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304 posts categorized "Networking events"

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.  

January 23, 2015

WSN buying empty Home Design Studio on W. Circle Drive

After being empty for years, new life is on the way for a former home construction showroom in northwest Rochester. 

Widseth Smith Nolting, a Crookston-based engineering and architecture firm, announced this week it has signed a purchase agreement to buy the former Home Design Studio from Rochester's Event Studio LLC. The 32,000-square-foot complex is located at 3777 40th Ave. NW, along West Circle Drive.

HomeDesignDusk2-10x8_editedThe sale is expected to close in March with a build-out beginning in April, according to WSN. The plan is for WSN to move its increasingly crowded Rochester office into 11,000 square feet of the building by August.

"We are absolutely shoe-horned in here," said Brian Carlson, WSN's director of business development, of their current 4,500-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road NW. "We need to provide the space and resources for our team members to do what they do best."

WSN opened its Med City office in 2009, when it merged with QED Engineering. In 2014, it merged with Rochester's Kane and Johnson Architects. WSN now has 20 employees based here. WSN has a total of seven offices and 200 employees in Minnesota and North Dakota

The firm plans to lease the rest of the building to other tenants, probably to other professional offices. This is a very different fate than was expected for the Home Design Studio building. It opened for the first time in 2006 at the height of the construction boom, which imploded soon after.

It was designed by Kane and Johnson Architects as a home builders' showroom with model kitchens, bathrooms and other room layouts. Lead by local contractor Jerome Bigelow, a group of 13 owners optimistically launched the operation with a grand party attended by hundreds of Rochester business leaders. It had 59 people on staff working for a variety of construction-related businesses. The last occupants moved out in April 2012.

Event Studio LLC, of Rochester, then bought the unique complex from Partnership 10, of Byron, in 2013 for $1.3 million. Event Studio lists Rochester developer Dan Penz as manager on its incorporation documents.

Then in 2014, WSN began the search for a larger space in Rochester.

"We looked at lot of different buildings all around the city. We really like this building," Carlson said. "We liked the exposure. We liked the location and the ability to have our whole team in one spot."

May 09, 2013

Not Westminster, but CeleBARK promises fun for dogs, familes

When the contests include worst doggy breath and owner/pet lookalikes, you know it isn't the Westminster Dog Show.

50edebd513994.imageHowever, you can bet your last collar that Saturday's CeleBARK Your Dog Day in the "backyard" of Rochester's Eagle Club will be a lot more fun for both pets and their families.

Pam Miller, owner of the mobile Bone Appetit Canine Bakery Unleashed, is sponsoring the family-friendly event to honor beloved dogs of all kinds, even those that might have a bit of halitosis. People are encouraged to bring well-behaved dogs that are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Look for local celebrity judges Marcia Fritzmeier and Dr. Vicki Hunt to brave the bad breath, measure the longest ears and select the most similar dog/owner pair.

Fritzmeier is the handler of Mayo Clinic's popular therapy dog, Dr. Jack. Likewise, Hunt works with the therapy dog, Hershey. Hershey is known "Mr. June" from his appearance in the Rescued Dogs Calendar put out by Paws and Claws.

To help mark the first anniversary of the mobile version of her gourmet dog treat business, Miller wanted to host a fun and different kind of bash.

"I'd like it to become kind of a signature event," she says.

For the humans, both young and old, there will be games, contests, demonstrations and food. There even will be a treasure hunt similar to the Rochesterfest Medallion Hunt.

While fun is a big part of the fest by Bear Creek, it also will be about helping dogs find homes with good families.

"Part of my passion is to try and help rescue groups with their mission," says Miller.

Six rescue groups from Southeastern Minnesota will show off dogs available for adoption, as well as raise money to support their organizations.

While Miller has been locally-known for her homemade, preservative-free dog treats, she began driving her canine bakery and dog accessories shop on wheels to Rochester dog parks last summer.

"We go where the dogs and their owners are," she said.

Miller prides herself on offering the most current and unique products for dogs and the people who love them.

She says CeleBARK is just another way to help her business stand out from the pack.


Tag: Columnist, blogger and reporter Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street.
Infobox headline: CeleBARK Your Dog Day
Infobox text: BACB Unleashed is sponsoring the free event. which is open to families and their well-behaved dogs.

• Saturday.

• From 11 a.m. to  2 p.m.

• Behind the Eagles Club at 917 15th Ave S.E. in Rochester.

For more information, go to

August 02, 2012

Changes, honors for Roch. Area Builders

After more than five years as the high-profile public affairs director of Tony-Lehrmanthe Rochester Area Builders organization, Tony Lehrman is moving on to a build a career on another foundation.

Lehrman, who will remain in the area, has taken a position with Mayo Clinic. His final day with the Rochester Builders is Aug. 10.

At the Rochester Area Builders networking event this week, Lehrman made his public good-byes, while a face familiar to the local construction community returned to the group to accept some honors.

Sandy-FriendSandy Friend, who was the executive director of the Rochester Area Builders for 20 years, was inducted into the Builders Association of Minnesota Hall of Fame.

This is an honor reserved for people "who make a significant and lasting contribution to the Minnesota housing industry ... It’s about long-term commitment of service, time, and talent made to better the residential construction industry," according to the state Builders Association.

Friend, who retired at the end of 2010, is only one of 40 people who have been named to the Hall of Fame since it was created in 1994.

Beside the statewide honor, Friend was also presented with a lifetime honorary membership to the Rochester Area Builders by current Executive Director John Eischen at Tuesday's event.

April 12, 2012

Home Design Studio goes dark

While it has been for sale for a while, it looks like the once-red-hot Home DesgnStudio showroom building along West Circle Drive in Northwest Rochester is now completely cold and dark.

04112012homedesignstudio1Staff of the Studio plus Home Improvement Professionals and the Olmsted County Lumber Mart moved out on Friday and shifted their offices to the remaining space they have in Byron.

I'll have more details soon, but this move has gotten me remembering the golden days in the fall of 2006 when this massive, multi-level 32,000-square-foot showroom opened its doors and flipped on the hundreds of fancy light fixtures made the complex glow like a spaceship at night.

Homedesign studio August 15Pictures from Business After Hours and Builders events held there in 2006 and in 2007 during that time show a big shiny place bustling with smiling people. Most of the folks I can indentify have long Homedesignicesince made forced career changes, lost jobs, had businesses go under and have faced a variety of other difficulties.

That was also the same time that Rochester Market Square, another home construction mall, also opened on t Homedesignstudio2in2006he south side of the Med City. That has since retracted quite a bit and its developers finally sold it to an out-of-state corporation.

It is quite simply a bygone era.
I realize how much better Rochester has fared than most during these turbulent times. However, it is my impression that most of the survivors from those days have a lot more scars today than they had then.

Moving beyond maudlin memories, I am wondering what kind of business might buy this cavernous place and what could it be used for. It is fantastic rambling showroom.

But not many businesses go that big anymore. Maybe a furniture store or an Aquarius-style dance club?

We'll see, I guess.

January 25, 2012

Window maker exec on how her business weathers bad economy

I feel compelled to confess that I did not have very high expectations when I walked into the Rochester Area Builders meeting last night to cover the president of Marvin Windows talk about the economy.

However, I quickly upgraded my attitude as Susan Marvin began her engaging and interesting presentation.

Here's part of what I wrote for today's paper. Thanks to Mike Pruett of MLT for the pics.

People, community and commitment are the basic building blocks to create a foundation for a business to weather any economic storm and even grow during tough times.

DSC_0663Susan Marvin, president of the popular and successful Marvin Windows and Doors of Warroad, Minn, shared her 100-year-old, family-owned company's philosophy at the Rochester Area Builders annual meeting Tuesday night.

"We serve all of our stakeholders — our employees, our customers and the community," she told the attentive crowd of more than 200 at the Rochester International Events Center.

Marvin and her straightforward approach to business and opinions on the economy hit the national stage in the fall, when the New York Times wrote about her and the international window-making company based in a small Minnesota town of just 1,700 people.

The story generated an "incredible response" across the country and soon Marvin was appearing on CNN, Bloomberg Television and even President Obama discussing the window-making company during a speech.

"It is a story people were hungry to hear," she said.

While she describes a simple business approach, Marvin acknowledges that is not easy one.

"The last few years have been very tough. The economy went into recession and the home building industry went into a depression, one deeper than the Great Depression, with unemployment in our industry hitting 30 percent at one point," she said.

While her family's company was in a very strong position with money on hand and no debt when the worst of the home construction slump started in 2009, she and her siblings realized they had to make some changes.

"We realized immediately that we had to do everything differently," she said.
The Marvin family's first decision was a key one. The company would not cut any employees.

"While a layoff would have been easier, the community would have been devastated," she told the crowd. "We kept the people, but cut everything else — wages, bonuses, travel reimbursements, 401(k)s — everything that didn't contribute to the bottom line."

Marvin Windows employs about 4,300 people, 2,000 of whom work in the small northern Minnesota town of Warroad, where her grandfather founded a lumber yard in 1904.

The town and the company are intertwined. In fact, her father originally turned the family lumberyard to making windows during World War II to help create jobs for returning GIs.

"The strength of the company is the community. It is … an incredible relationship," Marvin said.

However, cutting expenses to the bone to keep from letting workers go was not easy.

"It was a team effort, though not everyone liked it. But they were willing to do that rather than see their neighbor lose their job," she said.

Keeping the workforce intact was not just good for Warroad. The Marvins see it as good business.

"Retention of talent is key. Experience matters," she said.

January 19, 2012

Biz After Hours tonight, politics Friday

Here's a quick reminder of a couple business networking and informational events coming up tonight and Friday.

I hear a scavanger hunt is slated for tonight's bash at Olmsted National Bank, so watching the Med City's business leaders scurrying around the building is probably reason enough to stop by.

And of course, there will be the food, a cash bar and business networking. I plan on being there, so stop me and tell me what local business news I've missed or messed up lately. Heh.

Both events are sponsored by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.


Business After Hours, a monthly business networking event sponsored by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Olmsted National Bank, Suite 101, 975 34 Ave. N.W. Olmsted National is co-hosting the event with the Crown Restaurant & Lounge.


• The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce
is sponsoring a breakfast preview of the 2012 Minnesota Legislative session with state lawmakers from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Rochester Marriott Hotel at 101 First Ave. S.W. Officials scheduled to take part in the event include: Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Geoff Michel; Majority Leader Sen. David Senjem; Minority Leader Rep. Paul Thissen: Sen. Carla Nelson, Rep. Tina Liebling, Rep. Kim Norton, Rep. Duane Quam and Rep. Mike Benson. The cost is $25 for member and $35 for non-members.

December 29, 2011

Kiger's back and the blog is breathing again

I apologize to you all for abandoning this blog for so long.

I took a vacation and was pretty tied up even before I left. The result was that Kiger's Notebook was left barren for the longest stretch, since I launched it in March, 2005.

I couldn't stay away completely, so I did pop back in to do the CostCo piece and a few columns here and there.

RedjeffMost of my time away was spent on the banks of The Wabash in Indiana. A place Verizon as well as the rest technological world evidently do not know exisits. While I did zip out a few Tweets and email responses when the moon was in the right place, I was mostly out of the loop.

I apologize to everyone who sent me emails, voice messages, Facebook notes and direct messages on Twitter. I'll try to catch up. More than a 1,000 unread emails have piled up.

Anyway, I'm back now and revved up for the new year.

Please keep letting me know what you are interested in and passing along any business tips you might hear.

Look for lots of action on here in as 2012 kicks into gear and thank you for reading.

October 21, 2011

Roch. chamber bash 2011 wrapup - Priorities and awards

The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce's annual member celebration drew a big crowd Thursday as business leaders packed the Rochester International Event Center.

Outgoing Chamber board chair Melissa Brinkman of Custom Alarm handed over the reins of power to Alan De Keyrel of CWS.

Here's the story I scribbled out about the event.


The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce's political priorities for the coming year were made clear at its annual member celebration Thursday night.

Get_photo"There is no political agenda item that we are more committed to as an organization than the passing of the extension of the local sales tax," chamber president John Wade told the crowd of business leaders filling the Rochester International Event  Center.

He said the renewal of the sales tax in November 2012 would fuel a boost to the local economy and benefit Rochester's schools, libraries, infrastructure and more.

The tens of millions of dollars generated by the tax will help leverage hundreds of millions in private sector investment, Wade said.

"Trust me, I can give you a whole list of taxes I don't like. This one is good for business," he said. "I believe in my core that this one is good for business."

To lead the drive toward the passage of the sales tax extension, the chamber is launching a new committee.

Former Rochester school superintendent Jerry Williams will be the chairman of the new group. He also was presented with the President's Award for community service.

Williams accepted both the job and the award.

"As I look out amongst the group here, there are so many of you who have given service of self to this marvelously amazing community," he said looking at the tables full of the local leaders. "To those of you who give so generously of your time, talents and efforts for this marvelous community, I share this with you. I am deeply, deeply appreciative."

While the sales tax extension tops the chamber's political wish list, the expansion of the Mayo Civic Center remains a goal, but is not a pressing one, Wade said.

"Our hospitality industry knows how important the expansion of the civic center is," he said. "But it has to be done at the right time in the right way."

While the presentation to Williams was the most dramatic of the night, it was not the only award given out.

Business of the Year: Creative Cuisine, the company behind many popular Rochester restaurants that includes Newt's, City Cafe, City Market, 300 First and the recently revived Redwood Room.

Brothers Dave and Mark Currie accepted the award.

Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Jaimi Stejskal-Kent of Broadway Residence & Suites by Bridgestreet won the award for her work with the chamber.

• The Lamp of Knowledge award: The annual award for outstanding work with education was presented to Wendy Shannon, superintendent of the Byron Public School system.

Chamber Ambassador of the Year award: After reciting her long list of accomplishments with the chamber's Ambassador program, the award went to Karen Hanson of Home Instead Senior Care.