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Member Profile: Hannaher’s

May 1st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

Hannaher’s can bring design and function to any workplace. From innovative and collaborative work space design to a basic office chair and everything in between, this team prides themselves in engineering an environment where you and your team can do your best work.

hannaher's exterior

The Hannaher’s office in Fargo – just next to I-29 off of Main Avenue – also serves as a showroom, and it’s hard to not get excited about the possibilities just by stepping in the door. In fact, it’s a new building, built just for them. Since last September, they’ve been using the new space to show off product and design options—and everything you see in there is something they can offer your own organization.

While Hannaher’s is still a family-owned business, it’s definitely not your father’s office supply company anymore. Today, Paul Hannaher is at the helm, and the business has evolved throughout the years. It started as Ridley’s in 1939 with Paul’s father Tom joining the company in 1959. The Moorhead company changed its name to Hannaher’s in 1964. A few decades and a new building later, the next evolution came in 2011, when they acquired Gaffaney’s of Grand Forks. Since then, they’ve also opened another location in Detroit Lakes, now enabling them to serve further into Minnesota.

Now, Hannaher’s also has their own commercial flooring division and is placing a larger focus on technology, offering work tools like room scheduling devices. Of course, they also offer a wide range of items to enhance employee well-being and make space more efficient and flexible, including adjustable-height work stations, moveable wall systems and seating for a variety of work environments.

“One of the fun times meeting with a customer is when you see their ‘a ha’ moment,” Paul said. “When a business comes from having traditional cubicles and they see what a flexible work environment can do, you see their lights go off as things start to make sense. You can’t get those responses unless you’ve got talented people who know how to communicate that message. That’s the fun part of what we do.”

Steelcase is Hannaher’s primary manufacturing partner. Steelcase leads the way in innovative, research based furniture design, and is an industry leader in sustainability initiatives. This partnership allows their team access to Steelcase’s research and attention to industry trends and technology.

When working with Hannaher’s, you can rest assured that they put you top of mind. “I always stress that our customers are making a change in their office,” Paul said. “Our experienced team understands the stress that comes with change. We take pride in making our customers feel comfortable and confident in their new space.”

You can also count on their professionalism and knowledge. Paul says that they believe in investing in their team through ongoing training and development, as well as achieving levels of certification unmatched in the marketplace, providing the highest level of service, and knowledgeable partnerships for our customers.

Outside of the workplace, it’s also important for them to serve their community. Hannaher’s promotes a family-first atmosphere and encourages team members to be involved in service clubs and civic groups. They also give back by partnering with the local schools and universities, the United Way and Sanford Health Foundation.

Going forward, Paul says technology will be an integral part of the business, and they will continue to focus on giving employees resilient workplaces that provide a choice in how, when and where they work. “It’s really changing the way people work. This is all about retaining, hiring and attracting employees. Creating thoughtfully-curated workplaces will become destinations where people actually want to work.”

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Leadership Class Presents Community Projects

April 19th, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

This past month, the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo class unveiled their group projects. These Community Change Initiatives (CCIs) apply and reinforce the skills and insights gained throughout the Leadership program while allowing participants a chance to envision, develop and bring to fruition real and lasting community change in collaboration with others. Having worked on these projects for the past seven months, each group gave a 20-minute presentation to the community at Dakota Medical Foundation, offering a first look into their hard work and dedication to helping find a solution to a number of our community’s issues.

Team Go Green – All in One Recycling, City of Fargo

Team Go Green– Andy Erickson, Kinetic Leasing
– Adam Ruud, Houston Engineering
– Kelsey Erbes, Stoneridge Software
– Kevin Mehrer, Boy Scouts of America
– Matt Gruchalla, Bell Bank

The City of Fargo is bringing single-sort recycling to 26,000 residents starting July 2017. “Team Go Green” has partnered with the city to develop a marketing plan that educates citizens, increases the amount of recycles tonnage in Fargo and decreases the amount of waste in Fargo’s landfills. You can see their work on local billboards, in many local publications and online.

Looking for more information? Visit https://www.cityoffargo.com/CityInfo/Departments/SolidWaste/Recycling/.

Duffels 4 Dreams

Duffels 4 Dreams– Chad Brousseau, Cass County Electric
– Chelsey Agather, Discovery Benefits
– Dave Bietz, Fargo Park District
– Jennifer Swenson, TMI Hospitality
– Sam Wheeldon, John Deere Electronic Solutions
– Tim Stokka, Gate City Bank

In 2016, 225 local children were removed from their homes and 107 were in foster care. While each experience is different, many of the children’s belongings are thrown in a trash bag during their transition, which is just one more stress added to their situation. The individuals in the Duffels 4 Dreams team, in conjunction with Cass County Social Services, are fundraising to provide a bag containing hygiene products, a comforting item (blanket or teddy bear), and passes for local attractions. Considering supporting the Duffels 4 Dreams mission? Your gift will provide:

• $20 = 1 Blanket
• $10 = 1 Teddy Bear
• $50 = 1 Complete Duffel Bag
• $200 = 4 Complete Duffel Bags
• $500 = 10 Complete Duffel Bags
• $1,000 = 20 Complete Duffel Bags

For more information, contact Dave Bietz at dbietz@fargoparks.com.

Financial Planning Day

Financial Planning Day– Jamie Grant, Microsoft
– Kurt Lysne, Moore Engineering
– Paul Jarvis, United Capital
– Shane Cullen, Park Co. Realtors
– Thomas Loegering, Wanzek
– Toby Krone, Moorhead Police Department

Financial Planning Day is a day dedicated to getting your financial and future plans in place. On April 29 at the FARGODOME, this group will be putting some of the region’s best financial planners, insurance providers and professionals right in front of you. This day is 100% free and will include workshops and classes catered to your questions and needs; keynote address by Erik Hatch; and the opportunity to schedule one-on-one planning meetings with some of the best financial planners our community has to offer.

To register for this event, visit www.getaplannow.com.

Home for Good

Home for Good– Donna Block, Lux Communities
– Erik Stenehjem, First International Bank and Trust
– Jenna Studt, Flint Group
– Jordan Cook, Choice Financial
– Rob Riness, Mortenson

Home for Good is bringing the Housing First model to the FMWF area through partnerships with local non-profits and the Apartment Association in hopes of connecting the community in ways to relinquish the stigma of homeless individuals. The Housing First model is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness.

The World’s Table

The Worlds Table– Allyson Peterson, NDSU Development Foundation
– Cortnee Jensen, MindShift
– Maria Steen, Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership, Inc.
– Nikki Berglund, Luna Fargo/Bernie’s Wines & liquors
– Sarah Arntson, Dakota Medical Foundation
– Teran Germscheid, Wimmer’s Diamonds

The World’s Table is an event series focused on promoting cultural acceptance by building camaraderie between long-time local residents and New Americans. They will use food as our bridge and create a safe environment to try new foods, forge new relationships and learn about each other. They will gather regularly over ethnic dishes to make New Americans feel welcome, supported and connected to F-M. At the same time, they will introduce long-time residents to the foods, cultures and traditions these new neighbors have brought to the community. The first event will be held on April 27 at the Dakota Medical Foundation.

To register for this event, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-worlds-table-episode-1-nepal-tickets-33471065859.

The Welcome Home Project

Welcome Home Project– Jenna Frost, American Crystal Sugar Company
– Mark Honzay, JLG Architects
– Vanessa Lystad, Vogel Law Firm
– Melissa Rystad, Rasmussen College
– Brandon Haney, Midco
– Kayla Gefroh, Purpose Learning Group

The Welcome Home Project’s mission is to provide necessities that will welcome families to their new homes, who are moving from transitional housing to permanent housing. Having already raised over $8,000, many local families who are currently working with Fraser, LTD, will be gifted what many of us often take for granted – beds, silverware, shower curtains, towels and so much more.

Interested in supporting this group? Contact Kayla Gefroh at kaylagefroh@live.com.

Experience Fargo Moorhead West Fargo

Experience Fargo Moorhead– Amanda Even, Dress for Success of the Red River Valley
– Amanda Maslowski, US Bank
– Caitlin Stoecker, The Village Family Service Center
– Chantel Carlson, United Way of Cass-Clay
– Mitch Johnson, CoreLink Administrative Solutions

Experience Fargo Moorhead West Fargo has partnered with The Chamber for a new program launching fall of 2017. They are bridging the gap between students and local businesses to create a community where engagement and service are an integral part of life. By doing this, it is hoped that the local workforce will be positively affected by retaining local higher-education students through community engagement, exposure to local business and service learning.

Interested in getting involved with Experience Fargo Moorhead West Fargo? Contact Mitch Johnson at mitch.johnson@corelinksolutions.com.

 

Be a part of next year’s class!

Applications are open for the 2017-18 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program through May 18. Apply online at fmwfchamber.com.

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Debuting New Program Logos

April 1st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

Starting April 1, you may notice a new set of logos for some of The Chamber’s events and programs. Business Training, Eggs & Issues, Leadership, Women Connect and the Young Professionals Network all recently received a new look.

These new logos are designed to mimic the main Chamber logo, but now gives each program a specific color and unique identity. Soon you’ll see them on all of our materials, including the website, social media and at events.

The idea behind the change is to strengthen The Chamber’s overall look and brand as we evolve as an organization. We’ve got some other exciting things in the works, and we feel that new and distinct program logos are an important part of this work. We hope you like them, and stay tuned for what is still yet to come!

business training logo

eggs logo

leadership logo

women connect logo

ypn logo

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Looking at Legislation

April 1st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

craig whitneyheadshot

The legislative season has been interesting to say the least. Through our public affairs efforts, we have been keeping a close eye on what the Minnesota and North Dakota legislative bodies are working on.

In North Dakota, revenue shortcomings are dictating the conversation. With major belt tightening underway, it seems everyone is feeling the effects. However there are certain areas that seem to be seeing devastating cuts. We are fortunate to have a strong higher education system in the North Dakota portion of the Red River Valley. North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science are not only an integral part of the future of our workforce, but they are also some of the top regional employers. They are facing nearly 20% and 24%, respectively, budget reductions. This extreme of a cut causes organizations to not just tighten the belt but make decisions that may take years to recover from. The Chamber stands by our higher education institutions and we our dedicated to supporting them far into the future.

Minnesota is facing a different set of money issues as they evaluate priorities when it comes to their close to $1.4 billion surplus. Tax cuts for residents and business owners are a top priority with lawmakers. The historic Sunday liquor sales legislation was passed and will take effect on July 2, 2017. Another important piece of legislation, the REAL ID bill ended up failing in the Senate. Currently, Minnesota IDs will not be federally recognized and Minnesota residents will not be able to use them to board an airplane as soon as 2018. This is a hindrance to all Minnesotans. We are thankful to Representative Ben Lien, who voted in support of this bill and we hope this may be revisited before it is too late.

On March 15, we were able to host Ron Eidshaug, vice president of Congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a meeting. He was able to share a brief overview of the U.S. Chamber’s priorities in working with Congress members. Dedicated to regulatory reform, the U.S. Chamber has been urging congress members to streamline agency rulemaking and make it a more transparent and efficient process. We are thankful for the work they do advocating for business on the federal level.

As we do every legislative year, we look forward to hosting our legislative wrap ups for Minnesota and North Dakota. I hope to see you there!

craig's signature

Craig Whitney
President/CEO
The Chamber

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Bridget McManamon Takes Top Honors at 2017 “Shark Tank”

March 31st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

bridget mcmanamonAfter an incredible Investor Panel Shark Tank event, we’re thrilled to announce that Bridget McManamon, a junior at Moorhead High School, took first place in the competition for her business, Herstory, receiving the most funding and advancing to the YEA! semi-finals.

Held on March 28 at Concordia College’s Offutt School of Business, a panel of investors from local businesses heard pitches from 17 local high school and middle school students who competed for real funding as part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program. McManamon was chosen to move on and will be among more than 100 students nationally selected to compete in the Saunders Scholars Competition in New York in May. There, she will compete for the opportunity to advance to nationals to win college scholarships ranging from $25,000 to $50,000, an all-expenses paid trip to America’s Small Business Summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and business startup prizes.

Josh Teigen, president of Protosthetics, served as the students’ instructor throughout the year and gave opening remarks before the event kicked off. Dan Michaels, president of Dan Michaels Audio, Mix 101.9 talk show host and public address announcer for NDSU Bison football games, emceed.

Each student gave a 5-minute presentation, sharing an overview of their company, market research, marketing plan and goals. Then, they had a few minutes to answer questions from the investors. In the end, all students received varying amounts of funding for their business, and McManamon was awarded the most, placing her on top as our second ever YEA! winner.

McManamon’s business is a membership-based organization that serves to raise awareness and distribute menstrual hygiene products to local students that otherwise do not have access to them. She has already received a $3,000 grant for her business and has been able to make a donation of hygiene packages to women in need in Africa.

The other students’ businesses are as follows:

  • Taranvir Johal, Oak Grove High School, Protein+
  • Chase Monson, Fargo South High School, Greasel
  • Habiba Heshmat, Davies High School, Heshmarks
  • Josh Gronneberg, Davies High School, EvoManage
  • Evan Ohren, Cheney Middle School, E’s Clothing
  • Connor Dahlvang, Davies High School, Quick Shopper
  • Anushka Sikdar, Cheney Middle School, Light the Way Corp.
  • Chase Ohren, Cheney Middle School, Chillingtons
  • Fardosa Hassan, West Fargo High School, Reves Doux Patisserie
  • Derek Phelps, Davies High School, The Greenhouse
  • Max Lavitschke, West Fargo High School, TekLite Software
  • Assraa Al-abase, Cheney Middle School, Viz
  • Joanna Lin, Davies High School, Ecopotz
  • Logan Heger, Cheney Middle School, Dry Kicks
  • Cooper Chwialkowski & Tanner Paler, West Fargo High School, MN Pro

2016-17 yea class

Check out the photo album on Facebook!

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy has been such an amazing experience,” McManamon told us. “Some of my favorite parts have been working with my mentor Veronica Michael from the Impact Foundation and hearing from business leaders throughout our community. I have learned so much from this program and I have no doubt the skills and knowledge I have gained will be applied in my future. I am super excited to have won, I put a lot of work into my business and I really enjoyed getting to share it with the investors.”

Thank you to all volunteers and supporters of the program, and a special thanks to presenting sponsor Cornerstone Bank. We’re so proud of all the students’ work and can’t wait to cheer Bridget on at the semi-finals in New York!

If you know a great student for the next class, please encourage them to apply today. Applications are available at fmwfchamber.com/YEA.

Check out some of our favorite Tweets from the night!

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Announcing the 2017 ChamberChoice Candidates!

March 13th, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

It is with immense pride that we announce the following as candidates for the 2017 ChamberChoice Awards. Congratulations to all on this achievement! Be sure to vote for the People’s Choice Award online May 1 through May 10, and we hope to see you at the luncheon to find out who takes home the honors in each category.

ChamberChoice Awards Luncheon
Friday, May 19 | Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Ramada Plaza & Suites and Conference Center

2017 ChamberChoice Candidates

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

  • ByteSpeed
  • Choice Financial
  • Cognosante
  • Cornerstone Bank
  • FBS
  • Heritage Homes
  • Intelligent InSites
  • Laney’s Inc.
  • Midco
  • Mortenson Construction
  • Office Sign Company
  • Park Co. Realtors
  • S&S Promotional Group Inc.
  • Spotlight Media
  • Starion Bank
  • Western State Bank

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

  • Brady Nash
  • Dan Hurder
  • Erik Hatch
  • Jill Berg
  • Josh Teigen
  • Michele Kang
  • Nicholas Killoran
  • Ryan Fritz
  • Tyrone Leslie
  • Zac Paulson

NOT-FOR-PROFIT OF THE YEAR

  • Access of the Red River Valley, Inc
  • Great Plains Food Bank
  • The Vocational Training Center, Inc.

SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

  • Dabbert Custom Homes
  • Dakota Carrier Network
  • DFC Consultants, Ltd.
  • GoodBulb
  • Livewire
  • Matt’s Automotive Service Center
  • Mojo Fit Studios
  • Moorhead Dairy Queen
  • O’Keeffe, O’Brien, Lyson & Foss
  • Prairie Winds Veterinary Center

SMALL NOT-FOR-PROFIT

  • Alzheimer’s Association MN-ND Chapter North Dakota Regional Centers
  • Emergency Food Pantry, Inc.
  • FM Area Foundation
  • Homeward Animal Shelter
  • Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity
  • Legacy Children’s Foundation
  • Matthew’s Voice Project
  • Rebuilding Together Fargo Moorhead Area Inc.
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley
  • Unseen
  • Youthworks

YP BEST PLACE TO WORK

  • AE2S
  • Appareo
  • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties
  • BNG Team
  • Bolton & Menk
  • Border States Electric
  • Essentia Health
  • Great North Insurance Services
  • Hatch Realty
  • Heat Transfer Warehouse
  • O’Keeffe, O’Brien, Lyson & Foss
  • Office Sign Company
  • Onsharp
  • Sundog Interactive
  • Unseen Ministries
  • Western State Bank

Best of luck to all these businesses!

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Member Profile: Elevate Human Potential

March 1st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

Karla Solum is nothing short of inspiring. This young entrepreneur has many titles to her name and over 15 competition awards under her belt, and only at age 33. Solum is owner of EHP CrossFit and Elevate Human Potential in Moorhead—a facility that offers group training, personalized coaching, sports chiropractic and rehabilitation, 1-on-1 nutrition counseling and youth programs. And she does it all with the help of just three other coaches, a few interns and her mother, who helps out in the office.

EHP chiropractic

Solum is no stranger to the sports industry. She went to school initially for sports chiropractic, and soon began training athletes. When she wasn’t able to find a job in the F-M area that fit her style of practice, she did what any motivated entrepreneur would do – she started her own business. Shortly into the journey, she noticed the need for a CrossFit facility in Moorhead (as all the others in town are located in Fargo), so she combined the two concepts into one building.

Her passion for health is infectious, and it’s clear that she’s built a highly functional place for people to feel safe, welcomed and motivated. “I want to inspire people to be better than they were yesterday,” Solum said. “It doesn’t mean that you’re better than the person next to you. It means you’re better because you’re here, both mentally and physically. What we’re trying to do is elevate your human potential, and that’s where the company name came from.”

EHP crossfitThrough her coaching, chiropractic and counseling, she is able to bring awareness and education to her clients and patients – and she reminds that it also extends to what they do outside of the facility. “I like to educate my patients on what they can do outside my office to improve their health and well-being. What they do outside during the week is much more important than what they do while here.”

Aside from educating her athletes, EHP CrossFit is also able to educate students through a 100-hour internship program that allows them to observe and critique others’ coaching, co-coach, and finally to coach on their own. Solum says many students do this program before they become CrossFit training I certified.

There are a few things that Solum says makes EHP unique. One is a focus on small class sizes with a limit of 15:1 athlete to coach ratio. She also places focus on learning proper motion before adding any weights. “Once you learn how to move your body in a more efficient way, what you can do with your body is endless,” she said.

Another pillar of EHP is a warm, welcoming environment where you can feel comfortable in your own skin. Solum says has that egos have no place in her gym, and rather than the sole focus being on great physiques, EHP is really about overall wellness.

An additional benefit EHP offers to both members and non-members is access to a recovery room with state-of-the-art equipment. This includes a power plate, which is a full body vibration plate that allows for faster recovery, decreases swelling in the legs and can increase bone density and mobility. Solum’s favorite item, though, is the NormaTec recovery boots that Olympic and beach volleyball athletes use, which offers a compressive massage on your legs to get blood flow back to your heart.

EHP also utilizes an app called Wodify in which members can register for classes, sign in, review workouts for the next day and track personal accomplishments. This gives you an easily searchable history instead of relying on a whiteboard or notebook. Members also are invited to a closed group on Facebook to share information—whether related to EHP or not, encouragement or sometimes just a place to vent about the day’s workout.

What differentiates CrossFit from group fitness? “CrossFit is like a small group training session with a coach where everyone’s movements are reviewed. In group fitness classes, an instructor tells you what to do, but usually doesn’t tell you if you’re doing them right,” she said.

Solum advises that people check their insecurities and embrace who they are. No one is too old or too slow, etc., to work toward better wellness. All movements can be scaled and modified to fit your individual needs. “Not everything we do in these doors is like what you see on ESPN,” she said.

Solum has seen countless success stories with CrossFit. Of course there are weight loss stories, but she’s also seen people struggling with addiction or depression excel in CrossFit because it offers a sense of satisfaction with exercise. “If I can make it through this workout, I can make it through anything,” she said. “That’s the power of CrossFit.”

What keeps Solum motivated is being a strong female role model for others. CrossFit taught her that weight is just a number on the scale, and if she can teach others to view their body as a machine, you’ll treat it differently because you learn respect for it. “I played college sports, but I never knew what it was like to push beyond my comfort zone, and CrossFit taught me just that,” she said. “Now I’m able to push outside my comfort zone in business and my personal life.”

Solum’s goals for EHP’s future include growing into a larger facility so they can hold multiple indoor classes at the same time, as well as partnering with local functional medicine practitioners so that all of an athlete’s needs could be met under one roof.

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Yes Votes Needed for Public Schools!

March 1st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

craig whitneyheadshot

One of the most important pillars of creating a strong community is high-quality schools. The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo community is successful, due in large part to the high-caliber and innovative school districts we have in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. We are supportive of all three of our districts and we applaud the work that they do. There is a very important vote coming up on March 7 to preserve the funding level for the Fargo Public School system, and I urge you to vote yes on this important issue.

You may wonder why I am so supportive of the K-12 school systems. One of The Chamber’s top priorities, as identified by our more than 2,100 member organizations, is workforce development. We cannot continue to flourish in our metro if we do not have the highly qualified employees that we need.

Chamber members recognize that they have jobs to be filled and many could expand if only we could attract the skilled workers necessary to fill those positions. Attracting employees can be quite a task, whether those people are returning to the area or are completely new. They evaluate not only their potential employer, but the community as a whole and what it has to offer.

The K-12 public school systems we have offer exemplary education and opportunities to our students. Class sizes are small, educators are qualified and it is able to provide students with programs that match their interests that will serve them later in life through STEM programs, arts and skills training opportunities. Preserving the Fargo Public Schools is vital to the continued success of the community and it sends a message to potential residents that we care about the education that is provided to our students.

On the other side of the workforce coin, we look through the lens of seeing our students as our future workforce. Setting our students up with the skills they need to be successful in a higher education environment or directly into the workforce is key to our success as a region. We want our students to be the most prepared they can be as they look to future endeavors within the labor market. Career and technical education opportunities that are provided by the Fargo Public School District, in partnership with business and industry leaders, allow students to advance their future and gain an understanding of our workforce.

Voting yes on March 7 will allow Fargo Public Schools to maintain the quality education they provide. Class sizes will be able to remain small, students will have access to the educational opportunities that they have now and most importantly, we will be preserving a strong pillar in our community.

Please consider voting YES on March 7 for continued excellence at Fargo Public Schools.

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Craig Whitney
President/CEO
The Chamber

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2017 Economic Outlook Forum

February 15th, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

This year’s Economic Outlook Forum once again welcomed top national economist Dr. Jim Paulsen, who presented to nearly 600 attendees about national and global economic trends. But first, Marshall Albright of Cass County Electric, the event’s presenting sponsor, kicked off the afternoon with a brief welcome to attendees.

Jim Paulsen economic outlook forum

Then, Scott Green, market president at Starion Bank, shared the results of the recent FMWF Business Conditions Survey, in which Chamber member companies provided feedback about how the economy has affected their business. He compared this year’s results to prior years, to illustrate any changes in local economic trends.

Green noted that the trend seemed to be optimism and stability among businesses in our region.

  • The top factor positively affecting performance was domestic sales increase, followed by a strong state economy.
  • The top factor negatively affecting performance was a domestic sales shortfall, followed by higher operating costs.
  • Regionally, most of us (58%) are optimistic about 2017 compared to the previous year.
  • The #1 factor expected to adversely impact business in the next 12 months was difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified employees. Note that this result has not changed since 2013.
  • Most survey responders also felt that our infrastructure is adequate for future expansion (73% this year said yes, versus only 55% last year). Of those that said it is not adequate, expansion of affordable housing was the top improvement to be made.

“In summary, we are fortunate to live in a vibrant community, but it does present challenges. Challenges that overall we can certainly handle,” Green closed with.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL SURVEY RESULTS

Next, Paulsen took the stage and focused much of his presentation on the current global economic recovery, which he noted was in its eighth year, making it the longest one ever. That’s not to say a long recovery is a bad thing, though, as the silver lining is that speed kills recovery. He also noted that this recovery is the only one in U.S. history without confidence. “We’re overscared, but I think that’s about to change,” he said.

Another theme Paulsen recognized was that the U.S. has returned to full employment, which can change the nature of our recovery going forward. He also says that the housing sector is in really strong shape, and in the business sector, corporate debt to profit ratio is the lowest it has been since the 1960s.

Millennials play an important part in our recovery, too, and a large driver of growth. Employment among millennials is growing more than twice as fast as the national average. “You’ve got a group that is at the epicenter of incoming job creation, their confidence is up, and they’re at the point of starting to form households,” he said.

A favorite moment for many attendees was Paulsen saying that we’re not in a bear market, nor a bull market, but rather, a bunny market – “one that hops around a lot and doesn’t go very far.”

Overall, Paulsen presented optimism for our economy, and perfectly weaved humor into his points. We appreciate his willingness to come back for the second year, and we once again thank all of our sponsors for making this event possible.

Check out some of our favorite Tweets from the event!

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Member Profile: Gateway Chevrolet Cadillac

February 1st, 2017 by Amanda Hofland

There’s more to Gateway Chevrolet Cadillac in Fargo than just cars – though those are certainly their specialty. You can also find complimentary coffee & cookies, exemplary customer service and an experienced service center throughout all of their three locations.

Gateway Chevrolet is located on 38th Street in Fargo, right next door to Gateway Hyundai Nissan. Across town, they also have Gateway Clearance Center and a Collision Center off of University Drive.

gateway cole and sather

Owner Brad Sather has been in the car business since 1977 and bought Gateway Chevrolet in 2000, followed by Hyundai Nissan in 2008.

Both Sather and General Sales Manager Jon Cole maintain that what sets Gateway apart is its customer service. “Where the employee meets the customer, that’s the defining moment. We’ve got great employees, and we strive for a great customer experience,” Sather said.

Cole also says Gateway is simply a fun place to work with an open-door policy for all. After all, “Without happy employees, you can’t have happy customers,” he said.

While they strive for the best, working with such a large volume of customers means there will be an inevitable flub. “Are we going to stub our toe? Absolutely,” Sather said. “But it’s what you do when you have one and how you fix the problem that defines you.”

One interesting trend Sather has observed throughout his years in the business is that nowadays, customers are more informed thanks to the Internet. He views this as a good thing, as it means customers come in already knowing details about the vehicles, have compared prices and read reviews. Because that work is largely already done, it allows his team more time to focus on providing a great experience and building a relationship.

That price component is a big deal to Gateway though, and Cole starts every day using a tool that compares their cars to others on the Internet. His goal: To have the top 5% best priced vehicles in a 250-mile radius. And often that does mean making price adjustments to the vehicles on their lot.

Something else unique to car sales is that everything is tracked, from registrations from the manufacturer to satisfaction surveys from the factory. “We’re probably the most critiqued industry in the world,” Sather said. “There’s no other business like the car business, from the standpoint of the manufacturers’ participation in the daily ongoings of the business.”

While one way Gateway drives the community forward is by literally helping customers drive away, they also invest in community causes that help people. One example is their work with BIG 98.7’s Christmas Wish, in which they provide funds to support families in need. They also do a lot of work supporting breast cancer awareness.

gateway service

Gateway by the numbers

75,000: Customers served last year
900: Average cars on the lot at a time
223: Employees across all locations
100: Average oil changes a day in the service center
50-60: Percentage of repeat and referred customers

What is the Big 98.7 Christmas Wish?

The purpose of Christmas Wish is to provide families in need in our community with goods, services or monetary gifts. For some families, this may mean paying an overdue utility bill, a set of snow, baby items or food. This program attempts to make the holiday season a bit brighter for those families who have fallen on hard times due to illness, layoffs, financial difficulties or other trying circumstances.

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