Something from Mary!

We work together! ( I may or may not have a Grease song in my head now.)

I was on social media earlier today, and I noticed something….. RiverSong is looking for Volunteers. Like most non-profits and events, they need help making things happen before and during the event. They were even looking for someone to attend Music in the Park and promote RiverSong- genius!

Why am I telling you this…. Well…. isn’t it fabulous that Music in the Park continues thanks to RiverSong and Historic Hutchinson!?? It does not fit the Chamber’s mission and these two groups who we see and work with every week in the summer were ready to take it on. We know they will be able to make this weekly summer event HUGE and even more successful! No worries- we’ll still be able to help you with your questions, just like other community events!

This is just ONE example of hundreds, dare I say thousands, of examples of how this community, the people who live here, the organizations among us WORK together, side by side to make things happen!

Hutchinson Ambassadors run Taste of Hutchinson, along-side the Chamber as we host the Annual Arts & Crafts Festival. Who is serving food??? Many local non-profits raise money serving up cheese curds, kettle corn and other tasty treats. Surrounding businesses make adjustments because they recognize the importance of this event to our local economy.

Throughout the year you’ll see groups, organizations and businesses working together. We’re told by other chambers and cities they see Hutchinson as unique. Many communities have squabbling and in-fighting which damages relationships. We’re really lucky here as we recognize our differences, but respect positions and opinions. Yes, we have some people who don’t play nice, but I choose to see the good.

So if you are looking for an opportunity to meet new people, get connected, be involved, get up off the couch, give back to the community you live, work and or play in…. take a look at our Volunteer Opportunities for new postings, or give us a call. We can help match your talent/skill set with one of the many non-profits in town. There are groups to join, support, work with, and the best part… it helps not only you and the organization…. it makes Hutchinson a LOVELY place to call home!

Mark your calendars for April 14th, Bring It Home Expo at the McLeod County Fairgrounds. Jaycee Pancake Breakfast, Jaycee booth curtains, Wheel and Cog Children’s area, over 100 businesses participating in some way, shape or form. All of us TOGETHER! (now I have High School Musical in my head.)

Something from Mary!

Year End Review…

Let’s be clear, I love the movie White Christmas, but I am not dreaming of a white Christmas…. I’m all for a light dusting after everyone has arrived at their destination, so it looks iconic like a good old fashioned Hollywood musical. But here we are, IN Minnesota, the state where it can hail one day and snow the next…. Oh wait, it did.

Just as many of us were surprised back in March with hail, then snow… and it snowed in late April also…. We can also be surprised with unexpected business changes. It is so HO HO important to work on your business and keeping it shored up against changes that will inevitably come around.

Whether you’re managing employment changes, regulations and laws, industry upheavals or maybe through growth (think about growing pains when you were a young child) being agile and willing to maneuver through change is very important. Change whether positive or not, still brings stress to you, and those around you.

Just a couple of considerations for 2018:

Retention: It’s so much easier (AND CHEAPER) to retain employees rather than attract and train new ones. What are you really doing to retain your current workforce? It isn’t about pay for 90% of your employees. My action item for you: ASK your employees what is meaningful to them.

Education: Have you or your employees been through educational seminars, workshops or classes to stay up to speed on newest techniques, industry standards or new skills? A great way to get refreshed is to get out of the office, because we don’t know what we don’t know. Action Item: Don’t delete the emails coming from industry experts, take a look at what they can offer you and your staff.

Policies and Procedures: I know you love it when I bring this up! But policies and procedures can easily become outdated. Action Item: pick a couple right now you know aren’t up to date and take the time. Okay…. MAKE the time.

2018 holds mystery and intrigue for the business world. It could be smooth sailing or a roller coaster ride with one of those horrid upside down thingies in the middle. Set yourself up to ride the wave, and have a great start to 2018.

I pray your year-end goes well, and you take the time to be with your loved ones over the holidays. I’ll see you on the flipside! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Something from Mary!

Retail isn’t dead. Small Businesses aren’t dying.

On-line shopping isn’t going away.

There is room for both. Room for both doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for change. AHHHH- the dreaded CHANGE word. How about Refresh? Update? Possibilities? Transformation? Revolution? Revenue?

There is a shift in retail happening and it’s in the wheel house of retail business owners… show off your uniqueness!

In a couple of articles from the Star Tribune’s October 8th and 15th Editions, stories were shared about small businesses providing an experience for shoppers and using lighthearted, attractive, and inviting displays to encourage passersby to notice and stop in.

Yes. You have to remind people your business exists.

Pamela Danzinger, market researcher and author was quoted by John Ewoldt. “Small retailers have a secret weapon. They’re face to face and eye to eye with customers.” Ewoldt’s article “Selling La Vida Local” also included information from local businesses who commented shoppers are asking for a very localized experience.

What can a business do to be more: localized, eye to eye and attractive to customers?

Here’s some ideas:

  • Create a surprise in your window/entry
    Perhaps people are used to seeing something specific, whether it be items, or style of display. Change it up. GET their attention. Need some fresh eyes to help you discover new options? Call the Chamber 587-5252.
  • Add Special Touches to your Customer’s Experience
    We don’t own our customers, we EARN them. What special touches do you provide to the people who walk in your door? If you need to brainstorm, call the chamber 587-5252. A quick litany of ideas: personalized thank you cards or emails, gift wrapping, personalized shopping assistance, a small “gift” candy with each purchase. Frequent flyer/shopper cards, VIP shopping experiences. See more on our pinterest board
  • Provide Customer Service Training
    YES! What do you want YOUR BRAND to be? Is it a sales clerk who sits behind the register and sighs when they HAVE to get up and check someone out, or is it someone who knows the name of the customer and the reason for their special purchase because they took the time to engage that customer, or know them personally from repeat visits? YOUR BRAND is YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE as much as it is your logo, product, or service. Need a secret shopper to pop in and help assess opportunities? Call the Chamber 587-5252.
  • Have a Social Media Presence
    It’s where the younger generations are. It’s how they get their news. Your business is news to them. If you have noticed your clientele getting older, with fewer “youngsters” coming in… I encourage you to consider if you aren’t speaking to them on social media, they do not know you exist. If you aren’t using social media and it scares you, I invite you to call the chamber 587-5252 and ask us to help you! Please let us help you reach a new generation of shoppers who will love you!

Okay, NOW…. you’ve got this! You can make it happen- you have been all this time… you can KEEP doing it! If we can help, let us know. Your Business is Our Business and we believe in you!

Something from Mary

Why Chamber Membership?

It’s considered an effective business strategy.

66-85% of consumers believe Chamber Member businesses use good business practices, are reputable, care about their customers and are involved in the community. When consumers know a small business is an active member of the chamber they are 80% MORE likely to purchase goods/services from them in the future.

The perception is Chamber Member products stack up better against non-chamber competition.

Being a member of the chamber can increase consumer awareness by 73%. Looking at your Chamber Membership as an investment is great way to add strength to your business. You already know someone’s opinions and perceptions are their reality. Did you know most people looking to relocate go to the local chamber of commerce to learn more about the community and what amenities it has? They assume all successful businesses are part of the chamber. That being said as a Chamber Member they are seeing YOU as part of a potential home to live in, and/or a community to work in. Funny how all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s the marketing, education, networking events, support programs, and so much more we have for our members. OUR business is entirely about YOUR business. We are here simply to help you THRIVE, SUCCEED, GROW, and attain your GOALS.

We are honored you are a Chamber Member. We are here to ENGAGE, SUPPORT & PROMOTE you.

Thank you for allowing us the privilege to do so.


Statistics Source: ACCE: Survey: Chamber Membership is Effective Business Strategy.

Something from Mary!

As we continue to watch the political mass struggle with the DOL Overtime Ruling, I’m reminded of TWO key sets of advice from several leaders who have spoken to our Leadership Institute Class each year.

“Build your network of people BEFORE you might need them.” The other option is to introduce yourself and then spurt out your problem and ask for help.


“Your voice matters. Reach out to legislators.”

Democracy is the only system capable of reflecting the humanist premise of equilibrium or balance. The key to its secret is the involvement of the citizen.      -John Ralston Saul

The Department of Labor may have overreached on this new ruling, but our legislators have the ability to rescind the ruling, or slow down the ruling so it would ramp up over a number of years.

Knowing local, state and federal representatives can make the task much easier. If they know you, they are less likely to brush you, and your issue, aside.

More importantly right now, is to let your federal leaders know how this affects your business, whether you are a for profit or not-for-profit business.

They need to hear from us.
They need to hear from you.
YOU are the key to making this or anything else happen.

Please take 10 minutes to type out some information and email it to our legislators.

Senator Al Franken

St Paul Office 651-221-1016

DC Office 202-224-5641


Senator Amy Klobuchar

Minneapolis Office 612-727-5220 or 1-888-224-9043

DC Office 202-224-3244


Representative Collin Peterson                  

Willmar Office 320-235-1061

DC Office 202-225-2165

Something from Mary!

Workforce Retention- what are you doing to KEEP employees?

  • Volunteer Programs
  • Pleasing Work Environment
  • Deeper Employee Relationships
  • Appreciation Programs
  • Flexible Schedules

We continue to hear about the job market.

We continue to hear about the lack of employees.

We continue to hear about workforce solutions.

As a business owner or manager, you have an ace in the hole. You HAVE employees…. KEEP THEM!

Perhaps you saw the Star Tribune Top Work Places 2017 Edition which came out last weekend. It includes some good articles about companies of all sizes working to retain the employees they already have! The common thread is each business creates benefits and builds flexibility to meet the needs of their employees and business.

From ping pong tables to set-your-own work schedule, employers are finding unique ways to provide tangible and intangible ways to support employees.

We know in Hutchinson some manufacturers have begun hiring part-time production, and businesses such as the chamber have adjusted hours to allow staff flexibility in scheduling their work day. Perhaps you might like to stop in the Chamber for the 2pm Dance Party.

I encourage each business, including those who say “we have to do it this way,” to review what you do, invite input from your employees, and be open to the possibilities.

We’re also interested in hearing from smaller businesses how the chamber can help many small businesses in a cooperative effort.

Feel free to send me a message or stop in and tell me what you are doing to keep your great employees.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Something from Mary

What Leadership Is To Me


Recently Hutchinson Ambassador and Bring It Home Committee Member Brian Renner posted a remarkable story on Facebook. Someone who had signed up for Be The Match at his son Carter’s 2016 Benefit had received a call telling them they were a match to someone who needed a bone marrow transplant in the United States.

Maybe you know the story behind the Renner Family’s battle with cancer last year, maybe you don’t…… the middle part of the story is a one of a family battling through juvenile cancer, the ups and downs of test results, waiting, waiting and more waiting, battles of endurance, juggling the needs of Carter’s three siblings, the demands of full time careers, and more waiting. I am going to tell you more of the story….

Dawn Renner (insert SuperMom music here) began the Hutchinson Leadership Institute in the fall of 2015. Shortly after the beginning of class, like a WEEK later, the Renner’s had received the news Carter was going to be battling cancer and needed in-depth treatment and the family would be constantly at his side in Minneapolis. Dawn and her family knew she would need to withdraw from the class. The Leadership class was of course saddened to lose someone from the class who had already built relationships and nicknames with. The class moved on, sending special thoughts and prayers to Dawn periodically.  Half way through the year, the class is divided into Project Groups. Each group reviews community needs, evaluate projects to strengthen the community and provide community service experience in a variety of community topics. ie: education, park & rec, civic, non-profit, etc.

Here’s where our Group Projects took a turn….. one group was anxious to help their past classmate… “What if we connected with Be The Match and did a bone marrow donor drive?” From there, they ran with it.  They did not stop at one, no… they did a blood drive and donor drive at the mall, then coordinated with Carter’s Benefit Committee and set up a donor drive there as well. They went through training to take samples, provide information and walk potential donors through the paper work. I remember many of us also writing notes to the anonymous donor from Germany, thanking them for their selflessness. The group worked with passion to help someone, anyone, if nothing else, honor Dawn and her family’s tireless battle.

Now just a little more than a year later…. That drive, that one idea may have saved the life of another person, and perhaps more in the future.  That group project may have brought another family peace and health.

Sometimes leadership isn’t guiding others to see fruits of your labor today, it can be a faith-filled choice to know you might be doing something with a ripple affect farther into the future.

I of course love the idea of this “Hutchinson Leadership Institute, we build community and save lives.” Even if we aren’t saving lives, we are building community and I can tell you, that class will never forget the lessons learned because of one family’s diagnosis of cancer. We are Community. We are Hutchinson.

Post Notes: Today Carter is home, doing well, finished sixth grade and is enjoying a summer filled with his favorite activities with no limitations.

Dawn Renner Graduated the Hutchinson Leadership Institute on May 17, 2017.

Something From Mary

So I know I beat the drum frequently, but here’s just another opportunity to THANK and RECOGNIZE our small businesses in the Hutchinson Area.

Did you know?

  • 540,000 new businesses are started each month in the US
  • 65% of all new jobs come from small businesses
  • There are 28 million small businesses in US, which outnumber corporations 1162 to 1.

(Sources: Carbonite, Start Small, Tentacle)

Small Businesses are run by tenacious, spirited, hard-working, strong- hearted individuals. These people know and love their products and services. They believe in the work they do, the community they live in and want to make our community a better place.

Let’s look at some unique side-effects of shopping online or out-of- town versus locally.

The costs of gas when you travel outside of Hutchinson, and the effects of fuel in our environment.

Road wear and tear- seriously you complain about the roads, let’s think about the wear on our vehicles.

The loss of stores who must compete against online purchases.

We complain about being too busy, well driving somewhere else to buy something we have in town is wasting time, precious time.

I know we don’t have EVERYTHING in Hutchinson, BUT we have a great deal of stores and people here to help us find what we need. Local businesses support youth activities, events, pay taxes – which cover costs of crucial city services, and they actually want to see your smiling face. 🙂

No matter where you shop in Hutchinson, money stays local.  I spoke with Scott Hilgeman, Walmart Store Manager for a Bring It Home video, he shared with me Walmart donated over $200,000 back into our community last year. So whether you shop at locally owned and operated, or bigger chain stores… it makes a difference!

Please consider our hard working LOCAL businesses the next time you are looking for the perfect “something.”

Thank you Small Business Owners for your dedication to our Community! We appreciate you!

Something from Mary

40,000 Fewer People for Hire in MN

Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas

Synonyms: inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality, individuality

Right now we need creativity, and all the other synonyms to manage the workforce shortage we are experiencing and are going to continue to experience.

Right now, in Minnesota, we have 40,000 fewer people in the workforce than we did one year ago. Yes, in just Minnesota….. way less people in the workforce. Now we know that is because of the baby boomers retiring, and the trailing generations have less people to fill this gap.

RIGHT NOW we all need to be thinking about HOW we do our work, not just WHO will do what we need now. Job openings are going to sky rocket, and seriously, there will be no one to step into MANY of these jobs.

So, how will YOU change HOW you work, hire, think?

I find this 40,000 number staggering. Here are some thoughts from my abys:

Work Load: What tasks do we currently take on, that don’t fit our work/mission?

Wait?! Do you know your mission?

Cross Training: If one person is out of the office/plant/etc for a day or a week, or more, who can step in and fill their role(s)?

Flexibility: What flexibility do you offer? Not just WHEN someone works, but WHERE and HOW? This is not about millennials, or Gen Z, this is about EVERYONE.

HAVE TO: Whenever you say “but we HAVE TO, do this, or that”….. Do you? No, really, do you have to do it the way you have, or this specific way, or in this order?

Lean Management & Six Sigma: this is an entirely separate conversation, HOWEVER, here is my synopsis: a process in which EVERYONE helps to provide steps for more productivity and quality of work, and reduce waste in the work place. Not garbage waste. Waste of time, inventory, motion, transportation, over- and under-production, and skills. There are some very good resources online about making your office or workplace leaner and more efficient.

These are just my top-of-mind thoughts this month, your team needs to be thinking about what you do on a daily, monthly and annual basis and how might this look different. Be willing to listen and consider the ideas and suggestions of others.

Something from Mary

Myth Busters: No matter what organization you are, there are always assumptions made about your business. The Chamber is no different, so I thought it might be helpful to dispel the common myths we hear regularly.

Myth: The City signs our paychecks. We are part of the City. We are one in the same with the City.

Busted: The Chamber is a Separate entity from the City. Aside from collecting Lodging Tax dollars which are used to promote Hutchinson and bring people here, we have no legal connection to the City. Now, that being said, we have a great working relationship with everyone at the city. Hutchinson is very fortunate to have such open leaders, organizations and businesses to get the work done! Don’t feel bad, this is a very common misconception. So all those bank and school holidays…we don’t get (ALL) of them off.

Myth: the Chamber Staff only works from 10am-4pm

Busted: the office is open for calls and walk-ins during these hours, however the staff works 40+ hours a week. We changed the hours when the Dept of Labor was changing overtime rules. We have kept the adjustment as we continue to use the hours we’re closed to work on catching up on phone calls, paper work, etc. it also allows staff some flexibility when we are coming in for early meetings and staying late for events.

Myth: The Chamber organizes all the big events in town.

Busted: We do not. You may see us at many events; you may see our logo attached to many events, but Water Carnival, RiverSong, MN Garlic Festival, Orange Spectacular, MN Pottery Festival, are run by their own set of VOLUNTEERS. Yes, these are volunteer run organizations and they DO A FABULOUS job! So no, the Chamber’s Father’s Day Parade is not a real thing.

We currently host the Annual Arts & Crafts Festival, Bring It Home Family Fun and Business Expo, the Hometown Golf Challenge, and through this summer the Music in the Park Summer Concert Series.

Myth: The Hutchinson Community Foundation is part of the Chamber.

Busted: Nope, this isn’t true either. Fact: the Community Foundation meets at the Chamber, we provide administrative services for them, and they do reimburse us for these services. Now, we love when they are here, and we love October when they invite all their grant winners to come for show and tell, photos and checks are handed out!

Myth: We work with all the Community Organizations

Truth! We do work with MANY Community Organizations, some very closely. For any event happening in town, the general public comes to the Chamber for information and we work to have as much information as possible on the community calendar, which is seen by over 100 people a day, and during the busy summer weekends- even more!

Myth: the Chamber isn’t “political.”

Well…. Sort of. The Chamber Board of Directors has an issue endorsement policy in place, which stipulates we will not endorse any issue that benefits one business or industry over another. We DO support issues that benefit ALL LOCAL businesses. In the past we’ve supported work to protect businesses from drive-by ADA compliance lawsuits, update state business taxes which currently have automatic infiltrators, and represent 30% of most owners taxes. And most recently, we worked with legislators to stop the Dept. of Labor’s ruling on overtime.