Donald McNeely Center presents entrepreneur awards to outstanding graduates
August 26, 2016
The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University will present its sixth Entrepreneur of the Year awards to three outstanding graduates at a luncheon from 11:15 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Windows on Minnesota on the 50th floor of the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis.
The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to Darlene Miller, president and CEO of Permac Industries. The SJU Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to Brian Kueppers, founder and CEO of Apex Revenue Technologies. The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to Br. Paul Richards, OSB, monk of Saint John's and founder of The St. John's Boys' Choir and Saint John's Abbey Benedictine Volunteer Corps.
By presenting these awards, the Donald McNeely Center recognizes and celebrates successful alumnae/i entrepreneurs who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate the Benedictine values in their professional and personal lives.
Miller, CSB class of 1971, came to Permac Industries as an outside sales representative, and knew from her first sales call that manufacturing was something she loved and knew she could be successful. In 1992, Permac Industries was a small parts machine shop serving commercial customers since 1966. When Miller found out that the company was in "workout" with the bank, she purchased 45 percent and by 1994 owned 100 percent and has served as president and CEO ever since. Miller believed that she, along with her team, could transform an out of date manufacturing company into a 21st century precision, clean and highly respected manufacturing company. Not surprisingly, that is exactly what they did - now providing quality and service to entities such as global aerospace, defense, medical device and other high-tech customers.
Kueppers, after graduating from SJU in 1989, started his career selling business forms. An entrepreneur at heart, he quickly recognized an opportunity to start his own business offering statement design, print, and mailing services, primarily for the healthcare market. He initially founded Apex with a focus on providing a clearer statement design that would help his clients combat the growing challenge of patients being confused by their healthcare bills. Over the past 21 years, as the healthcare financial system has become increasingly complex, he has led the company to deliver innovative solutions that tailor financial communications and payment options to the needs of the patient in order to improve revenue cycle results, improve the patient experience and strengthen provider-patient relationships. His entrepreneurial spirit and ability to respond to changing business needs has helped Apex prosper, winning numerous industry and technology awards, and enjoying significant year over year growth. Kueppers sits on the board of directors of companies, including Livio Health Group (St. Paul), Element Consulting (Minneapolis), VitalWare (Washington), and Driessen Water (Owatonna). Element and Livio are founded and run by SJU graduates.
The CSB and SJU Entrepreneur of the Year awards recognize the achievements of CSB and SJU graduates, respectively, who best exemplify the ideals of entrepreneurship by starting and successfully managing one or more businesses in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values in the workplace and in their lives.
Richards, a 1978 SJU graduate, is a monk of Saint John's coming from a family of 16 from the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. He joined Saint John's Abbey in 1978 after completing his bachelor's in music and education from SJU. He holds a master's in choral conducting from the University of Iowa. Richards principal work assignments while a monk have included teaching at Saint John's Preparatory School and SJU, serving for nearly 20 years as a faculty resident in the residence halls at SJU, conducting the Saint John's Abbey Schola, and serving the abbey as subprior and formation director. Richards founded The St. John's Boys' Choir in 1981 and served as music director for 26 years. He began the Saint John's Abbey Benedictine Volunteer Corps in 2003 and continues now as its director.
The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes the achievements and qualities of a CSB or SJU graduate who best exemplifies the ideals of social entrepreneurship by starting and successfully managing one or more ventures that enriches humanity or addresses a social issue in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values in the workplace and in their lives.
The Donald McNeely Center creates social value and economic opportunity by building alliances and creating educational opportunities between and for students, as future entrepreneurs, faculty and experienced entrepreneurs. The center stimulates, supports and expands business and social entrepreneurship by providing services to students, faculty and alumnae/i of CSB and SJU, and as well as to individuals and organizations in central Minnesota.
Tickets are $50 for the event and can be purchased online.