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Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

April 23, 2014
Sandi Larson | Public Engagement Coordinator| Center for Economic Development | 218 726-7298 |
Elaine Hansen | Director | Center for Economic Development | 218 726-6793 |

22nd Annual Labo Awards Recipients Announced

DULUTH, MN –The UMD Center for Economic Development (CED) announced the recipients of the 22nd Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards during a luncheon at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on April 23. UMD Chancellor Lendley “Lynn” C. Black welcomed attendees and Labovitz Enterprises President & CEO Mark Labovitz provided opening remarks before more than 300 business and community leaders.

Since 1993, the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards have recognized small business owners who have dared to dream, taken risks and invested in the region. This year’s award recipients, honored as part of Small Business Week, were selected from 42 nominees from throughout the Twin Ports and Arrowhead Region.

The 2014 recipients are:

Lake Superior Art Glass – Dan Neff, Duluth, Minn.

Emerging Entrepreneur:
Laurentian Monument Granite and Stone – Kandi and Mark Sutich, Virginia, Minn.

Established Entrepreneur:
Lake Superior Consulting, LLC – Phillip Powers, Duluth, Minn.

Mature Entrepreneur:
Zup's Market – Edward J. Zupancich, Babbitt, Minn.

Environmentally Engaged Entrepreneur
A Laundry Room Inc – Rebecca Spengler, Ely, Minn.

Additional Recognition awards presented:

Joining the UMD Center for Economic Development in sponsoring the event were maurices, WestmorelandFlint, Minnesota Business Finance Corporation, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, KBJR TV, Park State Bank , Greenfield Communications, the Entrepreneur Fund, Cutting Edge Metals, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Minnesota Small Business Development Centers Network.

Recipient Bios


Lake Superior Art Glass – Dan Neff, Duluth, Minn.
Minnesota’s premier glass art gallery and studio, Lake Superior Art Glass saw a 100 percent sales increase in its first year of business and continues to grow. The gallery showcases glass artwork from artists all around the country, and the studio offers live demonstrations and classes that connect customers with the art.


Laurentian Monument Granite and Stone – Kandi and Mark Sutich, Virginia, Minn.
Laurentian Monument Granite and Stone creates natural stone products from granite, marble, and natural waste rock from the mining industry. Products include monuments, counters, tabletops, hardscape and landscape stone, as well as structural, architectural and decorative stone.


Lake Superior Consulting, LLC – Phillip Powers, Duluth, Minn.
Lake Superior Consulting, LLC (LSC) is an engineering and service company for the energy industries. They specialize in integrity management of high-pressure pipelines. LSC has nearly doubled in size each year since 2004 and has grown from three employees in one location to nearly 300 employees at four locations nationwide. It prides itself on placing customer service as its most important “deliverable.”


Zup's Market – Edward J. Zupancich, Babbitt, Minn.
A successful family grocery store business for nearly 100 years, Zup’s Market has expanded its long tradition of civic involvement and hometown pride throughout its Northeastern Minnesota locations. The company is known for its community-centeredness and employing individuals with cognitive disabilities as well as retirees and high school and college students.

Environmentally Engaged Entrepreneur AWARD

A Laundry Room Inc – Rebecca Spengler, Ely, Minn.
Rebecca Spengler has turned a notoriously high-energy-consumption business into an alternative-energy success. Her Laundromat features a solar thermal hot water system, including two 120-gallon tanks, and can heat water up to 120 degrees. Originally a strictly coin-operated Laundromat, A Laundry Room Inc. now includes commercial sheet services for healthcare facilities and 14 resorts.

Entrepreneurial Leadership: Kelly Klun

Kelly Klun has dedicated much of her career to the economic and community development of her hometown, Ely Minnesota. She serves as City attorney and advises on many topics, not just legal issues. She has recently organized the Incredible Ely campaign and the mission to create a diverse and thriving business environment in Ely. Incredible Ely is bringing statewide partners such as the Minnesota Design Team to develop a vision for the physical space, and is collaborating with departments at UMD, the Twin Cities campus, and UM Extension, as well as other regional providers to provide Ely with enhanced access to tools and resources to better support local business owners. Kelly is dedicated to ensuring that Ely creates a cultural and business framework for long-term success.

Entrepreneurial Vision: Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

Bent Paddle Brewing Co. is a relatively new company but has been widely accepted in the Duluth and regional economy because the people involved had a clear, organized, and well researched plan that when implemented became a thriving business. In the first year of operation they have reached revenue projections well ahead of projections and their brand is widely recognized. They have set a clear example, contribute to the community, produce a quality product, and promote a core value of a sustainable work/home life balance for their employees and themselves. They have also become leaders and mentors for others who are in business on how to be responsive and responsible so that a business can grow effectively and efficiently.

The UMD Center for Economic Development is a joint program of the UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economics, the Natural Resources Research Institute, and the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. UMD Center for Economic Development provides technical assistance to individuals who have an interest in starting or expanding a business in Northeastern Minnesota. Its web address is; its phone number is 218-726-7298.

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