One day when Jack Reiter was a boy, he watched his dad nearly lose a thumb when a board he was cutting with a table saw bound then kicked back like a whip as he fumbled for the “off” switch. Reiter has been interested in worker safety ever since.
Reiter, 60, and his father years ago started a manufacturing company called ReiTech that makes safety equipment that is still in business.
Last month, Reiter’s latest company, Machine Safety Management Corp., was named the 2015 recipient of the Award for Innovation in Occupational Safety Management — the Oscar of the machine-safety trade — by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) at its annual national conference.
Launched in 2011, the company’s software helps organizations throughout North America conduct, store and manage machine safety audits, risk assessments and machine information; helping to reduce machine related injuries, OSHA citations and fines.
“From Day One, our commitment has been to care for people first and improve the safety of machine operators,” Reiter said. “To be honored by the ASSE with this award is humbling and also affirming. The OSHA regulations and ANSI [industry] standards, very few people realize how they work, and it can get confusing.
“Our program helps take the guesswork out for manufacturers and helps them properly audit and put the appropriate guarding on to meet the regulations. I came up with the idea 10 years ago … back when the ‘cloud’ was something that you looked at out the window. We had to wait for the technology. Now we have a cloud-based program where people can log in anywhere in the world and a safety manager in California can oversee many plants and go into his desktop and select any plant and get the results of the audits, the photos, the machine’s history and what steps are needed to guard the machine operator from hazards … whether belt and pulley or pinch points or steel or wood chips or fluids that may be ejected.”
Eden Prairie-based Machine Safety Management employs 17 full-and-part-time.
Vidku graduates to new digs in Warehouse District
CEO Jim Leslie of start-up Vidku, which has raised $17 million in an initial round of funding from individual investors, said the company will depart its University of Minnesota birthplace to take up residence July 1 in the McKesson Building in the Warehouse District.
The 30-employee-and-growing firm expects to launch its first commercial product by fall.
“As an independent company, we don’t belong on campus,” Leslie said. “There’s a community of developers and entrepreneurs and start-ups that we want to be part of and some of them are in the downtown area … that’s why we’re going to the North Loop.”
Vidku is commercializing so-called Flipgrid online video communication software developed in 2013 by Charlie Miller, a co-founder and former associate professor in the U’s College of Education and Human Development. He built it for the classroom and it spread throughout the department.
Last year Jean Quam, dean of the U’s Education Department, invited Leslie and Phil Soran, another semiretired Minnesota technology entrepreneur, to kick the tires. Both men are education philanthropists and Soran started out as a public school teacher.
The intrigued entrepreneurs subsequently acquired the Flipgrid technology from the College of Education for $6.75 million and a 4 percent equity stake in the company. Schools, businesses, a church congregation and the U.S. Coast Guard, which uses Flipgrid to field-test language proficiency, have tested the Vidku system.
Miller; Soran, who is executive chairman; Leslie, and other employees through stock options own about half the company. The angel investors and the U own the rest.
Soran, 58, now a three-peat entrepreneur, was a founder and former CEO of Compellent. He took it public in 2007 and sold to Dell for $800 million in 2011. Leslie, 54, sold his Eden Prairie-based Midwave Corp. for $17.6 million to data center builder and systems integrator Datalink in 2011 and remained there until 2013.
Minnesota Masons construct new center
Minnesota Masonic Charities (MMC) has commenced construction of a $22 million, 50,000-square-foot Heritage Center, which will include a 425-seat auditorium-community theater, museum space, dining facility and library.
MMC selected Adolfson & Peterson as contractor and Trossen Wright Plutowski Architects for the building, which is slated to open in June 2016.
“Masons such as James J. Hill, the Mayo Brothers and Hubert H. Humphrey, all made such significant and recognizable contributions to Minnesota’s history,” said CEO Eric Neetenbeek. “Establishing a Masonic Heritage Center … provides an opportunity to honor the work and values of Masons in Minnesota.”
The Heritage Center will replace two obsolete buildings on the Masonic campus.
Since 2008, the organization has provided more than $1.5 million in postsecondary scholarships to more than 200 Minnesota students.
Money manager expands to Byron
Twenty-one-year money manager Mark Pearson is expanding his Nepsis Capital Management to Byron, Minn.
Pearson, who already has clients in the small town near Rochester, is making a play on the expanding wealth in booming Rochester, thanks to Destination Medical Center and $6 billion in private and public investment over the next couple of decades.
“Everybody is in Rochester,” Pearson said of competitors. “We have a relationship with an estate-planning firm in Byron and existing clients. Byron is 7 miles from downtown Rochester. I can pay three times [less rent] in Byron. I can leverage our relationship with expertise around there. People there like to work with people in their town.”
Pearson must be doing something right. Assets under management has grown from $45 million to $450 million at Nepsis.
The name is Greek for being alert and vigilant.
Nonprofit lender gets tax credit allocation
Community Reinvestment Fund USA (CRF), a nonprofit lender that targets small businesses in distressed communities, has received $55 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit funds.
The program, established by Congress in 2000, gives individual and corporate taxpayers a credit against federal income taxes for making equity investments in so-called Community Development Entities.
CRF was among 76 organizations nationally to receive the allocation, selected from a pool of 263 applicants.