The founder and former head of Minnesota's largest workers compensation self-insurance fund is launching a new, competing insurance program for the construction industry.
David Bjorklund said The Builders Group (TBG), the Eagan-based fund he founded in 1997, has lost its way, citing its recent $30,000 state fine for falsifying safety-related scores and a drop in its financial reserves.
Bjorklund was fired by its board of directors in 2006, and he is one of several former employees who has assisted the state Commerce Department in its investigation of the fund. When he managed it, he said, he spoke against "illegal and unethical behavior, and that is why I am no longer at TBG."
Last week, he said, he met with several concerned fund members to outline the new venture. His goal is to line up charter members for a new "captive" insurance company owned and controlled by the membership. To promote the idea, he purchased a mailing list of TBG members and is urging them to jump ship.
Though some people have asked him if this is revenge, Bjorklund said he feels an obligation to the construction industry because he is a former builder and believes contractors deserve better.
"The key to these things is the integrity and honesty of the leadership," he said.
Captive insurance firms are a bit like self-insurance funds, but members don't bear "joint and several" liability for losses, Bjorklund said. The venture, yet to be submitted to insurance regulators or given a name, would operate under the umbrella of a large insurer, though Bjorklund said he would administer it.
TBG officials did not return calls seeking comment.ADA viewed positively
Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota businesses who have been affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which turns 20 in July, say the experience has been positive, according to a new study by Minneapolis-based MarketResponse International. More than half the state's employers say their businesses were affected by the landmark legislation.
A majority of those responding said their building or property was originally designed or later remodeled for greater accessibility. Accommodations for people with disabilities were highest in main business entrances, restrooms, routes from parking areas and interior passageways.
The study, commissioned by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, revealed that 30 percent of respondents believe their businesses will make enhancements in accommodations for people with disabilities in the next five years. Three out of four respondents said it is important for them to continually look for ways to make their businesses more accessible to people with disabilities.
Meanwhile, 30 percent said it would not make sense for their business to make alterations to their business or property to accommodate people with disabilities. And one in four said it is too expensive or impractical to try to make their business completely accessible.Health care law firm opens
Two well-known health care attorneys have joined forces to create a new, boutique practice to serve Midwest clinics, hospitals and health care systems. Mary Foarde, former general counsel for Allina Health System, and Konrad (Kit) Friedemann, former chair of the health care practice and president of the Minneapolis law firm Fredrikson & Byron opened shop a week ago.
The two veteran lawyers hope to capitalize on legal needs arising from recent health care reform legislation and on their lower overhead as a small firm. "Providers are more concerned than ever about value and service," Friedemann said.
Foarde was an in-house lawyer at Allina for nearly 20 years and most recently was teaching health law at Hamline University School of Law. Friedemann spent more than 20 years at the Fredrikson firm and co-founded the health law section of the Minnesota Bar Association. FriedemannFoarde's new office is in downtown Minneapolis.On the watch list
Colle+McVoy CEO Christine Fruechte is featured by Advertising Age as one of its "women to watch" in advertising, marketing and media. The industry publication cited client growth during Fruechte's tenure, including Purina, Novartis, Aveda, Caribou Coffee, Yahoo and, as of last week, Explore Minnesota Tourism with its $3.5 million to $4 million book of business. The trade journal also noted Colle+McVoy's ventures into Twitterdom and its 40 percent jump in interactive billings since 2007.
Fruechte, 42, has been at Colle+McVoy for six years, four years as president and then CEO. Prior to that, Fruechte worked client accounts for Campbell Mithun, Preston Kelly and DDB in Honolulu.More honors
Ernst & Young's list of "entrepreneur of the year" recipients for the Upper Midwest weighs heavy with Minnesotans. Eight of the nine selectees are from the state in a region that also includes Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Minnesotans on the list are M.A. Mortenson of M.A. Mortenson Co., Joe Keeley of College Nannies & Tutors, John Romans of BioMedix Vascular Solutions, Rollie Benjamin of ABRA Auto Body and Glass, Jimmy Vosika of ShopJimmy.com, Paul Taunton of Snap Fitness, Jerome Ruzicka of Starkey Laboratories and Omar Ansari of Surly Brewing. The lone non-Minnesotan was Jack Link of Jack Link's Beef Jerky in Minong, Wis.
DAVID SHAFFER NEAL ST. ANTHONY, DAVID PHELPS