Category: Success Stories
COVID-19 brought many challenges to people and businesses alike during the past few months. While some stores have been forced to permanently close their doors, many are able to survive, and even thrive, in the face of this adversity. A&W Furniture is one store that remains stronger than ever.
A&W Furniture and Laney Lu’s Boutique
A&W Furniture of Redwood Falls is a family owned and operated 2nd generation store that is continually evolving to meet the ever changing furniture needs of the community. The store was opened over 30 years ago by husband and wife team, Bob Wetmore and Mary Ahrens-Wetmore. It is now owned and operated by their daughter Emily Davis and son-in-law Mike.
A&W Furniture started as a one room showroom and grew into a 100,000 square foot retail space that serves the five state area with a variety of furniture options, professional design consultations and a newly added women’s fashion boutique, Laney Lu’s Boutique.
Despite recent COVID-19 challenges, business is strong. Owner Emily Davis and her team were able to carefully execute changes to better serve the community during the pandemic.
Initially the store was mandated to close in March along with many other retailers, but Davis quickly found other ways to serve her customers.
“A&W Furniture recently invested time and dollars into both the furniture store’s website and the boutique’s website making online transactions more feasible,” she says.
The store was able to carry on with business online until they were permitted to resume face-to-face operations. In addition to performing online sales, A&W Furniture and Laney Lu’s Boutique were able to open for customers by appointment.
“Because A&W Furniture is 100,000 square feet, social distancing was possible from the start and a small staff operated by appointment only until the go ahead was given to resume a more normal form of business operations,” explains Davis.
Community Support During COVID-19
In the midst of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, Redwood Area Development Corporation has provided assistance to member businesses such as A&W Furniture in the form of supplying them with information on COVID related issues and on any type of loans or grants that could benefit the store while normal business was prohibited.
The entire community has joined together to support one another during the COVID-19 hardships.
“Our community, customers and fellow business owners have done their best to provide support and share via social media any promotions that would generate revenue for one another,” says Davis.
Thanks to the tremendous local support, A&W Furniture and Laney Lu’s Boutique have been able to invest in the store’s operations despite the diminished retail presence during the pandemic.
“We continue to market to draw people from the neighboring communities to discover what our store and Redwood Falls is all about,” says Davis. “We believe that we need to spend money in order to earn money, and we have done this by enhancing our storefront, by marketing within a 90 mile radius and by continuing to push ahead despite challenging economic times,” she continues.
Until all operations return to normal for businesses in the area, A&W Furniture plans to continue perfecting the online store.
COVID-19 has brought uncertainty to all business owners, and retail sales have become increasingly difficult for most businesses, especially in small towns. A&W Furniture, Laney Lu’s Boutique and other businesses in the community are working hard to keep their doors open.
“Our motto has always been, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ We continue to operate with that mentality,” says Davis.
Davis considers it a privilege and an honor when she hears that someone has driven from miles away just to visit her store. Supporting local businesses is vital, especially during challenging times, and it does not go unnoticed.
Category: Success Stories
Redwood County is proud to be home to Johanneck Water Conditioning, more commonly referred to as EcoWater Systems of Redwood Falls, part of the oldest water conditioning company in the world!
EcoWater Systems originated in 1925, when Lynn Lindsay obtained the first patent for automatic water conditioners and began what was then called the Lindsay Company. The company has grown exponentially since then.
As the largest manufacturer of residential water conditioning equipment in the world, they produce superior water treatment equipment in addition to providing top-tier service and support through a global network of dealers, one of which is Johanneck Water.
Jay Johanneck, General Manager, tells us more about what sets Johanneck Water apart.
“We are a second generation local business, and currently the only locally owned and operated water conditioning business in the area. Our owners and staff all live here and contribute to the vibrant Redwood Falls area,” says Johanneck.
“EcoWater Systems of Redwood Falls began as a part of Quesenberry Appliance, and was purchased by Mike Johanneck in 1984 at which point it became Mike’s Softener Service,” Johanneck explains.
Mike had been working as a service technician for Quesenberry Appliance, when they asked him if he’d like to take over the water conditioning portion of their business. Mike’s sons, Scott and Jay, helped out when they could throughout high school and early adulthood and returned permanently by 2007.
“Looking for opportunities to expand, we opened a new office in Willmar in 2007, and acquired the dealership in New Ulm in 2010, expanding into Mankato in 2019,” he continues.
When asked about roadblocks presented by the pandemic that has shut many businesses down permanently, Johanneck responded positively.
“We have been very fortunate to be considered essential during this very difficult time. Everyone has had to adapt to new circumstances, and we’ve done our best to accommodate the needs of our customers and staff,” he says.
“The community in Redwood Falls is fantastic. Their support and understanding has helped us come through this time and kept us as strong as we ever were,” Johanneck continues.
EcoWater Systems continues to steadfastly serve customers in a time when many are in need of a clean and reliable water source. Johanneck Water Conditioning appreciates the continued support of customers and loves their home in Redwood Falls.
“We appreciate all the trust you put in our personnel and products and we will do the best we can every day to provide you with a superior service,” Johanneck says.
For more information about residential or commercial water conditioning services from the world-renowned EcoWater Systems, click here.
The Redwood Area is home to a variety of essential businesses that work tirelessly for our people. To read more success stories about businesses prospering in Redwood County, click here.
Category: Success Stories
The Redwood area is home to many exciting entertainment and recreational opportunities, including endless gaming action at the Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel in Morton, only seven miles east of Redwood Falls. Casino play, live entertainment, a renowned golf experience and abundant dining options are only a few of the excellent amenities awaiting guests at this lively Minnesota establishment.
Space to Play
Jackpot Junction is Minnesota’s first and friendliest casino with 440,000 square feet and two floors of gaming and gambling space! The casino offers 1,250 of the latest video slot machines, with a variety of themes ranging in denomination from one cent to twenty five dollars. The casino has new machines arriving frequently. All of Jackpot’s machines are outfitted with the newest technology and state of the art features. Table games are also available with Blackjack, 3-Card Poker, 21+3, Free Bet Blackjack and Ultimate Texas Hold’em as options to choose from. Visitors also enjoy Bingo games and pull tabs.
The Lower Sioux Lodge, adjacent to the casino is a AAA, three diamond rated hotel with 379 luxury rooms. The Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel offers a variety of delectable food options including:
- Dacotah Dining, a full service restaurant
- Full Deck Grill
- Wabasha Creek Restaurant at the Dacotah Ridge Golf Course
Full beverage service is also available throughout the Casino, including full service bars with all your favorite drinks. The nightclub offers a variety of music as well as country bands every weekend.
The Jackpot Junction is managed by the Lower Sioux Indian Tribe and is operated by 859 employees. It’s a large employer in the area. High quality management provides first rate service to casino guests. Some of the key management figures include:
- General Manager – Brian Pendleton
- Finance Director – Jim Koerner
- Director of Sales and Marketing – Markeela Toreen
- Director of Human Resources – Anne O’Keefe-Jackson
- Director of Security – Brian Lehnhoff
- Director of Food and Beverage – Michael Bernaek
These leaders keep Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel running strongly and smoothly.
While Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel is still encouraging fun, the establishment has put into place some safety precautions to keep guests healthy. Table games now feature dividers as well as front facing staff dividers. The buffet, pool and bingo hall remain closed for the time being. Jackpot utilized the PPE program to further prepare for employee and visitor safety during the pandemic.
The community has shown support to Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel during the uncertain times of the pandemic. Jackpot gives back by housing the Cansayapi Food Pantry in the Dacotah Exposition Center. This food pantry was started shortly after the pandemic took full force in April of 2020, and it is a vital source of nourishment for many.
Other Exciting Opportunities at Jackpot
Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel is also home to a 18-hole championship golf course designed by world renowned golf architect Rees Jones. Dacotah Ridge Golf Club is owned and operated by the Lower Sioux Community. The course is located on 240 acres located 4 miles east of the casino on the West Side of County Highway 2. It features beautiful landscaping, natural wetlands, Wabasha Creek and a 14-acre lake.
Stay & Play Packages will be available during the golf season. Check for promotions and event schedules on the Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel website before your next staycation! To learn more about the unique Redwood area businesses that make our community great, visit our RADC Success Stories
Category: Success Stories
The Lower Sioux Indian Community has seen stellar improvements in tribal health in recent years with the addition of a health care center that offers a large scope of medical services. The Lower Sioux, part of the Mdewakanton Band of Dakota, is a federally-recognized tribe located in Redwood County. In seeking to maintain whole health, safety, and happiness for the community while also staying true to traditional values of the Dakota, the idea for the Lower Sioux Health Care Center was born. The center serves the tribe’s population of nearly 1,000 people.
A Simple Idea Becomes All-Inclusive Care
Darin Prescott, Clinic CEO, explains how the idea became a reality.
“Though it was discussed over the past 20 years by different tribal councils, the idea did not come to fruition until 2013 when a grant was finally written,” he says. “We decided to pursue a large health center, not just a medical clinic.”
What was originally discussed as a simple medical clinic became a thriving, one-stop comprehensive health center that served its first medical patient in 2016. The departments the health care center offers include Medical, Pharmacy, Optical, Dental, Behavioral, Community Health, Nutrition and Social Services. Out of 11 tribes in Minnesota, the Lower Sioux Indian Community is the 10th tribe able to offer extensive medical services.
Improvements in Cultural Competency and Tribal Health Take Place
“The Lower Sioux Health Care Center answers the vital need for improved cultural competency,” Prescott explains.
Through the health care center, more medical data concerning the most prominent health needs of the tribe and community is gained. With this new data, more accessible treatments are made available to improve the overall health and wellness of the area. The Community Health Department, also located in the building, is devoted to the public health side of things, focusing on the prevention of chronic disease and how to counter current prominent illnesses.
“Community Health Surveys are at an all time high of an 80 percent response rate from community members,” adds Stacy Hammer, Director of Community Health.
Because all of the healthcare providers are located in one building, real-time conversations concerning diabetes management and other significant medical problems take place more often, keeping these topics and the development of solutions to them a priority. There are more opportunities than ever before to talk to patients about their state of health and find ways to improve it. Trust in medical providers has grown, and patients are able to visit a provider quickly without waiting months for treatment.
In addition to the expansive services located inside the building, an indigenous garden has been put into place outside. Elders will be able to walk the paths and harvest the plants, and members of the community can be educated on some of the original plants used as medicine. One of the main goals of the health care center is to join the national effort and decrease opioid dependence by training the community in Mind Body Medicine. Learning the traditions of the Dakota is one step toward achieving this goal.
“Signs of a decrease in prescribed medication and individual tapering of doses has already been seen,” reports Prescott.
The health care center even sponsors four different walk/runs at the Powwow grounds every year to encourage community movement and hosts events promoting healthy foods.
More Local Jobs Become a Reality
Not only has the health care center been an important solution to the medical needs of the people, it also fills an employment void. 50 percent of the Lower Sioux Health Care Center employees are tribal members, from entry level up to professional.
“Now many of the tribe’s youth are able to go off to college, knowing they can return and find jobs in the healthcare field right here in the community,” adds Hammer proudly.
To learn more about The Lower Sioux Health Care Center and what they are doing for our community, visit http://lowersiouxhhs.org/. The health care center is located on the northeast corner of County Hwy 2 and 24, just east of Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel.
Category: Success Stories
The Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority (MVRRA) faithfully serves the businesses of Redwood County. 2020 was a tough year for many businesses, but MVRRA stayed busy, completing projects and shipping goods and commodities. MVRRA Administrator, Julie Rath, shares what the team at MVRRA has been up to and what their plans for 2021 will look like.
“The TC&W, in the form of its Minnesota Prairie Line, Inc. subsidiary (MPLI), operates and maintains the rail line that MVRRA owns,” says Rath.
The tracks were originally built in 1880 and were acquired by the MVRRA in 1982. The Minnesota Prairie Line runs 94 miles and serves 16 communities. MVRRA is headquartered here in Redwood Falls.
MVRRA Wraps up 2020 Projects
“At the end of 2020, I am proud to say that Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority wrapped up some of our larger projects we had been working to complete from 2019 and our $1M bonding project,” Rath says.
“During 2020, MVRRA had a record year for carloads shipped on its line – just over 7,000! Each carload is equivalent to 3 semi-trucks NOT going down the highway! We moved and received goods and commodities for our shippers to their end customers all over the US. That is the beauty of being a short line railroad,” she says.
MVRRA has also experienced an increase in railroad car traffic in Redwood Falls as a result of Midwest Protein expanding here a few years ago. Midwest Protein is experiencing success being in such an excellent area to serve organic grain producers. Soon they will be expanding their existing site with additional bins for storage and shipping on the MVRRA line.
The line will also be expanding in nearby communities, with another major expansion this spring at Echo, Minnesota.
“Farmers Cooperative Elevator intends to remove and replace the majority of their facility in Echo. A new steel facility is being constructed and will consist of covered unload pits, loadout bins, bulk weighing system for rail loadout, steel building and office, all necessary fill and empty equipment, and a new 700,000 bushel steel bin will be erected in its place. In addition to the new rail loadout bulk weighing system, track rehabilitation and reconstruction will take place to facilitate rail loadout. Approximately 400 feet of track (including a switch) adjacent to the new facility will be rehabilitated,” reports Rath.
Rail cars have not been loaded from this facility since 2009, and they will begin shipping on our track this fall.
Rath also reports that Redwood Falls Railroad Depot in the Sears Park saw major renovations over the summer of 2020.
“Thank you to the City of Redwood Falls Park Department for taking the initiative to give this small structure an overdue makeover! It looks much better, and it is mentioned on the Sears website under history that their company started here in North Redwood with Mr. Richard Sears selling the excess pocket watches while he worked at the Depot here!” Rath says.
MVRRA Looks Ahead For 2021
Rath gave several more exciting updates.
“During the past 5 years some out of service rail cars on the MPLI and TCW line have been in storage, but on February 5, 2021, the first 66 of 170 cars went back into service. Train traffic will increase as the cars move east to connections in the Cities,” she reports.
In July of 2021, COVID-permitting, the North American Rail Car Operators will be riding our track with their rail speeder cars.
“They travel all over the USA with their cars and still like to ride our track and visit our area and community!” Rath says.
Two more projects are planned for the MVRRA track.
“This summer, the Region 8 DOT has partnered with us to complete east of Morton a silt mitigation project to deal with the excess runoff water that comes down from the bluff. This project will help control the water flow and the amount of silt on the Highway and tracks,” says Rath.
“On October 15, 2020, we were awarded $10M in the State bonding bill for continued rail rehabilitation and restoration of our track from Gibbon west to Delhi, Minnesota,” she continues.
The MVRRA also has plans to use funds through the Federal Railroad Administration and/or Federal EDA for continued infrastructure improvements. The next phase of track replacement planned is from 1912! To date, MVRRA has completed 44 miles of track replacements, including the replacement of bridges with culverts as well as rail crossings and tie upgrades.
“We now safely move unit trains, 110 carloads at a time, with the 4 large North American railroads with connections in St. Paul,” Rath says.
The MVRRA is happy to report that the railroad has never been in better shape, and it will continue to faithfully serve farmers and industries for years to come.
“This is an incredibly unique transportation infrastructure that we are so fortunate to have located here in our region,” says Rath.
Redwood Area Development Corporation is proud to work with such an important landmark and pillar of infrastructure. For more success stories, click here.
Category: Success Stories
Redwood County’s Minnwest Bank is one of Minnesota's largest banks. Despite its widespread growth, it keeps its small-town spirit and willingness to listen to and support patrons. The family-owned bank has grown to 33 locations and more than $1.9 billion in assets. It is now considered the second largest Ag lender in Minnesota. Minnwest knows that the support of the local community is the reason it thrives, and it aims to give back.
Minnwest Bank Builds Relationships and Gives Back to the Community
Building relationships has always been a key component of Minnwest Bank’s business platform. They strive to build long term commitments to customers in order to better support the dreams and goals of the local farm and business community.
Sherri Schueller, Sr. Commercial Banker of Minnwest Bank and Treasurer of Redwood Area Development Corporation, spoke to us about the positive impact Minnwest Bank has had on the community.
“Minnwest Bank’s support of the community comes in a variety of forms, including volunteer work hours, philanthropic giving, corporate programs and educational events with a focus on the underserved and underprivileged, including contributing to child welfare and child education,” says Schueller.
She continues, “In 2018 alone, $313,077 was contributed in corporate giving, 738 volunteer hours were performed under our employee program and 150 organizations were served.”
Minnwest Bank Grew From a Desire to Help the Community Thrive
Minnwest Bank was established in 1987 by M. D. “Pete” McVay. It was founded during the Farm Crisis, a period of economic decline in Minnesota that bankrupted many farms from 1979-1987. As the McVay family recognized how important a community bank is for a region to thrive, they developed a better, more community-oriented bank. The family-owned business is still lead by a family member, Todd McVay, Chairman and CEO. The current Bank President is Doug Karsky who is based out of Redwood Falls.
In addition to making “giving back” to the community a priority, the Minnwest Bank, headquartered in our own Redwood Falls, employs 390 people. It is a vital employer for the region.
While Minnwest Bank is always looking for more ways to support the community monetarily and through volunteer programs, the company also strives to make loans more accessible.
“Minnwest Bank responds to community requests with flexibility, creativity, and a commitment to serve their needs, and by extension, to serve our communities,” Schueller remarks.
She continues, “The bank is a family-owned business operation that’s big enough to get large deals done and small enough to truly listen to and work with customers to help them achieve their individual goals.”
Minnwest Bank is one of the many businesses in Redwood County working to improve the community by building lasting relationships. To learn more about the bank, visit www.minnwestbank.com or find it in our business directory.
Category: Success Stories
All businesses have been forced to make changes due to COVID-19, but Redwood Area Development Corporation Member Business Parkview Senior Living is one of many senior homes that has taken an especially big hit. Administrator, Megan Zetah, shares with us the necessary changes that were made amidst the pandemic and how it has affected the residents and their family members.
Parkview Senior Living, located in Belview, MN, provides various levels of quality care to its patrons, including outpatient therapy, adult day services, independent and assisted living apartments, short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing services. The 30 bed skilled nursing facility and apartments are certified by Medicare and Medicaid.
Facilities like hospitals, doctor offices and senior homes have seen a whirlwind of change during the last few months. As vital resources, vast precautions in the facilities must now be taken to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and to protect the elderly and ill.
Parkview Senior Living Takes Precautions to Ensure Resident Health and Wellness
“Parkview Senior Living, as a campus, has had to make a lot of changes to preserve the health of its residents. Upon direction of the MN Department of Health, we’ve had to restrict visitors and cancel communal dining and group activities. Daily, all staff are screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 along with wearing the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Residents are also screened twice a day and asked to wear masks when outside their rooms and in their rooms while in close proximity with staff,” says Zetah.
Many residents of senior homes need these daily interactions to stay positive and healthy, which is why the staff has encouraged families to continue to visit with their loved ones virtually. Virtual interactions provide the necessary safety measures to ensure no residents are exposed to COVID-19, but they allow the warm family support residents crave.
“Throughout this entire process, we’ve encouraged families to utilize Skype and FaceTime to stay virtually connected to their loved one. We also encourage telephone calls, window visits and sending messages through the mail,” says Zetah.
“Since the MN Department of Health released the guidance for allowing outdoor visits, which still have some restrictions, we’ve had quite a few family members utilize the outdoor visits,” she continues.
The Parkview Senior Living Staff Maintains a Positive Atmosphere
The Parkview Senior Living staff is also working hard to maintain a positive atmosphere. The Activities Department is finding creative ways to keep residents engaged despite limited interaction. The Dietary and Nursing Departments have also had to make changes, but remain diligent in order to provide the best possible care to residents.
Resident safety takes priority. While there is no way to tell how long the spread of COVID-19 will threaten the United States, in order to take extra precautionary measures moving forward, PPE and social distancing will be part of the new normal at Parkview Senior Living for quite some time.
“I’d like to reassure the community that Parkview Senior Living is doing our very best to protect its residents and staff from COVID-19. I’d also like to publicly thank our staff for the amazing work they do and for their understanding while we navigate through these challenges. Also thank you to the families of our residents for their understanding as well. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ll get through it!” Zetah assures readers.
Parkview Senior Living is an important Member Business. The organization takes great care of our geriatric residents. For more information about how Parkview Senior Living is remaining positive and successfully navigating the COVID-19 challenges, visit www.parkviewseniorliving.org. To learn more about our other Member Businesses, click here.
Category: Success Stories
Pizza Ranch is a family-friendly buffet-style pizza and chicken restaurant that calls Redwood Falls home. As the general manager of a buffet-style restaurant, Doug Lawrenz has had to make significant adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawrenz has been running Pizza Ranch for 15 years and he has led the business through many challenges. In spite of these challenges, the restaurant is thriving.
As the pandemic spread across the country, restaurants of every category were required to make changes in order to stay in business. Pizza Ranch, too, had to rearrange some operations.
“COVID-19 has affected our business quite a bit! We were mainly a dine-in business before the pandemic, and our in-store services have slowed down significantly. We had to adapt by becoming more of a pick-up and delivery business,” says Lawrenz.
Throughout the years, Redwood Area Development Corporation (RADC) has provided Pizza Ranch with assistance. RADC has directed Lawrenz to available funding opportunities and the RADC Economic Development team connected Lawrenz to the Rural Development Center when he was interested in learning more about the CERTs lighting program.
The Clean Energy Resource Team (CERTs) connects Minnesota business owners to clean energy resources in order to make the lighting and refrigeration systems in their businesses more energy efficient.
“RADC has helped my business in many different ways, and we have also felt great support from our community,” says Lawrenz.
While the Redwood community has always been intentional about bolstering local businesses, it has come through for small businesses even more tenaciously during the pandemic.
“We’ve felt support not only from our guests that still come in and order to-go, but also from our fellow businesses in the area. It is great to see the community coming together during this challenging time,” continues Lawrenz.
Due to the significant local patronage, Pizza Ranch has been able to pull through the pandemic strongly. As operations slowly return back to normal for many businesses, Lawrenz plans to continue following COVID-19 safe practices to keep his customers healthy. Lawrenz has a positive outlook on the future and further success of Pizza Ranch.
“Our establishment has and always will provide a spectacular meal at a great price with a family-friendly atmosphere! We have something for everyone and are always doing our best to come up with new exciting menu items and deals,” he says.
“The Redwood Falls Pizza Ranch is always here to support our community. We have great gratitude for the support we receive in return and love to be a part of this community!” He finishes.
Pizza Ranch offers pizza, chicken, salads and dessert pizza plus a full menu for carryout and delivery. Find online deals on the Pizza Ranch Facebook Page and visit the restaurant in person at 1360 E. Bridge Street, Redwood Falls.
Read more success stories about Redwood area businesses and how they are thriving in spite of the pandemic here.
Category: Success Stories
The Redwood area is home to a wide variety of businesses, including several highly successful women-owned small businesses. The area’s sought-after interior design studio, Kenwood Design, is owned by Abby Gronli, a thriving entrepreneur with a passion for making a house into a home. Kenwood Design is based out of Wanda, but the team brings interior design to you.
“Our design studio is passionate about helping people love where they live.
We offer interior design services, ranging from single room refreshes to entire home renovations,” says Gronli.
The Kenwood Design goal is to uncover the aesthetic potential each home has to offer while keeping it functionally pleasing. Whether designs include adding decorations, picking out furniture or reconfiguring the design and layout of a room, Kenwood Design helps clients create customized spaces they will love for years to come.
Gronli has a background in marketing but an affinity for all things home design. This propelled her to take the plunge into starting her own interior design business in 2018.
“After helping a few friends decorate their homes, I knew this is what I wanted to do. It was very much a "side-gig" in the beginning, but as business grew and Kenwood Home entered the picture in 2020, it has grown into a full-time job. It's been a long-time dream to be able to help people design and decorate their homes, so it still feels pretty surreal that between client projects and the shop, that's exactly how I get to spend my days now,” Gronli tells of her experiences.
Kenwood Home is a second business in the Redwood area owned by the entrepreneurial spirit. Kenwood Home is an occasional shop where Gronli brings thoughtfully curated home goods and decorations to the southwest MN area.
“The thought of carefully gathering up home items that people can bring back to their own homes felt like it served my overall goal of helping people love where they live,” she says of her second business, Kenwood Home.
With her husband, Micah, by her side, Gronli purchased a new building for her business in February of this year-- right before COVID-19 hit full force. The pandemic put a pause to some of Gronli’s exciting plans for the location.
“I was initially hoping to do a large grand opening event for Kenwood Home in April, but COVID of course changed that plan. We had to delay the launch, and when we were finally able to open our doors in June, we weren't able to do the event-type setting I had hoped for. Regardless, I was just so thankful to even be able to open our doors and welcome people in,” says Gronli.
Through it all, Gronli has felt enormous support from the Redwood community.
“It's been difficult navigating a physical retail shop in these uncertain and ever-changing times, but it's been amazing to see everyone's grace and understanding through it all,” she says.
“I can't quite put into words how grateful I am for our community and all the wonderful people that have offered their support, excitement, words of encouragement, guidance or simply sharing the news about my businesses with others. It means the world to me, and I'm so thankful to live and work in our community,” she continues her praise.
To schedule a consultation with Kenwood Design, or to learn more, visit https://kenwoodhomedesign.com or find the business on Facebook. You can visit Kenwood Home in person at 100 North Railroad Street, Wanda, MN during designated hours listed on the website.
During Women in Small Business Month, we applaud the intelligent, tenacious and courageous women who run our local businesses and contribute to the prosperity of Redwood County. Read more about our successful Redwood area businesses here.
Category: Success Stories
Schult Homes has been a long standing member of the Redwood community and the Redwood Area Development Corporation. The company opened its doors in the area in 1974, and has been building beautiful homes with superior workmanship in the region since. Scott Thomas, Facility General Manager of Schult Homes, explains how being located in Redwood Falls has positively impacted the business and the area.
Who is Schult Homes?
Schult Homes, an extension of the Clayton Homes family of brands headquartered in Maryville, Tennessee, manufactures HUD and MOD code homes. Clayton Homes is a Berkshire Hathaway company and one of the Nation's leading housing providers. Schult sells its homes through independent retailers located in nine surrounding states.
Schult Homes parent company, Clayton Homes, was awarded Builder of the Year in 2019 as well as Manufacturer of the Year in 2019 for the third year in a row. These awards speak to the high level of quality homeowners are receiving when they choose a Schult Home.
A Major Redwood Falls Employer
The Schult Homes Redwood Falls branch employs more than 200 locals.
Schult Homes team members are all from the Redwood County area, and the business strives to purchase as many construction materials as possible from local sources in order to give back to the local economy.
“We have great partnerships with local companies like Service Enterprises, Inc., through which we hire employees from the area directly,” says Thomas regarding business connections in the area.
The company is currently hiring as many local Team Members as possible to meet an increasing demand for manufactured homes in the region. These homes are also distributed throughout the midwest.
“The members of our team are the most important aspect of our business. Family, safety and personal growth through long term careers are the key components of working with Schult Homes,” Thomas emphasizes.
Schult Homes Gives Back to the Community
A positive customer experience is also a pillar of the business. Schult Homes strives to use only superior products, processes and workmanship to build high quality homes that will last a lifetime. The quality of these homes helps to increase home value in the area as well. In addition to first rate homes and purchasing materials from local distributors, the company gives back to the community through involvement.
“We contribute to the local communities in many ways including through monetary contributions. Hosting Schult Homes functions for our Team Members utilizing local organizations is another way we give back,” says Thomas.
Schult Homes even has an internal committee coined “Pride Team” whose sole purpose is to evaluate requests for donations from the community. Schult Team Members work together to determine the appropriate amount to donate. The funding for this system comes from personal contributions from the Team Member paychecks every week. Clayton Homes matches these personal donations to increase the total donation.
“In 2019 alone, our Pride Team gave over $15,000 to local causes,” says Thomas proudly.
To learn more about Schult Homes and how they are positively impacting the Redwood community, click here.
Category: Success Stories
The Redwood Area Communities Foundation (RACF) is a core community developer. The support offered to the community by RACF is unrivaled in impact. Don Yrjo, Chairman of RACF, gave insight as to what makes the foundation special and vital to the Redwood area.
The Redwood Area Communities Foundation Defined
The Redwood Area Communities Foundation is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit entity organized for the welfare and benefit of Redwood County residents and organizations. The RACF’s focus is on those who live or have their principal place of business in Redwood County or within a 10 mile radius. The RACF was established in 1988.
The Redwood Area Communities Foundation Impact
Redwood Area Communities Foundation works hand in hand with the Redwood Area Development Corporation to improve the quality of life for local communities and their residents, to benefit public school districts and any charitable organizations operating in Redwood County and to provide scholarships and loans to students living here.
“Looking at all of the diverse groups served in itself is a success story. The groups benefited by RACF include different spectrums across the board, from youth to senior citizens and the healthy to those in need,” says Don Yrjo, Chairman of RACF.
The RACF supports civic, charitable, benevolent, educational and cultural purposes in Redwood County. The foundation has more than 30 subsidiaries and over three million dollars in assets that are managed for these groups. The foundation’s current designated accounts are listed as follows and continue to expand.
- Apple Gourd Project
- Celebrate Redwood Falls
- Country Sno Riders
- Dominick Bruns Memorial Fund
- Ehlers Student Loan Fund
- Erik’s Memorial Fund
- Ernie Werner Ag Scholarship
- Friends of the County Fair
- Friends of the Park
- Giving Back – Redwood Lions & Rotarians
- GRASP – Greater Redwood Area Suicide Prevention
- Hinterland Art Crawl
- Leave a Legacy-SW MN
- LINC Redwood County
- Minnesota Indigenous Women Society
- Minnesota Valley ATV Riders
- Orrin Estebo Foundation
- Friends of Parkview Senior Living - Belview, MN
- Redwood Area Community Youth Foundation
- Redwood Area Hospital Foundation
- Redwood Area Junior Golf Association
- Redwood Chamber Community Partners
- Redwood County Purple Ribbon Club
- Redwood Electric Trust
- Redwood County Warrior Foundation
- Redwood Valley Baseball Association
- Redwood Westside Center
- Share the Spirit
- Technology and Trades on the Prairie
- Wanda Cemetery
A cornerstone program of RACF is the Ehlers Student Loan Fund.The cost of a college education continues to rise, and, for some, those costs can hinder their goal of earning a degree. Those who do pursue post-secondary education quickly discover the costs associated with furthering their education result in taking out loans at a high rate of interest. In an effort to help address those financial realities a program was established in Redwood Falls by a benefactor named Martin Ehlers. The program provides interest-free funds for students living in Redwood County or attending school in Redwood County. Next deadline is May 4, 2020.
These groups are able to receive grants and tax deductible gifts from individuals due to the 501(c)(3) status of RACF. They can receive these grants and tax deductions as both short term subsidiaries and long term subsidiaries. The financial help received by the 501(c)(3) status allows these accounts to put more of their finances into their missions for the community.
The Redwood Area Communities Foundation Future Growth
The RACF plans to continue providing scholarships for youth to adults, encouraging the expansion of community youth activities as well as mental and physical health activities, progressing technology in the area, assisting civic organizations, helping veterans, benefiting the arts and providing leadership. Countless opportunities exist for growth in Redwood County.
“The RACF has been serving many diverse needs for more than 30 years in our communities,” explains Yrjo. “I believe it will continue to grow and serve the needs of many more groups as time and needs change in the future,” he finishes.
To learn more about establishing a subsidiary of Redwood Area Communities Foundation, contact Redwood Area Development Corporation at 507-637-4004.
Category: Success Stories
Union Kitchen & Sports Bar in Wabasso is a striking example of the tenacious spirit of local business owners in the community. The challenges brought on by COVID-19 have affected all types of small businesses, from retailers to restaurants. Union Kitchen & Sports Bar rearranged its business model in order to stay open for the community and combat these hardships.
Union Kitchen & Sports Bar Adapts During COVID-19
Having recently changed ownership to Rubi Kaufenberg and her husband Brad, COVID-19 roadblocks could have easily discouraged the new team. Instead, the Kaufenbergs adapted.
“We decided to offer take-out and curbside pick-up. We created an option for take and bake meal kits for the family to enjoy at home while we were missing our friends and family visiting with us at the Union Kitchen,” says Kaufenberg of her adaptations.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lighten and businesses are able to slowly resume normal operations, Union Kitchen is working hard to follow state regulations in order to keep patrons safe. They are continually sanitizing the premises and instating social distancing guidelines.
Union Kitchen & Sports Bar Revamp
The Kaufenbergs have been using COVID-19 as an opportunity to revamp the bar and grill while customers were not permitted inside. The owners have painted, rearranged and even added outdoor dining as a seating option. Many community members like Dan and Shannon Guetter and Derek and Larissa Guetter have joined with the Kaufenbergs to produce the new look. The Kaufenbergs also give their thanks to local students and teachers, the Mayor, City Council, City Clerk and others for donating their time and helping with improvements.
“This community is known for their strong unity during hard times. While we were looking for our new addition to Redwood County’s businesses, this place really captured us. The support during our takeover and revamp has been awe-inspiring. It is an amazing opportunity to be a part of the heart of Wabasso,” says owner Rubi Kaufenberg.
The Kaufenbergs believe the community has gone above and beyond to stand behind them during this time of transition. As businesses are able to return to normal operations, the Kaufenbergs are continuing to make the establishment the culmination of their dreams.
Redwood Area Development Corporation Assists Union Kitchen & Sports Bar
Redwood Area Development Corporation staff assisted the Rubi Kaufenberg with her new business and her vision for what’s possible. Kaufenberg has a strong understanding of restaurant operations and offers excellent food. RADC was able to assist her with some of the details of business ownership in Wabasso and support her with the process of purchasing a business.
This is an excellent example of services that RADC can provide.
RADC serves as economic development contract staff for the Wabasso EDA. Staff provide economic and housing services for the community – including business retention and expansion, loan program assistance, housing opportunities and project funding opportunities. We partner with the community to provide hands-on assistance for projects identified by the community.
Contact the RADC to learn how they can assist you.
A Fun, Family-Friendly Atmosphere
The Union Kitchen & Sports Bar is a family friendly establishment that offers a fun and entertaining atmosphere. The restaurant and bar have fun activity options like skee-ball, pool and darts to a lounging area with bean bags. In addition to being a great sports bar, the kitchen offers delicious Latin and American food.
Show support to local restaurants by ordering take out or visiting in person as COVID restrictions lift. Union Kitchen & Sports Bar can be found at 743 Main Street in Wabasso. Visit the Union Kitchen & Sports Bar facebook page here.
Category: Success Stories
For years, we’ve heard about “brain drain,” the phenomenon where young folks leave rural towns to attend college and pursue better opportunities in cities. But research into Minnesota’s shifting rural demographics now shows a positive reverse trend of “brain gain” — where young adults migrate back to their hometowns with families in tow and expertise to offer.
Tony Madsen of NewLeaf Financial Guidance is a local case in point. He grew up in Redwood Falls and left to attend college at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. Madsen worked for a number of years in the Twin Cities metro area for a large broker-dealer. Then he became a certified financial planner and worked as a financial advisor at a corporate firm.
Working in a corporate environment helped Madsen gain important experience and knowledge. “It was never about climbing the ladder to make money. It was about learning to be a better advisor to clients,” he explains.
Eventually, Madsen decided to start his own advisory practice. He and his wife, who also grew up in the area, chose to move back to Redwood Falls several years ago to raise their children and be closer to family.
“It was a values-driven choice not an economic-driven choice,” he says. “I can do what I do anywhere. I’m not bound by city limits.”
Although NewLeaf Financial Guidance is based in Redwood Falls, Madsen serves clients around the country. NewLeaf is a fee-only, fiduciary, financial planning firm. As a fiduciary, he pledges to work solely in the client’s best interest. Under the fee-only model, Madsen does not accept commissions or marketing money from product companies, lessening the chance for conflict of interest.
“Transparency is important to me,” he explains. “I never liked the idea of my clients walking to the elevator bay and wondering why I was making a particular recommendation — if it was truly in their best interest.”
NewLeaf also differentiates itself because it seeks to reach a population that’s underserved by the financial industry: people under the age of 50. Madsen wants to help younger clients not just with investments but with developing good financial habits.
He likes to form relationships with his clients. “I’d rather have 100 than 1000 clients,” Madsen says. “I want to know about them. I’m choosy about who I work with and why I work with them.”
Madsen is also community-minded. He’s an advocate for small businesses and growing the local economy. He serves on the Redwood Area Development Corporation board of directors in order to play a role in shaping the area’s future.
The long term health of Redwood Falls is very important to me. I didn’t move back here to see the town die,” Madsen says. “I think it’s important to make wise decisions about how we support business and attract new business.”