Former Epicor execs ready for another chapter with KeyedIn

Lauri Klaus

Two executives who drove California's Epicor Software from an idea in the 1980s to its sale last year for nearly $1 billion to Apax Partners have launched a Bloomington-based software firm that already employs 60 people.

George Klaus, the former CEO of Epicor, and Lauri Klaus, a Minnesota woman who rose over 20 years to be executive vice president of sales at Epicor, took a few months after that sale to conclude that they wanted to build another company from the Twin Cities. This one is named KeyedIn Solutions.

"We both made money on the Epicor sale," said Lauri Klaus, KeyedIn's CEO, who grew up in Dayton and attended North Hennepin College. "I'm only 46 and ... I missed my team and I missed working with great people. I felt like we could do it again. I think we can grow this into a very large company quickly, largely because of all our connections.''

In December, KeyedIn opened the Bloomington headquarters and recently acquired majority control of Minneapolis-based Datacom International and U.K.-based Atlantic Global. Datacom, an enterprise software provider, was founded in the 1970s. Through hiring and acquisitions, KeyedIn expects to employ 100 by this summer and achieve $100 million in revenue within three years.

"Absolutely, I would like to go public again," Lauri Klaus said last week. "Our mission is to build the business and put ourselves in position to make choices about our future."

George Klaus is the chairman of the board and principal investor in KeyedIn. Lauri Klaus said of her husband and partner, "He likes to give me advice."

RBC's Taft writes book on Wall Street mess

John Taft, CEO of Minneapolis-based RBC Wealth Management, has written a book called "Stewardship: Lessons learned from the lost culture of Wall Street."

Taft explains how "selfishness trumped stewardship" amid deregulation, as silk-stocking Wall Street money-changers, the big mortgage underwriters and the ratings agencies fed like pigs at the trough and so screwed up the financial system that the Bush administration had to commence a massive federal bailout in 2008 that continues.

John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Funds and a longtime critic of the short-term casino that became Wall Street and the mortgage industry, writes in the forward: "If you hold those same beliefs -- that integrity and fiduciary duty and stewardship are the keys to a better financial system, a better society ... you'll love this book."

Taft, a deft communicator and markets veteran, goes over the legal solutions, including an examination of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Volcker Rule, which the big banks and Wall Street have worked tirelessly to water down.

In the end, Taft notes that the finance folks can only win back trust with a commitment to long-term service, humility and accountability that trumps the short-term, fast-buck approach.

By the way, Taft works for RBC, the big Canadian-owned financial complex. The Canadians, who still practice regulation and moderation, largely avoided the U.S. plunder-and-blunder financial disaster.

IN BRIEF

Chip Emery, the former Honeywell executive and retired CEO of MTS Systems, flunked retirement. A couple of years ago, Emery bought Supply Chain Services, a supplier of bar-coding and data-capture solutions for the distribution and warehouse markets.

Revenue in 2011 grew 43 percent to $15.5 million from 2,000 customers, margins widened and the company will boast more than 30 employees by year's end.

"Much of our [2011] growth came from implementing strategic initiatives we developed in late 2010," Emery said. "This positioned us to take advantage of opportunities arising from a recovering economy and increased industry adoption of mobile technologies."

Proto Labs, the Monster from Maple Plain and Minnesota's first IPO of the year, said last week that its underwriters peddled another 645,000 shares under an overallotment option that brings the total amount of capital raised to $79.1 million. The company went public at $16 per share on Feb. 23 and the stock soared 81 percent on its first trading day. Shares traded between $29 and $30 last week. This company, launched by technologist and founder Larry Lukis in 1999, makes quick-turnaround molds and parts for customers around the globe.

Andersen Corp. was awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2012 "Sustained Excellence Award" for its family of brands including Andersen Windows, Renewal by Andersen and Eagle Window & Door.

The distinction is reserved for Energy Star partners demonstrating outstanding leadership year after year. The 2012 winners have been named Energy Star Partner of the Year for three or more consecutive years.

The EPA said Andersen proves that stellar energy performance is good for the environment and for business.

"Andersen's commitment to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability ... is in our nature, our company culture and every product we create," said Andersen CEO Jay Lund.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Precision manufacturing Association, Alexandria Technical & Community College, the Arrowhead Manufacturers & Fabricators Association, and Minnesota Manufacturers Coalitions are holding a reception this week with policymakers to make hay out of a children's exhibit. And that's a good thing.

"How People Make Things" will run at the Minnesota Children's Museum in downtown St. Paul through June 3.

The exhibit, inspired by the Mister Rogers Factory Tours, was created by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh with support from the National Science Foundation and the Grable Foundation.

Expect a "lousy" year for Treasuries as the growing U.S. economy hurts bonds and supports stocks, according to Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management.

Ten-year yields may climb to 3.5 percent in 2012, Paulsen wrote in a recent report. The rate has hovered below 2 percent lately, amid the Federal Reserve's strategies to keep rates low and kindle the economic recovery.

"This will prove a lousy year for high-quality bonds," Paulsen wrote. "We expect the same renewed confidence which has been pushing the stock market higher this year to also begin pushing bond yields higher."

Paulsen calls this the "gear year" for the so-far tepid economic recovery.

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