Business Buzz for the week of March 11

Miller to be inducted into hall of fame
Darlene Miller, owner of Burnsville-based precision machining company Permac Industries, is one of nine women to be inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame at an event on April 19 in Golden Valley.

Miller knew nothing about running a manufacturing business prior to joining the company in 1993 as an outside sales representative. Within two years, she had purchased the company. She soon modernized Permac, earning multiple awards from the U.S. Chamber and other organizations.

Miller is actively involved in the community. In 2005, she cofounded the local chapter of Hope for Tomorrow, a mentoring program. She continues to serve on its board. She is now running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.

CaringBridge hires executive
Krista Mathews has been hired as vice president of major gifts at Eagan-based CaringBridge, the nonprofit organization created to help people remain connected to their family and friends when experiencing a health journey.

Mathews will work in partnership with Sona Mehring, CaringBridge founder and chief ambassador, and CEO Liwanag Ojala, to build and grow the major gifts program and will be a key driver in identifying needs in the major donor development area.

Mathews previously served as senior major gifts officer at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Foundation. Prior to that, she led development and corporate philanthropy at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. and served as director of development at the Minnesota Medical Foundation at the University of Minnesota.

An alumna of University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of Minnesota School of Law, she also has experience as a litigation attorney and judicial law clerk.

Executives named at Blue Cross 
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Eagan, promoted Tina Holmes to vice president, office of the CEO and chief of staff; Eric Hoag to vice president, provider relations; and Janelle Waldock to vice president, community health and health equity. In addition, Peter Wickersham has joined the organization as the executive pharmacy officer and vice president, health services operations.

In her new role as vice president to the office of the CEO, Holmes will lead the organization’s corporate events, crisis management and business resilience functions, as well as increase her role as a liaison to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Holmes will continue her chief of staff responsibilities to advise, coordinate and collaborate on strategic initiatives for the CEO, while overseeing cross-functional activities throughout the organization.

Holmes has more than 19 years of experience at Blue Cross where she has held leadership roles in IT and several other business disciplines.

In his new role as vice president of provider relations, Hoag will be responsible for developing value-based payment methodologies, negotiating contracts with medical service providers, configuring networks of providers, managing the cost of contracted medical services and cultivating strategic partnerships with providers.

Hoag previously served as senior director of provider relations at Blue Cross and as a director for Allina Health System’s Physician Business Development where he managed acquisitions, physician arrangements and other business development activities. He also held financial and management positions at the University of Minnesota Physicians.

As vice president of community health and health equity, Waldock will oversee Blue Cross’s internal and external approach to health equity, as well as its community health initiatives, including those funded through the Center for Prevention. She will also oversee the organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy.

During her more than 15-year tenure at Blue Cross, Waldock has played a prominent role in the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts, including most recently serving as the director of the Center for Prevention. She also played a leadership role in statewide coalitions that supported the passage of the Minnesota’s Freedom to Breathe law and a significant increase in the state’s tobacco tax.

In his new role as executive pharmacy officer and vice president of health services operations, Wickersham will oversee Blue Cross’ pharmacy business and be responsible for the organization’s provider data operations, credentialing, project management, operational efficiency, clinical and provider analytics as well as Blue Cross’ affordability of care program.

Wickersham was previously with Change Healthcare (formerly Emdeon) where he was senior vice president and general manager of pharmacy and clinical solutions. He has held leadership positions at Prime Therapeutics, CIGNA and Aetna, and is currently a board member of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance.

Board and Batten opens in Lakeville
Board and Batten, an affordable home decor, clothing and accessories store, opened March 3 in Lakeville at 16275 Ipava Ave. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit

Credit union blood drive a success
Burnsville-based Firefly Credit Union, formerly US Federal Credit Union, partnered with Memorial Blood Centers to host its semiannual blood drive on Jan. 20 as part of National Blood Donor Month.

Donors taking part in Firefly’s latest drive helped to collect 24 whole blood cell units, which have the potential to save up to 64 lives.

The credit union will host its next blood drive this summer.

Free Cone Day at DQ
Dairy Queen locations will kick off spring with Free Cone Day Tuesday, March 15.

During Free Cone Day, the DQ system is accepting donations for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which raises funds to help save and improve the lives of kids treated at 170 children’s hospitals across the U.S. and Canada.

Throughout the day, participating non-mall Dairy Queen and DQ Grill & Chill locations will serve customers a free small vanilla soft-serve cone (limit one per customer while supplies last). Last year, $140,000 was raised through the event.

Wag N’ Wash celebrates anniversary
Wag N’ Wash Natural Pet Food and Bakery is holding its one-year celebration 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 2.

The store is offering a $10 self-wash, free samples of premium foods, giveaways, prizes and in-store specials during the event.

Wag N’ Wash is at 1960 Cliff Lake Road, Suite 120, Eagan. Call 651-454-9274 or visit for more information.