Off-The-Cuff

Hope you’re having your fill of steamy summer weather and mosquitoes. The Editor is getting ready for an August vacation up north near Detroit Lakes. Buckle your seatbelts and away we go….

First, with old business: a chiropractor south of Mankato correctly pointed out we should have referred to the owner of Barnett Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic as Dr. Jessica Barnett in last issue’s Hot Startz interview.

In May, the Editor attended the South Central Minnesota Executives Forum held at Gustavus Adolphus College. The featured speaker was Michael Rusinko, managing director of the Minneapolis office of $26 billion Accenture, the world’s largest management consultant, technology services, and outsourcing company. He said Accenture—truly a worldwide operation—doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar headquarters building. Rather, top executives from around the globe meet every four months in a different location. Accenture overall has 176,000 employees working in 120 countries, including 65,000 employees in India….

His talk was titled: “Globalization, Leadership, and Change Management.” Globalization, he said, has been driven by an economic openness worldwide, technology such as the Internet and video conferencing, and the reach of multinational corporations…As for American companies trying to understand operating in other countries and outsourcing, he rattled off a number of key principles. One was “water always flows to the lowest point,” meaning economic growth tends to flow to the most competent, lowest-cost source. Another principle was for businesses to consider languages and time zones in choosing foreign outsourcing partners, e.g., having an Asian Indian named “Nick” providing customer service to Americans may not always be the best solution….

The Editor spent significant time this year at New Ulm’s annual career fair for high school students. Included among the many presenters was Windings, featured this issue on page 40. I also spied booths from Larson Allen, Minnesota State University, New Ulm Journal, Gislason & Hunter, Beacon Promotions, and more. By far, Norwood Promotional Products had the largest and most interactive booth….

What a pleasant surprise the Editor came across a short while ago. My wife came home from the local Vernon Center post office one day saying I had to meet a new neighbor: Patricia Dotter. As it turned out, Dotter works for the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), a branch of the Defense Logistics Agency. Her job here in southern Minnesota is to help businesses of any size do business with the federal government. If what she says is true—and the Editor believes it—many southern Minnesota businesses are missing a golden sales opportunity by not becoming registered to do business with the federal government….


Dotter moved here from Wyoming, where she worked at another PTAC office. She graduated from Gettysburg College with a B.S. degree in music education and taught music for 21 years before beginning in 1994 a business that engraved glass and crystal awards and trophies. To learn more about starting a business, she took classes through the University of Wyoming Small Business Development Center. Eventually, due to her teaching background, the development center hired her to teach small business owners how to write business plans. PTAC hired her in 2001….

“I help small and large businesses get into the government contracting arena,” said Dotter in a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview. “I was hired to develop this area. When leaving Wyoming, I was told I had to live somewhere in southwest Minnesota, should be near Mankato, and that’s why I ended up in Vernon Center. I have a very good location because of where I have to travel.”….

When prospective businesses call, she learns about their goals, what they do, if they are looking to expand, and if they have a particular product filling a government need. She helps any business through the federal registration process, finding a market, bidding, reviewing proposals, issues after being awarded contracts—everything….

“There are a lot of companies that don’t know about us,” she said. “Lots of times, we get calls from federal agencies, such as one last year looking for a contractor to do a roofing project in Pipestone. The contract officer in Chicago couldn’t find a roofer in Minnesota to do the job. I had to rely on the clients already registered with us, and so had to get one in the Twin Cities. I didn’t have any registered roofers in our database in southern Minnesota. Of the three roofing contractors in the Cities I contacted, one responded, bid, and got the contract.”

When beginning her job last year, she had only 27 registered businesses in her territory. Through her efforts, she now has more than 170. “And there are more federal government offices than you would imagine in this area,” she said, citing, for example, the federal prisons in Waseca and Rochester and local branch offices of the U.S. Postal Service, USDA, and National Park Service. These locations need everything from electricians to landscape people. Often, on national bids, a large contractor will hire local subcontractors, but only those federally registered. Contracts are for best value or low bid, and some are term contracts….

To learn more, you can call her at 507-549-3193 (or see ptac/meda.net). She added, “We also offer procurement fairs twice a year for companies to meet one-on-one with buying agents for different federal agencies. The next one is August 18 in Duluth.”….

Mike Donohoe of Weir Insurance gave the Editor a gift: cans of Skyline chili. Donohoe, along with the Editor and Mankato veterinarian Dr. Ken Ambrose, spent formative years in Cincinnati. Recently, Donohoe was there on business and brought back the booty. Skyline (or Gold Star) is what Cincinnatians grow up eating. It contains a boisterous mob of creative ingredients, including cinnamon, chocolate, and cloves. If you grew up in the Queen City, let me know, and we just may organize a chilifest….

Thanks again for reading south-central Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine. Our profits earned here have stayed here since 1994. Next issue, we will kick off nominations for our annual Connect Business Magazine Business Person of the Year contest. Last year’s eventual winner was Pamela J. Year of MRCI in very close voting. Until next time..

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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