Redwood Chamber announces Greater Good and Star Entrepreneur awards

Deb Moldaschel
Redwood Falls Gazette

Redwood Area Chamber & Tourism celebrated their 24th Annual Gala with a Virtual Chamber Gala Week in response to current event guidelines. The Chamber Gala is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year and is traditionally a much anticipated and well attended event. The Gala financially supports the Chamber’s ongoing business educational events and advocacy work on behalf of local businesses. 

Chamber Executive Director Anne Johnson said one of everyone’s favorite part of the Gala is recognizing community members with Visionary Awards. 

These special awards receive nominations by the public and are intended to recognize an individual or individuals or a non-profit that has followed their vision by getting off to a successful start in their career or mission, and also gives of themselves, their time and talents, and their resources to the community in such a way that the entire community benefits.

The Visionary Awards have been presented in person over the last few weeks. This week the recipients of the Greater Good Award and the Star Entrepreneur Award are announced. These are the final Visionary Awards for 2021.

Left: 2019 Shining Star Natalie Seehausen presented the 2021 Greater Good Visionary Award to representatives of Service Enterprises—Linda Leenerts, Rachael Buyck, and Karin Ramey. Right: The 2021 Star Entrepreneur Award was presented to (center) Jon Steinbach, Dennis Kahnke, and Jeff Kahnke by, at left, 2020 Star Entrepreneurs Cody Wellnitz and Karlie Wellnitz, 2013 Ag Star Bruce Tiffany and at right, 2010 Hidden Gem Joel Mathiowetz, and 2019 Star Entrepreneur Trevor Wittwer.

2021 Greater Good Visionary Award 

The Greater Good award is intended to recognize a non-profit organization which pledges their organization’s time, talents, and resources to our community in such a way that the entire community benefits. Congratulations to Service Enterprises, Inc., 2021 Greater Good Visionary Award recipient.

SEI provides opportunities for those living with disabilities in our community to participate in work programs that benefit both the individuals and business community. This rewarding work allows employers to partner with SEI to provide tasks and duties that provide rewarding contributions to individuals. 

Their nominator wrote, “SEI’s partnership with Redwood Area Hospital and now Carris Health-Redwood, has been longstanding. Whenever I needed a ‘pick me up’ I made sure to visit the cafeteria at 11:30 a.m. to get my high fives.” 

Service Enterprises collaborates with individuals, businesses and organizations in the surrounding area to provide meaningful employment for the individuals it serves. 

2021 Star Entrepreneur Visionary Award 

The Star Entrepreneur award is intended to recognize an individual(s) who has followed their vision, and through determination and grit, is achieving success as a small business owner. Congratulations Dennis Kahnke and Jeff Kahnke and Jon Steinbach, 2021 Star Entrepreneur Visionary Award recipients.

Dennis Kahnke founded Northwest Drywall in the summer of 1965 and began with mainly residential work. In 1970 Northwest Drywall contracted its first high rise steel stud project. In 1972, Northwest Drywall added painting for their residential projects. Success in the late 1990s allowed Northwest Drywall to expand its business by doing more commercial work, including steel stud framing. Since that time, they have contracted several hospitals, schools, churches and many other commercial projects. 

Dennis’ son, Jeff, also became a successful part of the team along the way. Dennis is also highly creative, and has actually retrofit a classic style school bus to be a fully-functional drywall unit which allows their crews to be highly efficient in time and materials—in all weather conditions. 

Running a successful business and maintaining staff and work crew would be enough for most entrepreneurs, but Dennis and Jeff recently teamed up with fellow entrepreneur and Redwood alumni, Jon Steinbach, to form Prairie Hemp Products, growing premium CBD plants and producing high quality full spectrum CBD products, locally. They are growing, literally, and committed to safe, compliant, and best quality production. Prairie Hemp Products is getting great feedback from their customers.