Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground
Rihm Kenworth Breaks Ground on New Facilities in
South St. Paul and Coon Rapids
Saint Paul, Minn. – Earlier this week, Rihm Kenworth broke ground on new facilities in South St. Paul and Coon Rapids, where the family-owned business will sell and service The World’s Best® Kenworth trucks. Rihm Kenworth is the second oldest continually operated Kenworth dealer in the world.
The new facilities will accommodate the company’s recent growth. Rihm Kenworth’s parent company Rihm Family Companies (RFC) kicked off its 85th anniversary in January by acquiring LTX, Inc., which owns Lawrence Leasing Inc., the operator of Lawrence NationaLease – a commercial truck leasing company with 15 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
As a result of the acquisition, RFC’s workforce totals more than 300 employees and operates at 21 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
Rihm Kenworth’s new location in South St. Paul at Concord Boulevard and Armour Street totaling 68,000-square-feet will serve as Rihm Kenworth’s new headquarters and offer sales, parts and service. The new full-service location in Coon Rapids near Highways 610 and 47 totaling 75,000-square-feet will also feature a body shop with state-of-the-art paint capabilities. Both facilities will include Rihm PacLease operations under the Lawrence Leasing umbrella. Lawrence Leasing is currently being renamed Rihm Leasing to align with the parent company’s brand and identity.
The groundbreaking ceremonies featured remarks by representatives from Rihm Kenworth, the project’s construction company R.J. Ryan, and local officials.
“We are excited to be expanding to the South St. Paul and Coon Rapids communities,” said Kari Rihm, president and CEO of RFC. “We are thrilled to break ground on these facilities, which will allow us to improve our service and offerings for our loyal customers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.”
Construction of both facilities will run on concurrent schedules, with openings scheduled by the end 2017. There will be no changes to the company’s other facilities in Minnesota (Albert Lea, Sauk Centre, Lake Elmo, and Bemidji) or its Superior, Wisconsin, facility.
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From left to right: Peter Hellegers (City Planner), Ryan Garcia (Economic Development Manager), J.B. Rihm (Vice President of Rihm Kenworth), Kari Rihm (President and CEO of Rihm Family Companies), Stephen King (City Administrator), Bill Flatley (City Councilmember), Chris Hartzell (City Engineer), and James Francis (Mayor)
South St. Paul Minnesota

Good News

Good News

Just in time, South St. Paul needs a little positive pub!

After an encounter at the Minnesota State Fair, blogger and freelance writer Carin Skowronsky decided to take a fifty cent tour of 55075 and wrote some nice things.

Click the map to read story from her blog.

Silver style simple map of 55075.


the first 29 days

the first 29 days

January 3rd Sworn in
January 4th Sworn at

January 9th Work Session: In this meeting we tackled a lot of topics that were very meaty in content and in length. A proposed concept: changing seats in our chambers as an effort to open up the idea of “new views”, a literal change of perspective for our new council as a group.  This was met by skepticism at first, but we all quickly agreed to place chair numbers in the hat and draw our new seating.  As you look at the council from left to right it will now be Seaberg, Rothecker, Podgorski, Francis, Hansen, Forester, Flatley.  This threw our cable caster off when she realized she had to re-chart her cameras for the cable coverage, but all was good in the end.

January 17th Council Meeting: We took action on all the items we worked hard on in the work session the week before.  This included a retirement of police Sergeant David Hughes and promotion of a new Sergeant.  We also welcomed two new businesses into our city, both on Concord Street,  Certified Auto Repair and Rihm-Kenworth.  We voted to get things in order to get them up and running in our city.  We also adopted a resolution to support the removal of a flowage easement that encumbers property in South St. Paul.  This easement is held by the Army Corps of Engineers and removing the easement is our only option to attract any business that wishes to build a building on that property.

January 23rd Work Session: Dr. David Webb from South St. Paul Schools gave us an update of the state of our schools’ funding. Very interesting to know where funding for our schools stands next to the rest of the metro and state.  He also addressed the efforts the district is providing for services like suicide prevention, domestic abuse and the partnership with Second Harvest food program.  We also heard from our ibrary and got an update on the study that was performed on the current building.

January 30th (extra meeting) Goal Setting:  We will be working with staff on goals and objectives for 2017-2018.  This will be our first opportunity to help guide the city staff on their department goals and new opportunities for our city.  (I am excited to support a great city staff for the first time as Mayor.)


Inaugural Event

Inaugural Event

On January 20th 2017 Friends of Francis held an event to celebrate Mayor James P. Francis at the Historic Concord Exchange.  A star studded event with over 100 in attendance and food from Wishfull dancing provided by Complete Music.

Bob Lange, Don Shelby, TD Mischke, Joe Soucheray & the Rookie came to give their congratulations to the new mayor.  Hosted by Adam Carter, these men  from KSTP & WCCO radio talked about James P. Francis and agreed to come back next year and perform a radio play.

Mayor James P. Francis made it known that his intentions are to do this event annually and give proceeds to charity.  The people in attendance had the opportunity to pick from four local groups, SSP Lions Club, SSP/IGH Rotary, SSP Jaycee’s and Kaposia Days. The winner was Kaposia Days and will be the recipient of all proceeds for NEXT Year’s event.

Look for more information to come regarding the Second Annual Inaugural Event in 2018!


Touring South St. Paul

Touring South St. Paul

One of my jobs as Mayor of South St. Paul is to be a good host to our state and federal officials when they come to town.

Yesterday was one of my first opportunities to host and while I was familiar with my guest, we both were learning from our new positions.

Congressman Jason Lewis and I worked together at KSTP AM1500 and we both won an election this past November.  I was there when Jason held his first “Beatles Bumper Friday Beetle Giveaway”.  It was a promotion with  VW to give away a Beetle Bug to a lucky listener who won the chance to turn a key.  The stage was set, the contest was over and 12 lucky people showed up for his Friday show LIVE on the radio at a restaurant.  The crack promotions team (Judy Dibble and Myself) had the place looking KSTP.  We had the car positioned up front and at the start of the show, Jason explained that over the course of the show, each contestant would come up and turn their key – if the car started, they won! Of course we wanted to stretch it out and have excitement build, but alas, the very first person, the very first key started the VW and the contest was over. Anti-climactic but fun memory non the less.

Yesterday I took Congressman Lewis to our city airport, Fleming Field and showed him our city.  We then toured WipAire and Cherokee Manufacturing two important business in our area.  I then was able to ask for his help with an issue our city faces in bringing FedEx to our community.  The issue is a federal one and something he and our Senator Klobuchar and Franken might be able to put pressure on to keep this deal on track.

As I said, we both are still learning.  He got to learn more about an area and a city in his district and what we have to offer.  I learned that losing my phone somewhere along the tour was OK – he has staff to take photos!

I can’t wait to do the same “50 cent tour” with other state and federal officials. I am proud to represent our city and impressed by our business community.

(my phone was found in a van that was used to drive us for the tour)

Mayor James P. Francis, Chris Francis, Congressman Jason Lewis, Jerry Gunderman, Matt Gunderman Cherokee Manufacturing

Today I am the person on the left.

Tomorrow I may be the one on the right or still hanging on the left asking for help.

My point, in less than three minutes (central standard time) is this:

Leadership opportunities  (planned or unplanned) comes to us in many ways.  

Train to  lead with what you learned as a follower and apply it today.

Then remember it for tomorrow.

Go Get Em!

South St. Paul

South St. Paul

January 3rd is fast approaching and we are ready.

Ready for what?  Well, in the short time between election November 8th and today December 20th,  we have learned a lot of great information to set us up for success.

Our current Mayor dropped the mic and gracefully accepted the love, support and genuine appreciation for her years of service to our city just last night.  This marks the transition of 2016 into 2017 and a new era for our city.

We learned from Beth what she learned: Be respectful of the staff, Take care of all the constituents (listen to their view points), It’s better to build consensus than just to get the win, Finally, Our city has a great history and a great future.

Of all of the things I learned this year, the one thing I am going to carry into the next year is the attitude, the phrase, the words “We Can”.

Because of our past and all of the things our past leaders have shown us, the one thing I am ready for is that South St. Paul Can

Now let’s go forward together.