City Business - September 10, 1999 Page 15 - Small Business Profile- Firm Adds Golden Touch

By Ryan Huseby

When Kimberly Baeth gave birth to her daughter three weeks earlier than expected in 1998, it was impossible to change her small business’ schedule to accommodate the baby’s schedule. With dozens of people in attendance and weeks of planning behind her, the grand opening she had organized for a local business had to go on.
“My husband and I arrived a little late, still wearing the little plastic bracelets from the hospital,” recalls Baeth, founder and president of Golden Openings Inc.

Baeth’s New Hope-based company, which will be 3 years old in February, is a public relations firm that specializes in grand openings, re-openings and anniversary events.

As member services director at the North Hennepin Chamber of Commerce before venturing on her won, Baeth received countless phone calls from new businesses asking if she could provide the big novelty scissors for a ribbon-cutting or issue a press release about an upcoming event. Unable to do these things, she presented an idea to the chamber board for a program which would have provided these services, but it was rejected because of lack of resources.

“And I decided, if they don’t want to do it, I’ll give it a try,” said the 28-year-old Baeth.

So she quit her job on friendly terms, asked her father to construct an oversized pair of scissors as a birthday gift, and launched Golden Openings with only a couple of computers, picking up office equipment along the way.

Since then, Baeth has organized almost 250 events, primarily for small businesses, though some larger chains, such as Bally’s Total Fitness, Papa John’s Pizza and ProEx, have also sought her help. Golden Openings is a member of 12 area chambers of commerce, and Baeth said those memberships and publicity generated by the events are the company’s primary means of advertising.

Kelly Knutson, Baeth’s summer intern and currently the only other Golden Openings employee, said she and her boss attended almost every chamber meeting throughout the summer and were quite successful in drumming up business. “We would usually find one or two new clients at every chamber meeting we went to,” Knutson said.

In planning grand openings and other events, Baeth tries to round up as many people and as much publicity as she can for her client. She has gotten local big-name celebrities such as Kirby Puckett to attend a couple of grand openings, and has contacts with several Twins Cities publications to promote, or cover, the events.

“It takes a lot of persistence [to get the right people there],” Baeth said. “But the business owner shouldn’t have to deal with it. They should be treated like a celebrity, not a host.”

And with each event Baeth organizes, the experience she accumulates could be an appealing factor to other new businesses, said Greg Schneider from the Small Business Development Center at the University of St. Thomas. “It could be very helpful for start-up businesses to gain from the experience Golden Openings has had with events they have done for other businesses, “Schneider said.

Baeth predicts Golden Openings’ revenues to be around $100,000 this year, but she is not exactly sure-her husband, Kevin does most of the company’s accounting in his free time. Baeth said she would like to see the company continue to expand in the next five years, possibly into two other states, such as Iowa. But, she added, she will need her family time. “I’m not into working around the clock.”