The 30 years that Cheryl Hagfors spent at ECE can be divided neatly into three equal decades: finance supervisor, then controller, and finally CFO & VP of Member Services. She was instrumental during the mergers with North Pine Electric as well as Head of the Lakes, worked alongside three CEOs, introduced the use of spreadsheets to the co-op, and navigated countless successful audits. She strategized the personalized budgeting program the cooperative uses, and guided the cooperative through many challenges over the last 30 years.
“How lucky am I?” Cheryl asks. “I’m proud to have worked with so many aspects of the co-op. I’ve learned so much and I hope others have learned from me, too.”
Cheryl’s love for numbers started at Braham High School during Mrs. Phyllis Londgren’s bookkeeping class, and continued at St. Cloud State University. After earning a Bachelor’s in accounting, she worked for Investors Diversified Services (now Ameriprise), where she quickly rose through the ranks from finance supervisor to computer programmer and finally to finance manager. In 1988, she and husband Tom purchased Braham Hardware and Rental, where she learned the financial details of a small business. Cheryl continued her daily commute to downtown Minneapolis until 1991, when she started at ECE.
“The co-op is my extended family,” she says. “During waking hours I was at work more than I was at home—which isn’t bad when you love your job. I appreciated the variety that I have always been offered at ECE, like serving pancakes at an annual meeting or answering phones during outages.”
After grandson Blake was born in 2016, then selling the hardware store in 2019, Cheryl is more than ready to tackle projects that have been put on hold for 30 years, plus make memories with family and friends. “It’s hard to achieve success unless you love what you do. While I’ll miss the friends I’ve made, I’m leaving at an exciting time, and I know the co-op is in good hands. I have been blessed.”