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EDC Honors Business Of The Year Winners

2023 Business of the Year honorees
(l to r) Bill Rubin (Directors Award), Ender Gocmen of Barbell Coffee (Emerging Business of the Year), Dave Brummel of Aves Studio (Small Buiness of the Year), Doug Audette of Ciranda (Business of the Year) and St. Croix EDC Executive Director Melissa Meschke.

On February 22nd, St. Croix EDC honored its 2023 Business of the Year winners at a banquet hosted by Kilkarney Hills Golf Course in River Falls, Wisconsin. The 2023 honorees included Barbell Coffee (City of CIty of River Falls; ‘Emerging Business of the Year’); Aves Studio (Town of Troy; ‘Small Business of the Year’); and Ciranda (City of Hudson; ‘Business of the Year’). William (Bill) Rubin received the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization in honor of contributions to economic development through innovative actions, making St. Croix County a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Krista Paulus, the EDC’s 2023-24 President, served as the evening’s emcee.

About the Winners:
Started in 2021, Barbell Coffee is a family-owned specialty coffee roaster. They feature small batch, single origin, roast-to-order, organic specialty coffee. They offer a signature-series coffee line of light, medium, decaf, and dark roast coffees as well as seasonal blends and limited-run single origin coffees throughout the year. Barbell Coffee’s differentiator is its use of single-origin, specialty coffees combined with its roast-to-order platform, which delivers customers with extremely-fresh roasted premium coffees. Their e-commerce platform allows customers to buy directly or set up flat-rate, custom subscriptions where customers can select coffee type, roast level, amount and delivery frequency – all at a flat rate. They do not have a retail location but actively seek out retail wholesale accounts. Barbell Coffee’s commitment to quality coffee, customer service, and hard work is the foundation for their tagline: Don’t drink weak coffee. Drink Barbell Coffee.

The sign “Aves Taxidermy and Cheese” has been known as a local landmark in the community for over 40 years. What you probably don’t know is that they manufacture multiple types of self-hardening clays and machés and sell them in over 38 countries. Their products are used in the Smithsonian & Chicago Field Museum for wildlife art and artifact repairs; by the MN Zoo, Georgia Aquarium and Disney for habitat and character displays, by coral reef restoration divers, and countless artists and YouTube influencers worldwide.

Founded in 1994 by Brazilian-born Hans Friese, together with his wife, Joan, Ciranda has been the premier North American provider of certified organic, non-GMO and Fair-Trade food ingredients. In 2017 Ciranda’s founders transferred company ownership into the hands of the employees in the form of an ESOP and remains 100% employee-owned today.

Ciranda’s mission is to “create connections that nourish life” and focus efforts in meaningful ways that are better for people and the planet. As a part of this mission, they are also committed to contributing a portion of their net income to enrich local and global communities each year. In 2023, Ciranda donated over $45,000.00 locally, as well as contributed to important life-enhancing projects in underserved communities across the globe. Ciranda is fully committed to sustainability and economic fairness for all.

William (Bill) Rubin retired in September 2023 after a 27 year career as the Executive Director of St. Croix EDC. Mr. Rubin was a fierce advocate for the St. Croix River Crossing, and spent 15 years working towards making the bridge a reality. He planned and led the first ever St. Croix Valley Legislative Day, bringing issues specific to the greater St. Croix Valley region to Madsion, which has since become an annual event. He had a hand in numerous business recruitment and expansion successes, and offered assistance finding grant money of all types. Rubin was a tireless worker with the county, boards and commissions, chambers of commerce, and other local and statewide organizations.

Each of the winners received a plaque from the EDC as well as a Legislative Citation from the State Senate and Assembly in Madison, and congratulatory letters from Missy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); State Senator Stafsholt and US Senator Tammy Baldwin.

Past business of the year winners and recipients of the EDC Directors Award were introduced during the program.

An estimated 135 people attended the awards dinner and helped celebrate the accomplishments of the honorees.

The 30th annual awards banquet was sponsored by St. Croix County, Derrick Building Solutions, Xcel Energy, Bakke Norman Law Offices, Royal Credit Union, Market & Johnson, St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Baldwin LightStream, Citizens State Bank, Croix Gear, Eckberg Lammers, First National Bank of River Falls, First State Bank and Trust, FNC Bank, Hiawatha Bank, Hudson Hospital & Clinic, Northwood Tech, Nucor, OEM Fabricators, Security Financial Bank, Westfields Hospital & Clinic, WBD, and JA Counter.