Rob Fuglie, Chuck Hofius, Kenny Nelson
Three area individuals will be honored at the annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes.
Each represents a different entrepreneurial niche. They are:
• Emerging Entrepreneur (in business less than three years): Rob Fuglie, owner of Fergus Foods in Fergus Falls
• Community Entrepreneur (community, non-profit or public sector): Chuck Hofius, CEO of Perham Health
• Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year (outstanding display of leadership, success and accomplishment): Kenny Nelson, owner of KLN Family Brands in Perham
Family, friends and business associates are encouraged to attend the banquet to honor these three individuals. Contact Nicole Ballard at 218-844-5420 or Nicole.Ballard@minnesota.edu for registration and to purchase tickets.
The annual banquet is part of the ongoing Business and Entrepreneurial Services program offered at M State. Here is a closer look at the three entrepreneurial recipients:
It was less than two years ago that Rob launched Fergus Foods to create a snack alternative to peanuts for individuals with peanut allergies, including his young son, Renner. Rob's creation is called Nots - nearly a nut, but it's not.
Rob and his wife, Kim, introduced Renner to sunflower seeds when they learned of his peanut allergy, but the seeds are so tiny that they were hard for the youngster to handle. Rob sought help from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, and the product that emerged is rather similar in size, texture and taste to peanuts. But of course, there are no peanuts. Instead, sunflower seeds are joined with olive oil, cane sugar, syrup and brown sugar and roasted to create the tasty snack.
What's significant is that they avoid the "big 8" allergens: peanuts, gluten, dairy, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. A commercial kitchen was available in the former PioneerCare and Productive Alternatives building in Fergus Falls, and Nots was on its way. As sales have grown, Rob has begun expanding his product line to include various flavors.
Rob is originally from Chanhassan, but the Fuglies have immersed themselves in their new community of Fergus Falls. Rob has championed community development assets and makes himself available to help foster greater community awareness of the Fergus Falls business community.
Since Chuck Hofius joined Perham Health as CEO in 1997, the community-based non-profit medical institution has undertaken several major ventures that have kept it at the forefront of the health care industry:
• Construction of the 28-unit Briarwood senior housing in 1998
• Construction of the 96-bed Perham Living facility, which has received industry-wide acclaim for its patient care model
• Named a Top 100 U.S. hospital (for its size) in 2004
• Construction of the $35 million Perham Health Hospital and Clinic, which opened in January 2012 (This is the foundation for the Community Entrepreneur nomination.)
Since its opening , Perham Health has seen:
• Growth in all of its patient services
• Addition of services
• Increase in primary care providers from 13 to 17
• 40 new employees (equivalent of 30 full-time workers)
Chuck has been instrumental in making Perham Health a preeminent medical facility that continually seeks to improve patient care and is highly respected within the industry. He spearheaded the vision and planning for the new hospital and clinic, a facility grounded in the emerging science of patient and family-centered environments and care. He led the team as it incorporated research, site visits, patient and family input, and staff and physician involvement to design a state-of-the art health care facility.
Chuck is involved in the Perham community through the Chamber of Commerce and Perham Rotary. He is also highly active in the medical industry, serving on several committees including Aging Services of Minnesota and Minnesota Hospital Association. Chuck recently became a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, earning the distinction of board certification in health care management.
From the outside, it's easy to see the impact KLN Family Brands has made on Perham. With a population of just under 3,000, current employment numbers stand at more than 1,250 in KLN's four companies:
• Tuffy's Pet Food, started by Kenny and his father, Tuffy, in 1965
• Barrel O' Fun Snack Foods, begun in 1973
• Kenny's Candy Company, begun in 1987
• Nutheads, begun in 2011
KLN Family Brands has a tremendous impact on the Minnesota economy, and the company philosophy has always been to buy Minnesota first. Located in rich commodity-growing areas, KLN utilizes 15 loads of potatoes daily at Barrel O' Fun and 4.4 million pounds of sugar yearly at Kenny's Candy.
KLN Family Brands has seen tremendous growth and success in recent years, and employees - many of them with 10, 20 or 30 years of experience - play a crucial role in that. The management team has individuals who started on the production lines in the early days and,of course, the company is brimming with family involvement.
But inside KLN Family Brands is the real story of a family that has chosen to give back more than it could ever receive. Kenny is a tremendous leader - a visionary who, with his wife Kim, has an intense desire to help other people. They have been instrumental in helping build the Perham Area Community Center, the Perham Public Library, the ITOW Museum and the Angel of Hope Park. Kenny and his family have also helped scores of individuals launch their dreams.
Last modified: March 5th, 2014 at 08:40am