September 2005

Cover Story

Signature dish

Some customers push Taqueria La Hacienda, a fast-growing restaurant on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, to broaden its menu of authentic Mexican cuisine to include Tex-Mex fare.

One would think a small business should listen to its customers. Not in this case, according to owners Miguel and Maria Zagal. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


Like most people, I learned my first lessons about business (and life) from my parents.

"Do what you love and the money will follow," my mother always said, good advice for an aspiring reporter pursuing an English lit degree. My first full-time reporting job paid $13,000, so it's lucky I loved it. Continue reading →

Back Page

Lilian Anderson, Extensions Plus, on risking her business to fight state regulation

Lilian Anderson operated her hair braiding and extensions business for years without a license, because she thought it cost too much to take 10 months of courses that didn?t even include instruction on braiding.

After encouragement from Lee McGrath, executive director of the new local chapter of the Institute for Justice, she became the lead plaintiff in a suit against the Minnesota Board of Barber & Cosmetologist Examiners. In a settlement reached mid-June, the board agreed to change its rules to exempt braiders, effective by April 2006.

Anderson tells why she risked jail time and a fine to fight back. Continue reading →


Way out

When owners come to Tom Lyons, sick of their business and ready to sell, he often tells them to hold on.

Lyons is president of Faelon, a business brokerage firm in St. Louis Park. How much will their business sell for today? Is that enough to see the owner through retirement? If not, what is enough and how can the owner build the business to that goal? Answering those questions can help them maximize the value of their biggest asset. Continue reading →

Financial guide: Grants

three minnesota companies share a lucrative body of knowledge.

? Hitchcock Industries, in Bloomington, makes critical aircraft parts, specializing in large aluminum sand castings. If you have flown in a Boeing plane, you have flown with Hitchcock?s parts.

Certain aluminum sand casting processes, however, haven?t changed since Hitchcock?s founding nearly 90 years ago. The processes interrupt manufacturing flow and consume excess time. The industry calls the process that removes mold sand from component cores ?Shake?n?Bake.? It can take up to 24 hours, and the machines look like industrial film noir.

A garage-sized, well-blackened oven bakes the parts. Then employees transfer them to a king-sized table and it shakes them for hours until the sand comes out. Jim Van Wert, Hitchcock?s chief technical officer, thought there had to be a 21st century way. Continue reading →

Financial Guide: Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is an unwanted topic. If you're a debtor, it may get uglier in the coming months. If you're a creditor, it's going to get a little nicer. Continue reading →

Slow and smart

Rajiv Tandon has been through the money-raising wars before, both in his current position as president and CEO of Adayana Inc. and in a previous life with LearningByte International. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Human resources

Baby boomer retirements are about to increase from a trickle to deluge, and companies that haven?t prepared may find themselves floating helplessly.

In just six years, the first of the nation?s 78 million baby boomers will hit prime retirement age. Coupled with a shrinking labor force, this mass exodus of seasoned employees is poised to change the face of America?s workplace. Continue reading →

Deferred comp plans help retain staff, reserve cash

In a fiercely competitive employment market, finding and retaining talented leaders is a challenge. A nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan is a powerful tool that can be used to reward key employees, promote long-term loyalty to the company, or provide an additional retirement benefit to highly compensated employees. Continue reading →


Your company may have spent decades developing the inventions and trademarks that characterize the company. It only takes a moment to steal those assets if they are not properly protected. Continue reading →


It?s next to impossible to re-start business operations after a calamity without an insurance payout, and it is very difficult to get a rapid payout if you are unable to show proof of loss. Continue reading →



A large activity area makes the difference for a new retail store in Minneapolis.

It's Play Time sells kits for children to make art, science, cooking and other projects. Customers can buy the kits and then make them right at the store, leaving the mess behind. Continue reading →

Real estate

The purchase of a second office condo for expansion, adjacent to their current home, will give Bard Advertising's nine employees what they all said they missed: private office space. Continue reading →


Ken Kirkpatrick was just as surprised as anybody watching the news one night in April. That?s when a group of hair braiders and the Institute for Justice launched a lawsuit against the state board that licenses barbers and cosmetologists. He?s been a member of the barber examiners board for 26 years. Continue reading →


Bremer Financial Corp. towers over downtown St. Paul now that its headquarters is renamed Bremer. Each letter in the new sign, made by Lawrence Sign in St. Paul, is 14 feet tall and weighs 450 pounds. (It was called the North Central Life tower.) Continue reading →


Tianna Ramaker has made several changes since purchasing CJ Olson Market Research Inc. about a year ago. That's the market research firm started by Carolyn Olson and based in Minneapolis. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

You can still defer comp, but new tax rules apply DEAR INFORMER: I’m told there are new regulations that don’t allow me to offer deferred compensation anymore. Is this correct? DEAR STOK OPTIONS: You can still offer deferred compensation, such as stock options, bonus plans and severance agreements, but for the first time such compensation […] Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

Ethics plays a partin pricing, saysAIM-sponsored class By Beth Ewen The Informer poured a tall glass of Fresca, put her feet up and called in to “The ABCs of Pricing,” a class taught via teleconference and sponsored by AIM to Succeed, a local networking group founded by Colleen Davis. She learned that ethics should play […] Continue reading →


Event hosts form partnerships, formal and not, with venues

The Prouty Project is a company on the move ? literally. Consultants jet across the country, racking up frequent-flyer miles to meet with clients in faraway convention centers and hotels.

Working on the road a lot has many drawbacks, such as time away from family and fewer opportunities to meet with more clients. But for a firm that facilitates hundreds of team-building meetings and outdoor adventure-learning exercises, sometimes the most daunting challenge is dealing with unfamiliar venues. Continue reading →