Small Town, Big Ideas: Software firm sees bright future in Barnesville
by Sherri Richards (reprinted with permission from the July 28, 2014 edition of The Forum)
Barnesville, Minn. – For now, a trio of rented downtown apartments forms the company headquarters for Stoneridge Software.
Yes, you read that right: headquarters in Barnesville, population 2,560; branch in Minneapolis.
In less than two years, the company has grown from its three founders – Eric Newell, Becky Newell and Cody Marshall – to 33 employees, and has gained Microsoft Gold Certified status.
It will move in mid-August into a new headquarters just across Front Street, in Barnesville’s Old City Hall, an 1899 building on the National Register of Historic Places.
“One thing we like about it, it’s very close to everything downtown,” Eric Newell said.
Stoneridge Software sells and supports Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV, accounting software for businesses that can also track inventory.
“It’s the glue that holds the business together,” Eric Newell said about the software.
“Electronic glue,” Becky Newell added.
Stoneridge installs and configures the software to meet the needs of the business, and teaches clients how to use it. Eric Newell described them as “business advisers.”
“There’s a lot of human interaction,” Becky Newell said.
Eric and Becky Newell and Marshall worked together at Microsoft, like many of their team members.
Eric Newell said he would see the “horror stories” of software implementation gone wrong. “I thought we could do it better,” he said.
They lived in Barnesville, so decided to base their new company there. Plus, Eric Newell had served on the city’s Economic Development Authority board.
“This is where our life is,” Becky Newell said.
Most of their employees work remotely, making location less important. One employee lives in Georgia.
“We take good consultants, wherever they are,” Eric Newell said.
Becky Newell said Stoneridge has a laid-back culture, which fosters employees working from home, but keeps them engaged and collaborative.
Stoneridge has been honored by both Minnesota Business Magazine and Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as a best place to work, and will be featured in the September issue of Prairie Business magazine as one of the top 50 places to work.
Stoneridge has scheduled an open house of its new space Aug. 21. Crews are renovating the second floor, a former opera house, creating offices along the sides and a bay of 15 desks in the center.
The former council chambers will be turned into a conference room that will be open for community use.
One event will be the Barnesville Pitch Contest, sponsored by Stoneridge Software, Dean’s Bulk Service, Crown Appraisals and the Barnesville EDA. Entrepreneurs can submit their business ideas, which will be reviewed by judges on Aug. 22 during the town’s Potato Days Festival. Winners will receive cash prizes and mentoring hours.
The contest is another way to promote the supportive business climate in Barnesville, Eric Newell said, which they’ve experienced firsthand.
“It’s fun to have the whole town behind you and rallying around,” he said.