August 2004

Cover Story

Mission style

Everybody knows the Archie Givens? name, it seems, and they knew it before he even knew himself. His father, Archie Givens Sr., is remembered as a hard-driving businessman and a trailblazing African-American entrepreneur in Minnesota.
?My father was a very typical entrepreneur. ?Typical? meaning driven and hard-working and visionary, if you will,? says Archie Givens Jr. ?He had a series of little businesses along the way: an ice cream parlor in North Minneapolis. It was Givens Ice Cream Bar, on Sixth and Lyndale.?
The elder Givens was involved in numerous ventures, including housing and long-term health care. Givens Sr. founded the Willows Convalescent Centers, and built a network of nursing homes in the area. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


A visitor to Upsize?s new offices noted the beautiful surroundings, attractive furniture, lush views and mostly empty space, then remarked: ?You must have big plans for the future of Upsize!?
Don?t we all have big plans for the future of our businesses? Can?t we envision the day when legions of employees fruitfully drive the global enterprises that our companies have become? Can?t we see them filling up our offices and asking for more, more, more space? Continue reading →

Back Page

Back page

Last summer the century-old law firm of Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly came one partner vote away from folding, after an expensive expansion to the Silicon Valley turned sour. The firm had to close offices, pay for space in places where no one was working, and trim down to about 125 attorneys ? activities that torpedoed profits for the partners as offers poured in from competing firms.
Bruce Machmeier, partner at the Minneapolis firm who serves on the management committee, tells how the loosely tied attorneys who make up any law firm became stronger as they banded together to get through the crisis.
Continue reading →


Upsize Growth Challenge: Workshop two

Help across the finish line was the focus in the second of two workshops offered to the three winners of this year?s Upsize Growth Challenge, presented by Fredrikson & Byron.
David Miller of Floorworx Distribution Services learned the finer points of negotiation from the contest?s legal expert, during the May workshop.
Lynn Richardson of GateKeeper Systems heard huzzahs from our financial gurus for his aggressive debt reduction plan, and for his disciplined efforts to diversify.
Jim Borofka of P.M. Bedroom Gallery told the pleasant tale that profit margins are up at his company, a point he didn?t know before he took our technology consultants? advice to dig into financial and customer data.
Upsize thanks the three winners for throwing themselves into the first Upsize Growth Challenge. Business owners can enter next year?s contest starting in December look for info in that issue of Upsize magazine.
We thank the sponsors and their experts at the second workshop for their dedication to helping these and other growing companies: Pat Kelly, legal expert from Fredrikson & Byron law firm in Minneapolis and presenting sponsor Kirk Hoaglund, technology expert from Clientek in Minneapolis Dean Cadry, finance expert from business banker Crown Bank in Edina Joseph Majeski, accounting and operations expert from EideBailly in Bloomington and Mary Korthour, telecommunications expert from Eschelon Telecom Inc. in Minneapolis. Continue reading →

Q&A: Education & training

Tom Salonek?s company, Intertech Training in Eagan, has been teaching computer programmers since 1991 to work with each successive wave of technology. He?s seen lavish spending on training in the late 1990s, when employers used it as a retention tool. He?s kept growing even in the last few years, last year topping $4 million in revenue, when things such as training and travel were cut. Salonek offers tips on getting the most from training dollars, and choosing where to spend them in the first place. Continue reading →

Upsize primer: Education & training

Getting client attention is a tricky endeavor. Not only do clients have their own work to juggle, which is taxing enough, but they also have other companies vying for their time.
But that doesn?t mean it?s impossible to get their ear. Some companies are finding a way to capture client interest, reinforce business relationships, and spark future revenue, all at the same time. They do so with workshops and seminars, offering customers education and information that they can shoehorn into their busy days. Continue reading →

Mankato & North Mankato

Milt Toratti has energy. He has passion, vision and plenty of opinions. He has a no- nonsense, cut-to-the-chase style that makes one want to get right into their business idea and hit the ground running.
The Mankato resident is a one-man small-business encyclopedia and he?s here to help the small-business owner through his Mankato-based company, the Riverbend Center For Advanced Enterprise Facilitation (RCEF). Toratti says he founded the company to capture the passion, skill, resources and imagination of local entrepreneurs and existing business owners to help them realize their dreams. Continue reading →

Mankato & North Mankato

Like many technology companies, Winland Electronics of Mankato saw tough times as the century turned. But it?s back.
?Many technology companies experienced difficulties from 1999 to 2000,? says Lorin Krueger, who runs the maker of custom electronic control products and systems. ?But since that time we have refocused our markets, curtailed spending and focused on building our balance sheet. We are starting to see record earnings.? Continue reading →

Business Builders

Intellectual property

It?s two o?clock in the morning. Do you know where your trade secrets are?
Small businesses commonly overlook or follow poor procedures when it comes to their trade secrets, igniting a chain reaction that can culminate in the loss of valuable company assets. Continue reading →


CEOs interested in launching or growing a business should consider what I call a partner-based virtual business model. In this model, CEOs are free to focus in the areas where they excel, leaving less compelling tasks to partners, Internet-based technology and well-chosen business consultants.
Continue reading →


In today's world, business owners and managers must be prepared to communicate effectively with the news media about company-related legal disputes or suffer brand damage among other consequences. All businesses can benefit from addressing this area before they face a crisis situation due to negative publicity.
Continue reading →



Nicole Middendorf is one step closer to becoming ?Minnesota?s version of Suze Orman,? she jokes, referring to the ubiquitous financial planning guru, speaker and author.
Continue reading →


The fifth time was the charm for the owner of West Indies Soul, a Caribbean restaurant in St. Paul. Owner Sharon Richards-Noel applied to be a food vendor at the Minnesota State Fair for five years in a row, and this year her application was accepted.
Continue reading →

Real estate

Reside, a three-year-old Web development firm, is moved into a new building in Minneapolis purchased by a company investor.
The two-story building near I-394 and Penn Avenue has 4,000 square feet, space needed by the fast-growing Reside and a second company that its co-owner, Matt Meents, has just purchased. Continue reading →


Small-business owners, especially those who need a new phone system, should take a look at technology that uses a single network for voice and data, believes Scott DeToffol of Enventis Telecom.
Continue reading →


?I got swayed,? says Mary Leonard, owner of the St. Paul-based Chocolat Celeste, maker of delectable and expensive chocolates. She at first targeted the corporate gift market, which she wanted to serve via the Internet, but ended up opening a retail shop on February 12, 2002, after everybody kept asking her where her store was. Continue reading →


Right before Memorial Day weekend Jean Sumner was hitting the shops in Ely, trying to convince store owners to stock her company?s brand new DVD, ?Take the Boundary Waters Home with You.? Six of them did, she says, just in time for the first holiday tourist crush of the summer.
Continue reading →

Dear Informer

Pay for meals or risk crabby staff, Informer says DEAR INFORMER: I reimburse my employees for some expenses when they travel on business, such as air fare or mileage and lodging, but not for meals. One of my staff members has challenged this, saying it’s illegal. Is he right? DEAR EXPENSES: No, he’s not right on the […] Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

Fifty percent of business-to-business sales are influenced by industry analysts, contends Joshua Schneck, CEO of Snow Communications Inc. in Minneapolis. That?s why business owners should create and carry out a plan to communicate with them. Continue reading →



Banks aren't the only option anymore for small businesses looking to open a savings account or get a loan.
Due to a growing demand by their members and a loosening of standards by the federal government, credit unions are rolling out new business services to tap into the small-business niche. Continue reading →