Iron Rangers are courting 'green chemistry' plant

Matt Sjoberg is courting Atul Thakrar’s business.

Sjoberg, veteran director of business development for the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRB), last week was pitching an Iron Range location for a third plant that likely will be announced later this year by the CEO of Segetis.

Golden Valley-based Segetis, which raised $25 million in a fourth round of venture capital last year, is a growing “green chemistry” company that develops and manufacturers plant-based resins that replace petroleum used in commercial cleaning solutions, plastics and synthetics.

Thakrar, the four-year CEO who arrived at Segetis after 25 years mostly in the chemical industry, said during a brief conversation last week that he needs to add more production space on top of the company’s 40-person Golden Valley operations center and pilot plant, and a plant in western Wisconsin. The orders are coming and Segetis expects to announce a decision by year-end.

Sjoberg was waving the northeastern Minnesota flag at a conference on public-private partnerships at the University of St. Thomas sponsored by the Collaborative, a nonprofit that brings together financiers, dealmakers and growing companies. Sjoberg and Thakrar huddled during a conference break. Segetis is being pursued by a number of localities in several states and Canada.

Gary Halleen, CEO of API Outsourcing, and Bob Menne, president of Premier Plastics, which operate plants on the Range, praised their northeastern Minnesota workforces and the IRRB, a regional economic development agency charged with diversifying the Range economy using funds from a taconite production tax.

robotics alley acquired by event group

The Event Group, a Minnesota-based event management and marketing firm, has acquired the fast-growing Robotics Alley Conference (www.roboticsalley.org).

Andrew Borene, an executive of ReconRobotics who was overseeing Robotics Alley as a division of the company, said the decision was made to sell the trade group operation for an unspecified sum because of its growth and success. The Event Group already operates the LifeScience Alley Conference and the Cyber Security Summit, “two events which consistently bring international attention to Minnesota’s leading businesses,” Borene said. “They will take the Robotics Alley Conference to new heights.”

The conference was founded by ReconRobotics, maker of small “throwbots” for use by police and military, and the Minnesota High Tech Association, which will continue to be involved. Borene will move from management to chair the advisory board.

The inaugural Robotics Alley Conference involved 200 people meeting for an afternoon in 2011. The two-day event coming Nov. 12-13 at St. Paul’s RiverCentre already has signed up 500 industry and academic attendees. The agenda includes a “STEM Showcase” to highlight regional science, technology, engineering and math student achievement, as well as a slew of experts in law, government, international trade and unmanned systems talking about everything from international trade to policy and ethical considerations in surveillance systems.

“From farming to mining, food production to manufacturing, hazardous cleaning to border security, the potential for robotic solutions is broad,” said Adam Marsh, director of research and development at Shoreview-based PaR Systems. “Robotics Alley is a conduit for growth, collaboration and communication of these opportunities … for the Midwest.”

changes at Carlson units

July has been a transition month for two divisions of travel and hospitality giant Carlson.

The Minnetonka-based company’s Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced the appointment of Rachel Marrett as senior vice president for customer engagement. Marrett is best known in the Twin Cities as the first and only female president of the Campbell Mithun advertising agency. But her pedigree goes back to Carlson, where she had a marketing leadership role from 1991 to 2001.

At Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Håkan Ericsson, president of the Americas division, announced that he is leaving the company next month to take a job in his native Sweden as CEO of ­ PostNord, a postal company that is 60 percent owned by the Swedish ­government and 40 percent owned by the Danish government. A search is underway for a successor. Ericsson headed the Americas division of Carlson Wagonlit Travel for the last year and a half.

DAVID PHELPS

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