New Ulm’s Economy Remains Strong
Fuel Graphics

The Chamber of Commerce’s very own Willkommen committee has hosted numerous visits in the past two months. The visits have had one theme in common: New Ulm is an economic hotbed. In this special edition of Willkommen visits, we deep dive into the spirit of New Ulm’s economic vitality. From new businesses, rebranding to mergers, New Ulm finishes first in class when it comes to key economic indicators.


Fuel Graphics









Fuel Graphics: A rebranding

Fuel Graphics, formerly Horejsi Graphics, recently updated their look. Fuel Graphics started with owner, Randy Horejsi, in his home. This business, like most small businesses, started as a hobby. His hobby turned into a business with his wife, Jessica Horejsi, doing design work and Randy executing customer orders. Fuel Graphics is a perfect example of an entrepreneur’s dream turning into reality. His dedication to high-quality products and customer service provided the foundation of his success. His company continues to do well and is hiring additional employees. His rebranding is a sign of a business that is expanding their potential, and in this case, customers can now pronounce their name correctly!

Photo Caption: Bridget Whitney, Bank Midwest; Randy Horejsi, Fuel Graphics; Anna Howell, Design Home Center; Karissa Schlottman, Farmers Insurance.


Wood N Windows

Wood N Windows: Steady Growth

Wes & Sam Lodes are a family team carrying on traditions going back to 1989. Purchased in 2016, the Lodes carry on the service of excellence. Succession planning in any business is important, and Wes understood the importance of excellent service and craftsmanship. They also understood their need to continue to revamp their business. They recently remodeled their showroom to display the different types of materials they use in their products. From amazing countertops to new cabinets, the showroom has everything you need to have a successful remodel. They also installed and use a new CNC machine. The machine is able to speed up production and consistency in their projects.

Photo Caption: Randy Schroeder, Frandsen Bank; Pam Kitzberger, Oak Hills Living Center; Wes Lodes, Wood N Windows; Anna Howell, Design Home Center.

Taco Johns

Taco Johns: A Remodel

Andy Lilleodden and his wife, Nancy, are not just husband and wife, they’re an entrepreneur duo. One of their businesses, Taco Johns, went through extensive renovations during the pandemic. Their new branding and investment back into the community demonstrate the call for renewal. Their commitment to both their business and the community is a cornerstone of their business model. Taco Johns has a long history in New Ulm, over 40 years of history! The new remodel improved the look of the building inside and out including a new digital menu board, a wider drive-through and a new indoor area for customers to enjoy. The Lilleodden’s are an excellent example of entrepreneurs planning for the future of their business and reinvesting in New Ulm. They hope to continue serving the community for many years to come.

Photo Caption: Katie Nosbush, United Prairie Bank; Andy and Nancy Lilleodden (with kids); Pam Kitzberger, Oak Hills Living Center.

Jensen Motors: A Succession Plan

Succession plans are a key indicator of vibrancy in the business community. Luckily the owners of Maday Motors and Jensen Motors knew this and paired up to complete a successful merger. They also leveraged name recognition and helped each other with advertising opportunities. The merger was planned. It was a tactful decision between two family owned businesses to keep the entire entity family owned.

It was also important that employees and customers were taken care of. The seamless integration on the customer side was no small task. But the employee retention was much easier because all Maday employees continued their employment with Jensen. Although the paperwork process was daunting, the Jensen family feels excited to sell and serve Buick, GMS, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Kawasaki. Other than the name change service remained the same.

Photo Caption: Amy Pearson, Thrivent Financial; Lori Pickell-Stangel, Brown County United Way; Nick Metzker, Preferred Insurance; Nicole Briggs, Ben Jensen, Rick Jensen, Jensen Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Kawasaki.

Sweethaven Tonics: A Startup

Leah Treleven is ecstatic about her new startup business: Sweethaven Tonics! If you haven’t had the opportunity to try this delicious cocktail enhancer, then stop what you’re doing and go buy some. Sweethaven Tonics is a business that is bursting with entrepreneurial energy and creating a big buzz for the liquor industry. Starting in her own home kitchen, Leah has expanded to a commercial kitchen. Her product is scalable and has multiplied many times in the past year. She personally delivers her tasty tonics all over Minnesota. You can find her tonics at 10,000 Drops in Faribault, Sleepy Eye Brewing Company, or a recent edition Chankaska Winery. Retailers carrying her product include A to Zinnia, Liquor Mart, and Cork and Key in Mankato. Her company delivers a premium product that is locally made. Leah believed in her product so much she quit her full time job teaching and went all in with her tonics.

Businesses like Leah’s have shaped entire industries and we are certainly she can do the same.

Photo Caption: Lori Pickell-Stangel, Brown County United Way, Nicole Briggs, Jensen Motors; Leah Treleven, Sweet Haven Tonics; Katie Nosbush, United Prairie Bank.


Blethen Berens: A Merger

Roger Hippert and Paul Gunderson are two new lawyers at the expanding Blethen Berens law office. Hippert was the principal lawyer at Neirengarten & Hippert in New Ulm, until it was acquired by Blethen Berens in April 2021. Despite the rumors Hippert plans to continue to practice law at his new location. Currently Hippert acts as one of the city attorneys as well as practicing real estate, probate, business and family law.

Paul Gunderson joins the Blethen Berens team from the Brown County attorneys office. He currently covers many areas of law including civil litigation, agricultural and business law, criminal defense and general practice matters. Blethen Berens has deliberately invested in the New Ulm area. They continue to build their team in New Ulm and expand coverage from Mankato. Mergers are a healthy sign of continued services in New Ulm!

Photo Caption: Lori Pickell-Stangel, Brown County United Way; Amy Pearson, Thrivent Financial; Roger Hippert, Michael Boyle and Paul Gunderson, Blethen Berens.