On Thursday, January 25th MARL Class IX got a closer look at the City of Perham and its culture by visiting three companies in Perham: Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority and Bongards Creamery.
Tuffy’s Pet Foods
Tuffy’s Pet Foods is a family owned business and a part of KLN Family Brands. Tuffy’s company values of localization, hard word, reinvesting in community, giving back and providing competitive wages and benefits interwoven into the organization’s culture. Tuffy’s Pet Foods and KLN Family Brands pride themselves on being a local company that employees local people and offers wages that and benefits that exceed local and regional standards. The leaders of Tuffy’s and KLN speak about the company’s successes by sharing the contributions of their employees. Tuffy’s Pet Foods has reinvested in the organization be investing 100 million dollars in facilities in the last four years. Finally, Tuffy’s Pet Food and KLN Family Brands continually give to philanthropic dollars to their community not for name recognition but because it’s the right thing to do.
Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority
The Perham Resource Recovery Facility (PRRF) is a part of the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority. The facility opened in 2014, has 33 full-time employees and processes municipal solid waste for 5 counties in the Prairie Lakes Region. The processed garbage provides waste energy in the form of steam for Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Bongards Creamery and Otter Tail Power. Waste management is not something people typically think of has having a culture of leadership but the team at PRRF believes that true leadership shows up in difficult times- when it’s going good everyone takes credit, but no one wants to take credit when things are going bad. A great example of this type of leadership exhibited at PRRF is recycling. Recycling is not profitable but it’s the RIGHT thing to do. PRRF’s philosophy is we can pay for it now or later.
Bongards is a farmer owned cooperative founded by a group of dairy farmers in Carver County, MN in 1908. Bongards acquired the Perham Creamery in 2003. They produce natural cheese and whey protein at the Perham facility. Similar to Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Bongards Creamery believes in reinvesting in facilities. Their most recent expansion project which was completed in July 2015 allows them handle a capacity of 4,200,000 pounds of milk a day.
In addition to visiting business based in Perham, MN we learned more about Perham from Fred Sailer a Recruiting Manager at KLN Family Brands and Chuck Johnson, Economic Development Director for the City of Perham. Perham embraces an entrepreneurial culture. In Perham leaders create solutions, instead of saying, “somebody should do something about that,” in Perham citizens are “empowered to say we’re going to do something about that.”
Stacy Frost, Director of Development for Southwest Minnesota State University made fundraising more relatable through a modified version of Apples to Apples.
Day two of the Perham seminar ended with a MARL Leadership Banquet with guests from the wide region and alumni of MARL. MARL Class IX member, Mark Enninga served as emcee and our guest speaker was David Hausser, Otter Tail County Attorney. Attorney Hausser provided us with a comprehensive overview of the county commissions in Otter Tail County. Banquet sponsor was New Life Farms.
Submitted by Jasmine Brett Stringer Moore