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24 posts categorized "Zumbrota news"

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.  

November 18, 2014

In praise of shoes, Hawley opens Luya Shoes in Zumbrota

Connie Hawley really, really loves shoes and sees them as art.

She has now brought that vision to life on Zumbrota's Main Street in her new store, Luya Shoes and Other Fine Things. The 4,000-square-foot store carries footwear of all kinds for women, men and young children.

10305598_10154867691090571_6430566947257334096_n"Shoes are very sculptural. Even if you aren't wearing it, you can see it in a box or in a closet and it is beautiful. Shoes make people happy," Hawley said.

Since these "sculptures" are ones that people wear, she says it's equally important for them to be as comfortable and durable as they are attractive.

"I've tried to find brands and styles you can't find anywhere else in the area," Hawley said.

10670270_867058883338632_8450038742804535500_nShe has hand-made moccasins from Spring Grove and popular brands that include OTBT, Rieker, Naot, Corky's Footwear and Corral boots. Luya also carries jewelry, belts and purses, including Baggallini bags. For men, Hawley also has conditioners for beards as well as related gift baskets and accessories.

Adding to the art gallery feel of her store, she displays her products on cabinets and shelves refinished by Jim Hahler of Hahler Restoration and Design. She also has artwork by three local artists for sale on the walls.

The one big question remaining is: What's the story behind the name Luya?

Hawley explained that she has talked about opening a shoe store for many years. Part of that dream also was playing on her last name of Hawley and calling the shop something like HawleyLuya, pronounced like hallelujah.

"I realized it was kind of crazy and a bit too long and too hard to say," she said. "But I still liked Luya, so that's what I went with."

June 18, 2014

Baker turned pizza maker hits hits the road with wood-fire oven

Have wood-fire oven. Will travel.

That could be Stephan Jennebach's new motto now that he's added a mobile pizza o10329915_10152411609534524_707966481405501891_oven to his Firebrick Bread business in Zumbrota.

About a month ago, he hit the road with a new custom trailer featuring a wood-fire oven and prep kitchen to make and sell pizzas wherever he'd like. Right now, Jennebach can be found at the Zumbrota Farmers Market on Tuesdays and the Red Wing Farmers Market on Saturdays.

The new offering has gone over so well that he needed to hire three employees to keep the pizzas moving. However, he's still remaining true to the original vision of Firebrick Bread and continues to bake an array of hand-made breads in his wood-fired oven at his home. He first fired up the bakery business in 2012.

His menu includes five types of pizzas. He's using some local produce on them now and hopes to do more of that as the project progresses. It takes about five minutes to make and then bake a pizza in the 700-degree wood-fired oven.

Jennebach says adding the kitchen-on-wheels made sense given the local hunger for wood-fired pizza.

"When I told people about Firebrick Bread, the first question always was, 'Do you make pizzas, too?,'" he said.

Since regulations wouldn't allow him to do that at his home, Jennebach started looking into putting an oven on a trailer and eventually turned to a company that specialized in them.

"It was a big investment, but it's one I believe will pay for itself," he said. "I can take it anywhere in Minnesota."

Right now he's sticking to weekly appearances at the two farmers markets and an occasional special event. That, combined with his weekly bread baking, has pretty much filled up his schedule at this point.


101207jennebachonaballLong-time readers may recognize the Jennebach name, since Stephen was a very enthusiastic commenter on this blog during its early years.

He was also pretty much the only one who would act on my goofy attempts at photo contests. I was just ahead of my time with 'selfies.' Heh. His best submission involved the big red balls in front of what was then the brand-new south Target store.

July 14, 2012

Businesses growing in Zumbrota

Commercial Water Distributing is expanding and adding more jobs in Zumbrota after catching a last-minute wave of government funding.

2012-06-27_1042It's a classic scenario. The city of Zumbrota had access to financing for economic development, but the Tax Increment Financing money stemming from the U.S. Jobs Stimulus package would disappear after the deadline of June 30.

To qualify, a business needed to have a project that would create jobs and be shovel-ready before the deadline.

That's where the online water filter seller, also known as WaterFilters.NET, comes into the story.

Commercial Water Distributing opened in Zumbrota in 2008. From the beginning, the firm's long-term goal was to add to its facility in the city's industrial park.

"We contacted them, and we were able to leverage those dollars to help them expand sooner than later," said Daniel J. King, community development director for the city of Zumbrota.

The city council OK'd the plan on June 21 to grant $258,900 in excess TIF money to Commercial Water Distributing, says John Daniels of Commercial Water Distributing.

Daniels says $150,000 of the money is being used to add a new loading dock and more parking as well as for reconstruction projects inside the warehouse. The additional loading dock will allow the company to expand its international exports, he says.

The company is using the rest of the money — $108,900 — to buy an acre of land next door from the city for future expansion. The deal also included a two-year option to purchase another acre and a half.

To qualify for the money, Commercial Water Distributing has agreed to add six full-time jobs before the end of the year. It has already hired three additional full-time workers, says Daniels.

That brings the business' work force to 31. When the firm opened its Zumbrota facility in 2008, it had just six employees. It also has a location in North Carolina.

"This puts us in a better position to keep them here and to get future employees here," says King.

Another company, Zumbrota Bearing and Gear, also is using leftover TIF money to expand. I'll have more on that project later.

May 15, 2012

Firing up a new bread business

If you have been a reader of this blog for very long, you will probably recognize the name Jennebach. Stephan Jennebach has long been a regular commented on this site.

And now he is a subject with the new bread baking business he has cooked up.

Stephan Jennebach is keeping it "real" as he fires up his hand-built oven in his Zumbrota backyard.

 Originally trained as a baker in Germany, Jennebach has done a variety of things, including a stint at Daube's Bakery in Rochester, since he moved to southeastern Minnesota in 1995.

Most recently a stay-at-home dad, he started baking whole wheat flaxseed bread for his son, Tanner, and his wife, Shelia.

That first loaf proved a spark that ignited an idea, which smoldered and eventually fueled a new business called Firebrick Bread.

He'll start selling his selection of fresh-baked loaves of cranberry-walnut sourdough, French bread, whole wheat sourdough and whole wheat flaxseed on May 21 at the launch of the Zumbrota Farmer's Market.

"My focus is on real ingredients, a real baker and a real oven," he says.
The foundation of his new venture is a brick, outdoor, wood-fired oven that Jennebach built himself in October.

"The majority of ingredients I use are grown locally and are organic," he says to explain that part of his trio of "Reals." In addition, Jennebach also mills his own whole wheat flour.

While people will be able to buy his breads during the weekly Zumbrota Farmer's Market, he is also accepting pre-orders for loaves through his website and via email.

January 16, 2012

Zumbrota concrete firm firms up Wanamingo deal

A Zumbrota pre-cast concrete parts maker is firming up a deal to open a second plant in Wanamingo.

ConcastConcast Inc., which manufactures concrete parts for electrical and wind power industries, is buying an almost 28,000-square-foot building in the Wanamingo's Industrial Park, says Ben Olson, vice president of Concast.

That complex, south of Wanamino, was last occupied by Meyers Tool & Repair Inc.

"We've just run out of room here," Olson says of Concast's 66,000-square-foot facility in Zumbrota, along U.S. 52.

He says the growing wind energy market is powering Concast's need for a second manufacturing facility.

Concast sells its own trademarked brand of fiberglass reinforced concrete called Fibercrete.

Concast hopes to have the Wanamingo site outfitted and ready for production by summer.

Olson anticipates that this new plant will mean adding to his staff of almost 40.

"We will probably add a few to begin with and then hopefully another five or six in the next year or so," he says.

August 31, 2011

Two growing area businesses make Inc. 5,000 list

Dramatic revenue growth has landed two area businesses — WaterFilters.Net and AffordableButtons.Com — on Inc. magazine's just-released annual list of financial rising stars.

Inc5000-logo A striking revenue climb of 566 percent from 2007 to 2010 scored WaterFilters.Net of Zumbrota its third appearance on Inc.'s fastest-growing list in the 576th spot.

AffordableButtons.Com of Rochester hit the list for the first time at the 3,620th spot. It tallied its own impressive three-year growth of 45 percent to hit $3.3 million in revenue for 2010.

Still growing in Zumbrota
For WaterFilters.Net which opened its 20,000-square-foot distribution center in Zumbrota in 2008, making the list again is "… a strong validation of our core values as a company," says Karl Rist, the online retailer's marketing specialist.

Waterfilters In 2008, the company, which sells water filters and filtration products online, had a staff of three. They have about 30 employees today, he says.

The company that was originally started by Jamin Arvig in his Twin Cities apartment collected $10.3 million in revenue for 2010.

Her dream made real
Seeing her business on Inc.'s list is simply a dream come true for AffordableButtons.Com's founder Linda Christopherson.

"I've always wanted to make the Inc. list. I think it makes a huge difference," says Christopherson, who runs the family-owned company with her husband, Tom.

Like WaterFilters.Net, AffordableButtons' name is pretty self-explanatory.

It makes custom buttons with messages and designs for about 40,000 customers, including presidential candidates, high school sports teams, Fortune 500 companies, kids' birthday parties, Hollywood movie studios and many others.

AffordableButtons_9374 "In our category of advertising and marketing, we're ranked at 327. That's a huge industry that includes a lot more than just button makers," Christopherson says.

Its 35 employees make and ship out tens of thousands of buttons a day from its facility on Rochester's 19th Street Northwest.

As candidates are starting to jockey for position in the 2012 presidential race, AffordableButtons is starting to see a surge in its political business.

About 50,000 Ron Paul buttons have already be made as well as about 6,000 ones for Rick Perry.

June 16, 2011

Zumbrota shops join forces

Two of Zumbrota's Main Street businesses recently decided they are stronger together than apart.
At the start of this month, Flowers on Main packed up its shop of 14 years and traveled about a block to move in with a new retail roommate, Autumn Moon.

  Now, fresh flowers and plants share space with Autumn Moon's scrapbooking supplies at 345 S. Main St.

"In this economy, I think you have to come up with new ways to keep your business going," says Brenda Lerum, owner of Flowers on Main.

Lerum says her floral business and Kris Luhman's scrapbooking complement each other.

"The location is better. It is a nicer and larger building," says Lerum. "Plus, there's the fact that we can now help each other out."

The two small businesses support each other while sharing costs. This is a strategy that is becoming more and more common.

Sarandipity and BeeLighted, two other nearby Main Street Zumbrota businesses, did the same thing in the spring. Stacy Drenckhahn moved her fiber arts studio, BeeLighted, in with Sara Nygaard's framing and gift shop at 386 S. Main St.

And it is not limited to Zumbrota.

Locally owned stores in Lanesboro, Plainview and other area community also have banded together in similar ways.

December 02, 2010

Kwik action in Roch., Byron, Lewiston and Zumbrota

Kwik Trip Here's some from a recent column item I worked up from a wide ranging chat with Hans Zietlow of Kwik Trip.

A couple of tidbits that didn't make it into print are that the Lewiston Kwik Trip has a re-build in its future, though it won't be quite as big a deal as the Byron deal, which will significantly upgrade that city's C-store.

And Kwik Trip is working on plans for a Zumbrota. It is still early in the process, but it looks like it should get a green light in the spring.


As it digs in for two meaty development projects in Rochester, the big dog in this region's convenience store pack is ready to sink its teeth into a Byron building project.

Kwik Trip, the La Crosse, Wis.-based convenience store and gas station operation, plans to scrape its rapidly aging building in Byron off its foundations this spring, says Hans Zietlow, Kwik Trip real restate guru.

Kwiktripnwdevelopment "Then we'll put in a LEED-certified building with a car wash and more parking," Zietlow says. "Right now, the pumps are so close to the road. We'll move them back."

Before all of that activity kicks off in Byron, Zietlow is laying the groundwork for two projects in the Med City's busy northwest quadrant.

Earlier this year, he announced Kwik Trip's plans for mixed-use developments — 100 acres at 19th Street Northwest and West Circle Drive and 50 acres at Valleyhigh Road and West Circle Drive. The vision is to have streets lined with stores, banks, industrial operations and office buildings, anchored by a Kwik Trip.

07262010kwiktripsign19thstreet "This is the biggest growth corridor within Rochester," Zietlow says. "Unquestionably, there will be a grocery store on one of the two sites, if not both."

Kwik Trip finished buying the Valleyhigh land earlier this month, and it is closing on the 19th Street land this week.

"When we own all of the land, then we can much more actively market it," he says.

Work with local officials to map out the details is underway, with hopes to be able to start moving dirt in the summer and begin construction in 2012.