Founded in 1947, Culinex is a full-service supplier of commercial food service equipment, small wares, and related products. From its humble beginnings as a small, six-person startup, Culinex has grown into a thriving operation with a strong national market presence. Culinex delivers culinary excellence, and its mission is to provide – with great integrity – high-quality supplies and equipment as well as outstanding personal service. Kevin Bouma owns Culinex (formerly Dakota Food Equipment) and serves as the company’s CEO. The company, which employs 49 people, is headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota and currently has additional locations in Grand Forks, North Dakota and Sartell, Minnesota.
Bouma has been with Culinex since 1988. Prior to purchasing the company in August of 2006 and becoming CEO, he served as a sales manager. Bouma was introduced to Alerus Financial when he began the initial groundwork to buy Culinex. Previous owner Robert Nelson had been using Alerus for years for the company’s business banking needs. Bouma says while he approached other local banks about the purchase, in the end, the “shopping around” was unnecessary.
“Working with Alerus was a great relationship for the Nelsons,” he says, “and it’s proven to be a great relationship for me as well.”
Bouma says that the qualities he looked for in a business banker in 2006 are the same today: a financial partner that understands his business and its challenges. That’s exactly what he has found in his Alerus team lead by Cary Parkinson, senior relationship manager.
“The big difference between Alerus and the two local banks that I looked at extensively was that Alerus didn’t just know the financial information that I submitted, they knew the business,” he explains. “They’d been to our showrooms and jobsites and were intimately aware of our business.”
The same is true today. “One of the things that has always impressed me with our Alerus relationship is that it doesn’t feel like a business relationship; it feels like a personal relationship,” Bouma says. “They have a genuine interest in my business. I like that connectivity. They’ve been amazing, and they continue to exceed my expectations.”
Bouma notes that in a time of increased banking regulation, he appreciates Alerus’s “common sense” approach. “Too much banking regulation casts a one-size-fits-all blanket and can limit credit. You need a financial partner like Alerus that recognizes this and understands the rules and regulations but has an equally good understanding of not letting excessive regulation get in the way of good business.”
He also appreciates that he works directly with decision makers. “With Alerus, I’ve never felt like I needed to bypass the people in front of me to get to the people with the answers,” he says. “What frustrates me about the ‘big banks’ is that I don’t get the feeling that I’m talking to someone who can make the final decision. I like being in front of someone who can get things done.”
As for the future, there are exciting things on the horizon. “Culinex is positioned to expand our product offerings to existing customers and to grow in new market areas to gain new customers,” concludes Bouma. “Such growth requires the strength of a solid financial partner, and for me, that’s Alerus.”
Fargo, North Dakota
Business Line of Credit