energy

Akradi named lead director of Northern Oil

Northern Oil & Gas’ chairman of the board has resigned from a company that has seen upheaval in recent years.

Another NOG director, Bahram Akradi, has been appointed “lead independent director.”

Rich Weber, who has been chairman since January 2016, resigned from Northern Oil’s board Monday to focus more time on his role as CEO and chairman of PennEnergy Resources, according to a filing with federal securities regulators.

PennEnergy is an oil and gas company particularly active in Pennsylvania. Weber had been a director at Minnetonka-based Northern Oil since August 2011. In a media statement, Akradi said Northern Oil “wishes to thank Rich for his tireless service as chairman.”

Akradi, CEO of Chanhassen-based Life Time Fitness, is Northern Oil’s second largest shareholder with an approximately 10 percent stake. He was appointed to Northern Oil’s board in July.

Former CEO Michael Reger was forced out last year, amid a securities scandal involving another company.

Northern Oil, which invests in leases and drilling projects in North Dakota’s oil fields, has been battered by the downturn in the nation’s oil industry since late 2014. Still, the company Wednesday raised expectations for the fourth quarter, increasing its oil production guidance.

Northern Oil’s stock traded around $1.70 last week.

The price has ranged from 63 cents to $4 over the last year.

MIKE HUGHLETT

technology

Meyers Printing subsidiary sold for $10M-plus

Family-owned Meyers Printing of Brooklyn Park has sold a promising electronic product-verification technology that it developed about a decade ago while working with 3M to help Microsoft combat pirates that were counterfeiting software.

Optel Group of Canada, a leading provider of “traceability systems” for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, earlier this month acquired the “Verify Brand” subsidiary of Meyers for more than $10 million. The deal allows Optel to expand its portfolio of tracing products to new industries.

Chairman David Dillon of Meyers said the Verify software uses random alphanumeric codes to authenticate customer products, from a brand of Scotch whisky to computer parts. “A random code is the only thing that can truly authenticate a product,” Dillon said

The problem ranges from counterfeit software to pharmaceuticals to stolen goods from retailers sold over the internet.

“[Retailers] have gone to Congress about this for years,” Dillon said.

“The Verify system allows an individual or company to know when a product they have in their hands is authentic. The problem with holograms or color-shifting ink is … the bad guys make an equivalent hologram or color-shifting ink. This is digital. You can prove whether the product is good or not.”

Dillon said his company needed substantial capital to support the growth of the business.

“We simply didn’t have the scale to do this,” Dillon said. “We had to be in Europe and Asia and South America. We had the better engine, but it needed a bigger boat. We could have taken on a bunch of investment capital, and then only own some of the business, or sell to a company with international scale. We’re a relatively small company.”

Meyers employs 250 people and has revenue of about $65 million.

neal st. anthony

retail

Northern Tool has expanded to 19 states

Burnsville-based Northern Tool + Equipment has opened its 100th store, in Katy, Texas.

That makes 19 states for the retailer-manufacturer, which started by selling log splitters out of a garage in 1981.

The Kotula-family owned company has sales of more than $1 billion and employs about 2,500.

Founder Don Kotula is a native of the Iron Range. His father owned a scrapyard that recycled industrial debris such as mining equipment.

Kotula earned a business degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He worked as a corporate accountant at a couple of companies in the Twin Cities, and in heavy-equipment sales at Ziegler. Kotula left to strike out on his own during the 1981-82 recession, as Ziegler’s business slumped.

Kotula started selling log-splitters, cylinders, valves and hydraulics, as family members mailed catalogs, took orders and shipped products.

Northern Tool opened its first store-showroom-warehouse in Burnsville, selling tools, tarps, snowplow parts, air compressors and more.

In 1991, Northern Tool launched its “NorthStar” manufacturing to make log splitters, generators, pressure washers and air compressors.

In recent years, Northern Tool revamped its retail footprint, introduced a series of private-label brands, expanded merchandise offerings and opened a “Parts + Service” department.

That was built to “take the burden off weekend warriors who lack the time or expertise” to tackle maintenance and building projects.

neal st. anthony