2019 – A Year in Review

The beginning of a new year means the end of the last. While we have a lot we are looking forward to in 2020, it’s pertinent at this time to reminisce and be grateful for everything and everyone who was part of 2019. We grew as a team had our first major wedding season at The Pines Venue, and had a number of memorable projects. 

One project single-handedly made 2019 a year we will never forget. It was actually a project that started in 2018 but the impact and meaning of this table weighed even heavier on our minds and hearts in 2019. In late 2018 we had the pleasure of working to design, create and build a table, with Landon Solberg. We’ve said it before, and it still stands true, Landon taught us more than we could have ever tried to teach him, and his light will never be forgotten. 

This year for our “year in review,” our team members from Grain Designs and The Pines Venue teams will answer some questions to share how they felt about 2019… some favorite memories, team bonding activities, projects, and what they are looking forward to in 2020! 


Q: What was your favorite project & memory from 2019?

A: Cody Freestone – “The Border States Electric shuffleboard table, it was a challenge, to say the least, but extremely cool to see the finished project. I also often think about building the table with Landon Solberg, that’s a project I will never forget.”

Q: What is your favorite part of the build process in the shop and what was your favorite project worked on in 2019? 

A: Zach Nelson – “Definitely the ‘clamp-up’ stage. Before this step, we are milling and planing a lot of boards, but at this stage, you get to see it all come together and it really starts to take shape.

My favorite project was the Hazen Bank Remodel. It was a lot of work, but when it was finished we all attended the grand opening. It was great to see all the hard work we had completed in place, it was extremely gratifying.”

Q: What is your favorite part about working with the Grain Designs team, over the last couple years?

A: Bradyn Horgan – “Definitely the culture of the company. Everyone works so well together and we are also friends outside of work. It makes the work environment light-hearted when it could be stressful with how much we have going on.”

Q: What was your favorite project and team-building memory, from 2019?”

A: Patrick Bresnahan – “I’d have to say the Hazen Bank project was a really cool project for us. For us to be able to come together as a group and make it all work was impressive. We really had a lot of big projects going on at once, and to get them all done on time made me really impressed with and proud of our guys. Team building wise, bowling last spring was a blast and it’s always a good time shooting Cody’s long-bow out in the yard during the summer.”

Q: What are you most proud in the year 2019?

A: Grant Koenig – “I am most proud of our team. Without the individuals we have working here, both The Pines and Grain Designs, we wouldn’t be where we are at today. The level of commitment that everyone continues to bring daily, along with the shared values and desire to want to continuously improve is impressive. It’s humbling knowing we have built a business that people look forward to coming to work at and collectively want to help our small businesses grow.”

Q: What was something unexpected that happened in the year 2019?

A: Blain Mikkonen – “I think the most unexpected and also most gratifying development from 2019 was to see each person on our team, and new team members grow and develop in big ways. It wasn’t unexpected in a way that I didn’t think it was possible, but looking back, realizing big things can happen in a short time when everyone is contributing to a bigger vision. Our great staff at The Pines took the reins on a new business dream and we had a first year that exceeded our expectations. Grain Designs team members each took on more responsibilities that make our operations run smoother with more capacity. We planned for BIG things in 2019 but with great people, it still exceeded my expectations.”

The Pines

Emily and Neil jumped both feet learning the ropes of a new venture and in many ways helping to craft The Pines experience we planned for. Their most relaxed few weeks of the summer involved having 7 events in just 10 days! Here are a few shared memories, from Emily and Neil…

Q: What is your favorite memory and project with The Pines in 2019?”

A: Emily Finley – “Winning Best Wedding Venue in the Red River Valley is a pretty great memory and honor!  Because we are a brand-new business and were nominated among the incredible competition, the title is very humbling and gratifying.  This award represents the tenacity of our staff, our opening-season couples who took a chance on us, the gracious guests that filled our walls with celebration, and our absurdly talented community of FM wedding vendors!  As far as a favorite project, I loved “sod day!” The entire Grain Designs and Pines team (plus significant others) laid about 10,500 sq. ft. of sod surrounding the Event Center (in 95° weather)! We worked alongside (and under the direction of) FM Landscapes, who also executed the rock, plants, curbing, and landscaping.  The 2-day transformation that took place was so fun to see – and be a small part of!” 

A: Neil Gilbertson – “I always enjoy seeing the culmination of everything successfully coming together for each event.  It’s memorable to see our beautiful space transform, witness so many special moments and happy clients, and to meet so many wonderful people! My favorite project was helping with the transformation of The Farmhouse.  It was very rewarding being a part of the project from day one and working with so many talented people (Grain Designs, Trevor Hill, Dahl’s Construction and Eco Chic.) Of course, I did more of the painting and demolition work, but it was so fun to see it come together to be such an appreciated part of The Pines (and compliment to the Event Center)!”

Q: “What are you both looking forward to, in the year 2020?”

Emily – “Double the events, double the fun!  We have an awesomely-full 2020 calendar, filled with THE BEST couples and clients! “

Neil – “In 2020 I am looking forward to working with a top-notch team that strives to take The Pines guest experience to the next level!”

We left 2019 with more hard-work, unforgettable projects and memories than we could fathom, which only excites us for the unexpected happenings year 2020 will bring! As always, thank you for following along and being part of our story. You are all a big reason that 2019 turned out to be what it was! 

Best wishes, your Grain Designs Team. 

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