Mark Meier came to the annual holiday gala for the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce as Old Saint Nick and left as the 2012 Business Person of the Year.
According to sources at the Chamber, the jolly approach to business is wholely within Meier's character.
"I met him early on and was very impressed. He's very welcoming, very genuine as a person," said Chamber President Bill Corby, who took the helm about three months ago.
Meier has lived in Burnsville for 34 years. He has been married for 40 and is the father of two daughters.
He began his career after graduating from the University of Minnesota. For the last 13 years, he has been the director of human resources at FORCE America, a supplier of motion and control systems. He has led the shepherded the company's workforce through times thick and thin. During the 1990s, he helped form the Twin Cities Recruiters Support Network which helped companies find workers during periods of record low unemployment. In recent years, he has helped FORCE America in its efforts to increase its staff (from 200 to 285) during a time of widespread unemployment and hardship. He has also been active in Leadership Burnsville and the South Metro Human Resources Roundtable.
In his spare time he is active in civic and charitable organizations. About 20 years ago started Families Moving Forward, a non-profit that provides temporary shelter for homeless people. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Burnsville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and will chair the board during 2013.
He has also been a major proponent of one of the chamber's most successful events—Bite of Burnsville. For a decade, he has been the chair of the restaurant committee for the event.
"He's done a good chunk of work on that for us," Corby said.
The chamber has honored one business leader each year since 1979. Meier succeeds Daniel Mahowald, owner of Cornerstone Copy Center and "Business Person of the Year" for 2011.