20 Years in Eau Claire
I have reminisced quite a bit this week since it was 20 years ago when I moved to Eau Claire. I have been thinking about how fortunate I have been to interact with a few thousand people who I have met through business relationships, participation in non-profit/service organizations or personal contact.
Since 1987, there have been many challenges within the business community. Uniroyal-Goodrich, Supercomputer Systems Inc., parts of Cray Research/SGI and many other smaller companies have perished or been down-sized. On the other hand, there have been so many great stories that have materialized over the past 20 years, including: Menards, Nestle, Phillips Plastics, RCU, Wal-Mart Distribution, Kell Container, Leinenkugel's, Banbury Place and TNT Logistics.
In my opinion, over the past 20 years in the business community, one of the largest impacts has been the influx of the Mayo Clinic. Since Mayo began to expand into the market in the early 1990s, the rest of the Chippewa Valley economy has benefited. Not only have other healthcare operations followed suit by expanding their operations (Marshfield Clinic, Sacred Heart Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital), but the auxiliary service firms that support the medical field have also prospered.
There have been so many business sectors that have changed since I first moved to Eau Claire in 1987. The number of restaurants, taverns, hotels and service firms that have either changed ownership or became defunct could fill up this column. Likewise, changes in the automotive, financial services/banking and sanitation industries seems to change every five years.
There is a consortium of general contractors that have been consistent leaders in their respective sector: Market & Johnson Inc., Bauman Construction, Durand Builders and Royal Construction, to name a few. We also benefit in this region from being an educational hub with two state universities and a thriving technical college system.
On a personal note, a number of real estate professionals have been active in the commercial arena. I have had the pleasure to do business with Jim Theisen, Dick Erickson, Dean Larsen, Tom and Dick Larson, Dan Clumpner, Al Taft and Wayne Peters. Other long-time supporters of The Bottom Line include Telephone Specialists, Jay's Sign Service, Gator Garb, Bergman Companies and Per Mar Security.
I have often said, "It's not what you know, but who you know". Fortunately, I have met some great people who have made my first 20 years in the Chippewa Valley very rewarding.