Hodnik joins Minnesota Business Hall of Fame

Al Hodnik, ALLETE (NYSE:ALE) executive chairman and former president and CEO, is among this year’s inductees to the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.

Each year the magazine honors five influential business leaders in Minnesota, recognizing them for their leadership and accomplishments in their respective industries, as well as their contributions to the business community. Hodnik joins more than 100 leaders inducted during the past 21 years.

Bethany Owen, who succeeded Hodnik as ALLETE president and CEO, said Hodnik’s leadership and vision have played a key role in the company’s success.

“As a company and as individuals, we have all benefited tremendously from Al’s passion for people, our region and the energy industry, and his commitment to integrity and ethics,” Owen said. “ALLETE is the company it is today because of Al’s visionary and strategic leadership."

Hodnik has been with ALLETE for nearly four decades, starting with a summer job at Minnesota Power’s Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes. He served 11 years as president of ALLETE, 10 as CEO and nine as chairman of the board. He became executive chairman in February 2020.

“It is most humbling to be inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame alongside the 2020 class and all other exemplary leaders enshrined,” Hodnik said. “While I have worn many shoes in my varied career, the greatest honor was to be tapped by the board to lead ALLETE at the highest level in 2009. It has been a privilege to lead with waves of exceptional talent during my 40 years and any success attributed to me is the direct result of their creativity, drive, care and commitment, and the generosity of my many mentors along the way.”

The five inductees are featured in the June/July edition of Twin Cities Business magazine and were selected because of their capacity to innovate, set a clear direction, and unite their employees behind common goals.

TCB noted that before moving to the C-suite, Hodnik held various positions in labor and management at ALLETE and served 10 years as mayor of his hometown of Aurora.

Hodnik and his teams are credited with leading the company through an era of tremendous company and energy sector transformation. Under his leadership, ALLETE experienced considerable growth and further diversified with the creation of ALLETE Clean Energy, acquired and then sold a majority share in U.S. Water, and the company navigated a planned but sizable workplace transition. Also during his tenure, Minnesota Power transformed from an electric utility that was 95 percent coal to nearly 50 percent renewable energy and erected the last tower of the Great Northern Transmission Line, a renewable energy initiative which now is delivering hydropower from Canada.

In addition to Hodnik, this year’s honorees are Monica Nassif, founder of cleaning products companies Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day; Bill Otis, who built New Ulm-based Nuvera Communications into a large company that offers high-speed internet, digital TV, and wireless services for residential and business customers; George Sherman, real estate developer whose projects (including Duluth’s $30.5 million NorShor Theater) have exceeded $4 billion in value; and Kathryn (Kathy) Tunheim, principal and CEO of Tunheim communications agency.

Online celebration

The inductees will be celebrated July 27 during an online event hosted by Twin Cities Business. Former ALLETE board chairman Bruce Stender will introduce Hodnik in a video that will be part of the induction celebration.

“Al is a proud Iron Ranger who is as comfortable walking down the main street of Aurora as he is sitting down with analysts on Wall Street or peers at industry meetings, or strategy sessions with his key reports or during board meetings. He understands and clearly articulates ALLETE’s business strategy. He is self-confident in a humble way with a great sense of humor,” Stender said. “Al cares about everybody in the company. It was a treat to walk the halls of the administrative offices on Superior Street and witness his interaction between and among associates. He made ‘managing while walking around’ come alive.”