Small Business

Maud Borup to expand Le Center plant

Plymouth-based Maud Borup, the century-old candy and food gift company, will break ground in December on a 65,000-square-foot expansion of its southern Minnesota manufacturing plant and warehouse.

“It’s exciting to take the business to the next level,” said owner Christine Lantinen, who grew up on a Le Center-area farm and expects sales of more than $20 million this year.

The company expects Le Center employment to grow from 120 to 150 thanks to the expansion, including “professional chocolatiers.”

The building addition and equipment will cost about $5.5 million, including a loan from Old National Bank.

The addition is expected to open next summer.

Lantinen bought Maud Borup in 2005 with her husband after she was let go by a rival company; the owner told her that he couldn’t afford her $125,000 salary and bonus.

Her early days building the business is depicted in a Star Tribune column last summer at: strib.mn/37vKOTc.

The driven, often-laughing Lantinen, 45, served as a medic in the Army for 10 years after high school to afford college.

Lantinen has transformed Maud Borup from a small retailer to a wholesale business: a growing manufacturer of chocolates, peppermint bark, fudge cups, other candies and food gifts.

She was named Minnesota’s small-business person of the year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“I think Maud has been watching out for us,” Lantinen said from her Plymouth office and warehouse, which employs another 20 people.

The Le Center plant is powered by a huge wind turbine. Lantinen also has worked to reduce packaging and waste.

Neal St. Anthony

corporate responsibility

Ecolab CEO is presented ‘Dayton Award’

CEO Doug Baker of Ecolab has received the Dayton Award in Moral Capitalism from the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism.

“We chose Doug as the first recipient … because of his leadership around water and his dedication to improving lives through the products and services of his company,” said Stephen Young, global executive director of the Caux Round Table.

Ecolab is a leader in corporate sustainability; the company and its customers use less energy, water and generate less pollution as they grow.

Baker, 60, reported in Ecolab’s 2018 Sustainability Report that Ecolab, a strong financial performer, is near its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2020 and has struck a renewable-power deal that will help it surpass that goal significantly.

Ecolab and customers conserved 188 billion gallons of water last year — enough to meet annual drinking needs of 650 million people.

“One of my main responsibilities as CEO [since 2004] is to make sure our company achieves our purpose: to make the world cleaner, safer, protecting people and vital resources,” said Baker. “Now is the time to step up our efforts and expand our positive impact.”

The Dayton Award recognizes corporate responsibility in the spirit of the grandsons of George Draper Dayton who expanded from one department store to what is now Target Corp., as they also invested profits in the community.

Learn more at cauxroundtable.org or ecolab.com.

Neal St. Anthony

financial services

Securian Financial buys Texas firm

Securian Financial is acquiring Empyrean Benefit Solutions, a Houston-based employee benefits enrollment and human resources administration company.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it is likely one of Securian’s largest deals in the past four years and should help Securian solidify its position in Fortune’s annual list of 500 largest public companies.

It should close by year-end.

“It is a significant strategic investment that complements Securian Financial’s broad lineup of innovative employee benefits solutions and opens new growth opportunities for both our customers and us,” Securian CEO Chris Hilger said in a statement.

The deal adds Empyrean’s 600 employees to the 5,600 employees that Securian has in the U.S. and Canada. Most of Empyrean’s employees work in Houston and at offices in Nashville and Minneapolis, thanks to Empyrean’s acquisition of Minneapolis-based Bloom Health in 2016.

Empyrean helps more than 400 employers and 3.6 million participants with benefit programs.

Securian is a mutual insurance holding company and the third-largest direct writer of group life insurance.

Patrick Kennedy