Off-The-Cuff

It was one of the coolest summers on record. In one two-day stretch in mid-July, the Editor’s children had swimming lessons canceled in Winnebago because of the pool water being too cold. Let’s hope everything in business heats up for the Christmas retailing season. Buckle your seat belts and away we go….

First: Remember to email in your nominations for Connect Business Magazine’s “2010 Businessperson of the Year” contest by noon Friday, October 2. We have streamlined the process, so go nominate someone right now at connectbiz.com/bpoy….

Here are the rules: 1) The nominated person must work and live in Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca or Watonwan counties; 2) Candidates are evaluated on the evidence of business results, personal character, leadership ability, and community involvement; 3) An independent panel of Minnesota State College of Business faculty will select three finalists. The nominee with the highest point total will be named Businessperson of the Year and honored on our January 2010 cover. Runners-up will be profiled; 4) Lastly, a person featured on our cover or in a major company profile from 2008-09 is ineligible….

Each year, the Editor receives relatively few nominations—few, considering we have 7,500 people receiving Connect Business Magazine and 22,000 or so end readers. Over the last year, I learned of at least two people that hadn’t nominated a deserving candidate because of mistakenly believing their own name would somehow be revealed. That’s not true: No one except the Editor—not even our MSU judges—will know you nominated your work associate, friend, or partner unless you choose to reveal that information….

Beating the same drum, it is rare we receive nominations from New Ulm or Waseca, even though we receive some of our best feedback from readers there. We also have had relatively few women nominated. Past winners of our award have been Lorin Krueger (Mankato, ‘04), Milt Toratti (St. Peter, ‘05), Bob Weerts (Winnebago, ‘06), Roxie Brandts (Garden City, ‘07), Jeff Thom (North Mankato, ‘08), and John Finke (Mankato, ‘09)….

On to other matters: The Editor can no longer receive Mankato’s two television stations at home. We have digital capability, but apparently live outside the new 20-mile digital range—this after we’d purchased a digital converter box and antenna. We don’t have any desire for cable because of our limited viewing habits, which consist almost entirely of CBS March Madness, professional golf, and college football. Any suggestions? I guess we’ll be watching sporting events online or fishing instead….


In terms of stock price, two local companies have had the ups and downs. Years ago, HickoryTech’s stock price rose into the high $20s before beginning a gradual freefall. Last October 10, it hit rock bottom at $4.75 before suddenly getting very hot. By July 24, the price in relatively heavy trading had reached a 52-week high of $9.20. Being named to the Russell 2000 and Russell 3000 Indexes must have helped some, but that didn’t occur until June 26, after much of the gains had been made….New Ulm Telecom appears to be having similar ups and downs. Its share price flirted with $18 in 2005 during the Midwest Wireless sale hoopla (New Ulm Telecom owned 10 percent) before also going into freefall. On April 2, NULM’s share price fell to $6.00 per share and has been struggling for traction since. Both HTCO (13 cents) and NULM (10 cents) pay decent quarterly dividends relative to share price. Former Midwest Wireless president Dennis Miller became a NULM board member earlier this year….

Two interesting “Cash for Clunkers” stories: The first comes from the “Cash for Clunkers” program itself, which revealed data in early August showing that Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai manufactured six of the top ten vehicles purchased under the program. So not only does this program make Detroit happy, but also Seoul and Tokyo….Another Clunker story came from a friend owning a Mankato construction company. He claims—and I have no reason to doubt his veracity—that a friend of his completely stripped an aging Land Rover before driving it into a dealership for Cash for Clunkers. And I mean completely stripped. Besides everything from a powerful sound system to the windshield wipers and spare tire, this guy stripped all the Land Rover’s seats and ended up driving in a naked carcass of a vehicle while sitting on a rickety lawn chair duct-taped to the floor….

At the Blue Earth County Fair this year, the Editor decided to use federal stimulus money to purchase a corn stove for heating his Vernon Center home. It was regularly priced at $1,850, but with the “Fair Special” and $405 in Obama stimulus dollars because the stove used an alternative fuel, I could lower that to $950. My feeling was I should give my children at least some tangible benefit from this $787 billion stimulus package before they become enslaved to spending the rest of their lives paying off the debt….

For whatever reason, we received more positive feedback from our feature on Sir Henry Wellcome (July ’09) than on any other cover story in recent memory. Several people even mentioned it at the fair. One person called me at home wanting to see if I could help start a Sir Henry Wellcome science-based museum in Garden City. Pertaining to this, Connect Business Magazine Publisher Jeff Irish recently talked with his brother, an anthropologist, who said if Garden City had a “Sir Henry Wellcome” museum, English tourists would visit it in droves. Sir Henry is quite the deal in England, he said. What surprised the Editor most about all the feedback was email from scholars in Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Thanks once again for reading south-central Minnesota’s only locally owned business magazine. And don’t forget to nominate a worthy person for our 2010 “Businessperson of the Year” contest.

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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