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Tom and Lorraine Winterink of Red Cedar Lodge recognized as NIACC Pappajohn Center April Entrepreneurs of the Month

Tom and Lorraine Winterink of Red Cedar Lodge recognized as NIACC Pappajohn Center April Entrepreneurs of the Month
Tom and Lorraine Winterink of Red Cedar Lodge in Charles City have been named the April 2019 Entrepreneurs of the Month by the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the North Iowa Area SBDC. Photo submitted

To The Press

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the North Iowa Area SBDC have selected Tom and Lorraine Winterink of Red Cedar Lodge as the April 2019 Entrepreneurs of the Month.

Red Cedar Lodge offers three log-sided vacation cabins and provides a getaway destination for families and friends outside of Charles City. The luxury amenities, cleanliness and peaceful location have proven to be a draw for visitors across the country.

“We believe and understand the movement of people from urban lifestyles to small town America,” Tom Winterink said. “Iowa is poised in the best position in the country to attract these people, and if we want to grow Iowa and her small towns, we should market to those in America’s largest cities hungering for a simpler lifestyle.”

Winterink grew up in Charles City before beginning a 30-year career in multi-unit management with International Dairy Queen and living in cities from coast to coast.

Red Cedar Lodge began with a walkthrough of an overgrown farm where Winterink used to play as a child, according to a press release from the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

The property had recently come on the market and during a hometown visit, Tom and his wife, Lorraine, explored the property, snapping pictures of the old barn, farmhouse and log cabin.

When they returned to their home in Phoenix, Arizona, the photos of that overgrown farm and the lure of a rural small town lifestyle sparked an idea. They wondered: Could it be possible to build, market and develop a business in rural Iowa modeled after the family’s favorite cabin vacations they enjoyed throughout the western United States?

They proceeded into a year of market research and developed a business plan. After securing financing through First Security Bank & Trust, Tom, Lorraine and their daughter, Madison, moved to Charles City in October 2008.

Within 10 months, Red Cedar Lodge was a reality.

Over the last 10 years, Red Cedar Lodge has become a highly regarded destination, garnering accolades and awards from tourism organizations and destination guides.

In 2015, the lodge was awarded Outstanding Lodging Property by Iowa Tourism, the top award for destinations in the state.

A few months ago, Red Cedar Lodge was featured in a national article, “The One Place to Visit in Your State in Winter” and again was named by Iowa Tourism.

Red Cedar Lodge has succeeded in creating a destination business, attracting guests from all over Iowa, the surrounding states and for folks wanting to return “home” to Iowa with their families.

As they promote Red Cedar Lodge, the Winterinks also promote North Iowa communities as their own “resort amenities.”

This regional approach to attract guests sparks conversations about Clear Lake’s lake and the Surf Ballroom, Mason City’s Music Man Square and Frank Lloyd Wright District, the Fossil and Prairie Park, Nora Springs’ Aquatic Center, the growing variety of North Iowa craft breweries, as well as the outdoor recreational opportunities in Charles City.

“We believe our local businesses help us to offer the same amenities found in a five-star resort, but our offerings extend into Charles City and across the region,” Lorraine Winterink said.

“We feature and promote our local restaurants, shops, culture and outdoor recreation. We help our guests to find the type of getaway and amenities they desire,” she said.

“Guests arrive in numbers from two to 28, and they’re ready to spend money on food, drink, entertainment and fuel,” Lorraine Winterink said. “We estimate that Red Cedar Lodge guests contribute an estimated $60,000 to our local economy, annually.”

Tom and Lorraine Winterink have worked with the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and North Iowa Area SBDC in addition to their area financial institutions.

“We believe these resources can help attract ambitious, talented young people who want to ‘hang their own shingle’ and become entrepreneurs,” said Tom Winterink. “The spirit of entrepreneurship in rural Iowa is strong, collaborative and always growing. The NIACC Pappajohn and SBDC Center help feed that spirit.”

To learn more about Red Cedar Lodge, visit www.theredcedarlodge.com or call 641-228-3444.

Every month, the Pappajohn Center recognizes the North Iowa entrepreneurs who make the region a success. To self-nominate or nominate a business, visit the Pappajohn Center website at www.niacc.edu/pappajohn/entrepreneur-of-the-month/.

Contact the NIACC Pappajohn Center at 641-422-4111 or pappajohn@niacc.edu.

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