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South Dakota Small Business Person of the Year
2016 Small Business Person of the Year
Cellular Only Connection, Inc., Sioux Falls
Starting as a salesperson in a Cellular One store in 1995, Janet Eining moved up to store manager and became an authorized agent with her own business in 1997. Her goal from day one has been “under-promise and over-deliver” and wants her customers to have the “smile and handshake” experience of dealing with people you trust. Cellular Only Connection, Inc. now has 30 stores in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri with over 150 employees. As president and majority owner, Janet is involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. But this is not the only business venture that keeps her busy on a daily basis.
Ten years ago while visiting friends in Minneapolis, Janet discovered the Original Pancake House. Bringing it to Sioux Falls was a challenge, but she and her partner did just that. anet has since become the sole owner and you can find her at the estaurant almost every day. But that wasn’t enough for this serial entrepreneur. She helped start other restaurants including Rookie’s Bar and Grill and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Sioux Falls. And in 2013, Janet and her partners purchased Pro Garage Door. Pro Garage Door has been in the Sioux Falls area for over 10 years and has set the standard for high-quality garage doors, parts and service. Sales have doubled by providing the best customer service to its clients. The business used SBA 504 funding in the acquisition of its commercial real estate.
In 2012, Janet and her son began Kut & Kill, Inc. offering lawn care and pest control services, as well as snow removal, to commercial and residential clients. This business used the SBA 504 loan program to acquire real estate. Also in 2012, another one of Janet’s businesses, TNT Total Shop, LLC purchased Sioux Empire Lighting, a light bulb retailer. An estimated 600 to 5,000 fluorescent lights were sold each day so in order to provide better customer service, Janet decided to increase inventory levels. SBA 504 funding was used to purchase an industrial building to accommodate the increased inventory. TNT Total Shop secured a second SBA 504 loan in 2015 to complete leasehold improvements at a new business called Bulb Lighting and Design. This location offers a retail lighting showroom, houses inventory and offices.
Janet is known in the community as a savvy business person, but she is also known for her philanthropy. She not only gives in money – she is particularly drawn to programs that support children – but gives through opportunities. Janet has been called “the queen of second chances” sending staff members to rehab instead of firing them. She once convinced a judge to shorten the sentence of a former employee and then rehired him. She has been known to spend several hundreds of dollars on groceries for struggling families and loves helping play Secret Santa for needy households. The company makes many contributions throughout the year to SD Achieve, Junior Achievement, YMCA and Ronald McDonald House. The company also hosts a golf tournament every year to benefit the Teddy Bear Den which provides assistance to low income pregnant women who would not otherwise receive adequate care during pregnancy.