February 2004

Cover Story

Double vision

Hennes isn?t one of those hard-which ended September 30), Art Holdings did $5.2 million in sales. Until now, the core of the company?s business has been providing art and consulting for a wide range of corporate clients.

Hennes expects to double sales to $10 million in 2004 thanks to the company?s new partnership with the Marshall Field?s department stores. Art Holdings now operates 13 outlets of the LOOK Gallery in the Twin Cities-, Chicago- and Detroit-area Marshall Field?s stores, which expands the company into the residential art market. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


Running a small business is like preparing for holiday get-togethers. The end goal remains the same year after year: foster better relationships, or grow your circle of close contacts, or just remain standing when it?s all over. But everything else changes. Continue reading →

Back Page

Back Page

Monica Little started her design firm in Minneapolis at age 24 ? idealistic, a peace activist and fresh out of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. This year Little & Co. celebrates 25 years in business, with clients from Target Corp. to the Mill City Museum. She tells how it took most of that time to really get her company right. Continue reading →


Second generation

When Jake Sanders was growing up, he spent a lot of time helping out at his mother?s antique store at 50th Street and Xerxes Avenue in Minneapolis.

?I remember running around the store at age 7 schlepping boxes around,? Sanders says. ?I remember all of the nooks and crannies of that store.?

His mother, Linda Getchell, launched her business in 1981 after her 30-year-old husband was diagnosed with crippling rheumatoid arthritis and was told he would never work again. The young mother of two needed to make a living and wanted a business in which her family could be involved.

Now more than two decades later, 27-year-old Sanders is in the specialty retailing business for himself, leaving behind a career in the high-tech industry. The only way he can explain his career redirection is that retailing is in his blood. Continue reading →

Time to buy?

Sometimes, as a small-business owner, you just have to take advantage of the right circumstances, good timing and that gut feeling that tells you that you''re doing the best thing. In these days of low real estate prices, that can apply to buying rather than leasing your office space.

"We were facing the end of a lease for our office space in Bloomington and we were in a situation where we were looking for something better," says Brian Dvorak, CFO for Minneapolis-based Metro Distribution, a newspaper and magazine delivery company that shares the same management team (and headquarters) as Digital Axis, a printing firm. Continue reading →

Soul searching

Companies looking for new or refreshed office space shouldn?t consider walls and chairs alone. Rather, a space hunt is an opportunity to find your company?s soul, says Tanya Spaulding, principal, and David Shea, an architect and founder, of Shea in Minneapolis. The two, who ?tend to fight for air time,? as Spaulding says, explain the metaphysical for Upsize. Continue reading →

High fiber

Where?s the fiber?

A few years ago, that question was on the lips of large- and small-business owners alike as they scoured the Twin Cities? downtowns and suburbs looking for new office space that offered the best technology money could buy. Wanting better access, quicker and stronger communications and the right to brag about their state-of-the-art headquarters, business owners became fascinated with fiber optic cabling and similar technology. And whenever this type of space went up, these owners came out of the woodwork to put in bids.

So ask that same question today. Where?s the fiber? Well, pretty much everywhere. Continue reading →

Business Builders


The public?s reaction to the Enron and WorldCom scandals has resulted in increased scrutiny of organizations, management and boards of directors.

Awareness that boards of directors often acted as rubber stamps for management has led to new federal, state and regulatory agency rules and disclosure requirements. Board members are now being expected to use independent judgment in making decisions on behalf of an organization and to assume additional responsibility for those decisions. Continue reading →


If you?re responsible for technology at a small business, you probably find it increasingly difficult to keep up with day-to-day troubleshooting. So finding time to conduct a technology audit or to coordinate one with an outside firm may seem impossible.

It doesn?t have to be. Following is a 15-minute assessment that ensures you at least have the technology basics covered. It addresses four areas that have the most impact on your productivity and profitability Continue reading →

Human resources

Untreated drug addiction costs U.S. businesses $102 billion in lost productivity and profits annually, according to the National Mental Health Association.

The majority of those costs come not from treating alcoholism and drug addiction, but from the indirect costs of not treating them ? health care bills for on-the-job injuries, absenteeism, workers compensation, disability claims and loss of productivity. Continue reading →



When famed explorer Ann Bancroft tries to cross the Arctic Ocean in 2005, she and partner Liv Arnesen will fund and operate the expedition using a business model that?s different from the traditional. They will be backed by Bancroft?s leadership company, Your Expedition, which she started after her 1993 trek across Antarctica ended in financial failure. Continue reading →


?A lot of training, a lot of hiring, a lot of planning,? is on Ben To?s agenda these days.

That?s since Oakdale-based Bonton Bakeries landed a $50 million contract to supply baked goods to two large food service companies, Aramark of Alabama and Sodexho of Maryland. In turn, Bonton?s products will go to cafeterias of Minnesota companies such as General Mills and 3M. Continue reading →


Forsythe Appraisals has opened an office in Detroit, its 17th nationwide, despite a slump in the residential mortgage industry as interest rates crept up in the second half of 2003. That follows three additional offices opened in 2003, and precedes a fifth in Las Vegas planned before the year was out. Continue reading →

Data Security

The majority of small businesses are not prepared to recover from a data disaster, a survey from Imation Corp. of Oakdale shows. Imation provides data storage products and services to all size companies. Continue reading →

Joint Venture

At 25, Randy Milbert has already helped raise $6.5 million from investors to start two software companies that subsequently failed. This time around with his own company, Soldier Vision, he?s taking a different tack.

Milbert last fall formed a joint venture with Minnesota Defense, a division of Minnesota Wire & Cable Co. in St. Paul. Minnesota Defense will receive 15 percent of revenue from the sale of Soldier Vision products, and will market products through its sales channels. Continue reading →


If you?ve seen a couple of guys in curly blue wigs, waving and holding a banner that says 1.800.GOT. JUNK?, it was probably Andrew Knutson?s drivers.

Knutson owns the St. Paul area rights for the franchise that picks up any trash except for the hazardous kind for individuals and businesses. He?s bought two territories with an option to buy two more in the north metro area; another franchisee has rights in the south metro. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

DEAR INFORMER: One of my customers says it pays in 60 days and that?s that, even though my company?s terms are 30 days. Do I just have to accept this? Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

?People make way too big a deal about passion,? said David Kristal, who left his law practice six years back to help his father fix Embers America. ?It?s not about passion. It?s about obsession. It?s about manipulating every single detail of our businesses.?

Kristal was the keynote speaker for ?If I Only Knew?,? the theme of a James J. Hill Reference Library conference in the fall at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. The conference was about small-business ?survival in an increasingly competitive market.? Continue reading →


Desks aren’t just desks — they must fit company’s image and body types

Most people look at a desk and see just a desk. But the trained eyes of office furniture dealers see much more: whether the desk is too high or too low to fit a user's body type, or whether it will fit physically as well as aesthetically in a customer's office space.

Dealers look at a desk and see a status symbol to distinguish a vice president from a receptionist, a branding and marketing tool for customers to impress their own clients, and an investment. Continue reading →