Chris Damlo, general manager, 2006-2016

Chris Damlo
Chris Damlo

When I look back at everything Janis and Terry provided to the Southwest Minneapolis community with their commitment to local journalism, I also think about the opportunities they provided to hundreds of employees.

I was one of those lucky employees who applied to a simple job ad and found myself launched into a much bigger career. My story was I had just left the aviation industry and didn’t have a lot of experience or options at the time. I was looking for anything “interesting” to do next and the job posting said they worked with Apple computers — so I thought, “Why not take a look?” I applied to be their bookkeeper and Janis hired me on the spot.

I spent the next 10 years with Minnesota Premier Publications (the parent company of the Southwest Journal), starting as that entry-level bookkeeper and eventually becoming their general manager. As with many small businesses, you have to wear many hats to get the job done, and like many of the employees they hired, I gained a ton of experience over those 10 years by filling in where needed.

The top of my list was the experience gained from building software and database applications. Something as simple as migrating spreadsheets to a database turned into a much bigger project of designing and building a full enterprise software application, which we then built custom to manage their entire business workflow. This opportunity, and the confidence from Janis and Terry to allow me to work on these projects, is why I feel I now have a successful career in IT.

The FileMaker software application Chris Damlo designed to manage the Southwest Journal’s business workflow.

Thinking back to those 10 years, I also recall all the macro events occurring in our world. While they may not compare with what we’re currently experiencing in 2020, we still had our share of big events. A housing boom and its resulting recession, the internet becoming more than fad, new sport stadiums, numerous election cycles … the list is extensive when you work at a company covering those same events.

More importantly, I still think back to all the people we worked with. Everyone was there as employees, but Janis and Terry still made sure we could show up for something more than just a paycheck by hosting weekly outdoor cookouts and numerous community events and forming strong teams with our departments. I’m still friends with many of my coworkers I met at the Journal.

I know the Southwest Journal has been an important part of the Southwest Minneapolis community for many years, and I feel it’s been just as important for many of the employees’ lives as well. I don’t believe I would have the same opportunities that I have now without getting to live through this experience at the Journal. For that, I can’t thank Janis and Terry enough for that opportunity.

While this chapter closes for the paper, many chapters are still being written for the hundreds of employees who got the opportunity to work for Janis and Terry at the Southwest Journal.