By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Two Delano-area businesses were honored Jan. 15 by the Wright County Economic Development Partnership at its annual meeting.
Woodland Hill Winery of Delano was named the outstanding start-up entrepreneur of the year, and Landscape Structures of Delano was named the outstanding high-economic vitality business of the year at the ceremony at Delano City Hall.
Woodland Hill Winery
Woodland Hill Winery was named Wright County’s entrepreneur of the year by the Wright County Economic Development Partnership.
There to receive the award were owners Katie and Mike Dickerman, according to Wright County Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Noel LaBine.
Woodland Hill Winery was started in the spring of 2005. Many acres of vines were planted, and it has since thrived with seven different varieties of grapes. The first harvest was in the fall of 2007.
Most of the wines at Woodland Hill so called because the vineyard sits on the highest point in Woodland Township are dubbed “semi-dry,” slightly sweet, but with nice acidity), according to LaBine.
Among the whites, the Fountain View is a melon-laced, light wine with a lot of verve, while the Day’s End has big, lovely, banana-tinged flavors, LaBine said. Several whites bear “seasonal” names: the Riesling-like Winter Wonderland, the rich Autumn Sky, and the citrus-y Summer Breeze.
Noteworthy reds include the peppery, spicy, but soft Hunters Red, and a plumy, merlot-like Up North red.
“They also grow their own rhubarb and raspberries, which are used in the production of their wines,” LaBine said. “Neighboring orchards’ and berry farms’ fruit is also used in their wines.”
Woodland Hill Winery also hosts a number of fun events throughout the year.
Landscape Structures was presented the award for the high economic vitality Wright County Business of the Year by the Wright County Economic Development Partnership at its annual meeting in Delano Jan. 15.
Landscape Structures was founded in 1971, by Barb and Steve King, and is headquartered in Delano.
Quickly becoming one of the leading commercial playground equipment manufacturers in the world, Landscape Structures currently has more than 300 employees and a global network of 200 sales representatives, who are all singularly committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities, according to LaBine.
The employee-owned company has a long, rich history of creating innovative products with safety features and exciting play experiences for children of all abilities.
Interestingly, Landscape Structures began its history of innovation even before its doors opened for business.
In 1967, Steve King created a revolutionary concept called continuous play for his final thesis project at Iowa State University.
With continuous play, children can move from playground component to playground component without touching the ground.
This new type of design saved space while encouraging independent decision-making and interaction among children, which is an important ingredient in a child’s development, LaBine said.
Through the years, Landscape Structures has continued to introduce other pioneering innovations including the first post and clamp-based play system known as PlayBooster, the first gyroscopic play system called EvosTM, featuring a revolutionary arch design; and HealthBeatTM, the first gym-quality outdoor fitness system for ages 13 and up.
“Furthermore, Landscape Structures also has been at the forefront of creating accessible playground equipment for children of all abilities,” LaBine said.
Long before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) set minimum guidelines for equal access play areas, Landscape Structures had been designing a wide array of inclusive features like the interactive, ground level play panels and TuffTurf Tiles, which provides a smooth, protective surface for wheelchairs.
“As a true industry leader, Landscape Structures believes it’s not just what we make, but how we make our products that is important,” according to information from Landscape Structures. “More than a decade ago, we took a major step in fulfilling our mission of honoring the environment by becoming the first playground equipment manufacturer to be certified to ISO 14001 standards for environmental stewardship. This certification guarantees that Landscape Structures meets the highest standards for environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.
“Our sustainable practices allow us to produce the industry’s highest-quality playground equipment with the least amount of waste. The result is innovative products that are built to last for years and generations to come.”
Today, Landscape Structures believes it is more critical than ever to address issues of environmental protection and childhood obesity that affect nearly every single community, according to LaBine.
In fact, many communities are drafting long-term sustainability plans or environmental purchasing standards, and seeking more sustainable playground solutions.
“Landscape Structures is committed to working side-by-side with our customers to foster healthier kids and families, a cleaner planet, and vibrant, sustainable communities for the future,” according to infomration from Landscape Structures.
Other awards presented
Ray Schmidt of Buffalo was recognized as the outstanding citizen of the year by the Wright County Economic Development Partnership.
Schmidt has been very active in the Wright County community in a variety of ways for many years, and the awards committee felt that he is an outstanding example of someone who deserves to be recognized for all that he has done.
In 1982, Schmidt was a charter board member and helped begin a Lutheran high school with a group of Lutheran congregations.
West Lutheran High School was started in the basement of the Cross Lutheran Church in Rockford with a small number of students. When West Lutheran High School grew, it moved to St. Louis Park, and eventually moved again to Plymouth, where it built a building designed for their school.
Also, in 1982, several area pastors saw a need for a thrift store in the Buffalo area. Schmidt owned a commercial building in Buffalo that was vacant and he agreed to remodel and adapt the building to become a thrift store. Wise Penny Thrift Shop has been very successful and operates mostly with volunteer help.
In 1990, Schmidt and his partner, Wes Sprunk, purchased a 12,000-square-foot building in Monticello that became the location for a very successful manufacturing industry called TSI/SSG, leading Schmidt to become an active member of the Workforce Investment Board.
In 2006, Schmidt was elected to the Wright County Fair Board.
In 1997, Schmidt was elected as a board member to the Wright County Historical Society. Schmidt has served as an officer of the board for many years. He also did a lot of design work on the planning of two building project additions.
Brian Streich also received recognition for being the partnership’s outstanding member of the year.