Biz Buzz: Speedway to close, Business Excellence Award winners announced

Close Converse, Lexington Manufacturing and Ron and Al Lindner to be honored

The canopy which houses the gas pumps at the Speedway Convenience store is being removed Thursday, Nov. 5, in Baxter. The gas pumps have been removed and the store is reportedly remaining open until the end of the year with postal services. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The Speedway gas station and convenience store on Dellwood Drive in Baxter is closing. The business was undergoing dramatic changes late last week as the gas pumps and gas station canopy were removed. The convenience store is expected to be open through the end of the year.

A question from regular customers is what will happen to the postal station in the convenience store. The Brainerd Post Office reported there isn’t a final answer yet on what will happen to the postal station at Speedway and they were just notified of the change in status of the Speedway last week.


Doreen Swedberg, manager at the Speedway on Dellwood, said the plan is to move the postal station to Market Square but that wouldn’t happen until after the first of the new year.

Swedberg said the convenience store will be torn down and while there is a lot of conjecture on what may be going up in its place — a new restaurant, coffee shop, etc. — that remains an unknown.


“The property was bought by a private developer,” Swedberg said. “We don’t know what it is going to be.”

Swedberg has been the manager for about 2 1/2 years and said the store employs about 11, with some staff members able to transfer to other stores. Speedway is owned by Hollco Inc.

Brainerd Chamber announces Business Excellence Award winners

Close Converse and Lexington Manufacturing, both of Brainerd, and angling legends Ron and Al Lindner of Lindner Media Productions will be honored at the annual Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce 2020 Celebration of Excellence.

This year’s event is titled “All that Glitters” and is slated 5-8:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake Sports Centre.

Close Converse, commercial real estate/business brokerage, is being honored as the third Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year. The award honors a Brainerd lakes business with up to 20 employees that exhibits leadership, innovation, employee investment and community service.

“Since 1995, Close Converse has specialized in providing the highest quality commercial, land and business brokerage services,” the award honor reads. “Like most companies, Close Converse started small, with Kevin Close working as the sole broker for the company together with an assistant. In 2002, Kevin's son, Chris Close, joined Kevin and Rod Converse in the company. Today, Chris Close is the sole owner of Close Converse. They have four full-time salespeople and three full-time support staff. The company has three unique divisions: a commercial real estate division, a land sales division (Land Radar) and a business brokerage division.

“What makes Close Converse unique compared to other real estate organizations is that all their agents work together as a team, allowing them to focus on their number one priority, their clients. From its conception, Close Converse has always been about serving people. Every week the team recites out loud their values statement which is "Together we will serve every individual with passion, integrity and excellence, always delivering more than is expected." Their hope is that long after a transaction closes, their customers and clients will remember the relationships that were formed with the individuals on their team.”

Lexington Manufacturing is the Business Excellence Award winner, recognizing the company’s leadership, innovation, employee investment and community service.


“Lexington is a world class manufacturer serving the commercial window and door industry from coast to coast and also in international markets. Its core concepts are to Build Relationships, Create Solutions and Deliver Value,” the award announcement states. “This formula has worked well and has driven sales from $40 million five years ago to projected sales in 2020 in the $80 million range.

“The Brainerd operations got started a little over twenty years ago in the Northern Pacific buildings headed up by Mike Dillon who is now president of all Lexington's operations. Lexington started out in a garage on Lexington Avenue in the Twin Cities back in the early eighties and has developed into a premier component manufacturer to Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States. Lexington is a growth oriented multi million dollar company but still has its roots & culture as family based.”

Ron and Al Lindner are the recipients of the Business Legacy Award.

“Ron and Al Lindner are true sportsmen and innovators for the fishing industry,” the award information states. “In 1968, they, along with members of the Nisswa Guides League, created the Lindy Tackle Company and have sold more than 70 million Lindy Rigs! Their talents and outreach to the nation grew with the founding of In-Fisherman magazine, a leading publication in the freshwater fishing industry in 1975. In-Fisherman Television and Radio began in 1979 and became hugely successful. Their sons, James and Daniel joined forces with Al and Ron in 2003 to establish Lindner Media Productions.

“Al and Ron remain an important ingredient in the success of Lindner Media, which currently produces five outdoor television shows (Angling Edge, Fishing Edge, Ultimate Fishing Experience, The Ontario Experience, and AnglingBuzz). Both Al and Ron have received numerous industry recognitions, including belonging to the Normark Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame. Al is also in the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and received the Samuel C. Johnson Fishing Journalist of the Year award for his contributions to the industry. They have written hundreds of published articles, published multiple books on fishing and created the famed 'F+L+P=Success' fishing formula.”

The annual Celebration of Excellence dinner is one of the lakes area business community’s highlights of the year typically gathering a major crowd. Like everything else this year, things will be a little bit different.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the chamber announced this year’s event is being modified with social distancing in mind. To that end, the dinner event will be limited to 250 people at Cragun’s Resort. Tables will be set for four with a no-contact checking system.

The chamber has the full safety and preparedness plan, noting the room capacity for the event normally accommodates 700 people and tables would normally seat eight. There won’t be live music this year or a social gathering area. Temperature checks will be done at the door. There won’t be a registration table and the entrance plan is modified to avoid congregating people where the registration table is normally set up for the event.


Pre-ordered wine will be available at the table. People will be able to order drinks and then return to their tables. There will not be an open appetizer bar. Face masks for face coverings are required to enter, the chamber stated. Disposable masks will be available at the door with complimentary cloth masks at the individual tables.

For more, go to

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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