128 Main Street West
Sleepy Eye, MN 56085
Phone: (507)794-6661 Toll-free: (855)541-6661
By Shari Hittesdorf
Trista Barka began duties as the new Executive Director of the Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce March 18th. The name might not be familiar to many but she and her husband Adam have lived in the community since 2008.
Trista is originally from Rushford while Adam originated from Litchfield. The two met at the University of Minnesota on the St. Paul Campus. Following college they moved back to Adam’s home town.
There, Trista worked as an Advertising Sales Representative for the Litchfield Independent Review newspaper. She gained some chamber experience when she served in the Litchfield Chamber of Commerce as Chairperson of the Promotion Committee.
The move to Sleepy Eye came when Adam took on a job at Christensen Farms. A short while later Trista joined the Bob Webb State Farm Agency in New Ulm as a Licensed Insurance Representative where she worked until taking on her new job.
“I worked in New Ulm and my husband worked at Christensen’s so during the day we were gone,” said Trista. “We never got to meet a lot of people.”
That status has changed quickly as Trista now is being introduced to many new faces in the community.
“It’s really been a wonderful experience so far,” Trista explained. “Everyone has been open and helpful and welcoming.”
“I’m definitely excited for the future and what we can do to grow the community and the chamber,” she added.
Some projects that will definitely get her better orientated the community include planning the annual Chamber Golf Tournament and the biggest event of all, Corn Days.
Join Sleepy Eye ONLINE in welcoming Trista and Adam to the community, be it five years late.
By Shari Hittesdorf
First Security Agency literally became a family business in 2011 when co-owner Perry Pietig’s son Jeff became an agent. Another bloodline was added last year with the edition of Mike, son of the other owner, Ron Petersen. But ask the employees who work at this local business and many of the customers serviced by these employees and they’ll tell you First Security Agency has had a family-like atmosphere since the first day they opened their doors - March 1st, 1998.
Yes, the insurance agency opened its door 15 years ago when Perry and Ron bought the business from Lloyd Amundson.
Ron had been a fixture on Main St. since 1976, many will remember him working at People’s Saving Bank which later became Metropolitan Bank and then Bank Windsor.
Perry worked at First Security Bank when he graduated from high school. In 1977 he began working at the First Security Agency with Bill Ibberson.
Kathy Haala and Cheryll Blick joined forces with Perry and Ron when they took over ownership. Myra Simon was hired in 1999.
“Our growth has been consistent with the quality of our employees,” complimented Ron. “We have a good quality staff.”
And grow, they have done. Since Ron and Perry purchased the agency, their client base has doubled.
First Security Agency has always looked for value in serving their client’s need and they believe they work for their insured’s, not for any single carrier.
And because of that philosophy, First Security Agency was named a Top Five Agency in Minnesota by State Auto in 2012.
Auto is just one of the insurances the agency offers. They are an independent insurance agency for all needs including auto, home, farm and business.
The Agency now serves customers as far away as St. Cloud and the Metro area in Minnesota. They even insure properties in Iowa and South Dakota.
In 2011 First Security Agency took over agent Mel Cook’s Stark Farmer’s Mutual Insurance accounts following Mel’s retirement. That’s when it became
necessary to bring in Jeff who had been interning with Northwestern Mutual Insurance.
“Jeff always wanted to be back in Sleepy Eye so he was a good fit,” said dad Perry.
Mike, the newest member of the team, gave up a Senior Business Analyst job with Target to move back to Sleepy Eye.
“It’s something I have always considered doing,” Mike said.
“I wanted to get experience elsewhere but once I acquired that, I wanted to come back and be a part of something that had been established for so long in such a great way.”
So far it has been a win-win situation.
“I have learned more in the eight months with these guys and their leadership than I did in my three years at Target,” explained Mike.
As for having some fresh blood in the office, Ron said it has given us an “extra kick in our walk.”
“It refreshes the office to have a couple of young guys working here,” he smiled. “New ideas and they are motivating,”
“And, it offers us a succession plan down the road,” added Ron who at this point isn’t looking at retiring anytime in the near future.
First Security Agency will be celebrating their 15th anniversary with a customer appreciation party on April 11th and 12th (11 a.m. – 2 p.m. each day.) Everyone is invited to check out the “family” business” and enjoy some lunch.
Local inventor participating in Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention & Idea Show
By Shari Hittesdorf
When Mike Suess put together a device now know as the Tailmate, 17 years ago, he was just messing around. His amusement at a young age now has the potential to become a big time business. And to show off his product in hopes of taking the next step in the business world, Mike will be displaying his invention at the Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention & Idea Show which is being held April 19 & 20 in Redwood Falls.
A Tailmate is a device used to test and trouble shoot tail lights including blinkers on trailers. It also has the ability to test the tow vehicle’s electrical system to make sure it is working properly. It’s designed especially for business owners and semi truck drivers who hook up trailers on a regular basis. It is also helpful for those who do regular Department of Transportation inspections. It can, be useful for individuals who pull campers and trailers as well.
The test lights on the tool box style tester, is powered by a 12-volt battery and is rechargeable.
Trailers and tow vehicles can be tested using the box before the two are actually hitched to each other. The Tailmate is also helpful in determining exactly where the problem is should the vehicle fail when tested.
Growing up, Mike knew from way young he wanted to become an electrician. So when he got a hold of one of his dad’s old batteries at the age of 15, he began experimenting.
“I built one in my dad’s old shop, at that time, all it could do was a simple boat or snowmobile trailer,” explained Mike.
Name change brings NU To Sleepy Eye
For Sleepy Eye folks, especially sports fans, New Ulm is the competition. So when New Ulm Telecom (NU-Telecom) took over the Sleepy Eye Telephone company and eventually announced there would be a name change effective this past January 1, well…we locals felt…slighted.
Perhaps when you find out just what the NU- Telecom has in store for the Sleepy Eye office, everyone will be a lot more at ease with this transition
First of all, the former Sleepy Eye Telephone Company has been under the direction of the NU- Telecom for the past seven years so technically that has not changed. Neither has the number of employees employed, that remains at five with full-time status. The office hours will continue to be Monday – Friday 7:30 -5:30 p.m.
And, if you have a @sleepyeyetel.net email, you won’t have to change your address.
“We will probably retain that for customers who currently have it, but new customers will be a NU-Telecom address,” said Kathy Van Roekel, Marketing & Customer Relations Manager. “That would be a very unpopular move if we made that change.”
What has changed? Let’s start with the name. Our local phone company is now known as NU-Telecom. NU sounding like “new” and not New Ulm?…yep, that we can live with.
The Sleepy Eye location now has a tech person, live and in person, two days a week. On Tuesdays and Fridays (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.) someone is available to answer computer and internet questions, repair and tune up computers, assist with purchasing computers and accessories and onsite networking for residential and business customers.
Linda Seifert didn’t even see it coming, but that’s the best part of throwing a surprise celebration for someone. When they don’t know it’s going to happen, it makes the celebration, the recognition, that much sweeter, that much more heartfelt, that much more fun.
On Monday, St. Mary’s students and staff threw a surprise retirement recognition for Mrs. Seifert, a much-loved teacher who has retired from teaching after 40 years in the classroom, 38 years of which were spent at St. Mary’s.
Lured to the auditorium under the ruse of helping hand out awards, Mrs. Seifert was visibly stunned when Principal Mary Gangelhoff let the cat out of the bag that the students would be presenting a program to recognize her years of dedication to St. Mary’s students.
That’s where the “sweeter,” “more heartfelt,” and “more fun” of the celebration came into play. Short of writing a detailed account of the entire program, just know the students and staff did a wonderful job of recognizing Mrs. Seifert through song, words, and gifts (including an awesome collection of candies, a teddy bear created with lost and found clothing, and a lovely framed print).
Mixed among the laughter, oh, how the tears did flow, especially when the kindergarteners got on-stage and sang, along with the rest of the students in the audience, the song, “We’ll Be Friends Forever (Jesus and You and Me).” All in all, the event proved to be a wonderful tribute to Mrs. Seifert. I was personally thrilled to have been there to witness it, and get a chance to talk with Mrs. Seifert after the songs were finished, the hugs shared, and the students dismissed.