Why we love Fargo business: the people, places and things that made 2016 great

Written by: Fargo Inc Staff

Here are some of the people, places and things that made 2016 great:

Helping lead the charge to make UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) North Dakota’s industry of tomorrow is Fargo-based Botlink, a company hoping to become the “Microsoft of drones.”

Business Wisdom from 2016
Stay curious. Ask good questions. Always be looking for new learning opportunities and answers. You can atrophy. As soon as you think you know it all, you’re toast.” – James Burgum; Partner, Arthur Ventures

Local companies on the 2016 Inc. 5000
The Inc. 5000 is an annual ranking from Inc. magazine that lists the country’s top 5,000 fastest-growing private companies.
#145 Razor Consulting Solutions
#667 Myriad Mobile
#918 Hatch Realty
#1648 TrueIT
#2529 BNG Holdings
#3080 Discovery Benefits
#4300 Pedigree Technologies

Glorifying failure is one thing, but living it is something else entirely. Three local business owners—Erik Hatch (Hatch Realty), John Schneider (Fargo 3D Printing) and Kirk Anton (Heat Transfer Warehouse)—opened up about how their respective failures shaped the successful businesses they own today.

Business Wisdom from 2016
You are going to fail, but make yourself get over it fast. If arrogance or stubbornness are going to help you keep going, then use that. Empower yourself with that.” – Dan Altenbernd; COO & Partner, H2M

Joe Burgum
The inaugural issue of Fargo INC! was all about celebrating the helpers. Folkways Cofounder Joe Burgum was one of six area business leaders featured who have devoted their professional lives to assisting and promoting the Fargo-Moorhead business and entrepreneurial communities.

Business Wisdom from 2016
Culture is maybe not generated where we think it is. It’s not created among the high-powered individuals or the top-paid people or even the politicians. It’s created in the spaces where people gather to have conversations in communities and among the people who influence those conversations.” – Joe Burgum; Cofounder, Folkways

Notable Kilbourne Group projects
Block 9
In May, Kilbourne Group announced plans to build a mid-rise at the corner of Broadway and Second Avenue North in Downtown Fargo. The mixed-use tower will house the new RDO Equipment Co.’s headquarters, ground-floor retail, a hotel and condos.

Roberts Street Garage
In June, crews broke ground on the Roberts Street Garage, a mixed-use parking structure that will include more than 70 residential units.

Prairie Roots Food Co-op
Scheduled to open in spring 2017, Prairie Roots will give Downtown Fargo a long-awaited grocery store.

Prx Performance
Our only photo shoot this year not done on land, we shot the cofounders of PRx Performance, Brian Brasch (left) and Erik Hopperstad (right), underwater. The co-owners of the exercise equipment company were featured earlier this year on ABC’s “Shark Tank” so we decided to create a shark tank of our own.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“You’re never going to be able to build and sell a business for $25 million or $50 million or $100 million if you don’t first think you can.” – Erik Hopperstad; Cofounder, PRx Performance

Office Vibes – Dog IDs
How many companies in town actually encourage you to bring your pooch to the office? dogIDs’s Downtown Fargo headquarters showed us that the best employee perk isn’t extra vacation days but rather passing a Black Lab on your way to the break room.

Warren and Randy
Randy Thoreson (left) and Warren Ackley (right) could write a book (or 10) about everything they’ve learned in their 30-plus years in business together. We settled for a cover story, though it probably contained more wisdom than half the management books out there.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“We’ve talked about people who don’t have partners. How do they operate? People say partnerships are tough, but we think a sole proprietorship would be even tougher. The person doesn’t have anybody to talk to. Who are they going to trust?” – Warren Ackley; Owner, Global Development

Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson is the man behind the mask in this photo from our trip to BlackRidge Financial’s new West Fargo digs. The company’s president marches to the beat of his own drum, evident by the financial’s two-level, steampunk- and baseball-inspired headquarters.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“The sense of community is what makes doing business in Fargo so great. People really care about their city and want to see it grow and succeed. You can reach the creative talents you need much quicker than in larger cities.” – Melissa Leon; VP, Client Relations, Product Development & Innovation, Misfit

Nick Woodard
United Savings Credit Union President and CEO Nick Woodard was one of many area business leaders featured in the recurring “Faces of Business.” Like a number of other company heads we spoke with throughout the year, he’s a young leader hoping to bring a fresh perspective to a rapidly changing marketplace.

The world of branding can be a complex and confusing one, but MSPIRE CEO and local branding expert Amanda McKinnon was there to help us make some sense of it. From beginning to end, she walked us through the process she takes her own clients through when creating (or recreating) their brand identity.

cover-story_office-vibes_blackridge cover-story_office-vibes_blackridge-2 cover-story_office-vibes_blackridge-3
Office Vibes – Blackridge Financial
BlackRidge Financial’s new West Fargo office is proof that it’s not just Millennial-founded tech startups that are placing an increased emphasis on company culture and trendy office spaces.

Nick Schommer
Former athletes can bring a lot to the workplace. Ex-Bison standout and Hash Interactive Project Manager Nick Schommer talked about how the discipline and commitment he learned on the gridiron have helped him in his transition to the professional world.

Mind Shift
What if instead of viewing autism as a liability, we viewed it as an asset? That’s the mindset that Fargo nonprofit Mind Shift (formerly Specialisterne) is hoping to instill in our 21st-century workforce, helping those on the autism spectrum find and retain meaningful work.

cover-story_cleaning-services cover-story_cleaning-services-2 cover-story_cleaning-services-3
Overloaded Laundry; Ms. Simplicity; and Home Helper Services
In the niche economy, nothing is off limits, not even chores. We featured three local companies, Overloaded Laundry; Ms. Simplicity; and Home Helper Services, that are giving people the greatest gift of all: their personal time back.

When Bismarck-based content-management software company CoSchedule opened a second office in Fargo in 2015, it marked an important milestone for the FM business community. One of the fastest-growing startups in the state—a company now doing $2 million in recurring revenue—saw the potential that Fargo offers.

cover-story_office-vibes_enclave cover-story_office-vibes_enclave-2 cover-story_office-vibes_enclave-3
Office Vibes – Enclave Development
Inhabiting one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Downtown Fargo, Enclave Development was intent on preserving the integrity and character of the old Case Threshing Company headquarters while also adding their own modern touch.

When a product is more than just a money-maker, it’s a product with purpose. One of the hidden gems of the FM business community, Fargo-based SunButter has given the millions of peanut-allergy sufferers across the US a peanut-butter alternative: a sunflower spread that gives them one less thing to worry about.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“Before you make the leap, spend some time in whatever industry you think you want to get into. Once you figure it out, jump feet-first. Don’t look back. Just take the plunge and keep going.” – Dan Hurder; President & CEO, Great Plains Hospitality

Fargo Made
Sitting has been called the new smoking by some, but it’s an expensive habit to kick. Many standing desks carry four-figure price tags, and that’s what Fargo company Fargo Made set out to change. What they came up with was a quality standing option that retails for less than $200.

Ashwood West with Marrah Ferebee and Trina Hoffelt
During a typical trip to the mall, the cofounders of women’s fashion retailer Ashwood West were finding themselves too old for some clothing brands and too young for others. So Marrah Ferebee and Trina Hoffelt did what any good entrepreneurs would do: they started their own.

Office Vibes – Onsharp
Workplace culture is something that can’t just be established, it has to be maintained. Each week, Onsharp holds a meeting around their “Core Values” wall at which every team member talks about a core value they lived the previous week.

Webblen with Mukai Selekwa
It was a busy year for Mukai Selekwa (middle). After winning the FMWF Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever “Shark Tank,” he presented at 1 Million Cups Fargo the idea for Webblen, a social-media-management software platform he cofounded with his business partners Nate Thoreson (left) and Austin Braham (right).

Business Wisdom from 2016
“There are three things you can do when you see a problem: ignore it, complain about it or fix it.” – Abdur Chowdhury; Former Chief Scientist, Twitter

David Dietz
Preference Employment Solutions President and CEO David Dietz has become a vocal champion of employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“The problem with so much of what we do today–in terms of how we approach work–is that it’s the way things have always been done. And what we have to do, as new generations come into the workforce, is try to have the conversation around: what are the non-negotiables?” – Paul Richard; President, Sanford Medical Center Fargo

Notable 2016 Laws  & Regulations
Overtime law
A new rule that requires anyone making less than $47,476 per year to be eligible for overtime pay

New reporting form
Requires employers with 100 or more employees to annually disclose aggregated pay data, information which must be broken down according to gender, race and ethnicity of employees

Sick-leave rule
Requires companies working on federal contracts to provide up to seven days of earned leave

Power Plate Meals
Who better to prepare your meals than a couple of ex-bodybuilders? Haylee Swanson and Seth Houkum are the cofounders of Power Plate Meals, a local company helping to make healthy, properly portioned meals more convenient and affordable to the general public.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than building a long-lasting company that bakes its values and mission directly into its DNA.” – Scott Gabrielsson; Founder, Oliver Cabell

cover-story_office-vibes_interoffice-workspace cover-story_office-vibes_interoffice-workspace-2 cover-story_office-vibes_interoffice-workspace-3
Office Vibes – Interoffice Workspace
Set in the upstairs of the historic Ford building in Downtown Fargo, InterOffice Workspace houses a small team but a big view. The main conference room offers an expansive look below at Broadway, the main artery of a revitalized downtown.

Ciara Stockeland’s overstock boutique MODE has expanded across the country, but one of the things she says she’s most proud of is creating jobs for women in Fargo, \ the community in which she was raised.

Business Wisdom from 2016
The best philanthropic contribution people can make is creating jobs. That’s the gift that keeps on giving. That’s the contribution that gives to the entire community” – Doug Burgum; Governor-elect, State of North Dakota

Eide Bailly Virtual CFO
Often, the companies that need a CFO the most are the ones that can’t afford one. Eide Bailly’s virtual CFOs help small- to medium-sized businesses develop and implement a strategic financial plan—with the goal of getting out of “no man’s land” and back on the road to consistent and measurable growth.

Just a few…2016 1 Million Cups speakers
Howard Dahl – January
PopDock – June
How the F – May
b.able – March
Good Bulb – October

Greg Tehven
Greg Tehven is a cofounder and the executive director of Emerging Prairie, but he’s so much more. He’s a believer—in Fargo, in its people and in its entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Business Wisdom from 2016
“I’m really excited about pushing for diverse perspectives and different angles on business and thinking about the new economy, the creative economy and celebrating the possibility of business to improve the human condition.” – Greg Tehven; Executive Director, Emerging Prairie

cover-story_office-vibes_gate-city-bank cover-story_office-vibes_gate-city-bank-2 cover-story_office-vibes_gate-city-bank-3
Office Vibes – Gate City Bank
From the janitorial closets to the CEO’s corner office, every square foot of Gate City Bank’s Downtown Fargo headquarters has been designed around and for employees, above all else.

Nate Wood
Tired of commerical construction projects running over budget and over schedule? McGough Construction’s Nate Wood invites you to consider a different option: the collaborative delivery model.

Tony Kressin
Tony Kressin owns and operates a successful welding shop in West Fargo, but he wanted to get to know his business even better. So he signed up for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Emerging Leaders program.

Business Wisdom from 2016
Be humble. Learn from everyone. Whether you’re meeting with a high-powered CEO, the governor, or you’re talking to the guy cleaning out your office at the end of the night, you can learn something from everyone. Sometimes, in your business career, you forget that.” – James Burgum; Partner, Arthur Ventures

2016  FMWF Chamber of Commerce’s ChamberChoice Award Winners
Small Business of the Year – Great North Insurance
Business of the Year – Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services
Small Not-for-profit of the Year – Dorothy Day House of Hospitality
Not-for-profit of the Year – Rape & Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead
Entrepreneur of the Year – Eric Newell, Stoneridge Software
Young Professionals Best Place to Work – Gate City Bank
People’s Choice Award – Healing Arts Chiropractic

Share This Article
Fargo Inc! Publishes 12 Business Magazines Per Year!