STARTUP STORY: Fladeboe Land of Willmar, Minneapolis & Detroit Lakes, MN

Betsy Bonnema Stories

FladeboeFor 38 years, Fladeboe Auctions and Land Company has sold just about anything you can think of. The family-owned company began as Fladeboe Auctions in 1978 when patriarch, Dale Fladeboe went to auction school. All three of his children have followed in his footsteps to become auctioneers and join the family business, which is an institution in Southwest Minnesota.

Fast forward three decades, and the auction business has changed immensely. “When my dad started, you could be a jack-of-all-trades and basically sell anything,” says Kristine Fladeboe Duininck, Dale Fladeboe’s daughter and business partner. “About ten or fifteen years ago, we made a conscious decision that instead of trying to be good at everything, we wanted to focus on farmland sales and nonprofit fundraising auctions. Our goal in the farmland division is to bring top dollar to the seller, but we also want the experience to be great for the seller.” In addition to selling thousands of acres of farmland, the company has raised millions of dollars over the years for various nonprofit organizations all over the world.

While not a new company, the STARTUP workshop series was the perfect fit for Fladeboe. “I’m a big believer that if you work hard, your company will go on. If you treat people right, it will be hard to fail in the long run, but at the same time, in the short-term, we need to go the extra mile to make things successful,” Fladeboe Duininck explains. “This started when we decided we needed a new web site. We want people to know that we study land and specialize in land.” Fladeboe Auctions approached REDstar about a new web site, and owner Betsy Bonnema encouraged them to go through the STARTUP series first, so the company could really hone in on what its message was, and what it should be.

Kristi Block is the Marketing/Sales and Relationship Director for Fladeboe Auctions Land Company. The ‘Relationship Director’ part of her title says a lot about what she does in a given day. “There is a lot of psychology involved in what we do,” Block says. “Selling farmland that’s been in the family for a hundred years is very emotional. If people aren’t ready to sell, we don’t think they should sell and we don’t push them into it.” After talking through this aspect of the business at the STARTUP Workshop, Block has added a new service to their marketing efforts; Second Generation Consulting. It’s something the company was already doing, but realized through STARTUP that it is a very important part of their business. “We use our professionalism and knowledge to help people through the process. Sadly, the majority of families don’t always get along and we understand and address the emotional aspect of these transactions. If we can help put things in place for second generation owners to avoid some of these pitfalls, we want to do that.”

Going through the STARTUP workshop was exactly what Fladeboe Auctions needed to move forward with their message for the future. “I absolutely loved the environment and collaboration that was present during the STARTUP seminar,” Block says. “Every morning, I was excited to come, share, and learn from Betsy and the others participating.”

Fladeboe Duininck agrees. “I would highly suggest this program to both new and established companies.” She says the program has helped them focus on what their goal is for every customer. “At the end of the day, we want to get you the best result possible and feel good while you’re going through the process.”