Heard on the Street: Local entrepreneurs to be honored Friday

November 17, 2017 GMT

Three young, area companies and one successful founder are slated to be honored Friday at the fourth annual RAVE event in Rochester.

RAVE, which stands for Recognizing Awarding Valuing Entrepreneurs, is the annual wrap-up event to close out Global Entrepreneurship Week. It’s orchestrated by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. and the Journey to Growth initiative.

The event is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Rochester.

“Every entrepreneur starts with a dream. The reality of transforming that dream to a thriving and growing business is very demanding work. We want to highlight our entrepreneurs and show them that we support and respect the work they do,” Xavier Frigola, director of entrepreneurial programs at RAEDI, stated in the announcement of the event.

On Friday, RAVE is scheduled to spotlight three local companies:

• Envirolastech transforms discarded plastic and glass into a durable composite that can be used in construction. Founded by Paul Schmitt, the firm recently built and opened a manufacturing facility in St. Charles. It’s managed by CEO Jeff Mintz and Geno Wente.


• The Pet Health People LLC makes Licks, a line of chewable, gummy supplements for pets. Early this year, the company took over the former Ferrara Candy factory in Winona and revamped it to make pet products. In doing so, CEO Amy Paris brought back several jobs that were lost, when Ferrara closed.

• Sonex Health makes a device called the Stealth Micro-Knife for carpal tunnel surgery. It was founded in 2014 by Mayo Clinic physicians Darryl Barnes and Jay Smith as well as Aaron Keenan. It’s based in the Mayo Business Accelerator in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center in downtown Rochester.

In addition to the RAVE honorees, a lifetime achievement award will be presented to F. Mike Tuohy, of Chatfield, for his contribution to entrepreneurial spirit in southeast Minnesota.

Tuohy Furniture Corp. is an internationally known office furniture maker based in Chatfield. Founded as a church furniture maker in the 1940s, Tuohy bought the business from his father in 1973. In 1975, the company began designing and making high-end office furniture.

The event will conclude with the presentation of the 2017 RAVE Warrior of the Year to someone who has made an important contribution to entrepreneurship in the area.