Technology and Talent
Within the Range of Education
Sean Dean 94 and Steven Dastour
beat the odds with a new Duluth computer start-up.
Sean Dean, a 1994 UMD School of Business and
Economics graduate, and his business partner, Steven Dastoor werent
really nervous. They were ready. It was 1995 and they were sitting
in their tiny office in Canal Park. There was just enough room for
their two desks shoved together and one extra chair for Greg Lundberg,
the principal of the School District of Maple. Lundberg straightened
his tie and smoothed the front of his suit jacket. He was asking questions,
Could you install multiple computers, network them together
and provide technical support? Dean and Dastoor explained how
it could happen. They had proved themselves with over a dozen companies
already and had even installed a series of small networks.
And then Lundberg did something that forever changed the lives of
these two young entrepreneurs. He pulled a substantial purchase order
out of his briefcase. That piece of paper put Citon Computer Corp
where it is today. That paper represented an honored trust. After
Dean and Dastoor were able to stop smiling and laughing, Lundberg
told them what had made up his mind. Lundberg had called all ten of
their references and every single individual called back. I
have never had that happen before, said Lundberg. The positive
reviews of UMD professors and respected business professionals convinced
him to give this young company his business.
Dean and Dastoor say those good references came from a philosophy
they continue to value. They use the best equipment, they use the
best components and they dont walk away until everything is
up and running smoothly.
Citon Computer Corp builds personal computers and offers comprehensive
People told them they wouldnt succeed because the computer field
was just too competitive. When the business was still in the planning
stages, they explained the concept to a UMD Center for Economic Development
(CED) business developer who outlined all of the challenges they needed
to face. I guess we looked like a tiny pimple on the landscape
of computer technology. It sounded like he thought we could never
make it, said Dean. But we didnt give up. We knew
people needed the service we had to offer. At that session they
were given a blue form, it was a Step By Step sheet for starting a
new business. We followed it right down the line, said
Dastoor, checking each item off starting with securing an assumed
name, a sales tax identification number, and a Federal Tax ID number.
The pair credit two factors in their success: help from the UMD Center
for Economic Development and start-up assistance from a Duluth business
Dean and Dastoor used every appropriate service the UMD Center for
Economic Development offered. A UMD marketing class took on their
business as a class project and provided ideas on how to make their
business grow and where they should look for new customers.
They attended one of the Business Simulation Labs, led by School of
Business and Economics Dean Kjell Knudsen. For an entire weekend,
the participants took on different customer and business roles. The
entire weekend was videotaped.
CED staff created challenging situations, and the participants were
able to watch human reactions. Dastoor said, Once we were using
a bank as an example. When an irate manager criticized an employee,
we observed a change in the relationship of that employee to the customer.
The biggest lesson of the weekend was that positive exchanges between
people may make the difference between a successful business and a
Dean and Dastoor met with CED staff, took workshops and learned how
to use the lingo. Some of it, like document, determine, design,
deploy, said Dean, is still part of our every day business.
The second factor in Citons success was the help of an interested
Duluth businessman, John Goldfine. While helping Goldfines daughter
with her computer, Dean and Dastoor explained their idea for the new
company. Goldfine loved it. He personally knew people who were looking
for this exact service. Dean and Dastoor had already had some success
refurbishing used computers for resale and Goldfine recognized their
potential. He offered them a Canal Park office with a phone for no
money down. They paid rent on a month to month basis. Then another
business leader, Joe Jeannette of the Cartier Agency stepped in. He
offered to give them business insurance on a payment plan. Their total
1994 start up finance package came to $400.
Seven years later, Citons annual gross sales amount to over
$1 million. Their clients list is growing from small businesses to
large ones like Cirrus Design airplane manufacturing. They have taken
on a series of government projects, and they have just leased space
in the new Duluth Technology Center in downtown Duluth.
CED director of business development Lee Jensen Bujold said that the
CED has installed all Citon Computers in the CED computer lab and
staff offices, and she just bought a Citon Computer for home use,
based on the quality of the product and Citon's exemplary customer
service. Their service record earned Dastoor and Dean an award for
entrepreneurship, given annually to outstanding entrepreneurs in Northeastern
Citon is breaking records. Their seven-year jump from an investment
of $400 to over $1 million in annual sales is a success in anyones
book. Alumni that need assistance in starting or expanding a business
in the Arrowhead Region are invited to contact the UMD Center for
Economic Development by e-mail at email@example.com or call 218-726-7298,
the Range of Education
teacher June Hendrickson and Superintendent Robert Belluzzo have a
lot in common. They both attended UMD; Hendrickson graduated in 1951
(1967 with her masters) and Belluzzo in 1978. They taught in neighboring
classrooms in Hibbings Washington Elementary School for nine
years. But the greatest bond between them is their desire to maintain
quality education in the Hibbing School System in the face of an economic
crisis on Minnesotas Iron Range.
Hendrickson retired from teaching five years ago, with a list of accomplishments
as long as your arm. She was named to the Minnesota Teachers of the
Year Honor Roll in the 1960s, Hibbing declared a June Hendrickson
Day, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from UMD, she was
declared one of the top 100 people who influenced Hibbing, and she
received an award for Minnesota Academic Excellence. The Hibbing School
Board was not about to let her go. She was encouraged to run for a
school board seat and she won. And that is how she teamed up with
When the Hibbing Schools had a vacancy for the superintendent position,
Belluzzo was a solid candidate. Belluzzo hadnt moved far away;
he served as the superintendent of schools in the smaller Chisholm
district and his reputation was so strong, Hibbing hired him back.
The new job came with the intricacies of a larger district. We
are members of a collaborative, along with St. Louis County, that
provides Hibbing with social services, addresses health issues and
provides non-typical educational services, he said.
Like any school district, the Hibbing Schools had situations that
needed solutions. A fire during the construction of the high school
addition meant some students had an extra long vacation and getting
the required class days back on the calendar created a headache. Hendrickson
said the board came up with a plan to lengthen class periods
slightly, schedule class during a couple of breaks, and extend the
school year into a couple of weeks of the summer. They solved
the dilemma without causing a problem for the students.
One innovation is a credit to Hibbing and Hendrickson. She created
the HAT (Hibbing Academic and Talented) Program for elementary students
and she spent the last ten years of her career as its coordinator.
She said, Every Monday afternoon until 4 p.m., elementary students,
academically able or talented in the visual arts or performing arts,
can pursue their interests. HAT Day is well established and
there are no scheduled elementary sports on that day. That way everyone,
even athletes, can participate in art, enrichment activities and vocational
training after school. And for over a decade, Hibbing has held onto
this sacred day, steadfast in their emphasis on academics and a quality
Hibbing also struggles to keep a full day Kindergarten class. The
state only pays for a half day, said Belluzzo. So the
school district has to come up with the funds for teachers, classrooms
and supplies for the other half. Both he and Hendrickson feel
that a full day Kindergarten is good preparation for school. Furthermore,
the half day is stressful on the working families in the community.
Another challenge faced the school board in recent years: technology.
Hendrickson said, We had to propose a referendum to raise the
money for our technology infrastructure. The historic Hibbing
High School needed to get wired for technology and it needed high
speed connections in order to prepare its students for jobs in the
real world. The citizens agreed and the referendum passed on the first
But there is one difficulty that Hibbing hasnt overcome, and
it may take years before the results of this struggle are known. The
mining industry has started to lose steam and the ramifications on
Hibbing are incessant. The mining layoffs began a couple of years
ago and families left the area. When mining families leave, they take
the money they would have spent in the community with them. We
havent seen many businesses in Hibbing close yet, said
Belluzzo, but it is certain that some will be downsizing.
Declining enrollment translates into declining finances and recently
Hibbing was forced to closed its Cobb/Cook school. The stable brick
structure, with a perfect setting for a Kindergarten center, now sits
Belluzzo worries that Hibbing will have to compromise its standards
of excellence. We need qualified teachers, he said. When
we have positions that need to be filled, will we get good teachers
when they know this is an area of declining enrollment?
The LTV mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, has officially closed. Three
additional mines are threatening to slow down or shut down and the
implications make Rangers worry about the future.
In the short term, the Hibbing schools are sound. Test scores are
improving and teacher accountability is high. We have no serious
discipline issues, said Belluzzo. We get upset with students
who leave pop cans in the halls of the high school.
Both of these alumni remember UMD fondly. Belluzzo remembers doing
homework in the Bullpub and going to football games in Griggs Field.
Hendrickson, who was one of the few young women who majored in mathmatics,
was impressed with her teachers, especially Department Chair Dr. William
McEwen. She said, Dr. McEwen fostered my life-long interest
Hendrickson also remembers lots of fun. One year she and her friends
dressed up to trick or treat at their professors houses. This behavior
is from one of the first Alworth Scholars, a program that continues
today! Hendrickson helped organize the prom at the Duluth Armory with
the Jimmy Dorsey band. She and her classmates also sewed a huge bulldog
and stuffed it in order to ride with it in the homecoming parade.
As you see, her organizing skills developed early. She plans to use
these skills again as she helps with the 50th Reunion this fall for
the Class of 1951.
And so, with a mixture of wisdom and playfulness, these two alumni
join to make the Hibbing Schools as good as they can get. And they
are doing a first-rate job.
Three alumni brothers
find it hard to stay away from UMD
There are at least two reasons to write
about these three men. First, in the Spring of 2000, the Bell brothers,
Charles M. Bell, 72, Frank S. Bell, 70, and Thomas Bell
III, 68, of Duluth were presented the 30th annual Business
Persons of the Year Award by the UMD School of Business and Economics.
And second, the three brothers are setting up a Bell Brothers UMD
These are both great reasons to tell you more about these alumni.
They are well-known in Duluth. The Bell family operates the Bell Brothers
Chapel in West Duluth and the Jarvi-Dowd Chapel on East Fourth Street.
The Bell brothers became business partners in 1973. Since then, they
have been active at UMD and in many aspects of the community including
serving on the boards of area organizations and businesses.
In receiving the Business Persons of the Year Award, the men were
recognized for extraordinary service to the community, as well
as for their business abilities by the UMD School of Business
and Economics Dean Kjell Knudsen.
The following is an excerpt of the speech
Dean Knudsen gave at the award ceremony presenting Charles, Frank
and Thomas with the Business Persons of the Year Award.
All three Bell brothers were born in Duluth, graduated from Shattuck
Military School in Faribault Minnesota, and graduated from UMD in
1968, 1970, and 1972. Two went on to the School of Mortuary Science
at the University of Minnesota.
The Bell brothers became business partners in the Fall of 1973. All
three brothers served on the board and were presidents of the Western
Area Business & Civic Association. Two brothers served several
years on the United Way Board of Directors and all three were active
in many annual United Way campaigns besides belonging to the United
Way Sieur du Luth Society. One has been very active in United Depot
Campaigns and the Great Lakes Aquarium fund drive.
One brother served on the Board and was president of the Duluth Quaterback
Club and a member of the UMD Bulldog Club and was Honorary Fund Campaign
Chairman. And another brother chaired the recent Duluth Athletic Facilities
Referendum committee, the first referendum of its kind ever to be
passed by the Duluth voters.
One brother is an Eagle Scout, served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout
Troop 16 and is Chairman of the Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner and
is a life member of the National Eagle Scout Association. Another
brother served as District Commissioner for Boy Scouts of America-Auriga
District and served on the Board of the Northland Chapter of the American
Red Cross and its Disaster Action Team.
All three brothers are members of Euclid Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite
and Aad Temple Shrine. One of the brothers is a 33rd Degree Honorary
Mason and a recipient of the DeMolay Legion of Honor award and another
is past Master of Euclid Lodge.
One brother served two different terms on the Board and also president
twice of Goodwill Industries and another brother served on the Board
of the Boys and Girls Club of Duluth for over 20 years,
president for two years. Another brother was co-founder of the St.
Louis Bay Ducks Unlimited while another was one of the founders and
served as president for two years of the non-profit development association
SVCNDA, Spirit Valley Citizens Neighborhood Development Association.
One brother served on the Board and was president of St. Louis County
Heritage and Arts Center. And another served on the Duluth Charter
Commission. One brother serves on the Selective Service Board #3 and
is currently Chairman. Another brother served on the Board of the
Duluth Chamber of Commerce and was the first President elected in
its 115 year history who resided west of the point of rocks.
One brother was a member and served on the Board and was the president
of Duluth Rotary #25. He was the son and grandson of former presidents
of Downtown Rotary. One served on the Board of the Duluth Superior
Community Foundation, the Proctor Area Community Foundation and Duluth
Rotary Foundation and another brother served on the board and was
president of the Ordean Foundation. One brother served on the Board
and was president of the Kitchi Gammi Club.
One brother serves on the Community Board of Directors of Norwest
Bank and another served on the Board and as vice-president of Miller-Dwan
Hospital and on the Board and president of the Miller-Dwan Foundation
and another brother currently serves on the Board of St. Lukes
Two brothers have been members, but one brother served as president
of the Arrowhead and Minnesota Funeral Directors Associations.
All three brothers are active and have served in many leadership positions
in their respective churches. One is a member at Forbes United Methodist
Church and two are members at Asbury United Methodist church.
One is married to Micki Bell and they have three children, Tom, John,
Kate and have a grandson, Dexter. One is married to Rosalie and they
have two children, Krissy, Peter, and may have another. And one has
three children, Nicole, Charles II, Natalie and a grandson, Ian. Each
of the three brothers have a dog.
by Cheryl Reitan
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