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The business arm of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in central Minnesota, said that it has sold its Foxtrot Marketing Group business unit to the company’s top executive. 

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV) announced last week that it has sold the 40-year old Foxtrot Marketing Group, LLC to President Jill Hespert, who has helmed the firm since 2018. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.  

Founded in 1976, New Brighton, Minn.-based Foxtrot Marketing Group supplies branded merchandise and technology solutions, including e-commerce platforms, to clients. Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures acquired the firm in 2014, using it to supply uniforms and other promotional merchandise for the Tribe’s casinos.    

MLCV called Haspert, the company’s new principal owner, an “impressive executive” who rose to the CEO position after joining the company as a COO in 2018. 

“We’re so proud of her leadership,” MLCV CEO Joe Nayquonabe said in a statement. “We are grateful for the partners and Foxtrot employees that put their faith in us during our stewardship of the business.”

Haspert, who is not Native, said she grew up near the Mille Lacs Band reservation and saw the Tribe’s positive impact on the surrounding community, which is what attracted her to the COO position in the first place. Haspert told Tribal Business News she fell in love with working at Foxtrot during her ascent through the ranks, and jumped at the chance to purchase the company when MLCV discussed putting it up for sale. 

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“I absolutely fell in love with this company — the people and the culture and the work that we do,” Haspert said. “It was just such an awesome opportunity to have the chance to buy it from Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures; I couldn't imagine myself not doing it.”

In the nine years since MLCV acquired Foxtrot, Haspert the company has routinely delivered “double digit” revenue growth as its employee count slowly climbed toward its 45 staff members across 10 states, Haspert said. While she wouldn’t divulge specific clients due to non-disclosure agreements, Haspert said much of Foxtrot’s business comes from the healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and gaming sectors (which, notably, serve as some of the biggest drivers of tribal enterprise revenues, per prior Tribal Business News reporting.) 

One of the company’s prominent partners was the Mille Lacs Band themselves, who used Foxtrot for in-house brand merchandise production for their slate of casino properties. Haspert attributes part of Foxtrot’s growth to the consequent positive reputation among tribal businesses.

“Our industry is growing, and Foxtrot is growing faster than our industry,” Haspert said. “We have a great reputation that we’ve built over several years, and we have a really dedicated sales team that knows Indian Country, and is committed to continuing to serve our customers there.” 

To continue that growth, Haspert said, Foxtrot plans to continue building its own production capabilities. The company handles their own screen printing and embroidery offerings, and Haspert hopes to scale that up headed into the company’s next phase.

Foxtrot will also invest in further developing their e-commerce tech to make online company stores as “seamless as possible,” Haspert said. 

“We are energized by the opportunities ahead, including expanding our national accounts platform, enhancing our products and services, and broadening our partnerships and solutions offering,” Haspert said. “My thanks also go to our talented teams for their continued hard work and relentless focus on delivering best in class service to our customers.

“The transaction has closed, so we’re at the finish line — or the starting line, depending on how you think about it.” 

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
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