Corridor honors area businesses, entrepreneurs
Dream Big Grow Here winner announced
The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corp. presented its awards to area businesses and entrepreneurs at its third annual Business Recognition Luncheon Wednesday afternoon at the Clay County Regional Events Center.
Small Business Excellence and Large Business Excellence awards were presented to Vugteveen Lawn Service and Maurer Manufacturing, respectively.
"It is important to recognize the contributions and economic impact our existing businesses have on our communities and region. Research shows that in an average-sized community, approximately 80 percent of new jobs and capital investments are created by existing business and industry," said Kathy Evert, president and CEO of the Iowa Lakes Corridor. "We have seen the truth in that with local companies hiring hundreds of employees over the past year."
Bruce and LuAnn Tamisiea were honored as the Corridor's Entrepreneur of the Year, and the regional winner of the Dream Big Grow Here business development competition, Educational Surgical Instruments, of Terril, received its $5,000 award.
Dari Dingel Fehr saw firsthand the need for an instrument kit for students pursuing surgical studies.
"There's not a kit or anything like it," Fehr explained. "Through self-experience, I learned there's a need for it."
She was among 15 entrepreneurs competing for votes on the Corridor's website. Earning a spot as one of five finalists, she met with judges in a pitch-off, hoping to be awarded $5,000 in development seed money.
Crediting the quality of competition, Fehr said, "It was a little more like 'Shark Tank' than I expected."
She added, "I appreciate all the critiques and help I can get."
The other four finalists were Tanya Johnson with Kabele's Trading Post and Lodge, Scott Simpson and Brian Fassbender with Fazz's Hot Sauce, Brad Smith with Cabin Fever Farm, and Megan Huntley with Epic Fashions.
Fehr and Educational Surgical Instruments will move on in competition against nine other regional winners for a $10,000 grand prize opportunity.
Evert and Corridor Board President Dick Drahota presented the awards to the small and big businesses.
"Vugteveen Lawn Service has been serving the Iowa Lakes for the past 20 years," Evert said. "They take care of your lawn as if it were their own."
Evert indicated the business was nominated "because of Kevin and Heather Vugteveen's strong management and commitment to their business."
Kevin Vugteveen thanked his wife and father, who he credited with starting the business operation in the area.
John Tatman accepted the award for Maurer Manufacturing.
Evert paid tribute to the large Spencer area employer.
"In the 1990's Bob Maurer believed there was a better method for timing the unloading of clean grain from the combine. This was the spark for the Maurer Grain Tank Extension, a product that took the combine aftermarket by storm and provided the foundation for all we offer today," Evert said.
She continued, "They have had multiple expansions in Spencer and are currently working on an additional expansion to move a recent acquisition of a South Dakota trailer company to Spencer."
The nomination was spurred due to the company's history of manufacturing quality products benefiting the agriculture community and scrap metal business.
The Tamisieas were recognized for their entrepreneurial spirit and their continued success as employers and producers with Tecton Industries.
"The Tamisieas' generosity, both monetarily and through mentoring and other programs, may not be fully noticed as they do many things anonymously and are not seekers of the spotlight," Evert said.
Bruce Tamisiea humbly admitted his reluctance to stand in the spotlight but said his decision to build his business in the Corridor came down to "quality of life."
"We do amazing things here in northwest Iowa with normal northwest Iowa people," he said.