Women on Wheels – September 30, 2016

This was a short road trip, but a road trip nonetheless, so I’m writing about it.

I had the pleasure of spending an entire day with 40 plus amazing women as we visited three different businesses in the area. These women are all members of the Forum of Executive Women (FEW), a business women’s organization that will be celebrating its 35th birthday this coming January. Throughout the years, I’ve watched FEW grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of women in the St. Cloud area, while remaining true to its mission:  to promote growth and connections among professional women.

Today was about education, networking and fun. Those concepts work well together. We met this morning at Park Industries, a 60+ year old manufacturer of stoneworking equipment, the tools that are used to cut granite and other stone for countertops, etc. While I’ve known of Park Industries for many years, and of the tremendous good works they have done in our community, and while I know and admire people who work there, I really didn’t know exactly what they do.

After coffee and bagels, we listened to a presentation by Joan Schatz, Co-Leader of Park Industries. Joan gave an inspiring talk about leadership, tying her points to a tumultuous white water (white knuckle?) rafting trip she took some years ago. She linked this to the tumultuous times that Park Industries went through during the last recession, as a business closely aligned with the housing industry.

Joan’s Leadership Lessons are:

  1. Get the right people in your raft (about hiring the best people for your company’s culture)
  2. Be prepared to be unprepared
  3. Embrace unexpected solutions
  4. Never worry alone
  5. Give up control to have impact (difficult to do)
  6. Get back in the raft (my favorite)
  7. Progress trumps perfection
  8. Be accessible and visible
  9. Be comfortable being uncomfortable
  10. Dignity (not just for yourself but for others)

We then took a tour of the plant, and I need to bring Mark back as I know he will love it. I loved the fact that I saw a woman welder!

After the tour, we boarded a bus and headed to Marco, a technology business that has been located in St. Cloud for over 40 years. Marco is another company that is fully vested in making our community a better place. The company started out as a small typewriter shop, and now empl0ys over 1,000 people in several Midwestern States.

Does anyone remember typewriters? I do. I took typing in high school and almost failed. Thank you Sister Imelda(?), for taking pity on me and giving me a C. That’s why I had to go into accounting rather than secretarial work.

We enjoyed another presentation, by Jennifer Mrozek, CFO. Jen talked about her career with Marco and what she does to help empower other women working there. Again, it was an inspirational talk. I am so proud to be associated with some very capable women in our area.

We toured Marco and I forgot to take photos.

Back on the bus, and we drove to Millner Heritage Winery, located in nearby Kimball. After all, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl! After a delicious lunch, we sampled six wines, all from local grapes, bred for the Minnesota climate. We were entertained throughout by Don Millner, CEO, vintner, singer, story teller and tractor/trolley driver.

After the wine tasting, our group split in two for a trolley ride through the vineyard, on this beautiful Minnesota fall day. I will not hesitate to tell you that my group was far and away the one having the most fun, including doing our own version of “the wave” on the trolley.


By the way, tomorrow is the first day of Millner’s Grape Stomp, so if you’re free, you might want to head on over.

I think I’ll have to take Mark here as well. Date!

This is the third year that FEW has hosted a WOW Event, and my first time attending. It won’t be the last!






About kcbernick

I love to travel.
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