Posts Tagged: Hotel Winneshiek

April 2019 Calendar!

April 2019! We’re really getting into the spring of things around here! How about you? Let’s get out and have some fun! There’s lots of it to be had – start your planning with this handy-dandy April 2019 calendar (you can download the pdf here). Enjoy! XO, Inspire(d)

Check out these great April 2019 activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

6. April 11: The Queen of Bluegrass Rhonda Vincent plays Potter Auditorium, Chatfield Center for the Arts. $29-39 in advance, $+5 at the door. Concert at 7:30pm.

7. April 12: Volunteer Fair. Hotel Winneshiek ballroom, Decorah. 2 to 6 p.m. Learn about volunteer opportunities. No obligation. Volunteering enhances quality of life! or 563-277-5181

8. April 27: Decorah Time Trials Mtn. Bike Race! Since 1990! Long / Short / Kids Courses on technical single track. Entry $30.00 day of – proceeds to park projects. Info: Richard (Deke) Gosen (319) 382-0421 / rgosen@gmail .com or

9. April 27: Ocean Odyssey: Rays! At the Decorah Public Library (Presented by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium) – April 27, 2019 at 11 am & 1 pm. A family program, with touch tank, about the unique adaptations of rays and the role they play in the environment. Pre-registration is required at


What We’re Loving: Driftless Winter 2015-16


A little list of what we think is awesome in the Driftless Region right now…


Hotel Winneshiek + Fun Events

Have we mentioned how lucky we feel to have the beautiful Hotel Winneshiek operating in our community? It is a seriously amazing anchor to Downtown Decorah – the renovation of the historical property in 2000 brought new life and new businesses to (the already pretty hopping) Water Street, and it’s not too shabby to look at, either.

In more recent years, the Hotel Winneshiek has also been a hub of fun activity. Their new motto is “The Welcome is Real” – they hope folks will think of the terrazzo-floored lobby as the community living room, and the Steyer Opera House as a place to dance and have fun. To drive this notion home, they’ve hosted some pretty cool events – ranging from their “Live in the Lobby” music series to the dead-of-the-winter Winneshiek Music Festival. This whole “why have it if you don’t use it” mentality is one we can get behind. Seriously – get that China out of the cupboard, people! And get those butts off the couch for some of these great events:

Winneshiek Wedding Market, January 24, 2016 – Three floors of wedding fun! We think the idea of strolling all around the Hotel, mimosa in-hand, as you plan your wedding sounds like a lot of fun. Details at

Winneshiek Music Festival, January 29-31, 2016 – There’s a great line-up of local and regional favorites for this year’s fest! Check out the poster on page 18!

Live in the Lobby, Sundays and Tuesdays (schedule starts again in spring, with occasional pop-ups this winter) – Free music performances in the Hotel lobby! Check Hotel Winneshiek Facebook page for details.



Grown-Up Coloring Books! Sonja Emily, Chuck U, etc.

OK, ok, ok… so you may have already caught the ‘rage’ of coloring books for grown-ups. It’s everywhere! What’s the big deal about coloring? Many psychologists are saying filling in those blank little spaces with color is the next best thing to meditation – that it’s a huge stress-reliever and a great way to relax the mind. It’s become so popular, in fact, that almost half of the best-selling books on Amazon (Dec 2015) are adult coloring books.

Lucky for us, some local and regional artists have jumped on board the coloring train. And we totally love that! Check out this issue’s “Paper Project” from Luther grad / Minneapolis artist Sonja Emily. She currently has coloring gift cards for sale at Milkhouse Candles and Gifts in Decorah, and is rumored to be stocking them up with some coloring books soon, too. We love her fun and whimsical work (you can get more details about Sonja on page 32). One of our other favorite Minneapolis artists, “Chuck U” has also turned several of his incredible – and often totally intricate – works into a totally entertaining coloring book, plus our local Dragonfly Books (you can read more about THEM on page 24) has a great variety of coloring books to choose from too! Hooray for creative outlets for, truly, anyone!



Neste Valley Reserve / Dry Run Trail

Back in 2013, the Neste Family partnered with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Winneshiek County Conservation board to start the process of converting their 170-acre heritage farm into a new park just outside of Decorah. The INHF was able to secure the property from the family and will transfer it to the Winneshiek County Conservation Board once fundraising on the million-dollar project has been completed. The property encompasses an impressive span of land including oak savannas, wetlands, and one mile of the Dry Run Creek, which will all be permanently protected as parkland. It’s the first new park established by WCC in 21 years! Exciting!

The property will also be the link that will allow an 8-mile Dry Run Trail to connect the Trout Run and Prairie Farmer Trails in Calmar via Highway 52. That would make over 43 miles of nonstop trail in Northeast Iowa! We love this vision, and want to encourage our readers to donate to the INHF in the name of this project – they still need $235,000 to make it happen! Getting this park in action would be an amazing gift to pass on to future generations (and a great way to start Living Generously). Find more information at or by contacting Winneshiek County Conservation at or 563-534-7145.



Luren Singers / Dave Judisch to receive The Medal of St. Olav

DaveJudishWe love the Nordic roots that run so very deep in our little Northeast Iowa community, and it would be hard to embody the Decorah/Nordic connection more than the Luren Singing Society has for the past 148+ years. This group lives up to its motto “We Love to Sing” – in Norwegian, to boot. Although the Society has humble roots, as it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018, others are taking notice as well. Earlier this fall, the Norwegian Honorary Consul General notified long-time director Dr. David Judisch that he had been awarded The Medal of St. Olav by His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.

The medal is awarded to only a handful of honorees each year in recognition of “outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country.” It is an award of high-distinction given to non-Norwegian citizens. Judisch has directed the Luren singers for over 40 years, and has been in director-in-chief of the NSAA (Norwegian Singers Association of America) for over 30. During that time he has also helped lead seven tours of male choir singers to Norway to perform and travel. Judisch will be presented the award on February 4, 2016 at the Luther College Convocation in the CFL. Congrats to Dr. Judisch and the Luren Singing Society! For more information and performance schedules, visit:


Sum of Your Business: Brett Reese


By Aryn Henning Nichols • All photos courtesy Brett Reese

PartnersIf ever a person were “born an entrepreneur”, it would be Brett Reese. Reese is one most inspiring business professionals I’ve ever met. We recently chatted about business beginnings and parents’ lessons in money over breakfast at Restauration in the Hotel Winneshiek – one the properties maintained by Rebound Hospitality, a Northfield, Minnesota, company owned by Reese (pictured, far left) and his business partners Jennifer Sawyer and Todd Byhre.

“I still remember the first dollar my brother and I saved. We pooled all our change together to get this one bill. But then we realized there was only one – who gets to keep it?!” he says with a laugh. “We agreed we’d have to share it.” That was just the beginning of Reese’s investment partnerships and doing nothing – business-wise – alone.

Born and raised in Castle Rock, Minnesota, Reese went to Luther College in Decorah. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in accounting and political science and passed the CPA exam as a senior. After graduation, he worked as an auditor with Grant Thornton in Minneapolis. While continuing this “day job”, he made the leap into self-owned business ventures in 1982 with the purchase (with a partner) of a Northfield pub, where, coincidentally, Reese logged many an hour working in his younger years.

He currently calls Northfield home with daughters Meredith and Milly. It also serves as the birthplace and home office of Rebound. For many years, Reese ran Rebound as a consulting business that worked as a sort of “business doctor”, helping mismanaged or financially troubled companies in a variety of industries rebound to success. It was 2008 when the investment and advisory side of the company – Rebound Enterprises – was founded with the help of business partner Jennifer Sawyer. Reese currently serves as Managing Principal of the Organization.

Archer House

From Rebound Enterprises grew Rebound Hospitality. The Rebound partners had a passionate desire to preserve, maintain, and enhance the Archer House River Inn (circa 1877) in Northfield (pictured above). During its renovation, which began in 2008, Rebound Hospitality was then created to invest in and preserve historically significant properties – such as the Archer House – that are important assets to their communities. On January 1, 2010, a second property was added – the Hotel Winneshiek (circa 1905) in Decorah. The company – whose vision is “to create a portfolio of historic boutique inns and distinct properties” – currently has five properties on its roster – stretching from Des Moines, Iowa (Des Lux Hotel) to Lakeshore, Minnesota (Lost Lake Lodge) – pictured below.

Lost Lake lodge

Rebound also encourages everyone on its team to give of their “time, talent, treasure, and thinking” in the communities where they live and work. It comes back to one of the biggest lessons Reese has learned along the way: “Don’t work in a vacuum. Do nothing alone. Together, we can always achieve so much more.”

Formal photo of Brett Reese—————-

The Basics:
Brett D. Reese
Age: 56
Business: Rebound Enterprises
Years in Business: 35

Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss?

Being an entrepreneur was in my blood at young age. At age five I wanted to be a CPA – just like my dad – though I didn’t know exactly what he did, just that he would “bang away” on a great big old adding machine that spit out numbers on paper.

I rode my bike at age 10 to my first job watering trees at Switzer’s Castle Rock Nursery for $.50 per hour, and then “graduated” to baling hay for a local farmer at $1 per wagonload.

BrettwithHorseI grew up on a hobby farm, and at age 12, started my own cow/calf operation. To fund the business, I took out my first loan with the President of the Castle Rock Bank, Dan Nicolai, who, 44 years later, is still the President of the Bank and someone I still do business with!

I bought my first business at age 23 – one year out of college – with my first business partner Dave Delong. We had the opportunity to purchase the “Rueb-N-Stein,” a bar and grill in Northfield, Minnesota, where I had worked from 9th grade through college. I had worked every position, knew it inside and out, and learned a great deal from the owner, Dan Freeman. My partner ran it while I worked along the sidelines and continued working as a CPA in the Twin Cities.

After 3 years as a CPA auditing companies, I followed my entrepreneur spirit in “taking the leap” by leaving public accounting to became my “own boss” as a “turnaround artist/business doctor.” Playing basketball I was known as “Rebound Reese,” and now found myself helping companies that were struggling by “Rebounding” them back to health. Over time Rebound Consulting became Rebound Enterprises with verticals in Hospitality/ Real Estate/ Manufacturing / Financial Services / Community and now recently Rebound Solutions – led by partner Jennifer Sawyer.

Also at a young age, I learned the value of delegating and surrounding oneself with partners and people smarter than you – helping them realize their dreams, while they’re helping you realize yours.

What’s the best thing about being your own boss?

• Independence, Flexibility, Freedom
• Controlling your own destiny
• The ability to take in and enjoy your kids’ activities, and spend time with them when you want
• Creating wealth for your family and investors
• Being able to choose to work with others by partnering and collaborating
• Seeing value where others don’t and being able to carry out a plan to realize it.

How about the worst?

• Lots of responsibility and at times being alone; Knowing that the buck stops with you
• Sometimes taking on too much risk; Payroll comes around and there is no money in
the bank!
• Long hours at times
• Going out on a limb and being criticized by others

Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it?

In 1990 I was on “top of the world, flying high” as the President of CCM, turning around this struggling local manufacturer located in my hometown of Northfield into a very successful company. Then the shareholders started fighting, and the minority owners bought out the majority owner, who then fired me. Never having been fired, it was difficult for me to get out of bed as I was so depressed. I would sleep till noon, getting up to play basketball over the noon hour at Carleton College, which helped keep me going. After a while (like months!) I picked myself up and decided that in the next turnaround project, I wasn’t only going in as management, but was also getting a piece of the action by taking an ownership stake. From this strategy, over time I was able to take ownership positions in a variety of companies that helped form the foundation of Rebound Enterprises.

Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to?

I owe a great deal to many individuals:

• My father Bert Reese, a great friend, mentor and rock (pictured with Reese below).
Dan Freeman – bought my first business, the Rueb-N-Stein from him in 1983 with
$5,000 down; Great Marketer. Learned from him what to do, and what not to do.
Bill Palmquist – helped me through my first major turnaround – Braco Manufacturing in Moses Lake, WA- where at age 25, I had to fire my first employee (I think I cried more than he did.)
Bob Skluzacek – Helped me develop as a CEO / President of a manufacturing company: CCM – Computer Controlled Machines. $2m in sales to $18m over three years; 20 employees to 150 employees; from near bankruptcy to success.
Curt Swenson – introduced me to MCG –Motion Control Group. A struggling company that was bankrupt that become a very profitable company. MCG built a relationship in China beginning in 1999. Owned from 1991 to 2008: sold just before the downturn of the Great Recession. A smart move!
Bill Cowles – first met him in 1987 when he was a customer of CCM; He became an important mentor and a valuable sounding board for me and still is today.

Brett with Bert Reese

What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

There were a lot of times I didn’t realize that “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Experience has taught me to really think about this. If I don’t know, I learn from the experiences of others and surround myself with people who do know. To then go out and find the answers and solutions. By not working alone, but through teamwork and collaboration, together we can arrive at the very best decision.

How do you manage your life/work balance?

I have been very fortunate by living and working the best of both worlds! I have had the opportunity to work with companies both globally – traveling the world over on business with our manufacturing firms, and at the same time being a part of local communities with our hospitality businesses and real estate investments.

Also I am blessed to have Margaret Jacobson help manage my work as my administrative assistant, who keeps me organized and who says her work purpose is “I am here to serve you, to make your life better and easier.” How lucky am I?

I have a passion for life, wanting to bring positive energy along with a good attitude. I try to be the best that I can – in my work, with my family, and in my faith. Here’s what works for me:

  • Set aside time for faith, family, profession, working out / physical activity and good nutrition.
  • Lots of travel. Finding new, fun, and interesting life experiences.
  • To be able to work from anywhere, anytime. Pick and choose when to work and when to play, relax and enjoy life.

What keepsPresident Obama at Hotel Winneshiek you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going?

I am inspired by challenges; A banker recently shared – “that is what Rebound and Brett do – they take on the unthinkable, the worst of conditions and have the ability to turn it around into success.”

Also very inspiring is that “it is not every day that the President of the United States drops in to visit and stay at your home” – a quote by me (President Obama staying the night at the Hotel Winneshiek!).

Some additional quotes I live by:

Energy is Everything!

“Success is when Planning meets Opportunity” (by partner Jennifer Sawyer)

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Never say never

You will never achieve your greatest success without failing

Treat others as you would want them to treat you

Do the Right Thing

In closing, I am very proud of the Hotel Winneshiek (pictured below), Restauration Restaurant, Tap Room, and the Steyer Opera House of Decorah. The management team of Dan, Tom, Tammy, Deb, Laura, and their staff have taken a beautiful hotel renovated by Helen Basler – “a gift to Decorah”– and made it into a sustainable, successful business. My appreciation and thanks to you all!



Reese has recently launched two more business ventures:

The Northfield Real Estate Fund – a local group investing in their backyard – it has both a community component (supporting the community) and also a return on investment.

Co-founded 3C Capital Partners – an angel investing group that invests in start-ups and small and emerging companies – both locally and regionally.