Nelson shares vision for success at gathering in FF

Perham businessman and successful entrepreneur Kenny Nelson spoke to Fergus Falls residents Wednesday evening, Sept. 20, at the downtown Center for the Arts.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Renowned businessman Kenny Nelson of Perham shared his vision for success as an inspirational speaker in Fergus Falls Wednesday evening at A Center for the Arts. He is widely known for his success in the candy and pet food business.

Nelson also is a community leader for the betterment of Perham, which has a thriving main street downtown. He emphasized that Perham leaders work together and do what’s right for the community.

“We stay away, for the most part, from the words Republican and Democrat and focus on community betterment with a single vision at the local level,” Nelson said.

Nelson built three businesses in highly competitive markets. One business (Barrel O’ Fun snack foods) was sold to another organization. The remaining two (Kenny’s Candy & Confections and Tuffy’s Pet Foods) are under the umbrella of KLN Family Brands’ Companies.

The Perham entrepreneur spoke during one of the ongoing Fergus Falls Town Hall Meetings organized by Fergus Falls City Councilman Al Kremeier. Topics of relevance to Fergus Falls are addressed at each gathering. 

“Our goal is to create an inclusive and participatory environment where everyone’s voice is heard and valued,” Kremeier said.

Nelson told the audience in Fergus Falls about the hard work and determination needed to make his pet food and candy businesses profitable. He successfully competed against pet food giants such as PetSmart and Petco.

Tuffy’s was founded by Kenny Nelson in 1964 with his father, the late Darrell “Tuffy” Nelson. Barrel O’ Fun was started in 1973 and the third businesses, Kenny’s Candy (specializing in licorice) was launched in 1987. Today KLN CEO Charlie Nelson is the third generation of Nelson business leadership.

In 2018 Tuffy’s added 23,000 square feet to its 600,000-square-foot production facility.

Nelson takes pride about the Perham area workforce and dedication for not only the KLN businesses but also for other Perham businesses such as Bongards, a cheese and whey manufacturer. He also praises the many good health care providers in the community.

He and other Perham area community leaders work to attract workers to the community, address housing needs, support both public and private schools, address downtown needs and do all they can to help make Perham a good place in which to live and work.

“It’s well and good that we in Fergus Falls and other areas of Otter Tail County learn about what works well in other communities,” Kremeier told attendees at the Fergus Falls Town Hall Meeting on Sept. 20. “Here this evening we have learned a lot from Kenny, and can apply some ideas used in Perham to our own initiatives here in Fergus Falls.”