• Fulfilling the Entrepreneurial Dream

    Entrepreneurs everywhere face an uphill battle with funding, the economy, hiring and affordability in the effort to get their businesses off the ground. According to the website NerdWallet, Minneapolis is one of the top 10 best cities for those hoping to start a business. That’s no surprise though, as evidenced by many of the entrepreneurial ventures launched here at St. Thomas or those hiring our graduates. Several successful small businesses were honored in May at the 24th Annual Entrepreneur Awards Ceremony. Nearly 200 guests gathered to recognize those who foster and model the spirit of entrepreneurship each day. During the awards portion of the evening, Dean Christopher Puto and Father Dennis Dease, then university president, honored two individuals and a small business for their entrepreneurial thinking and commitment to giving back.

    The Entrepreneur Alumnus of the Year
    Dan Carr ’82 received the Entrepreneur Alumnus of the Year Award.

    The Entrepreneur Alumnus of the Year Award went to Dan Carr, a 1982 graduate of the University of St. Thomas and CEO of The Collaborative. Minnesota’s community of entrepreneurs owes its strength and reputation in great part to the work of Carr. “Our goal is to convene the innovation economy of Minnesota. … Small businesses are responsible for, by some estimates, 90 percent of the job growth that you see in the United States,” Carr said, further reinforcing the role and impact of all entrepreneurs. With more than 25 years working with Minnesota entrepreneurs, he credits his UST education for much of his success. “I honestly think that education is the most critical factor that Minnesota needs. What you need is an ecosystem that keeps re-creating.” Carr’s advice to fellow entrepreneurs: “Stay where your passion is and then be focused, be pragmatic. … Life is tough as an entrepreneur.”

    Family Business of the Year
    Richard Murphy accepted the Family Business of the Year Award.

    Two horses and a buggy – that’s how Murphy Warehouse Company and Murphy Riggings & Erecting Inc. got its start back in 1904, ultimately leading to its recognition as the 2013 Family Business of the Year. It’s a family business run on professional values. Richard Murphy, a fourth-generation representative, emphasized how his company gives back to the community and its commitment to being green. He joked, “Since we’re Irish, we’ve always been green.” One way the company supports sustainability is through the use of solar panels, which provide 50 percent of the power used by the business. It is now the fourth largest solar power producer in Minnesota. Murphy thanked his employees and noted, “Leadership will help sustain the company for the next generation of shareholders, employees and customers.” He understands that if people can lead themselves and their careers, they can lead others.

    John F. Cade Award
    John Allen received the John F. Cade Award.

    The final award of the evening, the John F. Cade Award, went to John Allen, president, CEO and sole principal of Industrial Equities LLP. A top performer at Coldwell Banker, he said his father always instilled in him a good work ethic. “He was an exceptionally hard-working man.” Allen is passionate about education and that carries over into all that he does. “A university education is really the first time a student has the opportunity to start understanding the theories and the processes of a business. … As the French say, hopefully the appetite comes while eating.” His advice to students and young entrepreneurs: “Have aspirational, achievable goals. Stay focused. If you want to be an entrepreneur, be prepared for a lot of sleepless nights. … Truth isn’t a transitory concept or flexible for the situation you are in. And above all, protect your reputation; it’s the one thing you can’t replace.” Allen noted that it’s easy to become passionate, even intense, when actively engaged in a project or topic. This passion and intensity only fuel his commitment to his family and his business.

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