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Young MN Millionaires: On Demand’s Heather Manley

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Demand Group is a global family-owned IT consulting firm that has been in business since 1995. While IT might sound boring, Heather Manley is anything but.

Besides owning ODG, the 36-year-old started Dirty Good Spices, is the Minneapolis bacon takedown champion and will soon have a bourbon line.

A giant check from a food competition. A stock pile of wine and a treadmill desk with an exercise ball chair. This is Heather Manley’s office.

“People want fun at their office,” Manley said.

That’s why you’ll find candy jars, Atari, beer taps and guitar hero in the offices of On Demand Group on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis.

The IT consulting firm was started by Manley’s father. In 2008, she and her brother, Shawn, took it over, but Heather is CEO.

“We’ve grown 20 to 30 percent every year since we came into the business in 2006,” Manley said. “In 2011, it was close to 80 percent and last year was 60 percent.”

Last year’s revenue was $7 million, the hope is to double that this year.

The company has 10 in-house employees and 60 consultants.

“I have the only office because I’m so loud,” Manley said. “It’s so everyone else can work.”

But how those other employees work might be different than your business.

They make their own hours, are allowed to bring their dogs in and are encouraged to work on the back office patio or from home.

“It allows people to do what they want to do, to be accountable, measure by metrics not by emotion,” Manley said. “Then bring people in that have the common sense and can handle it.”

That said, Heather herself doesn’t really stop.

“I’m like 10 percent of where I want to be,” Manley said.

Her new bourbon line, Crooked Water, will be bottled and sent to local bars and liquor stores this summer.

She already has a spice line in Cub and Kowalski stores called Heather’s Dirty Goodness, which was recently featured in DeRusha Eats.

And she recently came in third in the top 50 world food championships in Vegas after winning the Minneapolis Hormel Bacon Takedown.

“You have to bust your butt to get it and I’ve always said my 30s are for working and I’ll enjoy life in my 40s,” Manley said.

While that sounds like too much for anyone, Manley has a take away.

“Because I love what I do, it never feels like I’m working,” she said.

We asked Manley if she ever splurged on anything and she told us she bought six acres in Minnetrista, and has a house in Hopkins, but she likes to keep her bills at a point that if she lost everything she could still pay them by bartending.

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