BAXTER - Cindy Clough never imagined she would own a company with husband Steve that would handle a $412,000 expansion project.
That was in 1997 when the owners of Just For Kix took out a $150,000 United States Small Business Administration 504 loan through Minnesota Business Finance Corp., which enabled them to finance the entire project for a new, 19,000-square-foot warehouse and headquarters in Baxter.
Nearly nine years later, the largest dance instruction company in the Midwest has already outgrown its headquarters and is looking to further expand its facilities to keep up with soaring demand.
That's a far cry from 1981 when, working out of the basement of her home, Clough started Just For Kix from scratch. Dance was always in her blood. As a child, Clough taught younger children how to dance in the backyard of her Brainerd home. She later coached her high school dance team to a state championship. When she put on a show at a Girl Scouts fundraiser, parents were wowed by the energy and artistry of her dancers. They urged her to start a dance program for grade school students. Just For Kix is now a multimillion-dollar operation, employing nearly 550 people.
"None of us expected this to happen," Clough said. "We just did what we love to do." Steve Clough runs the financial side of the business.
Just For Kix oversees precision dance team programs involving 18,000 elementary, middle school, junior high and high school dancers in more than 150 communities in seven Midwestern states.
It conducts summer dance, drill and pom pon camps in eight states and dance performances for special events such as the Orange Bowl. Cindy Clough is currently training a team to perform for the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. In 1988, Clough led a team to perform dance routines in seven Japanese cities, including Tokyo for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Dome, a stadium modeled after the Metrodome. Just For Kix's catalog division also sells a full line of dancewear, including JFK-branded accessories. The catalog's annual print run has reached 950,000 copies.
JFK dancers have won countless state competitions. Among former JFK students and instructors are Tami Krause, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders; Amber Struyzk, head coach of the University of Minnesota dance team, which are three-time national champions; Kristin Patterson, production producer for the Emmy Awards, the Oscars and the Latin Music Awards; Linda Kilponen, Radio City Rockette; and Kris Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves dancer.
Clough directs instructors, teaching some 650 students. JFK's largest program, in St. Cloud, is led by a director overseeing nine instructors teaching 900 grade school dancers.
This report was developed by Minnesota Business Finance Corp. on behalf of Just For Kix, one of hundreds of companies that have benefited from SBA 504 loans originated by MBFC - a Certified Development Company authorized by the SBA to originate and service SBA 504 loans. The SBA 504 loan program is economic development financing specifically designed to stimulate private-sector investment in long-term, fixed assets to increase productivity, create new jobs and increase the local tax base. For more information, visit www.mbfc.org.
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