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Joe Lueken was honored with the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce seventh annual Awards of Excellence on Thursday afternoon. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper
Joe Lueken was honored with the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce seventh annual Awards of Excellence on Thursday afternoon. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Joe Lueken receives Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award as Chamber honors busineses, individuals

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Businesses and individuals honored for achievement and service received applause and awards Thursday afternoon during the seventh annual Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence.

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The Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award went to Joe Lueken, who built Lueken's Village Foods North and South.

He said he and the late Charlie Naylor had a philosophy in common, that hard work and ethical dealings lead to success.

Lueken started in the food industry when he was 7 years old, greasing pans and glazing donuts in his parents' bakery in Springfield, S.D. He had to stand on a bucket to reach the counter. He received 26 cents a week pay. When he asked a brother how his parents came up with that amount, his brother told him 26 was their phone number. Their house number was 161, but that number translated into wages would have been too much.

He said his father admonished his sons never to lie about whatever mistakes they might make. Because they were honest, he said, their father trusted them implicitly.

"I still use that (teaching) in my business today," Lueken said.

"Joe leads by example and can often be seen on the floor stocking shelves with his associates," Chamber President Lori Paris read in her introduction.

Lueken and his wife, Janice, and their children arrived in Bemidji in 1966 to manage his brother's grocery store, the former Lakeside Lueken's. Everything they owned was in a U-Haul trailer, and they had "little more than change in our pockets."

Lueken's philosophy was, in some ways, the theme of keynote speakers Marty Flanagan, franchise coach for Anytime Fitness.

Flanagan said the plan entrepreneurs need to make is to ensure that doing business is a positive experience for their customers.

"Engagement really comes down to communication," he said. "Tap into your communication gift."

He also said small business owners should connect with and be engaged in their community.

"I'm passionate about wanting to help people," he said.

Indifference has no place in successful businesses, Flanagan said. People should also be careful and think before they speak to avoid creating a negative atmosphere.

Winners of Awards for Excellence are:

- Ambassador of the Year - Kirk Malkowski.

- Wellness in the Workplace - MedSave Family Pharmacy.

- Entrepreneur of the Year - John and Scott Winter of Northwoods Landscaping and Recreation.

- New Business of the Year - Urban Essence.

- Business of the Year - SevenDays Design.

Business Gives

Ashli Bowen, United Way of Bemidji Area executive director, also honored the businesses that participated in Bemidji Business Gives. The program recognizes businesses that donate 2 percent or more of their pre-tax earnings to United Way.

- First Year - TruStar Federal Credit Union and Explore Chiropractic.

- Second Year - Hampton Inn & Suites.

- Third Year - Target, Bank Forward and Bemidji Building Center.

- Fourth Year - RiverWood Bank, MJB Home Center, Marco Inc., Living Touch Massage, ZRP Broadcasting, Sanford Bemidji Clinic and Kraus Anderson Construction.

- Fifth Year - North Country Business products, Dunn Bros, Paul Bunyan Communications, Security Bank USA, First National Bank Bemidji, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, Citizens State Bank Midwest, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and Pinnacle Publishing,.

Businesses and individuals honored for achievement and service received applause and awards Thursday afternoon during the seventh annual Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence.

The Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award went to Joe Lueken, who built Lueken's Village Foods North and South.

He said he and the late Charlie Naylor had a philosophy in common, that hard work and ethical dealings lead to success.

Lueken started in the food industry when he was 7 years old, greasing pans and glazing donuts in his parents' bakery in Springfield, S.D. He had to stand on a bucket to reach the counter. He received 26 cents a week pay. When he asked a brother how his parents came up with that amount, his brother told him 26 was their phone number. Their house number was 161, but that number translated into wages would have been too much.

He said his father admonished his sons never to lie about whatever mistakes they might make. Because they were honest, he said, their father trusted them implicitly.

"I still use that (teaching) in my business today," Lueken said.

"Joe leads by example and can often be seen on the floor stocking shelves with his associates," Chamber President Lori Paris read in her introduction.

Lueken and his wife, Janice, and their children arrived in Bemidji in 1966 to manage his brother's grocery store, the former Lakeside Lueken's. Everything they owned was in a U-Haul trailer, and they had "little more than change in our pockets."

Lueken's philosophy was, in some ways, the theme of keynote speakers Marty Flanagan, franchise coach for Anytime Fitness.

Flanagan said the plan entrepreneurs need to make is to ensure that doing business is a positive experience for their customers.

"Engagement really comes down to communication," he said. "Tap into your communication gift."

He also said small business owners should connect with and be engaged in their community.

"I'm passionate about wanting to help people," he said.

Indifference has no place in successful businesses, Flanagan said. People should also be careful and think before they speak to avoid creating a negative atmosphere.

Winners of Awards for Excellence are:

- Ambassador of the Year - Kirk Malkowski.

- Wellness in the Workplace - MedSave Family Pharmacy.

- Entrepreneur of the Year - John and Scott Winter of Northwoods Landscaping and Recreation.

- New Business of the Year - Urban Essence.

- Business of the Year - SevenDays Design.

Business Gives

Ashli Bowen, United Way of Bemidji Area executive director, also honored the businesses that participated in Bemidji Business Gives. The program recognizes businesses that donate 2 percent or more of their pre-tax earnings to United Way.

- First Year - TruStar Federal Credit Union and Explore Chiropractic.

- Second Year - Hampton Inn & Suites.

- Third Year - Target, Bank Forward and Bemidji Building Center.

- Fourth Year - RiverWood Bank, MJB Home Center, Marco Inc., Living Touch Massage, ZRP Broadcasting, Sanford Bemidji Clinic and Kraus Anderson Construction.

- Fifth Year - North Country Business products, Dunn Bros, Paul Bunyan Communications, Security Bank USA, First National Bank Bemidji, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, Citizens State Bank Midwest, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and Pinnacle Publishing,.

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