FARGO-Many CEOs and business owners say it's lonely at the top, but it doesn't have to be thanks to a new executive club called the100.

Founder Kurt McSparron said he was motivated to start the100 because most of the business groups in town are geared towards sales professionals hoping for referrals. He saw the need for a group that would support those at the top.

"It's a peer-to-peer development group where CEOs can support each other, share ideas, find solutions and do business directly with other owners," he explained.

Membership is by invitation-only and capped at 100 in order to limit competition among members. McSparron said the goal is to represent as many industries as possible.

"What we did was sort of create a business owners' shopping mall where everything a CEO needs on a daily basis, the group more than likely provides it, from CPAs to attorneys to marketing firms to contractors," McSparron said.

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Members of the100 host a breakfast workshop each month called the Peer12 Executive Series. A topic is agreed upon in advance and a panel of four to five members is selected to speak during an open forum roundtable.

"It's an opportunity for the members of the100 to promote their business, tell what they do, hopefully get some prospects, and answer business owners' questions right there on the spot in a nice, casual format," McSparron said.

"Marketing your business" was the focus in May. Attendees heard from the heads of H2M, Thuen Studios, Custom Graphics, ArtCo Promotional Products, AdShark Marketing and Spotlight Media about marketing platforms ranging from print and TV ads to social media campaigns to vehicle wraps and promotional materials.

The Peer12 Executive Series is open to the public, but limited to just 80 seats. Future topics will include business technology and IT; taxes, leasing and expensing; and business politics and the North Dakota Legislature.

Dan Altenbernd, COO and partner at H2M, joined the100 to raise awareness for his business and to learn from his peers.

"Some other groups I've been in, you find yourself in a situation where everyone is looking for a referral or a sale," Altenbernd said. "That doesn't necessarily help you run your day-to-day business."

He said others are just looking for volunteers.

"Those are great and I've been involved with them, too, but what I'm trying to do or focus on is this small business I'm helping run," Altenbernd said. "I need to be able to focus my time and energy on the growth of the business and the betterment of our employees and their lifestyle. ... Being in a professional organization, I see that being more beneficial to where I am today."

While the100 is still relatively new, Altenbernd said he's already made a few valuable connections.

"I've had a few conversations with people I wanted to connect with that have already been helpful," he said. "As early as it is, I've already been utilizing it more than another group I'm involved in."



What: the100, a new executive club formed to provide support to CEOs and business owners

Contact: (701) 541-1073 or email kurt@the100.work

Online: www.the100.work



What: Peer12 Executive Series workshop on business valuation and financial planning

When: 9 a.m. to noon June 15

Where: Avalon Event Center, 2525 9th Ave. S., Fargo

Registration: The cost to attend is $50. Register online at www.the100.work