Nomination for business leadership award based on impacting efforts through service, character, and leadership within the AgVenture organization
Sandy began her ownership role at AgVenture in 2003 when her husband of one year died of Leukemia. Sandy was at rock bottom and felt hopeless in her pursuit to successfully lead AgVenture out of near bankruptcy. Her character during that time shone brightly as she trudged through the trials of keeping the regional feed business alive ?Äì knowing that closing would mean a great loss of jobs and community support to those who depended on the business. Sandy worked tirelessly in the midst of grieving her husband?Äôs death to rebuild AgVenture. Sandy has always believed in being a good role model ?Äì even under the immense pressures that she faced and continues to face as a woman in a male-dominated industry. She believes in harnessing the power behind the ?Äúit can?Äôt be done?Äù suggestions that she?Äôs heard so many times.
Sandy?Äôs leadership skills can be witnessed in the day-to-day conduct. She is a fan of every customer and works to become a friend and honorary member of their family. She truly cares about the people, the lives and the welfare of each customer. This starts from handing out suckers to the little children who enter the store to sitting with customers who are experiencing hardship by offering a confidential ear to listen and understand.
Sandy believes in being a visible force in the surrounding communities. She is a hero to many who have watched her not only survive her husband?Äôs death a decade ago but also rebuild a small business into one of exponential growth and a community give-back initiative that has wide impact. Sandy leads with courage, unflappable commitment and vision like none I?Äôve ever seen. She believes the only difference behind a big dream and a reality is some action steps in between ?Äì and she lives this every day.
Specific leadership initiatives implemented by Sandy with the goal of creating a culture of corporate giving
Sandy is a leader in her community and beyond when it comes to giving. She not only gives more than 10 percent of her personal income back to good community causes, she has developed a ?ÄúGive Ten?Äù program to give back on the business level as well. The surrounding communities have come to rely on AgVenture as a consistent source of support. Sandy has implemented aggressive growth goals for AgVenture each year over the last decade. She understands that the more successful and profitable AgVenture is, the more impact they can have in the community with their ?ÄúGive Ten?Äù program initiatives. This goal is monitored quarterly to ensure that giving will be adequate for profits.
For the last three years, Sandy also implemented the Employee Choice program for giving. Each employee is giving a sum of money to choose which charities they?Äôd like to support. Sandy understands that the charities in her heart may be different from the ones her employees would choose. This program has resulted in a team approach and warm-hearted feel to the ?ÄúGive Ten?Äù goals. Additionally, the impact of giving has created an even larger circle of influence and into charities that previously were not supported by AgVenture. It has been awesome to watch the trickle down of all of these efforts.
Sandy also gives to families in the community who have experienced a tragedy. All employees are familiar with this goal and communicate with each other to keep informed to ensure all families are assisted. She understands, as do her employees, that if everyone does their part to help others, everyone would have the resources and support they need to regain solid ground. Sandy is a true champion in creating and capitalizing community impact. I can?Äôt think of anyone better for this award.
Examples that demonstrate specific achievements
Sandy?Äôs first milestone was to learn the roles of ownership quickly after her husband unexpectedly passed away after one year of marriage. She was lacking all knowledge of product and business management in addition to facing bankruptcy. She is quick to point out that being successful now is a gift she plans to give back forever. The communities around her benefit from her success in many ways including generous financial gifts, sharing talent and expertise to young entrepreneurs, supporting leadership on boards as well as other volunteer work for civic and non-profit groups.
One of Sandy?Äôs favorite and on-going rewards is in being a mentor to all local 4-H children. She has a wall of photos in the office with the 4-H?Äôers and their projects/animals. The children look to Sandy as a role model and she takes them on as if they were their own. She believes in building children to be future leaders by giving them courage, mentorship and support.
Sandy, as well as AgVenture, has won many achievement awards over the years. These include the 5 Under 40 Award for the St. Cloud area which honors those under 40 years old who are the movers and shakers in business. Also, she was the National Enterprising Woman of the Year in 2010 and Pioneering Women of the Year in 2012 for the National Association of Women Business Owners. AgVenture has also been listed on INC. Magazine?Äôs list of fastest growing companies in addition to numerous awards for growth and innovation within the agriculture industry. Sandy and AgVenture have been the feature of a multitude of articles from both regional and national publications including the Wall Street Journal, Minnesota Business Magazine, Dairy Star, Enterprising Women and the cover story for Central Minnesota Women Magazine and the St. Cloud Times.
Professional background, history with the company, accomplishments, board service and special skills
Sandy is a graduate of St. Cloud State University with a degree in Community Planning and Human Relations. She began her career as a program manager for a non-profit housing developer in Central Minnesota. Sandy began her tenure at AgVenture in 2003 when her husband, Randy, passed away because of cancer. She took on business ownership duties although she was not previously involved.
Sandy is a powerhouse in being impactful with her continuous goal of always giving 110 percent to all efforts. Although her business ownership duties keep her busy, she is dedicated to various service groups – she understands what it is like to be at rock bottom. She currently serves as a Wish Granter for MakeAWish where she works with children and families experiencing a life-threatening hardship. Sandy also serves on the Development Board for
St. Benedict?Äôs Monastery and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. She is also an active member of Women Presidents?Äô Organization, Vistage International and is a professional speaker who donates her fees to non-profit groups and charities where she speaks on leadership, giving back and entrepreneurship.
On an individual level, Sandy mentors many business owners who come to her for advice and confidential problem-solving and brainstorming. She feels that many have helped her get to where she is today and that it is her turn to give her time, talents and financial support in every way that she can. Sandy believes that by promoting and growing her business to even greater levels, her giving can be enhanced she also personally gives 10 percent of her income back to various groups in her community. I?Äôm looking forward to what impact the future holds through Sandy?Äôs ingenuity.