The Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley has been Sara Antonson’s second home for a decade. On plenty of days it might even qualify as her first home.

“You spend a lot of time at work, and it’s important for everyone to enjoy coming to work here,” she said. “So we feel that it’s really important we create an environment where we take the time to celebrate the successes and acknowledge them.”

Work can become all-consuming, especially for those who are devoted to their careers and believe in the job they are doing. The risk is that their lives can be one-dimensional, and in the long run that doesn’t serve the employee or the employer.

“As is the case with many other places, we’re working with limited staff who all have many tasks,” Antonson said. “As a busy nonprofit, we can’t pay millions. I wish we could (because) the work that everyone is doing here is phenomenal. But what we can do is take care of each other and make sure that it is a great work environment, and take some time when needed.”

When you get that time, it is important that you do something with it. Some of us are wired to do more with that time than others, but human resources directors will encourage employees to develop an interest away from work. Those “diversions” can help recharge our batteries.

In talking with a friend one day, I learned of a successful business owner in Chippewa County who led a unique life away from work. Terry Bowe, a professional photographer who has been sought after by businesses and individuals in this market for four decades, showed me a picture he had taken of a friend.

The photograph was of Bob Stumm with a most unusual car. It is an Extra Terrestrial Vehicle, one of only three such cars ever made (to see what it looks like, read our story on him and Mary Bauer in this issue).

Bowe’s picture was the inspiration for this issue of the Business Report, and it illustrates how our hobbies can capture us as completely as does the version of us at work.

When I suggested the “Work Hard, Play Hard” theme to Antonson in May, she replied, “That’s my motto!” You see she fits the bill, too, having sung and acted in dozens of productions and concerts.

The philosophy that Antonson has carried through to her staff is one you can see throughout the Chippewa Valley. On the pages that follow we share a half-dozen stories of business owners and employees who manage to lead both accomplished business lives and exciting personal lives.

They show what is possible, and serve as inspiration for the rest of us. We hope you enjoy their stories.

Ross Evavold is editor of the Chippewa Valley Business Report, and editor/general manager of the Chippewa Herald. Contact him at ross.evavold@lee.net or at 715-738-1606.

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