Embracing Business Ideals
This is one principle that Lana Siewert-Olson '86 and Joan Siewert-Cardona '87 gleaned from their Concordia education.
Siewert-Olson and Siewert-Cardona are president and vice president, respectively, at Ideal Printers, St. Paul, Minn. The sisters were recently named Women Business Owners of the Year by the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
When you walk into Ideal Printers, you won't hear raised voices or expletives. This is the kind of culture of respect and loyalty that got their business named to the Star Tribune's 100 Best Workplaces. The sisters built on the foundation that their parents established at the business' conception in 1979.
"I love walking prospective clients or employees through on a tour," says Siewert-Olson. "I'm able to tell them that this employee has been here 31 years, this one 26, this one 18 and so on. Our employees genuinely care about each other and the company."
Employees at Ideal have embraced the idea of team through the good times and the bad. They all took a 10 percent pay cut in 2008 rather than having positions be cut. Now, business is back in the black, and full pay has been restored.
"After the many challenges and changes to our industry in recent years, we feel victory to be standing strong and growing today," says Siewert-Cardona.
Both sisters studied business at Concordia and know their experiences have influenced how they run their business. Siewert-Cardona's internship in Mexico City was one experience that helped to build her self-confidence to succeed in business. Siewert-Olson started volunteering at Concordia and has built volunteerism and supporting charities into the culture of Ideal Printers.
"We try to support our client's charitable efforts, whether by sponsoring the print for those programs or organizing an 'Ideal team' for their fundraising walk or event," she says. "We also sponsor employee volunteer events like working at the food shelf, clothing, toy and food drives, matching dollars for a charity that our employees choose every year."
Siewert-Olson now serves as a business mentor each year for a Concordia student, and she loves the opportunity to give back. She encourages current students to utilize their mentors and build networks.
"People like to help people they like. Stay in touch with them," she says. "When you get out into the real world, one of them may be the resource you need to help you get that perfect job after college!"