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Biz Buzz for Aug. 25, 2014


* Karl Larsen was hired as a project technician in the Duluth office of Architectural Resources Inc. Larsen has more than five years of experience in the architecture and construction industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental design and a master’s degree in architecture from Montana State University in Bozeman and is a member of National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the U.S. Green Building Council as a leadership in energy and environmental design green associate.

* Many Rivers Montessori in Duluth announced Amanda Henke was hired to lead its second primary classroom. Previously, she worked at Barron Area Montessori School in Wisconsin, where she was an Association Montessori International/USA-certified Primary Guide for four years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bethel University in St. Paul and a master’s degree in education from Loyola University of Maryland in Baltimore, as well as Montessori certification from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in St. Paul.

* Brett Luedtke joined W.P. & R.S. Mars Co. as field sales manager. He will oversee the Mars salespeople in Bloomington, Minn., Hibbing, Duluth and Waterloo, Iowa, and will work out of Mars’ Bloomington distribution center.

Luedtke comes to Mars with more than 25 years of industry experience, holding several positions with DGI Supply, including Midwest regional sales manager.

* St. Louis County hired Jeremy Craker as information technology director. As head of the IT department, he oversees a staff of 48 and is responsible for implementing and maintaining the technology used by the county to best serve its residents.

The IT department supports all county departments and divisions including the jail and 911 emergency services, as well as District Court and several area collaboratives such as Arrowhead Regional Corrections, the Community Health Board and Nemesis, a regional law enforcement data system.

Craker has 15 years of IT and leadership experience in a variety of business areas, most recently as IT operations manager for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science/information systems from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth as well as a master’s degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.


* The Minnesota Health Action Group awarded Cromwell Medical Clinic, a member of Integrity Health Network, its “Minnesota Bridges to Excellence” designation for outstanding performance in chronic disease management in 2013. This program recognizes clinics for achieving significant increases in performance over the previous year. Cromwell Medical Clinic received two achievement awards: one for improving outcomes for its diabetic patients and another for improving results for its patients with vascular disease.

* Bigfork Valley Hospital in Bigfork received the 2014 Women’s Choice Award for being voted one of America’s best hospitals for patient experience by women for a third consecutive year. This distinction is the only award that identifies the country’s best health care institutions based on robust criteria that consider female patient satisfaction and what women say they want from a hospital, including quality physician communication, responsiveness of nurses and support staff, cleanliness and trusted referrals from other women.

* William Burns, Jennifer Carey, John Kelly, Cheryl Prince, Tom Torgerson and Charles “Huck” Andresen of the Hanft Fride law firm in Duluth were selected for inclusion in the 2014 Minnesota Super Lawyers list. Only 5 percent of Minnesota lawyers are awarded this honor each year.

In addition, Burns, Carey, Kelly and Prince were included in the 2015 Best Lawyers in America list.

Scott Witty and Ken Kimber of Hanft Fride were selected to the Minnesota Rising Stars list.

* Duluth-based online marketing agency aimClear was named to the Inc. 5000 list for the third-consecutive year. During 2013, the company experienced 345 percent revenue growth, securing the 1,258 spot on the list. Locally, the company placed 18th on the list of the 100 fastest-growing companies in Minnesota. This marks the third consecutive Inc. recognition for aimClear, following its 898 placement in 2013 and 463 Inc. 500 rating in 2012.

* Stephanie Ball, Paul Kilgore, David Oberstar and James Stewart, all of Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith and Frederick law firm in Duluth, were selected for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America 2015.

Additionally, Ball was named the Best Lawyers’ 2015 Duluth Personal Injury Litigation — Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year.


* The Entrepreneur Fund announced the following graduates of its Be Strategic: Grow Your Business series:

Duluth business owners completing the course included: Eric Faust of Duluth Coffee Co.; Catherine Dahlberg of King Manor; Marcel La Fond of La Fond du Lac Projects; Tim Eliason and Troy Eliason of Lakehead Clutch and Brake Rebuilders; Doug Melander of Mainstream Fashion for Men; Roger Schemmer, Andrew Schemmer and Samuel Schemmer of Schemmer’s Cleaning Service; Brian Gustad of Sagewood Gear; Deni Mehle of Serenity Tax and Bookkeeping; Ann Melander of All Over Media; Eileen Brown of How Sweet It Is; Jude Collins of Duluth Casket Shop; Drake Ritchie of MKG International; Jon Hinkel of Tight Squeek Press; and Shawn Niehaus and Holly Niehaus of Tool Chest.

Aitkin business-owners completing the course were: Jay Strangis of American Waterfowler; Shannon May of CAM Center; Thomas Hawkins of Hawkins Sawmill; and Karen Kirt of Suite Spaces.

Grand Rapids business owners who completed the course included: Dennis Benolken of Mangseth Painting; Kari Hutchins of Northern Drug Screening; Alvin Halfaker of Quiet Ride Ear Muffs; and Benjamin Weerts and Brad Nelson of Thrivent Financial Crossings.

Be Strategic is an eight-session series. Participants leave the series with a long-term strategic plan, improved marketing, finance and management skills and a network of business peers. The Entrepreneur Fund also has a team of experts to advise and coach participants, after completion of the series.


* Bill Bennett was re-elected to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Bennett is CEO of LHB Inc. in Duluth. Criteria for the selection of board members include geographic location and type of business in addition to involvement in the chamber, business experience and interest in civic affairs and a commitment to helping shape public policy to ensure Minnesota’s economic competitiveness.


* Genesis Recovery Services LLC recently opened in Suite 310 of 5 N. Third Ave. W. in Duluth. GRS is a Minnesota Department of Human Services Rule 31 licensed treatment facility that provides treatment services for people who have a diagnosed chemical health disorder, or a diagnosed mental health and chemical health disorder. GRS provides therapeutic interventions that are evidence-based in a treatment environment that will enhance and enrich the lives of people diagnosed with either a chemical health disorder, or a chemical and mental health disorder.

The phone number is (218) 722-2368 and the website is

Kathy Jarve is the owner and director of the business. She is licensed in chemical and mental health and received her degrees from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the College of St. Scholastica and the University of Minnesota Duluth. Jarve has worked in the human services field for 18 years.

Genesis Recovery Services also announced the following hires.

Charles Dejarnette was named compliance director. He obtained his associate degree in business administration from Lee College in Bay Town, Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Dejarnette has worked in the chemical health field since 2009.

LeAnn Ryan was hired as a chemical health counselor and clinical supervisor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and her chemical health certificate from the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. She has worked in the human services field for 19 years.

Pam Hicks was named admissions and funding coordinator. Hicks earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2013 from UWS and obtained a chemical health certificate from Mesabi Community College. She is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.


* Bob Wolfe, one of the founders of Builders Commonwealth in Duluth, retired after 31 years with the company. Builders Commonwealth is a commercial and residential general contractor as well as a custom millwork and cabinet fabricator.


* Northern Communities Credit Union announced a grand opening celebration to take place today through Friday during normal business hours, at the E-Branch at The Shops at Bluestone, 1004 Woodland Ave., Duluth.

 This branch specializes in e-services with two full-service, state-of-the-art ATMs and a loan officer available to open new accounts and sign members up for electronic statements, and who can guide members in using the wide variety of online options and services offered.

There will be a ribbon-cutting hosted by the Duluth Chamber of Commerce at 1 p.m. today followed by cake and refreshments. Throughout the week, anyone who opens a new account at the Bluestone branch will receive a free gift from NCCU.

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.