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June 21, 2016

Macken starts construction on Byron expansion

After 107 years of being based solely in the Med City, the Macken family is adding its first funeral home outside of Rochester.

The Mackens, who own Rochester's Macken Funeral Home, are investing more than $2 million to build a new full-service facility in Byron to be called Byron Funeral Home and Cremation Services. Work started this week on the 8,000-square-foot building at 1620 Voll Drive NW at the intersection of U.S.14 West and 19th Avenue.

It will offer full funeral and visitation services as well as on-site cremation.

Rochester-MN-FuneralHome-1A public groundbreaking ceremony involving the Macken family and local leaders is scheduled for Thursday morning at the construction site. Mortician Peter Macken estimates the new facility could be completed and ready for use by October or November.

"We've been toying with this for years," he said. "We're really excited about this. Byron doesn't have a funeral home. We think Byron has a bright future and we'd like to be part of that."

Jay Czeczok, a longtime Macken employee and Byron resident, will manage the Byron Funeral Home when it opens. He will be supported by a team of on-site and Rochester employees.

Pete Macken says the family is pleased to have Weis Construction, CRW Architecture & Design Group Inc. and many other local sub-contractors involved in the project.

This expansion to Byron is the latest milestone in the funeral home's history.

Dan Macken launched what would become Macken Funeral Homes in Rochester in 1909. It now is led by the founder's grandsons, Tim and Dan Macken. Peter Macken is Tim Macken's son and the fourth generation of the family to work in the business.

One of the Mackens last expansions was in 2010, when it built a large chapel to add to its longtime Rochester campus at 1105 12th St. SE.

 

June 16, 2016

Rochester music school to expand

A local music school has really struck a chord in Rochester.

Ryan Utterback launched Pure Rock Studios in his home in 2012. When it swelled beyond that space, he moved it into a 2,500-square-foot building at 515 Rocky Creek Drive NE.

13417510_1017403615047508_8141035925918801272_nNow that he and his teachers are working with 250 to 270 students of all ages each week, the school needs even more space. That means more than doubling the size of the school to add a new wing for for the drum classes and a stage performance area as well as renovating the existing building.

"I knew it would get here, but it just has grown much faster than I anticipated," said Utterbeck. "That speaks volumes about our instructors and the curriculum that's really just built around a fun, hands on way to learn music."

He hopes work on the 3,000-square-foot expansion will start by mid-July, with the goal of opening the new wing by September.

Pure Rock has 14 instructors teaching group and one-on-one classes in guitar, bass guitar, drums, piano and vocal. Plus Utterbeck recently added banjo, mandolin and ukulele classes because of the growing popularity of those instruments.

The students range from youth to adults, with about 65 percent being younger than 18 years old.

Pure Roch's focus on performance has spurred the creation of many new bands formed by the students. Utterbeck also has his students perform regularly at local venues such as Thursday on First and Third and the Wicked Moose Bar & Grill.

"Music is a lifelong gift you can share with people," he said.

In fact, the architect and contractor working on the project are both musicians, who occasionally play at Pure Rock. Adam Ferrari of Rochester's 9.Square is the project architect as well as a drummer.

Adam Kramer of Kramer Contracting also is a musician who has played with Utterbeck since high school. Kramer recently launch his new construction business after work with Kraus Anderson Construction Co.

June 14, 2016

Software giant buys Rochester's DoApp

Wade-beaversDoApp Inc., an 8-year-old Rochester media technology firm, was acquired this week by the top software firm in the newspaper industry.

Newscycle Solutions bought DoApp to become part of a new mobile division to add to its services for newspapers and expand into television and radio. Bloomington, Minn.-based Newscycle, which is owned by Vista Equity Partners, works with 92 of the top 100 U.S. newspapers as well as 1,200 companies in 45 countries.

DoApp-logo-square_400x400Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

DoApp co-founder Wade Beavers says Newscycle has worked with DoApp on various projects and the relationship just deepened until this became the logical step. Beavers, now president of Newscycle's mobile division, says this acquisition is good for his company and for Rochester. All 13 employees now have jobs with Newscycle and the division will remain in Rochester in the former DoApp office at 1652 Greenview Drive SW.

"You'll definitely see more employees in Rochester. Newscycle is very strategic on growth," said Beavers. "They plan to stay here."

Beavers co-founded DoApp with Joe Sriver with help from Dave Borrillo in 2008. In the early days, Beavers and Borrillo created early iPhone apps while drinking coffee in Rochester's south Panera eatery. Three DoApp apps were among the first 500 sold on Apple's then-new App Store.

The Newscycle sale marks the third major "exit" for DoApp, since it launched.

In 2012, Raleigh, N.C.-based Axial Exchange acquired mRemedy, which DoApp created with Mayo Clinic. It focused on making patient-focused mobile health-care apps.

DoApp also sold its popular mobile real estate platform to CoreLogic, of Irvine, Calif. in 2014. Borrillo, previously DoApp’s chief operating officer, joined CoreLogic along with all of the DoApp employees working on the real estate app. CoreLogic kept the office in Rochester and it has added several jobs since the acquisition.

“DoApp has led the way for media companies to be the best in their markets with an awesome mobile experience that hasn’t been matched,” said Beavers in Monday's announcement. “Becoming part of the Newscycle family will allow us to create a more complete experience that will take publishers forward and connect them to their audiences across all devices.”

 

June 13, 2016

Future use of ex-postal center still unclear

Almost a year since buying a former Med City mail processing center for $2.11 million, Mayo Clinic still is working out what to do with it.

3939Valleyhigh DriveMayo Clinic purchased the former U.S. Postal Service facility at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive in July 2015. The 72,662-square-foot center closed in January 2015, when mail processing was transferred to the Twin Cities.

When asked this week about its plan, the Mayo Clinic was pretty much the same as when it bought the building.

“No decisions have been made regarding the use of space at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive NW,” wrote Kelley Luckstein of Mayo Clinic Public Affairs on Friday in response to the query about the building.

The 19-year-old building could be adapted for a variety of purposes, such as an industrial laundry, a distribution center or light manufacturing. The center is described as "constructed of pre-stressed concrete and steel frames for high volume load distribution and contains a total of 23 dock doors; 10 overhead doors, 12 semi-truck docks and one grade door." 

 

June 10, 2016

More Dunkin' Donuts coming southern Minnesota

Two years after making a flashy return to Minnesota with a Rochester shop, Dunkin' Donuts has signed a franchise agreement to bring three more locations to the region.

The Massachusetts doughnut maker announced Thursday that it has signed a deal with new franchisees Oliver Schugel and David Schooff to open three new restaurants in Mankato. The first one is slated to open in 2017.

06232014dunkindonutsMankato is leaping ahead of Rochester, which was expected to have about five locations by now. 

Rochester Retail Services, a division of the Kahler Hospitality Group, opened a shop here in June 2014 at 15 First Ave. SW in its Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown. It was the first one in Minnesota since 2005. Dunkin' said then that Rochester Retail Services would be opening five more shops in the next few years.

That changed last fall, according to Dunkin' Donuts Senior Director of Franchising Patrick Cunningham.

"Rochester Retail Services, the franchisee of record, will continue to own and operate the existing restaurant in the Kahler. However, they will not develop more Dunkin' stores as we previously reported," he said in October.

When announcing the coming Mankato shops, Dunkin' said franchise opportunities remain available in Rochester. Plus, "to help fuel additional growth in the market, special development incentives are available."

In Mankato, the new franchisees have more than 45 years of combined experience in business and real estate development.

“We have a passion and loyalty for the Dunkin' Donuts brand and look forward to opening our restaurants in the years to come," stated Schooff. 

June 03, 2016

Forager spreading out into market space

After less than a year in operation, Rochester's popular Forager Brewing Co. gastropub is outgrowing its space.

The hipster-friendly beer, coffee and food place plans to take over space within its 1005 Sixth St. NW building that now houses the Kutzky Market retail area.

"We just need more room, so we're going to re-organize," said co-owner Annie Henderson.

Kutzky-market-logoThe plan is to close the 1,200-square-foot market area at the end of June and start moving beer-aging barrels into the space in July. Beside beer storage, the space will be used as a customer waiting area as well as a public art space with a small retail piece.

The market, which features many local handmade items and antiques, has eight vendor booths. 

"A lot of them already have new homes. Some are moving into the Dwell Local (store)," she said.

The shift also opens up room for Forager to host a local art galley and music performances.

"There will be a lot of new programing over there. After C4 (nonprofit Rochester art collective) closed, it has been tough for local artists to find free space for events," said Henderson. She previously served on the C4 board with her Forager co-owner, Sean Allen.

May 25, 2016

Hold the applause - New Buckeye name is not set yet

I was a bit premature Tuesday when I wrote that South Dakota developer Stencil Homes had re-named its Buckeye Apartments project in downtown Rochester.

F89c28e7467b81cdb720c0c067eca5d3_f252I spotted the project on Stencil's website labeled as Ovation on Monday. I wasn't able to reach CEO Nate Stencil for confirmation, so I reported that it appeared that the new name for the project will be Ovation.

On Tuesday, Stencil sent me a note that said I was partially right.

"On 'The Buckeye' name change, we are still not 100 percent set on the new name but I can tell you we will be changing it. We are currently polling different names and will soon have one nailed down," he wrote.

The name of a 92-unit apartment complex being built on the corner of Fourth Street and Third Avenue Southeast in downtown Rochester has been a sensitive issue for some of the neighbors. Stencil originally tagged it as Buckeye as a nod to the Buckeye Liquor store landmark that was demolished to make way for the project. Some in the neighborhood didn't think that was an appropriate name.

 

May 24, 2016

Bye Buckeye, hello Ovation?

The name of a 92-unit apartment complex being built on the corner of Fourth Street and Third Avenue Southeast in downtown Rochester has been a sensitive issue for some of the neighbors. 
F89c28e7467b81cdb720c0c067eca5d3_f252
South Dakota developer Stencil Homes labeled it Buckeye Apartments as a nod to the Buckeye Liquor store that was demolished to make way for the project. Some in the neighborhood didn't think that was an appropriate name. Now it looks like the developer has decided to try something different.

Stencil Homes' website shows a 92-unit apartment building as a Rochester project, but it's not called Buckeye anymore. The new name under the old rendering of the complex is Ovation.

This must have been a recent change. The Answer Man wrote about this on April 27 and Buckeye still was the moniker at that point. CEO Nate Stencil was not available Monday to answer questions about the Ovation name, but it looks like concerned neighbors should give themselves a round applause for the spurring a name change.

 

May 23, 2016

Auto Techs to close at end of June

After 24 years in the fast lane, Roger Gansen is ready to slow down a bit.

Gansen has owned and run Auto Techs, a repair and sales shop, in Rochester since 1992. He has operated at his current location at 650 S. Broadway for about 12 years.

11146464_358227187720296_512149979420663139_oNow he has a "Closing soon" sign out front as he prepares to sell his property to the Lamont Cos. He plans to close the doors of his two-man shop at the end of June.

"It's kind of tough," said Gansen of the closure.

However, part of him is looking forward it.

"I'm ready for a change," he said. "I think this is kind of an opportune time for it."

The big question is will he re-open the popular Auto Techs somewhere else. That's a question he really doesn't have answer for.

"As of right now, everything is up in the air," Gansen said on Friday. "But right now, I'm looking forward to slowing down a bit."

While he is slowing down, the activity on that block of South Broadway is quickly ramping up this summer.

Lamont Cos. are the developers who recently purchased the adjacent Clarion Inn for $5 million with plans to build a newCandlewood Suites hotel and retail center. A liquidation sale of all of the hotel's furnishings and fixtures is underway.

Based in South Dakota, Lamont Cos. are the same developers who built Rochester's Holiday Inn by the Miracle Mile shopping center on Second Street in 2012.

May 20, 2016

Mayo Clinic Ventures looks to Israel for collaborations

Looking to help boost a variety of medical start-up businesses, Mayo Clinic Ventures is targeting collaborations and investments in Israel with a new program.

The goal of the Mayo Clinic Israeli Startup Initiative is to work with companies either through sponsored research grants or co-development.  

Flags"Co-development can include licensing of Mayo Clinic know-how or an investment," explained Timmeko Love, of Mayo Clinic Ventures. "It's about matching the right opportunities with Mayo Clinic know-how for collaboration. It's all about finding the right strategic fit."

Candidates for the Israeli Startup Initiative can include very early stage companies to ones that are much further along in development. They can work in any area of health care. 

"We're not limiting our options," Love said.

The project announced this week actually is a new phase of an existing Mayo Clinic initiative.

It has been active in Israel for about a year, partnering with the philanthropic Merage Institute. The California-based Merage Institute awards up to $150,000 in annual research grants for Israeli companies working with Mayo Clinic. The most recent recipient was EyeYon Medical, which makes a noninvasive medical device to treat corneal edema.

Mayo Clinic Ventures recently took on the Israel initiative and that has put co-development on the table. That new approach is being launched next week in Tel Aviv at IATI-Biomed, Israel’s largest life sciences and technology conference. Mayo teams will meet start-ups to study their technology, and then consider making investments or collaborations.

This is first time Mayo Clinic Ventures has focused on one whole country for business opportunities, despite its long history of international projects. Many might not be aware of it, but Israel is a logical candidate for a such a relationship.

"It's a natural next step for us," Love said.

Israel is considered to be the worldwide leader in innovation in medical devices, biopharma, software and other types of health-care businesses. The U.S imported $600 million of Israeli medical devices in 2011. In 2015, Israel housed 725 medical-devices businesses with an overall total of 1,380 life-sciences companies.

While California's Silicon Valley is known as the hottest spot in the world for business start-ups, Israel is recognized as a close second. A 2009 book, "Start-up Nation," documents how Israel, with a population of 7.1 million, generates more tech businesses than many much larger countries.

"It's kind of a national sport in Israel," said Guy David, a professor of health-care management at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He was born and raised in Israel and tracks its medical businesses closely.

David said Israel's required military service coupled with an environment that encourages questioning and taking risks is a big factor.

"Israel is hugely innovative. The innovative spirit starts at a very young age," he said.

While launching technology companies is a big focus in the country, the entrepreneurs all know the market for their products or services is elsewhere.

"There is no market in Israel. Israel is tiny," said David. "If they invent something, they know it has to be a global product."

Does that mean businesses partnering with Mayo Clinic could open offices or build facilities in Rochester?

"That certainly could be a possibility. We do look at an economic development when considering companies," said Love. "But it has to make sense for that company. There would need to be a business reason for it."