Our Dakota Rising graduates are a diverse group of rural business owners that share the same desire to grow and succeed. If you are a hard-working, visionary rural entrepreneur who wants to build your business through a free 24-month entrepreneur development experience, we’re looking for you.
Our Fellows Do It All!
From bakers to builders, there are all kinds of entrepreneurs in this world. Our Dakota Rising Fellows are a diverse group, but they quickly bond over the shared passions and challenges of being rural business owners. No matter what business you bring to the table, you will be part of something truly special as a Dakota Rising Fellow—just check out the esteemed list of entrepreneurs you’ll be joining.
Jenni is the owner of Help-U-Rent, a full-service property management company in Spearfish. From a young age, Jenni knew she would be an entrepreneur. That became a reality in 2014 with the opportunity to purchase the business. Along with her entrepreneurial spirit, starting at Help-U-Rent as an employee helped her to gain the knowledge of the industry and business she needed to step into the ownership role. Jenni has continued to grow the company and is always looking for more opportunities. Most recently, she started another company called Black Hills Blinds, specializing in custom window coverings. She also serves as a board member for the Spearfish Chamber of Commerce. Jenni has great pride in the Black Hills and the community of Spearfish, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
As long as Julie can remember she had always wanted to open her own business, so in 2014 she decided to go down the entrepreneurial road and opened her first Mainstream Boutique in Aberdeen, SD. This boutique brought so much joy & contentment just within the first year, Julie decided to open a second location in Sioux Falls, SD in the new, Dawley Farm Village location.
With over 25 years of sales experience, Julie offers her customers excellent customer service, quality on-trend fashions, and at affordable pricing. Mainstream Boutique is a Multi-Generational Women’s Clothing & Accessory Boutique.
She earned her bachelor degree with an emphasis in business management at Northern State University. Julie, along with her husband, Greg, and twin daughters, Keeley and Ashley, live in Warner, SD near their family farm.
Carrie Kuhl is co-owner, designer, and retail curator at Hitch Studio in Brookings, SD. Hitch opened its doors in 2014 and specializes in website and graphic design services, wedding planning and invitations, and is a brick-and-mortar store which carries high-end stationery and gift items.
My focus at Hitch is taking care of small businesses who need website, branding, and graphic design services. I love having the opportunity to be a part of an entrepreneur’s journey while starting their business or helping an existing business with a brand update. Renee Halgerson, my business partne, manages the wedding planning and invitation portion of our business. It all lives under the roof of our brick and mortar store in downtown Brookings where we carry fun, unique brands like Kate Spade, Ban.do and Rifle Paper Company. At Hitch our overall goal is to bring products and services to Brookings that focus on good design.
Giving back to the Brookings community is so important to me, because we have experienced so much support while starting our business. I currently serve on the Downtown Brookings, Inc board of directors as well as the Vision Brookings board of directors. I have had the opportunity to teach graphic design at SDSU and love continuing to be a mentor to design students we hire at Hitch. I participate in a Masterminds group which consists of like-minded women who act as a sounding board and hold each other accountable.
Starting Hitch has been such an amazing experience, I could not have asked for a better business partner and I am so excited to see where we will take this business in the future.
Growing up in small town America, Hillarey always knew that “Home is where the Heart is.” After graduating from Northern State University with a BA in Advertising Design Hillarey recognized she would want to return home to support the small community of Britton, the same place that had facilitated her defining qualities she holds today. In return, giving back to the community has been something she felt was natural to do. Hillarey thusly became a member of the Britton Chamber of Commerce in 2015 and also volunteers her time with other organizations and events by helping other local, rural small businesses and community members like herself succeed.
Hillarey took on many different roles through college, ultimately blazing a path for her to be successful in graphic design and molding her into the young, successful professional she is now. In 2014 Hillarey started her company HH Design and survived the distractions of working from home and eventually made her way into leasing a space at a local shop on Main Street. From there she would offer her services from screen-printing to signs, wedding stationeries and even vehicle wrapping for cars, trucks and semi-tractor trailers. Always having the bigger picture in mind and with the success of her store in the lease spaced, it was time to expand. In August of 2016 Hillarey followed through on procuring a building on Main Street that also houses two other community businesses in addition to her own brand-new store that is set for a Grand Opening in December 2016.
Hillarey looks forward to continuing her professional growth within the communities she serves as well as the growth of the communities themselves by being an ongoing part of organizations such as Dakota Rising.
Curt Lout is owner of Mammoth Handcrafted Signs, a full-service sign and awning shop located in Hot Springs, South Dakota. A former United States Marine, Curt has a unique background of fabrication and creative skills, including an extensive background in Visual Communications, a degree earned from the Art Institute of Colorado in 1998 and progressing with advanced fabrication education in the world of custom car and motorcycle industry from The Hot Rod Institute in 2009. Curt is also an internationally recognized freelance photographer. Currently, he is a member of both the Chambers of Commerce in Hot Springs and Custer. Additionally, he serves as a Board Member for the Southern Hills Economic Development Corporation. Furthermore, he is actively involved in the local Rotary Club serving as director of Climb Hot Springs, an annual outdoor stair climbing event. Curt started Mammoth Handcrafted Signs in the summer of 2014 and recently moved to a downtown storefront in Historic Hot Springs. Curt is passionate about preserving the splendor of the age-old craft of traditional sign making while integrating cutting-edge technology.
Rachel was born and raised in Wagner, SD, and attended South Dakota State University where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. After graduating, she and her husband, David, moved to Reno, NV where she practiced as a Registered Nurse for 4 years. After having their first child, they decided to move back to their hometown of Wagner, and Rachel took a job at the local hospital as an RN.
After their second child was born, she and her husband decided that a nurse's schedule wasn’t right for their family. Looking for a way to become her own boss, she decided to start a part-time embroidery business out of her basement, which quickly became more than just a part-time job. She reorganized her small business, changed the name to Apparel WorX, and bought a commercial building on Main Street. Currently, her business offers screen printing and embroidery, and has established a customer base that extends the region. She prides herself on offering a high-quality product with exceptional customer service. She is active in several organizations and committees in Wagner aimed at making her beloved hometown a wonderful place to live and raise her family.
Jay Yohner grew up in Martin, SD; a small rural community with a diverse population of about 1,100 residents. Growing up on a small farm taught him many useful life skills and the value of hard work. He decided to pursue a career in building trades after a year of traditional college at BHSU in Spearfish, SD. Jay moved to Portland Oregon in 2002 and entered into a structural engineering and architectural design program.
In 2004 Jay married Janell, his high school sweetheart and shortly after in 2005 moved back to his hometown of Martin and started his own business Yohner, Inc. Jay began the third generation of serving the area following his father and grandfather in residential and commercial building services. With a vision to bring industry and manufacturing into the area, Jay saw great potential in one young employee. In 2014 a new business Pioneer Buildings Inc. was created between Jay Yohner and Bradley Hahn.
Renee Halgerson is co-owner, designer, and event stylist at Hitch Studio. Opened in February 2014, Hitch Studio specializes in graphic design + website design, wedding invitations + wedding styling, and is a brick-and-mortar paperie + gift shop in Brookings, South Dakota.
Since there are three divisions of Hitch Studio, Renee focuses on the wedding division— designing invitations and decorating weddings. Her business partner, Carrie Kuhl, is the graphic design and website design specialist, and together, they run the retail store full of fun stationery and gifts. Carrie and Renee have deep roots in Brookings. They both graduated from SDSU, both taught at SDSU, and have hired several student employees from SDSU. It was important to them to also serve a market that needed services like theirs.
Renee is a strong believer in giving back to her community. She is a member of a Masterminds women’s group and attends 1 Million Cups. She has served on committees for Business & Professional Women (BPW), United Way, AIGA, and volunteered with Junior Achievement, and the SDSU Sioux Empire Staters executive board.
After winning the “Brookings Downtown Business of the Year” award in its first year of business, Renee knows there are big plans for Hitch Studio — and even bigger dreams as she and Carrie work their way through the Dakota Rising program!
Bradley Hahn grew up in Martin, a small town in the middle of the southern part of South Dakota. Brad enjoyed his hometown rural setting and instead of leaving it for better opportunities, he decided to create his own. When Brad was young he helped his father with odd construction jobs. At the time, his dad was in charge of maintenance/remodel of a few apartment buildings. Brad learned that he loved to build and started his first construction job at the age of sixteen for Yohner, Inc. Brad’s boss would turn out to be his future business partner four years later. In 2015, Brad and Jay Yohner founded Pioneer Buildings, Inc. which is a 50/50 post frame construction business. The business’s main goal is to increase efficiency during the construction stage. This means decreasing the time it takes to construct their post frames, creating less waste and reducing any possible mistakes.
Construction is Brad’s passion. They say, “If you love your job you won’t work a day in your life.” Brad is still waiting for his first day of work.
Ruth was born and raised in St. Georgen, Switzerland and lived there until she was 18 years old.
In 1985 Ruth saw an advertisement in her hometown newspaper about an American family looking for a Swiss nanny. She got the job and was on an airplane a month later. Coming to the United States was her dream since childhood!
After spending 23 years in Miller, SD working in the transportation industry, Ruth and her son moved to Wagner, SD where she spent several years as the Transportation Coordinator for the Marty Indian School.
In 2013 Ruth had the opportunity to purchase a 34-foot stretch H2 Limousine. She opened up Custom Touch and Limo, offering multiple services including detailing services, a graphics shop and custom signs as well as automotive, commercial and residential tinting. The front of the shop is a retail area with shirts, boots, chaps, gloves, leather jackets, helmets and other assorted items. Last but not least, they offer limousine service with two 34 foot stretch limos, a H2 Hummer and a Cadillac Escalade. Ruth and her family are working together in this endeavor.
Ruth considers her biggest accomplishments as becoming a wife/ mother, becoming a citizen of the United States and becoming an entrepreneur.
Les grew up on the family farm near Spring Brook, ND. His education included an Associate of Art degree at the University of North Dakota at Williston followed by a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Minot State University in North Dakota.
Les and his wife, Cindy, bought their first hardware store in Watford City, ND from his father-in-law in March 1988. Les was very involved in his community by being a member of the volunteer Fire Department, EMT, and Chamber President. He sold the hardware store in June 2003 and moved to Deadwood, SD to begin purchase his current store, Twin-City Hardware, Lumber & Rental.
Les enjoys golfing in his spare time. He and his wife have 2 daughters, 1 son, 2 son-in-laws and 1 granddaughter.
From early childhood, Chad was convinced that being an entrepreneur was going to be the best path to independence and creation--his two favorite things. He spent ten years in the corporate world acting as a major player on several multi-billion dollar projects, all while dreaming of starting his own business.
In 2010, Chad began his entrepreneurial journey with Iron Outfitter, a metal fabrication business, and since then started Dakota Cable Solutions Inc., a consulting/engineering firm, and Colorado Excavating, a construction company. Chad has an unwavering love for business and watching his young employees develop their skills. He constantly dreams of creating more opportunity and developing new products-- and is taking the necessary steps to move in that direction.
David earned his Associates of Applied Science with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems in 2000 at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, SD. David moved to Sioux Falls to work for Gateway Computers, until family ties moved him home to Aberdeen. David pursued his technology career with PC Lan Computer Center in Aberdeen until 2011.
With over 10 years’ experience in the IT industry, serving his loyal clientele as a business owner was the obvious professional leap, which led David to opening CompQuest Technology. As a knowledgeable and motivated person, David had earned the personal and professional respect of many locals and businessmen in and around the Aberdeen community by providing them with the best technology service and sales in the industry. CompQuest Technology personally engages with customers to deliver the best Information Technology solutions necessary to work and live, anytime – anywhere.
Dr. Bob McIntosh
Dr. Robert (Bob) L. McIntosh is Board Certified with the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners in Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, and Rehabilitation. He is a Native of NE Wyoming, and now lives in Spearfish with his wife, Jenny, and their two daughters.
He attended BHSU in Spearfish for his undergraduate degree in Biology, prior to that he completed Diesel School to become a mechanic. After his bachelor's degree, he attended Western States Chiropractic College (now University of Western States) in NE Portland, OR. During his time in school Dr. McIntosh was appointed as the occupational safety program developer where he implemented back safety programs within many Portland businesses like Pepsi, UPS, Miller Paint Company, and Waxie Bathroom Supply. He also is registered with OSHA to become a workplace safety instructor. In 2013 Dr McIntosh was awarded as Chiropractic Alumni of the year.
Locally, Dr. McIntosh assisted in teaching Anatomy in the new laboratories at BHSU. He was also the President of Spearfish Canyon Connections, a chapter of Business Network International (BNI). Dr McIntosh supports the local Chamber of Commerce by being an active board member.
Barbra Pechous was raised in the southeast corner of South Dakota in the small town of Springfield. Enjoying the small town feel, she and her husband Scott, now reside in Avon, SD. She is the editor/publisher and general manager of the Wagner Post, Lake Andes Wave and Announcer, a weekly newspaper firm located in Wagner, South Dakota. The newspaper provides coverage for the towns of Wagner, Lake Andes, Marty, Ravinia, Pickstown, Dante and for the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The Wagner Post and Lake Andes Wave include weekly columns from Roger Wiltz sharing his hunting and fishing stories, to Vince Two Eagles sharing tribal stories and issues.
Barb began her career in the newspaper business in 1995 as a typesetter and quickly advanced to editor, but she always dreamed of having her own newspaper. After working for several years in various sales positions, Barb’s dream eventually came true as she was offered a partnership in 2013 with Taboma Publications LLC. Her newest goal is to now be the sole owner within three years. Barb has always been very dedicated and hardworking when trying to achieve her goals for her newspapers. She does not let any obstacles get in her way; she perseveres and keeps working towards her dreams. Barb hopes to one day add an interactive e-edition newspaper to her weeklies as well as an active website. Barb’s future is bright as she strives to provide the best product for her community.
As a child, growing up on a farm twelve miles south of Dante, South Dakota, Cheryl Swatek learned many of her cooking and baking skills from her mother and grandmother. Some of her fondest memories growing up were being in the kitchen with her grandmother making homemade kolaches, which are now a staple at her bakery. In 1995 she decided to try her hand at cake decorating. Over the next twenty years, Swatek would become a self-taught cake artist who worked her way through the restaurant and cake industry at many levels.
Since opening her commercial storefront in 2014, in Wagner, South Dakota, she recalls upon her favorite memories with her grandmother to provide the community with homemade, never frozen, treats that are reminiscent of her childhood and a time gone by. The bakery, known as a family-run business, is located on Main Street Wagner. If you stop by for a coffee, expect to be greeted by her husband, Johnny, and other members of her family.
Dakota Rising Alumni
Born and raised in the Northern Black Hills, Monte Amende received a degree in mass communications from the University of South Dakota in 1993. He has been designing and administering websites since the mid-1990’s. In 2002, Monte joined TDG as Creative Director. He is responsible for much of the agency’s success in the digital arena and oversees and directs the agency’s growing team of creatives.
He penned travel books for some of the nation's biggest publishers by his 25th birthday. He helped launch an online multiplayer video game. And then there's that whole Oxford University-educated thing. But being part of the first generation to start kindergarten with computers (starting somewhere in ancient antiquity with the Apple IIe), Dustin has unique insight into the way online trends are shaping the buying habits and attitudes of today's consumers. As TDG Communications’ Benevolent Overlord, that kind of experience comes in handy as he advises clients marketing to a new generation of consumers. In between blogging and social networking, he's addicted to episodes of Futurama – and, in a true testament to his geekiness, he understands most of the jokes.
Mark was born and raised on a ranch south of Pierre. He received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business at Dakota State University and his life goal was to own his own business. Mark’s first job after college was in a retail management training program for Woolworth. The training was priceless but the advancements were tough so he left in pursuit of his dream to own a business. After other business ventures, Mark started a mobile home repair company. He also wrote a book on mobile home repair and built a website to promote it and later added mobile home parts sales. Increased website sales meant needing more space. After renting a couple of locations, he bought a 4,500 square foot building including a retail store. If Mark could write the next chapter, it would be growing into a 10,000 square foot building with sales of several million dollars a year!
Cristin grew up in Bailey, Colorado where she spent her childhood. After graduation she moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to attend college. While attending college, Cristin worked at DEA Construction Company where she was promoted to office manager. Since moving back to South Dakota, she has spent the last 11 years enjoying marriage, raising kids and working. Cristin worked in the medical field for the first part of those years; first as a receptionist in a doctor’s office and then from home as a medical transcriptionist for a national company. She also owned her own business as a medical transcription subcontractor. Four years ago, Cristin and her husband, Shane, bought an old rundown building that had been an old bar for over 20 years. They spent 3-months remodeling to open The Hot Springs Vault. They have been in business going on four years and love what they do. The Stewarts have found balance with their business and home life staying actively involved in the kids schooling and afterschool activities. In the last 4 years Shane and Cristin have grown leaps and bounds both professionally and personally and would not change any of it. The rollercoaster ride of owning and operating a business has been tough but they will stick with it through the end because they enjoy the ride.
Tobey Vander Laan
Tobey and his dad, Wayne, run Renegade Auto and Wild Dutchman Seeds. Tobey is a farm boy through and through. Growing up, he farmed with his family and raised dairy cows and feeder cattle. Tobey attended Lake Area Vo-tech in Watertown and received his auto mechanics degree. He and wife, Sandra, moved back to the farm where Tobey did most of the mechanic work. In 1994, he started Renegade Auto, a body shop, with a friend. Tobey also turned their old hip roof milking barn into a hunting lodge and moved Wild Dutchman Seeds to a part of that barn. In 2006, the hunting lodge burned down, destroying the Wild Dutchman Seeds homemade equipment. Tobey didn't give up though, he restarted Wild Dutchman Seeds in a new facility where they are today. That wasn't the end of his hardships. In 2007, Tobey lost his home to a fire. Later that year, Tobey moved a Governor's house to their farm where he and his brother-in-law completed all of the restorations in time for Tobey's family to move into their new home in 2008.
Focus West Gallery
Les has been a professional photographer since 1990. After learning the ins and outs of the stock photography business as a Photo Editor and Image Library Manager, he decided to put his skills to the test with his own work.
Les is also a teacher, teaching photography classes and workshops. In 2001, Profotos.com selected him as one of the top 100 photographers in the country.
Les is widely published and his published images have appeared in magazines, advertising campaigns, retail packaging, calendars, websites, books and more. Les and his wife, Julaine, own Focus West Gallery in Spearfish, as well as a stock photo agency, Royal Tine Images, Inc. Les' work is also available in several galleries and art shows throughout South Dakota and the western US.
Mark Stein is a second-generation owner of ESCO Manufacturing, a wholesale electric sign manufacturing firm with facilities in Watertown and Webster, S.D. ESCO's primary customers are sign companies, which are located all across the United States. Also part of ESCO is Stein Sign Display, a retail sign company that sells, services, and installs signs for end-user customers, primarily in eastern South Dakota. Mark has been in and around the sign business almost his entire life, starting while still in high school during summer vacations. After graduating from Northern State in Aberdeen, Mark obtained his MBA from Arizona State University in 1979. While in college, Mark held several part-time jobs to pay for school expenses. These included videographer for KABY-TV, News Director for the campus radio station, and onsite management of a storage rental complex. Mark then joined the family business in 1980, holding several different positions in the company before purchasing the business from his father, Clint Stein, in 1989.
Dee has owned and operated Chicken Creek Communications, a full-service graphic design and communication service, since 2001. The business is located in Spearfish on the northern edge of South Dakota's Black Hills.
Dee earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University before the Internet explosion. She specializes in print communications, but she is well-versed in web design and marketing options, as well. She is currently pursuing her master's degree in journalism through the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's distance program.
Dee has taught Mass Communications courses at Black Hills State University and has taught web design courses through the Black Hills Community Education program. She volunteers with various clubs and organizations throughout Spearfish. She currently serves on the Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Dee and her husband, Matt, have three daughters.
After graduating with a business degree from Northern State University, Jenny worked in various offices and spent over 10 years with Farm Credit Services of America as a Country Home Loan Officer. Work was good, but she knew she wanted something more.
In fall 2006, Jenny completed a Floral Studies Program at Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls and tested to become a member of the South Dakota Designers Club. Being educated in the floral industries area was important to Jenny — she wanted to be ready to own the business in 2007.
As an active part of the Sisseton community, Jenny owns and operates the Sisseton Flower Shop. In the past four years her goal has been to expand the gift area of the shop and ultimately be recognized as a more than just a flower shop, since she offers another service to the Sisseton area.
Jim has always been a hands-on sort of guy. He spent his teen years building stuff and wrenched in a bike shop. In college, he joined the solar car race team and spent far more effort designing and building solar cars than he did on classes. Fortunately, Jim had a knack for standardized tests and was accepted to graduate school in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. While there, he worked a bit on hybrid car technology and did his thesis on race car data acquisition. In 2006, he quit his real job and moved to Australia with his wife to train more and find inspiration. He was only there a few weeks before he really wanted a power meter, but didn't like the options. Jim realized that his background in bicycles, engineering and data was a good fit, so he decided to build one himself — and then Quarq was born. Quarq started shipping their first production units 2.5 years later in June 2008. In 2009, Quarq sponsored Cervelo TestTeam, a professional cycling team lead by Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre.
Black Hills Urethane
Castaway Products, located in Westlock, Alberta, Canada, was started by Chris Malo in 2002. But before starting his own business venture, he was the fifth employee hired at Lehman Trikes and worked there for eight years as a machinist, draftsman, Quality and Safety Manager, and Plant Manager. Lehman Trikes started in John Lehman's garage and eventually became the largest trike company in the world. The opportunities and education Chris received from this experience were critical in building the skills he needed to succeed in business. After four successful years in business in Canada, Chris had the opportunity to expand his operation into the USA — he jumped at the offer. Black Hills Urethane began operations in May 2006 and within two years B.H.U. had tripled in size.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Bryan has always had an eye toward television, video and film production. Growing up, it seemed he was always the official photographer and moviemaker for family vacations. During his career he has produced television specials from the Olympic Games to the Super Bowl. In local television, broadcasting as a sports director and special projects producer, he pioneered an award-winning documentary series on "Midwestern Wetlands Restoration" and was host of "Outdoor Iowa" and the groundbreaking "Friday Night Heroes" high school sports specials. More than 30 years of working both in front of and behind the camera, as well as experience in marketing and public relations, has provided him with in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the media world. In 2005, he founded Western Sky Media, Inc. and the company now produces the "Professional Roughstock Series" rodeo program for the BlueHighways TV cable network. Western Sky Media is based in Spearfish, S.D., and serves clients in five states, specializing in television production, commercial work and educational and non-profit videos. Western Sky Media also designs and hosts video-intensive websites.
Hula Design/Build Architecture
Tom earned his Master of Architecture degree from Montana State University in 2001 and interned for firms in New York City and Sioux Falls. In 2008, Tom opened Hula Design/Build Architecture, with offices in his native Aberdeen and in Sioux Falls. His firm is involved in various community-oriented project including downtown streetscape and façade projects, school and college designs, low-income housing, community planning, office, religious, retail and hospitality. Tom is also developing high-quality residential and commercial projects with the idea that Dakotans deserve better quality. Hula's mission statement is "Bring more thoughtful design to the upper plains."
In addition to Hula, Tom is also involved in several community organizations, builds office furniture, and co-hosts the Rock Garden Tour on South Dakota Public Radio.
Chad is co-owner and president of Homan Welding, a welding and repair company that started as a business adventure with his brother, Brian, in 2007. The desire of both Chad and Brian to be their own boss inspired them to start the company from the ground up. Previously, Chad worked as an employee on a farming and livestock ranch for 10 years. Before that, Chad was involved in the dairy industry, where he owned and managed a small dairy farm for two years.
Lori opened Quilter’s Corner, in Faulkton, S.D. in August of 2009. Lori grew up in rural South Dakota and developed a passion for quilting shortly after marrying her husband, Kurt, 31 years ago. She and her husband have owned and operated a cattle ranch for over 30 years and in 1997 added a hunting lodge to the business. After working for several years at a quilt shop in Aberdeen, S.D., her dream came true in 2009 when she opened Quilter’s Corner and her vision of "someday" moving to a larger location became a reality in spring 2011. Quilter’s Corner is quickly becoming a destination shop with many customers traveling 50+ miles to share their enthusiasm for quilting and provide overwhelming support for a small-town, local business.
Mark Hollenbeck is an Edgemont, S.D. native. He holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and is a licensed Professional Engineer in South Dakota.
Mark has been involved in energy-producing industries for much of his career, designing and managing natural gas systems for the Black Hills Division of Montana Dakota Utilities and as the Executive Director of the South Dakota Office of the American Petroleum Institute. He was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives where he served from 1989 through 1994. He also served as Mayor of Edgemont from 2001 to 2006. Along with his wife and four young children, he lives and ranches on an organic ranch north of Edgemont. In addition to their grass-fed organic business, they run a guest lodge and hunting operation at their ranch.
Mark is also the Project Manager for Powertech (USA) on the Dewey-Burdock Uranium Recovery project. This is a project that will employ approximately 100 people when it is operational.
Trail Tamer ATV, Inc.
Brad Heitmann was born and raised in the northeast corner of South Dakota by Lake City but the businesses he has owned or managed have taken him to Arkansas, Missouri and North Carolina. Currently, Brad is the President/CEO of Trail Tamer ATV, Inc of Eden, S.D., a company that specializes in the design and manufacturing of four-, six- and eight-wheel amphibious vehicles. A division of that same company is an ag equipment parts, repair and welding facility that markets its products worldwide. Brad, a true entrepreneur and developer, is dedicated to the success of the communities he lives in. He is actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce as President and V. President, Community Development V. President, A+ committee board member, Main Street Program facilitator, Workforce Investment Board private sector, Awarded Missouri Volunteer of the Year, Training Consortium Chairman, Rotary Sgt. At Arms and attended Presidents Economic Development Conference in DC — among numerous other personal development classes and seminars over his long career. Brad has three children: Brody (14), Katie (7), and Kylie (5).
Josh Fritz & Jeff Drumm
Josh is the Vice President/Owner of Crow Peak Brewing Co., LLC. Josh grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana where he learned the value of hard work and being self-employed, but it was in Montana and later Colorado where he developed a taste for premium, handcrafted beer. Josh and his wife Tanya and their newborn daughter Josie moved to Wall, S.D. in 2002 to manage the family ranch. In 2009, they sold the ranch and decided to go in a different direction. Having spent seven years in South Dakota with virtually no good beer to speak of, Josh convinced the rest of his family to invest in Crow Peak. With an email and a couple of phone calls to Jeff Drumm, the founder and current co-owner, the plan was set in motion! Crow Peak has grown from a five-barrel brewing system to a 30-barrel system and is the first brewery to distribute in South Dakota since 1942 and the only one to date.
Having grown up in Britton, S.D., Kristin Bennett graduated in 1982 and left for sunny California where she earned degrees in art, graphics and business administration with an emphasis in public relations and marketing. After college, she worked as a recruiter for IBM, shared in her father's business, and began her career in non-profit management in 1991. Having been widowed, then divorced, she found the job market to be extremely attractive in Denver. She moved there for a period of three years, greatly expanding her non-profit management business in the process. In August 2007, she realized that South Dakota was the best place to raise her kids and made the move 'back home'. Today, Kristin runs her business in Britton, where she lives with her three children: Emma (13), Clara (9), and Joe (8). They are surrounded by horses, cats, dogs, and a loving, supportive extended family.
Vanilla Bean Bakery
Peg Austin entered the baking trade after a successful 30+ year career in the healthcare industry. During her medical career, she worked as business office manager for a multi-specialty physician clinic, served as VP of a medical outsourcing company, taught physician reimbursement nationwide, and co-authored a college-level textbook. Peg and her husband of 33 years (and business partner) Chuck have two grown sons and have been part of the South Dakota business/healthcare industry since 1985.
An opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of owning a bakery presented itself in 2009, and she accepted the challenge of keeping fond memories of a favorite hometown bakery alive, while bringing healthy trends and new tastes to the residents of Spearfish. With her new designation as a Dakota Rising Fellow, she looks forward to working hand-in-hand with the residents and business communities of South Dakota to further the entrepreneurial spirit.
Anderson Industries LLC president Kory Anderson’s experience in the manufacturing industry started at age 12 when he began working for his father’s business as a welder and machinist. In the last three years, he has managed the operations of Anderson Industries, a company he started in 2006. Prior to that, he was employed as the Engineering Manager for the Horsch Anderson Company, which manufactures large seeding and tillage equipment for agriculture. He was responsible for the design and manufacturing of new products, as well as managing the engineering relations with Horsch Anderson and partner company Horsch Maschinen GmbH located in Sitzenhof, Germany. Previous to his management position at Horsch Anderson, Kory attended North Dakota State University and studied Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. During college, Kory worked at Larson Welding and Machine Company in Fargo, ND as the welding and machine shop 2nd shift supervisor.
The father and son team of Richard and Chris Brill started RABCO products in 2002 and moved it to Spearfish in 2009 to fill a niche of selling and manufacturing custom vinyl envelopes, sheet protectors, badge ID holders, restaurant menu covers, and more. RABCO is able to foil stamp logos and other information on their products as well. With Richard’s 40+ years in the plastics manufacturing industry and Chris’ business and IT background with MCI Communications and other telecom companies, they are determined to grow RABCO products into a competitive plastics manufacturing company. RABCO has leased a facility in Spearfish, SD, and has purchased several machines in order to manufacture in the Black Hills. Chris and Richard are off to a great start and look forward to many years here in SD.
From an early age, Emily has known that one day she would operate a large company. She has used every job and experience as a learning opportunity to gain the skills needed to be successful. Working as a distributor, owning her own salons, being a landlord, and managing her family of six and foster children on a budget has prepared her for this next stage. Over the past two years, she and her husband have researched and started Double Duty portable Storage and Movers in Aberdeen. The company provides services to both residents and commercial businesses that need moving, portable storage, and transfer services. Currently operating in the Aberdeen area, the company plans to expand to the Midwest region and eventually become the leading portable storage and moving company in the nation. Double Duty’s ability to meet customer needs and professional image will set them apart from others. The time has now come to take the business to the next level.
Cindy and Jerry Kopecky opened The potting Shed Greenhouse the spring of 2010. A long time passion for gardening and the desire to own their own business has led them to a successful businessventure in Faulkton, SD. The business and finance experience that Cindy gained as the Business Official of the Faulkton Area Schools for the past 27 years has been a valuable asset tothe Kopecky’s. The potting Shed is the only greenhouse in the county and the Kopecky’s have enjoyed building the business into a destination spot for surrounding community residents. One of their goals was to enhance the gardening experience for residents by offering classes, project Days, and new and innovative products.
Cindy and Jerry have been lifelong residents of the Faulkton area; raised three sons; have seven grandchildren; and play a very active role in their community and church.
Margaret was born and raised in Isabel, SD. After graduating from Isabel High School, she attended Stewart’s School of Hairstyling and received herCosmetology License. Margaret started her own business out of her home in Isabel and as her business grew, moved it to a larger location on Main Street, Isabel. In 1989, she and her husband, Dennis, purchased Hel-Mar Candles and renamed it Dakota Country Candles, merging it and her hair salon into one building. Margaret operated these businesses full-time until choosing to pursue a degree in Education. After graduating with an Education Degree, Suma Cum Laude from Northern State University and SiTanka University, she taught at Eagle Butte Upper Elementary until she and Dennis took 100% ownership of the implement and car dealership they’d been in partnership with for over 25 years. They also purchased the local motel and completed extensive remodeling. After successfully moving the motel forward, they decided to remodel the two-story home that was part of the original purchase. They continue to operate and build the business through the present time.
Margaret and Dennis have four children and eight grandchildren.
After a typical childhood in Aberdeen, Troy packed his things and headed for Los Angeles to attend film school at the University of Southern California. He graduated in 1987 and worked in the film business for about thirteen months. He didn’t like the direction he was headed. Troy went back to the University and convinced them he was a graphic designer and was hired by the School of Business.
Troy moved back home to Aberdeen, got married, bought a house and began working as a graphic designer. Ten years later he would have a staff of 13 and dozens of name-brand Aberdeen accounts. Troy and wife Suzette purchased a historic building in downtown Aberdeen and continue to restore it. McQuillen Creative Group offices out of this building.
Troy has grown his business from a one-man shop that only did graphic design to a multi-person, multi-media company that creates marketing strategies, video productions, websites, print collateral, signage, and pR. Troy enjoys salvaging diseased elm wood and crafting beautiful objects from the tainted wood. His latest venture, Elmwood Studios, will attempt to market these products nationwide.
Kelly grew up on a family farm in rural Faulk County, SD. After high school he attended Mitchell Vo-Tech receiving a degree as an electrician. Kelly worked in the Minneapolis area as an electrician, but had a strong desire to return to his family’s farm. He moved back to the Faulkton area where he ran Kelly’s Electric and farmed and ranched with his father. He formed a partnership with his father called M&M Farms. While farming, he saw a need for a heavy duty bale feeder that would be durable and eliminate waste caused by the feeders that were available. Kelly and a friend worked together to design a unique cradle-style bale feeder, which Kelly later patented. Common Sense Balefeeder became its registered trademark name. Kelly began creating additional products that were needed by livestock producers. He made Common Sense Manufacturing his full-time endeavor. Kelly has increased his staff to over twelve employees, grown a dealership network of more than seventy dealers in eight states, and recently added a satellite facility in the Sioux Falls area.
Jeff & Robin prior have been the driving force behind this family owned business since its start in 1999. Dakota Greens of Custer was a roadside flower stand on the family property until 2004. The prior’s were married in Custer in 2000 and made it their permanent residence in 2004. Jeff retired from the US Army in 2006. The greenhouse and nursery business has steadily grown, retails a full line of garden plants, and is proud to supply and care for the City of Custer’s beautiful hanging gardens every Spring. These baskets are displayed by Custer’s main street business district from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Jeff is a Certified Nurseryman, holds an A.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture, and a grower of Annuals & perennials well suited for the Black Hills area of South Dakota. The family is active in the Custer community. Robin sits on the Custer Arts Council and teaches dance. Jeff and Robin are members of the Chamber of Commerce, Custer’s Garden Club, and have two children.
Lorri was born and raised on a ranch west of Belle Fourche, SD. While playing basketball at the University of South Dakota, she developed foot problems. She had to have surgical reconstruction of both of her flat feet, which led her into podiatry. Lorri graduated from Des Moines University with the degree of Doctor of podiatric Medicine. She opened her first solo practice – Black Hills Foot Clinic – in Spearfish in 1992. Dr. Riley started the Spearfish Surgery Center in 1995.
In 2005, Lorri received a patent for ThinNail®, a topical treatment for thinning thick nails. In 2006, she formed a company called Rylo, Inc. to market ThinNail®. Her most recent product is called J1 Insoles®. J1 Insoles® is patent pending for its unique design in providing a generic arch support for people with flat feet. Dr. Riley currently has her own solo practice in Spearfish where she treats patients along with running Rylo, Inc which manufactures and markets ThinNail® and J1 Insoles®. Lorri also greatly enjoys and feels very blessed to have traveled on medical mission trips to Nepal.
Ron's childhood was spent on the rural prairies near Carpenter, South Dakota. He attended school in Willow Lake while his passion for design grew. Farm and shop class experiences with welding and fabrication provided creative outlets and problem-solving opportunities. After graduating high school in 1987 and a brief stint in a packing plant, he enrolled at Lake Area Votech in Watertown, SD in June of 1988. He received a degree in Advanced Building Trades, which gave him tools to take on design and construction problems.
He next moved to DeSmet, SD where he went to work for Gordon Holland Construction. This was a position that brought valuable experience which enhanced his education in this trade.
In the spring of 1991 he started a small manufacturing business in his garage; Yankee Manufacturing. Through Yankee, he produced a small group of products he designed, built, and delivered. It was no shortage of determination or ingenuity that enabled him to come up with a straw chipper hinge kit for John Deere combines. He sold these products across North America after being featured in Farm Show Magazine.
In 1994 he started his own construction business. The following summer he sold the rights to his hinge kits and shut down Yankee Manufacturing to focus on the construction business. During the summer of 1996, he had the opportunity to bui8ld a show home for Enercept, Inc. (a national leader in structural insulated panels or 'SIPs') at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron, SD. He found working with these panels enjoyable and gained valuable exposure.
In response to a friend's need to frame a cabin, he traveled to the Black Hills where he found the natural beauty, low humidity and lack of mosquitoes too good to leave behind. For the next year he worked at developing a business on Terry Peak while still contracting jobs in DeSmet. In August 2001, he finally moved to Lead. Since that time, he has built more than 20 custom homes (15 on Terry Peak alone), most of which he designed himself.
He has created many custom staircases in the course of building these homes, and began welding the snowflake design in the stair railing and deck railings. Just in the past couple years, he has started making the railings as stand-alone products.
I have always loved to cook. Before my Mom corralled me to start helping her in the house, I spent the summers making mud pies with my sisters. We even set up our store and sold them to our brothers!
My husband Fred and I got married in the drought year of 1976, and began our dairy business just weeks later. We were blessed with seven wonderful children in fourteen years. We worked together as a family in our dairy and farm until the barn burned to the ground in 1992. I began working at the Legion Café in Orient in 1993, and that was where my catering career began to blossom. Once again, we were working together as a family, as we prepared and fed up to 900 people at a single event. It took all hands to make it work! But working together is what we do best.
Our children are grown and gone from home. Five of them served in the military, and three are full time military today. Two of our daughters are Registered Nurses, and one graduated with a BS from SDSU and is employed by R&R Pheasant Lodge as their manager and works part-time for me, and the youngest daughter is full time Air Force. Our oldest son is full time Army National Guard, and our youngest is in the Marines. We are blessed to have our middle son farming with us.
Our annual Mother’s Day Buffet (this year’s will be our 20th) embodies my families’ mission. We all work together, make a crazy amount of delicious foods, and have a great time doing it. We end up with 6 different entrees, 24 salads, 18 desserts, 6 different kinds of breads, as well as numerous choices of potatoes and vegetables. We have tried to cut back, but no one knows how to do LESS! We all enjoy going the extra mile, as long as we have each other to lean on. We truly find JOY in working together.
My dad always told me, and I have passed it onto my children, “You might as well learn to enjoy what you HAVE to do. When you work with a good attitude, your job is half done.”
After graduating from Faulkton High School in 2000, Lisa Mueller attended Concordia College, Moorhead, MN where she earned her BA in Exercise Science. With her passion in the health and wellness field, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in massage therapy, therefore continued her education at Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, MN, while also employed as a personal trainer. Lisa had always had the dream and lifelong goal of being a successful entrepreneur.
After her marriage to husband Kyle, they moved to Algona, IA where she opened her own massage business, Mueller Therapeutic Massage in 2005. The background and expertise that Lisa brought to her business of overall wellness and fitness made her business an immediate success. With the opportunity to move to South Dakota in 2012, she, her husband, and four children moved, to Faulkton, where she was born and raised on a family farm.
She was excited to relocate her Mueller Therapeutic Massage business as well as start a new business venture with her husband, Mueller Properties, LLC. Since relocation, she continues to add additional health services to her massage therapy business, meeting the needs of more individuals. As an active member of her church and community, Lisa has high expectations for her business, and looks forward to the continuous growth and challenges her business may encounter in the future.
Melanie was born and raised in Bend, Oregon. After high school she attended Central Oregon Community College and then Western Oregon State University majoring in Early Childhood Education. Discovering she had a passion for business, she went into partnership and ran her first restaurant in Oregon for ten years. She then decided to move to Faulkton in 2010 to be closer to her family and take over her parent’s business. The Burger Shack was established in 2003 by her parents, then they decided to retire and sell the business to Melanie.
Melanie has been in the food and beverage industry for twenty years, owning a restaurant in Oregon and general Managing a restaurant and Lodge in Kula, Hawaii. After a lease option on the Burger Shack for two years, Melanie purchased the business and building from her parents in 2012.
Moving to Faulkton has been a great place to raise her three children, Molly who is currently a freshman at NDSU in Fargo, Michael who is a junior and Max who is a freshman, both whom are attending Faulkton High school. The Faulkton community has been such a wonderful support to Melanie’s family and the Burger Shack, and Melanie is so thankful to be a part of this community.
Jamie was born and raised in Washington state. After overcoming childhood downfalls she was adopted at age 10. A natural born leader, Jamie moved her family to Lead to follow her dream of owning her own coffee shop. Jamie began Lotus Up Espresso and Deli in 2010. Under her leadership, the coffee house has experience 200% increase in gross income, lowered the cost of goods by 3% and now employs between 4 and 7 people. Since purchasing the coffee shop, she has added a drive thru, banquet room and large outside deck. Her next large leap of faith will be moving the coffee shop to a new location, which she will not only be a business owner, but also the building owner.