A Business Plan for Montana by Montanans

For Montana by Montanans
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In July 2014, Governor Steve Bullock appointed the following business leaders to co-chair each Key Industry Network (KIN).


Niles Hushka, President & CEO, KLJ Engineering

Niles Hushka, P.E., is President and CEO of KLJ, which currently employs more than 750 people from across the United States and is one of the largest regional, multi-disciplinary engineering and planning firms. After joining KLJ in 1978 he created the firm’s aviation division. Niles joined the Board of Directors in 1985 and became the CEO in 2008. Hushka is a registered professional engineer in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan, and is a graduate of North Dakota State University’s Civil Engineering program. Committed to quality and ethical standards, Hushka leads KLJ with an entrepreneurial spirit, open to new ideas, markets and business lines. He volunteers his time in both Montana and North Dakota with educational and community-focused organizations. Hushka serves on several Boards of Directors including the Montana Chamber of Commerce, University of Mary, Bismarck State College, Sanford West, Wells Fargo Bank Community Board (Bismarck), the I.D.E.A. Center and the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Hushka is an active Ambassador for the Montana Ambassador program and a member of the Montana State Workforce Investment Board.

Bob Rowe, President & CEO, Northwestern Energy

Bob Rowe became President and Chief Executive Officer of Northwestern Energy in August, 2008. Previously, he co-founded a national financial and policy consulting firm, working with many companies around the country, primarily in telecommunications. He left the firm in order to join Northwestern.  Before that, Bob served on the Montana Public Service Commission from 1993-2004, and also served as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).  While at the PSC, Bob was a member and state chairman of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, as well as a founding member of the Federal-State Joint Conference on Access to Advanced Services. He has 20-plus years of utility-related experience. He holds a Juris Doctor from University of Oregon and a BA in history and political science from Lewis & Clark College. He also completed the Kennedy School Senior Executives Program.  At Northwestern Energy, his focus is on working with other employees to build a strong company that will be a long-term partner to the customers and communities they serve.


Kay Clevidence, President, Farmers State Bank

Kay Clevidence was born and raised in Victor, Montana. She graduated with a BS in Business Administration from the University of Montana in 1980 and received her MBA in 1983. Kay’s career has blossomed from a start with Farmers State Bank in 1968 to her current position as President starting in 1997. She is a current Farmer’s State Financial Corp. board member and presides over the Victor School Foundation. Kay served as a board member or the Federal Reserve Bank- Minneapolis and the Helena Branch. She was named Business Person of the Year by the Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce in March 2002 and Lay Citizen of the year by the Montana Association of secondary school principals in May 2004. Kay prides herself in her commitment to her community and to education. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.

William Coffee, CEO & Chairman, Stockman Financial Corp., Stockman Bank

Bill Coffee grew up working on the family ranch near Miles City, Montana.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business, majoring in Accounting, with a minor in Finance, from Montana State University Bozeman in 1986.  He passed the Uniform Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Exam in May 1986.  Then, after gaining a few years of experience working as a CPA in Arizona, Bill moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana School of Law, graduating in 1992.  During law school and for two years following graduation, Bill worked for the Crowley Fleck Law Firm in Billings.  Today, he remains a licensed attorney.  In October 1994, Bill helped start Stockman Bank’s first bank in Billings.  Since that time, he has held various positions with Stockman Bank of Montana and its holding company, Stockman Financial Corp.  Bill currently serves as CEO and Chairman of the Board of both companies.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of both the Montana Independent Bankers Association and Community Bankers of Montana.


Jim Peterson, Owner/Manager, Peterson Ranch

Jim Peterson currently serves as a Senator in the Montana State Senate. He formerly served in the Montana State House of Representatives (2002-2006). Senator Peterson received his BA in Animal Science from Montana State University in 1968. He then received his Masters of Agriculture in Feedlot Management at Texas A & M in 1973, and continued his education with a Master’s degree in business finance at West Texas University. In 1987 he completed graduate studies of banking at Southern Methodist University. He is the owner and manager of a farm and ranching operation, and previous owner of the Judith Gap Mercantile Store. He has served as chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and presided as Senate President in 2011. Throughout his career he has held many leadership positions including: Executive Vice President of Texas Cattle Feeders Association (1974-84), Manager of Agricultural Lending, First National Bank, (1984-86), Chief Financial Officer, Tejon Ranch (1986-89) and Executive Vice President of Montana Stockgrowers Association, (1990-2000).

Greg Thayer, President & CEO, Montana Milling

Greg Thayer grew up in Great Falls and attended Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.  He graduated with an accounting degree and received his CPA in 1993.  After college, Greg moved to Seattle and worked as a controller for an international manufacturing and franchising company.  In 2000, Greg moved back to Montana to take over the family business from his father, Gene Thayer.  For the past 14 years, Greg has been CEO of Montana Milling an organic and conventional value added ingredient supplier to the baking industry.  In 2010, the company received the Montana State University College of Business Family Business award.  Greg is also very active in the local community serving on the board of directors of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, President of the Montana Grain Elevator Association, Montana Organic Commodity Advisory Council and Past President of the Lewis and Clark Foundation.  Greg is married to his wife Trina and they have 2 children.


Rick Haraldson, CEO, Sidney Health Center

Richard (Rick) Haraldson accepted the Chief Executive Officer position at Sidney Health Center in May 2003.  Sidney Health Center is a 25 bed critical access hospital, which includes an associated 93 bed extended care facility and physician clinic.  During his time at Sidney Health Center, Rick has worked hard at building physician relations, strategic planning, customer service excellence, and worked with the Sidney Health Center Board of Directors on a 20-million dollar facility improvement project that was completed in 2010.  Rick holds a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY.  After receiving a bachelor’s degree, Rick expanded his knowledge in finance to prepare for and pass the Certified Public Account (C.P.A.) exam.  He has continued his training and gained licensure as a nursing home administrator. Originally from Finley, North Dakota, Rick is married to wife, Darci, and they have five children ages 16 – 22.  His extracurricular activities are associated with civic, church and community affiliations, as well as youth sports.

Larry White, Assoc. Professor, School of Public Health and Community Health Service, University of Montana

Larry White was the President and CEO of St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center in Missoula, MT for 23 years until his retirement in 2003. He then became an Associate Professor in the school of Public and Community Health Sciences at The University of Montana and the Director of the Western Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) where he retired in June 2014. He holds a BA in Accounting from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, and a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) from St. Louis University. A founding member of The International Heart Institute of Montana Foundation and the interim CEO at three Montana critical access hospitals, Larry White serves as a health care consultant.


Dick Anderson, CEO, Dick Anderson Construction, Inc.

Richard (Dick) Anderson serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Dick Anderson Construction, Inc. He started Dick Anderson Construction 30 years ago while building a home with a friend in 1977. He took advantage of the opportunities to grow into new fields- a business style that has become the company’s trademark. Anderson is a graduate of University of Montana in Business Management. He owns parts of several projects his company has worked on in Helena, including: the Capital City Health Club, a joint project with St. Peter’s Hospital, and the Great Northern Best Western Premier Hotel. Mr. Anderson serves as Vice President of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis as well as, chairman of the Board at Mountain West Financial Corp. He previously served as chairman of the Montana Board of Investments (2005).

Brad McCall, Co-Owner, McCall Homes

Co-owner of McCall Homes, Mr. Brad McCall works to make McCall Homes run like a well-oiled machine. McCall Homes specializes in building housing and communities that incorporate “smart growth” principles. Brad’s ability to problem solve and think outside the box is what ensures the past and future success of this family business. He is a jack-of-all-trades with a love of flow charts and the latest productivity app. Chief estimator, technical support department, building science and energy efficiency expert and go-to guy for anything tech related, Brad is infamous for wearing many hats that are highly valued among his team. He and his wife, Kelsey, can often be seen chasing their boys down the sidewalks of Josephine Crossing.

Greg McCall, Co-Owner, McCall Homes

Greg McCall, Co-Owner of McCall Homes, is an experienced builder and resident of Josephine Crossing. McCall Homes specializes in building housing and communities that incorporate “smart growth” principles. Among the neighbors he is commonly referred to as, “The Mayor”. In the office Greg manages the growing team at McCall Homes and helps Brad and Carolee plan the future of the company. Having grown up in Billings then graduating from the University of Montana, Greg loves being a Montanan and raising his family of four children with wife, Erin, in the neighborhood they dreamed about and built.


Donald Beeman, Retired, Former CEO of LigoCyte (now Takeda Vaccines)

Mr. Beeman has 35 years’ experience in a variety of commercial roles in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industry. Most recently he led LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, a small biotech company in Bozeman, Montana, now known as Takeda Vaccines. He founded Topaz Pharmaceuticals, LLC. He began his career with Merck & Co. and progressed through many different assignments in his 25 years at the company. As a senior executive in the division, he was involved with research and manufacturing planning in addition to his line management responsibilities.  Mr. Beeman’s expertise and vision built Topaz, where he succeeded in raising start-up capital, outsourcing clinical development, building commercial plans and engaging potential partners. Topaz was acquired by Sanofi in 2011. From 2006 to 2014 Mr. Beeman led LigoCyte as the CEO.  Under his guidance, LigoCyte raised over $60 million from venture capitalists which enabled the development of LigoCyte’s norovirus, influenza, and RSV vaccines. The company became recognized as the worldwide experts in Virus like Particle (VLP) vaccine development. In October 2012, LigoCyte was acquired by Takeda, a global pharmaceutical company, headquartered in Japan.

Jason Corbally, President, Edulog

Jason Corbally is the President of Edulog, and guides the company as it continues to develop and improve new and existing products for the student transportation industry. He started with Edulog 10- years ago while still attending the University of Montana. Jason played a central role in the development of Edulog’s portfolio GPS-based solutions during his time as Vice President of Business Development.  Since then the company has more than 1,000 North American Clients and is one of the largest employers in Missoula. A native of Butte, Montana (or, “Butte, America,” as Jason likes to say), he and his wife are the proud parents of their three-year-old son Peyton. Jason is also a passionate sports fans, who can be found rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco 49ers, the Orangemen of Syracuse University basketball, and, of course, the UM's Grizzly football.


Rob Ferris, CEO, Vision Net

Rob Ferris has been the Chief Executive Officer of Vision Net since March, 2006.  Prior to his responsibilities with Vision Net, Rob served as the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Blackfoot Telecommunications Group in Missoula.  Rob has over 35 years of telecommunications industry experience, including management positions with AT&T and Mountain Bell.  Rob is a graduate of the University of Great Falls. Vision Net is headquartered in Great Falls, Montana with offices in Billings, Missoula and Helena.  The company’s 135 employees deliver a wide range of advanced telecommunications solutions nationwide.

Bill Squires, CEO, Blackfoot Telecommunications Group

Bill Squires is the Chief Executive Officer of Blackfoot telecommunications Group, where he is responsible for the overall operations and strategic direction of the Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Blackfoot Communications, Inc., Fremont Communications and TeleSphere Software, Inc.  Prior to being appointed CEO in January 2012, Bill served as Blackfoot’s Sr. Vice President – General Counsel since 2001, responsible for all legal matters pertaining to Blackfoot’s operations, as well as company-wide corporate administration. Prior to joining Blackfoot Telephone, Bill was a partner in the law firm of Squires  & Shontz, PLLC, where his practice concentrated on representing rural telecommunications companies in regulatory proceedings, including merger / acquisition activities and general business issues.  Bill holds a B.S. from the University of Montana - Montana Tech, and a J.D., with honors, from the University of Montana School of Law. 


K.C. Walsh, President, Simms Fishing Products

K.C. Walsh is a lifelong angler, and has been the President of Simms Fishing Products since 1993.  Simms is a leading supplier of innovative outerwear, footwear and technical apparel for anglers of all types.  Simms is the only manufacturer of fishing waders in the United States, and currently has over 130 employees in its Bozeman facility.  The company sells its products in 38 countries worldwide through distribution centers in Bozeman, Rotterdam, Tokyo and New Zealand. Prior to acquiring Simms, K.C. Walsh was a management consultant with Deloitte & Touche, and previously held senior management positions in a major independent oil company. Walsh graduated with a BA from Colorado College and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. K.C. Walsh has served on the Board of the American Sportfishing Association since 2010, and was previously the chairman of the American Fly Fishing Trade. He’s been married for 27 years, and has three kids who love to fish.

Bert Robins, Vice President/Co-Founder, SeaCast, Inc.

The metals career path eventually brought Bert to Ohio State University as a graduate student in Welding Engineering.  While there, he worked the graveyard shift at a malleable iron sand casting foundry and become exposed to the investment casting process.  This sparked a fascination with melting metal and pouring castings.  Upon finishing his Master’s Degree, he worked as a welding engineer and metallurgist for Western Gear Corp. in Everette, WA, and then for GE Aviation in Seattle.  His past 29 years have been dedicated to SeaCast’s business.  Bert is married and has 4 grown children (his 2 sons are working in the family business) and 2 grandchildren.  He enjoys sea kayaking, classic rock & roll, good beer, and fine wine.

Mike Robins, President/Co-Founder, SeaCast, Inc., Montana Precision Products

While attending New York University, Mike would visit the malleable iron foundry where Bert worked, where he too became enthralled with pouring molten metal and making castings.  Subsequently, Mike received his BA degree from the University of Montana, but returned to Ohio to work in the investment casting foundry of a good friend and mentor.  It was there that he learned the skills and craft of the investment castings process.  Mike has served on the Board of Directors for the Investment Casting Institute on several occasions, and is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Affordable Housing Network.  Mike enjoys good art, international travel, new experiences and the satisfaction of growing businesses.


Todd Myers, Vice President, Business Development, Cloud Peak Energy

Todd Myers joined Cloud Peak Energy in July 2010 as Senior Vice President, Business Development. Mr. Myers had 14 years of experience with Westmoreland Coal Company and was most recently President of Westmoreland Coal Sales Company. Mr. Myers served in senior leadership positions with Westmoreland in business development, strategy, and marketing. He also spent five years with Financial Times Energy’s RDI Consulting, a leading consulting firm in the coal and energy industries, where he led the environmental consulting practice.  In government, Mr. Myers served on Congressional Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives, interned with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, and worked in County Court Administration, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mr. Myers earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, and his Masters in International Management from the Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona.  He also studied at the University of Exeter, England, and the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Loren Rose, Chief Operating Officer, Pyramid Mountain Lumber

Loren Rose was born and raised in Whitefish, Montana. He graduated from Eastern Montana College with dual degrees in accounting and information systems. He gained his experience working for three years in public accounting before coming to Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake: where he has been for 28 years. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Pyramid.  His wife, Pam, owns and operates Deer Country Quilts in Seeley Lake. They have three children, all raised in and out of the house, and now, four grandchildren.  Currently Loren serves on the Seeley Lake Community Foundation Board, Timber Products Manufacturers Trust (a regional health and welfare trust), Mission Bible Fellowship and will be rejoining the Seeley Lake Elementary school board.  He is an avid backcountry man and enjoys all things outdoors!


Liz Moore, Executive Director, Montana Nonprofit Association

Liz joined the Montana Nonprofit Association as Executive Director in 2011. Prior to joining MNA, she worked for the Rocky Mountain Development Council, a community action agency serving south-central Montana, for 16 years. Liz was a founding board member for Family Promise of Greater Helena and served on the board of ExplorationWorks!, a museum of science and culture located in Helena. She served on the Region III Disability Services QIC Editorial Board, the Montana Continuum of Care Coalition, the Montana NAMIWalk Steering Committee, The Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) Council,  Montana Children’s Bill of Rights Task Force, and the Montana Office of Public Instruction Comprehensive System for Professional Development Council. She currently serves on the National Council of Nonprofits Board of Directors. Liz grew up on a ranch in eastern Montana and has lived in the mountains of western Montana since 1984. She graduated from Carroll College in Helena in 1991 and in 2011 earned a Masters of Nonprofit Management Degree from Regis University in Denver.

Bob Wilmouth, President, Rocky Mountain College

Dr. Robert Wilmouth was named president of Rocky Mountain College in April 2013, and he comes to the presidency after serving as the program director of Rocky Mountain College's Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program since June 2008. Dr. Wilmouth brings extensive leadership experience to Rocky Mountain College along with interests in fundraising, cost containment, and marketing outreach services. Dr. Wilmouth holds certifications from the American College of Surgeons, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Heart Association, the American Board of Surgery, and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He has also devoted time to numerous organizations and committees, including Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation, Cambridge Health Resources, Riverstone Health Foundation, American Medical Director Association, Montana Medical Association, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons.


Sarah Calhoun, Owner, Red Ants Pants

Sarah Calhoun grew up on a farm in Connecticut and received her degree in Environmental Studies from Gettysburg College.  After five years working in the backcountry instructing for Outward Bound and leading trail crews, she was rather fed up with wearing men’s work pants.  She moved to Bozeman, MT in 2004 where she purchased a copy of How to Start a Business for Dummies.  Upon learning what a business plan was, she promptly wrote one, started designing pants that fit women and Red Ants Pants was born.  Wanting to live in a rural Montana ranching town she moved to White Sulphur Springs, MT and set up the storefront and distribution center in an historic saddle shop on Main Street.  In 2006 she opened the doors to the first company dedicated to making work wear for women – all made in the US. In 2011 she launched the first annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival, which raises funds for the Red Ants Pants Foundation, the non-profit branch of the enterprise.  The Foundation is in support of women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities.  In addition to the festival, the Foundation executes an annual grant program, timber skills workshops, and women’s leadership events. 

Scott Brown, Owner, Base Camp

Rockwood Scott Brown was born in Missoula while his parents were attending the University of Montana. His grandfather and father were both named Rockwood, so, to limit confusion, he was called Scott. Growing up in Billings, Scott graduated from Billings Senior High School and attended the University of Montana, studying business. In the summer of 1975, he moved to Helena to help a friend paint houses. Just a few months later, with his passion for the outdoors and the help of an SBA loan, he opened The Base Camp. His passion for Nordic skiing spurred a morning radio program called, “The Nordic Report,” where he described the current snow conditions and gave Nordic skiing tips. It aired on four of the five Helena radio stations every weekday morning for many years. The Base Camp became Helena’s place to get outfitted for Nordic skiing, backpacking, and canoeing. In Helena, in 1980, Scott met and married his wife, Deb. There they raised two daughters. In 1990, Scott and his family moved to Billings where he opened a second Base Camp. Their daughter, Lauren and granddaughter Cecelia now live in Bozeman and their daughter Cody lives in Quito, Ecuador. Scott and Deb reside in Billings and love to Nordic ski, hike and canoe in Montana and beyond.


Taylor Middleton, President/General Manager, Big Sky Resort

Taylor Middleton is President and General Manager of Montana’s largest destination resort, Big Sky.  During peak winter periods, the resort serves 7,500 guests per day and employees 1,400.  Previously Taylor managed marketing operations during the period when Big Sky transformed itself into a recognized national ski and meeting destination. In addition to his thirty years of tourism experience he has a history of civic engagement and volunteerism including leading legislative initiatives, founding community organizations, and board service. Taylor has been a resident of Big Sky for 33 years where he resides with his wife and two daughters.

Rhonda Fitzgerald, Owner/Operator, Garden Wall Inn

Rhonda Fitzgerald owns and operates the Garden Wall Inn, an award-winning small inn in downtown Whitefish. She serves on the Montana Tourism Advisory Council, which she chaired in 2011-2012. While serving on the Tourism Advisory Council she guided the development of the Montana Tourism Charter and the MONTANA BRAND.  She was appointed by the Whitefish City Council to the Board of Directors of the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is the vice-chair of Whitefish’s downtown business association, the Heart of Whitefish. Rhonda is a Board member of the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council. She served on the Jobs-for-Whitefish-Taskforce, by Mayoral appointment. Rhonda was awarded Montana Tourism Person of the Year in 2009.


Jason Matheny, Chairman/CEO, Davis Transport, Inc.

Jason Matheny is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Davis Transport, Inc. headquartered in Missoula, Montana.  Before joining Davis, he held executive positions in the banking industry that served customers across the Western United Sates. 
A native Montanan, Mr. Matheny currently lives in Missoula, Montana with his family. He and his wife Kelli enjoy spending a great deal of time in the outdoors with their two boys Kaden and Cameron. Mr. Matheny is also a board member and director of the Motor Carriers of Montana.

Thomas Walsh, President/CEO, Montana Rail Link, Inc.

Tom Walsh was born in Billings and has lived nearly all his life in Montana.  He attended Carroll College in Helena, graduating in 1981 with a B.A. in Accounting.  After college, Tom began working for KPMG, a national accounting firm, in the Billings office.  He left KPMG in 1987 to begin working for Montana Rail Link, Inc. (MRL), a startup railroad headquartered in Missoula, MT.  Tom became MRL’s Chief Financial Officer in 1990 and assumed various other duties over the following years until being named President and Chief Executive Officer in 2003, the same position he currently holds.  Tom is a past member of the Carroll College and University of Montana Business Advisory Councils as well as various non-profit organizations.  He is a current member of the Board of Trustees for Carroll College.  Tom is happily married to Sharon Walsh, a University of Washington graduate and CPA.  They have two wonderful college aged children.