Big Opportunities Close to Home


Shane Zutz is proud to say that he “hasn’t gone very far in life,” referring to the fact that he was raised and educated in Thief River Falls and still lives in the community, decades later.

It doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had an exciting journey. In fact, his career path continues to climb upward after a surprising turn a few years ago.

Things weren’t always super easy for him during his growing up years. “I did not take a straight and narrow path all the time,” Shane laughed.

He credits the community for playing a large and incredibly positive role during his formative years. “I honestly believe that this community raised me,” he said. “I had a lot of adults take interest in me and had some great mentors.”

Background in Education

He attended Franklin Middle School, Lincoln High School, and Northland Community and Technical College, little knowing that he would eventually teach at Franklin Middle School, and ultimately, go on to take an administrative position with Thief River Falls Public Schools.

“The pinnacle of my education career and what I am most proud of,” said Shane, “was to be principal of Lincoln High School for a period of ten years. I’m proud of the growth we had during my time at the district.”

A New Direction

During his tenure as principal of Lincoln High School, Shane developed a strong relationship with Dave Doherty, president of Digi-Key. One day, Dave tapped Shane on the shoulder and said, “hey, you should come work at Digi-Key.”

At first, the thought of leaving education was a crazy one because it was such a big part of Shane’s heart. But he eventually decided to accept Dave’s invitation.

“I would never have left our education system to do this in any other company, but it was the opportunity to do something for a global company in my own hometown. The fun part is a lot of my former students work here and a lot of people that I’ve grown up with and known in the community.”

Shane serves as Vice President of Human Resources and Administration at Digi-Key. “The funny part is that it’s a little bit like being the principal at the high school. I get to be involved in a lot of different things across the business, everything from facilities to strategy, finances, talent, finding new leaders, employee engagement…the list goes on and on.”

Digi-Key’s Global Footprint

Digi-Key is one of several large companies—businesses that have a global footprint and whose headquarters are in Northwest Minnesota.  Shane feels that people who grow up in the area often overlook the career opportunities afforded by these companies.

“People need to really know and understand that you can have work that makes an impact, but you can do it in an environment where you’ll have teachers and small business owners that know you and your kids, and they’ll help you with your family as they grow.”

Digi-Key works with big partners like Google and Twitter, and others that are developing technologies that literally change the world. Soon moving into their 50th year, Digi-Key is growing at a pace that is unprecedented for almost anyone in the industry.

“The opportunities here, as we move forward, for all of our employees, are really big.”

Click here to download a PDF version of the 12-page “Come Home to Thief River Falls” publication.

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