MONROE – Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) announced its annual business and leadership award-winners during its Annual Meeting and Recognition Dinner on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in Monroe.

Winners were Outstanding Business, The Morning Mug in Monticello, owned by Tracy Bartels; Entrepreneurial Spirit, Chris and Ryan Wild, owners of Badger State Cold Storage in Monroe; and Mike Sanders, who recently retired after being CEO and president of Monroe Clinic for 18 years.

Outstanding Business

Tracy Bartels, owner of The Morning Mug, is shown with GCDC Executive Director Cara Carper.

The Outstanding Business of the Year honors a business that has demonstrated exemplary commitment to Green County’s economic growth. This business will have made a significant improvement to strengthen its market position or will have overcome an obstacle affecting the company’s ability to grow. The winner was The Morning Mug, owned by Tracy Bartels.

In the few years that The Morning Mug has been in business, it’s quickly established itself as a thriving community gathering spot in Monticello, GCDC Executive Director Cara Carper said.

“Morning Mug is a fresh, clean, and inviting business with great food, located in the center of downtown Monticello.  You walk in the front door and all the stresses of your outdoor life are left behind you.  It is a wonderfully friendly environment,” Monticello resident Susan Sinnett said in nominating the business. Sinnett believes so much in what The Morning Mug has brought to Monticello that she nominated the business in both the Outstanding Business and Entrepreneurial Spirit categories.

“It certainly is here for the community and beyond as we have seen with the Green County Piano Teachers holding their annual event in Monticello after no longer having Walmart or Shopko available to them in Monroe.  The Morning Mug gets an Excellent Rating in my book.”

Monticello village trustee John Teasdale also nominated The Morning Mug for Outstanding Business. His concise nomination echoed Sinnett’s comments: “Excellent food and coffee, great atmosphere, very friendly.”

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Badger State Cold Storage owners Ryan Wild and Chris Schindler are shown with GCDC Executive Director Cara Carper.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award honors an entrepreneur with a hunger for opportunity, a growth mindset, a willingness to learn, a willingness to find solutions to challenges and problems, and a strong work ethic. Earning the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award were Chris Schindler and Ryan Wild of Badger State Cold Storage.

Like all successful entrepreneurs, winners of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, Chris Schindler and Ryan Wild, saw a need and helped fulfil it, Carper said. In this case, the two recognized the need for a cold/freezer storage facility in the community – and the result was Badger State Cold Storage.

“Green County and its surrounding counties have a significant impact on the agricultural industry in our state. This storage facility has attracted cheese, butter, meat processors, and other manufacturers with its location in Monroe,” Woodford State Bank said in nominating Badger State Cold Storage. Badger State Cold Storage is 68,000 square feet and can hold 10,248 pallets, which translates to about 520 semi-loads of product. It includes state-of-the-art inventory tracking. From start to finish, the project took approximately 18 months to complete.

“There is a common vested interest in this business between local investors, local financing, and local suppliers.” “This project has fulfilled an essential need in our community. The owners have shown substantial determination and drive to take this business to the next level,” Woodford State Bank said.

Leadership Award

The Richard B. Schmied Leadership Award, which honors an individual who exemplifies the character of a true leader:  Mike Sanders was named the winner.

Mike Sanders

“Those of us who have had the pleasure to work with Mike Sanders know he is a true leader,” Carper said. “Ron Spielman was able to distill what makes Mike a truly great leader down into four strengths and I’d like to share a few of his thoughts.”

The first of these four strengths that Mike Sanders exhibits is Leadership by Example: “Mike greets virtually everyone by first name, in a manner that speaks of collaboration, not direction. Mike freely shares recognition. He makes time to be visible when and where our leader needs to be seen,” Spielman said.

The second strength is Empowerment: He encourages “members of the team to be responsible, to take ownership, to be proud of their accomplishments. Mike creates expectations, but doesn’t micromanage the process and he allows to quietly learn from some of our mistakes,” Spielman said. He lifts people up, and practices kindness towards others.

Then there’s culture: “Mike’s guidance helped build a strong culture of caring … for our patients, for the communities we serve, and for each other has evolved and is evidenced by strong patient satisfaction as well as employee satisfaction and retention,” Spielman said.

Finally, Sanders is a true Community Servant: “Mike is not just a joiner,” Spielman said. “Organizations like United Way, Monroe Main Street, GCDC, Kiwanis, Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin and Fowler Dental have benefitted from Mike’s personal mentoring and leadership. Our community and region has benefited because Mike became involved and demonstrated to other how they too can be community servants.”

Rick Dickinson

Keynote speaker for the Annual Meeting was Rick Dickinson, President and CEO of Greater Dubuque Development Corporation.