Axios Des Moines

Picture of the Des Moines skyline with DSM written across it.
February 17, 2021

❄️ Iowa nice? More like Iowa n-ice, right? (Your Zoom fodder for the day, you're welcome.)

  • Something to celebrate: We're in the double digits again! (A balmy 15°F, to be exact.)

🌟 Join us tomorrow at 12:30pm CT for a virtual Smart Take event on the impact of the new administration on Iowa politics, featuring Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and state Rep. Ross Wilburn, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Today's Smart Brevity count is 933 words, a 3.5 minute read.

1 big thing: Kum & Go CEO aims to normalize mental health in 2021

Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go.
Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go. Photo courtesy of Kum & Go.

For Kum & Go CEO Tanner Krause, 2020 was "the hardest year of [his] life," with incredible hardships both personally and professionally.

Why it matters: Krause told Linh that he wants to use his own research and experiences with mental health to make employee well-being a top priority for his 5,000-person organization.

The backdrop: Four people were shot and killed at a Kum & Go in Springfield, Missouri on March 15 — the worst tragedy in the company's 61-year history.

  • The event rattled Krause and his perception of the world, and just two days later, Iowa announced statewide shutdowns due to COVID-19.
  • "It was really, really hard, and I've never felt that level of depression before," he said. "Just trying to show up for everyone else in my life was difficult."

What happened: Krause had sought out weekly appointments with a West Des Moines therapist in 2019 after a succession of life changes. That decision helped him process 2020's challenges — and he still attends therapy today.

  • "I don't know how I would have done without that kind of support," he said.

The state of play: Krause is using his own experience to make policy changes to help support the mental health of Kum & Go employees, including:

  • Extending full-time employment to 2,000 part-time workers.
  • Giving PTO and paid bereavement to all employees.
  • Requiring higher-ups to educate themselves on workplace environment. (They're currently reading "The Fearless Organization" by Amy Edmondson.)

The results: Kum & Go is experiencing the highest employee-retention in its history, according to Krause.

The bottom line, per Krause: "I hope that we can continue to have these conversations, and that people are motivated to seek professional help and understand that it's not just for people with extreme disorders."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that last year's shooting at a Kum & Go took place in Springfield, Missouri (not Illinois).

Bonus: ☀️ Tanner Krause's morning routine

Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go, cooks eggs for breakfast.
Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go, cooks his special scrambled egg recipe. Photo courtesy of Kum & Go

At 13, Tanner Krause kicked most caffeine out of his life when he tried to get in shape for soccer.

  • But working at Kum & Go as a kid + fountain machine access = a lot of Mountain Dew.
  • "I don't remember the last time I had caffeine," he said. "I just don't like the chemical dependency."

Here's how Krause starts his day (sans coffee):

  • Wake-up time: 6am. "I'm not like a 5:15-er, you know — wake up, go do a triathlon. It's not me."
  • 🍳 Breakfast: An English muffin with peanut butter. Occasionally, some non-dairy yogurt and a banana. And scrambled eggs if he's eating with his wife and daughter.
  • 📱What he's reading: "So I get the New York Times newsletter. And I get the Axios Des Moines newsletter. I scan those for stories. I'm on Twitter and catch up on the day. There's an Italian sports publication [La Gazzetta dello Sport], so I follow them and I'll read their stories just to step into what's happening in Parma and kind of the Italian soccer world."

📣 Weigh in: We heard from many of you last week on who's morning routine you want to read, but keep them coming! We'll see what we can do.

2. Cases against DSM cops could get pricey

Illustration of money falling out of a wallet with a police badge
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Des Moines recently hired three lawyers at $150 an hour to represent police in two high-profile lawsuits alleging misconduct, according to city documents.

Why it matters: Taxpayer costs for litigation and potential settlements in the cases could be significant. And the lawsuits could influence long-running tensions between police and the public.

The lawsuits allege:

  • Video evidence was previously withheld that shows officers made an illegal stop that resulted in the conviction of a Black man for a traffic offense.
  • People were wrongly tear-gassed, beaten and arrested by at least 16 officers in last year’s civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Worth noting: Multiple other lawsuits against police are pending — and some name a few of the same officers.

3. 🌶️ Warehouse leases are spicy

A collection of spices packaged by All-Spice in Des Moines.
Boxed spice sets from AllSpice in Des Moines. Photo: AllSpice

AllSpice in the East Village recorded its "best year" ever in 2020, co-owner Rory Brown told us.

What's next: AllSpice is quadrupling its production space and moving to a 4,600-square-foot warehouse in Valley Junction near Fox Brewing and The Foundry this spring.

  • And Brown said they're looking at opening a new retail location in Waukee this year, based on the number of online orders that came from western-suburban customers.

The big picture: Warehouse leases, especially by third-party logistics companies, will continue steadily in 2021, according to a Q4 market report by CBRE.

  • 100,000 square-foot leases are a "dime a dozen," said Zach Schneckel, Property Research Director of CBRE and Hubbell Realty.
  • Zoom in: DSM has a 4.4% vacancy rate.

👀 We'll be watching for who scoops up the Graham warehouse, a 540,000-square-foot project in Altoona; 60 acres of land at Des Moines' old Northridge Mall site, and Hubbell's 137,500-square-foot business park in Ankeny.

4. Why our green goal is "historic"

Illustration of a power line struggling under the weight of electrical wires
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

City leaders are calling their recent commitment to carbon-free electricity historic — but at least 170 other cities have also embraced such goals. So what gives?

How it's different: Des Moines’ goal goes a step beyond the others with a commitment to completely divorce itself from fossil fuel electricity by 2035.

  • It also doesn’t rely on offsetting fossil-fuel use through the purchase of renewable energy credits, utilized when renewable energy systems are not generating electricity.
  • Electricity will need to come directly from traceable, renewable resources and be generated locally.

💡 Be smart: It means DSM must act strategically in energy planning and development, including:

  • A plan for energy storage during times when renewable sources are unavailable.
  • Reducing electricity usage during peak times.
  • Considering new technologies like electric vehicles and grid-interactive buildings, which use smart technology to optimize energy use.

The bottom line: If you think that issues linked to electricity supply won't affect you, just look at what's happening in Texas.

5. Time waits for no one ...

A picture of a parking ticket on Linh's car.
A $15 parking ticket on Linh's car. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

... even in the cold. But Linh tried.

  • 📬 What were your top cold-snap annoyances? Send them our way to commiserate.

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🌳 If you're dreaming of spring, Des Moines is giving five free tiny trees to residents.