New Overtime Rule – Why you should care…

In 2014, the Department of Labor started to make some changes.  This is a must research, must understand rule that will affect most, if not all, of your businesses.  As business owners it is critical for you to understand this rule and prepare.  Come December 1st 2016 some major changes will happen.

At first glance it may seem relatively common sense.  President Obama updated regulations – the Fair Labor Standards Act – attempting to protect more workers and get more money for the middle class.  Many sites you visit sing its praises.  How it is Good for everyone and that people deserve more pay for more work.

According to the Department of Labor

The final rule will:

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.
  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.
  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.
  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

However, not all agree on this rosy point of view.  There are actual repercussions that many businesses and employers will face.  In response to the rule, employers will need to either: pay more overtime, raise workers’ salaries above the threshold, limit workers’ hours, or some combination of those choices.  While this has been identified as plenty of options, the US Chamber and others feel it will hurt small businesses and not really increase wages:

The Cold Hard Reality claims shocks to both workers and workplaces on how this will actually impact us in our everyday reality.

Whichever side you find yourself on, it is an issue we need to address.  Do your research now.  Determine how it will affect your business moving forward.   Once December hits there will undoubtedly be changes.  Be ready.

Sign Ordinance Update

Beginning in 2014, the City of Williston’s Planning and Zoning Department went about updating the sign regulations that had not been updated since 1983 – in an effort to modernize regulations and to allow for greater overall signage for businesses.

The Chamber (under Scott’s leadership), along with others, were intricately involved in the comments and meetings on the draft ordinance in 2015.  During the planning stages the Chamber worked to ensure that public comment, particularly from our members’ business concerns was heard.

Since then, the planning department has adjusted the ordinance to reflect the changes.  Please take a look at our news section to see the full memo and updated ordinance.  If you think that this may be affecting your business and would like to comment, please contact the Chamber or the planning department directly – particularly with any questions on the ordinance itself (call 701-577-8104 or email  Note that a public hearing on this ordinance will be held SEPTEMBER 19th at 5:30pm at City Hall.  Again, the memo with highlighted changes from 2015 and the full ordinance can be reviewed here.

Guest Blog-Recycling in North Dakota

Garbage. How often do you think about it?  When the can is getting full and you hope you’re not the one who gets stuck taking it out?    When you see the sign for the landfill? Maybe you don’t think about it at all.  But unfortunately, it’s something that affects us all – the city, county, our area, and our environment…good thing there is recycling in Williston!

The North Dakota Recycling Services Facility can recycle many different items:

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All of these can be dropped off 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.  We also offer a pick-up service to many of the local businesses to make recycling easier for them.  North Dakota Recycling Services is a privately run recycling facility that has been operated for the past four years. We took over from public works when they no longer wanted to/or had the man power to run the program.  We are not funded by the City of Williston or any other grants.  We operate solely on what is brought in by recycling these materials, which unfortunately is not always paying for itself, but is very rewarding.

North Dakota Recycling works in conjunction with its sister Company, Chamley Pipe & Salvage.  At Chamley Pipe and Salvage, we recycle wood and scrap metal of all kinds.  Between both companies we are currently keeping approximately 500,000 pounds of recyclable materials out of the local landfill each month.  YES! ½ MILLION POUNDS EACH MONTH!

You can imagine how much more could be recycled if everybody in Williston knew about the center and what we can do!

Will Chamley and his partners support the recycling program in the City, many times out of their own pockets, in hopes that the recycling program here in Williston can continue to grow and encompass more types of recyclables in the future, such as glass and plastic.  Please help us spread the word!

North Dakota Recycling ServicesIs it time to clean out your own homes or businesses?  We are heading up a drive again at the end of August for the collection of E-Waste.  Our April drive collected 40,000 pounds of electronics to send to a special recycling facility to dispose of the toxic chemicals contained in them – keeping them from contaminating our soil and in turn our waters.  Please see the event flyer and help us keep electronics out of the landfill.

We are also working on partnering with businesses to place collection containers for aluminum at locations that make it easy to participate; and the proceeds from the collections will be donated to the local charity “Bras for a Cause”.  We chose this charity because all the money stays local, to help cancer patients with costs not normally covered by insurance.

I hope you have found this information useful and I hope you can pass it on to your co-workers and friends.

Thank you for spreading the recycling word!

-Brenda Wollan

Chamley Pipe and Salvage

Rich in Opportunities

August is a busy month – and I don’t just mean the back to school rush.  The Williston Area is abundant with community events, not to mention all our member businesses doing great things and the Chamber still very busy at work for you….

Just take a look at our calendar of events!  From numerous Chamber events such as Business after Hours next week, the Teachers Reception at the end of the month, and monthly committee meetings, to community events like the Babe Ruth Series, festivals, concerts and much more –you won’t get bored in this town!   There are events that have gone on for years, and some that are brand new!  Maybe you’d like to join a committee to be more involved.  The Chamber offers so many opportunities for you and your business!

But our calendar doesn’t include all the great things that are occurring in our area.  Some aren’t one-time events, they are ongoing.  We have the county’s emergency plan update, the city’s comprehension plan update, the expansion of the renaissance zone, area road improvements, and the sign ordinance update – just to name a few.   There are also great things that our member businesses offer.  Our member to member newsletter is filled with that information but there is so much more!

Keep tuning into the blogs to find out more of what is happening so you can determine how it may impact you and your business.  We plan to keep you informed of all that the Chamber, our members, and the Williston Area has to offer.  Remember the Chamber is always working on behalf of our members!

If you have something you’d like to share, write a guest blog and email it to us!

Knowledge is power and the Chamber is your resource and your advocate!

Stay tuned.  Stay informed.


Same Mission

Chambers have always been a part of business communities…they may take different structural forms, they may have a slightly different focus, but they all have a common mission.  They start with a handful of people who want to make a difference in their businesses and their communities.   They advocate for business interests, promote prosperity for those businesses and the general welfare of the area.   They invite members to join and invest in their businesses and the community.  The Chamber is where connections happen.

Our Chamber began as the Williston Community Club and changed its name to the Williston Chamber of Commerce in 1939.  While the chamber has seen many more changes than just its name, I believe our mission still holds true:  the Champion of the Williston Area United Business Community.  More specifically to: 388

Connect:  our businesses

Engage:  our employees

Grow: our membership

Lead: our community

My first few weeks on the job have been both exciting and overwhelming.   Maybe I’m excited because I am back at a Chamber…I remember so very fondly, my time at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce in Pennsylvania – I still stay connected to the many people I met and worked with there.  I’m excited because now I get a chance to build those same relationships here.  I am excited to be involved with the many programs and services that benefit our members!   I am excited to keep improving on the path that the board of directors and past leadership has charted for the Williston Area.  I am excited to be a part of the strategic planning for the Chamber.  I am excited about the possibilities to collaborate and strengthen partnerships with so many other wonderful organizations in our community.   I am also overwhelmed.  I am overwhelmed at the dedication and hard work of the staff and volunteers who are the heart of the chamber.  I am overwhelmed at the numerous opportunities that have been created and those that we have yet to create.  I am overwhelmed at the generosity of the people who work hard to make this community a great place to live and work!  I am overwhelmed at the genuine kindness of those I have met so far – that kindness is what made me fall in love with North Dakota in the first place.

As I continue on the weeks ahead, I invite any and all feedback from our members…stop by, call or email me.  Keep an eye out for all the great things you are used to as well as the new things to come… I trust that I’ll continue to be excited and overwhelmed.

Now is the perfect opportunity to continue to carry out our mission – with passion!  Are you ready?


Change The Recipe

When the concept of “professional development” is brought up at the office, what do you think about? Perhaps you think of reading “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” By Dale Carnegie or “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey – both of which are literary masterpieces. Fortunately for those in Williston, we have a gem right in our very back yard. For the past two years I have attended the Level Up Conference presented by the Williston Chamber and DAWA Solutions Group.
Level Up is an excellent opportunity to step back and perform a personal “temperature check.” It forces us to sit down and ask the difficult questions. This year, one of the key LevelUpLogoClr_Lgtakeaway points was to “never, never, never..never… never…. Never…..NEVER give up! We can all agree that this is an important concept. After all, many of the most successful people in the world have failed time and time again. I know that this simple concept isn’t exactly life changing. Sure – it is an important reminder to persevere through difficult times, but does not otherwise bring any significant personal development.
During the “Don’t Sell Yourself Short” session, Danita Bye spoke about “Stuck Elevators.” Often we find ourselves on the cusp of reaching a new height, but unable to crest into new territory. Where do we go wrong? Do we make excuses? Do we blame other people? Or, do we ask ourselves – Are the troubles we are experiencing a result of our own personal ineffectiveness? BOLD STATEMENT! As professionals, do we take time to ask the difficult questions?
We have all heard the classic saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” To keep doing the same thing over and over but expecting difficult results is the definition of insanity as Einstein best put it. Level Up offers a remedy and gives us tools to CHANGE THE RECIPE! For those that were not able to partake in this year’s event, I highly encourage you to take part in the future.
Smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from the mistakes of smart people! We are all the authors to our own stories. Some elements of the story come naturally, and other parts are fought for. We all have the ability to design and create our own futures. Doors may be opened for us at times and doors may be closed. It is up to us as individuals to recognize areas of improvement AND to act on them.

Simon Fisher, First International Bank & Trust

The Next Chapter

Alas, my time here is ending as a resident. Much sooner than I could have imagined. Two plus years ago, I took a shot on a challenge to run the Chamber of Commerce in the fastest growing city in the U.S. And likewise, the Chamber’s Board and the business community took a chance on me, a born and raised cheesehead. This NoDak Badger learned a fewNoDakBadger things and take with me lasting friendships and experiences. I try to explain to others “you don’t know Williston, until you’ve lived in Williston.”  So as I pack my fly rods and guitar and move to Bismarck next week, here’s my last take as a Willistonian.

  1. I learned that North Dakota IS a political Grand Canyon of the Plains, and that East v West isn’t just a name for the NBA All-Star game. It’s hard to ignore that Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck get the vast majority of the state and nation’s attention, including federal program funding.It will be up to the leadership of the state AND of the western political subdivisions to continue to build a bridge across that canyon. The way it shapes up now, not even Evel Knievel could jump that thing.
  2. I learned that an economy that relies heavily on one commodity (ag, energy) is going to have to learn to ride the waves. The tsunami of people and activity that crashed on the shores of the Little Muddy a few years ago has subsided. Only the strongest remain stout and tall as the wave recedes back into the hills. And those that remain are even stronger still when the next wave comes (and it will).
  3. I learned that in a state of 730,000 people, one group or community or strong voice CAN affect the direction of policy and sentiment.
  4. I learned that some of what the national media portrays of Williston is true and self inflicted. Some of what has been said about the area is only to sell headlines and sensationalize. ABC’s Blood and Oil, the short-lived TV series is among the worst offenses in recent memory.If you want the picture to look different or the story to sound different, you must take control of the message.

I suppose this is also the space where  I lay out the “what Williston needs” list. Rather than going there, because everyone thinks Williston needs something different, let’s use four key community qualitative metrics as a measuring stick. You be the judge on how Williston’s doing in each of these areas.

I’m referencing a presentation I heard in Sioux Falls last week from Mac Holladay, a community image guru and keynote speaker for the event. Mac says you need to identify four things for a community to be successfully competitive in today’s battle to attract and retain America’s best workforce talent.  America’s got talent, but definitely not enough for every community. Read this section with the idea of attracting city administrator candidates to Williston (for instance).

A. Education & Workforce Sustainability. What sort of education and workforce to you want in the community? Do you understand the generational differences and embrace them when it comes to education and workforce needs? What innovative ways can the community help fill that workforce shortage? How much emphasis will be placed on those issues to compete with the Minots, the Bismarcks, Grand Forks’ and Fargos?

B. Place. The ‘place’ is inseparable from your workforce attractiveness. Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist said:

“Economic development today, more than ever before, is about talent management. Regions that are successful in economic development are creating and maintaining a community that is attractive for creative workers.”

There are three’qualitative’ community questions:

  1. Can people easily access the place using a variety of transportation options?
  2. Does the community make a good first impression? Do you feel safe? Is it free of litter? Does it ‘feel’ inviting?
  3. How many different types of activities are occurring? Do people use the community space, or does it sit empty? Are there choices of things to do?

C. Diversity. Embracing diversity to ensure economic growth and stability over the long term. Many studies point to the statistics that half of all children in America today, under the age of 5, are non-white. The term diversity also applies to religious, lifestyle, business, culture, etc, and not just skin color.

D. Regionalism. This concept is the direct opposite to ‘silo-ism’ or taking care of ourselves. Fewer resources mean either a cutthroat mentality, whereby only the large and political survive; or it means banding together for the longer, prosperous road ahead. Think beyond the city limits, and beyond the next budget cycle.

The potential for Williston to be the true ‘western star’ of North Dakota is real. The biggest challenge for the city is to proactively define what it will be; five, ten or twenty years from now, and not let the outside critics and media define the image.

Embracing change is difficult. Those companies and leaders who understand the need to adapt to changing economic conditions will survive. Those that fight change may win once in a while, but in the long run, will be left behind. In the end, it’s not about winning. It’s about doing what is right.

My parting thoughts are a simple and humble thank you. To the Chamber Board for their support the past two plus years and the trust they had in my guiding the Chamber ship through these wild waters. To the staff, without whom nothing would have been possible. To the community leadership for supporting the businesses in Williston as they improve the quality of life here for everyone and spur economic growth; both in and out of the oil and gas industry.

Finally, to the Williston community: Don’t lament the loss of another drilling rig. Embrace what you do have already – talented, caring people who when they work together, can accomplish great things.

Besides, I’m not really leaving. Just moving.

Scott Signature-small.jpeg


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Fight or flight?

Back in my homeland, a significant drop in the price of milk can throw a damp, wool blanket over an entire town, making it difficult for many local businesses supported by the dairy industry to turn profits in a market controlled by outsiders. Now where have I seen this scenario before?

You can do one of two things. Complain about the drop per hundred weight, which if you properly execute a tonsil-clearing farmer snort while saying it, “hunnert-wate”; everyone will nod in agreement, kick the dirt, and then go about their chores. Or, if you are a generational farmer, in it for the long haul, you adjust your projections, cinch up your overalls, dig in for the bumpy ride and diversify your revenue streams.

The nice lady who cuts my hair over the past two years is a pretty good example of that attitude and gave me some insights into her small business recently. She opened up her salon in Williston (although I prefer to call it a barber shop) a few years back after having successfully operated a similar business in Wisconsin.

During 2013 and 2014, customers were lined up, some waiting for an hour or more to get trimmed and gussied up for another day on the oil rig. She and her sister and aunt couldn’t keep up with demand. Which is pretty good, since they are tucked off the main thoroughfares, and didn’t spend much on advertising. They would close promptly at 5:00 pm, and Mondays just to get a break and sleep. But things are different now. Things are different everywhere. The salon owner told me:

“I know a lot of folks closing up. It’s not as busy as it was in 2014. I could go back to Wisconsin, too,” she said. “Is my business down? Yep. Is it slower? Yep. Am I going anywhere? Nope. I just signed another three year lease. I’ll be here to take care of customers that others leave behind.”

She tells me she’s working harder than ever to be available for her customers when they need a trim, and working past 8:00 pm some nights. It’s not all about just opening the door and hoping to survive the crush of customers day after day. That was before 2015. Now she’s marketing more, encouraging word of mouth networking, and even contributed a small sponsorship to a local race driver.

This is one example of what’s happening all over the region and in our community. We can’t control the effect that a global market hiccup in oil prices will have on our economy in Northwest North Dakota. But we can control how we react. Just like our farmers who have to adjust to the price of milk every so often.

Greek philosopher Epictetus said:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

I suspect this is harder for some than others. Some businesses will adjust, some will not be able to do so as easily. But with so much of our infrastructure investments now in place, diversifying our economy, adjusting our expectations and riding this period out is more plausible than it was in the 1990’s.

Just because the rate of economic growth is slower, doesn’t mean Williston isn’t growing at all. We’re adjusting to this pace and adapting to the ‘new normal’ just fine, thank you.


Quick Chamber Update:
Jump over to our new website, to stay up to date on events, new members, and sign up for the weekly newsletter.

Business directories are available – Members get one free, otherwise they are $10.

ShamRockin’ the Bakken – Taste of Williston event on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Check out Facebook to keep tabs on which Williston restaurants will be featured, and where to get tickets ($20 each), and follow our Taste of Williston mascot, Fergus, as he visits local businesses before March 17.

Level UP 2016 Chamber Business Conference – The premier business event of 2016 in Williston, May 11 at The Well at Williston State College. Come hear Inc Magazine columnist, entrepreneur and author Norman Brodsky as the keynote as he highlights his career and talks about ‘Street Smarts’ his book. Interact with key business leaders and network with like-minded individuals to learn sales techniques, media tactics for your business, fitness in the office and business tech applications to help you grow your business AND your career. Sign up now!

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Make a real difference; run for office

“Honey, you should run for the school board and fix that mess!”

“Martha, instead of griping about the issues, why not just run for office yourself?”

“Hey, Joe, some of th’ guys were talkin’ and think you’d make a good candidate for the legislature.”

As a student senator in college, we’d sit in the student union over an Old Style (maybe more than one) and figure out which city council member or county board member was going to retire. Then we’d crank up the campaign machine to get one of our better looking student friends elected. Sometimes it worked. That was pre-social media and pre-internet, and pre-stone age. Campaign stone-flyers, the original tablets, were dragged from cave to cave via woolly mammoth. Lol.

Recently, the Williston Herald ran a story on the offices up for grabs this year. (In the digital world, they call that ‘click bait). The basic process of running for local office (town, school district, city, park board, county) is fairly straight forward. Get the proper number of signatures for the proper office, and get on the ballot. And it’s free. That’s kind of cool, actually. I’ve known 18 year old mayors, 22 year old state legislators, and 30 year old congressmen. There aren’t too many barriers to getting on the ballot, save for a felony maybe.

Incorporating your true political sagacity, there are practicalities you should consider, like, you know, life. Can you devote enough time to do what is required to properly represent your interests or district? Are there issues you are more interested in than others? Is there an open seat, or how many votes or dollars will it take to win?

Although it might be fun; generating tweets, comments, shares and likes via social media doesn’t really count as making a difference.

For what it’s worth, there’s really only one consideration that outweighs all the others:

Do you want to make a real difference?


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New year, new goals, new focus

It was easy as a National Guard photojournalist. Once per month, get an assignment, take some pics, write the story and by 4 pm on Sunday afternoon, hand it over to the editor. Taking on a writing project (like a blog, for instance) on your own brings an entirely new level of responsibility. Like actually doing it.

Image result for deadlines

Most of the last twenty entries came out of this keyboard with flowing grace, seemingly appearing effortlessly on my screen, like snow flakes floating down late some calm December afternoon.  The new year has brought on a flurry of new intensity, and focus on our Chamber’s core missions. So let’s get to it.

Banquet wrap up
The Programs & Services Committee started to work in earnest last summer planning the 2016 Annual Banquet, which culminated on January 22 in roaring fashion. We tweaked the event slightly untitled-50from 2015 including:

  • Separated the ‘business meeting’ portion from the banquet. This gave an opportunity to hear from staff and committee chairs about their efforts.
  • Incorporating a theme, encouraging attendees and sponsors to ‘dress up’ for the night. We heard most of our positive feedback surrounding this detail.
  • Reduced our sponsorship opportunities to create more value for those Members who partnered with us.
  • Re-arranged the room to fit more people in seats.
  • Pulled off a limited live auction to raise funds for The Friends and Veterans of The Old Armory.

In all, we could not be more pleased with the support, partnership with Red River Supply our presenting sponsor, and everyone who attended the wonderful evening. Standing ovation goes to the Chamber staff, June, Bekka and Shawna; and of course the Chamber’s Programs and Services Committee. Which by the way has already been scheming about next year’s annual festivities!

New website, new opportunities
As we promised last year, we delivered a Williston business directory for the first time; and launched the 2016 version of With the help of DAWA Solutions Group, the Chamber’s website is now able to be mentioned in the same drop down menu as Williston Economic Development, Williston Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Williams County and the the City of Williston.

The best part is that we’ll be able to have ALL events listed for members and non-members, making our website THE resource for tons of events, organizations and information. We look forward to working on fleshing that website out as we move forward.

Next week we’ll explore the political and issues of 2016 we’ll be following and influencing.

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