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10 Dane County small businesses making a difference

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Terso Solutions — Madison
Joe Pleshek, CEO/President

Terso Solutions Inc. provides automated inventory management solutions for tracking high-value medical and scientific products. They are a market leader in the development and application of RFID solutions that enable health care and life science organizations to better manage their supply chains. The company has grown significantly since it was founded in 2005 with only six people; today Terso has 39 employees and sees steady year-to-year revenue growth. Terso is extremely committed to its employees and provides healthy food options, exercise facilities, telecommuting and flexible work options, education reimbursement, and paid training for both personal and professional growth. Terso offers the following advice to other small businesses: The adage “culture trumps strategy, every time” holds true for businesses of any size. Building a diverse team brought together by a common set of core values will lead companies to achieve astounding things.

Tingalls Graphic Design LLC — Fitchburg
Tara Ingalls, Owner/Creative Director

Since 2000, Tingalls Graphic Design has been dedicated to providing its clients with beautiful, eye-catching marketing solutions to help them stand out in a crowded marketplace. Tingalls offers logo design, website development and search engine optimization, print collateral, social media design, tradeshow planning, and much more. The company actually started as a freelance graphic design firm in 2000 as a way for Tara Ingalls to generate enough client work to allow her to work from home and start a family. Now in its 16th year, Tingalls boasts eight employees. There is a high value placed on fun in the workplace — including regular office card games — and Tingalls’ open floor plan offers collaboration, constructive feedback, and skill development for its employees. Tingalls also offers pro bono or low-cost graphic design services to nonprofits through its Giving Tree Program.

Total Care Dental — Madison
Brett Clark and Jason Vandehaar, Doctors and Owners

Total Care Dental is committed to creating an all-around positive dental experience for individuals and families by providing a fun, friendly atmosphere to bring out everyone’s best smiles. They have a team of compassionate dental professionals who are devoted to providing only the best, most comprehensive oral health care and dental services. TCD has been around for 42 years and grown from seven employees and two dentists to 16 employees and two dentists today, with discussions about adding a third dentist to the team. TCD treats its staff like family by offering employees a summer schedule where they can work three days a week to have more time with their families. The company also took the entire staff and their families to Disney World two years ago. And TCD has established a program called “Share A Smile” where free dentistry is provided every second Thursday of the month to clients from St. Vincent de Paul, Middleton Outreach Ministry, and Our Lady of Hope Clinic who need dental work but are unable to afford it.

Yahara Bay Distillers — Madison
Nick and Catherine Quint, Owners

Yahara Bay Distillery — the first distillery in Madison, and second in Wisconsin — was founded in 2007. What was intended to be a side project in retirement for the Nick and Catherine Quint quickly turned into more than either of them had planned. In almost nine years, the family run company has grown from producing three products to more than 40. Products range from bourbon and brandy to rum and liqueurs, and they are distributed in 20 different states. Yahara Bay has grown more than 25% each year and now employs 12 full-time workers, with even more growth on the way in the form of a 20,000-square-foot distillery and event center scheduled to open this fall. Yahara Bay also does little things to say thank you to its employees on a consistent basis, including providing employees with grocery store gifts cards a week before Thanksgiving as well as reserving rooms at a local hotel/water park for each employee and their family. In addition, Yahara Bay has been a large supporter of the LGBT community. The company developed “Pride Vodka,” a product created to help celebrate and promote the beautiful differences we share in this community and beyond. A portion of each bottle sold goes to local organizations that support the LGBT community.

One final award was presented at this year’s Small Business Awards ceremony, in recognition of an individual who has devoted his career to promoting small businesses.

The 2016 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award was presented to Neil Lerner, who has spent the past 20 years directing the Small Business Development Center at UW–Madison, which provides no-cost confidential consulting for small businesses. The center consults with hundreds of clients annually, helping launch new businesses and assisting small business owners with obtaining the capital they need to get their business off the ground. On top of this, Lerner lead and coordinated the Dane County Small Business Awards program for 20 years, prior to taking a new position as the associate state director for the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center, where he will take his skills across the entire state to assist small businesses.

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