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Storytelling: Joel Hoiland, Candidate for District 3 Alderman, City of Lake Geneva

Updated: Apr 1

"I'm a native Minnesotan. I grew up about 150 miles west of Minneapolis. We were not far from the South Dakota border in a small farming community. My grandfather immigrated from Norway in 1883 when he was 18 years old. He applied for free farmland with the Homestead Act. Growing up, our family lived on a 40-acre parcel at the edge of town. My name, ‘Hoi’ means ‘high’ in Norwegian. So, my name, ‘Hoiland’ means ‘high land’. In Norway, my grandfather grew up on a farm on a plateau at the top of a mountain. When he immigrated to Minnesota, the flat, free farmland was a dream come true.

My first career was as a high school teacher and coach. I did that for five years. Being in a classroom, I felt confined. I left teaching and spent two years on a career search. I had a counseling job but wanted something that felt ‘right’. I found something called association management. Associations are very similar to communities, communities of like-minded people. It just happened that the Minnesota Food Retailers Association was looking for a number two and the CEO was going to be retiring in about three years. I thought, ‘This is a perfect opportunity. While employed with the MFRA, later the Minnesota Grocers Association, we did everything from lobbying the Minnesota Legislature to putting on conventions and trade shows. We published magazines, newsletters, and guidelines. We had educational seminars, and a whole host of business services to boost profitable business activities, and we processed coupons. After three years, my boss retired and I took over as president and CEO and was there for 14 years.

After 14 years with a state association, I wanted a bigger landscape. I was hired to be CEO of the National Association of Electrical Distributors in St. Louis, then moved to the International Warehouse Logistics Association as president and CEO based in Chicago. We had offices in government centers and affiliate operations in all the major capitals: London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Beijing, New Delhi, etc. I created countless systems and processes and oversaw hundreds of people while managing a $27 million budget. I finally retired and my wife retired shortly after right before the pandemic. This was the first time in our married life that we had an opportunity to choose where we wanted to live, all the other times it was based on job and career decisions.

We came up here on the 4th of July, 2020. While having breakfast at Joni’s Diner, we decided to look at houses available for sale in the area. Coincidentally, we found a house and we went home and said ‘Let's buy it’. We don't normally make snap decisions like that but, we had such confidence that not only was it a beautiful house, but this whole area is so unique. Until people come here andsee it, they can't imagine what it's like to have a shore path that goes all the way around the lake.

This is where we're going to spend the rest of our lives. I want to be able to make a difference and help the community. I look at this as a tremendous opportunity." - Joel Hoiland, Candidate for District 3 Alderman, City of Lake Geneva.

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