August 2003

Cover Story

Out of the box

Creative Carton continues to grow becaCEO Mike Sime promises his customers they?ll get their cardboard boxes and other packaging products faster and cheaper than they will with anyone else.

Yeah, yeah, everybody?s heard that one before ? especially when it comes to sales.

?You don?t believe me?? he asks. ?Try us out. That?s really what we ask our customers to do. Just try us out and we?ll show you why you want to work with us. A lot of times they do, and then they stay with us.?

These days, Sime and his employees don?t have to ask that much. Having spent years working to become one of the Twin Cities? top packaging product manufacturers, the company has a lot of long-time customers, a number of referred customers and a reputation as an industry leader. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor

Beyond fear

As a set-up to our conversation featured in this month?s Back Page, I congratulated Fred Wall. He?s the chairman of The Wall Cos. in Minneapolis, a commercial real estate developer whose latest projects include the Stone Arch Apartments and the Minneapolis Innovation Center. He?s also chairman of Highland Banks, with seven Minnesota branches and $320 million in assets. Continue reading →

Back Page

Back Page

Fred Wall, chairman of Highland Banks and The Wall Cos., has been through the school of hard knocks.

He?s crashed three times in the real estate business and survived to develop again. At the same time he, and now his son Rick, have built Highland Bank into seven branches.

Now he?s also been through the University of Minnesota, graduating this May with a bachelor?s degree from the College of Continuing Education. He told Upsize what he?s learned along the way.
Continue reading →


Primer: Expansion and Relocation

employee Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association (GMCVA) wanted to see for itself what all the hoopla was about. They?d heard of tempting offers like free rent and discounts on parking.
Continue reading →

East Metro: Breathing room

Ram Motilall, president of Newport-based Diversified Manufacturing Corp., knows something about searching for the right home.

Motilall has moved the manufacturer of personal care products, animal shampoos, cleaning products and automotive products four times before settling off Highway 61, about 10 miles southeast of downtown St. Paul. Prior to that the 80-employee business was headquartered in Eagan and before that Minneapolis. Before moving the business back to the east metro, Motilall considered locations in Edina, Chaska and western Wisconsin. Continue reading →

Q&A: Expansion and Relocation

Small employers might think they have a disadvantage when recruiting employees from around the country. They probably can?t pay as much of the relocation cost as their bigger counterparts can. They may be surprised to learn that many times the ?soft? issues, such as where to hothe family llama and how to survive the winter, are what make or break a recruiting effort.

So says Judy Haydon, who runs Burnet Relocation in Edina. She shared tips about convincing recruits to come to the Twin Cities. It turns out that many services that relocation firms provide are free to the employer. Plus, any prospective employer can listen to a recruit?s concerns and figure out a way to address them. Now, if she could just do something about the weather?
Continue reading →

East Metro: Who can help

One small-business owner who took advantage of resources available in the east metro is Ge Lee, owner of Today?s Fashion at the corner of University and Western avenues in St. Paul. His store?s $450,000 expansion is expected to add more jobs in the Midway area.

Lee grew through the Small Business Expansion Program, launched in April, which marries public bodies with private capital to provide economic assistance.

The city of St. Paul backs the program beca?we don?t really have any choice,? says Randy Kelly, mayor of St. Paul, as cities lose millions of dollars in state aid. ?The only option is to expand our tax base and grow jobs in the city. We are pursuing that goal like a heat-seeking missile.?
Continue reading →

Business Builders


I?ve just finished spending too much time battling a key vendor. They made a number of serious errors and have been unable to effectively deal with me. After a couple of weeks, the problems are finally resolved.

My company simply cannot run without the services provided by this vendor, but I really can?t afford this kind of delay. That isn?t what worries me the most. Whenever something like this happens ? and admit it, it happens plenty ? I think, ?I hope we aren?t doing the same thing to our key customers.? Continue reading →

Real Estate

Lease expirations provide the opportunity for many business owners to re-evaluate the amount and type of space they use. With careful planning, new lease decisions can increase efficiency in work flow, boost morale, and maybe even reduce the amount of space required ? ultimately lowering operating costs.

Corporate space was built out in the 1980s and early ?90s at construction budgets of $50 to $75 per rsf (rentable square foot). Many companies maintained employee densities of 300 to 400 rsf per employee. Today the figures are closer to $35 to $50 per rsf build-out, and 250 rsf per employee average density. Rent as a portion of companies? total operating expense has also fallen from a previous average of 10 percent to today?s target of 6 to 8 percent. Continue reading →


You?re an established company. You?re in business to do more business. And although your company name has served you well in past, you?re not sure whether it accurately conveys who you are anymore. Should you change it? Or leave it alone?

Andersen Consulting to Accenture. WorldCom to MCI. Dayton?s to Marshall Field?s. Many businesses have transformed their images through a name change, and the reasons for taking on a new name are as diverse as the companies themselves.

Perhaps you?ve merged with another business and need a name that better reflects your combined resources. Maybe new capabilities or new market opportunities have caused you to outgrow your current name. Or maybe you need to escape the tarnished reputation of your current name. Whatever your reasons, if you?re considering a name change, here are some issues you should think about. Continue reading →

Ending a business partnership

More than 40 percent of American marriages end in divorce. More businesses fail due to disagreements between business partners. Therefore, it makes sense for business partners to prepare the equivalent of a prenuptial agreement to plan for an orderly separation. Even if there is no prenup, there are things you can and should do to make sure the separation goes well.
Continue reading →



John Francis is back in the franchising business with PostNet, after a short and doomed foray to a dot-com in 2000.

He is the area franchisee in Minnesota and Wisconsin for PostNet, 1,200-square-foot stores that offer everything from copying, printing and computing to mailing and faxing. There are seven in Minnesota; the first opened in Blaine in November 2001. He plans for 50 to be opened in each state over the next 15 years. Continue reading →


City Date Connection, a new Twin Cities dating service, was launched in May by four bowling buddies.
Continue reading →


After three years Robyne Robinson, better known as a Fox 9 news anchor, has closed Flatland Gallery in northeast Minneapolis. Continue reading →

Human Resources

Job security is up, way up, as a reason why finance and accounting professionals stay in their jobs. It ranked No. 4 of 10 in a new survey, up from No. 7 last time. Continue reading →


Sam Zordich, founder of the one-person, three-year-old Stonegate Business Consulting, is set to hire five employees and move into new real estate to support the rollout of JumpStart. Continue reading →


Carl Caspers, whose leg was amputated below the knee, invents prosthetic technology that allows him to do what he wants. ?He is a very free spirit and he likes to live life on his terms,? says Scott Schneider, who co-founded TEC Interface Systems with Caspers in St. Cloud in the 1990s. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

To ban guns, firms must follow specific rules, Informer learns By Beth Ewen DEAR INFORMER: How do I keep guns out of my business, now that Minnesota’s conceal-and-carry law is in effect? DEAR GUN-SHY: You must mean the new Full Employment for Lawyers Law, which some wags are calling the provision that allows more people to […] Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

CEOs had 15 minutesto entice at annualventure capital confab Brainy CEOs, many with multiple academic titles, had just 15 minutes each to wow a crowd of peers and venture capitalists May 19 and 20, at the annual Minnesota Venture Capital Conference. John Haaland, Ph.D. and CEO of Discovery Genomics in Minneapolis, was one who could […] Continue reading →


SBA Lenders

?Show me the money? might be the only words on the tip of your tongue as a small-business owner searching for the right SBA lender.

Resist the urge to say them. Instead, business owners should first think carefully about what qualities they want in a lender, and then interview lenders to determine the best fit, say lenders of Small Business Administration-backed loans. Continue reading →