Businesses of the Year celebrated

Sewing Seeds Quilt Company founders Ann Wendinger (left) Cindy Wendinger (center) and Jackie Forst thanked family and friends for helping Sewing Seeds thrive in New Ulm and earn Business of the Year 2019. The sewing company’s sign represents the three founders coming together.

NEW ULM — The 2019 Business of the Year banquet was held at the Best Western Plus Tuesday to honor Sewing Seeds Quilt Company and Citizens Bank Minnesota.

The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce Board broke with tradition by naming two businesses this year. The board chose both after being unable to choose between the two worthy businesses.

Friends, family and employees of the co-businesses of the year turned out in full support to honor Sewing Seeds and Citizens.

Ann Wendinger spoke on behalf of Sewing Seeds. She began by thanking their fellow business of the year. She said Citizens Bank had been with them since the beginning and it was great to share it with them.

Wendinger thanked all the family and employees that made it possible to run Sewing Seeds. She encouraged everyone to spread the positive side of running businesses in New Ulm and avoid the negative.

Current Citizens Bank President Lou Geistfeld (right) and the next-in line for president Mark Denn, thanked the Chamber of Commerce board for the selection as Business of the Year 2019. Geistfeld and Denn are both proud of their bank’s volunteer spirit.

Sewing Seeds Quilt Company was established in 2012 by Ann Wendinger, Jackie Forst and Cindy Wendinger. In a few years they rose to the top by receiving national recognition as a top 10 shop in a 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. This brought them to the forefront of the industry and put the area river valley in the spot light.

Sewing Seeds has also assisted with charitable donations through the Sewing For Sight fundraiser held in St. George each year.

Citizens Bank President Lou Geistfeld spoke on behalf of Citizens Bank. He thanked Sewing Seeds for sharing this honor with his bank. Citizens Bank is one of the oldest banks in Minnesota, having been chartered in 1876. Its main office is located in downtown New Ulm, with branches in Lafayette, La Salle and Lakeville. The 95 employees take great pride in volunteering and helping neighbors and clients through financial assistance and partnerships or volunteerism.

“If I want a volunteer, all I have to do is ask and get out of the way,” Geistfeld said. “I know they will run with it.”

Geistfeld said it was an honor to be Business of the Year in 2019. It was recently announced Geistfeld would be retiring after this year. Mark Denn will take over as president in 2020.

Denn wished to thank Citizens Bank for encouraging community work throughout his career with the bank, which allowed him to work on the Madelia Fire Department and serve as an assistant coach.

Chamber of Commerce President Audra Shaneman said the Business of the Year celebration was given every year to recognize the great businesses in the community.

“Culture is not what you say,” Shaneman said “but what we celebrate.”

The chamber has recognized businesses in the New Ulm area since 1974. Each year the board makes its selection based on a business’s involvement with the chamber and community, and economic impact in the area.

Even though Sewing Seed and Citizens Bank are completely different businesses, both have had a significant community impact and helped put New Ulm on the map.

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