Though he was born in California, Stu Omberg considers himself a Detroit Lakes native.
As such, he was thrilled when plans for a new community center began to take shape in 2000-2001. So when they advertised an opening for a business manager at the still-to-be-completed Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center in 2001, he was among the first to apply.
"When a community center was first proposed, I thought it was a wonderful idea -- I felt it was tremendous that this community could come together and put up a $9.5 million facility like this, so when the business manager's position opened up, I applied.
"I was hired on Aug. 1, 2001," he continued. In fact, Omberg was the third full-time employee to be hired by the DLCCC, which officially opened its doors in December 2001. "I was here through the final phase of construction."
A little more than five years later, on Sept. 21, 2006, Omberg officially became the man in charge, succeeding Arlen Kangas as the center's CEO.
"I felt quite honored to accept," said Omberg, who had been filling the position of interim CEO since Kangas stepped down in August. Before that, he had served as the center's chief financial officer and vice president.
So how has his job changed since moving into the head office?
"The buck stops here," he said. "I have a wonderful board that I answer to, but I also answer to the community, and this center's members.
"My job now is to make sure we continue to improve this facility and what we offer here, as we move into the future."
Omberg said he has felt "privileged" to be in on the ground floor of the center's development, and to watch it grow and develop into what it is now.
"What I enjoy about working here is the entire environment -- the support we have from the community, and the sense of what we've accomplished," he said. "I also love working with the tremendous staff we have here -- they're so dedicated to the mission of this facility that it just amazes me."
A 1973 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, Omberg actually spent his junior high years attending the Holmes School -- a portion of which formed the basis of the Historic Holmes Theatre complex, which comprises the northern-most portion of the community center.
In fact, his office is now located in one of the rooms where he attended classes.
"When construction started, I had not been back since I went to school here," he said. "It was a little strange to walk back into the building again."
After graduating high school, he attended Moorhead State University, where he started out in the accounting program before switching to computer science. Eventually, he obtained a degree in business administration.
After graduating, Omberg was hired as the parts and service manager at Lakes Ford in Detroit Lakes. He later went to work for Tri-State Heating (now Goodin Company) as its general manager, and then spent a year as a computer programmer at Red River Software in Fargo.
However, he quickly discovered that he didn't enjoy the commute back and forth from Fargo all that much, and applied for a job as general manager at Grover-Lindberg. He would spend the next 19 years there, before applying for the job at the DLCCC.
Omberg continues to make his home in Detroit Lakes with his wife, Kathy, an assistant manager at Christopher & Banks in the Washington Square Mall. Married for 30 years (they celebrated their anniversary on Sept. 4), the couple has two grown children who also make their home in Detroit Lakes.
Their son, Nick, who works at American Oxygen Supply, is married to Jaime. They have one son who is a year and a half old.
"That's my grandson, Mason," said Omberg, pointing to a photo collage that sits proudly on his desk. "He's the apple of my eye."
The Ombergs' youngest daughter, Kristin, is not married, and divides her time between working as a lifeguard at the DLCCC, and teaching physical education at Roosevelt Elementary School.
In addition to spending time with his family, Omberg's activities away from work include serving as president of the Lakes Homes board of directors and being an active member of his church, First Lutheran.