April 2007

Cover Story

Second chances

Minneapolis-based The Thymes Ltd., the maker of scented bath, body and home care products, had a corner on the giftable bath-and-body market for years.

Founder Leslie Ross Lentz launched the business in the basement of her Minneapolis home in 1982, making it one of the founding brands of what later would become the lucrative bath-and-body category.

Lentz?s best friend Stephanie Shopa joined her in the startup. They were two divorced, single mothers on limited budgets, each scraping together $1,500 to put into the fledgling business. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


What do Pomeranians have to do with banking?

For David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Community Banks in St. Paul, those miniature dogs were the key to gaining millions in deposits when he was scrambling for customers in California. Continue reading →

Back Page

Austrian-born entrepreneur, Horst Rechelbacher, on his second act after selling Aveda

Horst Rechelbacher sold his first company, nature-based hair-products maker Aveda Corp., to Estee Lauder in 1997 for $300 million cash. His second act is Intelligent Nutrients in Minneapolis, a line of plant-based beauty and body products that he believes is poised to take off, with a store opening in New York this year and distribution through 65,000 Regis Corp. hairdressers. (Regis is a 50-50 partner in Intelligent Nutrients.) He says he?s doing it to transform the cosmetics industry. ?I don?t need the money,? Horst says. Continue reading →


Upsize Primer: Objectives first

Concord Technology sells technology for large professional services companies that make various aspects of their businesses faster and more efficient.

The firm specializes in recruiting senior-level IT professionals who can help clients with individual projects or upgrades of their operating systems.

So forgive CEO Chris Davis if he is a bit sheepish. The three-year-old Edina company has spent plenty of time and money servicing its own clients. But as a startup, the firm underestimated its own needs and now is in the middle of doing a customer relationship management (CRM) software implementation. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Placement agents can streamline project financings

As real estate developers and borrowers seek the best ways to finance projects, some are using a process that allows them to access several funding sources. Continue reading →


For many companies, 2007 will be a year of upgrades for your computer systems. And it is time to start thinking hard about how you'll get that done. Continue reading →

One-page plan allows owners to fight fewer fires

Several years ago I worked with a technology firm. Although sales and profits were good, administration of the company was bogged down. Continue reading →


The 2007 State of the Union and State of the State speeches highlighted once again the burgeoning renewable fuels industry in the United States and Minnesota. Continue reading →

Human resources

One of the greatest threats to the viability of a small business is employee burnout. Unmotivated, disengaged employees cannot perform well and often prevent the rest of the staff from working at peak efficiency. Continue reading →



Reached the day after Valentine?s Day, Vicki Schmidt was happy with business at Petersen Flowers. ?To my pleasure we had a great turnout,? she says. ?The past week we?ve seen faces we?ve never seen before, so hopefully it won?t be a one-time thing.? Continue reading →


Little & Co. has decided to skip the winter holiday season, the traditional time for businesses to send greetings to customers and friends. Instead, the Minneapolis design firm sends a Valentine?s Day greeting. Continue reading →


The concerned phone call came right after Presidents? Day, from one of Peter Eckerline?s customers who winters in Naples, Florida. The customer had read two economic forecasts that the U.S. economy will slow this year. Continue reading →


Microsoft?s new e-mail program, Outlook 2007, requires e-mail designers to change their methods, Darin Lynch says. He?s the new chief information officer and vice president of retail business services for Knowledge Marketing in Plymouth, an Internet marketing agency. Continue reading →

Human resources

The bosses at Lancet Software often shared words of praise for Susan Bjork, the person they hired to manage human resources at the Burnsville firm about five years ago. Continue reading →


Even as a kid, Barry Rubin liked to use unusual writing instruments. ?When everyone was using a No. 2 pencil I was using a fountain pen,? he says. ?I?ve always thought there was a romance to pens.? Continue reading →


Venture Bank?s third and latest branch, in Eagan, seeks to gain business in the St. Paul market, says Christine Young, assistant vice president and commercial loan officer in the Golden Valley branch, the bank?s second branch to open, two years ago. Continue reading →

Dear informer

To upgrade or not to upgrade is this year’s operational question Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

Heartland’s ‘ThoughtLeader Gatherings’ employ unusual ways to connect By Beth Ewen Original songs by Barbara McAfee brought the group of about 125 to order on a freezing Feb. 2 at the University Club in St. Paul. Her clear voice opened the Thought Leader Gathering, produced by Heartland Inc. six times a year in the Twin […] Continue reading →


Popular tech products help business owners stop juggling act

Five years ago, CEO Kirk Hoaglund would routinely perform as a juggler while running his Minneapolis-based IT consulting company, Clientek.

In one hand he?d hold a stylus; in the other, his personal digital assistant (PDA). On his shoulder he?d precariously balance his cell phone. Next came the finale: He?d use the stylus to scribble data into his PDA, while simultaneously talking into the cell phone pinched between his ear and shoulder. Continue reading →