The Gentlemen of Lake Minnetonka Lifestyle

Introducing the 'gents' who make this magazine and so many other things possible in the Lake Minnetonka community.

Todd Simning
President at ADOR Bespoke Homes in Excelsior

“The best thing about being a father is learning about humility. From early on, you will learn that in the eyes of your kids, you are a nobody. For example, I asked the kids if one of them would like to take over my business one day, and they all said no. No matter what you do, how you set your schedule around your kids, or how many nice family vacations you take them on, they won’t notice until they are grown. This humility I brought into my business. When talking to the workers or customers, I don’t get a big head or an attitude. My goal is to make people happy around me. So many of us get caught up in ourselves each and every day, where we feel as though we are much better than what we are. I lived through the depression in 2008, which really showed me how to keep myself in check. I am not better than anyone else. I want to take care of my clients and want them to appreciate me. Having a good attitude and being down to earth are huge selling points in this organization.”

Chris Dennis
Associate Broker at Lakes Area Realty in Uptown

“When I was growing up, I had a lawn mowing business. I cut a few office buildings and the neighborhood lawns. My father used to come out and audit my lawn mowing every once in a while. He would say, ‘It’s not what the blades of grass you cut that people notice, it’s the ones that you didn’t.’ What he meant by that was that the blades of grass that are missed can detract from the overall job. Now that I have had time to reflect on that advice, it means that it is the attention to details that matter. The attention to detail can set apart a good job and an amazing job. I think we have all experienced that throughout our lives. The attention to detail is something I have strived to give my clients and customers since day one. It is a continually evolving process as you both learn more about what your clients are looking for and as your client’s needs change throughout the years.  I also coach my agents to put themselves in their client’s shoes and look at the real estate process from their perspective. This helps my realtors achieve the goals of their clients, as well as anticipate the details that will help the client have an excellent home buying or selling experience. I can say the overall culture I try to foster at my Lakes Area Realty office is to put the relationship with the client and their needs first.”

Ryan Hugget
Owner of The Maker’s Studio in Excelsior

“I fell in love with woodworking when I was 13; it was during my first woodworking class. However, it wasn’t until my late twenties when I was able to collect my own tools and begin to focus on the craft that I was able to really appreciate how much skill and labor go into the things we surround ourselves with. The Maker’s Studio sprung from that idea. As I interacted more and more with people in the maker community I became enamored with the fact that so many of our neighbors are incredibly talented but so few people know about it. Our mission at The Maker’s Studio has always been to present those talented craftspeople to the broader community. One of the best lessons my father always preached was the ‘Do it right, do it once’ principle. I recall this nearly every day and certainly every day I am in my workshop. I even have that saying painted on a wall in my workshop. Every piece that comes out of my workshop has my fingerprints on it, but they also are each imprinted with the lessons that my father has passed onto me. I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without his guidance.”

Joshua Martini
Owner of Vively Body Science in Wayzata

“My favorite hobbies include snowboarding, grilling, running, fishing, and many other outdoor activities. But although I have many hobbies, I am also a father of four children. I learned that with being a parent, you need to have patience. You need to have the ability to be selfless when you are a parent. You need to give up a very large portion of time and energy to people other than yourself, like driving your kids to practices, or getting them supplies for school. Having children really puts things into perspective. You learn how to interact with people better, and to be more patient towards others. When translating this to my career, from a customer service standpoint, my children taught me that you need to put the customer first. It is important to deliver their expectations, and to recognize the worth and values in other people.”

Lee McGillvray
President at Jet Linx in Minneapolis

“The best advice I received from my father was to not do anything stupid, although generic, it remains true. My father led with a very quiet but strong presence and wanted for me to aspire for more. He didn’t want me to settle for less and really wanted me to work hard in everything. I followed in his footsteps when I played sports, and he was always there for me. He is my best friend in so many more ways than I can say. His advice was mostly about treating people properly, as well as learning empathy, and knowing to always give back to others who need it more than I do. He is a wonderful man, and I can only hope to fulfill his vision of his family with my own one day.”

Rob Collins
President & Owner of Quarve Contracting in Spring Lake Park

“I was born and raised in Rosemont, Illinois, and graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in marketing. Since then, I have worked for nearly 30 years in corporate marketing and advertising agencies for brands such as Nike, McDonald’s, Pella Windows, Buffalo Wild Wings, and many more. However, in December 2020, I decided to leave the corporate world to purchase a home exterior contracting business with my wife. I am passionate about DIY and have built homes, worked on carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and finishing since I was a kid. Quarve Contracting specializes in metal roofing and siding along with providing a full roster of home exterior remodeling solutions. The best advice I’ve learned from being a father is that life is so much more than your personal accomplishments and gains. The joy of having an incredible wife and raising three amazing children resets both your priorities and definition of success. This has helped me with my business because I can set a path forward that delivers a one-of-a-kind experience to homeowners while simultaneously creating a legacy for my family. I get up every day knowing that the most important thing is to delight customers, create a nurturing environment for our employees, and an example for my children to learn about hard work, integrity, and the satisfaction of a job well done.”

Demetrous Few
Owner of Miss Kasual in Mound

“I was born and raised in Minnesota. I am a veteran but still am enlisted in the Army. I am happily married with a mixed family. I started Miss Kasual after I returned home from a deployment. At this time, I didn’t really want to waste money and thought it was a good time to invest in myself. Therefore, I built the company and my wife has helped the company elevate. Whenever I have free time, I love to work on cars. Working on these cars and driving them correlates with my driving in the military. But for the store, it helps with sending out packages. I would say the success comes from the drive to try new things and creating a welcoming environment.”

Paul Borchert
Managing Partner at The Canopy Group

One of my favorite hobbies is to coach my sons in baseball. However, now that they have grown up, I hope to play more golf and be able to spend more time on our boat. While raising my sons I have learned the true personal satisfaction from raising two amazing young men. My boys became great people not by the things we did for them, but rather by the way we taught them. My way of coaching the boys through life is by showing and teaching them what to do and then having them do it by themselves. This way, I can see the pride and joy on their faces through each of their accomplishments. The best piece of advice I have ever received from my father was ‘Leadership is earned by wanting more for others, it does not simply exist in a title.' I try to pass this onto my sons.”

Dave Lawrence
Owner of Paradise Charter Cruises in Minneapolis

“I am self-employed. I love my family, our dog Leo, the outdoors, staying active, and spending time with loved ones. My dad was a retired Marine who would always stress to his four boys to never, ever give up. His advice was to always work hard, but find time to enjoy life; all things are possible and you need to stay focused but always remember God and family come first. This is something I cherish in memories about him and am passing onto my children. For over 36 years, his advice has helped me focus on what is needed in order to succeed. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box, like a farmer without rain, and still make things grow. This applies to almost every business, and ours has seen some drastic ups and downs over the years, but we always work hard and have proven it works. It is a large part of our success, for both myself and my family.”

Chris Navarra
Director of Showrooms at Ferguson Enterprises - Upper Midwest

“I was born in Okinawa, Japan and raised in upstate New York after moving to the United States at six years old. After graduating from Ithaca College, I started my first job at Ferguson in Washington D.C. Since then, I have held a variety of positions with Ferguson in Florida, Illinois, and Texas. Six years ago, I landed in the Twin Cities where I currently live with my wife and 10-year-old daughter. While raising my daughter, I have learned that before I had children, I always thought I would be the one teaching valuable life lessons to my child, however, I am amazed at how much I learn from my daughter and the experience of being a parent. This translates into my business because we are constantly learning from our customers. While we have the expertise to assist and educate our customers, we consistently learn from them which helps us continually improve the services we provide. For our showroom business, we strive to provide a world-class customer experience.”

Eric Stafford
Owner of Stafford Family Reality in Excelsior

“The best thing I have learned from being a father is that time flies and our little girls are not little anymore; they grow up way too fast. Our twins are graduating from Southwest Christian High School in May, and it doesn’t seem like too long ago I was holding two tiny babies in my arms. Working in real estate is not a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 job. It is constant, and no respecter of evenings or weekends. I’ve learned to make my family a priority and be intentional about blocking my calendar so I can spend time with my girls on what is important to them.  From family meals together almost every night to taking amazing family vacations a few times a year, spending time with my family is the best investment I can make.  You can always make more money but you can never make more time. This translates to our business plan by having our priorities in order. God first, family second, business third. To accomplish this, we have created protocols and business systems to provide the very highest level of service to our clients. Sharla and I have complementary strengths so we divide and conquer really well, and we hired Jane Field as our Client Services Manager 14 years ago to add another level of high-touch service to our clients. We do a high volume of business selling 60 to 70 plus homes a year, and our clients feel they are treated as if they’re the only client we have.”

Andrew Mullin
Global Marketing Director at GEOSYS in Minneapolis and
 Chair of the Wayzata Conservancy
“The best piece of advice my father ever gave me was ‘Remember, you have never seen a hearse with a trailer.’ This translates to the success of my work because you need to focus on experiences and relationships, rather than just the work. When your time is up on this earth, you can’t take material things with you or titles or promotions; it will be about what you got done and the relationships you made along the way.”

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