AmeriPride cleans up with the North Dakota oil boom

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 16, 2013 - 5:13 PM
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Katie Kimball, founder of the Twin Cities Trapeze Center, helped Jae Wiese grab the bar during a small class.

Photo: Jerry Holt • Star Tribune file,

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Minnetonka-based AmeriPride Services, one of the largest uniform rental and linen supply companies on the continent, is another Minnesota firm cleaning up on the messy North Dakota oil boom.

“Our business is experiencing accelerated growth in the oil and gas industry in North Dakota, Texas and Canada and this sector is our greatest area of growth for the company,” said spokesman Ben Saukko. “We supply the industry with flame-resistant work apparel that is designed for continuous wear in areas where intermittent exposure to flame or heat is possible.”

There also is a nice growth trend in the staple industries of hospitality, auto and health care, said Saukko, who declined to disclose AmeriPride sales.

AmeriPride, which employs 750 in Minnesota and 5,600 nationally, has increased local employment by about 40 so far this year.

The company, founded as American Linen in 1889, recently expanded a Bismarck production facility and a Minot service center. AmeriPride has 45 production facilities in the United States and Canada. The company was founded by George and Frank Steiner in 1889 and is still owned by the Steiner family.

Cleveland SELLS MOST OF HIS Proto Labs stock

CEO Brad Cleveland of Proto Labs, who plans to retire to his next quest in 2014, said in late October he would remain a long-term shareholder of the computerized parts maker he has headed for 12 years.

He just didn’t say at the time how much of a stake he planned to leave in the company.

Now, we have a better idea. From Nov. 4 to Nov. 8, Cleveland sold 280,947 shares at between $79 and $87.34 per share for about $23.4 million, according to government filings.

That’s on top of the roughly $50 million he has sold since Proto Labs went public in early 2012.

Cleveland’s ownership is down to about 64,235 shares, worth about $5.5 million.

“Proto Labs is doing well and will continue to do very well,” Cleveland said in an e-mail response to my recent inquiry. “I’m just conservative.” Proto Labs stock has held up despite the heavy insider sales. It closed at $85. 61 per share on Friday. It has ranged from $31.16 per share to $89.97 this year.

Katie Kimball’s flying business

Trapeze artist and entrepreneur Katie Kimball received the Start-up Business award for her fledgling Twin Cities Trapeze Center, at WomenVenture’s 18th annual “Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained” awards banquet earlier this month.

Kimball had a perfect credit history and a solid business plan, but couldn’t get a bank loan, according to nonprofit WomenVenture, which helps aspiring business owners with business plans, professional development and small loans. She considered using credit cards to get the St. Paul business off the ground, but wasn’t ready to rack up the high-interest debt. Kimball was directed by friends and a sympathetic but wary banker to WomenVenture, which made a small loan. The agency tries to help small businesses get to the point where they qualify for bank credit.

Tina North and her Moss Envy retail store in Minneapolis won the Expanding Business award.

Madi Lommen, 17-year-old owner of Madibanani Bread Company, received the One to Watch award. Madi sold her popular banana bread to raise money for a school trip to Thailand. Her group encountered an orphanage project that was $10,000 short of completion. Madi and friends, with the help of WomenVenture advice and a small loan, has raised the $10,000 and more.

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