Two southern Minnesota natives have been named the 2016 Outstanding Alumni for South Central College (SCC). The recipient of the SCC Faribault Campus Outstanding Alumni Award is Marty Benes, Vice President, Business Relationship Manager in the Metro MN Business Banking Group for Wells Fargo.  The SCC North Mankato Campus Outstanding Alumni honoree is Brian Stark, owner of B.Stark & Co.  Both will be honored at South Central College’s Graduation Ceremony on Thursday, May 11 at 4:00 p.m. in Bresnan Arena on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.  

Marty Benes followed his parents' advice and chose the most direct route to achieve his goal of learning accounting. He grew up with seven siblings on a farm in New Prague and had an interest in business. In two short years, Benes graduated from South Central College (known as Faribault Technical College at that time) with an AAS degree in Accounting. As a high school student, he got a jump start on his business career by working in the office at Schumacher's Hotel in New Prague. Benes continued in that job working as the bookkeeper while a student at SCC. Later he completed his internship there and stayed on full-time after graduation when a position opened up.

His career in banking started in Northfield 23 years ago when he left Schumacher's Hotel for a position at Wells Fargo, then called Norwest Bank. Benes has held a variety of positions in several Wells Fargo locations. For the past 12 years he has proudly served as Vice President, Business Relationship Manager in the Metro MN Business Banking Group, managing a portfolio of medium sized, multi-million dollar companies. Benes credits his success to his work ethic and belief that you make your own success with attitude and hard work, and to the foundation of accounting skills he learned at SCC which, in his words, are "relevant daily."

Benes lives in Minneapolis and volunteers as an Ambassador for the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. He has also been involved with the Loring Business Association, New Prague Rotary and Northfield Area United Way. He spends as much time as he can with his family and friends, and his pet Chihuahua Robbie. He is an avid traveler and attends multiple sports and music events.  He also likes getting to new restaurants and the ever growing tap rooms in the city.

Brian Stark graduated from South Central College in 1983, when it was called Mankato Area Vocational Technical Institute. He studied Commercial and Technical Art, now called Graphic Communications. Stark owns B.Stark & Co., a customized clothing company located in Mankato that provides screen printing, twill, embroidery and personalization services. B.Stark & Co. creates customized clothing for clubs, teams, events and businesses throughout the Midwest and beyond. 

“SCC helped prepare me for many aspects of being a business owner,” said Stark. “That experience really comes in handy when you’re trying to make a piece of art that’s effective, when you’re working with a customer.  I think my school experience grounded me in putting together projects and designs, understanding collaboration and understanding what the customer wants, not just expressing yourself artistically.”  Stark added, “At B.Stark we’re really big fans of having SCC students and graduates work for us. We’re big SCC supporters.”

Retired SCC Commercial & Technical Art Faculty Member, Bob Williams, said of Stark, “Brian Stark as a student: respectful, diligent, achiever, talented, conscientious, gracious in working and learning throughout his time as a student and with others. In following Brian in his career, I've seen these same qualities even more enhanced by his devotion and support to public concerns in the Mankato area. We should be very proud of Brian not only in his field of graphics and communication but as a role model we all hope to achieve in our private and social lives.”