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Mark Johnson, owner of Artisan Restoration LLC., is the SBA’s 2018 Minnesota Encore Entrepreneur

Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty, 612-370-2316

MINNEAPOLIS – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has named Mark Johnson, founder of Artisan Restoration LLC in Mankato, as the 2018 Minnesota Encore Entrepreneur.   With a passion for old buildings, Johnson launched the business at age 60, which utilizes his decades of experience as a general contractor, to find and rehabilitate historic buildings in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. 

“All small business owners work to build something, some like Mark use hammer and nails, others use computer code,” pointed out Brian McDonald, deputy district director for the SBA in Minnesota. “No matter their tools of the trade, all of our Small Business Week winners are doing great things for our economy and the communities they live in.” 

Johnson and his company contribute to the economy of southern Minnesota, and his craftsmanship has gone a long way toward preserving historic buildings for all to enjoy. He is the ideal example of an encore entrepreneur who has redefined "retirement," tapping into his wisdom, experience - and savings accounts - to start a successful venture.  Johnson was nominated for the award by the Small Business Development Center, Mankato (SBDC).

Johnson had been self-employed as a general contractor since 1976.  When he built his first home out of a timber frame barn "green building" just meant the color scheme. He also did a wide variety of historic and residential construction work under the name of Terrasol Restoration & Renovation. After the housing market collapsed in 2006, that company was forced to close.

Recovering, along with the economy, in 2011 Mark launched Artisan Restoration to address the needs of people with old and new log homes, including complete design, supply and construction services for people who want to own a fully restored, pioneer cabin or barn home with all the modern conveniences. Today he operates Artisan Restoration out of the first home he built.

Johnson has received help from the SBA through the SBDC, which the agency partially funds. It has helped him with a marketing strategy for the company, website content development, social media strategy, SEO, digital sales and video production.

In addition to being a small business owner, Johnson serves his community by volunteering as a handyman at his church, as a board member of Friends of Minnesota Barns, and actively volunteers his time and expertise to the preservation of beautiful and historic buildings.

The SBA Minnesota District Office, along with the SCORE Association, will honor all the 2018 winners at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 11, 2018, at the Doubletree by Hilton Park Place in Minneapolis, Minn.

Registration is open for the event until May 8 at

For more information on Small Business Week, which is April 29 through May 5 this year, please visit


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses.  It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit