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2019 Small Business of the Year

I nominate “Attics to Basements Building and Renovations” and David Vinje for this year’s “Business of the Year” award. First, I want to say that I recognize that this award typically goes to larger businesses, ones with higher visibility as major employers and deep-pockets contributors within the community. Those businesses have all been worthy honorees and valuable community members. That having been said I want to draw your attention to the other end of the business spectrum, the small personal businesses that make up the bulk of our Chamber members. My nomination aims to recognize one of the fine “one-man” enterprises which are the backbone of much of our economy, and our Chamber. This year I encourage the Chamber to recognize a small business that truly epitomizes what American enterprise is supposed to embody, namely quality, value, corporate-citizenship, community involvement, sound business practices and personal honesty and integrity.

I have known David for years as both a chamber member and community member. I have worked with him on various events and committees and have come to know him as a friend as well as a business associate. In 2017 Tanna and I engaged David in a building project which was very important to us. We were delighted that this project was an unqualified success. The building came in on-time, on-spec, and on-budget, which is both the “gold standard” for what you want in a contractor and a relatively scarce outcome! We could not have been happier with our association with Attics to Basements.

The real test of David’s business came on February 5 of 2018 when we were greeted by the horror of a smoke-filled kitchen. Thankfully the Fire Department arrived within minutes and our home was saved. After the fire fighters pronounced us safe and sound, we found ourselves standing in a wet, smoky, filthy, mess, basically shell shocked and clueless how to proceed. I called David and within 15 minutes he was standing in our kitchen assessing the damage. Within 30 minutes he had plumbers and electricians securing the house. David immediately began working with our insurance company, and the clean-up process began the very next day. The smoke damage proved to be much more extensive than I ever thought possible, and what followed was the complete remodeling of our 100 year old home, which included a thoroughly modern upgrade of plumbing and electric systems, demolition of what seemed to be a billion pounds of old plaster, new floors, the replacement and restoration of antique wood work, as well as a few major re-thinks of floor plan and functionality. Over the next 10 months our home was completely rebuilt with great sensitivity to its age and style, and it is now a beautiful and fully up-to-date home ready to serve for the next 100 years! This was truly an “attic to basement” project.
But wait, there’s more! In July 2018 we suffered a major flood incident at our business, and so in the midst of our house project I called on Attics to Basements to do emergency flood remediation on two levels of a secured building. Once again David grabbed hold of the project and made it happen, and the result is beautiful.

So that’s three times that I have been a client of David’s in the course of about 20 months. A “normal” project, a “crisis” project, and a “business” project, and David has scored 3 out of three on-time, on- spec, and on-budget results. Three quality outcomes. Three great experiences.

But there is more to my nomination than my personal experiences. I have known David as a Chamber member for a long time, and have witnessed his involvement, commitment, and leadership in both Chamber and community activities. He gives his time and talent. He has been a tireless booster for the Chamber. He has made the Chamber stronger. He has made the community stronger. He has been and done exactly what we all say we want to see in a chamber member, and in my view the Chamber and all its members should look to David as a model of what we want small businesses, and small business people, to be.

My final point is perhaps my most important. As a banker I see how many businesses operate. I get an inside view of many people’s values and character. I see what makes them tick, and what matters to them. I see what they want their legacy to be. The key to David’s current and future success is and will remain that he is a person of high integrity. He is honest, decent, and a man of his word. He stands behind his work not because he is contractually obligated to do so, but because he has personally promised to do so, and his word counts. His reputation is at stake, and he will always rise to that high level of performance and honesty that together we call “character”. Those few words say it all, and David exemplifies “character” in business, in friendship, in the way he is raising his children, and as a neighbor and community member. Businesses like Attics to Basements are the foundation of a healthy business community, and people like David are the foundation of a great and decent place to live. We all are beneficiaries of sharing Elk River with David.

Thank you for considering this nomination of Attics to Basements and David Vinje for this year’s PACE business of the year award. It is my most sincere hope that the Chamber will this year bestow this great honor on a small, but truly outstanding contributor to our community, and give David the recognition he so truly deserves.