Amy and Darrell Hauge are celebrating their first anniversary as owners of Amy’s Classic Confections, a retail store specializing in unique candy baskets custom made for special occasions. Located in the Minneapolis skyway at 6th and Marquette, the business offers a variety of items that will be the delight of any candy lover, and make great gifts for employees, co-workers, teachers, birthdays or to say congratulations or thank you.
Browsing the store is a trip to temptation. Tastefully displayed is a broad assortment of ready-to-go gift baskets with themes such as Chocolate Lover, Midday Munchies, Off to School Survival Kit, Minnesota Madness, and Tower of Treats. Or, Amy will help you custom design your own theme for that special someone or special occasion. There are baskets for the coffee lover and for those on sugar-free diets. Local delivery is offered, which can be a lifesaver for anyone needing a last-minute gift that will be appreciated. Nationwide shipping is also available.
No stranger to entrepreneurship, Amy and her brothers had operated retail candy and florists shops back in her native Ohio. She came to Minnesota when she married Darrell. The couple started Amy’s Classic Confections as a home-based business and sold their gift baskets mostly through craft shows, home shows, and temporary kiosks at various mall locations around the Twin Cities. The business was successful, but Amy harbored the dream of having a retail store in a prime location.
A friend suggested that she contact SCORE, a volunteer business counseling group that provides confidential small business counseling at no charge. SCORE members Loren Herbst and Bill Wise were assigned the case.
Herbst spent 35 years with Norwest Bank serving as a commercial banking vice president. Wise was senior vice president for Norwest Bank in Faribault and most recently spent 11 years with First National Bank of Chaska. Both are now retired and have a wealth of business knowledge and experience based on their many years of providing financing to entrepreneurs of every stripe. The two SCORE counselors did a thorough evaluation of the Hauge’s plan and met with them to discuss the issues they would face moving from a home-based business to a retail location.
Amy said, “Loren and Bill were very straightforward with us and provided guidance on all aspects of opening a retail store from obtaining financing to lease negotiations. The information and advice we were given helped us find the right location and secure a fair and equitable lease. It also helped us obtain an SBA guaranteed loan through TCF Bank.”
The loan officer at TCF Bank told the Hauges that they had the most complete and well-written business plan he had seen in a long time. Amy said, “We could not have done that without SCORE’s help.”
SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration and has more than 11,000 volunteer members serving in chapters nationwide. In Minnesota, there are 400 members. The Minneapolis Chapter, of which Herbst and Wise are members, is the nation’s oldest having gotten its start in 1964.
Back in the mid-1960s when the SBA folks in Washington, D.C., heard about a group of volunteer business owners and executives in Minneapolis who were working one-on-one with fledgling entrepreneurs, they thought it was such a great idea they established a national program. They also took the #1 designation for the D.C. Chapter leaving Minneapolis to go down in the records as SCORE Chapter #2.
George Saumweber, SBA’s public information officer for the Minnesota Office said, “In spite of being designated the #2 chapter, we know that SCORE got its start right here in Minneapolis. And what is really important is the thousands of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs who received sage business counseling over the years to help make their small business dreams a reality.”
Amy Hauge agrees, “We are very thankful for the all the help we received from Loren and Bill. We owe much of our success to the wisdom and experience these two gentlemen shared with us.”
Last year, SCORE members in Minnesota counseled more than 5,000 individuals and provided seminars and workshops to 3,000 attendees.
Caryl Sharp, current chair of the Minneapolis Chapter, said, “SCORE volunteers receive a great deal of satisfaction by using their business experience gained over a lifetime to help small business owners in our local community.” She encourages others with business experience and a desire to give back to the community to consider joining the ranks of SCORE.
Anyone interested in joining the group can talk with a member about his or her experience by calling the Minnesota SCORE office at (612) 370-2309.
Small Business Person of the Year, Lynn R. Gordon, French Meadow Bakery
French Meadow Bakery was founded in 1985 in the kitchen of Lynn Gordon’s home; it has steadily gown year by year into what is now a $4.8 million wholesale business. The company is committed to baking the most nutritious and best-tasking breads available, while educations customers on the benefits of organic products and support small family farms. As the nation’s first continuously certified organic baker, French Meadow currently produces 26 organic and yeast-free breads, bagels, and pizza crust in its 24,000 square foot bakery in south Minneapolis.
Entrepreneurial Success Award, Kent Johnston, President, Plymouth Plumbing, Inc.
Plymouth Plumbing, Inc. one of the largest contractors in the Twin Cities residential construction market, provides plumbing, heating and air services throughout the eleven-county metro area. The company focuses primarily on new residential construction, a sector that continues to demonstrate ongoing, robust growth.
Emerging Entrepreneur Award Winner Douglas and Janet McMillan Corner Coffee House
As longtime residents of Little Canada (and avid coffee drinkers), Jan and Doug McMillan had to drive three to five miles to get a good cup of specialty coffee. They believed that Little Canada needed a coffee house, and the McMillan’s were determined to build one. The Corner Coffee House is a destination coffee house, providing a warm friendly atmosphere, extraordinary service, superb coffee, specialty drinks, fresh baked goods, soups, made to order sandwiches and other culinary delights. It features drive thru service and delivery to local businesses.
Family-Owned Small Business Award Winner, William Hansen, President, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters
Sawbill Canoe Outfitters provides wilderness canoe camping adventures into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeaster Minnesota. Frank and Mary Alice Hansen founded the business in 1957. Bill and Cindy Hansen own Sawbill Canoe Outfitters today. Bill and Cindy’s four children, who are seasonal employees, will continue three generations of single family ownership.
Young Entrepreneur Award Winner, Robert, Ryan and Aaron Weber, Freeze.com, LLC
Freeze.com, LLC, is a leading online direct marketer. They distribute screen enhancement content to millions of consumers around the world. Freeze.com, LLC, profits by providing advertisers with access to these millions of consumers. Freeze is home to the highest quality computer art on the internet, including thousands of original clip art images, hundreds of photos, 3-D wallpaper, original screen savers, and more. Freeze’s founders consider themselves students of the Internet, and they are continually looking for new solutions to satisfy you, the user.
Women-owned Business Award Winner, Diane Buzzeo, Marketing Concepts of Minnesota, Inc.
Marketing Concepts has been a leader in the direct commerce industry for over 20 years. By offering technology, marketing, operations, e-commerce and software solutions, Marketing Concepts has the knowledge and tools to grow businesses in today’s challenging global marketplace.
Financial Services Champion, Thomas W. Burke
Tom Burke is the National Program Director for Wells Fargo SBA Lending. His responsibilities include interacting with the SBA’s central, regional and local district offices; developing and implementing marketing, technology and audit policies and procedures; and interacting with government agencies and other economic development organizations to foster positive working relationships that provide for financing and technical assistance opportunities for clients.
Kathleen Meyer, owner of Meyer Contracting, Inc., Minneapolis, has been named Minnesota Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The award recognizes Meyer for excellence in her field and for demonstrating leadership.
In 1987, Meyer founded Meyer Contracting, specializing in the installation of water and sewer mains. The company also does excavation, grading, drainage and road construction, and provides general construction.
The SBA through the 8(a) program has been instrumental in providing bidding opportunities. Meyer Contracting, Inc. is certified as a minority & woman-owned business (M/WBE) with a variety of federal, state, city and local agencies. On a federal level, the firm is certified as a Small Disadvantage Business (SDB) which is concurrent with 8(a) BD Certification.
Meyer’s customers include the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Corps of Engineers, and the 934th Airlift Wing. Her biggest contract was working on the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit.
While working on the Light Rail, Meyer subcontracted to minority, small and women contractors, including Holte Contracting, Thor Construction, Willis Trucking, Rock on Trucking, Gemtyn Trucking, and Able Trucking. “We encourage inclusion and welcome opportunities for us to work together to grow our companies mutually,” Meyer said.
Meyer is committed to the Twin Cities area. “I feel it is important to give back to the community, and I do this by sharing my career advice and giving encouragement to small emerging businesses,” she said. She is currently on the board of the National Association of Minority Contractors - Upper Midwest Chapter, MN American Indian Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Association of Women Contractors.
Meyer has three children, and her two sons work for her. “Meyer Contracting, Inc. has not only survived, but is a thriving company. I want this to become a multi-generation company,” Meyer said.