About 35 businesspeople will accompany Gov. Mark Dayton on a trade mission to Germany, Norway and Sweden June 12 through 21.

That compares with about 40 who went to China and 25 to Korea in recent years.

Minnesota has strong ancestral ties with these European countries, but we are not trading powerhouses with them.

Only Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is among Minnesota’s top 10 trading partners. We exported $728 million worth of vehicles and parts, medical technology and electrical machinery and other goods to Germany; about 4 percent of state exports.

Minnesota imports $851 million worth of goods from Germany, including $20 million worth of German beers and other beverages, a leading category.

We exported $45.8 million in medical products and other goods to Norway in 2012, making it only the 44th-largest export destination for Minnesota goods.

The nine-day trip will cost travelers about $7,500, including airfare, lodging and business meetings. The list of travelers has yet to be released.

Firefighting firm EarthClean gets new CEO


Scott Bocklund, a veteran CPA and executive in several industries, has been promoted to CEO of EarthClean, the South St. Paul company that makes nontoxic fire-suppressant foam whose main ingredients are cornstarch and water. The company has won several state and national entrepreneurial awards for its technology.

Bocklund, 55, succeeds Doug Ruth, 55, who remains on the board and is the company’s largest shareholder among about a dozen individual investors who put up about $3 million.

Bocklund, who predicted up to $2 million in revenue this year, said the company went slow last year in order to develop a gel, at the request of interested fire departments, that won’t biodegrade as does the original powder formula.

“We can now make the gel on demand and deliver it proportionately into a stream of water,” said Bocklund, who uses a local contract manufacturer. “We’ll be selling it by midyear. It makes the product easier to use. The industry is about $6 billion and with all the things we’ve got going here, we thing we’re going to be a $100 million company.”

EarthClean’s TetraKO product is made to replace chemical sprays. It was conceived by suburban firefighters, one of whose dad was a retired 3M chemical engineer.

The company has established distributorships on the west coast and is waiting approval on its first international sale, to South Korea. It has impressed some firefighting agencies as a clean gel that knocks down fires fast and sticks as a fire-suppressant and is safer and cleaner than chemical foams or phosphorus-based retardants.

Ty Schlobohm, who helped Ponzi prosecutors, joins U.S. Trust as adviser


Ty Schlobohm, the securities industry professional who triggered the federal investigation of the Trevor Cook-Oxford Group Ponzi scheme, has joined U.S. Trust as a private client adviser in its downtown office.

Schlobohm, who testified against several guys who have gone to prison for the scam that bilked $194 million from 700 mostly elderly investors, declined to comment last week. But Schlobohm, a veteran securities trader, investment banker and fundraiser for hedge funds, was praised by the lead prosecutor in the case.

“He was a concerned citizen who saw fraud, raised his hand, did what he could to help law enforcement ... and we need more people like that,” Joe Dixon, the former top white-collar prosecutor in the local U.S. attorney’s office who oversaw the several-year case, said in an interview.

Schlobohm, 39, grew skeptical when he went to Oxford Group in 2009 to learn more about its investment claims on behalf of clients. He then took his concerns to the FBI. He agreed to wear a wire and help gather the evidence that made the case. He spent so much time helping the authorities that he resigned from his job at Cherry Tree Investments.

“Ty’s appointment reflects U.S. Trust’s commitment to the Minneapolis area,” U.S. Trust regional executive Amy Hughes said in a statement.

commerce urges CPAs to safeguard seniors


Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is urging Minnesota’s 9,000 licensed CPAs to keep an eye out for the elderly this tax season.

“As millions of Minnesotans prepare their taxes, we can work together to spot senior fraud and abuse that steals from our parents and grandparents,” said Rothman.

He urged CPAs to watch for big changes in income, disappearing funds and heavy securities trading.