Columnist | Business

Lee Schafer joined the Star Tribune as a columnist in 2012 after 15 years in business, including leading his own consulting practice and serving on corporate boards of directors. He's twice been named the best in business columnist by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, most recently for his work in 2017.

Schafer grew up on a southwest Minnesota cattle farm and studied history and economics at Macalester College. He received his masters degree from Northwestern University and worked as a writer and editor for a regional business monthly before returning to business. His work included investment banking but he had the most fun advising CEOs on growth strategy. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Tanya Bell, a real estate development consultant and civic leader, and they have three adult daughters. He's also been active as a volunteer, including for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House and Urban Homeworks.


Schafer: C.H. Robinson leader sees ripples, not big changes, in global trade

It hadn't been a great couple of years for people who manufacture globally even before the coronavirus.


Schafer: Shale oil passed its peak without making money

There was a boom in it a few years ago, big enough to be felt in Minnesota. But the reckoning is underway.


Schafer: Why Casper mattresses appealed to Target, and what bounces lie ahead

After just a few days, it's way too soon to reach the conclusion that Casper Sleep is a financial fiasco. However, that's the way to bet.


Schafer: Coronavirus outbreak underscores global economic connections

In times of heightened uncertainty, making a decision gets put off.


Schafer: Old is when General Mills brings back a 'nostalgia' product you never heard of

A good way to feel old is to have a major food company reintroduce a “nostalgia” product like Dunkaroos that you didn’t know about when…


Schafer: Naifs like me thought the PolyMet project would be decided on economics

Whether this proposed mine ever operates in the northeastern corner of our state was always about politics.


Schafer: Hospitals and doctors have your health records. Should app makers get them too?

What the conflict really boils down to is differing notions of security when it comes to patient information. And money, too.


Schafer: Three years on, the Wells Fargo scandal is still breathtaking

Thousands of people at the bank knew better. Even the friends and family of Wells Fargo senior executives knew better.


Schafer: Taking a cue from activist investors

The best idea for dealing with this kind of hedge-fund shareholder seems too valuable to not share. And easy, too.


Schafer: Investing in college doesn't always pay

The thing that matters is whether you got value out of what you paid for.