Melanie Nelson perseveres as an entrepreneur

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Melanie Nelson of Owatonna is the founder and CEO of Learning ZoneXpress, an educational materials company specializing in the areas of health and nutrition. Because of her success with this venture, she was profiled this week by the Star Tribune.

Nelson went into business in 1982 after losing a teaching job to budget cuts, and eventually grew the company that became Learning ZoneXpress into a national leader with annual sales of $5.2 million and a line of 150 products. That growth – which included a positive mention by First Lady Michelle Obama – happened despite such setbacks as "a gas-leak fire and explosion that blew up one office, floods that destroyed $140,000 in inventory and resulted $100,000 in repairs to another office and a technology meltdown that wiped out the company's records."

Contacted by the Star Tribune for the profile, the Opus College of Business' Michael Porter observed that Nelson's preseverance in the face of adversity offers strong lessons for would-be entrepreneurs. "If you're going to be in this for the long haul, it can't be a wayside rest on the way back to the corporate fast lane," said Porter.

Originally published: 04/15/2012, Star Tribune