The Deneen Story
As told by U of M alumnus Niles Deneen
I remember my freshman year like it was yesterday: Pioneer Hall, the old Bierman Athletic Building, and meeting my fellow Track & Field teammates. The support on and off the field was incredible - especially the guidance counseling team that helped shape my educational path which landed me on the Saint Paul Campus majoring in Design Communications at McNeal Hall. Having grown up around our family pottery and seeing how much time and attention it needed I wasn’t ready to commit right after graduation.
It wasn't until 2004 when I began truly looking at the future that I reached out to a former teammate and mentor, Aaron Wheatcraft, who helped me realize the true potential that existed with the family business. That same day I set up a small desk in a corner of our production floor and set my sights on growing our sales. At that time our company had a staff of 22 and our daily mug production was 500. Time certainly flies when you are having fun!!! Today our team is 90 strong and our daily production is 2800-3000. Each mug starts as a piece of clay and is touched by over 24 pairs of hands.
University of Minnesota Impact
My time as a Gopher was incredible. The educational opportunities, campus life, and especially the friendships made continue enrich my life.