Three of Minnesota’s most successful entrepreneurs were honored at the 25th annual Entrepreneur Awards ceremony on Wednesday night. Since 1990, The John M. Morrison Center at the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship has recognized outstanding individuals who personify the spirit of entrepreneurship and demonstrate excellence in the way they conduct business.
The awards and this year’s recipients are:
John F. Cade Award – Given to a local individual who possesses outstanding entrepreneurial attributes, capitalizes on entrepreneurial opportunities, contributes to the community and has high standards and integrity, this year’s award was given to Mike Reger ’98 B.A., ’00 M.B.A., CEO of Northern Oil and Gas, Inc.
Within six years of his St. Thomas graduation, he co-founded Northern Oil and Gas, one of America’s fastest growing oil and gas exploration and production companies, where he is chairman and CEO. The company is on multiple Forbes lists including 100 fastest growing companies, America’s best small companies and America’s most powerful CEO’s 40 and under. In addition to leading a growing business, Reger also serves as president of the Michael and Brittany Reger Family Foundation.
The Cade award is given in memory of John Cade, a 1970 St. Thomas graduate and founder of Cade Industries. He died in a 1986 airplane crash.
Family Business of the Year Award – Presented by the St. Thomas Family Business Center and given for business leadership, participation of multiple generations, community involvement, support of family business education and involvement with the university. This year’s award was presented to the Coughlan Family, whose rich history with St. Thomas dates back more than a century. In the early 1900s, T. Merritt Coughlan was a classmate of I.A. O’Shaughnessy. Years later, O’Shaughnessy accompanied then-St. Thomas president, Reverend Vincent J. Flynn, to ask T. Merritt for a gift of stone from his quarry, which was used to construct the quadrangle buildings on the St. Paul campus.
In 1938, T. Merritt’s son, Thomas P. Coughlan, won the Tommie Award. Now, two of Thomas’s sons, Jim and Bob, are the fourth generation owners of Coughlan Companies. They have expanded the business many times and into new industries, including its current flagship business, Capstone Publishing.
Entrepreneurship Alumnus of the Year Award – This award honors a St. Thomas alumnus who best exemplifies the values, practices and theories the school instills in its students. The 2014 winner is Chris Heim ’86 B.A., ’97 M.B.A., an influential serial software entrepreneur. He was CEO of HighJump Software for 10 years and grew the business from $8 million to $80 million of revenue. He then became CEO of Amcom and increased its revenue from $11 million to $55 million over a five-year period.
Now CEO of 2ndWave Software, Heim is well known for his ability to grow software companies by building strong teams. Along with the many awards his businesses have received, in 2003 Heim was selected as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.