Northern Tool and Equipment in Burnsville recently put its own spin on a ceremony to celebrate its remodeled store, substituting a "chain cutting" in place of the traditional ribbon cutting. Mayor Elizabeth Mayor Kautz and former Minnesota Viking Chuck Foreman joined co-owner Wade Kotula for the festivities, which required a bolt cutter instead of a fancy pair of scissors.

The company, founded by Don Kotula in 1981 in Burnsville, now has 76 stores in 15 states and will expand to a 16th state this fall with an outlet in Jackson, Miss. The business has opened about six new stores a year since 2010 and plans to have 100 stores by 2015.

The company says the store layout in Burnsville and other remodeled outlets simplifies the shopping experience by increasing the visibility of its wide variety of tools and hardware. It's a template that so far is translating to increased revenue, with sales in remodeled stores about 9 percent higher than sales in its older stores.

More homebuilding in Lakeville

Meridian Land Co., a subsidiary of Bloomington-based United Properties, has reached an agreement to start construction of 16 single-family homes in Lakeville through a cooperative arrangement with Brandl Anderson Homes.

Brandl Anderson, which is headquartered in Lakeville, will handle construction and marketing while Meridian Land retains ownership of the lots and provides construction capital. Meridian Land has already completed infrastructure work on the lots in the Village Creek subdivision at Hamburg Avenue and Hartford Drive.

Brandl Anderson is on track to build nearly 70 homes this year, including some in several neighborhoods in the south metro area.

Staying put in Eagan

Enclos Corp., a contractor that designs, manufactures and installs exterior facades and curtain wall cladding systems for commercial buildings, recently renewed its lease for 26,120 square feet in Grand Oak Office Center VIII in Eagan, where it is a major tenant.

The company has had its offices in the 38,000-square-foot property for more than 10 years.

The building is part of Grand Oak Business Park, a 10-building campus adjacent to Interstates 494 and 35E, as well as to Hwys. 149 and 55. The business park has about 530,000 square feet of space, with tenants ranging from tech companies to retail merchants.

New restaurant for Apple Valley

Apple Valley is moving closer to getting its own Pizza Ranch. Construction recently began on an outlet, the first free-standing Pizza Ranch in the Twin Cities area, at Pilot Knob Road and W. 157th Street. The restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open in December.

Pizza Ranch has more than 160 restaurants in nine states, including 12 in the Twin Cities. A unit in Shakopee opened last month. In addition to pizza, the family-style buffet restaurants feature chicken and salads and recently added a gluten-free menu.

Please send your Dakota County business news to Susan Feyder • 952-746-3282