Made in Minnesota

Made In Minnesota – Events By Melody

Made In Minnesota – Events By Melody 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Welcome to our blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format is a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Melody, founder of Events by Melody, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Welcome, Melody! Thanks for being here today.
It’s great to be here!

We would love to learn a little bit about you and how Events by Melody got started!
Sure. Ever since I can remember, I knew that someday I would start my own business. I wasn’t sure what that would be exactly but I knew that working the Monday-Friday, 9-5 job just wasn’t for me. 
In early 2016, while I was still working at my full-time marketing job, I created a logo and website, you know, just for fun. I thought to myself, I’m going to be an event planner! I had always helped friends plan and coordinate their weddings and I was helping the engineering firm I was working for plan their corporate events (holiday parties, retirement parties, golf events etc.) Planning events has always been something I’m passionate about and I wanted to help others. 
When I launched my business in July of 2016, it took about a month but my first prospective client called…it was a bride looking for coordination services for her upcoming wedding. Long story short, her wedding was a few short weeks later and I quickly had one wedding under my belt. From there, the Events by Melody name spread rapidly. By the end of 2016, my company had coordinated 11 weddings and 1 corporate event (all while still working my full-time marketing gig!) In 2017, we coordinated 41 weddings and 2 corporate events and in 2018 we have 50+ weddings on the calendar (and counting!) Now I’ve got a whole team to back me up. Oh, and I ended up quitting my marketing job!

Q. Can you tell us a little about the services you provide?
A. Events by Melody specializes in weddings as well as corporate and non-profit events. The majority of our business is weddings, where we focus on wedding planning, design and coordination. Some of the corporate and non-profit events we plan/coordinate include holiday parties, award ceremonies, golf events, walk/run events and more!

Q. Looking back…do you think you were destined to be in this business?
A. Absolutely! When I was in elementary school, I would sell pencils to my classmates. In middle school, I tried selling landscaping rocks from my neighbor’s front yard (shhh!). That didn’t work so well though. Apparently nobody wants to purchase these from a 12-year-old kid but hey – I tried! In short, I’ve always been driven and motivated and wanted to become my own boss and own my own business for as long as I can remember!

Q. What do you find most challenging about the business you’re in?
A. The wedding/event planning market is saturated and there is a ton of competition. To be successful in this industry, you have to differentiate yourself. Whether this means having a clean and modern website, staying heavily active on social media or attending networking events and really putting yourself out there, you have to stay top of mind…always!

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. Honestly, nothing. I got to where I am today because of what I did from Day 1. While I could have done things differently, I would likely still be on the path I’m on. I’m a firm believer in the saying, Everything happens for a reason!

Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling…how do you stay focused or get re-focused?
A. Organization is KEY. I use a monthly planner/agenda book, set reminders in my phone and create to-do lists. (I LOVE crossing items off the list. Best. Feeling. Ever.)

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on growing your business, where would you spend your money and why?

A. I would spend that money on my team! I would love to treat my team to a group outing/team building experience. My team is what helps make Events by Melody successful and I couldn’t do it without them. Treat your employees like they make a difference and they will.

Q. What are three words you would use to describe your organization?
A. Professional, fun, authentic.

Q. Something fun…if you could start any business today what would it be?
A.
A doggy day care! This is actually the business I wanted to start years ago before I started Events by Melody. I LOVE animals and think this would be so much fun. And who wouldn’t want to hang out with cute doggies all day?!

Q. What’s the best advice you’d give a business owner who is just getting started?

A. Have patience and believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you put your mind to. You will have failures along the way and make mistakes in the beginning but take these in stride and remember that at the end of the day, they are learning experiences.

If you’d like to learn more about Events By Melody, visit them online Eventsbymelodymn.com.

Want to be featured in our Made in Minnesota blog series or do you know of a really cool business that would make a great feature? Contact us today!

Made in Minnesota – Becker Arena Products

Made in Minnesota – Becker Arena Products 900 600 Kari Switala

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Jim!

Today’s featured Minnesota business owner is Jim Becker, owner of Becker Arena Products in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Good morning, Jim! Thanks for joining us today.

Thanks for having me!

Jim, can you tell us a little bit about how Becker Arena Products got started?
I started the company in December of 1988 after I found out the company I had been working for was closing their U.S. offices and I would no longer have a job. At the time I had been selling the Olympia Ice Resurfacer and was offered the dealership for the western U.S. I took the opportunity, but that alone was not going to be enough to sustain a business.

I started selling hockey dasher boards for a local dasher board manufacturer and then slowly started building a rink supply/catalog division. As business grew so did our staff, our customer base, and our opportunities.  In 1994, we decided to build our own hockey board systems and control our own destiny.  We then had the privilege of providing the dasher system for the Olympic men’s hockey venue in Nagano, Japan in 1998. (our claim to fame)

Q:  Were you destined to be in this business?
I think I was destined to be a business owner; I feel I have the entrepreneurial spirit and vision.  My passion is seeing new ideas come to life as well as building and designing.  I love the relationships – working with customers and vendors, and I also enjoy the sports industry culture.  My experience working at a local ice rink as an assistant rink manager and Zamboni driver sparked the love for the culture and business-side of this industry.  After 2-1/2 years at the ice rink I was recruited to go to work for an ice rink construction company where my passion and experience grew.  I did play hockey when I was young and have always loved the sport of hockey.

Q:  What do you find most challenging about the business you’re in?
Staying out of pricing wars with low-cost- providers can be challenging.  We focus on building our reputation as a quality and responsible company, we don’t want to be picked just because we were the lowest price, we have more to offer. When necessary, we work with our customers on value engineering ideas to provide the best products for their project and find ways to do everything within their budget.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
Ice Rink Construction is seasonal and planning for the busy season (July – November) can be challenging. Everyone wants to be skating at about the same time, so making sure that we can accommodate all customers is a challenge. In the construction business, projects do not always stay on schedule so juggling manufacturing and installation schedules at times becomes very difficult. Planning the proper inventory, the correct workforce and making sure we can make our promised delivery dates is always our #1 priority. Making sure that we communicate with all parties involved is essential.

Q:  If you could start over what would you do sooner ….
I would have adopted the EOS Operating system earlier instead of winging it for the first 20 years. The EOS focus is on Vison, People, Process, Data, Issues and Traction.  I would recommend it for any new or growing business.

Q:  Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling… how do you stay focused or refocus when necessary?
Again, the EOS system has helped to keep the whole company focused including myself.  Having an “Integrator” has allowed me to focus on things like product R & D, strategy and technical support for sales, which I find rewarding.

Q:  What would you do with $500.00
I would invest in company brand-building and communicating to our customers what differentiates us from our competitors.

Q:  Technology, apps software
I am really interested in the 3-D printing technology.  I think I could use a 3-D printer to develop some new products I am working on.

Q:  If you could start any business today what business would you open?
It would be something that would get me outdoors more. I really enjoy being outside year around. (Or, something I could do part-time as I look forward to retirement someday)

Q:  Wrap up, what advice do you have for new business owners just starting out.
Do what you love and love what you do so it is fun…. and surround yourself with people smarter than you.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us this morning, Jim. It’s been fun to hear about how Becker Arena Products has grown through the years and all the wisdom you’ve gathered along the way. We wish you continued success in all your business endeavors!

If you‘d like to learn more about Becker Arena Products you can visit them online at: www.beckerarena.com

Made in Minnesota – Laser 1 Technologies

Made in Minnesota – Laser 1 Technologies 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Don!

Don Walsh, Laser 1 Technology Headshot

Today’s featured Minnesota business owner is Don Walsh, owner of Laser 1 Technologies in West St. Paul, Minnesota.

Good morning, Don! We’re happy to have you here today.

It’s great to be here!

Don, can you take some time to tell us a little bit about how Laser 1 began?

Sure! I’ve always wanted to own my own business. Every place I worked I would make note of how processes and systems could operate more effectively. Previous to starting Laser 1 I was working with another company for 10 years. I worked my way up within the organization and reached the top of the ladder as the second-in-command. Then I realized that if I’m going to have all the responsibility anyways I would prefer to own my own company. I resigned, took some money I had saved up, bought basic equipment and started my business the next week. I was the most excited and terrified I had ever been with my wife and three kids at home depending on me. Today, Laser 1 Technologies is a successful manufacturing company that specializes in high-quality laser cutting and sheet metal fabrication.

Q. As you look back do you think you were destined to be in this business?
A. Probably. My father was a farmer so I learned the value of hard work and dedication early on.

Q. What do you find most challenging about the business you’re in?
A. Finding the right people who share our vision and values has always been the biggest challenge. Relationships are the most important element in business. Also, keeping up with technology is a big challenge. It’s ever-changing and it’s incredibly expensive to keep up with the latest and greatest. You have to be really smart about when and how you choose to advance your business technology.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. My drive and ambition to always do better is both my biggest obstacle and my biggest advantage. I’m always looking to do and accomplish more and sometimes I have to remember to stop and celebrate where we’re at today.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. I would go big faster! I think perception is reality and in this industry if you are perceived as large you tend to get more business from large companies. I think a lot of businesses could benefit from this approach. It’s the difference between having a corporate mentality vs. a garage/shop mentality.

Q. What is your primary focus these days?
A. I’m fortunate to be in a position today where I get to focus more on the big picture. I’m constantly looking for ways to be more innovative and find stellar people who not only believe in our mission but also want to play an active role in helping us live it out.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money and why?
A. I would split up the money amongst all of our employees. I believe that investing in your people is one of the smartest decisions a business owner can make. If you invest in and support them they will do the same for you.

Q. What are three words you would use to describe your organization?
A. Passionate. Precise. Organized.

Q. If you could start any business today what would you open?
A. This might sound cliché but I would do this all over again. I would create my own manufacturing business.

Q. To wrap up, what is the best advice you would give a business owner who is just starting out?
A. Make sure your business can stand alone without you!

Thanks for joining us today, Don! We appreciate the behind-the-scenes peek into the history and company culture at Laser 1 Technologies. We wish you the best as you continue to move forward!

If you’d like to learn more about Laser 1 Technologies you can visit them online at: www.laser1tech.com

Made in Minnesota – ChopRoom

Made in Minnesota – ChopRoom 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Winnie!

Today’s featured Minnesota business owner is Winnie, co-founder of ChopRoom, located on Hennepin Ave South in Uptown.

Q. We would love to hear a little bit about how ChopRoom got started!
A.
Sure! I grew up in the food industry. My dad had a successful business in the industry and I learned a tremendous amount from him. I went on to spend 10 years as an event producer and 10 years in the Air Force. My business partner, Jay Schultz, has been in corporate for over 15 years. At one point, he was attending a leadership conference for his company, and they were given access to the kitchen of a restaurant. Their challenge was to make anything – work with their teams and create a dish with any ingredients in that kitchen. The event was a huge success and everyone loved it. Between our love of cooking and the growing need for team building activities, we knew we could make a go at this. We have been in business since April of 2017. We had our soft opening in July and our grand opening in August.

Q. So when a group comes to ChopRoom what can they expect?
A. Round 1 is the appetizer round. Round 2 is the entrée round. At the start of each round each team is given a basket with three mystery ingredients and access to a pantry full of fresh food. The teams have 30 minutes to create an appetizer that is judged on presentation, complexity, flavor and creativity. Then they get a new basket of mystery ingredients and another 30 minutes to create an entrée judged on the same criteria. An event at ChopRoom typically takes 2-3 hours from start to finish. Our clients range from corporate employees to birthday parties to guys/girls night out groups.

Q. As you reflect, do you think you were destined to start ChopRoom?
A. Absolutely. It combines the team building experience I gained in the Air Force and corporate world, my childhood cooking industry exposure and my event planning experience.

Q. What do you find most challenging about the business you’re in?
A. Doing things on a non-existent budget! But I do feel like I’m exactly where I need to be.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. Boy, I have to wear a lot of hats at the same time –sales, human resources, accounting…But it is through this process I’ve really learned the importance of asking for help. My dad often helps me out and I know I can lean on him when I need advice. He really seems to enjoy being involved with ChopRoom.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. I would be more proactive with my marketing efforts. The way it is, we didn’t really start marketing until the soft opening in July. I would go back in time and get the word out earlier – that way there is a crescendo of awareness, excitement and anticipation leading up to the grand opening.

Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling. How do you stay focused or re-focus when necessary?
A. I rely on my business partner, family, and a close circle of friends to keep me focused. They’re good at helping me separate what’s truly important from the small stuff that’s easy to get too wrapped up in.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money?
A. I would absolutely spend it on marketing. I would call a marketing expert and ask them what to do with the money to make the biggest impact.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we do business. What’s your favorite app or software tool that you use at ChopRoom?
A. Honestly I’m kind of a grandma when it comes to technology! I like Yelp for Business and all my mobile apps.

Q. Here’s a fun question for you…if you could start any business today what business would you open?
A. Can I say that I would open ChopRoom all over again?! It’s so fun, new and fresh and it’s so rewarding to watch my clients have fun!

Q. What’s the best advice you would give a new business owner?
A. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, whatever it is. Surround yourself with people who believe in YOU even if they don’t necessarily believe in your business venture.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Winnie, and for a behind-the-scenes peek into all the good stuff you’re cooking up at ChopRoom!

If you‘d like to learn more about ChopRoom you can visit them online at www.ChopRoom.com.

Made in Minnesota: U + B Architecture & Design

Made in Minnesota: U + B Architecture & Design 900 600 Amy Judge

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Mark and Paul!

Today’s featured Minnesota business owners are Paul Udris and Mark Burgess, founders and partners at U+B Architecture and Design.

Q. Good morning, Mark and Paul! Thanks for joining us on our blog today! We would love to learn a little bit about you guys and about the origin of U + B Architecture & Design. What can you tell us?
A. It’s our pleasure to be here! We started our firm in 2003 out of Paul’s basement actually! Initially we focused more on residential projects but now we work on diverse project types from small residential projects to restaurants and public buildings. Before we began U + B we were friends and we were working together but going into business together really felt like a leap of faith. There has to be a profound level of trust between business partners, just like between spouses. As business partners, we love to collaborate and play devil’s advocate when troubleshooting ideas. Hand picking the projects we tackle is a huge benefit within our partnership. We get to be captains of our own destiny in that sense.

Q. So what kinds of projects are your favorites?
A. Working with entrepreneurial clients is hands-down our favorite. They appreciate the personal service we provide and the day to day involvement with both owners. We love having a collaborative relationship with our clients and most of them end up as repeat customers. We believe in advocating for our clients. Deciding if you want to build and if so, where, are important questions we help walk clients through. We pay close attention to their needs and creatively solve their problems in a way that’s really beautiful. If their project ends with a beautiful simplicity we know we’ve done a good job.

Q. Did you always want to be an architect, Mark?
A. As a kid I was really into making art and building things so in a way I believe I did.

Q. What are some challenges you encounter within your business?
A. We need to have a wide breadth and great depth of knowledge within our field. The cool part is we learn something new every day. Managing the workflow can also be challenging. If we run up against a project that we don’t feel confident tackling we don’t go after it.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. The biggest obstacle was surviving two recessions. In the construction industry we are essentially the ‘marines’ of the economy. We’ve learned that making our clients a priority is essential. We’ve also learned the importance of diversification within the work we do.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. Right now we are transitioning from a small firm to a medium-sized firm. This involves putting a lot of software and systems into place. I would love to go back in time and institute these systems earlier on.

Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling. How do you stay focused or get refocused?
A. We both have really supportive wives. If things are getting hectic at work they help us to re-focus. We also try to delegate what we can within our company. After all, there is a limit to how much multi-tasking any one person can do and do well. We have a great group of people within our company. People we can trust and count on. Delegating helps to unburden the mind. One thing we both strive to do is leave work at work. Home is family and personal time.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money and why?
A. I would give the money to Justin, our business development manager, and ask him to take some important people out to lunch.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are your favorite apps or software tools that you use within your business?
A. Definitely Outlook and our drafting programs.

Q. Something fun…If you could open any business today what business would you open?
A. I would lead backpacking trips in the mountains and the desserts. I love Southern Utah, Death Valley and the Canadian Rockies. I love being in the moment and staying active helps keep me balanced.

Q. What is your best advice for someone just starting up their business?
A. Find a good business partner!

Thanks for your time, Mark! Best wishes to you and Paul for continued success in all your design endeavors at U + B Architecture & Design!

If you’d like to learn more about U + B Architecture & Design you can visit them online at: https://www.uplusb.com

Made In Minnesota – Bent Brewstillery

Made In Minnesota – Bent Brewstillery 900 600 Kari Switala

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Bartley!

Today’s featured Minnesota business owner is Bartley Blume, owner of Bent Brewstillery. Bent Brewstillery is a brewstillery headquartered in Roseville, MN that specializes in you guessed it! brews and booze.

Q. Hey Bartely! Thanks for being here today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how Bent Brewstillery came to be?
A. Sure! In 2007 my wife, Brenda, gifted me a Mr. Beer kit and what started as a hobby quickly attracted a cult following among family and friends. After a long stint in the aerospace industry, working both for a St. Paul-based aerospace engineering firm and previous to that, NASA, I went to work one day in 2012, turned on my computer, sighed and then walked across the hall and quit my job. I wanted to shed the shackles of corporate bondage. I went home early that day and told Brenda I had quit my job. She didn’t talk to me for a few weeks. After terminating my corporate career I shifted my focus and energy into developing a craft brew start up. In 2013, what became Bent Brewstillery merged with Twin Cities-based Pour Decisions Brewing Company, taking Bent to the next level and paving the way for the significant operation we run today. We have 8 full-time and 6 part-time employees . We are, in fact, the ONLY brewstillery in Minnesota.

Q. What do you love about what you do?
A. I love the creative aspect of my craft and being a part of a high-tech industry that is rich in tradition. Brewing and distilling combine science, process control, experimentation and creativity. I also love working hard and meeting so many great people.

Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. The biggest challenge would definitely be working with the ebb and flow rhythm of supplier reliability. Our business has a lot of moving parts and an interruption in one part of the process can break down the entire process from production to packaging. I’ve learned to order what we need well in advance to allow for supplier delay.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. I would start Bent Brewstillery three years earlier. I wrote the business plan in 2008 and in 2009 the 6th brewery opened in Minnesota. I was logistically ready but wasn’t quite mentally ready to pull the trigger.

Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling. How do you manage to stay focused or re-focus when necessary?
A. I don’t know that I do. I just keep juggling. I’m very organized and have an incredibly detailed to-do list. My current list is 600 items long which can be pretty overwhelming. I start each day with a couple small to-dos to create momentum before tackling the bigger items.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend it and why?
A. I’d spend it on marketing. I’d put it into brand image and social media. Marketing is how you win in the beer and liquor industry. If you take a more grassroots approach it takes longer to get the traction that bigger producers get.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are a couple of your favorite apps or software tools you use within your business?
A. Besides the social media apps I utilize My Notes on a daily basis. I also love Zoho for invoicing.

Q. If you could start any business today what business would you open?
A. I’d open a doggie daycare.

Thanks for your time, Bartley! Best wishes for continued success in all your brewing and distilling endeavors at Bent Brewstillery!

If you’d like to learn more about Bent Brewstillery you can visit them online at: www.bentbrewstillery.com

And if you’d like to be featured in an upcoming Made in Minnesota blog, or you know of a cool business that would be a great addition to the series, contact us and tell us why this business would make a great Made in Minnesota feature!

Made in Minnesota – Signature Woods

Made in Minnesota – Signature Woods 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Photo courtesy of Signature Woods

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Brad!

Brad and his wife, Lauren – owners of Signature Woods – are in the business of creating chic, exceptional-quality, reclaimed lumber products. They are located a half an hour south of the Twin Cities off I-35.

Photo courtesy of Signature Woods

Q. Hey Brad! Can you tell us a little bit about how Signature Woods got started?
A. Sure! I was in college for mechanical engineering and feeling unfulfilled in my major. I had the opportunity to salvage old barn wood for some projects I wanted to tackle and after taking down a whole barn I ended up with a surplus. I posted the surplus wood on Craigslist and couldn’t believe the response! One barn led to another and soon my girlfriend Lauren was on the rooftops, crowbar in hand, helping me salvage barn wood one piece at a time. After college Lauren and I married and started Signature Woods – our full-time business. Between Lauren’s eye for design and my business acumen we make a great team! At Signature Woods, we sell wall paneling and design and sell custom mantles and interior barn doors all from elegant, reclaimed wood.

Q. What do you love about the work you do?
A. I love processes. Even more than upcycling old wood I love the process of taking an idea and scaling and growing it into a revenue generator.

Q. Tell us about obstacles you’ve encountered as you’ve been growing your business.
A. Of course there are business obstacles but those I tackle in stride. The greater challenge for me is fighting the mental battle and processing the big questions, ‘Am I on the right track? Is there something I should be doing differently?…’

Q. How do you stay focused and address those hard questions?
A. I start each day with a strict morning routine. That’s crucial. I also have a goal board with pictures and revenue goals on the wall above my computer. Reflecting on my goals helps me keep perspective and stay focused.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on growing your business where would you spend your money?
A. I would consider spending that money on Facebook and Google ads – investing in my online business presence. Both are fantastic tools for generating traffic and increasing brand exposure.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are some of your favorite apps or software tools?
A. One app I love is WooCommerce. In my opinion, it’s the best app for scaling an online retail business. Another great app is ShipStation. Learning the app is daunting at first but it’s tremendously helpful when it comes to shipping out our products to our customers! It really helps facilitate the shipment of packages of various sizes, shapes and weight.

Q. If you could start any business today what would you open?
A. I would love to start a financial education business. I see myself as an entrepreneur and investor and I’m passionate about educating kids and adults on how our financial choices today affect our lives tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of Signature Woods

Thanks for your time, Brad! We wish you continued success in your business endeavors at Signature Woods!

If you’d like to learn more about Signature Woods you can visit them online at www.signaturewoods.co

Made in Minnesota – Envision

Made in Minnesota – Envision 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Liz!

Our first Minnesota business owner that we’re going to introduce you to is Liz Zurek Beaudry, owner of Envision. Envision is a Minneapolis-based marketing company that specializes in brand strategy, digital marketing and culture.

 

Q. Hey Liz! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A. Hi there! I’m Liz. I’m a wife to a commercial airline pilot and a mom of two boys. My husband and I knew we wanted to raise a family and both had health issues which led us to the adoption of our boys, now ages 7 & 9, from South Korea. The first couple years as a mom weren’t without their challenges as I had to learn how to shift back-and-forth between my new role as a mom and that of a business owner. To de-stress and help me refocus I love to run and do yoga. I also love spending time on my parents’ hobby farm and connecting to the wilderness.

Q. When did you purchase Envision?
A. I purchased Envision in 2007 – just before the economy tanked.

Q. You recently acquired a software platform called MDNA Cloud. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A. MDNA helps companies identify their culture in order to help them build their brand and increase profit. It measures six dimensions of culture and five dimensions of employee engagement. Each employee learns how to integrate their purpose, passions and potential into the workplace. I have been using the software in my work since 2008 and purchased the software platform in March of this year. It’s a tremendous asset to each of our clients.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered in your business and how did you tackle it?
A. I purchased Envision at the peak of the economic boom for a premium. When the economy tanked I had to learn how to cut costs. I lost my entire team. I became hyper-focused in my efforts to save Envision and really learned how to structure and operate a team. During that time we didn’t lose a single client and have been profitable every year!

Q. What do you love about running your business?
A. I love relationship-building and hearing stories from other people’s journeys. I also love when my clients are satisfied with the work we do. It’s always rewarding to hear that we “nailed” the project.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. I wouldn’t go into debt to make it happen. I don’t like the burden of debt. It feels like a chain around my neck.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are some of your favorite apps or software tools you utilize within your business?
A. First of all let me start of by saying that I’m not techy so I’m always seeking out apps to help make this part of running a business easier. One of my favorite apps is Hubdoc. It syncs my receipts, pulls bills and statements into one place and requires no data entry. I’m also thankful for YNAB – fantastic budgeting software for both business and personal finances and MileIQ for tracking mileage.

Q. If you had only $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money?
A. I would direct that money towards generating referral and repeat business. I would consider holding an event for current customers to promote customer retention.

Q. Alright, our last question is outside of the box. If you could start any business today what business would you open?
A. I would love to open an interior design business that specializes in SOHO spaces. Space has a tremendous impact on productivity. Another business that I think would be fun to start is a dog walking business. Dogs are always happy to go on a walk and you can give them back at the end of the day!