Women’s History is Our History

Guest Blogger: Rose McKinney, APR, Fellow PRSA, president, Pineapple RM, a communications firm focused on brand strategy and public relations.

Women’s History is Our History

It’s always national “something” month. Among many things, March happens to be National Women’s History Month, and it has special meaning for Calhoun Companies. So, with the headline “Women’s History is Our History,” Andy Kocemba inspired me to write this month’s blog post.

A woman started the company. In 1908. Let that sink in.

Nellie Mason started Calhoun Companies. That in and of itself is distinct, but consider that her business wasn’t akin to traditional women’s interests. Instead, it was about connecting buyers and sellers. She was one of the nation’s first real estate brokers.

Nellie’s business has survived, thrived, and adapted for 114 years and counting. It has had multiple owners – something that has even greater significance given that’s what Calhoun Companies does. The company is in the business of connecting buyers and sellers so they can transition to their next chapter.

I’ve seen it first hand. My firm was referred to Calhoun Companies shortly after Andy and Wally Kocemba, a dynamic father-son duo had purchased the company. They wanted to preserve the heritage and continue the legacy Nellie started, while also giving it a much-needed refresh, positioning the company for continued success. I marvel at the Calhoun Companies origin and am proud to be on the sidelines of the legacy Nellie created.

From Past to Present

We’re increasingly seeing women buying and running businesses, just like Nellie. In fact, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are robust markets for women-owned businesses. There is so much support here, and these businesses are a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace. Consider these facts about women in business:

  • In Minnesota, women-owned businesses represent 26.8% of all businesses Office on the Economic Status of Women
  • There are over 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States, with that number growing at a rate close to 4% annually (more than double that of all businesses). American Express 
  • Women-owned businesses employ over 9.4 million American workers. American Express 
  • According to this, about 849 new women-owned business get their start each day in the US. Inc.com

Homage to Nellie Mason

Given the accolades and accomplishments of women-owned businesses, we’re honored to recognize Nellie Mason, founder of Calhoun Companies and we hope it inspires you to think about what’s next for your business. Perhaps it’s time to realize your dream of owning a business. Perhaps it’s time to sell.

Interestingly, Andy’s wife Honja recognized Nellie’s cool factor and captured it in an updated 2022-version of the founder’s portrait. Honja herself is a budding entrepreneur who was recently featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Looking to the Future

Who knows, maybe when I retire, Calhoun Companies will help me sell my business, perhaps to another woman. Whatever happens in the years ahead, Calhoun Companies can attribute its origin and inspiration to Nellie Mason, and they can expect that the future will include many more women-owned businesses.