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St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses/Individual for 2021

Angela Popenhagen, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of Aster Beverage (City of New Richmond), Alms Creative (City of Hudson), and Indue (Town of Hudson) as recipients of the 2021 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

Ruthie Johnston is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization championing economic development through innovation and actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents.

They will be honored during an online celebration scheduled for Thursday, February 24, 2022, starting at 5:00 o’clock p.m.

“The 2021 honorees represent the very best of business and industry in St. Croix County,” said EDC President Angela Popenhagen. “Each possess unique characteristics that sets them apart as leaders in their respective fields,” she added.

About the 2021 Honorees
Aster Beverage is the 2021 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The company was formed in late 2020 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Watt Beverage, Inc. and commenced operations in New Richmond last year in a previously vacant facility in the city’s business park. Aster operates as a beverage manufacturer specializing in ready-to-drink and ready-to-serve functional beverages, hard and nonalcoholic sparkling products, and as a contractual co-packer for other beverage companies. The co-packing partners are local, regional, and national operations. The company is led by Tom Meyer and a number of partners who have ownership interests in Big Watt Beverage and the limited liability company which own the real estate and capital equipment at 1280 Madison Avenue.

Alms Creative is the 2021 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). It is a full service video production agency with over 25 years of experience in all phases of production. Based in Hudson, Alms Creative is owned and led by William (Bill) Alms. The company was launched in 2013 and used Alms’ passion of storytelling with nonprofit organizations as its foundation. Alms and staff rely on their respective keen eyes and focus to produce authentic awareness and content for clients. In late 2021, Alms Creative was awarded two Gold Marcom awards for marketing and communication excellence. Bill Alms serves as an alderperson on the Hudson Common Council and represents constituents in the city’s second district.

Indue is the 2021 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Indue is led by Tom Scanlan. The company has been in St. Croix County since 2004 and has grown from five employees in 2000, to 20 in 2004, and to over 100 including the associates in a Michigan sales office. Indue provides flooring services to companies in the food industry sector throughout the upper Midwest, east central and southern U.S., as well as Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. Reflective customers include Mead Johnson, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Incorporated, and American Crystal Sugar.

Ruthie Johnston is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award. She is the CEO of Croix Gear and Machining in Hudson. Her story is one of opportunity within a tragedy. In 2010, Ruthie’s husband Mark unexpectedly passed away. Ruthie was not involved in the family’s manufacturing business, but was thrust in the leadership role of running the company. Although not prepared, she stepped into the CEO role of then-named Marine Associates. From Day One, she asked her leadership team for assistance and grew into the role of the leader. The company name was changed to Croix Gear to more accurately reflect the manufactured products. Numerous metrics and goals were introduced along with a 23,000 square foot addition in 2016. Through the efforts of Ruthie and her leadership team, Croix Gear continues to prosper. The company’s tagline is Precision with Purpose. Her success is testament to learning and adapting.

Event Details
This is the 28th business awards program conducted by St. Croix EDC. The online event is open to the public but reservations are required. Additional details on connecting to the event will follow.

About St. Croix EDC
The EDC was established in 1994 as a public-private business league that operates as the independent economic development arm of St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Reflective activities include marketing and communication, business retention, business expansion, business recruitment, new business incorporations, workforce development, and advocacy on behalf of business and industry. Initiatives taken by St. Croix EDC help improve the business climate of St. Croix County, allowing businesses, large and small, to grow and prosper.

For more information, contact William Rubin or Nita Dusek at (715) 381-4383.