April Todd-Malmlov, director of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange

“Creating an exchange is a very challenging, exciting, and important effort. The timeline is tight; the need for creativity and flexibility is key.”

About Todd-Malmlov: For the past year, she has been leading the development of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, a marketplace for people to compare health care plans and purchase insurance. Todd-Malmlov has been involved in health insurance exchange issues since 2006. Previously, she served as health economist at the Minnesota Department of Health and also worked at Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group.

Personal file: She grew up in the Red River Valley and now lives in the southeast metropolitan area with her husband and two sons. She earned a degree from Beloit College in Wisconsin and a master’s in public health from the University of Minnesota. When not thinking big thoughts about health care, she likes to settle in with a good book of fiction.

What’s big in 2012: States have until the end of this year to prove the exchanges will be ready for consumers to use beginning in 2014. If Minnesota doesn’t have a viable plan in place, the federal government will implement its own exchange.

Final word: “I am honored to be given this unique opportunity to lead the design and development of a new marketplace that can have a meaningful and lasting positive impact on Minnesota’s families, businesses and health care market.”


Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Sally Smith, CEO, Buffalo Wild Wings

“This is an exciting time for our brand, and with aggressive goals for 2012 we’re confident we’ll continue to grow — both in the U.S. and internationally.”

About Smith: An accountant, she became CFO of Buffalo Wild Wings in 1994 and CEO two years later. She has guided it from a collection of 30 restaurants to a national chain of 800, all with a distinctive sports theme. The St. Louis Park-based firm is a Wall Street darling; its stock rose 53 percent last year.

Personal file: A South Dakota native and University of North Dakota grad, she cheers for the UND hockey team, but also the University of Minnesota basketball team and all Minnesota professional teams. She cooks, golfs and travels, and has a 25-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son.

What’s big in 2012: While the restaurant industry has been in the doldrums courtesy of a weak economy, Buffalo Wild Wings has continued on a growth tear. Smith’s challenge is to keep the momentum going and stay on track to hit a goal of 1,000 restaurants in North America in 2013.

Final word: “Sports is a universal language, and that game-day experience and camaraderie our guests find at Buffalo Wild Wings is something that translates across the globe and contributes to our continued success.”



Christine M. Morse, CEO of Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies in Eden Prairie

“Our approach to grant-making respects [Margaret’s] desire to make quantifiable change in the lives of real people and communities.’’

About Morse: A onetime Cargill accountant, Morse now heads Minnesota’s newest and largest private foundation with assets valued at about $6 billion. Margaret Cargill, known in charity circles as “the silent philanthropist,’’ asked Morse and accountant Paul Busch to be her trustees, and they started the process of setting up the huge foundation to which she bequeathed all her wealth after her death in 2006. Philanthropic goals include: enhanced quality of life for children, families and seniors; environmental preservation and sustainability; teachers; arts and culture, and the humane treatment of animals.

Personal file: Morse has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Gustavus Adolphus College, where she earlier served as an instructor and as a trustee. She is a certified financial planner. She and her husband have three children. She enjoys gardening and time outdoors.

What’s big in 2012: Of the foundation’s seven programs areas, at least three will make grants this year.

Final word: “Even though we have broad program areas, we emphasize making a difference at the community and individual level rather than at the government or public-policy level. Our challenge is to look at the great needs that exist in each of our program areas, and to focus within our guidelines to identify the most appropriate grantees.”


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Susan Marvin, president of Marvin Windows and Doors

“While we can’t control the external forces acting on home builders and homeowners, we can and have controlled how we respond to this economic challenge.”

About Marvin: She leads Warroad-based Marvin Windows and Doors, the nation’s largest manufacturer of made-to-order wood and clad wood windows and doors. She’s part of a management team that has accomplished a remarkable feat — not laying off any workers during the worst housing market in decades. The company has about 4,300 employees in 10 plants nationwide, including about 2,000 workers in Minnesota.

Personal file: Marvin is one of 14 third- and fourth-generation family members now at the company founded by her grandfather in 1912. She grew up in Warroad and came back to join the company in 1981 after earning a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband divide their time between their homes in Warroad and Minneapolis. Her favorite pastimes include travel, dancing, skiing, boating and reading.

What’s big in 2012: Industry groups have forecast only modest recovery in window and door sales this year. Marvin has kept its financial house in order, which has helped it survive the downturn and positioned it to benefit when the housing market revives.

Final word: “While some of our competitors overleveraged themselves during the boom years, we kept our company debt-free. That’s allowed us to gain market share by continuing to invest in innovative new products.”


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Narayana Kocherlakota, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

“It’s really critical for me to be hearing from people in the Ninth District about the economy.”

About Kocherlakota: As commander of the Minneapolis Fed, Kocherlakota participates in the meetings of the central bank’s powerful Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which is charged with controlling inflation and promoting maximum employment. He made a name for himself recently with two dissenting votes on Fed policy directives, and champions open communication.

Personal file: His father came to the United States from Andhra Pradesh in India to study statistics and met his mother, who is from Pittsburgh. He and his wife, Barbara, have no children but two Australian shepherds. His hobbies include the dogs, reading, movies and theater, watching sports. He went to Princeton University at age 15 and received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

What’s big in 2012: All eyes remain on the Fed as it works to guide the economy to full recovery without excessive inflation. Kocherlakota has rotated out of his voting spot on the FOMC but continues to participate in meetings where the Fed will mull further stimulus.

Final word: His forecast is for continued slow recovery. He expects unemployment to fall to a bit over 8 percent by next year, with gross domestic product growing 2.5 to 3 percent.


Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Andrew Humphrey, managing partner, Faegre Baker Daniels, Minneapolis

“Put your clients first when making decisions; keep calm and carry on in your execution.”

About Humphrey: On Jan. 1, he officially became managing partner of the newly merged law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. Before that, Humphrey, 51, had only known Faegre & Benson as his legal home. In his practice, Humphrey advises companies on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, venture capital financing and securities regulation.

Personal file: He’s been recognized as a leading lawyer by publications such as Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and was named to the advisory board of the Best Lawyers in America. He’s a board member of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice and former mayor of Wayzata. The University of Chicago Law School alumnus is married, with two daughters and one son. Tennis is described as a family passion.

What’s big in 2012: Humphrey will oversee the integration of more than 770 attorneys from two firms as well as 45 consultants working the power corridors of Washington. The merger with Indianapolis-based Baker Daniels creates Minnesota’s largest law firm and one of the top 100 U.S. firms. Now the challenge is for its lawyers to become colleagues and make strategic use of their diverse practice groups.

Final word: “The world is changing at a rapid pace. Our clients are adapting and evolving in response. We need to continually challenge ourselves to grow and expand our capabilities to provide excellent service to our clients.” 


Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Craig Herkert, CEO of Supervalu

“While we still have significant work ahead of us to achieve our end goals, I remain confident in our people and our strategy and believe we have a clear road map.”

About Herkert: He started as a grocery bagger in high school and worked his way up, becoming Eden Prairie-based Supervalu’s CEO in May 2009 after a stint as a top Wal-Mart top executive. His Supervalu mission: turn around an underperforming grocery giant. Progress has been slow; Supervalu’s stock, a loser.

Personal file: Herkert has a marketing degree from St. Francis College in Joliet, Ill., his hometown, and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. His interests include biking, reading, watching movies and spending time with his wife and two teenage children.

What’s big in 2012: Supervalu has posted 15 consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales and the company has lost customers, often to lower-priced rivals. A key to its rebuilding plan is lowering prices without imperiling profits. The question is whether Herkert can show investors the tide has finally turned.

Final word: “We have been very clear about our goal to lower prices, including here at Cub Foods, and to deliver a more local shopping experience for our customers. We have made great strides on both.”


Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press

William Cooper, chairman and CEO of TCF Financial Corp. in Wayzata

“We are, for the third time in my career, reinventing the bank again.”

About Cooper: TCF’s longtime chairman, once a cop, is something of a Minnesota institution. The outspoken banker sued the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2010 over regulatory changes to limit debit card swipe fees that threatened the bank’s fee-heavy business model. He lost.

Personal file: Cooper is unmarried, has seven children and lives in Wayzata. His hobbies are golf and skiing. He’s a certified public accountant and has a degree in accounting from Wayne State University in Detroit, where he worked his way through college as a Detroit policeman.

What’s big in 2012: Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? TCF is reinventing itself by mining new territory, Cooper said. Watch what it does with Gateway One Lending & Finance, an auto finance services provider it recently acquired, and the inventory finance business it launched in 2008.

Final word: With all the challenges, would he consider selling the bank? “It’s not time to drain the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.”


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Zygi Wilf, principal owner, Minnesota Vikings football team

“Right now we are closer than ever on making a deal happen. Our main goal is making sure that the site is in Minnesota and the Twin Cities area.”

About Wilf: A real estate developer who honed his trade in rough-and-tumble New Jersey, the Minnesota Vikings’ principal owner is facing the deal of his career as the team wheels and deals for a new stadium.

Personal file: The son of Holocaust survivors, Wilf earned an economics degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a law degree from New York Law School. He worked in the family business, Garden Homes, one of the largest real estate development firms in the nation. Wilf and his wife, Audrey, have four children.

What’s big in 2012: Wilf has set his sights on an old munitions dump in Arden Hills for a new $1.1 billion Vikings stadium, promising to cough up $425 million. But politicos and business leaders in Minneapolis favor three disparate sites downtown, and Shakopee is pitching its own plan. It’s uncertain how (and if) state and local governments will cough up their $650 million share. The way Wilf and his lieutenants finesse this Gordian knot may determine the beloved team’s future.

Final word: Earlier this month, Wilf told the Strib’s Sid Hartman, “Most importantly, [the stadium] will establish a home not only for the Vikings but a symbol for everyone in the country to see that Minnesota takes their sports seriously.”


Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Omar Ishrak, CEO of Medtronic

“This is where our technology base, our clinical base, is. If we are to globalize, we will base it a lot on the expertise that we have here.”

About Ishrak: He became the seventh CEO in Medtronic’s 62-year history in June. The 55-year-old former president and CEO of GE Healthcare Systems has taken over Medtronic with an eye toward expanding and increasing the Fridley company’s sales and earnings abroad. That was his track record at GE, where he broadened global distribution to achieve an annual double-digit percentage growth rate since 1995. Currently, 46 percent of Medtronic’s $16 ­billion in annual revenue comes from foreign shores. Ishrak’s — and Medtronic’s — fortunes are tied, in part, to increasing that number.

Personal file: Married to Helen, with two sons — one of whom is attending law school at the University of Minnesota — and a daughter. Ishrak grew up in Bangladesh and holds a bachelor of science degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of London, King’s College.

What’s big in 2012: While he knows that expanding foreign markets is critical to Medtronic, he also knows many people in other countries do not have access to what Medtronic sells. A key will be breaking down the barriers that exist.

Final word: “Our opportunity lies in improving our growth profile. Our focus is on innovation, globalization and execution — all are key to fueling future success.”


Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

10 business newsmakers to watch in 2012

  • Star Tribune staff
  • January 17, 2012 - 2:49 PM

In business, leaders know that somebody is usually watching them.

Employees, shareholders, customers — they’re searching for clues about how the organization is doing and what changes are ahead.

With the arrival of a new year, the Star Tribune has selected 10 Minnesota business figures who will have many eyes upon them in 2012.

They made the list for a variety of reasons. Some will deal with tough challenges, such as Craig Herkert, chief of grocery store operator Supervalu, which is trying to respond to fierce competitive pressures. Or Zygi Wilf, the real estate veteran and Vikings owner who is championing a new stadium for the team.

Some are embracing big opportunities, such as Christine Morse, who heads the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, which cleared billions of dollars last year in a complicated stock deal that freed up cash to pursue the late Cargill heiress’ philanthropic vision.

Others will try to maintain their momentum, such as Sally Smith, chief executive of Buffalo Wild Wings, the sports-themed restaurant chain that has grown rapidly with an ambitious goal: 1,000 locations.

Here are the 10 to watch in 2012:

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