MetroNorth Chamber recognizes excellence in business

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.

The MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce recognized four businesses for their successes and contributions to the chamber before members heard secrets of success from the chief executive officer of Anytime Fitness.

(Center) Chuck Runyon, co-founder and chief executive officer of Anytime Fitness, poses for a photo with representatives of award recipients. Photos by Eric Hagen
(Center) Chuck Runyon, co-founder and chief executive officer of Anytime Fitness, poses for a photo with representatives of award recipients. Photos by Eric Hagen

The annual awards Excellence in Business Awards ceremony was held March 15 at the Tournament Players Club of the Twin Cities in Blaine.

The Blaine Festival Committee, which organizes the annual Blaine Festival in late June at Aquatore Park in Blaine, is a non-profit organization comprised of volunteers. The chamber gave this committee an award under its non-profits category.

The Blaine Festival has continued to grow over the last several years as new events were added and Blaine’s population continued to grow. It draws a lot of visitors to the community as well. The committee said about 30,000 people attend each year.

Volunteer Kat Smithe said the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce helped recruit more sponsors so this event could keep growing. In 2014, there were approximately 20 community sponsors. Two years later, this number climbed to almost 100.

Anytime Fitness’ Ham Lake location was recognized in the micro business category. This was the seventh Anytime Fitness location, opening in December 2003. The company was founded by Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen in 2002.

Brenda Jewell, owner of the Ham Lake location, has been a chamber ambassador for the past six years and is a regular attendee at the chamber’s Sunrise and Working with Women programs. Her club has also contributed to numerous local philanthropic efforts.

In the small business awards category, the MetroNorth Chamber recognized Box Financial. Chris Hasling, who manages the company’s Blaine office, was instrumental in starting the Blaine Business Council, which has grown ever since it started in 2014. Hasling is also active with the chamber’s golf tournament and legislative initiatives. Hasling is also an active member and past president of the Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary Club.

Grand Casino, which has locations in Mille Lacs and Hinkley, was bestowed the chamber’s large business award. Lori Higgins, president of the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce, shared how one of the highlights for chamber members in 2016 was a National Leadership Development Conference hosted by Grand Casino. Another conference is slated for June 20-21.

Four p’s of success

Anytime Fitness will celebrate its 15th birthday in May. Mark Zuckerberg had yet to introduce “the Facebook” to college campuses and Steve Jobs was still five years away from introducing Apple’s first iPhone.

“Back in 2002 we had to build it. We had to develop the code and software to enable this business model to thrive to give consumers 24-7 access to any club in the system,” said Runyon.

He told MetroNorth Chamber members that he has four keywords for success, which all start with the letter ‘p’. They are people, purpose, profits and play.

Businesses obviously need to make a profit to exist, but Runyon stressed that the best leaders truly care about the people who work for them and do not just see them as numbers on the payroll.

This attitude typically improves employee performance, which obviously benefits the employer as well.

Anytime Fitness goes to extremes to make employees happy. Their annual conferences have included tug of war battles. They have funded employee guitar lessons and have a tattoo parlor at their headquarters. They give their employees a vacation day every year for them to volunteer with a community organization of their choosing.

“We want to help the whole self, not just the person who comes to work from 9 to 5,” Runyon said.

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Lori Higgins, president of the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce. Brenda Jewell is owner of the Anytime Fitness in Ham Lake that received a micro business award at the March 15 MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards ceremony. Chuck Runyon, co-founder and chief executive officer of Anytime Fitness, was the featured speaker at the March 15 MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards ceremony held at the TPC Golf Course in Blaine. Bob Schlichte, vice president of strategic relationships at Grand Casino Mille Lacs-Hinkley, spoke on behalf of his company, which received the large business award from the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce.
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Chuck Runyon, co-founder and chief executive officer of Anytime Fitness, was the featured speaker at the March 15 MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards ceremony held at the TPC Golf Course in Blaine.