July 23rd, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Donald McNeely made his fortune in the warehouse business.  “A savvy entrepreneur and a forward thinker, he joined his father’s business , The St. Paul Terminal Warehouse Company after the war and turned it into a national company called Space Center, Inc.”  (St. Paul Pioneer Press obituary).  Donald was instrumental in helping to launch many of Minnesota’s organizations including the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins.

However, one of his passions is housed on the campus of St. John’s University on the third floor of Simons Hall.  The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship is dedicated to giving young men and women the skills to succeed in business.  Every year the Entrepreneur Scholars participate in special classes and work with mentors to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit. As a recovering entrepreneur, I deeply appreciate this educational resource. 

I crossed paths with Donald McNeely in 1986.  Jimmy Dorr and I had opened the Knoll Office Furniture showroom in International Market Square.  Jimmy was big on design but I insisted that we print temporary calling cards immediately, not wait until his graphic designer perfected the final design of business cards.  As it happened Jimmy’s locker at the Minneapolis Athletic Club was next to the locker of the President of Space Center. Jimmy apologized for the quality of the printing, but wisely handed his new calling card to his friend and told him about his new venture.  To make a long story short , that exchange lead to an order for over $250,000 of Knoll Office Furniture including Knoll carpet which is top of the line. Donald McNeely kept his old furniture, but all around him was the highest quality contemporary office furniture influenced by the Bauhaus school of design.  Never go anywhere without your calling card. 

Next Friday and Saturday there will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a self-guided tour of the St. John’s Abbey gardens.  Details on scheduling your visit are online at Saint John’s Abbey dot org.   I am booked for Friday at 10am.   I hope to see you there.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with the cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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