Skip to content

Member Representative Spotlight

Member Representative Spotlight-Chamber

Our Member Representative Spotlight Program focuses on highlighting and promoting professionals in our community. This is a great way for business professionals to be recognized by others. One individual will be featured each month. Please email Cameron Day if you would like to be featured.

2/3: Valerie Rasp

Academic & Admissions Advisor

Upper Iowa University

 

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I have 17 years of experience in leadership roles within non-profit organizations and higher education institutions. Currently, I am the academic and admissions advisor for Upper Iowa University Madison.

2. What do you like most about being a member?

I appreciate the enthusiasm and the camaraderie of the Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce, and their willingness to serve their members and the community.

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

One of my proudest professional accomplishments was a women's mentoring award at my previous institution. With the input and support of others on campus, a colleague nominated me for the award. It was a surprise and honor to be recognized for this. I have been blessed to have several mentors in my professional life, so providing guidance to others was important to me.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I spend most of my time with church, exploring bookstores, trying out new restaurants, and driving around the Wisconsin River.

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I was born and raised in Shiloh, IL, until I left for college in 2001. I spent 19 years in Carbondale, IL for school and work, before I moved to Madison in summer of 2020. Both my Bachelor's and Master's are from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Home of the Salukis!

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

Although I have always had tremendous support and guidance from supervisors and colleagues, one of my own personal internal challenges has been insecurity to perform well in my positions. As I have grown in my profession with new skills and knowledge, the concern doesn't present itself as much. Always best to prepare new challenges with further education.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

"Work yourself out of a job." I had two previous supervisors, Mike Berardi and Dr. Harvey Henson, both gave me this advice at different points in my positions. As you take on more responsibilities, you teach and mentor your staff to assist with other responsibilities so they can grow as well.

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

The students I serve at Upper Iowa University Madison inspire me. They are busy individuals with full time jobs, family and other life commitments. They are searching out ways to further their career and provide for their families, while earning their degree at the same time. That truly inspires me!

1/3: Ashlei Hartmann

Owner

AfterGlow Tan Co LLC

 

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I have had quite a few jobs, but none that I enjoyed as much as I do now. This career fell into my lap over six years ago, and I fell in love with the industry.

 

2. What do you like most about being a member?

I am loving the opportunity to be a part of this great community.

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

Doing makeup and spray tans for the past three New York Fashion Week is pretty amazing to me, also being nominated as Best Specialty Spa in Madison this past year.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I enjoy my free time with my family, I have a wonderful husband, three amazing kids, and the best dog in the world.

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I was born and raised in Greenville SC. Epic moved us here in august of 2017 and we have made a great life for ourselves here.

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

The pandemic was the biggest career challenge but I decided to pivot and be proactive, so I went back to school to obtain my Aesthetician license, and be able to offer more to my clients.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

I have many many people that I look up to that inspire me in business. But my number piece of advice is just to maintain integrity. Do the right thing even when no one is watching. I want to treat everyone like I want to be treated and just do the right thing always.

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

So many people inspire me, my fellow business owners, my family.

12/14: Kris Laukant

Franchise Operator

Christian Brothers Automotive

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education in 2002, when teaching jobs were 500 applicants to 1 job. While applying for positions, I took a job working as a cashier receptionist at a car dealership, and never left the automotive industry. I became a Service Advisor within 3 months of starting in the dealership, knowing nothing about cars except you put gas in it to make it go, and you change the oil every 3,000 miles because Dad said so. I came to realize very quickly that the automotive industry is really about people, and we just happen to fix vehicles too. Fast forward 20 years, and I have made my first foray out of the dealership world and into an independent repair facility, and I could not be happier with my decision. I am currently working for Christian Brothers Automotive as the Franchise Operator, and loving every moment of it.

 

2. What do you like most about being a member?

Being a member has allowed me the opportunity to network with other members, and hear about events and goings on within the community in order to be a part of something bigger.

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

My biggest professional accomplishment so far has been moving into Service Director and Franchise Operator roles as a female in a male dominated industry.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I enjoy spending time with my husband going camping, traveling, watching Harry Potter, reading, and (nerd moment) playing with Nerf guns and RC trucks.

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I grew up in Milwaukee until age 12, when we moved to Hartland, where I attended Arrowhead High School. I became a proud Titan in college, attending University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, where I received my Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in Spanish, and I studied for 5 weeks at the Cuauhnahuac Language Institute in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

The obvious answer to this would be being a female in a male dominated industry, but even more than that, it has been a challenge for me to learn how to "let go" and delegate. It is a skill I work on every day, in both directions. I have had to fight myself to let go and delegate, and I have had to reel myself back in from just allowing staff to do what I have asked, just trusting it is getting done. I've been bitten both ways, but love the balancing act of empowering and trusting, but still verifying.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

People let things bother them too much for too long. I was one of them. A co-worker of mine asked me a simple question one time that kind of set me back on my heels after dealing with a particularly difficult situation. He said, "In ten years, is what just happened going to matter?" I paused, and then answered, "No." He then said, "If not, then don't let it take up any more space in your day. If it would still matter, then give it the time it deserves." And my high school Show Choir Director introduced me to the quote, "Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it," by Charles R. Swindoll, which lines up almost exactly with what that co-worker of mine said that day.

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

My parents both inspire me, along with my faith, and my husband. This life is a gift. My parents brought me to life, God blessed me with those parents, He walks with me on my journey every day, and this life is for Him and His glory. My husband is the partner brought to me by God's plan, and through every challenge we have faced together, he has been my rock, solid at my side.

10/27: Justin Wilson

Sales Associate

American Solutions for Business

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I'm a marketing and finance graduate from UW Milwaukee. I went to work for the family printing company right out of college. Today I represent two employee-owned companies: American Solutions for Business & American Diversity, our certified women-owned business.

 

2. What do you like most about being a member?

The social networking. I work from home so I enjoy getting out talking and meeting with people.

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

American Solutions for business started in 1981, however I celebrated 4 years in August this year. I'm proud to celebrate 4 years of helping clients with their printing, promotional & apparel needs.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I enjoy spending time with my family & volunteering for the Sun Prairie Lions Club. I enjoy curling in the winters & hiking in the spring fall and summer. My love is pole-vaulting.

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I'm originally from Sun prairie. I'm a graduate of Sun Prairie high School in 1996. I went to boot camp for the Marquette Army ROTC program however, ultimately I decided on college at UW Milwaukee.

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

Print is constantly changing and we as sales reps have to change with it.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

My dad wants told me "do what you love and love what you do." Work is something I enjoy and helping others in my area of expertise doesn't feel like work at all. I just like to have fun.

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

My mother. My mother passed away from cancer at a very young age of 49 years old. Never forget that each day we live on this earth it could be your last and treat others with the same respect as you do yourself.

10/14: Robin Offerman

Talent Acquisition & Development Manager

Thermal Spray Technologies-Division of Fisher Barton

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I currently work at Fisher Barton as the Talent Acquisition and Development Manager . I have over 20 years of recruiting experience and have over 10 years of leadership experience. I have worked in several industries ranging from Healthcare, Pharmacy, Logistics, Accounting and Manufacturing.

 

2. What do you like most about being a member?

I enjoy being a part of the community that not only I work in but live in. I also enjoy networking and meeting new people.

 

3. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I enjoy spending time with my husband , son and dogs (Rosie and Rookie ) We enjoy hiking and have started kayaking this past summer.

 

4. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I am from Aurora, IL and graduated with my Bachelors and MBA Degree from Aurora University.

 

5. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

I would say keeping up with the ever-changing job market and looking for innovative ways to stay competitive.

 

6. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

Follow your passion and everything else will fall into place. If you’re not enjoying or finding your career rewarding, you may be in the field.

 

7. Who/what inspires you?

Our production team and family inspires me. I love to give back to our production teams and help them feel appreciated for the work they do for Fisher Barton. My family inspires me to keep going and enjoy life, we only have one life to life, make it worth it!

8/30: Josh Kuelling

Store Manager

Jung Garden Center

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

My professional background has mainly focused in the management category, but I also have experience in radio, advertising and marketing, and merchandising. I currently work for Jung Seed Company at the Sun Prairie Garden Center as the store manager.

 

2. What do you like most about being a member?

It has been nice meeting new business owners and chatting with them around the city. Hearing new ideas from outside helps build our customer base and continue to bring our previous customer back in. Another benefit is hearing any negative feedback that might not make it to the store, but other business owners hear it and understand it may or may not be true, but bring it to our attention.

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

I would have to say how far I have grown as a manager. I started with Menards as a Department Manager 15 years ago, followed by 10 years of Gas Station Management, 2 years at Fleet Farm as a department lead, and now 3 years in my current role. Taking classes in College is great, but real world experience has really change how I manage my stores. It looks like it maybe black and white, but in reality its all the colors of the rainbow. This role has also help strengthen my ties to the LGBTQ+ community. I have seen many individuals discriminated upon in the professional world because of who they are, and this role has really allowed me to be myself. Being a gay professional was definitely not as common 15 years ago (when I first started my management dreams) as it is today. I love opening new doors for our community and helping out whenever I can.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

My amazing Fiancé, Dylan and I love to go on adventures together. No matter where you go in Wisconsin there is always something to do. We really enjoy camping at the state parks the most and his family has a cabin in Minocqua that we go to a few times per year. It is hard to find time working in a seasonal position, but we make it work. We also enjoy going to breweries, wineries, and markets. During the winter we love going to the Wilderness Resort in the Dell’s.

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I am originally from Freeport, Illinois and moved to Wisconsin 8 years ago. I transferred from the Illinois market of Kelley’s Market Gas Stations to manage stores in the Madison area. I have lived in Sun Prairie ever since I moved here, and love it. I graduated from Freeport High School in 2005, followed by 3 years of Community College in Freeport as well. I attended Columbia College online for a few years, but never finished. I majored in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing and Management. The pressures of balancing a full time job and school got to be too much, but I do not regret not completing one bit. I have learned so much from real world experiences.

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

When I first moved to Wisconsin from Illinois it was hard at first to adapt to a completely different market. I had to change about 40% of my management style. When I moved up here I had to deal with a more saturated market as far as jobs available to people looking for jobs. Back home there wasn’t as many positions available so when you got hired most people were in it for the long run. Here there is so much competition hiring and not enough people looking to fill those openings. Throw in the pandemic most recently and that made it even more challenging. Making the job fun and enjoyable helps to keep people longer term. That’s where I feel adapting to the real world is different than learning in a classroom. I still use the practices I have learned, but just had to modify them in ways.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is always be happy. Even if a company throws pay raises at you, if you aren’t happy with the position you are in, then the pay raises will never matter. I’ve experienced this and finally taking a demotion and pay cut to a different company made me much happier, and motivated me to grow with that company and eventually take the position I am in now. Gardening has always been a hobby for me, but I would have never thought about making it my career until I responded to a Indeed post and here I am now.

 

I had a previous store manger that told me one time if you are not continually looking to better your career you will get complacent and just accept what you are doing and continue to do it not knowing what else is out there. In the past, “job hoping” was frowned upon, but now a days people can justify it by trying to figure out what they want to do. I have several friends that have graduated with degrees they do not even use, because they are much happier doing the positions they have now. Most have even quit the field that they studied.

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

It is kind of cliche but I really look up to my parents. They have always taught me that life throws challenges at you and you need to adapt, work hard, and have fun along the way. My parents have worked really hard for everything they have now and that inspires me to continue working hard on myself, my relationship, and my career. I may not have much right now, but I have an amazing apartment, a wonderful fiancé, and cat named DaVinci at home that has us wrapped around his little paws.

7/29: Aimee Anderson

Director of Operations

Buck & Honey's Restaurants

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I grew up in the restaurant business, my parents owned a pizza place and put us to work early and also instilled in me a passion for the industry. After college, I worked at Maggiano's Italian Restaurant in Denver, CO for 8 years. I quickly became their corporate trainer and traveled the country for a few years opening new restaurants and getting them off the ground. Next I moved back to Wisconsin and opened my own seasonal bar with my mom. My brother and business partner decided to open a restaurant in Sun Prairie and recruited me to come join them. Almost 12 years ago, my tenure at Buck & Honey's began. My journey has included a love for the industry, and a love for family every step of the way.

2. What do you like most about being a member?

I love all that the chamber does for the community and how much they reach out to their members for resources and marketing purposes. The chamber brings a collaborative element to what can sometimes be an isolating or competitive business.

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

Being the Director of Operations for the Best Restaurant in Madison two years in a row! I am so proud of Buck & Honey's amazing growth and success, while simultaneously strengthening our commitment to community, family, quality and fun in everything we do.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I love this time of year and spend as much time outside as possible. I love seeing live music and enjoying time with my friends and family.

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I am originally from the Dells area, I got my undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL.

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

My mom passed away during our partnership and I had to make the decision to sell the restaurant we started together. It was a very tough decision but in the end all worked out. And, I still get to work closely with my family everyday.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

When I started my own business, I sat down with an old friend that also started his own bar/restaurant to get any advice he might have for a first time restaurant owner. He told me there are a lot of things I could tell you but the best advice I can give you is, everyone will think they work harder than you. He told me to not let that get to me and to just support your staff in any way you can. I still live by that and that is what guides how I make my decisions each day. I aim to work hard and support my staff and trust that this will keep us moving forward with success- so far it has been a great journey built on great advice!

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

My brother. He is the owner/operator of Buck & Honey's and I get to work side by side with him everyday. He is a dreamer, innovator and truly cares about our guests and staff. I don't know that I can ever work with anyone else that I respect more.

7/26: Svetha Hetzler

Library Director

Sun Prairie Public Library

 

1. What is your work background? What company/organization are you at now?

I have been with the Sun Prairie Public Library for just over 7 years and have been a librarian for over 26 years, since 1995. I’ve always loved libraries and in particular, public libraries. I was born in India and raised in Queens, New York. As an immigrant, my family did not necessarily have much in terms of material wealth but our weekly visits to the library were very important to us. They provided access to all the amazing books I read as a child. Every time I entered the library, I felt like I was walking into a special place. I continue to hear this from our patrons today, that there is just this “special feeling” they get when they enter our library.

2. What do you like most about being a member?

Being connected to the larger community. The community is really the heart of the library so getting to know other community members through the Chamber allows me to be part of something bigger. I also appreciate knowing how the library may be able to help and collaborate with other Chamber members and events, like Cornfest!

 

3. What's your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

The Library’s expansion and renovation will certainly be my biggest professional accomplishment when it is complete in 2025. There are several phases in this large project and each has been its own accomplishment, including the Architectural Analysis in 2018/2019 and the Conceptual Plan which was completed this January.

I’m also very proud of establishing a Racial Literacy Plan and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee to the Library Board. In August 2020, the Sun Prairie Public Library Board endorsed our Racial Literacy Plan which received local, regional, and national attention. It is an action plan that helps guide staff in the following areas: 1) staff development, 2) policies and procedures, 3) collection development, 4) programs, and 5) representation. We also recruited community members to serve on the DEI Advisory Committee so that the Library Board and staff continue to advance, honor, and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion in all areas of our work.

 

4. When you're not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

Reading is an obvious answer but very true! I also love to cook, do yoga, and play and watch tennis!

 

5. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

I was born in India and immigrated to New York as a young child. I went to grade school and high school in New York and earned my undergraduate degree from Boston University and my master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.

 

6. What's the biggest career challenge you've had to overcome?

I would say providing public library service during a pandemic. Balancing the health and safety of staff and patrons with a continuity of service was new territory and in the first few months, it felt like the landscape was changing daily. When we first shutdown, we knew very little, including if it was even safe to handle library materials. For the first few months, we were quarantining materials and we had piles and piles of library materials in bins throughout the library. We went from a place in the community where everyone was welcome to come and stay for as long as they’d like to a place where we were delivering books to our patrons in the parking lot and offering programs online. All of these contact-free services took a lot of staff time to coordinate, organize, and manage. Despite the physical, logistical, and procedural challenges of working during a public health crisis, the emotional challenges were even greater. Making sure staff felt okay, emotionally and physically, weighed and continues to weigh heavily on me. And of course, finding and learning alternative ways to help patrons despite the fact we were closed was very challenging and stretched us all. Luckily, we were slowly able to open up and reintroduce and reinvent the ways we delivered library services. But challenges often lead to discoveries and opportunities. I’ve learned how important it is to be flexible and resilient and also how much our community values our library and library staff.

 

7. What career advice do you live by? Who gave it to you?

My advice is to always strive to do good work. I’m not sure that it is specifically “career” advice or just plain life advice but my father always would simply say “be good, do good”. He said it when I was growing up, said it to me as an adult, and would say it to my kids. It’s something I always remember and try to live by. I’m also a Sun Prairie Optimist Club member and I keep their creed in my wallet because it is relevant and useful every day. One of my favorite statements is “to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own”. As a library director, I feel like I have that opportunity daily through my staff. I truly enjoy seeing my staff get excited about their accomplishments and projects.

 

8. Who/what inspires you?

I am fortunate in that I have many people that inspire me, but I would have to say my biggest inspiration is my husband. He is an extremely disciplined and hard worker. As a musician and music professor, he is always discovering and challenging himself into new worlds through his composing, artistic collaborations, reading, teaching, and through his students. He really embodies life-long learning, which is the mission of the Sun Prairie Public Library.