Read about 40 the the best and brightest local business professionals under 40 years of age in this year's 40 Under Forty. Sponsored by Pierce.
From the Editor: Here's how Hollywood might portray our 40 Under Forty winners
Congratulations to this year’s 40 Under Forty winners.
This year, members of our selection committee mentioned that it was especially difficult choosing among the hundreds of nominations that we receive each year. There’s a decent chance that many of those who were nominated this year but not selected will be chosen next year.
We’re always looking for ways to mix things up with the popular 40 Under Forty section. With that in mind, this year we dreamed up an off-the-wall bonus question, mostly to have some fun and to see what the reaction would be from our winners.
We asked: “If somebody made a movie about your life, which actor would play your character?”
Some of the responses were pretty fun:
From DJ Clark: “Hmmm. Freckled and balding actors are pretty scarce. Does (Don) Rickles have freckles? He’s bit older than me, but I appreciate his sarcastic humor.”
Ryann Callan, who was born in Canada, picked Ryan Reynolds, a fellow Canadian who is best known for his portrayal of super heroes like Deadpool and The Green Lantern.
Jarrod Weenum said Jimmy Fallon should portray him. He's also optimistic that they could become good friends if they ever met.
As a representative of the baby boom generation, I sometimes have trouble remembering the names of young actors. After Andy Austin suggested that Jason Segel could best portray him, I turned to Google. Oh, yeah. He has been in “How I Met Your Mother” and “Freaks and Geeks."
Barber Austin Schlosser, who frequently makes small talk with his customers, picked good-natured Ray Romano, star of the long-running TV series, “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Dr. Erin Stevens suggested a member of Hollywood royalty, Drew Barrymore, to play her role.
From Aubrey Arneson: “I would say Jennifer Aniston. She is strong, positive, and influential. She carries herself with grace and determination; I have been told I do the same.”
Dr. Katherine Dietrich also selected Aniston, adding, “I wish!”
Not to cause friction with fans of Aniston, but Jake Penwell suggested that Brad Pitt, who dumped Aniston in favor of Angelina Jolie, would best portray his life story. “People confuse us all the time!” he said.
Russell Rice, tax manager for Eide Bailly, said Ben Affleck should play him in the movies. “He’s The Accountant after all,” Rice said, referring to a 2016 release in which Affleck plays a small-town CPA who does freelance work for some shady organizations.
One winner decided not to pick an actor who would play him. He said he would simply leave it up to the casting director to decide.
A couple of winners turned the tables on me, asking who would play the title role in my own film biography. My first choice would have been the great Don Knotts, but not just because I’ve been known to channel Barney Fife’s quivering mannerisms and sometimes resort to phony tough talk. You really have to see “The Apple Dumpling Gang” and “The Reluctant Astronaut” to appreciate the talents of the late Mr. Knotts. Perhaps the best modern actor to catch my spirit would be Aaron Ruell, best known as the tech-savvy Kip, brother of Napoleon Dynamite.
40 Under Forty: Aubrey Arneson, manager, radiology services, St. Vincent Healthcare
While she was still in high school, Aubrey Arneson saw the potential for a challenging career after witnessing an ultrasound exam for the first time.
“I volunteered at a nursing home in Columbus. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. But when I saw an ultrasound, I fell in love,” Arneson said.
She enrolled in the radiology technology program at Montana State University Billings, landed a job as a CT/X-ray technician at St. Vincent Healthcare and later enrolled in an ultrasound school that St. Vincent offered at the time.
It was a busy time. Arneson estimates that she spent about 80 hours per week at the hospital, splitting her time between working and going to school.
Arneson had expressed an interest in taking on leadership responsibilities. It was a way to make a positive difference for those who worked around her, she said. The manager of the radiology department asked her if she was interested in becoming the clinical supervisor of the CT department.
Arneson was ecstatic about the opportunity. After several promotions, she is now manager of radiology services and supervises about 70 employees.
Arneson said she was motivated to excel at leadership because she once had a supervisor who wasn’t very good. Meanwhile, she is completing a master’s degree in health care administration from Montana State University Billings.
“One of my mentors told me that even if I don’t move up the ladder, I wouldn’t regret it when I get older,” she said. "This allows me to have more opportunities.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
There are a lot of “challenging” things in my job, but I like a challenge so it’s a good thing. I think one of the things that I focus the most on is having a positive attitude that I can instill and encourage my employees to also have. Our lives are so unpredictable in the Radiology Department that we can have moments of great stress. So, maintaining a positive attitude can get challenging at times, but when we are all walking around with a big smile it makes these stressful times seem more enjoyable.
What’s the best business advice you have received?
One thing I learned was to not be too proud to accept my own faults. Showing that I am not “perfect” as a leader allows my employees to feel that I am not superior to them or judge them when minor mistakes occur. This allows for trusting and successful working relationships.
Who gave you that advice?
From my mentors, Eric Pollard and Karen Costello.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community:
I have a passion to care for others, whether it be humans or animals. Therefore, I’d love to see continued community partnership among businesses and community members to help create a safe and positive environment for everyone who is here. I feel that I have a part in this by volunteering for CASA of Yellowstone County and for the Share Our Spirit Campaign at St. Vincent.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Spending time with my family and friends. I’m so thankful for them all.
Which living person do you most admire?
I most admire Lady Gaga. I admire her because she is very strong-willed, self-motivated, talented, and is not afraid to “march to the beat of her own drum.”
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
Measuring my own success is hard because I still feel like I have SO much more to do in my life and I’d like to think that I haven’t achieved all that I am supposed to yet. However, given my current role, I would say my biggest measurement of success in my job is the improved satisfaction and engagement of my employees.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
While I am proud of myself for achieving multiple degrees and experiencing things that have made me a better person in my life, I would like to think that I have not achieved my “greatest achievement” of my life by the age of 30. I hope to continue doing great things and I hope to achieve more things in the future.
I’m happiest when I’m…Dancing. Those who know me well know that I absolutely love to dance. I also am happiest when I am helping others by volunteering my time.
40 Under Forty: Andy Austin, owner, Andy Austin Photographer
Andy Austin lives out of his van most of the time. But don’t get the idea that he has suddenly abandoned his friends and family and gone off the deep end, adopting the lifestyle of a reclusive hermit.
As it turns out, the Sprinter van where Austin rests his head most nights makes a versatile platform for him to pursue his business as an adventure photographer. Austin frequently roams far and wide, searching for the perfect combination of stunning scenery and perfect lighting.
Growing up, Austin traveled the world working for the family travel business, Austin Adventures. The itch to hit the road has never left Austin, and he occasionally works as a guide for the business.
“It was great to grow up in that adventure lifestyle,” he said. “It would be hard for me to go and do a normal lifestyle.”
He came to photography naturally. As a kid, he often toted a camera to document the skateboarding and bicycling adventures that he and his friends shared. “Sometimes, we would stage crashes, and we’d even put ketchup all over ourselves to make it look like blood,” he said.
Austin became dedicated to improving his photography after his initial efforts to document his travels sometimes yielded disappointing results. His portfolio includes portraiture, weddings, landscapes and nature photography.
Another passion is volunteering for Wheels of Change, a non-profit organization started in 2010 by his father, Dan Austin. Wheels of Change collects used bikes and distributes them in developing countries.
“We take bicycles that would otherwise end up in landfills and give them a new life in rural villages in Africa,” he said. “The container the bikes are shipped in is turned into a bike shop and the bikes are sold, fixed, and rented from the shop. All proceeds pay for the staff (made up of local villagers) as well as support community projects like schools and orphanages.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Having my home and my office be a full converted Sprinter van has allowed me to constantly be working and chasing light. My biggest challenge is learning to slow down from time to time to not burn myself out. This summer I worked four and a half months straight with no days off, and while I’m doing what I love it was still draining.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Things will go wrong, and those who push through the failures and learn from them will find success.
Who gave you that advice? My father, Dan Austin
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would like to see the community take advantage of the amazing adventure opportunities we have in the area. Once the community begins to realize the potential, the hope would be to better support the plans in place.
Which living person do you most admire? My father, Dan Austin. He never had the opportunity to go to college, but through perseverance and hard work he built one of the top adventure travel companies in the world.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? By how many people I inspire to follow their dreams and to get out and see the beautiful world we have around us. I receive messages often from people who tell me that my photos and writing has given them the courage to chase their dreams. And these messages mean more than any monetary success to me.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Putting life aside to chase my dreams. Buying my van and setting sail was not an easy decision as I gave up a good job and a very comfortable life to do it.
I'm happiest when I'm... helping others
40 Under Forty: Wiley Breitenstein, master electrician, partner, Denny's Electric
About 10 years ago, during a Father’s Day trip to East Rosebud Lake, Dennis Breitenstein announced he was thinking about retiring. His son Wiley asked immediately about what he planned to do with his business, Denny’s Electric.
Initially, Dennis said one possibility would be to shut it down. But Wiley had his own idea. He asked his dad what he thought about having him eventually take over the business.
His dad agreed, but only after making sure that Wiley was serious.
“He asked if I was ready for a big move like this because there’s no net if you fail,” he said.
And in order to make the switch, Wiley had a lot of work ahead of him. Under Montana law, anybody who wants to work as an electrical contractor must first be a licensed master electrician.
Wiley entered an electrical apprenticeship program under his father’s supervision. The process includes both on-the-job training and classroom work.
Wiley had worked in systems engineering and had done a lot of work with computers. Growing up, he sometimes accompanied his dad to job sites, so working as an electrician wasn’t new to him.
“First I got certification as a residential wireman, then I got an inside wireman certification. Four years later, I got my master’s license,” Breitenstein said.
Each year, as Wiley progressed through the program, he earned shares of equity in the business.
“You went to work during the day and you studied at night, so there were evenings where all I was doing was homework. But that’s not unusual for a lot of people,” he said.
These days, Wiley continues to work in partnership with his dad and step mother. Dennis still comes into the office regularly, mostly to handle payroll and other paperwork.
Denny’s Electric specializes in residential and commercial electrical work. The Billings market has been quite active lately with residential and commercial construction moving at a brisk pace.
When Wiley isn’t doing electrical work, he likes to make gold and silver jewelry.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Finding qualified employees. I am currently hiring for full-time licensed journeymen, licensed residential wiremen and part-time office/warehouse help.
What’s the best business advice you have received? The work you do is a reflection of yourself, your company, your partners, and your employees. I believe that if you work hard, are diligent, pay attention to detail and have unwavering integrity, you will be successful in whatever you do.
Who gave you that advice? This is something I have heard my entire life. However my father is likely the first person to have said it to me.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My son. I love watching him learn and discover. We are currently in the process of building a Tesla Coil. ( A much less dangerous version of the lightning producing water fountain he originally proposed.)
Which living person do you most admire? My father. He has taught me everything I need to know in the career path that I have chosen.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Success is such a relative term, of course profit and loss are the easiest quantifiable measurements. However for me its the journey. Every day is filled with learning opportunities. I have failed, lost, won, and succeeded. Its what I've learned in the process that defines true success.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I hope that my greatest achievement is still to come. However I am very proud of the path I have taken which has led to where I am today. Obtaining my Masters license is a major accomplishment for any electrician.
I’m happiest when I’m…Spending quality time with my son. Whether it is a day at the zoo, him coming to work with me, or watching cartoons. We always have a great time.
40 Under Forty: Sarah Brockel, Director, Alumni Relations, Montana State University Billings
As director of alumni relations at Montana State University Billings, Sarah Brockel interacts with many generations of graduates.
Just last year, Aubree and Bethany Honcoop graduated from MSUB while still teenagers because they had enrolled in college courses while they were still in high school. They are thought to be the youngest graduates in MSUB history. And Brockel still reaches out to graduates who are in their 80s and 90s.
“My job is keeping alumni connected to the campus,” Brockel said. “I’m finding different ways to help them stay connected by offering different kinds of activities.”
Graduates of a certain age enjoy EMC Throwback Night at Yellowjackets games, a nod to an era when the Billings campus was named Eastern Montana College. In a systemwide reorganization, the Board of Regents changed the institution’s name to Montana State University Billings in 1995.
You might say that Brockel bleeds blue and yellow, the team colors of the Yellowjackets. She has earned both a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in public administration from MSUB, and has worked at the campus for a dozen years.
Although Brockel enjoys interacting with alumni and helping them remain connected to the campus, raising money isn't part of her job.
Here's how Brockel's career at MSU Billings started:
"I started my university career in the office of Career Services and worked in a variety of offices that gave me a firm understanding of the University internally and externally. I also served on the MSU Billings Alumni Advisory Board while employed at MSU Billings. When the director of Alumni Relations position opened I knew it was the right opportunity for me to use that knowledge to engage our alumni with the University and help keep our campus connected to the community.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Keeping up on all of the amazing things that are happening at the university and all of the great things our alumni are accomplishing. And then getting the word out to our community about the accomplishments of the university and our alumni.
What’s the best business advice you have received? You can’t control what people do you can only control your response.
Who gave you that advice? My parents.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Help those in our community that want to further their education, change careers, build on their current career, or are looking for professional development opportunities understand that MSU Billings can help them and it is possible.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: my family. I have an amazing husband and two children who keep me on my toes and amaze me daily with their care, compassion and creativity.
Which living person do you most admire? My parents. They taught me from the very beginning to be responsible for my actions, take accountability and give back.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Having our alumni engaged with our campus in various ways benefits our students, our alumni and our community. I measure success on making those connections happen on campus and in our community.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having a career I enjoy and balancing work obligations and family time with my husband and kids.
I’m happiest when I’m… with my friends and family.
40 Under Forty: Ryan Callan, human resources business partner, Associated Employers
Hockey, the rugged game of skates, pucks and gap-toothed smiles, isn’t Canada’s national game, despite the fact that many Americans believe Canadians are born wearing skates.
In 1859, Parliament declared lacrosse, the game that Canada adopted from its indigenous population, as the national game. Then in 1994, Parliament named hockey as the national winter sport, while lacrosse remained as the national summer sport.
“That’s a neat little piece of trivia,” said Ryan Callan, a Canadian who now lives in Billings and is human resources partner for Associated Employers, a not-for-profit membership association that provides a variety of business-oriented services, including human resources.
Callan said he became interested in his current field after listening to conversations about employee performance involving his father, a union steward for the Teamsters, and his mother, an administrative director for a long-term care home.
Callan worked providing supportive services to youth and adult clients in the human/social services industry. Mindful of the high incidence of burnout in that line of work, Callan said he found his calling in HR consulting.
“It is my goal to maintain a mindfulness of employers’ expenses and bottom line, yet provide them with guidance for improving or implementing best practices and compliant employment practices in-line with state and federal regulations,” Callan said.
Callan came to the United States because he was involved with an American woman. Although that relationship ended, he obtained a green card and has continued to work in the U.S. Callan said he may pursue naturalization but is keeping his options open for now, in part because his fiancé is open to the possibility of relocating to Canada.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Getting companies to respond to AE’s regional surveys with their data and input (wage and salary, benefits and holidays, etc.). Companies love our survey results, but it isn’t easy to collect all that data within a timely manner. Also, not having the “silver bullet” solution that employers want from me, when they are faced with difficult employment and business situations.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Set goals, work smart, and use the right tool for completing the task at hand.
Who gave you that advice? My father.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I have a dream of establishing a wheelbarrow relay race to support a nonprofit/charity in the community; I’m not referring to the ‘hands holding another’s ankles kind of race,’ but a real wheelbarrow and two participants per wheelbarrow. Racers would take turns riding in the wheelbarrows along a 2-4 mile course, at a half-way point they would switch out. This would be an event that engages this community to be more involved with not only their fellow competitors and spectators, but local businesses and a selected nonprofit organization/charity. I see it as potentially being the world’s largest wheelbarrow relay race, and bringing in competitors from far and wide.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Building a new wooden toy for my nephew, Solomon.
Which living person do you most admire? My mother, she is my hero. She is the hardest working person I have ever met, and she has the biggest and warmest heart in the world.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Career-wise it is my goal to leave my clients with some knowledge and understanding of how to apply HR practices in their unique situations and workplace settings. So I do feel a sense of success when employers contact Associated Employers looking to speak directly with me for assistance with their HR matters. This indicates to me that they were as appreciative and found benefit from our previous discussions, my coaching and explanations, or the projects I was involved in with them on.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting up after being knocked down; and I am not special in this regard. Most people have experienced some speed-bump or challenging times during their lives, and I too have had some dark days in my life. However, I do believe my greatest achievement is getting back on my feet, evaluating my status and goals, and continuing in pursuit of those goals.
I’m happiest when I’m… spending time with my fiancé and our two wonderful dogs.
40 Under Forty: Rob Carpenter, owner, One Wheel Revolution LLC
When Rob Carpenter got the itch to try motorcycle racing, he built up a nice bike and got ready to roll. Unfortunately, somebody stole the motorcycle on the night before he was scheduled to enter his first race.
Carpenter never got the bike back, so his racing career ended before it got started. “I decided it was an omen not to race,” he said.
As fate would have it, that thief may have inadvertently helped pave the way for Carpenter’s future career as a trick motorcycle rider and video producer.
After building up a new machine a few months later, Carpenter started exploring what the bike could do.
He began spending thousands of hours in abandoned parking lots, learning how to ride on one wheel, and conducting spins and other tricks.
Carpenter landed his first gig as a trick rider for a 2009 motorcycle rally in Oklahoma. Because of a series of mix-ups, he didn't get a chance to test the motorcycle until about a half hour before the show.
“I was used to riding on street bikes, but riding on this Harley was like being in a hot rod muscle car. I was terrified,” Carpenter said. “But I buckled down and put on a great show.” Afterward, a professional rider was so impressed that he asked Carpenter to join his show.
“They offered me a permanent position on their riding team performing Buell motorcycle shows across the country,” Carpenter said. “When Buell initially closed its doors in 2010, we began riding Harley Davidson motorcycles. Late in 2010, I took all of my savings and invested it in motorcycles, sound equipment and transportation equipment to begin my own V-twin entertainment company,” One Wheel Revolution LLC.
Since then, Carpenter has performed in hundreds of shows across the country and has developed his own production company that provides footage. His videos posted on Youtube have received thousands of views. He is also incorporating drone technology into his videos.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? The logistics required to transport multiple motorcycles, people, and entertainment equipment from different parts of the country to a single event.
What’s the best business advice you have received? I always thought to perform on this level you had to be one of the most skilled riders. When I was hired as a permanent rider on the Buell motorcycle team I was amazed at the lack of riding skill the leader had. What he lacked in skill he made up for with professionalism and showmanship, and people loved it. Embracing the professionalism and showmanship is what has truly allowed me to succeed in the industry of motorcycle entertainment and media creation.
Who gave you that advice? Bubba Blackwell, the only man to beat almost all of Evel Knievel’s records on the exact same bike Evel rode on.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Motorcycles and motorcycle events generally get a negative reputation outside of the motorcycle community itself. However, 90 percent of motorcyclists are average people that on the weekends enjoy wearing their gear, getting on their bikes and hitting the road for adventure. Bringing the local community together for fun events has many obvious benefits. Attracting riders from around the country has a huge financial benefit for our community.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Adventure riding. Most of my work-related riding is very strategic and routine. There is nothing better than getting on my bike, forgetting the challenges of life and hitting the open road with no real destination.
Which living person do you most admire? Elon Musk. I admire his drive and passion to do what others say can’t be done. What is probably more inspiring is his unwillingness to give up his dreams in the face of failure, criticism and public scrutiny.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?: By the compliments I receive from the audience after a performance or from my sponsors when we do yearly evaluations. There are lots of very skilled riders around the world, but hearing people compliment the professionalism, organization, and attention to presentation are the things that make us stand out from the rest.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being sponsored by ICON Motosports. Before I became a professional rider I loved and always used their protective riding gear. I still remember sitting in my cramped garage talking to a fellow rider about how amazing it would be to be a sponsored ICON rider. In 2011 I was able to pick up sponsorship from them and they continue to be my biggest supporter to this day.
I’m happiest when I’m… freely riding my motorcycle to my heart’s content.
40 Under Forty: DJ Clark, associate/senior engineer, Sanderson Stewart
Growing up in Eastern Montana, D.J. Clark loved to watch giant thunderstorms rumble across the plains.
He enrolled in the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, hoping to study meteorology.
Before he got too far, Clark’s academic adviser took him aside and mentioned that his post-graduation job prospects probably weren’t too favorable if he decided to stick with that major.
“He said the meteorology industry had over-hired in the last 10 years. Unless you want to be a TV weatherman, there weren’t too many jobs,” Clark said.
Clark transferred to Montana State University and graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering.
He said he always tested well in math and science growing up, so engineering was a good fit. Here’s how he ended up in his current job as associate/senior engineer with Sanderson Stewart.
After college, "I took a job in Billings working for Marvin & Associates, a two-man traffic engineering firm that shared office space with Sanderson Stewart. After three years working for Marvin & Associates, I had gotten to know the Sanderson Stewart crew very well. They hired me in 2005 and the rest is history."
At the height of the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota, Clark spent quite a bit of time in Williston, working in the firm's satellite office. Although the oil boom has slowed, Sanderson Stewart remains busy with projects in Montana.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? The biggest challenge that Sanderson Stewart faces as a company is often the dynamic nature of the marketplace across our core Montana service areas. Our great state has a strong economy and growth is steady in most of our markets, but the demand for our services ebbs and flows at times based on regional and national political and financial swings. Strong local economies also draw new competitors into the marketplace, particularly when other regions of the country experience downturns. It’s a good problem to have in many ways and we take pride in being proactive about solving those challenges in order to meet the needs of our core communities.
What’s the best business advice you have received? I don’t know that it was advice so much as it was a simple life lesson, but I was raised to work hard, to be polite and to be honest and accountable. I think those are good foundational values for any aspect of life, including business.
Who gave you that advice? My parents. They are both great people with kind hearts and a great work ethic.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Coming out of the recent election cycle and another round of Cat-Griz football, I’ve been struck by the animosity people have toward one another on big important issues like who will be our next president and also on far less important things like who won Cat-Griz. I’ll be a diehard Cats fan until I die, but if you find yourself having the urge to vandalize someone’s vehicle because they have the opposing team’s license plates or attacking someone physically over who they voted for, it’s time to take a step back and really think about your values. Somewhere, I’ve seen a billboard that just says “Be Nice.” Montana is known for its friendly and polite people. I’d love to see us work harder collectively to live up to that reputation.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Passionate is a nice way of putting it, but I’m pretty wound up about a lot of things, most of them pretty superficial (like the football teams I root for). More importantly though, I am wound up about my people and my dogs. There are no guarantees of a tomorrow for any of us or the ones that we love, so I try to remind myself daily to be grateful for all the blessings in my life and not take anything for granted.
Which living person do you most admire? She may roll her eyes a bit if she reads this, but I admire my wife. She works really hard and she loves her job and it shows. She’s a great wife, a great friend to many, including my family and she loves our dogs like no other.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? It’s extremely important to us at Sanderson Stewart that we accomplish the goals of our clients and that we provide great customer service in doing so. We are constantly looking for ways to improve for our clients and for the company.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I’m not a horn-tooter. I’m proud of several things I’ve done in my life, most of them relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but I would like to think that my greatest achievements, big and small, are yet to come.
I’m happiest when I’m… Hunting. I love enjoying the Montana outdoors with my friends and my dogs. We are blessed to be able to do that right in our backyards here in Montana.
40 Under Forty: Allison Corbyn, business recruitment and outreach program manager, Big Sky Economic Development
Yellowstone County is open for business.
That’s a message that Allison Corbyn frequently shares with companies taking a look at Yellowstone County, and Billings, as a place to grow.
As business recruitment and outreach program manager for Big Sky Economic Development, Yellowstone County’s economic development agency, Corbyn is in frequent contact with professional site selectors and executives of expansion-minded companies.
Yellowstone County’s advantages include a talented, capable work force, a diversified economy and its strategic location between larger metropolitan areas.
Also, BSED’s funding model is a public-private partnership, funded through a countywide property tax levy and contributions from more than 100 companies, known as member investors. Various kinds of state and federal funding also supplement the agency’s budget, and the organization provides a wide variety of services.
“We have a neat model,” Corbyn said. “We’re a full-service shop that does a lot of things.”
Over the past decade, Billings has enjoyed numerous successes in attracting new businesses and helping existing businesses expand.
Energy-related businesses and agricultural processing are two areas that have potential for growth, Corbyn said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Understanding so many diverse industries. Every industry has a different set of needs and a different set of factors that affect their “bottom line.” In my work, I strive to make the business case for Billings and showcase all that our community has to offer.
What’s the best business advice you have received?
Always provide a high level of service — perceived value comes down to level of service.
Who gave you that advice?
My Dad, a very successful business owner.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community:
At our organization, so many of our projects are focused on enhancing our community so it is hard to narrow down my answers. I would like to see a truly thriving downtown. That is the heart of our community and having that urban feel is what truly differentiates us from any community within a 500-mile radius.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Raising a delightful little person — my son Colter who is almost 2.
Which living person do you most admire?
My parents, they are the smartest and most hard-working people I have ever met.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
I measure success every day by examining whether or not my work is helping move our community forward; Am I marketing our community effectively? Am I providing the resources people need? Am I being the type of person I would want to work with?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I am really proud of my college degree, and I am extremely proud of the work I do at Big Sky Economic Development. But, my greatest is yet to come.
I’m happiest when I’m… with my family.
40 Under Forty: Theresa Cremer, vice president of sales, Meadow Lark Companies
Back in 2005, Theresa Cremer was part of a scrappy Montana State University Billings softball team that knocked off two top seeds on the way to a third-place finish in the NCAA Division II West Regional softball tournament. It was a huge accomplishment for a team that was in just its fifth season.
Cremer, then known by her maiden name, Theresa Campbell, led the Yellowjackets with a record 14 home runs during a memorable 36-14 campaign. Later, she was inducted into the MSUB Athletic Hall of Fame.
These days, Cremer isn’t playing as much softball because she’s raising a family and has a challenging career. But she has enjoyed plenty of non-softball success since she began working for Billings-based Meadow Lark Companies soon after graduating from MSUB.
Meadow Lark is a transportation logistics company serving the trucking industry. It operates as a broker between manufacturers and carriers. It has a transport company that helps move customer freight on Meadow Lark trucks. It also offers software that helps clients efficiently manage their transportation network. A Meadow Lark division, Over the Road Clothing, manufactures apparel and uniforms specifically geared toward the trucking industry.
Cremer began her career at Meadow Lark as a customer service representative, helping customers move their freight.
“In natural cycles of business, it took about a year to fully understand the industry and the needs for companies like ours,” she said. “The depth of the industry and the needs for companies like ours. The depth of the industry and the many layers of involved parties like brokers, carriers, truck drivers, operations and much more proved that the industry is dynamic and an excellent for my long-term career goals. This industry will always be changing and adapting to commerce; it will forever be a part of the fabric of our country."
She gradually worked her way up the hierarchy, and is now vice president of sales.
“It’s a little bit different every day,” Cremer said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get every day. We move everything from oil rigs to cans of tuna.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? As a young female at the executive level in an industry dominated by males, I am challenged to prove my knowledge and expertise every day. It's a challenge I recognize, but am motivated by daily.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Work smarter, not harder.
Who gave you that advice? My college softball coach at MSUB, Jeff Aumend. I believe he knew the advice would serve us all well in our futures, not just on the softball team.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I enjoy my volunteer work at the Billings Chamber of Commerce. I want to continue my part in elevating and bringing innovative businesses into our community.
I want the youth to have opportunities to live and work here. We are an excellent community to have a career and raise a family. Our community’s growth and opportunities are very important to me. I will always look for opportunities to continue to promote Billings and help build our future.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Family is my everything. My husband and 1-year-old son, Campbell, are what motivate me to work hard every day. They motivate me to be passionate about our community. They are the reason I try my best at everything I do.
Which living person do you admire? My mom. She was a single parent raising two girls. I can’t remember a day my mom asked for help.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Being helpful and committed to the team goal. If I truly helped a customer solve a problem or an employee to learn a new skill, I take pride in being a problem solver and helping others to reach their goals.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Once you have a family, all the other awards and accolades don't compare. Raising a family is the best thing that ever happened to me.
I'm happiest when I'm... Cheering on the Griz with family.
40 Under Forty: Katherine Dietrich, D.O., Medical Director, Palliative Care Services, St. Vincent Healthcare
As medical director of Palliative Care Services for St. Vincent Healthcare, Dr. Katherine Dietrich helps her patients deal with the numerous symptoms related to the serious diseases for which they are being treated.
Many people associate palliative care with patients who are being treated for cancer, or those who are in constant pain. But Dietrich treats people with heart conditions, lung diseases, kidney failure and a host of other conditions.
“For a lot of people, the first question they ask is, ‘Am I dying?’ But that’s a very common misconception,” Dietrich said.
In reality, many of her patients survive for years. “You can always do one more test, procedure or medicine, but it doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for that particular person.
“My job is to help translate the medical jargon and figure out what’s important to that person, and guide them into the decisions they want to make,” she said.
“We improve patient access to community resources to support them in their home environment. In addition, we focus on goals of care and work toward directing medical treatments and procedures to improve a patient’s quality of life,” she said.
Dietrich said she became interested in palliative care during her medical residency, after she got to know a doctor who specialized in it. “He did such amazing work. He was able to get people home, and he helped them with things like pain management, and that kind of inspired me to go into that line of work.”
After completing her residency, Dietrich was medical director for a hospice program in Prescott, Ariz. Then the opportunity to move to Montana came up.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Palliative care is a very new specialty and there is a common misunderstanding that palliative care is hospice care. Hospice care refers to the last six months of life, whereas palliative care can occur at any stage of the chronic disease process. In palliative care, we often work together with other physicians in oncology, cardiology and other specialties to manage symptoms during the treatment of disease. One of my major challenges is improving public knowledge and understanding of our specialty and increasing access to the care that we provide.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Everyone has value.
Who gave you that advice? Neal Sorensen MD
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community:
I would like to bring more attention to the need for advance care planning. Most people who become critically ill have never discussed their wishes with their family or filled out any advance care planning documents, such as a POLST, Five Wishes, or living will form. We know that their family members face difficult medical decisions in circumstances that are already stressful.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is:
My family and friends. I love spending time with my husband, my parents, my sister, and my dogs. I travel at least once a year to see my best friend and godson in Germany.
Which living person do you most admire?
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
I am so fortunate to work in a profession with so much inherent value in the work itself. Success for me often means getting patients out of pain or allowing them more time at home with their family. Improving a patient’s quality of life is always my goal and how I measure myself as successful or not.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I am torn between running 100 miles at one time and completing medical school and residency. Both required significant preparation, dedication to the process and an intense emotional journey. However, running 100 miles only lasted about 24 hours, though, at times it felt like forever. Medical school and residency took a lot longer, but there were many times during the 30 hour calls where the days bled into each other. Both were tough. Both were absolutely worth the effort.
I’m happiest when I’m… in Germany with my best friend, my husband and a good beer.
40 Under Forty: Nic Eames, director of operations, Subway
Back in 2000, Nic Eames took a part-time job with Subway, the national sandwich company, as a way to earn extra money and support his newborn daughter.
Before long, he was offered a management position at the Subway store located in the Yellowstone Medical Center. In those days, customers frequently said they were drawn to the store by the smell of freshly-baked bread wafting through the hallways of a busy medical complex.
That part-time job led to a long career with penty of responsibility.
“I chose to leave my previous employer in pursuit of something that felt right at the time,” he said. “I never could have imagined at that point that Subway would go from being a part-time job to a career of 16 years and counting. I have held the title of sandwich artist, store manager, multi-manager and the director of operations for 13 locations, with a 14th location in the planning stages.”
Subway’s 21,000 franchisees operate more than 40,000 stores across the United States. That’s more than either McDonald’s or Starbucks, according to Bloomberg News.
As the Billings market continues to grow, Subway is constantly on the lookout for suitable expansion opportunities, Eames said. The formula for locating a new store involves measuring a variety of factors, including traffic patterns and how many people live nearby. One feature of the Subway business model is that it's not afraid to locate a store near other businesses.
For years, Subway has marketed itself as a healthier alternative to traditional fast food, and that message continues to resonate with consumers. “We have to have great tasting food and we have to be different.,” Eames said. “That comes from the parent company. We want to keep that health message front and center.”
With Yellowstone County’s unemployment rate hovering at less than 3 percent, employers are scrambling to fill vacancies. Just about every employer faces the same challenge, he said.
“Recruiting, developing, and retaining a quality team from the management level all the way to the high school student looking for their first job,” remains the biggest challenge of his job, Eames said.
“At the end of the day, you’re only as good as the employees,” he said. “You can be the best at customer service and have the cleanest restaurant. But employees are the backbone of everything you’re trying to do.”
What’s the best business advice you have received? Never let your circumstances consume you; worry about the things you can control.
Who gave you that advice? Kevin Perreault, my employer and mentor of the last 16 years
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Time spent with family. I have an incredibly supportive family that has been my support system, my inspiration, and has always made sure I don’t take life too seriously
Which living person do you most admire? My dad. The most honest, hardworking, and respected businessman I know.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? If every person that works for our company goes home at night having learned at least one thing, the day has been a success. We strive for a culture in which everyone learns from each other, learns from their mistakes, and gets just a little bit better at what they do every day.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising two amazing daughters together with my wife.
I’m happiest when I’m… In nature. Whether it’s the golf course, camping, fishing, hunting, or hiking, I love to be outdoors
40 under Forty: Tina Erhardt, manager of oncology clinical research, St. Vincent Healthcare, Frontier Cancer Center.
Tina Erhardt witnessed both the heartbreak and the promise of cancer treatment when her father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2008.
“He had a great response to chemotherapy, and he went into remission for eight months,” Erhardt said. “He went through another round and then the remission was shorter.” Her father received a variety of treatments, and participated in clinical trials, which helped extend his life for four years.
Her father's experiences made Erhardt reassess her own career.
“A light went off in my head and I knew this is what I wanted to do and be a part of,” she said. Erhardt pursued a master’s degree in clinical research administration. She graduated shortly after her father’s death.
“Something clicked. The program I picked was something that I could really sink my heart into,” she said.
Two years ago, Erhardt and Dr. Patrick Cobb asked the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation to provide startup funding to bring clinical trials to St. Vincent. The foundation agreed.
“Two years afterward, we are moving faster than we ever imagined and have brought more than 35 new state-of-the-art clinical trial opportunities to Billings,” said Erhardt, who is manager of oncology clinical research for St. Vincent and the Frontier Cancer Center. “While there are clinical research programs in Billings and clinical trials have been available in the area for decades, there was still a missing need,” she said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Keeping my emotions professional. Unfortunately, not all patients have a hallmark story. Some have amazing survival stories and some patients have stories that are literally heartbreaking and devastating. You develop relationships and friendships with patients and some days you witness miracles and others tragedy, keeping the mission and vision in focus is hard someday.
What’s the best business advice you have received? “Honey determine your dream, make a plan and get there… when you get knocked down …get up… and do it again.”
Who gave you that advice? My grandma (she said this to me a dozen times when I was young and I never knew what it meant until the last few years)
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would like to get involved in more community programs serving children and raise awareness of the number of kids in Montana who are displaced from their homes, hungry and have only the clothes on their backs. Raising this awareness and increasing the amount of people who donate their time or if they don’t have time can donate items to local non-profit organization that support these children. The children are our future and we need to take care of them because they will be the ones taking care of us one day.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My family and traveling.
Which living person do you most admire? If I could choose any person I admire most, it would be my dad (he is no longer alive though). So, alive, my husband, he’s been my ROCK and biggest supporter in the absence of any other family.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Patient outcomes, if I can affect the outcome of just one person and give one person more time with their friends and family then that is success.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Balancing life’s commitments (mom, wife, professional) and seeing a vision and dream as my grandmother would say come to life.
I’m happiest when I’m…surrounded by my friends and family. I do also like a good Pinterest project and being crafty with my husband.
40 Under Forty: Tim Erpelding, MD, pediatric anesthesiologist, Anesthesia Partners of Montana
Tim Erpelding, as a University of Colorado medical student, saw gunshot wounds, stabbing victims and accident-induced trauma on a regular basis during his rotations at Denver General Hospital.
Initially, he had expressed an interest in practicing emergency medicine. But once he was in the operating room, he was impressed with how surgeons, anesthesiologists and other members of the surgical team work together to save lives.
“I was amazed by the camaraderie it took to get through the surgery,” Erpelding said. “At that point I decided I wanted to become an anesthesiologist.”
After Erpelding announced his career path, his father, orthopedic surgeon Joseph Erpelding, feigned disappointment, saying that he had hoped his son would become a “real” doctor.
After medical school, Erpelding entered his residency in anesthesiology at the University of North Carolina. There, he became interested in another specialty: pediatric anesthesiology.
“In pediatrics, you do everything that you do when you’re working on adults, but it’s all on a smaller, more challenging scale,” he said. “It’s mentally challenging, and I like the fact that you are taking care of kids. They didn’t smoke or drink or become obese. It’s usually something they were born with or they had a bad wreck.”
The demands on the surgical team are even more intense when the patient is a child, Erpelding said.
“Of course the surgeons are wonderful, but I feel like there’s even more of a team mentality in pediatrics because you really depend on each other. You’re in constant communication, and there’s a real calling to take care of the patient.”
For example, an adult can usually recover even if he loses up to a liter of blood. For a small child, a similar blood loss could be fatal.
“It’s a very dynamic atmosphere, and you get to do some pretty interesting surgeries,” he said.
While Attending Carroll College, Erpelding had considered going into engineering and had even thought about teaching at the college level. But he decided that medicine was a better option.
Studying in North Carolina gave Erpelding an opportunity to see a different part of the country. But he was glad to return to Billings, his hometown, when the opportunity arose at Anesthesia Partners of Montana.
Erpelding said he sometimes complained that there was nothing to do in Billings or that it was too far away from the mountains. Nevertheless, he and his brother, Scott, learned rock climbing and were often seen climbing and rappelling from the Rims. These days, the father of three doesn't do a lot of climbing. Instead, he's more interested in cycling.
“Once I moved away and I didn’t have what Montana offers, I had a greater appreciation for it. Billings is very family friendly and it’s easy to get to the mountains, and you don’t have to worry about traffic,” he said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Having to work long hours and nights.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Sit down when talking with your patients.
Who gave you that advice? Dr. Mark Sptz, a neurologist from Denver.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I’d like to improve cycling lanes for those who commute to work for better safety and to provide health benefits.
Which living person do you most admire? Ran Zacharius.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My family.
I’m happiest when I’m…With my family in the mountains.
40 Under Forty: Ricki Feeley, founder, director, Terpsichore Dance Co.
Ricki Feeley performed in several large cities while studying for a degree in dance at the University of Montana.
The experience was invaluable for Feeley because she had the opportunity to perform with many talented dancers. But, it was also frustrating. While living in San Francisco, she had to work numerous jobs just to make ends meet, and that left little time to devote to dancing.
“I got great experience, but not anything that I could prolong,” she said.
Feeley grew up in central Montana near Lewistown, where several relatives still live.
“Every time I’ve moved away, I keep getting sucked back to Montana. There are so many generations of my family here,” Feeley said.
Feeley started Terpsichore Dance Co., a contemporary modern dance company, in Missoula, and brought it with her when she moved to Billings. She also teaches dance and runs an interior design business, LuBee’s Decorating Service.
She is encouraged by the current state of the arts in Billings.
“I feel like being an artist in Montana, it’s on a smaller scale,” she said. “In a big city I feel like my voice would get drowned out. So in Montana, we say we’re the pioneers of the art scene. Since I’ve moved here, nine years now, things have changed a lot. I have a lot of friends, and they’re always doing projects.”
Feeley has been dancing since she was four years old. “It was the '80s, so we had ballet, tap and jazz. We did a lot of dances to Janet Jackson,” she said.
"Terpsichore is a dance company first, meaning we choreograph and present dance pieces to the community. These dance pieces usually have deep personal meaning to the choreographers and dancers. For example, we recently displayed a piece that confronted the sadness of the Syrian refugee crisis. Second, Terpsichore is a nonprofit organization. We want to give back to our community.
"I recently volunteered at Lewis and Clark Middle School, teaching dance in an after-school program. We’ve donated money we make from our shows to various other organizations, such as the Red Cross to support refugees and Tumbleweed here in Billings to support our youth. Dance saved my life, and I want the children in our community to have the same opportunities that I had growing up.
I’m also passionate about dance as therapy, moving your body through dance can have an extraordinary therapeutic reaction to individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injury, autism, and other conditions.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Balancing the creative art in my brain (it never stops) with being a mother, wife, daughter, and friend. Organizing and managing everyone to produce shows is always a challenge, which would not be possible without the support of members of the company.
What’s the best business advice you have received? To always believe in myself and to never give up and to believe that what I am doing is important.
Who gave you that advice? Julia Marble
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Support the arts. As an artist, I am reliant on people supporting us. I would love to be more involved in the schools, and I would love the schools to see dance as an integral part of art and education.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My kids and creating a beautiful life for them.
Which living person do you most admire? My mom.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? The relationships formed with the dancers. We are a family without whom I would not be successful.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Apart from having kids, my greatest achievement would be launching Terpsichore. It started as an outlet for former dancers to “relive the glory days” and it became something so much more. Dance is more than an art for me, it is my life, and it defines who I am.
I’m happiest when I’m… hanging out on the beach with my family.
40 Under Forty: Ben Flanagan, project superintendent, Langlas & Associates
Ben Flanagan has many childhood memories of accompanying his father, John, to job sites. Not surprisingly, he followed his dad into the construction business, and even works for Langlas & Associates, the company where his dad spent 30 years.
Ben’s introduction to the building profession could best be described as hands-on.
“I started out sweeping floors, digging trenches, jackhammering concrete and tying rebar,” said Flanagan, who is a project superintendent for Langlas & Associates.
Flanagan was just 22 years old when he landed his first job as a project superintendent. “I was completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of an entire project from start to finish, but I embraced the challenge and relied on my mentors around me and came to realize that I really enjoyed being a superintendent,” he said.
At 24, he moved to New York City, in search of big projects.
“Since then I have never looked back or questioned my career choice,” he said. Flanagan spent six years building high-end restaurants around the country before returning to Montana. The experience was the most valuable education he could receive, he said.
Recently Flanagan has managed several significant projects, including the renovation of the Northern Hotel and Ben Steele Middle School.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Problem solving, organization, and relationships are the most important aspects of what I do. As a superintendent on all types and sizes of projects such as Ben Steele Middle School or The Northern Hotel, it is imperative that I am organized from top to bottom. A lot of that organization involves people with a ton of moving parts and pieces. As a superintendent you are considered the “captain of the ship,” which means involvement on all levels from start to finish, which can be very overwhelming if you’re not prepared.
What’s the best business advice you have received? “The best way to get through something is to finish.”
Who gave you that advice? I can’t recall where I heard that or read that but it has been with me for most of my life.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: The most important asset we have in our community is our youth. As I have become a dad and now a grandpa, my life has changed so much and my priorities have aligned to taking care of them and doing anything I can to help them succeed. After my own family, I have the same feelings toward anyone in our community who needs help.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Honestly, it sounds ridiculous, but more work. I designed and built our own home and I really enjoy the fulfillment of getting projects done around the house as they come up. It is very rewarding to work with my hands and improve our own situation for my family.
Which living person do you most admire? My beautiful wife, Michele. She is the strength that gets me through everything and I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side as we journey through this life. She is an amazingly strong woman and she has had a lot of loss in her life and no matter the loss she still brightens my heart and everyone else’s around her.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? I have been told that nobody is harder on myself than me and I believe that shines through in my projects. I want to walk away from a project knowing it is complete and perfect in every way for the owners/clients/guests/kids to enjoy forever. I want people to see that I gave my best and understand that I would never do anything less. Changing the landscape of this Earth with buildings that will be around for generations is an important responsibility and I want everyone to see my best always. Also the relationships that I come away with after each project, I am happy to say that some of my best friends are owners that I have done projects for.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My family. Seven years ago I was in Billings, passing through, to a project in NYC from Seattle. Little did I know that I would meet my future wife and her three boys and begin a completely different journey, a much more fulfilling one. I have always been somewhat of a nomad and chased the dream of bigger projects, more responsibility, and more success. Now I have more responsibility than ever in being a husband, dad, and grandpa. What a blessing they are.
I’m happiest when I’m…with my family and friends at our house, on our deck, or at our cabin.
40 Under Forty: Shayla Fox, volunteer engagement coordinator, Montana State University Billings
Most college students are wrapped up in a hectic lifestyle that involves studying, working, and in some cases, family responsibilities. Shayla Fox has learned that many students are eager to give back to the community. All they need is a gentle nudge.
As volunteer engagement coordinator at Montana State University Billings, Fox is always on the lookout for opportunities to connect students, faculty and staff with the community at large.
“We believe community involvement strengthens a sense of responsible and productive citizenship, which creates lifelong commitment to service and leadership,” Fox said.
Fox is proud that MSU Billings students contributed more than 8,000 volunteer hours for the community.
Those volunteer efforts are recognized in many ways. Around 90 MSU Billings students helped with the recent Festival of Trees fundraiser, which helps the Family Tree Center combat child abuse.
“When you get a humongous group like that, the work goes pretty quickly,” Fox said.
MSU Billings has long been popular with non-traditional students: people who often have some work experience but are pursuing higher education.
“They have that passion and that drive. Many of them have children, and they’re thinking, ‘I’m not just bettering my life, but I’m bettering my child’s life as well,’” Fox said.
Not long ago, Fox was surprised to learn that a fair number of students occasionally run short of food. That led to the creation of the Yellowjacket Emergency Pantry, which allows students to pick up non-perishable food that will help stretch their grocery budget.
“Working with young adults is something I love,” she said. “They’re going through so much change, but I can help guide them and be there for them. I have a passion to help them make a difference.”
Describe how this career happened for you: Throughout my time in collegiate career, I worked in Advising and Career Services at Palomar Community College in San Diego. From there, my passion for higher education grew. After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in human development, I decided to continue on the path of student affairs in higher education and move back to my hometown of Billings. My current job in the Office for Community Involvement blends my background in human development with my passion for higher education.
What’s the biggest challenge in your job? Helping students achieve their goal of higher education despite an ever-changing student population and connecting volunteers to agencies that are in need of volunteers
What’s the best business advice you have received? Every day we must make a choice to make good things happen for other people. Working in higher education, our goal is to help students succeed both educationally and personally.
Who gave you that advice? Jeff Rosenberry, Interim Associate Dean of Students, MSUB.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I want to create positive lasting change in the Billings community. One change that I would like to see happen in 2017 is creating a mentorship program at Tumbleweed through the Billings Jaycees. In order to create change and improve my community, I have joined several work groups that focus on hunger in hopes that we will be able to address some of the food insecurity needs in the Billings community.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: The Billings Jaycees, an organization composed of young adults who strive to create positive lasting change in the Billings community. I was recently elected the 2017 Billings Jaycees president.
Which living person do you most admire? My mother, Sara Fox, has spent her entire professional career helping at-risk teens grow personally and professionally. She is not only passionate about what she does but she has changed the lives of everyone that she has had the chance to work with because of her enthusiasm and positive demeanor.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Student success and impact in the community.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Working in a career that I absolutely love. All of the hours spent studying, exams, and working my way up have paid off in a career that uses my strengths and passion.
I’m happiest when I’m…surrounded by my family.
40 Under Forty: Andy Gott, vice president, branch manager, Stockman Bank
You might say that Stockman Bank, where Andy Gott works as vice president and manager of the downtown branch, is growing its business the old-fashioned way.
As Gott explains, Stockman boosts its bottom line through organic growth, the amount of new business that comes in the door, not through mergers and acquisitions.
Gott says the Montana-based banking company is doing well despite trying times for some of its customers.
Last year Montana farmers and ranchers weathered big drops in prices for wheat and cattle. Stockman Bank is the state’s largest agriculture lender.
Because Stockman Bank is a privately held company, there isn’t the constant pressure to please shareholders every quarter, Gott said. “The upside is that the owners have a vested interest in our success.”
Whenever a particular economic sector faces a downturn, “We are able to operate on a longer-term philosophy,” Gott said. “We try to do things up front that make sense even in a downturn.”
Nevertheless, the markets in which Stockman Bank operates are doing well, he said.
Gott’s family tree includes a number of bankers. He became interested in banking while still in high school.
"One of my grandfathers owned a bank, so that provided part of the inspiration," he said. "Banking is an amazing business that is vital to the ongoing success of our community. I have worked hard from the beginning to learn from those around me and always to do my best."
Gott got a chance to see the world during college. He has studied several languages: French, Spanish, Chinese and Croation. In fact, he lived in Croatia for about a year during his college years.
"It was a wonderful experience, one of the best years. But it was also one of the hardest because of a lot of different things," Gott said.
"Croatia is a lot like Italy, and it also reminded me a lot of Montana," he said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Bringing 100 percent focus and lots of energy to every interaction, both with our customers and members of our team. There is no room for mediocrity. We hold ourselves to a very high standard because our customers and employees deserve the best.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Business is all about relationships. Building good relationships takes energy and time.
Who gave you that advice? I think I heard that first from my dad, and then from many other influential leaders.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Create even more opportunities for people to prosper and thrive in Billings. A lot of talented people leave our community to pursue careers and business opportunities in other cities, yet I frequently hear from friends and contacts around the country that they would love to be able to move back here. Having lived in a number of other places, I agree that this is an incredible place to live, work, and raise a family.
Which living person do you most admire? My mom and dad. They have shown me what it looks like to work as a team, to succeed on many levels, and to care for those around them.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Impact at a personal level is a critical metric. This is in terms of both quantity of people impacted and the quality of that impact.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Earning my pilot’s license was especially near and dear to my heart because I have loved aviation for as long as I can remember.
I’m happiest when... I’m flying an airplane, skiing with my family, or messing around with a guitar or piano.
40 Under Forty: Ryan Gustafson, associate attorney, Matovich Keller & Murphy PC
Ryan Gustafson took his first steps toward a career in law while he was in middle school. Students in history class staged a mock trial. Gustafson and a classmate were serious about their assignments as prosecuting attorneys.
“Over the course of a week, we had to collect evidence, witnesses, etc. and finish by conducting a jury trial,” Gustafson said. “I loved the challenge and ability to argue my side and have wanted to be an attorney ever since. It didn’t hurt that we won either. The desire to become an attorney stuck with me and years later after a lot of studying and hard work, I became an attorney.”
Gustafson’s interests extended beyond the classroom. The University of Montana recruited the Skyview offensive lineman, and the Grizzlies won five consecutive Big Sky Conference titles from 2003-07, when he was part of the team.
Contrary to critics’ complaints that college athletes are pampered, Gustafson said football was a demanding job.
“There was weight training and treatments to help you get over the nicks, practice, watching film and of course games. And there was classwork on top of that,” he said.
Gustafson graduated during the winter of 2007. That gave him time to travel and work in a local law firm before he entered the UM School of Law.
He and his cousin flew into Bejing, took a train through Manchuria and Siberia to Moscow, then headed to Western Europe.
“It was a challenge because we went to places where nobody spoke English,” Gustafson said.
Law school was just about what he expected: non-stop reading, studying and preparing for class. “What’s nice about going to the only law school in Montana is that you get to meet other Montanans you grew up with. It’s a good group of people.”
Law school provided crucial training. “There are always deadlines. You’re always dealing with pressure to get things done.”
Matovich Keller and Murphy has developed experise in iinsurance defense, commercial litigation, employment law, workers’ compensation, veterinary malpractice defense, products liability, and mediation services.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Each case presents unique challenges. It is important, and sometimes very difficult, to keep an open perspective and critical mind when approaching those challenges. However, doing so is essential to obtaining the best outcome for my clients.
What’s the best business advice you have received? “Everything you do is worth doing the right way.”
Who gave you that advice? My father. At an early age he taught me to complete each task, job, etc. the right way and to the best of my abilities. While I am not perfect, this has stayed with me throughout my life.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I want to continue to develop my role within the Billings community by being more active and involved with local activities and organizations. From a simple 5k benefit race to helping lead positive change with organizations such as the Her Campaign. Additionally, I think it is equally important to encourage others to join in these endeavors as well. Oftentimes, the simple act of introducing someone to these types of opportunities will spur their future involvement.
Which living person do you most admire? My sister. She has had so many accomplishments over her life that were the direct result of her hard work and perseverance. She is a smart, compassionate, and talented person and is someone I admire very much.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? I believe it is important to set goals both small and large. These goals help keep both the day-to-day and long term goals in focus and fuel the passion to work towards those goals.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Maintaining a strong relationship with my family. Over the years we have spread out across the state and the country. However, we have always taken the time to maintain strong connections. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate how important and valuable the unbreakable bonds of family are in my life.
I’m happiest when I’m… Setting off on a new adventure whether it is a camping trip to Red Lodge or jetting off to a place I’ve never been. Although, a University of Montana victory on Saturday isn’t too bad either…
40 Under Forty: Heather Heggem, Program Director of the Masters Physician Assistant Studies Program, Rocky Mountain College
Heather Heggem has been known to remind students that the physician assistant program at Rocky Mountain College is a little like trying to drink from a fire hose.
One student begged to differ, saying it’s more like trying to drink from a fire hose that’s spewing scalding hot water.
“It’s a lot of medicine in a short amount of time,” Heggem said. “You’re studying all the time. It’s so much material, and all of it matters. ”
Heggem majored in biology and environmental science at Rocky before she was accepted to the 26-month Master’s Physician Assistance Studies Program. After graduation, she practiced as a physician assistant for about six years, working in cardiology at St. Vincent Healthcare. In 2013, she succeeded Bob Wilmouth as director of the Masters Physician Assistant Studies Program.
“Growing up in Winifred, I knew about the need for rural health care, and I always wanted to go to the program at Rocky,” said Heggem, who also played basketball for the Bears for four years.
Last year, more than 900 students from across the nation applied for 36 slots at Rocky, the only PA program in the state.
During an extensive interview process, administrators look beyond students who are academically gifted.
“We don’t just look for a great student. We look for that great physician’s assistant,” she said.
Heggem is proud of the essential role that Rocky graduates play in providing health care in areas that have been traditionally underserved. Fifty-eight percent of the program’s graduates practice within the region, she said.
“I feel like my colleagues really care about the students, she said. “The professors really care and they want to see the students become successful. The students know they are loved and that we will take care of them if they ever run into problems.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Teaching future health care providers is a tremendous responsibility. Guaranteeing that our graduates are excellent diagnosticians, competent, and practice evidence-based medicine, but most importantly that our students are compassionate, kind, providers who will make a difference in the lives of their patients. Ensuring that our graduates are professional, lifelong learners who will never go home early.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Being present, reflective, and an active listener.
Who gave you that advice? Many great leaders that I have enormous respect for model these behaviors.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Kindness to people who need it the most…taking care of our homeless population.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My children.
Which living person do you most admire? My parents…they instilled a strong work ethic, emphasized community, showed me the importance of kindness, were always honest with me, and modeled unconditional love which I am fortunate to share with my children.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? The patient care stories that I hear from my past students that are practicing PAs. When a student really touches someone’s life and they call and tell me about it.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My kids…they are kind, caring, and good citizens.
I’m happiest when I’m…traveling to a new place with my family.
40 Under Forty: Sara Hollenbeck, owner, High Five Meats
Sara Hollenbeck learned about Montana ranching by diving right in, and that meant venturing out into the snow and cold and helping pregnant ewes deliver their lambs.
Hollenbeck was no city slicker before meeting her Montana rancher husband. Her mother teaches agriculture in California. After graduating with a degree in agricultural business from California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo, she worked in California’s large and diverse agriculture industry for a few years.
“The agriculture I worked in was very different,” she said. “I was used to orchards and grape vines and seasonal crops, but that wasn’t quite the case here. We do livestock: sheep, cattle and goats. My first year here, my husband wanted to make sure I could make it through a Montana winter. He was afraid I was going to leave, and he wanted me to get through the lambing season.”
Hollenbeck not only survived Montana’s challenging winters, she came up with a plan to enhance profits from the family ranch.
High Five Meats LLC of Molt sells beef, pork and lamb directly from the ranch to consumers. She began selling at the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market in August of 2015, and that provided an immediate boost.
“We hit the tail end of the market the first year, and this year we had a full season, and it was tremendous. The farmers market is a great resource for local farmers and ranchers,” she said.
In recent months, Hollenbeck has been participating in Farm Fresh Wednesdays, a weekly event in which local producers and consumers meet up at Thirsty Street Brewing Co. in Billings. Eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, pork and produce are offered each week.
“It’s catching on,” Hollenbeck said.
Farm-to-consumer marketing has seen tremendous growth in California and in larger metropolitan areas. Hollenbeck sees similar potential for the Billings market.
“Being a rancher, I want people to know where their food comes from,” she said. “Your food doesn’t just come from a grocery store. There is so much more than that. I like to share my story, meet people and make the connection to their table from our ranch. I know we raise animals sustainable, humanely,and I wanted to share that experience with the local community.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Competition, education and marketing.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Don’t get stuck on an idea that doesn’t work. Change, adapt and move on.
Who gave you that advice? A complete stranger.
Here’s how I’d like to improve my community: I want to bring awareness to where people’s food comes from, and create a resource for anyone to source any food product offered by local farms and ranches.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My goat, Mr. Totes Magoats. He has become somewhat of an Internet star and it’s become a fun hobby to dress him up. It sounds crazy, and it totally is, but it’s also hilarious. You can find more of Totes on my Instagram account @SaraSheepLady.
Which living person do you most admire? My grandparents, Jack and Nancy Henderson. To this day they go to work every day and continue to build a business that they have owned and operated for over 50 years. They are the true definition of entrepreneurs, and living the American dream.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? By how happy I am, and I have never been happier in my life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Starting my own business, being my own boss. There isn’t a better feeling in the world.
I'm happiest when I'm...with animals.
40 Under Forty: Jonna Jones, director of marketing, Wentana LLC
Jonna Jones says her co-workers sometimes refer to her as the office’s resident millennial.
But Jones insists that she hardly fits into the stereotypes that most people associate with millennials, even though she was on the steering committee for the formation of NextGen, a millennial-oriented young professional group started by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m the worst millennial. I don’t have a TV, and I like to (disconnect from the Internet) at night,” said Jones, who is the director of marketing for Wentana LLC, a division of Spokane, Wash.-based Wenspok Resources, a Wendy’s franchising company.
Jones was among several employees in the corporate office who transitioned from Wendy’s of Montana to Wentana when the business changed hands in December of 2015.
Some people equate marketing with advertising, but that’s not necessarily the case. “Because we are franchise, our TV ads and what you see from a digital perspective all come from the national office in Ohio,” Jones said.
As part of her job, Jones is involved in the design of some print advertising and works with an ad buyer. But she also has a lot of involvement in promoting different products.
“We have to make sure the restaurant management team is aware of new products so they’re ready when they see a sales increase,” Jones said. “We also have to make sure the right marketing materials are posted where and when they are supposed to.”
Jones graduated from Montana State University Billings with a degree in marketing and management. She worked on campus for a while with the Center for Applied Economic Research, then took a job with Coors in Colorado.
Jones missed Montana and decided to move back, then landed a job with Wendy’s after a short time back in Billings. She said her experience working in the restaurant industry has proven helpful in her current position.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know that can help you.
Who gave you that advice? My dad
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would really like to see us take more pride in our city. I think we too easily forget how many great things go on every day in Billings (myself included) and I think that mindset hinders us from finding our true potential as a city. There are some really great organizations and people who are trying to help reverse our thinking and get us to be our own best advocates but they can’t do it on their own. We need to be all in.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: I love cooking and finding new recipes to try out on friends and family. The last few years I have gotten to put my skills to the test as I have become the official camp cook for my friend’s hunting camp during opening weekend.
Which living person do you most admire?
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? If I am living up to my personal beliefs and values of doing what’s good and best for others. That means doing what’s best for my co-workers, our employees, and our communities. I also measure success based on if what I’m doing aligns with and maintains the culture of Wentana and if it upholds the Wendy’s brand and company standards.
One of the reasons I love working for Wendy’s is because Dave Thomas had very basic values and beliefs that you should do the right thing and treat people with respect, among others. We are constantly putting focus on these values and using them to make decisions.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? In college, I was selected to be a summer intern for former Montana Sen. Max Baucus. I went to live in Washington, D.C., for three and a half months without having ever been there before and without knowing a single person. I learned so much during my time there not only about the political environment and the inner workings of Capitol Hill, but also about myself.
I’m happiest when I’m…
On my parents' boat in the middle of the lake (Fort Peck Reservoir) on a hot summer day with a cold drink in hand and Tom Petty on the radio.
40 Under Forty: Jennifer Kautz, finance director, Billings Family YMCA
For people of limited means, doing even rudimentary tasks like laundry can create a financial burden. With that in mind, Junior League of Billings has been hosting monthly free laundry days.
During the event, people in need are invited to bring their laundry to a laundromat for cleaning. Junior League volunteers show up armed with rolls of quarters, and if necessary, detergent.
A recent laundry event at Speedy Wash, 2505 Sixth Ave. N., saw a big turnout. Every machine in the laundromat was in use from 4 to 7:30 p.m.
One woman, apparently homeless, brought her sleeping bag and a few other belongings, and expressed gratitude after doing her laundry, said Jennifer Kautz, who is community council chair for Junior League.
“Junior League does lots of little impact things, and we also do projects that we start with the intent that they will become their own nonprofit organizations,” Kautz said.
“We take for granted our ability to wash stuff. But some people don’t have that luxury, and it sometimes costs $50 to $60 per month to go to a laundromat,” Kautz said.
Junior league conducted a needs assessment prior to launching the program. Members identified the need for laundry services by contacting local social service agencies. “We talked to the executive director or the development director, and we discovered that laundry was a big deal for their clients.
"People have been really grateful," Kautz said. "The last one was really packed.”
When she’s not volunteering for Junior League, Kautz is finance director for the Billings Family YMCA, a position she has held for four years.
Last year the Billings YMCA saw its membership grow by 5 percent, and it now numbers 15,000.
“In terms of family memberships, the Y is still the most affordable,” Kautz said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? It's learning how to shift our employee culture to be a more engaged one. Learning what motivates and drives people is a challenge, but without it we don’t have purpose.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis. Spending hours analyzing doesn’t always lead to the right decision and can slow momentum. Execute and make it work or adapt a new way and move on.
Who gave you that advice? An old co-worker.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: my husband, our dog and working out. Just being happy and healthy.
Which living person do you most admire? Bryan, my husband. He is the most generous, loving person I’ve met. He has the back of everyone he loves and will be there in a minute if you need him. He’s brilliantly smart and has built such a successful career and life for himself. He sees a light in people and makes them feel important.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? If we’re changing lives for the better. Change can be difficult and finding what makes others change seems even harder. If we have found the way to drive change, we’ve succeeded.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Learning to let go and be happy with what you have. The grass is definitely the same shade on the other side. It is what you make of the present that makes the difference.
I’m happiest when I’m…doing anything with my husband and our dog, Echo.
40 Under Forty: Erica Kimble, director of sales and marketing, Hilton Garden Inn
As marketing director for the Hilton Garden Inn in Billings, Erica Kimble devotes a lot of time to developing relationships.
“Working in the hotel, I’ve had so many guests and clients who return. We’ve built a relationship, and we have become friends and have kept in touch for several years,” Kimble said.
The addition of hundreds of new motel rooms in recent years has increased competition for the Billings lodging industry.
Kimble describes the Hilton Garden Inn as a rate and occupancy leader. The hotel doesn’t have to drop its rates in order to attract clients, and room occupancy is frequently among the highest in the market.
“We’re not a full-service hotel, but we have more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, so we are well suited for smaller conventions and meetings, such as corporate meetings and wedding receptions. Plus everybody loves our food,” Kimble said.
Kimble began working in retail stores while she was still in high school. She managed three different stores in Rimrock Mall, and was even tops in sales at the shoe department in Herbergers at age 17. But she transitioned to lodging after she entered college.
“When I was growing up, I always had an interest with working in a hotel. In 2010 I was attending MSU-Billings to get a degree in business management and I needed a summer job. At that time, I applied at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites as a part-time front desk agent. I instantly fell in love with the industry and within my first year I was promoted to front desk manager. My focus then became, how I would one day move into a sales role for a hotel.
"In 2014 I was offered a position as the director of sales of both the Billings Hampton Inn and Suites and Billings Homewood Suites. After a year at these properties I saw a job posting for the Billings Hilton Garden Inn, I applied and was offered a position as the senior sales manager and within my first year I was promoted to my current position as the director of sales and marketing."
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Bringing in revenue in a market that has been highly affected by the drop in the oil industry. In 2011, there was such a demand for hotel rooms that hotel owners built multiple new hotels into a market that would later drop in that demand.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Constantly raise the bar. To succeed you must have an expectation of continual improvement. To me, this is something I need to live by daily to achieve my goals.
Which living person do you most admire? My mother. She has taught me how to be a strong, independent woman who loves the Lord.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? The most rewarding success for me is knowing I have impacted a guest's day. Especially when I receive a thank you from my clients, telling me about how wonderful their experience with our property had been — is the No. 1 reason why I'm in the hospitality industry.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being a mom
I’m happiest when I’m… watching my kids grow into amazing young ladies. They are both involved in many after-school activities and clubs and I love watching them learn how to be great members of our community.
40 Under Forty: Sharli Kiner, owner, Limber Tree Yoga
Sharli Kiner turned to yoga as a way to cope with pregnancy-related pain. The ancient Hindu discipline has brought lasting improvements to her life.
“Sciatic nerve pain was real, and yoga was the first thing that brought me relief,” Kiner said. “I just wasn’t interested in pills, and this worked immediately.”
Her enthusiasm for yoga continued long after the baby was born. Before long Kiner started thinking about ways to help others discover the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga.
Five years ago, Kiner started Limber Tree Yoga at 212 N. 29th St. The business offers classes that feature a variety of yoga styles.
“Our mission is to share the practice of yoga, aerial yoga, self-care and dance arts to enhance and promote a healthier, inspired and compassionate community,” she said. “Limber Tree Yoga is a place for students and teachers alike to center and be challenged mentally and physically in the advancement of personal growth.”
As the business took off, Kiner saw an opportunity for expansion and even opened a second studio on First Avenue North. But she decided to close a second Limber Tree yoga studio about a year after it opened. She said the experience taught her many valuable lessons.
A study conducted for the Yoga Journal found that 37 million Americans practice yoga daily. Kiner says interest in yoga remains strong locally.
“In Billings, we have a really interesting dynamic when it comes to yoga,” she said. “We have four studios apart from the gym, and every one offers something completely different. I see it growing, but the growth remains inconsistent. I still wish there was more steady attendance than there is, but there are more people coming around to yoga. Yoga is still amazing for so many different reasons.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Staying positive and patient amidst the seemingly unstable moments and challenges. Through the opening and closure of a second Limber Tree location during the years of 2014-2015, I have learned to have to trust my own creative skills and to release the tendency to think of myself as a failure. Using my yoga and meditation practice has been key to staying positive, even when personal and financial insecurity sets in.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Do not expand your business until you are bursting at the seams.
Who gave you that advice? Jim Markel, owner of Red Oxx.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: My business plan is moving in the direction of offering more specialized workshop and training opportunities for members of the community to dig deeper into what the true and pure practice of yoga entails. My business and personal goal to improve the community starts with making sure that I create a well-rounded class, workshop, and training schedule to fit the individuals’ needs. Through these educational opportunities involving breathing techniques, postures, meditation practices, wellness opportunities, dance, and spiritual growth opportunities, Limber Tree will continue to be a place for people to find growth and joy within their own selves so they can share that with others.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My children/family, fur and feather family (three dogs, two cats, a fish, and six chickens), and mountain adventures.
Which living person do you most admire? Louise Hay: This amazing woman has endured some of the greatest challenges in life. She was severely abused and neglected as a child, has been through a painful divorce, physical diseases and ailments, and remains the most positive person. She now has a major publishing company, Hay House Publishers, and shares her experiences through books and seminars at 90 years old! She is a living example that not only can you recover from hardships, you can flourish from them. Her mission is to help others heal through mental positivity. She also is an example that you are never too old to start a successful endeavor.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Positive feedback from people who have experienced the true joy of yoga and life improvement because of Limber Tree makes a HUGE difference in my mentality regarding the success of my business.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Seeing my children grow to be mindful, kind, and compassionate people is, by far, my greatest achievement.
I’m happiest when I’m…with my children. Whatever the setting may be, it isn’t complete without them.
40 Under Forty: Michelle Lee, attorney, municipal judge, city of Billings
Billings Municipal Court handles somewhere around 20,000 cases per year. With such a large case load, Michelle Lee, a part-time municipal judge, is constantly challenged to keep things moving along.
“It’s pretty regimented,” Lee said. “I arraign individuals, advise them of their rights when they have been charged with a criminal charge in the city, and assist with the swift resolution and/or sentencing of criminal defendants.”
The crowded conditions at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility have a ripple effect on municipal court. Despite jail crowding, people charged with certain crimes are required to spend at least some time in jail, Lee said.
“Unfortunately, we have to let a lot of people sit out there and await sentencing, and even with sentencing, we just can’t do a whole lot,” Lee said.
The large case load in municipal court is a reflection of what’s happening in Billings.
“There is so much misdemeanor crime in Billings. I don’t think most people recognize the extent to which it goes on. I know I didn’t realize that before I was on the bench,” Lee said.
“The great part of the job is that you get to look at society from top to bottom,” Lee said. “You get the whole broad spectrum: from doctors and lawyers, to people who are homeless.”
Many defendants end up making numerous appearances before Lee, like the man who has accumulated 30 open container charges. But a few manage to turn their lives around after receiving treatment for chemical dependency or mental health issues, she said.
As a rule, she takes extra time to deal with juveniles charged for things such as minor in possession of alcohol. “I really try to pound into the kids that this isn’t where they want to be,” she said.
Lee said she first became interested in practicing law before she entered high school. “I always had a sense of justice and not wanting to see people get victimized or taken advantage of,” she said.
In 10 years of private practice, Lee has concentrated on family law.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? On the bench, it's the lack of resources for individuals with significant mental health or chemical dependency issues. Billings Treatment Court allows us more options than we used to have, but the lack of resources continues to be a significant problem facing the city as issues with mental health and chemical abuse continue to rise.
In private practice, my biggest challenge is the speedy resolution of civil matters, especially in the area of family law, due to the increasing case load that our District Court faces.
What’s the best business advice you have received? My father always impressed upon me the importance of working hard and treating everyone the same, regardless of status. This is what I strive to do in my professional life.
Who gave you that advice? My father.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would like to see more of a collaboration for addiction and mental health issues. I would like to bring together various mental health and chemical abuse groups from the community and see what we can all do together to attempt to combat these issues by pooling our resources and building a network of mental health and addiction professionals.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Traveling. I love exploring the outdoors and spending time just driving to different places that I have never been to before.
Which living person do you most admire? My husband. He has been through quite a bit in his life and has overcome and endured significant illness and, frankly, putting up with me.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Success in my job is measured more in the long-term impact that I can make in people’s lives. Most people come to see me when they are in a very unknown and scary point of their lives. If I can help them through that with compassion and understanding, I believe this is success.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Definitely being a mom. This is the most challenging and awarding “job” that I have ever had. And I believe it is the one job that carries with it the biggest ability to make an impact on the world.
I’m happiest when I’m… Spending time with my family.
40 Under Forty: Miranda Meunier, nurse practitioner, Billings Clinic
Some people are puzzled about why Miranda Meunier, a nurse practitioner at Billings Clinic, chose to work with older people as her specialty.
“I had a really special relationship with my grandmother and her friends," she said. "She just instilled in me a respect for older people, and I found their stories so interesting. From a young age there was a natural draw to older people. I guess you could say I have an old soul.”
Meunier and her grandmother did a lot of things together. “She was a big volunteer at the Great Falls hospital. I helped her in the hospital store, and she did a big Christmas bazaar,” Meunier said.
Meunier became interested in caring for older adults while working on an orthopedic floor early in her nursing career.
“We got a lot of people who had fallen and had surgery, and the idea clicked for me,” she said. “I started thinking that we’re fixing them now, but how can we better prevent falls or better care for them so that they don’t have these issues.”
Four years into her career, Meunier began exploring master’s programs. She won a full-ride scholarship to Duke University, which has one of the nation’s premiere nurse practitioner programs tailored toward geriatric care.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “They were doing a lot of cutting-edge research, and it was great to be a part of that.”
Since coming to Billings, Meunier has enjoyed sharing her passion and mentoring others. “I’m trying to engage more people to help them realize that older adults are not a sexy medical topic, but there’s so much we can learn from them.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Trying to balance patient and family wishes with appropriate medical care in a climate of increasing financial pressure from payer sources has become very challenging over the last few years. Many older adults are not able to age as gracefully as they would like and may require additional care at home or in a facility which is often not covered by insurance and is very expensive for individuals and families. Staff shortages in many home health agencies, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes also effects the quality of care older adults with complex care needs may receive.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Be persistent. It’s easy to shrug and say “OK” if you get a response you’re not happy with, but it’s important, particularly for women, to remain focused and driven about the things that make us passionate and continue to fight for the underdogs.
Who gave you that advice? My dad.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Work to create an age-friendly, dementia-friendly community in Billings so individuals and families faced with dementia and other debilitating conditions in their older years feel welcome anywhere in town. There is quite a stigma associated with these conditions and individuals and their caregivers can often feel isolated and alone. Creating a community where these people feel welcomed and cared, with an ability to stay in their homes for as long as possible, is my ultimate goal.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Music
Which living person do you most admire? I most admire my mother. She had me when she was 19, married my father and went on to have five more children. We were raised in a wonderful household that didn’t have much money, but my parents instilled the values of hard-work, love for your neighbor, and family above all else. I consider my siblings my closest friends. My mother certainly had other options open to her when she learned she was pregnant with me, but had the persistence and resilience to not only raise one great kid, but six.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Patients able to return home successfully after a prolonged medical course and resume a normal life. Patients dying comfortably surrounded by people who care for them.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Honestly, I don’t feel I have reached my greatest achievement. I am most proud of my kids and the role I have had in shaping them into the amazing people they are.
I’m happiest when I’m… In nature. Or reading in bed.
40 Under Forty: Adrian Miller, attorney, Holland & Hart LLC
A chapter in Adrian Miller’s life has the makings of a script for a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy.
A young woman from Fort Benton ponders whether to join the Peace Corps or go to law school. She chooses the latter after landing a full-ride scholarship to law school at Hofstra, a private liberal arts university on Long Island.
This one-time river guide is the first Montanan to attend Hofstra Law School. Despite being separated from her fiance for three years, they eventually get married. And she proves herself more than capable of handling life in the big city.
“I was like a zoo animal,” Miller said. “As far as some of those kids were concerned, Montana was part of Canada.”
Miller studied hard but also made the most of her spare time. “It was easy to get to the city. I took the Long Island Railroad, and it was 20 minutes into Penn Station. Public transportation is good, and you certainly miss that aspect of it when you leave.”
In case you’re wondering, this story has a happy ending. Miller married and ended up back in Montana, working for the Billings office of Holland & Hart, a firm that practices throughout the Rocky Mountain West. But her journey wasn’t without its challenges. Miller graduated from law school in 2010, when the nation was still hung over from the Great Recession. At the time, major law firms were laying people off in droves. Graduates of even the most prestigious law schools had trouble landing jobs.
Miller applied for jobs all over the country. She was among some 200 recent graduates who applied for a clerkship in Fargo, N.D. But she was happy that her job search brought her back to Montana.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Setting boundaries for personal time. Technology makes people accessible 24 hours a day. People can call or email me at any time of day. It is hard to ditch the phone and just take time for yourself without feeling guilty or anxious.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Montana has a small Bar. Treat opposing counsel and other attorneys with respect. Otherwise, you will get a reputation for being a difficult and unprofessional attorney.
Who gave you that advice? William Mercer
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I am trying to focus my legal pro bono on victim’s rights work. There are a lot of crime victims who can benefit from free legal service. Sometimes it is as simple as helping them navigate the criminal justice system. Other times they need help with civil issues.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Traveling.
Which living person do you most admire? Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Notorious RBG)
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Client satisfaction is the best measure. If I can procure a result that is good for my client, then I have done my job well. A “good” result is not necessarily one where you go to trial and win, but many times it is finding an economic solution that all parties can accept.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My husband and I lived apart for three years while engaged when I was in law school. He was in Bozeman and I was in New York. I think it is a testament to a relationship if you can survive that kind of separation, and I’m pretty proud of us for navigating it.
I’m happiest when I’m ….. traveling someplace where there is no cell phone service.
40 Under Forty: Phil Nelson, vice president, assistant branch manager, Stockman Bank
Phil Nelson, vice president and assistant branch manager for Stockman Bank, says he and other lenders are not boxed in by geography. Although he works at Stockman’s office at 1450 Shiloh Road, Nelson is free to call on customers who do business in other parts of town.
“With branch banking you can pretty much go anywhere you want,” Nelson said. “There’s nothing that says I can’t call on a customer downtown.”
Nelson got his start in banking before he had completed his college degree at Montana State University Billings.
“I started out as a teller, then a teller supervisor. I went on from there and did new accounts.” He moved to Rapid City, S.D., for four years, first as a credit analyst and later as a commercial loan officer. But returning to Montana was always in the back of his mind.
“Our kids were getting a little older, and I started thinking that if I wanted to get back to Montana I’d better do it now,” Nelson said.
He contacted officials from Stockman, and received what he refers to as a "great opportunity" to return to Billings.
In the midst of the dotcom bubble of the 1990s, some industry officials predicted that bank branches would soon become obsolete as customers increasingly turned to online banking. Clicks would replace bricks, they said.
Montana-based Stockman Bank serves as an example of a company that has bucked that trend and has steadily added branches across the state. The firm’s newest branch, being built in Missoula, is scheduled to open late this year.
Bricks and mortar banks make sense in Montana because customers prefer face-to-face meetings with lenders and tellers, Nelson said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
The biggest challenge I face is simply not having enough time in the day. Between work, my family and community involvement it seems that there is never enough time to go around. Finding that balance between work life and family life is very important.
What’s the best business advice you have received?
It is not necessarily business advice but a Chinese Proverb I have always liked is – “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community:
Sports have always been a big part of my life. Now that my son is discovering his passion, I would love to see the sport of hockey grow in Billings while also providing a place for all of our youth to go and be active. Building a multi-use community center with multiple sheets of ice, indoor swimming, racquet ball, basketball, etc., would be a huge step toward that goal and would provide many different opportunities (hockey and beyond) for the youth of Billings and the surrounding areas.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is:
Living life with my family……whether it’s camping, fly-fishing, cheering on the CATS, or being huddled in a frozen hockey rink somewhere in Montana in January.
Which living person do you most admire?
My wife. Simply put, I would not be where I am today without her.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
Positive feedback from my clients and other professionals in the community is a good measure. When you do things the right way and truly have your client’s best interest at heart you build positive word of mouth and loyalty. Referrals that come from clients & peers show that they trust me to take care of the people they send to Stockman Bank.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My smart, funny and kind-hearted children – Natalie & Jack.
I’m happiest when I’m…
Trouncing through Rock Creek or watching hockey on the weekends with my family.
40 Under Forty: Nick Pancheau, principal architect, Collaborative Design Architects
After graduating from Montana State University in 2008, Nick Pancheau headed to Seattle in search of his first job as an architect. He posted his resume, received several offers and accepting a job with Caron Architecture.
Things went well for a few months. But when the Great Recession hit, building ground to a halt and the entire office was laid off two weeks before Christmas.
Pancheau spent the next few months searching for another job in the Pacific Northwest. Then, after calling Jeff Canning at Collaborative Design Architects, Pancheau was offered a job and decided to return to his hometown.
“He said, ‘We’ve got a spot for you,’ so it worked out great. It was sort of a homecoming,” said Pancheau, who is now a principal architect at Collaborative Design.
During college, Pancheau received a scholarship from the Billings Builders Exchange, a nonprofit organization that helps contractors bid on projects. In his essay, Pancheau wrote that he hoped to return to Billings and help improve the quality and variety of buildings available in Billings.
Collaborative Design has been busy with many projects in the Billings area, and city's building inventory has improved a great deal since he was growing up in the 80s.
“I feel like I have followed through with my promise to the Builders Exchange,” he said.
Pancheau and his brothers were often the chief hole diggers and equipment repairmen for Excel Electric, his father's electrical contracting business.
Pancheau is still involved in hands-on design and fabrication through a related business, Arch 406.
These days, architects use sophisticated computer software to develop three-dimensional models of buildings as part of the design process.
But Pancheau always reaches for a pencil and paper when he starts out on a design.
“Starting with just that blank sheet and making that first line is the hardest part of the process,” Pancheau said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? We strive to approach every project with a high level of thorough and thoughtful design. This means that we are not bringing our preconceived notions of what a space or building will be to the table; instead we are carefully listening and using that information to make design decisions. It’s a different way to approach the built environment and it is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. It would be much easier to simply bring the same design solution to every problem, but that would lead to insufficient solutions.
What’s the best business advice you have received? I watched bmy dad build his business from the time I was young. I picked up three pieces of advice from him.
1. Pay attention to what is going on around you, and jump in when you see that someone needs a hand. 2. Work hard. 3. Love God, love others.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Increase density and development in our city. Encourage design and construction that will still be around in 50 to 100 years.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My family and friends.
Which living person do you most admire? I have a friend, Ken Cottrell, who puts others first in a way I have never seen before. I have a lot to learn from Ken. Ken runs the Adullam House, a ministry that provides housing for parolees who have no other option for housing.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? In architecture, the proof is in the built form and experience; design that performs as intended is a measure of success.’
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My greatest professional achievement is the A/A Montana Honor Award that I received this summer for the design of the Grain Bin Residence for Billings artist, and my grade school art teacher, Kate Morris.
I’m happiest when I’m… Spending time with my daughters and wife.
40 Under Forty: Jake Penwell, state director, ACE Scholarships
Jake Penwell embraces the idea that once you provide a child with an education, that benefit can never be taken away.
Penwell is the state director for ACE Scholarships. The non-profit organization provides partial scholarships to students from low-income families who are interested in attending private school.
“Our theory is that every child deserves the educational model that best suits them,” Penwell said. “If you’re in a public school, maybe that way of learning doesn’t suit your learning style. If you’re poor, you don’t have the ability to choose something different. And if you’re poor, you might not have the ability to move to a different district, where maybe the school is run a little differently.”
This year, the organization awarded scholarships to 750 students in kindergarten through 12th grades throughout Montana. Each scholarship averaged about $2,000, and paid for up to 50 percent of each child’s tuition, Penwell said.
Despite handing out 750 scholarships this year, ACE had a waiting list with more than 800 names on it, Penwell said.
He is also working on an effort to expand ACE Scholarships into Wyoming.
ACE Scholarships is funded entirely through private donations. Penwell said donors to the scholarship fund are often interested in making the best use of their donations.
“It falls back to the theory where people ask, ‘What’s the lowest common denominator where I can help?’ And most of the time that’s education,” he said.
Some ACE recipients choose to attend religious-affiliated schools such as Billings Central or Billings Christian School. Others choose non-religious schools such as Missoula International School, which emphasizes bilingual education, Penwell said.
“The kids are doing fantastic in these schools,” Penwell said, noting that 93 percent of ACE Scholarship recipients graduate from high school, and 77 percent go on to attend college.
Penwell said ACE Scholarships was not intended to compete with public schools. It’s simply a way to provide a way for children from low-income families to have the same opportunities as families that can afford to pay for private school, he said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? The toughest part of this job is helping the public to understand what school choice is (and at times what it is NOT) and what choice can contribute to education as a whole. Each child is different (any parent with more than one child will most likely admit to this), this is the same with learning styles and education. There is not a single system that can educate all kids equally.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Plan your work and then work your plan. You need to have a plan (or a goal) in life or else you will end up going with the flow.
Who gave you that advice? My Great Uncle Jerry Burtner
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would like provide the educational opportunities for low-income kids to have the same options that kids from higher income families have. It is unfortunate that a large portion of kids every year, who are so frustrated with school that they decide to dropout, are from low-income families. Low income does NOT mean low potential! ACE Scholarships has proven this year after year.
Which living person do you most admire? I believe that our lives are built upon a foundation that is created while we are young. I want to thank my Mom, Jill Young, for being such an incredible influence in my life and guiding me to become the person I am today.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Profit and loss is a financial measure, not a measure of success. Success should be evaluated on what you do with your finances. I love to help those who have a tough time helping themselves.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Convincing my beautiful wife to marry me! She is my rock and I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be the same person without her.
I’m happiest when I’m… with my family. My wife and kids are the well source of my joy. When I am having a tough day, I love to go pick up one of my kids from school and take them to the park or call my wife for an impromptu lunch date. It always pulls me out of my funk.
40 Under Forty: Russell Rice, CPA, tax manager, Eide Bailly LLP
With tax season underway, Russell Rice is putting in marathon hours so that his clients at Eide Bailly can file their income tax returns before the deadline, which is April 18 this year.
“The end of the year is busy for us as we do a lot of year-end calculations,” Rice said during a December interview. “But from January through April, it’s 100 miles per hour for as long as we can go.”
Many accounting firms throw a big party once the last return is filed. The Billings office of Eide Bailly, where Rice is tax manager, will also celebrate the end of filing season.
Growing up, Rice had an interest in pursuing a business career. In college, he narrowed his choices between finance and accounting.
“I spoke with a few people about it, and almost everybody recommended that I take the accounting route,” Rice said. “One person didn’t think I had the personality for accounting, but five or six recommended that I take the accounting route.”
After completing his accounting degree at Montana State University Billings, Rice worked for a short time in a sales and marketing job in Canada. He returned to Montana to work as a tax auditor for the Montana Department of Revenue.
In his spare time Rice began studying for and subsequently passed the CPA exam.
“After spending two years ‘behind enemy lines’ I accepted a job with Eide Bailly and started my career in public accounting,” he said.
Rice started his college education at Brigham Young University in Utah. At age 19, he moved to Honduras for two years doing missionary work for his church.
He transferred to MSUB after his return. Because he was fluent in the language, Rice was able to minor in Spanish while taking only one or two classes.
“I tested out of several classes by going in and talking to the professor in Spanish. The 21 credits of straight A’s helped my GPA,” Rice said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? An ever-changing income tax code. Most of the bills passed in Congress, whether it’s a healthcare or a highway bill, somehow affect the income tax return or make changes to the income tax code. With a new president, we may be in for another set of changes come 2017…stay tuned!!
What’s the best business advice you have received? “Work hard and be honest”
Who gave you that advice? My dad
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Like many other businesses, Eide Bailly encourages its employees to get involved in the community and volunteer our time to causes and organizations that make our community better. I believe in the power of education to strengthen a community and I work to support the career paths of those within the firm and local students looking for accounting opportunities. I spend time meeting with the professors on local college campuses to make them aware of the employment opportunities within the firm. I work with the Career Advisory Board and meet with interested students. I want to see successful graduates.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Baseball. I grew up playing Little League here in Billings and am still an avid fan. During the summer, I play on a recreational softball team hoping that the St. Louis Cardinals need an extra player someday.
Which living person do you most admire? It’s difficult to name just one person, especially when mentioning my parents. They have always worked together as a team. From my parents, I have learned the values of hard work, responsibility and honesty. I would not be the person I am without combining each of their individual strengths.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Helping answer my clients' questions and solving their tax problems. Taxes are a big part of our lives and are very stressful for most people. Helping clients achieve success through these stressful times is extremely satisfying.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My family. My wife is my biggest fan and my kids are spectacular. They are a joy and a light in my life and am very lucky to have them.
I’m happiest when I’m… playing the board game “Risk” with my kids. We always have fun seeing which one of us can successfully take over the world.
40 Under Forty: Briana Rickman, executive director, Dress for Success
If Dress for Success was just a way to distribute used clothing, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful in helping women overcome barriers, re-enter the work force and re-establish their financial independence.
In addition to providing workplace-appropriate clothing, shoes and cosmetics to women in need, Dress for Success also provides career mentoring, a computer lab where women can compile their resumes and networking opportunities. Recently, Dress for Success introduced a mentoring program where business leaders work to help clients succeed.
“It’s powerful to have women helping other women,” said Briana Rickman executive director of Dress for Success. “A lot of our clients have come from abusive relationships, or prison, and they don’t have shoes or coats. Our volunteers help them so they can at least have a pair of shoes and jeans so they can go for an interview.”
And there’s no shortage of success stories. “We had one woman who came out of prison. She used our suiting program, and we got her involved in the career center and professional development workshops.
“After that workshop she said she had applied for a job that she said she would never apply for. After coming to our workshop she got an interview, and she practiced answering the questions and she got the job.”
Rickman worked for the Girl Scouts for more than five years before she began working at Dress for Success. As executive director, she works with more than 50 volunteers. More than 60 referring agencies recommend women to Dress for Success.
“Our goal is to not only help women obtain employment, but to help them maintain and advance in their employment,” Rickman said.
Rickman said she was happy in her previous job. But after a friend mentioned that the position was open at Dress for Success, she researched the organization and realized it could be a good fit.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? It's myself. I have many big goals and plans for the future and I want to make them all happen tomorrow. I am a big-picture thinker but sometimes have a hard time planning out all of the necessary steps to make my vision come to life.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Who gave you that advice? My dad.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Continue my work to empower women and to help them plan a financially stable future. There are so many women in our community that maybe do not know about our services, or do not have access to other services and do not know where to start. I plan to implement an outreach program, so that we can serve as many women in and around our community as possible.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Going on adventures with my family. We love camping, fishing, four-wheeling and exploring our beautiful state.
Which living person do you most admire? My mom. She has always worked so hard to provide a great life for me.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? I measure success by the stories told by the women that we serve. There have been many times while in the community that I’ve run into women who utilized Dress for Success at some point in their life, and the lasting impact that we have had on their lives is unbelievable. Without our help, some have said that they wouldn't be where they are today
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My almost 5-year-old daughter. I have immense pride in the spunky, confident, kind and adventurous person that she is. She teaches me so much every day through her generosity and kindness toward others.
I’m happiest when I’m... surrounded by the people that I love, oh, and wine.
40 Under Forty: Becky Salyer, owner, Bumps 'n Bundles
If there was ever any doubt that Scheels would draw shoppers to other stores at Shiloh Crossing, just ask Becky Salyer. When she moved her Bumps 'n’ Bundles store to Shiloh Crossing last October, Salyer was pleasantly surprised at the reception.
“About 40 percent of our traffic is people who were at Scheels, and they say, ‘I wasn’t aware of this place. But I saw your sign so I thought I’d check you out.’”
Bumps ‘n Bundles specializes in maternity clothes, outfits for infants and toddlers, toys and accessories. In 2015, Salyer purchased and rebranded the former Ca-Layla store in downtown Billings. After a few months in business, she thought about expanding, and decided that a West End location best fit her plans.
Salyer has 10 years experience managing retail stores. She worked at Victoria’s Secret, and the Crazy 8 store that she managed in Rimrock Mall ranked among the chain’s top 100 stores in the nation.
When her daughter, Juliette, was born, Salyer decided that her career needed a change of pace.
“I decided I had to slow down a bit. I wanted my evenings with her, and retail hours were hard because the store closed at 10 p.m.”
Juliette, who is now 2-1/2, enjoys accompanying her mother to the store each day. Bumps ‘n Bundles has a kids’ corner to keep the young ones occupied while their mothers are shopping.
Salyer will likely make three buying trips this year searching for new merchandise.
"You have to decide how it’s going to work for the Billings market, and the weather," she said. "You also have to watch and make sure it’s something fresh. I try to pick things that moms pick for their kids."
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Remembering to take time for myself. It is easy to spend every spare minute I have as a working mom on my kids or on my business.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Hire people that are smarter than you. I had a manager tell me that once and it clicked. When you hire people that can do things differently or better than you would, it sheds a new light on things and your brand/business becomes better faster
Who gave you that advice? My district manager, Joy Vance, when I worked at Victoria’s Secret.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would love to help empower women and specifically moms within our community by helping them to believe in themselves, help them know they don’t have to do it all alone or be perfect, but that they are valuable and wonderful just as they are, whether they are the CEO of a huge corporation, a stay at home mom, or a server at a local restaurant.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My family and photography. I actually went to school for photography at MSU in Bozeman. I love capturing little moments in people’s lives that they want to remember for generations.
Which living person do you most admire? CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, and my wonderful loving husband, John Salyer
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Through energy… whether my staff's energy or our customers' energy, you can tell a lot about a business by how you feel when you walk in.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My greatest achievement is getting to spend everyday with Juliette. But I would say professionally, my greatest achievement was being able to expand my business after only being open for a year.
I’m happiest when I’m… connecting with customers.
40 Under Forty: Tyler Samson, commercial real estate agent, NAI Business Properties, manager, Edgar Bar
Tyler Samson sells commercial real estate during the day, then travels roughly 30 miles for his other job as general manager of the Edgar Bar.
This burning-the-candle-at-both-ends routine can translate into 80-hour work weeks for Samson. But he’s used to being busy.
“Through college I was going to school full time and working full time,” said Samson, who is a commercial real estate agent for NAI Business Properties. “I’m the kind of person who has to be constantly doing something or I get bored.”
Despite being situated in a town with a population of around 100, the Edgar Bar has a solid following in Carbon County.
“We definitely have good local support from farmers coming off the fields. It has become part of their daily routine,” Samson said. “It’s a neat little valley, and we’re getting people from Joliet to Bridger. We’re almost part of people’s families right now.”
Samson remembers taking an interest in real estate at a young age. “I begged my parents to take me to open houses, and I always read a lot of real estate magazines,” he said. “I love helping people with their investments. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping somebody get their business started.”
He said working at Walkers Grill in Billings gave him a solid understanding in how restaurants are run. One of Samson’s first listings was for the Acton Bar, which sold fairly quickly.
Consequently, he has taken a particular interest in listing restaurants. Among the nine restaurant listings he’s carrying, four are in Carbon County, one is in Stillwater County and one is in Circle.
“When I talk about restaurant properties, I still get goosebumps,” he said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? I would say the biggest challenge in both of my jobs is making sure everyone is completely satisfied. I am OCD, and with that, I want everything to be as perfect as it can be. Whether it is making sure each and every client is 100 percent satisfied, or that each guest at the restaurant leaves overly happy. I read a quote by Danny Meyer (restaurateur) “Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”
What’s the best business advice you have received? My Dad told me many years ago “You have to be aggressive in life, because no one is going to hand you anything. If you don't want something badly enough, then you don't deserve it.
Who gave you that advice? My Father
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I think it is very important to be active in the community you live, and try and give back as much as you can. I joined Rotary for that very reason, which has helped me become aware, and it will give me the tools to give back in my community where help is needed.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Besides work, I have a huge passion for the outdoors. I love being in the mountains riding four wheelers or mountain bikes, hiking, and skiing.
Which living person do you most admire? I admire my parents the most. They have both dealt with serious health issues the past 10 years, and they are the strongest people I know. When I was growing up, they both worked harder than anyone I know, and I feel that they passed that trait down to my sister Jen and me.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Helping others is how I feel that I succeed. If I helped someone exceed business goals, where it benefits them and their business, I feel that I have done a successful job.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I feel that my greatest achievement is getting to where I am in my careers, having people believe in me, and most importantly believing in myself.
I’m happiest when I’m…Surrounded by family, and with my friends racing down mountains on skis, mountain bikes, or four wheelers. Not too many people can truly say they are most happy when they are at work, but I can.
40 Under Forty: Austin Schlosser, owner, Jim and Austin's Barber Shop
Barber Austin Schlosser is happy to take just a little bit off the top and even up your sideburns. Or, if you prefer, he can fix you up with one of those buzzed-on-the-side, long-on-top haircuts that are so popular with millennials.
“That style is considered the hipster haircut, but it’s pretty much just a business haircut with short sides. A lot of times they ask for a hard part, with a razor, so that’s pretty interesting,” said Schlosser, owner of Jim and Austin’s Barber Shop at 2225 Main, St. No. 5, in the Billings Heights.
Schlosser has a number of barbers in his family tree: two great uncles and one cousin have practiced the tonsorial art.
“When I was in high school, I noticed that there weren’t too many people going into the barber field, so I went to barber school,” said Schlosser who grew up in Shepherd. Ten years after Schlosser went into business, the old fashioned barber shop has become a neighborhood fixture.
Going to an old-fashioned barber shop has proven to be popular with younger customers, Schlosser said.
Jim Teter, who sold the business to Schlosser, still comes into the shop, mostly to catch up with old friends and to handle the overflow if it gets busy.
Striking up a conversation with customers comes with the territory when you’re a barber, Schlosser said. Sports and politics are two frequent topics, although some customers prefer to talk about their jobs and families.
Shlosser said his clientele definitely leaned toward Trump prior to the 2016 election.
“Honestly, I think the Clinton supporters didn’t’ talk about politics much because they knew she was trailing in Montana,” he said. “I’m just glad the election is over.”
Some customers even opt for a straight razor shave each time they come in.
“It’s kind of like women who get their nails done. They like being pampered,” Schlosser said. “A straight razor shave is a whole process.”
When he’s not cutting hair, Schlosser gets his kicks in an activity that reminds many adults of their time in elementary PE classes. He’s the director of Go Kickball League in Billings. The league is for people who like to stay active but don't pursue competitive sports.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? I have recently started a family and I have had to close the barber shop for unexpected reasons without having coverage to stay open. I am for the most part a one-man show, so this is definitely a challenge for me.
What’s the best business advice you have received? I was told that in order to run a successful business, you have to be involved and give back to the community that you serve. Being involved in the Heights Optimists Club and The Billings Jaycees has brought great networking opportunities for me and I enjoy giving back time and money to those in need within the community of Billings.
Who gave you that advice? The North Dakota Barber Board.
Which living person do you most admire? My father, Curtiss Schlosser. He has taught me to value family, work hard for the things that I want, and live a simple life.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? I have many elderly customers, and when I am able to give them a haircut to make them feel better about themselves and bring them confidence, it brings me so much joy. I offer home visits and nursing home visits, and those customers are the most appreciative. I also enjoy the personal connections that I get to make with all of my customers at the shop.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I was able to buy a business at 19 years of age and make it grow into a profitable and growing business.
I’m happiest when I’m…in my boat on the Yellowstone catching some catfish.
40 Under Forty: Erin Stevens MD, gynecologic oncologist, department chair, Billings Clinic
Dr. Erin Stevens, a gynecologic oncologist and department chair at Billings Clinic, is an accomplished surgeon who oversees a growing practice that treats patients from throughout Montana and sees patients in parts of Wyoming and North Dakota.
But each year Stevens gets her chance to really throw some weight around. During college, Stevens was a Division III national qualifier in track. She threw the shot put, the 20-pound weight and the hammer while attending Ithaca College in New York. Her school records endured until just a few years ago.
“I still throw the shot in the Big Sky State Games,” said Stevens, who has also completed several Ironman half triathlons and received her black belt in karate at age 12.
Stevens is one of roughly 1,000 gynecology oncologists who practice in the United States. She said working at Billings Clinic has given her the opportunity to do many more cases than she would have been able to do in another city.
“In three years we have done more cases than most people do in 10 years,” she said. “This has made me a better surgeon and doctor and we’re able to deliver this amazing health care in Montana.”
“When I initially started my residency training, I had no intention of being a gynecologic oncologist. I found very quickly that I loved the gynecologic oncology patients the most — I would often be found sitting with them and talking long after my shift had ended.
"I knew early on in my career that my personality fit that of a gynecologic oncologist. I’m decisive, Type A, and absolutely love surgery — but it was the patients that truly brought me into the field.
"I finally decided to go for it after I asked my mentor during my third year of residency if he thought I could be a gynecologic oncologist. He told me yes, so I told him I would apply. When he asked me why it was that easy to convince me, I told him that he didn’t lie to his patients; he looked them in the eye and told them when they were dying.
"I knew he could have told me I couldn’t do it and then not treat me any differently the next day. And I’m so glad he thought I could do it because I simply cannot imagine doing anything else.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Delivering news to my patients and their families that they aren’t expecting. My patients know me to be blunt and candid and they come to expect and appreciate that from me. I love the relationships I create with my patients and their families, and because of this, delivering bad news sucks. And unfortunately, because I deal with cancer, I am faced with delivering bad news fairly regularly. I always try to care for my patients as I would want to be cared for, and I would want someone to be candid with me in that situation.
What’s the best business advice you have received? “Find something you love to do and then find someone dumb enough to pay you to do it.”
Who gave you that advice? My college track and field coach, Jim Nichols.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: The biggest impact I feel I can have in my community is to educate others — educate about their bodies, about cancer, about where we are in the field of medicine and where we hope to go. There’s so much misunderstanding and misinformation about cancer and healthcare and I want to do my part to dispel those things.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Travel. I love jumping on a plane to go somewhere for the weekend, ideally to catch a baseball game. My husband and I are trying to go to all of the major league baseball stadiums — we’re up to No. 12.
Which living person do you most admire? Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Success is building a team that is happy to go to work every day because we work with wonderful people. And I am so lucky to have an amazing team. (I’m interpreting profit and loss here as patient outcomes, because otherwise, success in my career is patients either being cured of their cancer or living well with cancer for as long as possible.)
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My education and career. And finding my happy place.
I’m happiest when I’m…out on a run. …hanging out with friends and family. …sitting on a beach with sand between my toes and listening to the waves. …in the operating room. I like to think I’m generally a happy person.
40 Under Forty: Dustin Strandell, director, neuroscience, pediatric and surgery service lines, St. Vincent Healthcare
Last May, St. Vincent Healthcare announced a new partnership with Primary Children’s Hospital and the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. The arrangement aims to improve the types of care available for pediatric patients in Billings, and it provides easier transfers for Montana patients who require the specialized care available in Salt Lake City.
Dustin Strandell, director of neuroscience, pediatric, and surgery service lines at St. Vincent, has been closely involved with the partnership.
“I get to work with everybody who touches the patient and participates in that program,” Strandell said.
Under the partnership, Children’s Hospital’s specialists are providing services in Billings, either in person or through the use of telemedicine, a video link which allows doctors to interact with patients from a remote site.
“It will probably be a mixture of that. There will be an onsite presence with their specialists, and telemedicine will play an essential part of it,” Strandell said. “Telemedicine is on the verge of being a major player in health care.”
“They’re a large organization in a free-standing children’s hospital. It gives us that expertise and insight on what we can adopt and implement,” Strandell said. “We should see some good progress.”
Before he became a health care administrator, Strandell worked directly with patients, but initially studied engineering in college, “I knew I wanted something different and visited the radiology program in Great Falls and enjoyed the patient interaction and the science and technology behind it. From there I completed two years of radiology training and took my first health care job in Shelby.
“I was immediately exposed to leadership, and that is when I feel like I found my passion,” Strandell said. “I held a couple different leadership positions in radiology before I was offered the opportunity at St. Vincent to move into the role of director of the Neuroscience Service Line,” he said. “I have been very fortunate that I have been offered other opportunities since then and I am able to continue to grow as a leader with the organization and to expand my knowledge.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Healthcare is changing on a daily basis and the greatest challenge we face is keeping up with the change and trying to predict where we will be as an industry in 1, 3, or 5 years. A big part of my job involves strategy and business development which means I am involved in a lot of planning for the service lines I work with and because of all the changes we are going through as an industry, it makes our tasks that much more difficult.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Don’t be afraid to think big.
Who gave you that advice? My Parents.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Be involved as much as I can through volunteering, support local nonprofits and businesses, and enjoy the great community we live in. We are fortunate to have what we have in Billings and we all need to support that.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is:
My family; spending as much time with my son and wife as possible.
Which living person do you most admire?
My father; he is my best friend and someone I have always looked up to for advice.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the impact we have on patients and their families. We are very fortunate to have the medical care we have in Billings and although I am not part of the bedside experience for these patients, being involved in the background and seeing the care patients at St. Vincent Healthcare receive continues to amaze me and is the best measure of success in my job.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My family is by far my greatest achievement. Professionally, opening the St. Vincent Regional Neuroscience Center for Brain and Spine stands out. I was able to work with a great team to open the center in 2012. Since then the center continues to thrive and offer the best neurological care to the region.
I’m happiest when I’m…
Outdoors with my wife and son, I enjoy everything outdoors and lately have been spending most of my time camping and golfing when I can.
40 Under Forty: Willy Tyler, director of programming, Connoisseur Media
Willy Tyler was just 15 years old when he landed his first radio job at KATQ in Plentywood.
He was so enthralled with the job that he’s never thought about doing anything else for a living.
“I was hooked,” Tyler said, recalling those first baby steps in what would become a long career in radio. Tyler moved to Billings in 1999 to attend a broadcasting school, May Technical College. But it went out of business before he had a chance to plug in his microphone. Undaunted, Tyler landed a job in Billings radio and has been a fixture in the industry ever since.
“I never say that I’m working,” Tyler said. “I would rather do radio, even on a hard day, than have any other job.”
Tyler is director of programming for Connoisseur Media, which operates six stations in Billings: 730 am KYYA, ESPN 910 am, KSKY 94.1, The Zone 96.3, Classic Hits My 105.9, and The Planet, 106.7.
People who work the morning shift in radio have to keep some challenging hours. Tyler arises at 4 a.m. each day. That’s by far the hardest part of the job, and it took a bit of adjustment switching from the late night slot, he said.
The Billings radio market has undergone numerous changes in recent years. Several stations have been purchased, and new owners change formats frequently. Through it all Tyler has often been called on to shoulder extra duties.
“Every time there has been a change, I’ve taken on whatever responsibility was needed,” he said. “I’ve never said no to taking on a new job or position. I love it.”
During an era in which many listeners turn to Pandora and other digital music and talk formats, Tyler continues to appreciate a bygone technology. His collection of vinyl LPs numbers in the thousands.
“I still like to pull them out,” Tyler said. “It’s interesting that LPs are making a comeback. I never really stopped loving vinyl. You can buy a record player that turns the tracks into MP3 files so you can listen to them on your iPod. I’ve been collecting records since I was a kid. Even my grandparents were music lovers. They saw Johnny Cash during the '50s.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Deadlines. Most of our day is 30 or 60 seconds at a time.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Be kind to others in media. It changes fast and you could be someone’s boss tomorrow, or they could be yours.
Who gave you that advice? A former co-worker.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Many of the problems in our community are directly related to mental health and drug abuse. We have far too many homeless adults and children for a city our size. Our stations work with the Tumbleweed Program, Family Service Inc. and the Center for Children and Families to help awareness.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Music. I have always loved live music of any genre. I probably attend more than 50 concerts a year.
Which living person do you most admire? My father. He was a police chief for many years and now helps low-income Montanans with winterization of homes.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Happiness. I love what I do, so most days it feels more like a hobby than a job.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Gaining the respect of some of this city’s radio legends. Working at a young age in an industry with lots of egos can be difficult but some of the people I most admire and respect, have shown the same to me.
I’m happiest when I’m…traveling. Some people work their whole lives so they can retire and travel. I work so I can travel now.
40 Under Forty: Jarrod Weenum, chief executive officer, Northern Rockies Healthcare Alliance
Jarrod Weenum received his first important piece of investment advice when he was just 11. A family friend suggested he should save the money he earned from mowing lawns and buy an original illustration cel from his favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo. It turns out the hand-drawn piece of art was collectible and has appreciated in value over time.
Weenum remains a fan of the cartoon mystery series, but said his friend helped him learn the concept of how investments appreciate over time.
While attending Rocky Mountain College, Weenum worked as an intern and later as a staff assistant for Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont. He was gearing up to attend law school, but a friend, Kevin Larson, invited him to apply at Employee Benefit Management Services. EBMS specializes in health risk management and third-party administration of self-funded health benefit plans.
Weenum received several promotions at EBMS, and last year was named chief executive officer of Northern Rockies Healthcare Alliance. NRHA is a partnership of SCL health and Providence Montana. The alliance aims to provide quality health care at fair prices for Montana employers. The system helps health-care providers control costs while providing better care.
He enjoys being part of an effort that aims to control health care costs.
“Throughout my career, I have worked with employers across the country helping to identify strategies to offer comprehensive benefit packages to employees while working toward making health care more affordable,” he said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Working with seven different entities who have different business cultures, philosophies and geographical challenges. Ultimately all seven medical institutions have a single goal to provide the highest quality care possible — it is my job to ensure that the care is more affordable, easier to access, and becomes more transparent. Northern Rockies Healthcare Alliance is truly changing the paradigm of how hospital care is provided.
What’s the best business advice you have received? In order to build and maintain relationships with others, a mutual respect based on honesty, ethics, and trust is crucial. My greatest sense of accomplishment comes from the relationships I have fostered throughout my 13 years in this industry.
Who gave you that advice? Rick Larson, my former employer.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I truly believe that quality healthcare is a right to all individuals and have dedicated my career to ensuring that health care is affordable. Early in my career, I was very focused on politics and later decided that I could make a bigger impact personally and professionally in an executive role. However, I continue to harness lessons I learned working for the late Sen. Conrad Burns to advocate, speak out, and provide guidance to organizations to advance healthcare in Montana and across the country.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My daughters. I have many things that I am passionate about, but they are the reason for most everything I do.
Which living person do you most admire? My father. From a young age, my dad taught me the importance of hard work, integrity, and helping those in need.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Ensuring Montanans understand how to access healthcare across the state, and that they understand what that health care will cost them. Rising healthcare costs are one of the fastest growing financial concerns among families in the United States. Conversations at government levels are ongoing as they relate to the Affordable Care Act, but this means little to health-care consumers who need to access care now. If I can help people understand the system better and help set realistic and fair cost expectations, I feel I am successful.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? The family I come home to each day after I leave the office.
I’m happiest when I’m…Traveling. My wife and I try to visit a new destination each year. Most recently we spent time in The Netherlands. Our next stop is Iceland.
40 Under Forty: Adam Zelka, MD, family medicine physician, St Vincent Healthcare
Growing up, Adam Zelka showed a knack for public speaking. He traveled with the sports teams at Hardin High School, did radio broadcasts and even thought about becoming an actor. But a funny thing happened after he started working toward a communications degree at Montana State University Billings.
“I quickly found out that I really hated the communications I was studying. I thought it was the most boring class in the world,” Zelka said. Despite his disappointment in his chosen major, Zelka thrived in his science classes. After an instructor observed that very few students had achieved such high scores on his biology tests, Zelka decided to switch majors and immersed himself in the sciences.
Zelka graduated from MSUB with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry and was accepted to the University of Washington School of Medicine. He completed the Montana Family Medicine Residency program at RiverStone Health after medical school, and is currently a family medicine physician with St. Vincent Healthcare, SCL Health and is Co-Medical Director of RiverStone Hospice.
Zelka describes his practice as providing full-spectrum primary care to newborns, pediatric patients adults and geriatric patients.
When his grandfather contracted a fatal case of stomach cancer, he realized his desire to help people cope with illness. “It wasn’t until my first year of medical school that I realized my talents were best suited for helping people prevent illness. At that point it was obvious that primary care was the perfect fit,” he said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? The overwhelming burden of insurance and governmental bureaucracy getting in the way of effective delivery of healthcare.
What’s the best business advice you have received? It’s not strictly business advice, rather a general guiding principle of life. Treat everyone you meet with the fundamental respect and decency they deserve. Do that, and you will be surprised at how receptive people are to your thoughts and ideas. This allows relationships to build on a foundation of trust and mutual respect, from which only good things will come. Basically, you reap what you sow, and often much more than you sow.
Who gave you that advice? Not one individual directly. These are lessons I’ve learned in watching my family deal with friends and neighbors, both in personal matters and in business. It was their key to success.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I strive every day to improve the lives of my patients. The health of our community must be a priority for anything else to progress.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My interests and hobbies are vast, but they all run in the same vein of history and nostalgia. I collect coins and vinyl records. I love antiques and historical artifacts. I’m a passionate reader of WWII history. But most of all I am an ardent genealogist. I’ve a strong family history of military veterans, noting family which has fought on BOTH sides of most of our major military conflicts – Americans and Germans in WWII, Yanks and Confederates in the Civil War, and even Patriots and Torries in the Revolutionary War. I’ve identified and verified ancestors dating to the 1700’s in Norway, Scotland, and Wales; the 1600’s in the Prussian Empire, and 1500’s England.
Which living person do you most admire? My Dad. He chose to be my father when he didn’t have to be, and always tried his best to provide for my brother and I. As with any family, ours was far from perfect. He faced innumerable struggles and hardships, both financial and physical, which he eventually overcame. I admire him because he never gave up and through it all remained one of the most kind, generous, and non-judgemental people I’ve known.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? When my patients are happy and healthy. A successful day for me is when at least one person tells me they are better off today than they were yesterday because of my advice/expertise.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Building my family, which feels like an even greater achievement with every passing day. I met my now-wife Tiffanee in High School and thankfully she said yes when I asked her to marry me! That, and conquering Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo when I was 8….that was pretty epic.
I’m happiest when I’m… With my family and enjoying the outdoors, whether it’s out for a walk, fishing, boating, or just cleaning up the yard.
Where are they now? Here's what some past 40 under Forty winners have been up to
Corey Stapleton, a former Republican state senator from Billings and a 40 Under Forty winner, was sworn in as Montana’s newest Secretary of State in January. Stapleton was one of three Republicans to capture the state’s top elected offices. Stapleton served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years and has been a financial planner in addition to his service in politics.
DeDe Stoner, a 2012 winner, is now the vice president and manager of the Home Loan Center of First Federal Bank and Trust, located at 1605 Shiloh Road. Stoner has more than 21 years of experience in banking and mortgage lending.
Angela Klein Hughes, a 2009 awardee, is serving as president of the Billings Association of Realtors. Her brother, Daniel Klein, was the association’s president in 2013.
Damian Forrester, a 2008 winner, has changed jobs in his real estate career. He’s now a broker with eXP Realty in Billings.
Erika Willis, a 2009 honoree, recently took over as executive director of Tumbleweed, a non-profit organization that provides emergency services for youth in crisis. Willis previously worked for Tumbleweed as a crisis counselor.
Nina Hernandez, a 2012 honoree, is now development director of Youth Dynamics, a nonprofit that helps youth with mental illness.
Clark Marten Photography, where 2015 honoree Rudi Marten works, received the Billings Gazette's 2016 Readers' Choice Awards
The family business has been operating for 30 years. Photographer Clark Marten, Rudi's dad, moved his studio from his home outside of Columbus to a building on historic Montana Avenue several years ago. Clark and Rudi work together.
“Our work has a lot of depth plus an artistic edge blurring the lines between photography and art,” Rudi said.
Dr. Kris French, a 2016 honoree, has launched an interactive website, www.mdexplain.com. French is partnered with another physician, Dr. Ben Sickler. They strive to answer their customers’ medical questions quickly and accurately, using their own extensive training.
Tina Stinson, a 2015 winner, sold her downtown baby boutique and photo studio, Ca-Layla, to Becky Salyer, this year's winner. Salyer has since renamed the store to Bumps 'n Bundles and moved it to Shiloh Crossing. Stinson has moved to Bozeman, where she still operates her photography studio, http://www.tinastinsonphotography.com.
Mac Fogelsong, vice president and chief operating officer at Sanderson Stewart, was recently elected to the firm’s board of directors. In his role as COO, Fogelsong oversees project delivery and operations. He is a 2009 40 Under Forty honoree.
Some statistics for the 2017 40 Under Forty winners
34: Average age of this year’s 40 Under 40 winners
642: Those with supervisory roles oversee or manage this many employees and volunteers
19: The number of winners who have at least one tattoo
30: The number of winners who are currently married
50: The total number of children among those who are parents
37: The number of winners who have pursued education beyond high school
22: The number who have received professional degrees beyond a bachelor’s degree