This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

News Bureau • Schofield Hall 201Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900
UW-Eau Claire Program
Selects Entrepreneur of the Year
MAILED: May 22, 2001

        EAU CLAIRE—The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Entrepreneur Program class of 2001 recently selected Leland Christenson II as this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He was honored at the 2001 Entrepreneur Program Celebration Banquet held May 14 at Fanny Hill Dinner Theatre.
        Christenson was selected after speaking to the class during the spring semester and impressing students with his business savvy.
        A 1977 graduate of Eleva-Strum High School, Christenson received a bachelor of science degree from UW-Eau Claire in 1981 and later returned for two years of postgraduate classes.
        In 1986 Christenson started Strum Hide, a company that bought and sold deer hides. Four years later Strum Hide expanded to become North American Fly, Ltd., an “S” corporation that is now the largest collector and exporter of deer hides in the world. The hides are exported to companies in a number of countries, including Italy, China, Korea and Africa, where they are used in the manufacture of clothing and other leather goods. The company also manufactures, imports and exports fly-fishing materials, which are sold to fishing distributors such as Cabella’s, and to retailers, including Wal-Mart and K-Mart. It is one of the top two such companies in the world.
        In 1992 Christenson purchased several farms in southern Eau Claire County and converted them into a fish farm and wild game sanctuary. The fish farm, which is part of a volunteer Department of Natural Resources co-operative fish-rearing program, raises many different species of fish, including trout, walleye, bluegill, crappie, perch and bass, and also sells fish to private individuals for ponds.
        Christenson was rewarded for his wildlife conservation efforts in 1999 when he received the Federal Government Wildlife Habitat Award. As might be expected, his hobbies include hunting, fishing and designing wildlife trails and habitat.
        With his extensive business experience, Christenson has a lot of valuable advice to share. He advises prospective entrepreneurs to get an education and learn as much as possible about market trends and the types of business opportunities available. He suggests finding niche markets where entrepreneurs can excel and notes that the markets should be diverse with opportunities to pursue foreign markets and spread out risks. Above all, Christenson tells students and prospective entrepreneurs, they must have a positive attitude and believe they will succeed, “because there is always room at the top.”

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Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: May 22, 2001