Company helps small businesses

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2003

A new business in town is helping other local small businesses succeed.

Mark Hanson, a 1986 graduate of Austin High School, started Hansmark Development Company in January. Hanson consults small businesses in the area and is contracted to help with economic development in Dodge County.

The work combines the experience he has gathered the past 13 years.

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He has a business background, working as a business consultant for 7-11 stores for Southland Company in California. For two years, he helped economic development on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota. That job allowed to him to help small businesses market themselves and thrive. He also has worked with cities in southeastern Minnesota with the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation, based in Rushford.

With that job he helped initiate development projects in small towns, but he found he also wanted to help small businesses succeed.

Hansmark allows him to do both.

He spends two days a week doing consulting work for Dodge County, which involves working with six cities. The other three days he spends helping local small businesses.

Most recently, he has been helping Arnie's Meats & Seafood in Austin. The business, owned by Chad Retterath, recently received a business loan from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation thanks to Hanson's

help. The business loan will be used to strengthen its retail route sales and services to businesses and homes in the Midwest.

Angela Neuman, office manager at Arnie's, has been working with Hanson. He approached the business about a year ago and Arnie's decided to try out his consulting services this year. He has since been working with them on inventory controls and marketing techniques.

"He can come and look at things with a third eye," Neuman said.

Hanson helps businesses with profit margins and business practices and also develops brochures and helps them with media relations. Some businesses request help in some areas and not in others, Hanson said.

To determine what a company needs, Hanson meets with a potential client free of charge.

"If I can help, that's when I start charging," Hanson said.

Consulting is $50 an hour and any media work is $65 an hour.

"If you feel you're not getting what I said I was going to get you, we can renegotiate," Hanson said.

Often, one of the first things Hanson does is try to get the business a grant to pay for his services.

Hanson also finds that consulting works relates to one of his majors at Minnesota State University at Mankato -- psychology.

"The word counselor and consultant are very similar," Hanson said.

Often in small businesses, families or married couples are the owners. Hanson sometimes works through relationship issues as well as business strategy with his clients.

Hanson said his local connections help him meet more clients. He also tries to use local businesses to help in his work.

"Since I deal with mom and pop shops, I try to support local people as much as possible," Hanson said.

For more information on Hansmark Development Company, call Mark Hanson at (507) 438-2640 or e-mail him at

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at