Anoka Area Chamber honors top businesses in area

WCCO-TV and Radio sports anchor and reporter Mike Max was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 9 Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at The Fountains of Ramsey. The service/manufacturing business of the year for 2013 was Bank of the West’s Ramsey branch, managed by Joann Wood (left), who actually graduated from the same high school class as Max. Terry Overacker Plumbing of Anoka, owned by Terry and his wife Gina, was recognized as the retail business of the year. Photo by Eric Hagen

Mike Max, WCCO radio and television personality, shared a message with local businesses that could resonate with anybody in their personal and professional lives.

“The people who win in this world are the ones who can deal with the rotten stuff. Dealing with the good times is easy,” Max told a packed room of Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce members.

Max was the keynote speaker at an Oct. 9 breakfast meeting at the Fountains of Ramsey event center that recognized the top two businesses of the year and the outgoing and incoming board members of the chamber, which was founded in 1952.

As David Bolt sat on a hay bale on the back of a flat bed truck and waved to hundreds of people taking in last year’s Anoka Halloween Grand Day Parade, “what I realized is this is a big job being chairperson of the chamber that serves this huge community,” he said.

Bolt passed the ceremonial gavel to the chamber’s new board of directors chairperson Scott Lehner, who quipped that he heard he will be riding in a Corvette in this year’s parade.

Last year, the chamber held a gala that drew almost 400 people to the Green Haven Golf Course and Banquet Center, put on the annual Anoka Riverfest and Craft Fair celebration, filled out all slots for a golf tournament and participated in more ribbon cuttings for new and renovated businesses than Bolt can remember in any year.

A notable accomplishment was adding two trees to the chamber’s logo, which signified the additions of the Coon Rapids and Oak Grove business communities. The Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce now has nine member communities including Andover, Anoka, Champlin, Dayton, Nowthen, Ramsey and St. Francis.

Bolt and Chamber President Pete Turok do not anticipate trying to extend the chamber’s reach in the near future.

“I think we’re going to put a fence around this and call it ours,” Bolt said. “We have everything we need to be a successful chamber.”

The first order of business was for Jim Steffen, president and founder of Trott Brook Financial, to present a $13,200 check to the chamber that will be for the Anoka Area Chamber Scholarship program.

The President’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism went to Wendy Dorholt, who owns Balloons Galore and More in Coon Rapids and has helped out with numerous chamber events. Turok’s favorite story was when Dorholt bravely climbed a fire truck aerial ladder to get an overhead picture at the Anoka Riverfest and Craft Fair event last year.

Terry Overacker Plumbing of Anoka received the 2013 Retail Business of the Year award, while Bank of the West’s Ramsey branch received the 2013 Service/Manufacturing Business of the Year award.

Terry Overacker, Sr. started in the plumbing business at the age of 14 in 1973, but at that time his job consisted of assisting his father’s best friend.

“The aging master plumber sat on a bucket next to the sink that I was sprawled under and talked me through the fix step by step,” Overacker said, who worked evenings and weekends for $1.65 while learning a craft that would take him from Oklahoma to Minnesota over the next 35 years.

In 1997, Overacker purchased a building on a visible corner in downtown Anoka so his business would have an office showroom. At that time, the business only had a one-ton truck and two employees. Today, it has a fleet of five fully stocked box trucks and eight employees serving over 5,000 homes, big box retailers, churches and restaurants with over half being repeat customers.

His wife Gina, who is the executive administrator, said the business was a finalist for business of the year for the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce and it was recognized as the best local plumbing business by readers of the Champlin-Dayton Press & News the past two years.

“My favorite part of the job is solving people’s problems at a reasonable expense,” Terry said.

Bank of the West began as Farmers National Gold Bank in San Jose, Calif., in 1874. The name changed to Bank of the West in the late 1970s.

Over the years, it expanded beyond the western U.S. into the Midwest. Bank of the West purchased Community First National Bank, headquartered in Fargo, N.D., in 2004.

Bank of the West has branch offices in Blaine and Ramsey.

Ramsey branch manager Joann Wood accepted the award on Bank of the West’s behalf. “It means a lot,” Wood said. “We’re very proud to be a member of the chamber. We have always looked at ourselves as a community focused bank.”

Turok said the other finalists for the retail business of the year award were Acapulco in Ramsey and Anoka Massage and Pain Therapy. The other finalists for the service or manufacturing business of the year award were DecoPac and SchillMann Realty, which are both based in Anoka.

Positive attitude leads to success

Max grew up in Gaylord and was actually was in the same high school graduation class with Wood, whose maiden name is Kloeckl.

He played basketball, baseball and football in high school and continued playing basketball and baseball while attending Hamline University. He started as an intern at WCCO-TV and would later become a full-time sports reporter and anchor for that station in April 2005. He now also hosts “WCCO Sports Tonight with Mike Max” on WCCO Radio and “The Sports Show” each Sunday night on local television, which includes the legendary Minneapolis StarTribune sports reporter Sid Hartman.

Max called Hartman, who is now 93 years old, “the greatest reporter we have ever known in the Twin Cities.”

Hartman never graduated from high school or received a journalism degree, but Max said he became a good reporter and excels because “he outworked everybody.”

Max has learned a lot about why sports icons such as Michael Jordan and Lou Holtz have been successful, which can translate to owning a business.

When he asked Jordan if he would have been successful in life had he not played in the NBA, Jordan glared at Max and proceeded to tell him that his success is not just because of his God-given athletic ability. He credits his parents for sitting him down at an early age to tell him that positive attitude and effort is how we would get ahead in life.

“Empower yourself to be great,” Max said.

A fear of failure can hold people back, Max learned from Holtz, who “had a cup of coffee in Minnesota on his way to Notre Dame” where he won a national championship.

Max said asked Holtz, “What’s the hardest part of being a coach at your level?”

Holtz replied that they can believe they have the perfect game plan in place and still get beat. “The hardest thing is on Sunday mornings when I have to convince the coaches and the players that just because we lost doesn’t mean we’re losers. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take risks again,” Holtz told Max.

Max told the chamber members, “I hope everyone in this room is a little afraid. If not, it means you’re not challenging yourself anymore.”

Eric Hagen is at

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