Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards


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These awards celebrate the Spirit of Entrepreneurship in our region and honor entrepreneurs who have followed their dreams, taken risks, and found success.

The UMD Center for Economic Development (CED) had its largest-ever attendee registration (more than 500) and most-ever nominees (76) during its 25th annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards, which were announced on Wednesday, April 26, during an inspirational luncheon at the DECC.

Among the speakers were event namesake Joel Labovitz and Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, who proclaimed April 26 as Joel Labovitz Day in the City of Duluth.

Since 1993, the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards have recognized business owners who have dared to dream, taken risks and invested in the region. This year’s award recipients, honored as part of U.S. Small Business Week, were selected from nominees from throughout the Twin Ports and Arrowhead Region.

And the recipients of the 25th Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards are…



Clover Valley Farms – Cindy Hale, Clover Valley
In 2012, the idea of a farm business built around a unique product like fruit vinegars was untested. Since launching its line of culinary vinegars in 2014, Clover Valley Farms has established its brand, rapidly grown production capacity, tripled sales and is solidly positioned for long-term success.



Vikre Distillery – Emily and Joel Vikre, Duluth
Vikre Distillery sustainably handcrafts gin, aquavit, vodka and whiskey. It favors recyclable packaging, uses all organic and/or local grains, and is working to become a zero-waste facility. Its products have won multiple national awards, and Vikre Distillery was also voted USA Today’s Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery.



The Tongue and Groove Store – Ann and Kyle Anderson, Duluth
This wood component manufacturer has grown revenues and space, successfully emerging from dramatic industry shifts. The nature of the business requires hiring entry-level employees and providing training to develop their skillsets, giving them a quality career path and adding to the local economy.



The Black Woods Group – Bryan Flaherty, Duluth
Growing up in the hospitality business, Flaherty branched out further, adding Black Woods Grill & Bar locations, the Greysolon Ballroom & Moorish Room, Black Water Lounge, Tavern on the Hill, and catering. Flaherty and his team have developed consistent and steady growth as well as longevity in an industry where others come and go frequently, which is a strong indication of success.



Yker Acres – Sara and Matt Weik, Carlton
Yker Acres annually produces more than 80,000 pounds of pork while growing 75 percent of its own feed. The company, which will install solar power this summer, has its pork featured at Duluth restaurants and grocers, and through direct sales. Yker Acres has won several awards, including the 2016 Mpls/St. Paul Magazine “Best Pork Chop.”



L&M Fleet Supply – Erik Andersen, Del Matteson and Shawn Matteson, Grand Rapids
Now managed by its third generation of owners, L&M Fleet Supply is an established, general merchandise retailer with a history of steadily growing its store size and numbers. With a corporate office in Grand Rapids and nine locations in northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, the company employs more than 650 people. L&M not only competes strongly against national big-box retailers, it continues to successfully go against statistics that say fewer than 1 percent of all businesses reach a third generation, let alone stay in the same family.


Nominees for the 25th Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards


Brule River Barn Wedding and Event Center – Jill and Kirk Clemmer, Brule

Clover Valley Farms – Cindy Hale, Clover Valley

DKK Accounting LLC – Joshua B. Standley, EA, ABA, Duluth

Duluth Preserving Company, Inc – Mary Dragich, Duluth

Ely Design Works – Kara Polyner, Ely

Gadget ER – Abram Osborne, Grand Rapids

Iron Mug Coffee House – Brandon Johnson and Paul Johnson, Duluth

Kickstarters Soccer – Sarah Wilmot, Duluth

MAS Marketing – Molly Solberg, Duluth

Maureen’s LLC – Maureen and Mike Plaunt, Duluth

Mrs. Delicious – Stacey Achterhoff, Duluth

Rascal’s Inc. – Crystal Sayles, Superior

Superior Performance by Kask LLC – Jason Kask, Duluth

Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods – Grant Prokop and Matt Prokop, Cohasset

True North Salon & Spa – Ashely Brubaker, Grand Rapids

VAIN SALON – Kelsey O’Neil, Duluth



Bala Spa – Christina Anderson and Rhonda Peters, Grand Rapids

Duluth Coffee Company – Eric Faust, Duluth

Hometown Multi Media Partners, LLC – Jeff Asbach and Scott Asbach, Virginia

HTK Marketing Communications – Marsha Hystead and Michael Seyfer, Duluth

Legacy Toys – Brad Ruoho, Duluth

Locally Laid Egg Company – Lucie and Jason Amundsen, Duluth

Lotus Corporation “Katherine’s House” – Shelly Holmes, Eveleth

Pro Sound & Light Show – Aaron Abramson, Duluth

Serendipity Endeavors, Inc – Christopher LaFleur and Stephanie LaFleur, Duluth

Sheet Metal Solutions – Becky and Mark LaTour, Duluth

Superior Ballroom Dance Studio, LLC – Andrea Kuzel, Duluth

The Duluth Experience – David Grandmaison and Kristofor McNeal, Duluth

Toasty’s – Rachael and Thomas Hagen, Duluth

Vanilla Bean Restaurant – Jason Vincent and Jeff Anderson, Two Harbors

Vikre Distillery – Emily and Joel Vikre, Duluth



24hr Bookkeeper, Inc. – Karine Woodman, Hibbing

Aluminum Cabinet Co. Inc. – Kelly O’Toole, Hermantown

Amicus Adventure Sailing – Katya and Mark Gordon, Two Harbors

Anytime Fitness – Jinell Abernethy, Duluth

B. Neff Landscaping – Benji Neff, Mountain Iron, MN

Box Tronics LLC – Terry Stroik, Duluth

Duluth Running Co. – Andrea and Clint Agar, Duluth

eLogger, Inc. – BJ Lingren and Andrew Kortuem, Cloquet

Gilbert Law Office – Greg Gilbert, Duluth

Ignite Studio Duluth – Christine Stocke and Dawn Magnuson, Duluth

Marshall Handyman Services – David Marshall, Duluth

Northern Fitness Solutions – Brian R. Carl, Duluth

Northland Special Events, Inc. – Mariah McKechnie, Duluth

Olaf Industries, Inc. – Clint Deraas, Duluth

PureDriven – Christopher M. Swanson and Shelia Leppala, Two Harbors

Rural Living Environments, Inc. – Leanne and Donald Negley, Babbitt

Serenity Spa And Salon Featuring Posh Affair Boutique – Jolene Timmers, Superior

Spartan Fitness Inc. – William (Brendan) Grubbs, Grand Rapids

The Edge Pilates Studio – Diane Bodin-Link, Duluth

The Tongue and Groove Store – Ann and Kyle Anderson, Duluth



4th Street Auto Repair, INC – Gary J. Lofald, Duluth

Adolphson Real Estate Inc. – Les Adolphson, Duluth

Collector’s Connection – Aaron Davis and Timothy Broman, Duluth

Duluth Pottery, LLC – Karin Kraemer, Duluth

Ely Veterinary Clinic – Dr. Richard Hanson, Ely

Glorvigen & Glorvigen LLC – Martin Glorvigen and Scott Glorvigen, Grand Rapids

Guyer’s Corner Store – Kerry Marty, Nashwauk

Jewelers Bench of Duluth LLC – Susan and Mark Furo, Duluth

L&M Fleet Supply – Erik Andersen, Del Matteson and Shawn Matteson, Grand Rapids

Les Grumdahl Window & Siding, LLC – Les Grumdahl and Ryan Grumdahl, Duluth

Locker Innovations – John Locker, Mike Locker and Derek Locker, Duluth

Pearson & von Elbe Advertising LLC and Footprint Promotional Advertising LLC – Briana von Elbe, Duluth

Points North – John Foucault, Duluth

Silver Creek Signworks – Richard C. Bohrer, Two Harbors

State Farm Agent Barbara Carr – Barbara Carr, Duluth

Studio North – dance & fitness center – Nichole Boitz, Ely

Susan Coen State Farm – Susan Coen, Duluth

The Black Woods Group – Bryan Flaherty, Duluth



Bent Paddle Brewing Co. – Laura and Colin Mullen and Karen and Bryon Tonnis, Duluth

Duluth Grill – Jaima and Tom Hanson, Duluth

Food Farm – Janaki Fisher-Merritt, Wrenshall

Heritage Window and Door – Paul Kellner, Thom Reistad and Ron Gustafson, Superior

Round River Farm – Lise and David Abazs, Finland

Yker Acres – Sara and Matt Weik, Carlton



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