The MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce presented four awards at its 20th annual Excellence in Business Awards ceremony Feb. 6 at the Majestic Oaks Golf Club in Ham Lake.
Impact Services, Designed 4 Freedom, Edward Jones – Circle Pines and Warners’ Stellian accepted awards this year.
Award categories have shifted from previous years. Since 2009, the categories have reflected product- and service-based companies. Today, many companies are both, according to Chamber President Lori Higgins.
“It was kind of like comparing apples to oranges,” she said, offering the auto industry as an example. When people take their cars into the shop, they have their brakes fixed and buy new tires. The mechanics who fix their brakes perform a service, but new tires are a product, an investment, Higgins said.
So, the Chamber developed new categories honoring businesses of various sizes.
Businesses that employ one or two workers are eligible for the micro business award. If a business has between three and 20 employees on payroll, it is considered a small business by the Chamber and can win an award in that category. A business with 21 or more employees falls into the general business category, and for the first time, nonprofits received special recognition with their own award category.
The Chamber accepts nominations for the Excellence in Business Awards; businesses can self-nominate.
Judges assess applicants on business performance, innovation, community involvement and job creation, according to Higgins.
This year, Char Grandell of FASTSIGNS, Dean Hancy of PC Bits and Renee Sande of Anoka County Commute Solutions served as judges.
The first not for profit award winner was Impact Services, formerly Anoka-Champlin Meals on Wheels.
Impact Services is headquartered in Coon Rapids.
At its founding in 1973, Anoka-Champlin Meals on Wheels delivered 12 meals to homebound individuals each day. Today, Impact Services coordinates the delivery of more than 100 meals throughout Anoka County each and every day, according to Steve Griffiths, executive director.
In 2013, Impact Services launched a campaign, “Senior Care is a Family Affair,” to be proactive, encouraging families to start thinking about the aging process early, together.
“We are absolutely blessed to have a community of businesses that support us in such a great way,” Griffiths said, speaking on behalf of all MetroNorth nonprofit businesses.
Designed 4 Freedom
Tracy David Peterson, owner of Designed 4 Freedom in Shoreview, accepted the micro business award.
Designed 4 Freedom provides professional success coaching in one-on-one sessions, corporate training sessions, workshops and more. Designed 4 Freedom has several audio training CDs on the market, too.
Peterson started the business six years ago, and it has grown tremendously in that time. In 2013 alone, the business collected 1,400 success testimonies from new customers, she said.
“Our success in our business means others in the community are experiencing success,” Peterson said.
Edward Jones – Circle Pines
The small business award went to Edward Jones – Circle Pines. Financial Advisor Teresa Elmstrand accepted the award.
Edward Jones is a large investment firm with more than 10,000 offices across the United States.
The Circle Pines office continues to grow, doubling its number of employer retirement plans in 2013, according to the Chamber.
“We’re trying to teach people that finances can be fun,” Elmstrand said, explaining the premise of a recent event, “Food and Finance,” a cooking class that incorporated financial tips and tricks.
Jeff Warner accepted the general business award on behalf of Warners’ Stellian, the appliance store chain.
Established in 1971, Warners’ Stellian is in its third-generation as a family business. The Warner family runs eight stores in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and Rochester.
The company is based in St. Paul.
2013 brought a focus on sustainability for the company, Jeff Warner, Jr. explained in a video presented during the awards.
Warners’ Stellian purchased a machine that super compresses packaging materials, which are then shipped out to become packaging materials again.
“We want to be a leader,” Jeff Warner, Jr. said.
Stewart Mills, vice president of Mills Fleet Farm, delivered the keynote address Feb. 6.
Mills outlined the business’ progression and his career’s trajectory before confronting Main Street businesses’ challenges in the coming years.
One of those challenges is the Affordable Care Act, Mills said.
The Affordable Care Act reduces supply, increases demand and does nothing to affect the delivery of health care, according to Mills, so it makes no economic sense and will hurt family businesses as they will incur higher fees and taxes because of it, he said.
The U.S. tax policy in general is “prohibitive,” he said.
“Wall Street having a great year doesn’t mean that Main Street is doing well,” Mills said, adding that to be successful, the U.S. will need to focus on reviving Main Street, working from the bottom up, rather than vice versa.
Olivia Koester is at