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Three finalists for Business Excellence Award

Success stories can come with common threads.

At least that’s evident in the three finalists for the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s first Business Excellence Award. The companies represent diverse backgrounds — information technology, engineering services and methods of communication.

Finalists are Deerwood Technologies, Range Inc. and Widseth Smith Nolting. They represent cities of Deerwood, Brainerd and Baxter.

While their sizes, history and industries vary, they share a customer service focus, an appreciation of employees and a strong sense of community service.

In the lakes area, successful companies may be the least known in their own backyards. They work with clients far from home. And, sometimes, they find flying below the radar works well as competitors may not see them coming. But they also all appreciate greater visibility as they seek to attract quality employees, who may be already living here or want to move back.

For the community, it’s a reminder there are jobs right here from skilled press operators to software and structural engineers and beyond.

The three finalists have retooled themselves and emerged through the Great Recession, perhaps not unscathed but with a fresh optimism for continued success in the future and an eye for growth opportunities.

The Business Excellence Award is designed to recognize an area business for its entrepreneurial spirit and business achievements. The Brainerd Dispatch is the 2012 award sponsor.

The Brainerd Lakes Chamber, together with major sponsor Bremer Bank, will celebrate its member accomplishments and recognize the first Business Excellence Award recipient, at its annual dinner on Oct. 8 at Breezy Point Resort.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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