Entries in Minnesota (3)


Minnesota Grocery Mogul Gives Away Stores to His Employees

Lueken's Village Foods(BEMIDJI, Minn.) -- After 46 years of running Lueken's Village Foods, grocery mogul Joe Lueken is giving away the store to his 400 employees.

The 70-year-old and his family will start transferring ownership of the three-store chain on Jan. 1 to an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program), in which each employee will own stock.  The number of shares will be based on their salary and years of service.

Two of Village Foods' stores are in Bemidji, Minn.; a third is in Wahpeton, N.D.

Asked by ABC News what prompted him to give away his business, Lueken says it just struck him as the right thing to do.  He considered other options, including selling out to a private buyer, but when he talked to his family about it, his wife and four sons agreed that handing it off to the employees made sense, considering how much his employees -- past and present -- had done for him.

"It wasn't just the best option," says Lueken.  "It was the only option."

It was too, he thinks, best for the community.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Lueken has been famous for years for his generosity to local charities and causes, including the Sanford Health Foundation and the Bemidji State University Foundation.

Lueken tells ABC that after he came down with Parkinson's disease in the 1990s, doctors recommended he have electrodes implanted in his brain to help control his trembling.  It wasn't until he was being prepped for the operation, he says, that he realized the surgeon was a man whose education he'd helped pay for.  That made him feel a lot better, he says, about having the procedure.

Brent Sicard, an employee who started at Village Foods in 1998 as night janitor, will be the company's new CEO and president.

Sicard says he first came to Lueken's attention when, every morning at 3:30, Lueken "would come crashing through the doors and start restocking the aisles.  It would be just him and I and a few bakers, that early in the morning."

Lueken promoted Sicard to produce manager, then he just kept moving up -- a beneficiary of Lueken's promote-from-within philosophy.

For years, says Sicard, Lueken took no salary: "He's always put money back into the business.  There were years when his managers made more than he did, everything considered."

Asked what he will do now that he can take time off, Leuken says that after his wife has an operation in January, the two hope to do some traveling around the U.S. "and to see the grandkids."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McDonald’s Mangles Attempt to Reach Ethnic Community in Minnesota

Keller Grayson Communications(ST. PAUL, Minnesota) -- McDonald’s likes to boast that “Nothing can do it like McDonald’s,” but that sentiment apparently failed to get through to the fast-food giant’s ad agency, which reportedly botched a billboard aimed at an Asian community in Minnesota.

The billboard is posted in an area of St. Paul, Minn., populated by members of the Hmong community, an Asian ethnic group originally from the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia.

The billboard is supposed to translate as: “Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going.”

Members of the local community say, however, that the sign’s Hmong “Yuavtxhawbpabraukojsawv yuavntxivzograukoj mus” wording is not how they speak.

“It sounds weird in Hmong because we don’t really talk like that,” Bruce Thao, 28, a St. Paul resident and doctoral candidate in social work, told the Pioneer Press newspaper.  “Either way, there should definitely be spaces in between those words.”

The ad also features a coffee cup with the Hmong words for “$1, large or small,” a local promo by McDonald’s to sell all drinks for $1.  Despite the bargain, the locals remain unimpressed by the targeted pitch.

“The text is also wrong, missing key breaks in the language,” Thai Lee, a local doctor, told the paper.  “As it stands right now, it doesn’t make sense at all.”

The Twin Cities of St. Paul and neighboring Minneapolis are home to the largest concentration of Hmong people in the United States, with more 64,000 residents, according to the Hmong American Partnership.

The Partnership, a Twin Cities-based social service and community development organization for the Hmong community, has not responded to a request for comment.

The billboard is the first time the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company has advertised in the Hmong language, a representative for Arnold Advertising, the global advertising firm that worked on the ad with McDonald’s, told the Pioneer Press.  Last week, the firm posted another McDonald’s Hmong-language ad on the other side of the city.

The fast-food giant has not commented on the controversy.  Both McDonald’s and Arnold Advertising did not return requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


MillerCoors to Pull Beer from Minnesota Shelves

PRNewsFoto/Ball Corporation(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Got beer? Maybe not someday soon if you're looking for MillerCoors products in Minnesota.

MillerCoors LLC. will likely pull 39 brands of beer including Coors Lite and Miller Genuine Draft from restaurants, bars and stores in Minnesota after the company failed to renew its brand label registration before the the state's government shutdown on July 1.

MillerCoors' registration expired in June and due to an error in which the company sent a check in excess of the required $30 per brand label renewal, the company may have to recall all of its beer from stores and bars in the state. Minnesota's government shut down a few days after they received a check from MillerCoors for the correct amount.

What's worse, the issue may not be resolved quickly since more than 23,000 of the state's employees are laid off during the stalemate over a $5 billion deficit in the state budget.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety says MillerCoors cannot sell or distribute their brands without the registration and have asked for their plan to pull their beer from the state. Facing a beer recall within a matter of days, MillerCoors says they are attempting to resolve the issue.

While mouths run dry, state legislators have made no visible attempt to break the budget impasse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio