Success Stories

Business Brings Manufacturing and Jobs to Flathead Valley

Fifteen years ago, Jason Sonju was pounding out dents at his father’s auto body repair shop. Today, he’s director of programming for the family-owned business, Sonju Industrial Inc., which has acquired top-dollar defense contracts with some of the largest aerospace and defense corporations in the world- Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

From collision repair to laser-guided missiles and assault rifles, the company has expanded steadily through the years, seizing on one opportunity after another. Sonju Industrial’s aggressive search for new business ventures has allowed it to expand through the recession, adapting to the changing political climes and mounting a firm reputation in the world of defense contracting.

The growth, while steady, has not been without its obstacles.

When Congress stopped funding of the F-22 Raptor in early 2009, for example, Sonju Industrial’s contract with Boeing was jeopardized. Although Lockheed-... Read More

Billings Business Uses Economic Recession and 504 Opportunity as a Time to Invest in the Company

While many businesses are shying away from taking out more debt and looking at cutting back or even throwing in the towel, one Montana business sees this time as an opportune time to invest in their business. Bill Kronmiller and Paul Neutgens, partners of American Steel, a steel fabricating business in Billings, took advantage of reduced costs, low interest rates and market position by building a new 26,000 square foot facility.

The new facility offers radiant floor heating, separate painting and production bays, elbow room for their employees and even indoor plumbing- a far cry from their previous location, which didn’t have indoor plumbing. Not only does the facility offer more room to take on bigger projects, but both owners agree providing extra room and space makes for happier employees.

“The employees seem to be happier, because they’re not all cramped up in a small space,” Neutgens said. “They have their own elbow room to get their jobs done and don’t... Read More

fourOsix...Not Just Montana's Area Code

Alex Rincon, Jr., known by his friends as “Papu,” always knew he would start his own business someday.  It wasn’t until after graduating from Carroll College in 2004, and managing multiple retail businesses, that his business idea began to take shape.

While attending Carroll, Rincon obtained a triple major, including a B.A. in Business Administration with a special interest in Marketing, Management and International Business; a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature; and a Multi-Disciplinary major in Visual Arts with an interest in Graphic Design.  In his spare time he enjoyed all that Montana had to offer, including snowboarding, hiking, fly fishing and much more.  It was this love for Montana’s outdoors and lifestyle, along with his diverse scholastic background, that brought fourOsix to light.

In 2007, Rincon opened fourOsix in downtown Helena, a lifestyle and retail store that promotes art, music, style, forward thinking and Montana living.  The name “four0six”... Read More

Company Hewed Success Despite Tumultuous Economy


During the collapse of the building industry in 2008 and 2009, while other lumber businesses were scaling back and even shutting down, Steve Marks, of Marks Lumber in Clancy, Montana, boldly invested in new equipment.  The outcome of this risky business move was the company’s strongest sales figures of the past decade, a 93% net revenue growth in 2010. 

As a result of the new equipment purchased, Marks’ capitalized on the devastating Mountain Pine Beetle infestation that took over the forests of Montana and the west.  Marks won a contract from the Montana Forest Service for forest fuel treatment of 900 acres and a 10 year 30,000 acre contract from the Bureau of Land Management.

As a third generation timberman, Marks started falling timber on neighboring ranches  at age 16.  Shortly after graduating high school, Marks started his first business buying stumpage and harvesting timber to sell to mills in western Montana.

Then came the crash... Read More