March 2006

Cover Story

Just invent it

Scott Augustine is back in the lab.

The founder of Augustine Medical Inc., now Arizant Healthcare Inc., left his company in 2003 and sat out two years waiting for his noncompete clause to expire. While he acknowledges that he didn't leave Arizant on the best of terms, he also says leaving was the best thing that could have happened to him. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


Any business owners still doing what they hate to do, rather than what they love, what they?re really good at, and delegating the rest, please consider this cautionary tale about Eric.

I hired Eric?s company to repair my chimney in December. He arrived early one cold morning, and I greeted him cheerfully: ?How are you doing?? ?Well, I was doing fine until I saw your house,? he said. ?The chimney?s so high, and the roof?s so steep.?

I was puzzled. Aren?t most chimneys high, and attached to steep roofs? But I smiled politely. Continue reading →

Back Page

College to Career’s launch offers more proof that job market’s weak

Kate Knutson and Steve Barghusen are veterinarians and co-owners of Pet Crossing in Bloomington, the $2-million animal hospital they planned to be a third larger than they need right now. Before taking such a bold step, they had to learn how to reconcile two different world views. Continue reading →


Education Q&A: Michael Sullivan

Family-owned businesses have plenty of advantages if their owners learn how to them, says Michael Sullivan Sr. He has worked with companies large and small as an attorney with Gray Plant Mooty in Minneapolis, as CEO of International Dairy Queen, and as a director at Valspar, Opus and others. Continue reading →

Fresh attempt

By now the fairy-tale story that is Lisa's Salsa Co. is well known in these parts.

A backyard garden with 12 tomato plants led to hundreds of red-ripe tomatoes overflowing in the home of Lisa Nicholson in the early 1990s. Despite every effort to can and preserve these tomatoes, she still couldn't get rid of them fast enough. So she started experimenting and making her own salsa.

Her homemade product was a hit at family gatherings and social events. After some luck (another vendor didn't show up) she got into the Minneapolis Farmer's Market - and sold out all 120 jars of her salsa in three hours. Suddenly, this hobby turned into a small-business idea for the aspiring law student. Continue reading →

Education Primer: Hitting the books

David Burley and his business partners, Stephanie and Luke Shimp, were running the Highland Grill about five years ago, thinking about opening more restaurants.

When they opened the first diner, they wrote a business plan, but it didn't contain as detailed and specific financial information as they needed for any expansion plans. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Real estate

Most everyone enjoys talking about real estate. Whether it's a discussion with the next-door neighbor about the value of a house, the price of land up north or the free rent a CEO received on a lease, we all have an opinion about real estate. Continue reading →


Imagine if you could find your prospects and customers eager to listen to your presentations. Imagine that these presentations are short, focused 'radio' shows that can be enhanced with music, sound effects and even video to create a more compelling message. Continue reading →


A controller was once quoted as saying that an audit can be almost enjoyable with the right audit team. Then she repeated "almost."

Audits of financial statements usually fall somewhere between car repairs and dental work on the 'necessary-but-burdensome' meter for managers of private companies. Continue reading →



Last May, Mark Hoffman made his first acquisition: He bought a staging company, which handles such tasks as facility selection and logistics, and set design and set building for meetings and events. Continue reading →


Joe Heron was happy when reached in late January, just after PepsiAmericas Inc. bought Ardea Beverage Co., the $3-million company in Hopkins he founded just two years ago. Continue reading →


Lancet Software Development Inc. has launched a search for the region's worst Web site, and will offer the winner $2,800 worth of services to make it over. Continue reading →


Many companies send holiday greeting cards to clients and friends. The Maccabee Group in Minneapolis sent a booklet in January to about 400 people, filled with coupons good for discounts at a dozen places around town where its staffers like to hang out. Continue reading →


Cathy Muldoon bucked the norm when she launched her recruiting and consulting firm, Top Talent Inc. in Minneapolis, about a year ago. She chose a flat-fee structure. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

Business plan crucial for established firms, too Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

Lorie Line hostsfirst VIP party atlocal holiday gig By Beth Ewen Lorie Line, Tim Line and their two children were lined up to receive guests at a party at the Palomino in December, the first such bash for the local piano-player-turned performer. The buffet dinner preceded Line’s show at the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis, […] Continue reading →


More small firms try remote deposit to cut time, errors

Dropping off deposits at the bank is a routine matter for small businesses. But once in a while they can wind up in the wrong place - such as a McDonald's garbage bin. Continue reading →