“I’m the idea man I guess,” says David Werner with a look around his new business in Clarkfield where his daughter, future stepson and his daughter’s step father are all at work. “I’m not printer,” says Werner about taking over The Ink Spot. “I’m a farmer and I guess I’m an entrepreneur. I have a vision and I’m just trying to steer my kids into building something worthwhile where they can build on their passions.”
Werner and his wife Debbie bought The Ink Spot in early March from Brenda and Lee Ohlson who ran the printing, custom framing and gift shop in Clarkfield’s Diamond Mall for the past 22 years.
“I kept coming into the good ‘ol Friendship Cafe for lunch,” says David who lives in Montevideo, but runs some family farm land between Clarkfield and St. Leo. “Brenda [Ohlson] had a ‘For Sale’ sign on the business for a good long while and finally I started asking my daughter Melissa [Sandt] what she thought and finally we worked it out and she said ‘Alright, let’s do it’.”
Here’s where it can get a little confusing. “We have just a huge blended family,” says Jennifer Gilyard as way of an explanation. “10 children and 15 grandchildren now.”
You see when Werner bought the place he enlisted his step-daughter Gilyard, who has a business degree, to get the place up and running with the help of her sister Melissa’s fiance Michael Stattelman, who has experience in graphic design.
It’s expected that after Micheal and Melissa’s wedding in September and once Melissa can afford to leave her job at Logic Technologies in Montevideo that Micheal and Melissa will run the shop.
“My parents own the business,” says Gilyard, “I'm involved in buying businesses, setting them up, and getting them going for their 10 children.”
And this isn’t the family’s first foray into business management. Besides operating Werner Farms, Werner and his wife purchased Grace Haven Assisted Living in Madison in 2011. “That was my wife’s dream; to work in elder care,” says Werner.
“We got [Grace Haven] full-up much sooner than we thought we would,” says Gilyard. In explaining her own reasons for moving her family to the rural wilds she says, “I moved out here with my family rather than raise my kids in the city and [in the city] I couldn't find a job.”
As for Stattelman, “I just kind of walked into it,” he says of his interest in graphic design. “I studied graphic design and I was working at a printing place in Mankato for seven years.”
Page 2 of 2 - Also filling the shop with family is Gilyard and Melissa’s father and Stattelman’s future father-in-law David Sandt who is displaying his photography in the store and helping with some framing.
“We’re just trying to put our family’s talents to work,” says Werner.
Gilyard says that the shop is hoping to put other local artists to work as well and implores any local artist interested in selling their work to contact the shop.
“Our main thing is we just want to continue what Brenda and Lee started, we’re just going to put a ‘plus’ sign behind it,” says Gilyard.
An open house is planned for Sunday, April 14 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Diamond Mall.
“We’re just planting a little seed here in Clarkfield,” says Werner. “Now we’ll see what we can grow it into.”