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Nichole Porath, front right, ran a personal-best 2:44:12 at the Houston Marathon last month.

, Nichole Porath

Kristofer Lysne

, Star Tribune

Inside Track: Growing tech company now calls Northeast home

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY
  • Star Tribune
  • January 24, 2012 - 1:50 PM

Lower northeast Minneapolis has landed a little technology business in historic digs.

Terrapin Technologies, which provides back-office technologies for bank-owned securities broker dealers, has moved its 15-person staff into renovated space in the 110-year-old Banks Building with room to double in size.

"This move puts our company in the heart of the Minneapolis business community and will be a key element of strengthening our nimble, creative and innovative culture," said Kristefor Lysne, president of the family-owned company that relocated from the northern suburbs. "We've got enough room ... to double the number of employees in this space. We were just a one-bank consulting company and we've become a growth business. We've got several banks [as customers] among the 20 largest banks. "

Terrapin's flagship product is an integrated collection of tools and processes called Pandia. The company's clients include Capital One Bank and North Carolina-based BB&T. Lysne, 40, whose father started the company, said Terrapin has no Minnesota clients. Yet.

The historic Banks Building, a couple of blocks from the Mississippi in resurgent lower northeast, was constructed around 1900 and for years housed wholesale furniture companies as a part of what was then known as "Furniture Row." It once housed the M.F. Bank & Co. retail outlet. The building, 615 1st Av. NE., was purchased and renovated into offices by Schafer Richardson in 2000. Tennants include Media Loft, Make-A-Wish Foundation and a campaign office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Earning her wings

Nichole Porath, a financial manager at Red Wing Shoe Co., has demonstrated excellent footwork lately.

Porath, 28, a marathon runner, placed 69th out of 182 women with a personal-best time of 2:44:12 in the women's Olympic time trials in Houston this month.

That's not good enough for the 2012 Olympic squad, but she said the experience was tremendous.

"I wore my Red Wing engineering boots to the opening ceremonies," said Porath, who is not one of the elite, "sponsored" athletes. She wore four-ounce Nikes, not the boots, during the race.

"I consider Red Wing Shoe as kind of my sponsor. The company has been so flexible with my work schedule, particularly during peak training cycle when I was running 90 miles a week, plus strength training, chiropractic care ... and I got to take long runs over my lunch breaks and work a day a week from home.

"It's a supportive culture in many respects, for many people and causes, from my colleagues to the top."

Red Wing President Dave Murphy offered the use of the company plane to fly Porath, her husband, trainer and several family members to Houston. Porath said the trip otherwise was unaffordable for the entourage. You can follow Porath, who's not done competing, and her Olympic adventure at www.nicholerunning .blogspot.com.

RIVERBRIDGE'S THOMPSON ON VALUE

Mark Thompson, chief stock picker and a founder 25 years ago of Riverbridge Partners, doesn't like to wax on about the direction of the market. The composite, low-turnover portfolios at Minneapolis-based private boutique Riverbridge have outperformed their benchmark indexes over the long term, which many money managers cannot claim.

"We don't predict the market," Thompson told customers at the annual winter meeting earlier this month. "We position ourselves to navigate an unpredictable world. Our portfolio is constructed with over 50 great businesses with distinct competitive advantages, diversified in their sources of earnings ... that are positioned to exploit the opportunities presented -- whether malady or good fortune - that [earns] them a high return on capital with superior growth in business value."

Thompson then turned the floor over to CEO Joe Dunsmore of Digi International, a strong portfolio performer over the last decade.

BUSINESS AUTHORS ABOUND

Fred Martin, president and chief investment officer of Disciplined Growth Investors, has penned "Benjamin Graham and the Power of Growth Stocks," published by heavyweight McGraw Hill. Martin, who has been in business in these parts for more than 30 years, has good numbers to back his discipline.

Peter Heegaard, a 35-year investment-and-trust executive, a founder and leader of Lowry Hill until retirement 15 years ago to focus on community work, has published "More Bang for your Buck; Good News for Taxpayers, Public Officials, Philanthropists & Non-profit Managers." The book, anecdotally and analytically, explains Heegaard's validated approach to measuring the return on investment of nonprofits and government initiatives that focus on the public good.

Ray Harris, the Minneapolis developer of Calhoun Square, has written "Wynott: Rethinking the Way We've Always Done Things." Harris says he's applying fresh thinking, and a lot of humor, in new approaches "to a new American urban community ... whether an inner-city neighborhood, an aging suburb or a small town." A book signing is set for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota campus.

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