Glacier Bank hosts more than 75 tech leaders at Kalispell Member Reception

Bob Nystuen, Kalispell Market President, and Glacier Bank hosted more than 75 tech leaders from across the Montana in the vintage splendor of the Desoto Grill in Kalispell for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance’s reception on August 30, 2016. The Flathead region boasts the Alliance’s third largest group of members. Photos by Thomas Kurdy, Ndigena.




Desoto Grill owners Shawnna and Willie Steele served up a unique spread of gourmet hors d’oeuvres and beverages for guests in their historic Forge building on First Street West.

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Sarah Hunter (left) and Brit Booth (center), co-owners of Total BS Media in Bozeman, visit with Misty Kuhl (right), founder of Girlzilla in Malta, at the Kalispell CEO Roundtable. Kuhl – an enrolled member (Gros Ventre) of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in North Central Montana and a graduate of Montana State University – spoke of the challenges and opportunities she has faced in moving her outdoor gear startup from Albuquerque, New Mexico to rural Montana. Hunter and Booth have been assisting Kuhl through a HubSpot Jumpstart marketing partnership with theBlackstone LaunchPad at MSU Bozeman.

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General manager Rick Plavidal spoke about his own career path to Montana and recent developments at the Semitool Business Unit of Applied Materials since the global semiconductor manufacturer acquired the Kalispell  facility in 2009. Every cell phone in the world uses parts made at Applied Materials’ facility in Kalispell.



Ron Van Dell highlighted the growth trajectory of large-scale battery manufacturer ViZn Energy since he took over as President and CEO in 2014. In just over two years the team in Columbia Falls, MT has grown from about 15 employees to more than 60 scientists, engineers, and software technicians working on the forefront of the clean energy revolution. ViZn has raised over $37 million in independent investments and is in the process of raising another round of funding.


ACCELERATE: CEO Roundtable Offers Tips on Funding, Healthcare Costs, and Air Travel



Jerry Meerkatz, the newly-appointed president and CEO of Montana West Economic Development in Kalispell, and his team hosted the CEO Roundtable in their conference room on the topic of Financing Business Growth. 40 business leaders in fields ranging from high-tech and manufacturing to banking, law, marketing, and insurance expanded the Alliance’s growing list of available resources. The discussion included tips on reducing costs of healthcare, airfare, and online marketing for Montana companies. Stay tuned for details in future newsletters.


About the Publisher: The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a statewide membership organization made up of more than 295 high tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates. Search for Montana career opportunities at

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