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Just warning everyone. I worked here and they treat their employees horrible.

On one occasion we all quit on the same day!! The owners Ron and his wife Dawn are very cocky and shady people. Our paychecks constantly bounced and I am so happy to be out of the place and never have to deal with them again. I am now just out spreading the word warning.

Their customers mean nothing to them and are only out to make money and fast.

They say they are a "christian based business" but trust me they are FAR from it. DO BUSINESS WITH THEM AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!

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Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune

Updated: August 29, 2011 - 10:04 PM

An organic food company run by an ex-*** is causing financial indigestion for the sponsor of the Basilica Block Party, the Minnesota Wild and others.

Nature's Prime Organic Foods, based in Victoria, wrote nearly $40,000 in bad checks to pay its sponsorship fees for the main stage area, the Cities97 VIP tent -- which it also catered -- and several food booths at the two-day event in July.

"Part of the fee that he owes us, of course, we pass through to the Basilica of St. Mary," said Brian Maginnis, a senior marketing specialist with Clear Channel Radio Minneapolis, whose Cities97 is the prime sponsor of the block party in downtown Minneapolis. "That's the whole point, the renovation of the basilica."

Maginnis estimated that the basilica could lose somewhere "in the low five figures" if Nature's Prime doesn't pay. A basilica spokeswoman said that despite the "unfortunate situation" involving Nature's Prime, the fundraiser was successful overall.

Across town, the Wild turned over to its collections department more than $60,000 in unpaid sponsorship bills from Nature's Prime. And many others who worked for or did business with the organic catering and mail-order company also have complained about bounced checks and lengthy delivery delays.

They largely blame Ron Wolfbauer, who runs Nature's Prime. His wife, Dawn, started the company while he was in federal prison for defrauding clients of his former coin company out of more than $1.7 million. His paychecks were garnished this year to make payments on those debts.

Some of Nature's Prime's current creditors say they were aware of Wolfbauer's past, but others were not.

Nature's Prime has employed as many as 20 people at its Victoria office and Chaska warehouse, but several quit last month after paychecks bounced, ex-employees said.

Merger looming?

Kensington Energy Corp., a publicly traded, non-operating shell company in Eden Prairie, announced plans in July to merge with Nature's Prime to capitalize on what it described as tremendous growth potential.

Robert Knutson, Kensington's secretary and legal counsel, said Nature Prime's Basilica debt is Wolfbauer's to deal with, and that the amount owed to the Wild is in dispute. "We're not going to take over any of his liabilities," he said.

Wolfbauer said Nature's Prime has had cash-flow problems, but he asserted that its debt to Cities97 and the Basilica Block Party had been resolved. "No, it is not," responded Clear Channel's Maginnis.

Nature's Prime has piled up more than $176,000 in court judgments since January 2010 for unpaid bills. They range from $850 owed to a Watertown videographer to $35,000 for radio advertising, $57,000 for legal services and $78,000 in rent.

Jason's Dry Ice of St. Paul got in line Aug. 2, filing a lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court.

"They owe us $3,200 or something," said Lee Mitchell, the company's general manager.

He said Wolfbauer bounced check after check, then grew combative and evasive. "He needs to go under." Mitchell said.

Wolfbauer burned so many bridges with suppliers and vendors that he found it difficult to get boxes and ice to ship products, said Pascha Derkevics, a former office manager and marketing employee for Nature's Prime. She said the company was "served papers" for failing to pay about $62,000 on a sponsorship agreement with the Wild.

"I felt like I had to hide out when people came to the office looking for money because I felt so horrible, I didn't have an answer for them," Derkevics said.

The Wild declined to comment.

Derkevics and other administrative employees walked out in mid-July, complaining of paychecks that bounced, were late, made out for the wrong amounts or were written against closed accounts.

"Every single payday we'd all worry and wonder if our checks were going to clear," Derkevics said.

The merger is scheduled to close by the end of November. Kensington noted that the food company's online retail sales tripled in the first quarter and could grow more, thanks largely to Groupon and other social marketing sites.

A Web search revealed dissatisfied customers who complained of months-long delays and non-deliveries. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota said it received similar complaints.

Monika Carlson of San Diego, Calif., said she used Groupon for a $40 discount on her $103 sampler pack order from Nature's Pride on June 16. The shipping schedule says the delivery should take 12 to 14 days, but she just got the order Thursday, a nearly three-month wait.

Dan Andersen of Wayzata was working with Nature's Prime on an organic food restaurant concept. "I was asked to be CEO of the company," he said. But Andersen said he quit because of concerns about the company's operations. He declined to elaborate.

Jacob Schloner, Nature's Prime's executive chef and manufacturing director, also quit recently, citing its financial issues. "I'm a professional chef," he said. "If I get tied up with a company like this, it ruins my reputation."

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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