When the MHA Boys and Girls Club opened in Mandan, it started with about eight kids. After just a month, the organization has exploded to now serving 90 individuals. With their official ribbon cutting on April 28, the group has found a great start, and a warm welcome.
Looking primarily at programming, the purpose of the Boys and Girls Club is to help the large community of American Indian children in the community to get the services they need. Eventually, they would like to expand their services to all children.
Moving into the community has been a long time in the making. With talks having begun over half a decade ago, when the opportunity finally arose to move into the Bismarck-Mandan area, the group seized it.
“There are around 4,000 members in this area, which is larger than any of the segments on tribal land,” Shannon Nash, branch manager, said. “We wanted to provide the program here because of the larger population, and to give those kids a sense of belonging.”
One of the stipulations for those signing up for the Boys and Girls Club is that they must want to be there.
“We are not a daycare,” Nash said. “They have to want to be here, and participate in the programming services.”
The programming largely revolves around learning, but not without a touch of fun. There will also be opportunities for the community to get involved with family-plus nights.
A small membership fee of $50 per month is charged; however scholarships are available. For more information, call 701-421-0567.]]>
She has been with Gate City Bank since 2002.
A native of Upham, N.D., Braun graduated from Upham High School before attending Bismarck State College where she earned her associate’s degree in Business Management. Braun currently resides in Mandan.
Starion Financial has promoted two in Mandan
Lee Weisbeck has been promoted to Mandan market president. Weisbeck began his career with Starion in 2007 as a business banking officer. He was promoted to assistant vice president of business banking in 2009 and vice president of business banking in 2011. He has served on the North Dakota Bankers Association Agriculture Committee as vice-chairperson and chairperson.
Weisbeck holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mary, and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado and the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce Leadership Bismarck-Mandan.
Todd Neurohr has been promoted to business banking officer/senior vice president. Neurohr began his career with Starion Financial in 2013 as a business banking officer/vice president. He has more than 20 years of agricultural lending experience. Neurohr holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Mary and a U.S. Army veteran.
New roles at Kupper Automotive
Kupper Automotive announced a new staff role at Kupper Chevrolet-Subaru Auto Body & Glass.
Jeff Simpfenderfer, previous Body Shop Estimator, has been named Body Shop Manager. An employee since 2013, Jeff enjoys playing and singing in a local band, working in the yard, outdoor activities, motorcycling and snowmobiling, astronomy and traveling.
In his new position, Simpfenderfer is excited to be leading a team of great people to achieve new goals and provide outstanding service to our community through hard work, honesty and integrity.]]>
The New Salem Area Community Foundation is a permanent endowment fund, established in 2013 through a generous gift from the former New Salem Credit Union. Earnings from the fund can be given as grants every year to worthwhile nonprofit projects and programs in the area. An advisory committee, made up of local residents, determines the grant awards.
Last year, the Foundation awarded 12 grants to a variety of organizations, including the New Salem Ambulance Service, the New Salem Park District, the Morton County Fair Association, the New Salem/Almont High School, the Central Morton Sportsmans Club and the New Salem Fire Department.
The New Salem Area Community Foundation is a fund of the North Dakota Community Foundation, which manages more than $60 million in assets for the benefit of North Dakota citizens and their communities. Established in 1976, NDCF currently manages permanent endowment funds for 60 North Dakota communities.
For more information about the New Salem Area Community Foundation or to get a copy of the grant application, go to www.NDCF.net/NewSalem.]]>
Laurie Leingang was awarded the MPO Volunteer of the Year, while Sue Hoffman, from Susie Q’s Craft Emporium, was awarded the MPO Business of the Year.
The MPO also took the opportunity to award Aid, Inc. with a check for $640. The proceeds had come from the MPO’s Need for Speed Horse Race.]]>
By Dustin White
Mandan News, editor
In the basement, of a house on the prairie in rural Mandan, lies a business that has traveled the world, as well as made its place in Hollywood. At the center of it all is Erica Hager, a stay-at-home mother, who had made a pair of booties for her daughter. That was the beginning of Bison Booties.
When Hager was due to have her first child, a daughter named Kya, she took to her hobby of quilting, and began making handcrafted items to fill the nursery. One of the standout keepsakes Hager created was a pair of booties, which quickly became an item they couldn’t live without.
“My daughter was wearing this pair of booties I made for her, and I realized that they were the greatest things I’d ever made,” Hager said. “They actually stayed no her feet, and she liked wearing them.”
However, that was as far as Hager had initially planned to go with her newly created booties. It was an item created for her daughter, and the prospect of eventually having them attain a degree of fame was something Hager hadn’t considered.
The wheels of progress had been set in motion though, and it wouldn’t take long before a new business formed.
Initially, it began with Hager gifting a few pairs to friends who had recently had children. As is apt to happen with a quality product, word began spreading. Soon Hager started to receive additional request for her booties. What she thought was once impossible soon became reality; Hager was able to turn a hobby into a career.
“I have always liked sewing, but I didn’t think it was practical in this day and age,” Hager said. “I thought maybe I should have been born in the 1800s. I never thought it (Bison Booties) would be huge.”
Taking to the Internet, Hager opened a shop on Etsy – an online store that showcases handcrafted products. Bison Booties would be born on Nov. 1, 2010.
Opening just in time for the Holiday season, Hager’s inventory quickly sold out. The word was out, and people were interested in Bison Booties.
Even though Hager had her initial batch of booties quickly snatched up, they had gain the attention of a few individuals. One of those people was a shop owner in Arkansas, who wanted to sell Bison Booties at her shop, an opportunity Hager would seize on.
It wasn’t just stores that took an interest in Hager’s product though. A juried group, called the Artisan Group, would welcome her with open hands.
Through the Artisan Group, Hager received the opportunity to gift her items to a variety of celebrities, or other organizations. It was her access to Hollywood.
With this access, Hager would eventually see her product gain nationwide, and even worldwide recognition. Having been featured in a host of magazines, such as Country Living and Pregnancy and Newborn, a whole new audience was exposed to Bison Booties.
The access granted more than that though. Gaining the opportunity to gift her product to a number of celebrities, Hager would get to see her booties highlighted on television as well, being worn by children in both Parenthood and About a Boy.
Some of her greatest exposure though may have come from celebrity moms, including Jamie King, posting praise about the product on social media.
“So much is run social media now, so this exposure has helped make it (Bison Booties) a success,” Hager said. “With the Made in America movement, celebrities are proud to connect with small, handcrafted businesses.”
With such great exposure, and a wonderful product, Hager would be able to sell nearly a thousand pairs, worldwide – including Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong – in just her first year of business.
Over the next couple of years, the rapid growth would eventually bring Bison Booties to a tipping point. In 2012, Hager had a decision to make. Not being able to keep up with the demand, she either had to scale back, or find others to help. Bison Booties would once again expand.
Looking towards local stay-at-home moms, Hager began contracting out portions of the process.
Moving forward was a slow going at first, as the final product still needed to stay the same.
“I wanted to keep Bison Booties Bison Booties, no matter who was involved,” Hager said.
Starting with two helpers, who remain with Bison Booties today, the new method of creating the booties slowly began to take form.
Even with others helping in the creation process of each pair of the booties, Hager still keeps an intimate hand in each formation.
“Every pair still begins and ends here with me,” Hager said. “They all go through a strict quality control, so that they remain Bison Booties.”
With the additional help, Bison Booties was able to continue to expand. While Hager initially began creating batches of just 10 booties at a time, today has increased that to 200-300 batches.
Why Bison Booties
While Hager didn’t grow up in Mandan, the area held a special place for her. Coming to vacation in the area every summer, in order to visit family, she felt as if she had a place in Mandan.
Graduating from high school in California, Hager would end making the move to area while she pursued her college career. Soon, Mandan would become her new home, as she stayed and started a family.
Once Hager found out that she would be having her first child, the decision to stay at home and raise her daughter was made.
“When Kya was born, my husband and I made the decision that I would be able to stay at home with her,” Hager said.
Once her business became a reality, it was time to choose a name as well. Looking out her windows, on the vast prairie, where buffalo used to roam in the millions, the name was apparent. It was a way for Hager to help portray the area in a positive manner, as well as provide a relation to the history of the area.
“I love it here,” Hager said. “But there are many misconceptions, so I wanted to represent North Dakota in a good way.”
While people still inquire about whether the booties are made from Bison, which they are not, Hager has been able to showcase the area in a positive light. From showing that a North Dakota brand is able to achieve great success, such as being named a “Top 15 Finalist” in the Martha Stewart American Made Award, or just giving back, such as by donating Bison Booties to children receiving surgery at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Hager has shown the world what can be done, even if you are from a small community.
For more information about Bison Booties, go to www. Bisonbooties.com.]]>
Opening up a business in one’s home community can be a rewarding experience. Being able fill a need in the place one calls home can be a dream to many. For Bill Condon, he made that dream come true when he opened Batteries Plus Bulbs.
Condon wasn’t always planning on opening a battery store in the area though. Instead, a friend of his introduced him to the franchise.
“At the time, I wasn’t really interested in the prospect,” Condon said. “But I figured I would fill out an application anyway, as I was looking to open a business in the area.”
It was shortly after that, on vacation in Daytona, Fla., that he saw a Batteries Plus Bulbs store.
“Seeing the store there raised my intrigue again,” Condon said.
After returning home, Condon decided that he would check out some of the local branches of the store. It wasn’t until Condon participated in the franchise’s discovery days that he truly got interested in the store.
“I had looked at stuff in the food service, but Batteries Plus Bulbs ended up being the better option,” Condon said.
Part of the benefits to such an option was that it provided more family friendly hours, as well as fewer employees.
However, it was the fact that batteries are a consumable item, which are needed in all households, that really attracted Condon.
“Batteries are something that nearly everyone has a need for,” Condon said. “Seeing a need to be filled in the area, I wanted to help.”
Initially, Condon had wanted to open his Batteries Plus Bulbs store in Mandan. Trying to find a suitable location was difficult though, and eventually, he ended up having to locate his business across the river in Bismarck.
“Mandan is my home. All of my kids have gone to school here,” Condon said. “I would have liked to open the store in my home.”
However, even though he ended up having to set up shop in Bismarck, providing for the people in Mandan is also his goal.
“Expansion is the eventual goal,” Condon said. “But for now, I’m just taking one day at a time.”
The goal of Batteries Plus Bulbs is more than just selling a product though. Condon says it is also about educating customers.
“We pride ourselves in being battery and bulb experts,” Condon said.
Each employee has to go through training to learn the details about the various batteries and bulbs that are sold.
They also provide a number of other services as well, such as device repair (for items such as iPhones, tablets and other smart phones).]]>
“So far, including the revolved funds, the Opportunity Fund has committed $10.5 million to small business loans, leveraging more than $79 million in private sector financing for 29 businesses in 13 communities,” Brent Ekstrom, Deputy Director of the Lewis and Clark Regional Development Council, said.
The Regional Council administers the loan program from its offices in Mandan. Administrative costs have been kept low, at only 2.5 percent of the allocation.
“Businesses that received loans for start-up or expansion are now making payments, allowing the loan fund to revolve and continue as a source of assistance for many more businesses for the foreseeable future,” Ellen Huber, Business Development and Communications Director for the City of Mandan, lead municipality for the consortium, said.
Cities benefitting from projects so far are Beach, Bismarck, Beulah, Carson (providing sponsorship for a project in Heil), Casselton, Dickinson, Fargo, Mandan, Minot, Steele, Watford City, West Fargo (providing sponsorship for a project in Mapleton) and Williston. Types of businesses assisted include three manufacturers, a computer software firm, five retail stores, five restaurants, three hotels, three convenience stores, a daycare center and eight businesses in the areas of industrial services, trade contractors and truck service shops. Loans range from $8,000 to $1 million. The fund has helped retain 128 jobs and create 364 jobs with the participating businesses.
Other municipalities in the Mandan consortium are the cities of Almont, Beach, Beulah, Bismarck, Bowman, Carson, Casselton, Crosby, Dickinson, Dodge, Dunn Center, Fargo, Garrison, Glen Ullin, Halliday, Hazelton, Hazen, Hebron, Hettinger, Killdeer, Lincoln, Linton, McClusky, Minot, Mott, New England, New Salem, Regent, Sentinel Butte, Steele, Turtle Lake, Underwood, Watford City, West Fargo, Williston and Wilton; and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Lenders are more apt to approve business loans by partnering with this program, which can fund up to 50 percent of an eligible business project. Business applicants must have at least 10 percent of their own money in a project and there must be a private lead lender. The maximum direct loan size is $1 million, supporting total loan packages up to $10 million.
Eligible uses include business start-up costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory and the purchase, construction, renovation or improvements of an eligible place of business.
SSBCI funding was approved as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Businesses and lenders may obtain more information about the North Dakota Opportunity Fund by calling the Lewis and Clark Regional Development Council at 701-667-7620 or by visiting www.lewisandclarkrdc.org.]]>
It was 30 years ago that Mike Eldred decided that it was time for a new career. He no longer wanted to work for someone else, but was not fully sure what path he was going to follow. After sitting and talking with a friend, all that cleared up. Eldred was going to become a barber.
As with most barbers in the area, Eldred attended Moler Barber School in Fargo. Upon graduation, he learning was still not complete though. Instead, one of the most difficult sections of his voyage was just ahead: finding a master barber who wanted an apprentice.
“It was difficult to find a master barber, as most wanted to be a one man shop,” Eldred said. “The reason is that people then don’t have to wonder who is going to cut their hair next time.”
Finding an established barber who was willing to give a newcomer a chance was a challenge. The search would eventually take Eldred nearly 400 miles away from his home in Fargo.
Having traveled to Williston in order to begin his new career, Eldred made the first steps in what would be a three decade long journey.While his apprenticeship was only 15 months, he stayed working with the master barber, who gave him his initial chance, for six and a half years.
In 1991, Eldred decided to take a step out on his own, and opened his own barber shop. The location was wonderful, being right next door to Walmart. Throughout the years, he maintained steady customer base, even though there were 11 barber shops when he started.
As the years went on, many of the other barbers in Williston closed up shop. When the oil-boom hit the western part of the state, this caused a massive influx of new customers. The business was good.
“I try to keep my barber shop pretty clean, but there were times in which I was walking knee deep in hair,” Eldred joked.
There were some downsides though. Being in a small town had its disadvantages. Wanting to retire in a larger area, Eldred and his wife, Randa, decided to move to the Mandan area.
“Well, my wife and I have family in Minnesota and Montana, so this was a nice central location,” Eldred said.
Having lived on both sides of the state, it seemed fitting that Eldred would wind up in the middle. Finding a new location though was difficult. Eventually, he found the site for his current shop on “the Strip.” In the fall of 2013, he officially opened as a new barber in Mandan.
Finding a building proved to be the easier part of the relocation though. With other established barbers in town, finding a new customer base has been difficult.
“People stay with their barber,” Eldred said. “There is a loyalty there and barbers rely on that too.”
Eldred is okay with the slow process though, as he enjoys the work. That’s not to say that he isn’t hoping for new customers, but he is primarily looking at new residents. Residents who haven’t found a barber yet.
“I spend a lot of time waiting,” Eldred said.
For Eldred the most enjoyable portion of being a barber is being able to speak with people. Eldred says that barbers are generally vocal people, so the work fits him quite well.
“If we couldn’t talk, I would do it,” Eldred said.
Eldred also says that there is a security going to a barber, as there is a consistency there. Having the same barber each time allows a person to know that they will get the same haircut that they want.
Mike’s Barber shop is located at 3202 Memorial Highway, “the Strip,” in Mandan. To schedule an appointment, call 701-751-3082.]]>
Making a name for one’s business can be a difficult challenge, especially when that means having to battle against an incorrect public perception. When that public image is one that you worked hard to create, it can seem almost impossible. For Jake Stewart, owner of Battery Doctors in Mandan, the process has been an uphill battle.
When the Battery Doctors first opened in 2012, they did so as a restoration business. Becoming the first North Dakota franchise holder of the company which originally began in California, Stewart started fully restoring batteries to their original, or even better, state.
Times have changed, as has the Battery Doctors. No longer are they in the restoration business, but instead offer a full line of batteries.
“There just was no market for restored batteries,” said Stewart. “It is better to just sell a new, high-quality battery.”
Stewart found that product with Crown Batteries, based out of Fremont, Ohio. Part of the attraction to this company for Stewart was that they are a family-owned business with an all-American made product.
It wasn’t enough to just have a high-quality inventory though. For Stewart, he wants his business to also be educational. That means making sure his employees know the product.
“I’m looking to hire people who are knowledgeable,” said Stewart. “It is important for them to know the process of how a battery is made, to see it being done in the factory, so that they can pass that information on to our customers.”
This educational aspect has had a large impact on the Battery Doctors. When a customer comes into their store, they leave with much more than a battery. They leave with the knowledge of why that battery is the best for their application.
Often, a customer may also leave without having purchased any product. Instead, they leave with a better idea as to what there need is, or just a better understanding of the underlying problem.
“We are not out to make a quick buck,” Stewart said. “I believe that we should treat people honestly, and give them a little service.”
Along with the new business model, Battery Doctors also opened up a new retail shop closer to The Strip in Mandan. Even with a new building, and new business structure, there are still some problems. Primarily, the situation of trying to overcome the previous image Stewart created.
“It’s been an uphill battle trying to rebrand Battery Doctors,” Stewart said. “But we are getting there. We are seeing many more people aware that we have a full retail store here.”
The store today has batteries for nearly every application, from a typical car battery, to laptop batteries. In addition to stocking the product, they also recycle old batteries, which is the most recycled item in the world.
At the end of the day though, the goal is the customer experience. Having each person leave with a bit more knowledge than they came in, and feeling respected is important for the Battery Doctors. Selling a quality product is one means of doing such.
“After I put a battery in your car, I don’t want to see you again for three to four years,” said Stewart. “I want you leaving here knowing that the battery we sell you will last and be dependable.”]]>
Living in the Bismarck-Mandan area, finding foods meant scouring labels for hours, and often coming up with little. While the grocery stores do carry a few products, and more now than before, they are still few and far in between.
When Lisa Helseth was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2011, the lack of gluten-free products was a major obstacle. With her son and sister being diagnosed shortly after, the need for such products became more apparent.
So on Feb. 25, 2012, Helseth took the risk and opened up Lisa’s Gluten-free and More, in Mandan.
“We wanted to help people in the community who suffered from the same condition,” said Helseth. “As there wasn’t much in the grocery stores, we wanted to fill that niche.”
It had taken awhile to find a suitable location. The key was to find a space that was the right size; one that wasn’t too large, but allowed some room for growth.
After two years, their store is now brimming with products, and a loyal customer base.
“We started with just 750 products, and now have over 2700 items,” said Helseth.
As the only gluten-free store in North Dakota, Helseth said that they get customers from throughout the state, as well as from Canada.
“We have become like a family,” said Helseth. “We all share this same condition, so we get to know each other, which is very rewarding.”
During an open house on Saturday, March 8, the future of the store looks quite secure. With more products coming in every week, Helseth is optimistic.
“We are getting to a point in which we will be able to start hiring some employees, and better serve the community,” Helseth said. “If things continue going as they are, expanding may be an option as well.”
Having a love to cook and bake, Fahlstrom began experimenting with new recipes.
“My goal was twofold,” said Fahlstrom. “I wanted to create food that not only tasted good, but also give support to as many people I could while they also went to the lifestyle change.”
Like a whirlwind, those goals kicked off. What began as a necessary change to live with Celiac, turned into a family business.
“My husband Wayne has been so very supportive of this effort,” Fahlstrom said. “Through the years he has been my chief taste-tester. When something was a real flop he’d say ‘this is really good, honey, but I wouldn’t order it in a restaurant.”
The foods that Fahlstrom Farms produces are meant to taste such that one isn’t able to tell if they are gluten-free or not.
It isn’t just about the food though. Fahlstrom also wants to educate the public on what Celiac is.
“We offer many different services,” Fahlstrom said. “I enjoy public speaking as well as training others.”
Fahlstrom Farms products are one of the brands stocked at Lisa’s Gluten Free and More.
While Celiac disease still is an upward journey, many in the area are now able to enjoy a bit of ease because of the products that others are bringing to the area.