Or the Minnesota Soybean Celebration, Mankato? New Ulm Butter Festival? Or a public event to tie-in with the private Pork Masters golf outing, Fairmont? Festivals that bring cash-spending tourists and agriculture-based dollars are worth as much as any other. Aren’t they?….

A few weeks ago, the Editor felt compelled to learn more about General Motors and AvtoVAZ. Historically, the former has been capitalist America’s largest automaker, and the latter, socialist Russia’s largest. Here are some recent statistics from an Internet search: The U.S. and Canadian governments now own 72.5 percent of General Motors; the Russian government owns 75 percent of AvtoVAZ. In addition, the United Auto Workers union and unsecured bondholders own the rest of General Motors, 27.5 percent, while publicly traded French company Renault owns the rest of AvtoVAZ, 25 percent. Not much difference. Perhaps the nationalization of two-thirds of our automobile industry will be only temporary. GM shareholders would like to think so….

Years ago a food brokerage salesman in Maryland, the Editor often takes notice of newbie Minnesota salespeople going above and beyond the call of duty to build sales. While home in Vernon Center one Saturday in April, I was in the basement, writing. After I came upstairs for fresh air, my wife said a stockbroker had been knocking on our front door asking for business. He had known my name and the names of neighbors, my wife said. His card read, “Dan Lowis, Financial Advisor” with Edward Jones. I’m not endorsing Mr. Lowis—have neither seen nor met the man—but a financial advisor canvassing Vernon Center on a Saturday to glean business during a recession deserves some recognition….



While at the HickoryTech (John Finke, cover, Jan. ’09) annual meeting at Alltel Center, the Editor bumped into HickoryTech board member Myrita Craig, who also is the new executive director of Cincinnati’s Agenda 360. Agenda 360 and Craig share much in spirit with Mankato’s Envision 2020 and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s job creation goals, but seem to be taking the regional planning process a step further. In part, Agenda 360 has goals of creating 200,000 net jobs in Greater Cincinnati by 2020 and ensuring every household earns at least 250 percent over the federal poverty line. Their aim is to have everyone working on a shared vision and leveraging regional economic clusters to become one of the world’s top consumer markets. Perhaps when visiting Mankato again, Craig could share her considerable expertise?….

Finally, the Editor enjoyed the R.D. Hubbard House re-opening in Mankato. Ron Goodrich and his employees did a great job renovating. I was in the carriage house two hours signing copies of “Unique Mankato Stories,” a book that tries putting flesh and bones to the great forgotten stories and people of Mankato. Have you purchased your coffee table copy to benefit the Blue Earth County Historical Society? To order call 345-5566….

Until next time….

is a former Editor of Connect Business Magazine
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