ST. CLOUD -- A longtime St. Cloud business is being honored by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Central McGowan president/CEO Joe Francis has been named the Small Business Owner of the Year recipient as part of the chamber's 2021 Small Business Awards.

Originally started in 1947, Francis' grandfather bought the business in 1954.Francis began working at Central McGowan at 16-years-old.

He says while it was always the plan to one day take over the family business, it was the unexpected passing of his father in 2011, that sped up the process.

I was dedicated and committed from an early age, so my Mom and I said to ourselves, we had a lot of good people and were in a great position to continue the legacy forward.

Under his leadership Francis has led the company through a number of expansions and acquisitions, doubled the number of employees and has diversified the business.

Francis says while he is humbled for the award, he will be the first to tell you its his team that makes it all possible.

Really it comes back to we had the foundation at the company set to thrive and take on the future. When I say foundation, it's really the team because that's what it's all about.

Francis, along with Donella Westphal and Joe Sexton and Gary Posch will be honored at the annual Central Minnesota Business Awards Luncheon. The luncheon is schedule for June 3rd at The Park Event Center.


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