Powering You Through: The Big and The Small
October 25, 2021
When it comes down to business, Stearns Electric Association proudly provides the electricity needed to our commercial members to keep operations running as smoothly as possible. Since 1937, Stearns Electric Association has been powering businesses big and small throughout Central Minnesota.
Stearns Electric Association serves over 27,000 member-consumers including residential, agricultural, and large and small commercial accounts. Our mission is to safely deliver reliable electricity, provide beneficial energy solutions and a positive member experience to all types of members.
Over 21 percent of Stearns Electric’s members are made up of large or small commercial accounts. Electricity is necessary for these members in order to maintain day-to-day operations. The Cooperative not only strives to deliver reliable electricity to our area businesses daily, but also provides rebates for commercial accounts to help area businesses save both energy and money.
POWERING YOU THROUGH THE BIG
Though Sauk Centre-based Winters Recreation started out as a small, one-person operation in 2000, the company has grown tremendously in the past 20 years.
Today, Winters Recreation operates in a new facility and provides customized golf carts and snowmobiles, as well as service and parts, to customers nationwide.
“We operated for 17 years with no website,” owner Matt Winters recalled. “We did a lot of business either in person, at auctions or over eBay. Five years ago, we launched our website and really broadened our market nationwide. Today, 55 percent of our inventory is shipped to customers outside of Minnesota.”
Last year, in order to keep up with growing demand, Winters Recreation moved into its new facility just off of the interstate in Sauk Centre.
“We went from a 22,000 square foot building to a 55,000 square foot building last year,” he recalled. “We were right in the middle of building the new facility when the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a lot of uncertainty during that time, but we decided to move ahead with our plans anyway.”
The new operating facility was built with efficiency in mind. Winters Recreation took advantage of commercial rebates offered by Stearns Electric in order to reduce overall energy consumption and in turn, to save money on the company’s electric utility bill. These rebates included installing LED lights throughout the facility, including special LED lights in the photo booth area, and purchasing an electric forklift.
“The new LED lighting is great for taking photos,” Shelly Winters said. “Our photo booth area really allows us to show off our inventory, which is especially important when we do so much business online.”
“Electricity really does power our daily operations,” she added. “On the business side, we rely on electricity daily to run our computers, manage our website, track our inventory and communicate with our customers, among other things.”
“Additionally, as the golf cart industry grows and adjusts, especially as the demand for electric golf carts continues to increase, our reliability on technology and electricity, especially in the form of lithium batteries, continues to increase, too,” Matt explained.
POWERING YOU THROUGH THE SMALL
Reliable electricity is essential for powering small businesses, too. Lindsay Salzbrun and her former business partner started White Peony boutique in Lindsay’s home basement back in 2018. In 2019, Salzbrun opened her official storefront right off of Highway 15 in southwest St. Cloud, near St. Augusta and Luxemburg.
“I always knew I wanted to have my own store since I was a little girl,” Salzbrun recalled. “Life was getting pretty busy and I quickly realized it was too short to not go for it.”
With the support of her husband and family, Salzbrun operated out of her basement for a while until she outgrew the space. In 2019, she was in need of a more permanent storefront. She found an existing location close to home and completed the necessary renovations for the boutique.
Since opening the boutique, White Peony has relied on the electricity to power the store’s computers, lighting and, perhaps most importantly, the technology needed for the live online sales events for customers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic forced the boutique to pivot very unexpectedly,” Salzbrun explained. “We shifted to selling our products completely via live online sales. Thankfully, we had some experience doing live sales prior to the pandemic and we received great feedback from our customers during those months of uncertainty. We also made some really great connections with people during that time.”
White Peony also took advantage of commercial efficiency rebates offered through the Cooperative. Instead of a traditional air conditioner, White Peony installed a ductless air source heat pump (ASHP) to keep the building cool in the summertime.
“During the really hot weeks of summer we had this year, the unit kept up nicely with the heat,” Salzbrun said. “Keeping the store cool is especially important to keep our shoppers comfortable and help us keep our clothing in top shape.”
Though the boutique is again open for in-person shopping, White Peony still ships out between 200 and 400 packages per week from its online sales.
“Through our website, online sales and live events, we are able to reach customers in multiple states, including Arizona, Colorado, Texas, New York and even Hawaii, among others,” she concluded.
Whatever the size of your business, big or small, taking advantage of energy efficiency rebates is a win-win for both you and Stearns Electric. After all, it’s your power. Our mission is to help you use it wisely. Visit www.stearnselectric.org to learn more about the many commercial, industrial and agricultural rebates available.
Stearns Electric Association has a team of energy experts that focus on business development. This team is available to support businesses of any size review their energy needs and explore potenital efficiency solutions. Contact our Energy Services team during our business hours to inquire about available options for your business at (800) 962-0655.
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