Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 28, 1994 · Page 31
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota · Page 31

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Issue Date:
Monday, March 28, 1994
Page 31
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Mteimdlay business Star Tribune r--t- r . Monday March 281994 1D Rottlund breaks away from the pack 'Running a good company' nets it a big market share By Ingrid Sundstrom Staff Writer A middle-aged couple arrived at a Rottlund Homes model in Inver Grove Heights earlier this month in the last few moments of the Parade of Homes. When they recognized saleswoman Julie D'Arpa, from whom they'd bought their four-bedroom home in Eagan five years ago, they said that their family was growing and it was time to move up. By the middle of last week, the couple was close to arranging a "trade-up" to another Rottlund home, said D'Arpa. Repeat buyers are Rottlund's goal. Some move up to larger homes from entry-level houses or town-homes, and some move down from family homes to empty-nester "villa home" townhouses. But Roseville-based Rottlund has home styles that cover the gamut. In fact, the company bills itself as "your builder for life." Rottlund Homes has grown slowly but steadily over the years, "as a byproduct of tending to business, building a good product and running a good company," said John Dierbeck, vice president of sales. "We grew because we did our business better and made people happy. Eventually we just broke away from the pack." Last year, Rottlund was far ahead of the local pack, building 854 homes, twice as many as its nearest competitor, Orrin Thompson, which had about 400 units in 1993, according to a trade group, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. Rott- Rottlund continued on page 6D Building a national presence Over the past 20 years, the Rottlund Co. has grown from a small family-owned builder into a publicly owned company with a diverse product line that has about 7 percent of the Twin Cities market, the largest share of any builder. Now it has pushed into Des Moines, Iowa, and Naples, Fla., as part of its plan to become a national builder. I 'Vy XXTi t " ,) Bud Rotter (left) Iff "v I; x and David Rotter J L ..1JJ . . ) ri3ht)- on mftn) Afinancial" 665,ooo- 7 mi,,,on y !! snapshot eoo iwi ff (For fiscal years M VmA ' ff 60 ended March 31) B LitJ Muasm$ Homes sold (B ? S X : (in thousands) M ITTniPl 300 : r $5 jCk. B $4.98 million ',Cfc!Kv ' J 200 BE323 y a :--""f':- EfflfMWIIW ' 100 abBsb jf 2 - - In -S&kL n V . . W-T . L W 1 ,, j Rottlund 7.0 Orrin Thompson 7 4.5 Centex Homes 3.3 Marv Anderson Homes , . 3.2 , Joe Miller Homes 3.0 Wensmann Properties , 2.1 ' Lundgren Bros. Construction 2.1 Key-Land Homes 2.0 Novak-Fleck 1.9 Good Value Homes '.. . 1.6 Other (est. 600 builders) 69.9 Column six Source: Rottlund, companies Star Tribune GraphicJane Friedmann 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1988 1989 1991 1992 1993 Monday FYI NWA lending a hand Going to the chapel Profit has eluded Northwest Airlines lately, but it has made big bucks for nonprofit agencies since starting Northwest Air Cares in 1992. "To tell you the truth, we don't track how much money has been raised," said Jane Nachtigal, NWA community relations manager. "It generates money, awareness and volunteers, the Air Cares partners tell us. Passengers and travel agents say Air Cares is a good idea." Every quarter, NWA sponsors a nonprofit group, such as Big BrothersBig Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs and Kids for Saving Earth, through its in-flight magazine and videos. Interested customers can send a check or Worldperks frequent-flier certificates in pre-addressed envelopes. For a flight certificate or donation of at least $50, Northwest awards 500 Worldperks miles to the donor. The organizations have received hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, NWA employees and passengers have signed on as volunteers, said Nachtigal, who participates in Big Sisters. The idea was conceived as a low-cost, effective way for NWA to expand its community service mission. Coming in April: Sight First, a program to prevent blindness backed by the International Lions Gub. Neal St. Anthony More niche marketing at the Mall of America. Opening April 15 is a "chapel," a one-stop mart for weddings. For as little as $500, couples can be wed in a candle-lit ceremony. There's no need for fresh floral arrangements because the chapel is permanently decorated with silk flowers. The dressing room stocks consignment bridal wear that brides can buy and sell at the chapel. Tuxedo rental also is available. Other options include photography, invitations and limo service. You have to see it to believe it... David Phelps All in the family Megadealer Jim Lupient will open Minnesota's first Saturn "satellite" store early next month in the Northstar Center in downtown Minneapolis. But the big news (Lupient calls it a "mini-blockbuster") is that his wife of 17 years, Barbara Lupient, is going to work at the downtown store as a sales associate. For the record, she said, this was her idea not his. "He's been very supportive," Barbara said. A mother, homemaker and private pilot, Barbara has not "officially" sold cars before. But the time seems right, and she likes the low- FYI continued on page 6D Inside Dick YoungMood Bob (Mow Coffee seller bucks benefits trend Does the nation's transition to a service economy sentence the labor force to a future of deadend jobs with low pay and few benefits? The Twin Cities' newest corporate neighbor, Seattle's Starbucks Coffee Co., has been demonstrating that reasonable pay and generous benefits can exist alongside a healthy profit-and-loss statement. Page 2D. Execs Join to fight gambling-ad bill Ad agency and film production industry execs are closely monitoring a state bill that would restrict most lottery and gambling advertising, with an eye toward challenging the constitutionality of such an effort. Twelve ad agency and media execs met last week to discuss an industry response to the bill, which would ban virtu-1 ally all advertising for the Minnesota State Lottery, casinos and parimutuel racing. Page 2D. Monday profile Pete Rhodes Jr. Cable radio entrepreneur is tuned in to success By Dee DePass Staff Writer When Pete Rhodes Jr. hit Chicago's streets at age 8, he wasn't play ing hoops or swinging a bat he was in business. Delivering groceries and shining neighbors' shoes, he earned $75 a month, a tidy sum for 1963. It was the start of an entrepreneurial career that is going strong today. But now his setting is downtown Minneapolis, where he spins the sounds of jazz, rhythm and blues and soulful gospel on his cable radio station, WRNB "The Touch" Radio. Cable radio, which only subscribers can receive, is a hard sell, but "being the entrepreneur that I am, I had to do my own thing," said Rhodes, who dropped out of college to pursue a business career. "When I came to the Twin Cities in 1979, there was nothing really going on for black folks," saijj Rhodes, 38. "I saw a need in this market for black cultural events and entertainment. It was a wide-open market." When he started the station, Rhodes had no radio experience, no bank loans and almost no listening audience. Using $50,000 from his parents, his partner and his personal savings, Rhodes rented a studio and filled it with equipment. He then turned to others in the business for advice. He formated WRNB's sound for a black, urban, middle-class audience a market that ad agencies such as Carmichacl Lynch once said was too narrow to attract advertising dollars, Rhodes said. But with his easy manner and business drive, WRNB has been able to change the minds of more than one company. Advertisers now include Target, First Bank and the Minnesota Lottery. In two years, the station's list of advertisers has doubled to 50, said WRNB new marketing manager James Black III. In 1979, Rhodes dabbled in entertainment promotions with Boss Productions Inc. that starred Jimmy Jam Harris as a DJ at happen- 6 pii? ' X - r - id. Rolling ing places like the now-defunct Oz Nightclub in downtown St. Paul. Rhodes also founded the Minnesota Black Music Awards program 12 years ago. It has honored some of Minnesota's finest artists, such as music producers Harris and Terry Lewis and the singer with the glyph for a name who used to be called Prince. While the awards ceremonies continue in the form of educational expos for aspiring artists, the Oz Nightclub and Rhodes' Boss Productions have gone out of business. Staff Photo by Mike Zerby Ad agencies once said WRNB Radio's format was too narrow to attract advertising dollars, but Pete Rhodes jr. proved tnem wrong. Grand Casinos bets tower can hit it big with the tourists visiting Las Vegas "Our money follows our judgment." Lyle Berman, Grand Casinos founder and chairman By Josephine Marcotty Staff Writer Foot by concrete foot, the Stratosphere Tower is rising above the volcanoes and pyramids, the neon and glitter of Las Vegas. The brainchild of Bob Stupak, a Vegas businessman routinely pilloried by the press and the community, it's been the butt of jokes for years and described as the epitome of excess and bad taste in a town that reveres excess and bad taste. Earlier this month Stupak and his project, the 1,012-foot observation tower billed as the tallest in the United States with a thrill ride, wedding chapels, and revolving restaurants, again won several of the "worst" awards in the Las Vegas Review Journal's 13th annual edition of the Best of Las Vegas. Stupak won first place for the "city's biggest blowhard." The tower won the "Las Vegas event you are tired of hearing about," the "worst Las Vegas eyesore," and "community's biggest embarrassment." "Apparently this is a project Las Vegas is destined to have by divine intervention, or from some other power," the Review Journal wrote. Never mind destiny and divine power. Las Vegans have only to thank Plymouth-based Grand Casinos, Inc., which now owns 37 percent of the project, which is adjacent to Vegas World Casino. So what's a company like Grand Casinos doing with a "blowhard" like Bob Stupak? Providing credibility, of course, to a project that even the Las Vegas business community has grudgingly con ceded has jackpot potential. "The obvious fact is that in a city that attracts 25 million people a year to see white tigers and erupting vol canoes, America s tallest tower will be a major hit, said Mike Moe, an analyst who follows Orand Casinos for Dain Bosworth, Inc. That Moe now represents the prevail ing view of the proiect is reflected in the success of the Stratosphere Corp.'s public stock offering, which closed in February, and which was oversubscribed by a wide margin. The offering price was $5 for one share of stock plus one warrant to buy a second share at $5.83 it the stock trades above $7.35 for 10 consecutive days. Now the stock is trading at $6.50, and the warrants are trading at $2. Grand Casinos has invested $30 million in the stock, with options to acquire a 51 percent stake in the tower and 75 percent of the assets of Vegas World. "Our money follows our judgment," said Lyle Berman, founder and chair-Tower continued on page 2D But WRNB has been spinning tunes tor 10 years straight. It's the only for-profit radio station owned by African-Americans in the Twin Cities. And until recently it was staffed primarily by student interns. But on March 1, months of marketing paid off: WRNB became an ABC satellite affiliate. Under this arrangement, ABC pumps WRNB's urban music out of Dallas and to WRNB's cable listeners for a small fee. Rhodes continued on page 6D , I The Stratosphere Tower

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