Post Falls man receives Idaho Business Leader of the Year Award

POSTED: 09:20 AM MDT Mar 22, 2013    UPDATED: 11:23 AM MDT Mar 22, 2013 
Pocatello, Idaho -

Every year, the Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity at Idaho State University presents an award to an Idaho business leader. But what does it take to receive this award?

Alpha Kappa Psi is ISU's professional business fraternity. Its main networking and social event is the Idaho Business Leader of the Year banquet.

"We promote business. (That's) what my main purpose is,” said Taylor Jensen, ISU's Alpha Kappa Psi president, “I'm trying to get every student, every member of this fraternity, a job after graduation."

And one of the best ways to get a job is to know professionals in the industry. But what makes business leaders stand out from the crowd is not only what they do for their employees, but what they do for their community.

“He is the epitome of this award. It's awesome. We got a good guy this year," said Jensen.

Ron Nilson, the 54th recipient of the award, made a name for himself in 2000 when he saved 20 jobs at a small factory in post falls, located near Coeur d'Alene.  The reception took place at the Stephen's Performing Arts Center.

Nilson moved to Coeur d'Alene at that time, much to his surprise. He said he never thought he would live in a state known for potatoes, especially after leaving Seattle.

"When I went there, I went with intentions of going back and forth from Seattle to northern Idaho and Post Falls,” said Nilson, "I ended up falling in love with the people, the area and the state, and said this is where I want to stay."

After much struggling, the business, Ground Force Manufacturing, has now grown to four factories and over 225 employees located around the world.

While I spoke with Nilson, I learned that he feels very strongly that you should find something you love and stick with it, and part of sticking with it has to do with your experience there.

"In supervising these entry-level people,” said Nilson, "their number one job is to re-instill confidence that you made the right choice, there's a future for you, and we're glad that you're here."

Nilson also stated that manufacturing businesses, like his, which manufactures mining equipment, has a sort of ripple effect.  He says this has an impact on the entire state of Idaho.

“Statistically, for every 100 jobs created by a manufacturer, there's 415 residual jobs created by suppliers, banks, restaurants and other industries. The highest multiplier in the world is manufacturing."

While many people may believe that success is defined by what you have, Nilson says it's about what you have to give.

"It's not about making money, it's about success to significance, which is what you do with the money when you get it. We believe that we take a portion of all our profits and give it back to the community that serves us so well."