Financing Help to Get Started

Photo of a family standing next to two pickup trucks and red garage

Dunbar Creek Bait Co.     Squaw Lake, MN

Amber Michalek and Spence Haugen are the owners of Dunbar Creek Bait Co. located in Squaw Lake, MN.  The company services 17 resorts and 11 shops throughout northern MN covering Itasca, Beltrami, Cass & Koochiching counties delivering high quality live bait year round.

Prior to starting their business, Spence Haugen worked for Stone Bait Services of Northome, MN under the ownership of James Stone who had been in the industry for over 35 years.  James extended his knowledge and expertise to Spence for one year prior to retiring and closing his shop.  Amber and Spence obtained all of his equipment including two delivery trucks, built a 1600 square foot bait shop on their property, and were open for business as soon as ice went on in November.  They were fortunate enough to keep all original clients and add five new accounts in their first year of business. The two of them work the business themselves with Spence running day to day operations and Amber filling in on routes where needed and bookkeeping.  They hire one full time employee to operate their second truck in peek season from May-September and travel up to 200 miles one way to fill their bait tanks from around the state.

In the summer of 2014, Amber contacted the SBDC at the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) after being referred by her Uncle, a former client.  She started working with SBDC Consultant Shannon Benolken who was able to immediately ask and answer questions that were critical to the business planning process.  “I feel the most crucial thing that got us up and running by our deadline aside from the business plan was the financial projections that Shannon and I put together.  The bank was so impressed! ”  Amber said she’s happy to report they were within 8% of their projected gross revenue sales for 2015 and use the program still today to adjust their expenses, allowing them to keep on track for their 2016 goals.  “I’m forever grateful for Shannon and the SBDC!  I can’t say enough good things about the services they offer.”