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Biz Buzz for March 17, 2014


* Giant Voices announced the following hires:

Shelby Gonzalez joined the creative department, tasked with crafting brand-building creative narratives for clients. Most

recently, Gonzalez was the marketing manager at the Cook County Visitors Bureau in Grand Marais.

Lora Sustercich joined the finance department and handles bookkeeping and accounting. Previously, she managed

financial transactions for Zenith American Solutions.

* Deborah Rudningen joined Raymone Kral and Associates as a practicing psychotherapist. She is a Minnesota licensed professional counselor, a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing certified to work with trauma issues. She will provide services to families, couples and individuals, treating children, adolescents and adults experiencing overwhelming life situations, depression, anxiety, grief, abuse and trauma recovery, sexual abuse, behavioral conflicts and substance abuse.

Previously, Rudningen was licensed in Florida working at Hanley Hazelden in West Palm Beach, a progressive inpatient facility serving mental health and addictions for individuals and their families. She has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of mental health and substance abuse.

* Mike Welch was hired by Superior Choice Credit Union as a commercial lender at the Tower Avenue location. Welch has 22 years of experience in the financial services industry.


* The South Pier Inn in Duluth was recognized as the 2013 Property of the Year by the Minnesota Lodging Association. The hotel was acknowledged statewide for its impact on the lodging industry and for being a model of stability for others to follow.

* Century 21 Gildermand and Associates Inc. announced Jodi Olson was named top sales agent for February.

* Re/Max North Central announced the following awards for the following area Re/Max 1 associates:

Brenda Eisenmann and Julia Russom were named to the Executive Club. The Executive Club is the fifth-highest

regional honor for sales in a single year.

Steve Braman, Bobbi Engstrom Germond, Steve Germond, Maria Letsos and  Mike Raivala were named to the 100 Percent Club. The 100 Percent Club is the fourth-highest regional honor for sales in a single year. The Tom and Dana Acton Team and the Jim Ronding Team were named to the Platinum Club. The Platinum Club is the third-highest regional honor for sales in a single year.

* Michelle Voight, executive director of the Washburn County Tourism Association, received the Rising Star Award from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Voight developed and implemented a three-year marketing plan for the county, which included winter and all-terrain vehicle advertising, online marketing and brochure campaigns. She also launched a new website; streamlined social media marketing; implemented an interactive kiosk at a major highway wayside; initiated a tourism newsletter; produced maps, guides and brochures; and received Tourism Information Center Grants to help offset costs. Direct visitor spending in Washburn County rose 4 percent in 2011, followed by an increase of 9 percent in 2012.

* Duluth ad agency Swim Creative received five awards, including Best in Show and People’s Choice, during the 39th annual Duluth/Superior American Advertising Awards held Feb. 28.

The biggest award of the night, Best in Show, went to Swim Creative for its beer can designs for Bent Paddle Brewing Co. In addition, the Bent Paddle can designs won a Gold Award in the packaging category.

The People’s Choice award went to Swim Creative for its campaign for the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. This work also won a gold in the integrated campaign category and silver in the local 30-second television category.

Swim Creative also was included in the Minnesota Business Magazine’s 2014 list of the top 100 companies to work for. The list looks at companies across the state to determine which Minnesota organizations are setting the standard for employee happiness.

* Richard Brown, senior fellow at the University  of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics and CEO of JNBA Financial Advisors, was named the top financial advisor in Minnesota by Barron’s.


* Orthopaedic Associates of Duluth announced physical therapist Andy Kulas is now a certified integrated manual therapist. To attain certification, Kulas completed the certification process through Great Lakes Seminars, which included coursework in multiple areas, as well as oral, written and practical exams.

Kulas is a 2003 graduate of the College of St. Scholastica and joined Orthopaedic Associates in 2010. He specializes in the treatment of orthopedics, sports medicine and manual techniques, with focus on treating a wide spectrum of injuries. He sees patients at the downtown and Hermantown offices.

New Business

* Spectrum Health Companies announced the opening of its eighth Carefree Living memory care assisted-living community in Orr. The $4.1 million facility includes 20 assisted-living suites and nine memory care apartments with the ability to serve 32 residents. The website is, and the phone number is (218) 757-3200.

Board Elections

* The DTA board of directors announced new members Thomas Griffin and Anni Friesen. Griffin worked for Hennepin County and Excel Energy on housing issues and was a business partner at Crown Hydro Inc. before moving to Duluth. Friesen, a 2005 graduate of Luther College, works as a client care specialist at Ecolibrium3.

Biz Buzz is a collection of business news tidbits from around the region. Send your business openings or closings, personnel changes or other news of interest in the business community to Biz Buzz, Duluth News Tribune, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802, e-mail, or fax (218) 720-4120. The deadline for submissions is noon Friday.