Start at the intersection with 6th Street and take a walk North up Division Street. At the intersection of Division and 5th, look to your right. There’s Reunion in the spot that once held the Rueb-n-Stein. What has been done with that space is amazing. Now cross the street and look to your left. That’s the Bierman’s Building. The name alone, not to mention the furniture store that occupied the space for a century, is a Northfield institution. And now, with the store closed, you can hear the hum and whirr of power tools and there are signs in the window proclaiming the future of the space while also acknowledging the building’s legacy.
Next, look east up 5th Street, where the newly opened 5th Street Lofts are located. Might be a nice place to live, right? So now, as you approach Bridge Square, look up a little bit, and you’ll see the top of the Fairfield Inn. And then keep walking until you come to the remains of what was once the proud and stately Archer House River Inn. It’s a sad sight right now, but the crumbling structure belies the optimism felt by many for that site’s future.
Each of those establishments, hotels, shops and homes is a part of Rebound Partners. And as high profile as those properties are, they are just a section of the overall company. Rebound Partners is an organization with no less than seven different diversified segments, running from hospitality to food and beverage, to real estate, to financial services and more. Each segment, or “Vertical,” as they are referred to within the company, has its own area of focus, its own staff and employees, and its own “Champion” (another Rebound term), that oversees its operations. Each of these verticals runs under the watchful eye of Managing Partner Brett Reese.
Reese was born in St. Paul and grew up in Castle Rock. At just twelve years old, his entrepreneurial spirit started to show, when he took out his first business loan at Castle Rock Bank. “I borrowed the money from Dan Nicolai,” said Reese. “I bought eight cows that were bread to have eight calves. I kept them through high school, and they wound up paying for my college education at Luther College.
“And I still do business out at Castle Rock. And I’m still in debt out there.”
Reese took that knack for entrepreneurism to the Rueb-N-Stein, when he bought the restaurant, along with partner David Delong in 1982 from Dan Freeman (“I loved Danny Freeman,” he said. “He taught me what to do and what not to do”). He formed Rebound Consulting in 1988 and started helping ailing companies get back on the right track, which eventually led to the formation of Rebound Enterprises in 2008.
“I took all of this dabbling that I did on the side and decided to make the dabbling formal.”
Today what was Rebound Enterprises is Rebound Partners, with its Vertical structure and highly diversified base. Of all the areas in which they work, Reese said he is most excited today about the Rebound Real Estate Community Funds that brings local investment dollars back into local communities.
“We started in 2011, Chris Kennelly, Jennifer Sawyer, and me. We had been investing in real estate for a long time, and we said, ‘Let’s create a fund where people, companies and non-profits who have investment portfolios can invest in their own back yards.’”
Reese calls it Impact Investing. The funds work in small communities raising anywhere from $3-$10million, creating projects where there is a need in the community that might be difficult to accomplish for a single local developer. After a successful Northfield fund was formed in 2011 and another in 2019, Rebound has taken the concept to thirty other communities.
“I like to partner with people, and I like to collaborate,” said Reese. “We’ve created this concept, and we have a terrific person running the vertical named Lori Bonin, and we’ve taken the concept to Grand Rapids, Owatonna, Grand Marais, Winona, and we raise local money for these funds, and we put money in too. We have the concept, the template, the tools and the process. And we look for a local general partner, and then we combine together to create a local general partnership.
“These funds are filling a need,” he said, “so there is that community aspect, and it also brings a return on investment to the people who own the fund. It’s making a difference in the community.”
With any concept Reese talks about within Rebound, one of the first things he’ll say is “It’s not just me.” Rebound has talent at all turns from the “Champions of the Verticals,” to Brent Nystrom whom Reese refers to as the Chief of Staff, to Margaret Jacobson, the longtime Executive Assistant with the company.
“It’s not just Brett Resse,” he said. “We have partners, we have investors, we have people that work with us, we have a great staff and great people. It’s Rebound Partners.”
Through all of the success the company has had, as they have diversified and expanded into other communities, including properties in larger cities like St. Paul, Rebound has maintained their headquarters in Northfield, and Reese intends to keep things here. One of the next Rebound projects that will dot the Northfield landscape, in fact, will be a building on the corner of 2nd Street and Highway 3 that will house, among other things, the Rebound Partners Corporate Offices. He says staying in Northfield is very important.
“We made a stand here. I’m from Northfield. I love small towns, but we’re so blessed to be here in Northfield with the two colleges, beautiful downtown, a river runs through it, a great school system, we’re close to the Cities, yet we’re our own community.
“You can’t ask for a better place to grow up and work.”