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WINTER 2017

SPECIAL ISSUE WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Facing the future JOB SEARCH ADVICE FROM THE PROFESSIONALS

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stronger communities A strong community is the power behind any successful business. Marco has had the great fortune of being supported by dozens of great communities across the Midwest. To show our gratitude, Marco is committed to giving back to the communities we serve. We also sponsor events, participate in fundraisers and encourage employees to volunteer on and off company time. Giving back empowers our communities to grow stronger, dream bigger and go further. And, that’s good for all of us. Learn more and get empowered at marconet.com.

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volume 16  |  issue 4

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B2B Magazine is published four times annually by Omaha Magazine, LTD, P.O. Box 461208, Omaha NE 68046-1208. Telephone: 402-884-2000; fax 402-8842001. Subscription rates: $12.95 for 4 issues (one year), $19.95 for 8 issues (two years). Multiple subscriptions at different rates are available. No whole or part of the contents herein may be reproduced without prior written permission of B2B Omaha Magazine, excepting individually copyrighted articles and photographs. Unsolicited manuscripts are accepted, however no responsibility will be assumed for such solicitations.


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TABLE OF CONTENTS FE ATURE

22

STEPHANIE MONGE INTRODUCES

FEMCITY OMAHA FEATURES

26

JOB SEARCH ADVICE

To Combat Gender Inequality

28

EMPOWERING ENTREPRENEURS Omaha Small Business Network

DEPARTMENTS

08 LEADERS 12 IN THE OFFICE 18 HOW I ROLL Joan Neuhaus

Lotus House of Yoga Diane Kremlacek

30

WOMEN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS PROGRAM

SPECIAL SECTIONS

32 34 76

OmAHA! Healing by Design

15 16

OFFICE FURNITURE Designing for Women in the Workplace

AFTER HOURS Winning the FEI World Cup for Omaha BIZ + GIVING Together A Greater Good

20 BEAUTIFUL BUSINESS INTERIOR DESIGNS ASID Winners

38 WOMEN IN BUSINESS

59 THE FIRM DEAL REVIEW 89 BEST OF B2B BALLOT Talent Edition

COLUMNS

07 FROM THE EDITOR 10 SALES INSIDER

The Rise of Women in Business The Art of Selling

ETHICS Tough as Nails

36 75

BRAND BRIEF Golden Rule of Marketing OMAHA CVB Women’s Impact on Tourism

80 PLAYING BIG

Establishing an Innovative Niche


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FROM THE EDITOR

THE RISE OF WOMEN IN BUSINESS

07

BY DAISY HUTZELL-RODMAN

The age-old tension assaulted Americans all through the fall election season, as voters weighed a career businessman vs. a career politician vying for the top position in the U.S. Google “women vs. men in business” and hundreds of websites will come up, listing crucial ways in which women are different from men. Some websites explain how women should be treated differently; others argue for women and men to be treated just the same. The familiar narrative seems confusing to even the most intelligent of people, but one thing is certain. There are both women and men in the workplace, and they both contribute greatly to the success of local businesses. In the business world, some say women prefer to build relationships with people and work as a team rather than working in a hierarchical structure. Stefanie Monge is one young businesswoman who knows the value of building relationships. In fact, she recently started an Omaha version of FemCity, the national networking group for women. She shares her story on page 22. For those who want a different sort of local women’s networking group, Omaha offers plenty of those as well, and a list of them can be found on page 25.

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Some statistics suggest that the circumstances facing women in the workforce are getting worse, that only 26 percent of women work in technology, and that women don’t take as many risks when starting businesses. Some local women are bucking this trend. Entrepreneurs Holly Baker and Leslie Fischer founded the nonprofit Together A Greater Good in 2012. Their app-based business started when these two marketing professionals strived to make a difference in their community. To date, they have received more than 20,000 downloads of their TAGG app. Their story can be found on page 76. Then there’s that glass ceiling. Women’s Fund of Omaha reports that 42 percent of women in business work in management, but few of those women work in senior leadership. One of those rare female executives is Joan Neuhaus, CHI Health COO, who speaks about her career in health care on page 8. As a senior leader of the organization, she oversees 15 hospitals and 2/3 of the organization’s employees. She tries to lead by giving direction—not by micromanaging. It’s advice that anyone can appreciate. I hope you all appreciate this special Women in Business edition. B2B

Internet sources often mention how women look for jobs differently from men, yet much of the job-searching advice from resume writer Bridget (Weide) Brooks and career coach Cindy Wagner can apply to anyone searching for a job. My particular favorite tidbit of advice is, simply, “people hire people.” You can read what Bridget means by this on page 26.

On the cover: Ladies, grab your blowtorches. Businesswomen are in charge and burning through the patriarchy. This issue of B2B celebrates Women in Business. Concept cover modeled by Chelsie Wieczorek.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is associate editor of B2B, a publication of Omaha Magazine LTD. She can be reached at daisy@omahamagazine.com.


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

“A GOOD EDUCATION IS CRITICAL, BUT A LOT OF IT IS LEARNING AS YOU GO AND MOVING INTO OPPORTUNITIES AS THEY PRESENT THEMSELVES,” SHE SAYS. “IF SOMEONE HAD SAID, ‘DO YOU KNOW HOW TO CONDUCT STRATEGIC PLANNING?’ I WOULD HAVE SAID, ‘NO. BUT I AM EAGER TO LEARN AND WILLING TO DO MY BEST. SO LET’S GIVE IT A SHOT.’” -JOAN NEUHAUS


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LEADERS  |  BY ROBERT FRAASS  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEITH BINDER

JOAN NEUHAUS ON BRAVING THE UNKNOWN, BECOMING A LEADER

Joan Neuhaus didn’t set out to become a health care executive after graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Creighton University in the early 1980s. But when she landed a marketing position at Bergan Mercy Hospital, she quickly discovered she had an affinity and passion for the health care industry and its chief mission—helping people.

Enabling Connections As CHI Health’s COO, Neuhaus manages the operations of 15 hospitals, lines of health care services outside of hospitals, and 7,000 to 8,000 of the health care organization’s 12,000 employees. That awesome responsibility requires a strong leadership philosophy that ensures the best-possible health care for patients while achieving the organization’s financial goals.

“I have been with CHI Health or one of its legacy organizations (such as Bergan Mercy) for 31 years,” the Omaha native says. “It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with an operation whose values mirror my own.”

In complex organizations such as CHI, leadership is about mobilizing employees to take on tough problems, she says, tapping employees’ intelligence and other talents.

These values run deeper than the typical business values of honesty, integrity, and hard work, says Neuhaus, now a senior vice president and the chief operating officer for CHI Health. CHI values, she says, create a healing environment that’s faithful to the ministry of Jesus Christ.

“My role is as an enabler. I make the connections between the parts of the organization that need to come together to figure out a problem,” she says. “It’s messy; it’s a little chaotic. It’s trusting that you have the right people in place and that you connect the right people to the right people.”

“It’s respect for the dignity of every person, treating every patient as an individual and respecting their choices, positions, and background. Having that value set and coming to an organization that respects and preserves that in every interaction has been very powerful for me.”

The key, Neuhaus says, is to just set the direction and not micromanage. Leaders need to give people clear direction and then let them go to work.

Take Risks, Always Learn As a woman, hurdles must be overcome to reach the executive suite. After all, that’s why the phrase “glass ceiling” was coined. Neuhaus offers simple recommendations for leadership success: eagerly take on new opportunities, deal with conflict productively, read and learn as much as you can, and most importantly, focus on building relationships every step of the way. “A good education is critical, but a lot of it is learning as you go and moving into opportunities as they present themselves,” she says. “If someone had said, ‘do you know how to conduct planning?’ I would have said, ‘No. But I am eager to learn and willing to do my best. So let’s give it a shot.’” It’s the advice Neuhaus and her husband give their 30-year-old daughter. “Take some risks, take some initiative in areas you might not be comfortable with, and develop the relationships you need to be successful,” Neuhaus says. “Life is not a solo sport.” Visit chihealth.com for more information. B2B


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

SALES INSIDER

BY KARL SCHAPHORST

THE ART OF SELLING

THE PROFESSIONAL SALESWOMAN Sales is a great career option for the professional businesswoman. Through sales, women can escape gender inequalities in pay, since sales commissions are based on what is sold. The sales venue offers unlimited potential for upside growth. In sales, performance is the equalizing metric that objectively defines success for the professional man or woman equally. Nevertheless, it is true that the marketplace may not treat the professional saleswoman with absolute equality. One important decision must be made for the saleswoman to defy the odds. That is: make a deliberate effort to master the art of selling. Regardless of gender, almost all sales engagements start like this: The prospect (i.e., the buyer) takes the position of authority, and the salesperson takes the position of submission. I call this “selling from your knees or begging for business.” This posture is never favorable for the sales professional since this often results in salespeople providing free services and information to prospects that may not result in actual purchases. High performing sales professionals demonstrate their expertise by tactfully establishing equal business stature between themselves and the prospect. For the female sales professional, establishing equal business stature can be more challenging, mainly because of traditional societal pressure for women (and saleswomen) to adopt a submissive role. All professionals, men and women alike, have their own sets of challenges to overcome. Those who can overcome their challenges enter into the elite group of high performers. Sales professionals spanning all across the gender spectrum must understand the challenges in their market. Understanding any particular challenge is one step toward success, because the challenges can be overcome. Sales is the highest compensated profession on the planet. It also can be the most challenging profession. It is the women and men of the sales profession who are the frontline soldiers

in business. They take all the shots and rejection, and then they repeat the slog again the next day. If you enter the battlefield unprepared and/or undertrained, you will get blown up a lot…which can figuratively (and psychologically) tear you to pieces. Saleswomen, you must make the decision to invest in yourself and get the same kind of rigorous training in sales as one gets from school or college when pursuing a degree. In other words, get your bachelor’s degree in sales. The self-investment will most likely have the highest ROI compared to any other investment you could make. Now, let’s visit Marcy*. Marcy is a professional saleswoman who works in the commercial flooring business and is an expert in her field. She works very hard, puts in a lot of hours, and prepares a lot of proposals. But she earns a wage that is less than what she wants. Over and over, Marcy demonstrates her expertise by pulling together information, doing the research, bringing in the right products, and delivering a workable solution even on the most challenging of projects. Then, to her horror, she learns that her prospect has auctioned off her intellectual property to a lower priced supplier. In such a predicament, the prospect was in control (the authority), and Marcy was the servant (the submissive). The sales engagement had begun with the prospect calling Marcy and asking, “Can you put together a proposal for this project?” For weeks, I had been instructing Marcy to demand equal business stature by responding with, “I have the highest prices in town.” But Marcy was not comfortable with such an assertive stance. For years, she had been playing the role of servant. Finally, she got out of her comfort zone and started to push back. Something remarkable started to happen. Prospects didn’t hang up on her. They didn’t always pursue the lower priced suppliers. Instead, they wanted to know why her prices were higher, which then began a sales conversation where Marcy was in control.

The prospects that wanted low price moved on without consuming Marcy’s time in proposal preparation. Those were the same prospects that would have put her (submissive) to work, consumed her time, and still auctioned off her information to the low price provider. Her new posture funneled the price shoppers to her competitors and funneled the prospects that wanted her value into an equal business stature sales conversation (which, more often than not, resulted in business). The marketplace saw a sales professional in Marcy and made no judgment based on the fact that she is a woman. That is a real manifestation of gender neutrality in the sales profession. It is you—not your product or your gender— that make your business great. It is here where investment should be made to grow your business. So, what is your answer? Are you a professional saleswoman? *Marcy is a composite character inspired by real people.

B2B

Karl Schaphorst is a 27year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.


WINTER 2017  | 

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12

IN THE OFFICE  |  BY SARAH WENGERT  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

LET IT FLOW LOTUS HOUSE OF YOGA VIBRATES WITH LOVE, LIGHT, AND MUSIC

“OMAHA HAS AMAZING YOGA LEADERS WHO’VE BEEN HERE FOR DECADES, BUT I WANTED TO BRING SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE CONTEMPORARY TO THE TABLE, IN LINE WITH WHAT I’D PRACTICED ON THE COASTS. (LOTUS) IS REALLY A BIG FAMILY AND A WOMEN-RUN COMPANY; ALL THE PEOPLE ON OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM AND IN ADMINISTRATION ARE WOMEN.” -MARY CLARE SWEET


WINTER 2017  | 

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The writing is on the wall at Lotus House of Yoga. Colorful chalk scribblings dance across interior walls at the new Aksarben location, transmitting empowering messages like “Trust your gut,” “The revolution starts with one hungry heart,” “What you can dream, you can achieve,” and “You are getting stronger right now.” Lotus offers yoga, barre, and cycling classes that will get your body in shape, but even more impressive are the positive effects on mind and spirit. This isn’t merely physical exercise, it’s an exercise in love, strength, and fulfillment.

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“My ultimate goal is to share love through yoga,” says Lotus founder Mary Clare Sweet. “You leave feeling better because you’re developing an authentic relationship with yourself. When you’re connected to that authenticity—with nature and with your own true nature—you can go out into the world and make great changes.” Her nickname is “M.C.”—short for Mary Clare and also quite fitting as she’s master of ceremonies for the alternately peaceful, playful party that is Lotus. With an extensive background in dance and a lifelong love of yoga handed down from her mother and business partner, Lotus CEO Anne Sweet, Lincoln native Mary Clare moved to Omaha via NYC to lay the foundation for her Midwestern yoga empire.


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B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

“Omaha has amazing yoga leaders who’ve been here for decades, but I wanted to bring something a little more contemporary to the table, in line with what I’d practiced on the coasts,” says Mary Clare. In 2010, Mary Clare partnered with her uncle, Joseph Duryea, to launch Lotus at 144th Street and Eagle Run Drive—where she taught a demanding 19 classes per week, “just purely driven by my heart and the love,” she says. In 2012, she bought Duryea out and Anne came on as partner/CEO, bringing business experience that Mary Clare says helped take Lotus to the next level with solid strategy and brand communication. That winter, Lotus opened at One Pacific Place and Midtown Crossing. Two Lincoln locations followed in 2013 and 2014, with the downtown studio adding a neighboring Lotus-powered High Vibe Cafe, a fresh juice bar also selling healthy snacks and açai bowls, in 2015.

In 2016, Lotus closed its Midtown Crossing studio and opened in Aksarben. With vibrant natural light, a welcoming lobby where UNO students and others happily hang out, studios for barre, yoga, and cycling, and an in-house High Vibe Cafe, the latest location is a proud progression for the Lotus crew. “You can see the manifestation of our vision written on the walls here,” says Mary Clare. “It’s exactly how we want it, we wouldn’t change a thing. It’s absolutely filled with love, and we’re so happy to be here.” While Lotus sees plenty of male clients and has some male teachers, it is largely a female-driven endeavor. “[Lotus] is really a big family and a women-run company; all the people on our leadership team and in administration are women,” she says.

In addition to the strong, lady-powered energy and community spirit forged by these humble warriors, clients can also depend on classes filled with sweet beats, rad refrains, and soothing sonic journeys, as carefully crafted playlists strategically correspond songs to chakras. From The Beatles to Beyoncé, tracks span genres including folk, pop, hip-hop, soul, and rock. “Music has always been the cornerstone of Lotus. Our mission is to raise the vibration, and music is vibration; so that’s a huge part of it,” says Mary Clare. “We aim to marry the ancient and modern together to create an experience that feels like home, that feels like love, that’s accessible and available to everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from.” Visit lotushouseofyoga.com for more information. B2B


WINTER 2017  | 

omahamagazine.com

OFFICE FURNITURE

BY DOUG SCHURING

DESIGNING FOR WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

15

TODAY’S FEMALE WORKFORCE HAS OFFICE FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS DEVELOPING PRODUCTS EQUALLY SUPPORTIVE OF WOMEN It’s a fact—more women are in the workplace than ever before, and this trend seems sure to continue for some time.

WHAT WOULD MAKE THEIR ENVIRONMENT “WORK” BETTER? Recent new product introductions include:

These days, many office furniture designers and manufacturers are developing their new products with much greater sensitivity to this evermore prominent audience.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO WOMEN AS THEY WORK? •

Furniture that is light and easy to handle. The majority of training programs are led by women. Female trainers are not only in charge of the training curriculum, they often end up setting up the room by moving heavy tables and awkward chairs into a variety of configurations. A place for belongings. Women place personal bags and briefcases on the floor or hang them from their chairback for lack of a better option. Again, the same holds true at their desks, where purses may get stuffed into a file drawer or behind the CPU under their desk. A chair that really fits. Many women complain of chairs with poor back support, are too big, and/or simply aren’t comfortable to sit in seven-plus hours a day. And women have a right to want a better solution—a recent study reported most women averaged 49 hours per week working, with 10 percent reporting they spent 61 hours per week in the workplace.

Lightweight, easily reconfigurable training tables and chairs—making it easy and convenient for women to change a training environment on their own. They are simple to fold, move, or rearrange. The controls on the flexible tables must be easy to reach and trigger, making quick work to fold and nest for storage. Storage hooks under training tables— in the “why didn’t they think of this before?” category. Provide a single hook under tables for users to hang purses and other personal items. Height adjustable work surfaces—while “sitting may be the new smoking,” the need to adjust the height of one’s work surface is more important than ever. Properly sized and adjustable office chairs—we all want a chair that fits “just right.” Many chairs today feature technology distributing back pressure and automatically adjusting support to match its occupant’s relative size, weight, and sitting style.

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OTHER FACTORS IN SATISFACTION Based on my conversations and observations, other non-furniture-related preferences for women’s work environments include: •

Women are more interested in the overall visual appeal of their office— including softer lighting and color.

Women prefer to work in collaboration with other associates. They are less interested in maintaining workplace hierarchy and are more interested in an environment which promotes creativity and collaboration.

One of the greatest satisfaction drivers for women—after “meaningful work” and “proper recognition”—is flexibility in the work environment.

While many of these items described are important to women, all workers can benefit from the changes described. Fortunately for us, the manufacturers in the industry today are listening. B2B

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

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ETHICS

BY BEVERLY KRACHER

TOUGH AS NAILS

Here in Nebraska, many of us have mothers, aunts, or family friends like Lorraine. Lorraine bought a farm with her husband, Norman, in the mid 1960s. Both were third-generation immigrants, steeped in the agrarian ethos of hard work, honesty, and reluctance to interfere in someone else’s life unless absolutely necessary.

But according to social norms across Nebraska and the world, and the BSRI, these are masculine traits. So, ranch women and cowgirls tend to be masculine.

The Lorraines of the world are stoics. They get on with life, never complaining about aches and pains, only about the weather. They drive tractors and load pigs for the slaughterhouse. They wear boots for the mud, heavy coats for warmth, and seed caps… just like the men. They run the farms by keeping the books and selling the crops.

I have had corporate-employees-duringthe-day, going-to-school-at-night female students complete the BSRI in my graduate business ethics courses since 1991. And I have used the BSRI across Omaha for many female professional business association workshops. What is true about the Lorraines of the world is true for the female business practitioners I have studied. Overall, they tend to be masculine rather than feminine. Additionally, some are androgynous.

The Lorraines of the world are tough as nails. Ranch women and cowgirls are anomalous to female social norms. In the United States, and across the globe, females are supposed to be feminine (remember, this is a norm, a generalization, and not true in every case). What does it mean to be feminine? According to Sandra Bem, creator of the Bem SexRole Inventory, a reliable and validated instrument in most every country, feminine characteristics are those judged to be more desirable for a woman than a man. Femininity includes being affectionate, sensitive to the needs of others, eager to soothe hurt feelings, tender, gentle, yielding, cheerful, and softspoken. And femininity also includes (gotta love this one) not using harsh language. Indeed, the Lorraines of the world are not stereotypically feminine. Instead, they are selfreliant farmwomen—independent, assertive, willing to take risks, aggressive, analytical, self-sufficient, competitive, and ambitious.

But masculine females don’t only exist on the ranch.

Androgyny, according to the BSRI, is defined as having strong masculine and strong feminine characteristics. So females who are androgynous are both ambitious and gentle, independent and sensitive to the needs of others, assertive and cheerful.

However, what if strong femininity is tied to strong masculinity? Would that be effective? Though controversial, another body of research indicates that striving for androgyny is not the answer. Trying to balance or integrate strong femininity and strong masculinity can send mixed messages during negotiations and for most other management and leadership responsibilities. It is anxiety-producing and can lead to self-derogation and depression, which does not result in a perception of effectiveness. So it looks like masculinity with a moderate level of femininity prevails. Indeed, professors Gary N. Powell and D. Anthony Butterfield have consistently shown across time and for very large samples of subjects that “the general perception of the stereotypic good manager is one of masculinity”—for both males and females. If true, females need to acknowledge and develop their masculine character traits to be seen to be effective. The tough as nails women have it right. Thanks for being a role model, Lorraine. B2B

Sounds exhausting to me. Arduous as it may be, female business practitioners need to practice character traits, skills, and tools that are effective. So what characteristics should we strive toward to be great managers and leaders? First, a large body of research suggests that females should have at least an average level of femininity. But…and this is an important but….strongly feminine females are perceived to be less effective by both males and females. Too much tenderness, too much yielding, and softspoken mannerisms do not convey confidence and an ability to lead during tough times.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University.


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HOW I ROLL  |  BY MICHAEL WATKINS  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

DIANE KREMLACEK’S

BIG DOG CHOPPER

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Diane Kremlacek is used to proving she can do the same things a man can. As the communication department manager—a historically male role—for 20 years at OPPD before retiring in 2015, she often had to go above and beyond to show she was qualified to do the job.

Fas t- Paced Publ ic Rel ations

So, when it comes to hopping on her yellow and gold custom-made Big Dog Chopper and cruising down a country road or taking a longer ride to motorcycle mecca in Sturgis, South Dakota, Kremlacek says she is in control, feeling free, and doing her own thing with no expectations or limitations.

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“I absolutely love it; there really is no freer feeling than the wind in your face, racing on a motorcycle,” she says. “It’s empowering for a woman because people see me on my bike and ask me, ‘how can you ride that?’ And all I tell them is ‘because I can.’”

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“To a degree, bikes are still seen as being for men, but more and more women are proving they belong on a bike as well,” says Kremlacek, who also has a Wheaten terrier named Chopper.

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Customer-Based Planning and Communications

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She became interested in motorcycles after marrying her husband, Joe. A cycle enthusiast—he has a Big Dog Canine, which is larger than the Chopper—he bought Diane her first bike, and she’s been hooked ever since.

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Best PR Agency 9 Years Running!


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volume 16  |  issue 4

SPECIAL SECTION  |  CONTRIBUTED BY ASID  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY THOMAS GRADY, TOM KESSLER, AND MARK KRESL

BEAUTIFUL BUSINESS INTERIOR DESIGNS ASID WINNERS Great interior design can turn any workplace into a showcase. From large corporate offices to small mom-and-pop storefronts, whatever the tone that proprietors desire for their office space, professional interior designers can turn ideas into reality. The Nebraska/Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers recently announced the winners of their annual design contest, impactFULL. B2B

GOLD — IMPACTFULL WINNER Nancy Pesavento, ASID, and Lisa Cooper, Allied ASID Interiors Joan & Associates The goal in this new salon was to achieve a balance between the architecture and design. Clever space planning and the use of unique materials created a visually dramatic area. Overscaled light fixtures, sophisticated tile designs, and a suspended bead metal curtain define the salon and add impact to the overall design.


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GOLD Linsey Lisowyj, ASID Interior Design Firm This design achieved a unique lounge in which one can enjoy a glass of wine while mapping out the next adventure. Vibrant, comfortable, and detail-oriented, this design matches the experience travelers will have within and abroad. The material and finish palette included warm neutrals that created the foundation for the playground of vibrant colors.

GOLD Brianne Wilhelm, Allied ASID D3 Interiors The design of this new art studio achieved a versatile, bright, open space to accommodate long painting tables with 30-plus seated painters, ample lighting, a large wine and drinks bar, a washer/dryer for the painting aprons, and functional storage for their stock of canvases, paint, and cases of libations. The end result is a functional, warm, bright, and inviting space.

SILVER Marilyn Hansen, FASID The Designers Teal and gold were incorporated throughout the hotel. A dramatic focal point takes advantage of clerestory windows. Quartzite stone walls were used for a clean more modern approach. A redesign of the existing lobby included new lighting, reception desk, seating areas, wall coverings, countertops, and a new fireplace to complete the transformation.


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FEATURE  |  BY WENDY TOWNLEY  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

STEFANIE MONGE INTRODUCES FEMCITY OMAHA

“THE REALITY IS, MY EXPERIENCE AS A FEMALE SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF MY MALE COUTERPARTS. THE THINGS I THINK ABOUT IN MY DAILY LIFE, OR THE WAYS I BALANCE MY WORK AND MY LIFE, ARE SPECIFIC TO BEING A WOMAN.” -STEPHANIE MONGE

The birth and growth of the tech industry— specifically Silicon Valley and the Silicon Prairie—gave rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Young Americans from Generation X, Generation Y, and millennials harnessed the power of the internet and openaccess technology to build apps, solve problems, and disrupt traditional ways of doing business. In many cases, these entrepreneurs have been young men. But in recent years, the voices of female entrepreneurs have grown louder, their success stories gaining more attention. It stands to reason, then, that in a country where women have historically earned less than their male counterparts (and secured fewer promotions and board seats), women deserve a space dedicated to finding and networking with professional peers. Meet Stefanie Monge, an Omaha-based serial entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and consultant who has launched a local platform for such women. Monge started an Omaha chapter of FemCity, which bills itself as a community of strong entrepreneurial women supporting one another, both in business and in life.


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“The thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that my work is never done. I will always work more. I will always have the capacity to work more. And if I don’t set the boundaries and decide when is work time and when is non-work time, everything by default turns into work time,” Monge explains. With technology and email, it’s also about setting boundaries—being responsive to emails, text messages, and the like, but not setting the expectation that she is immediately responsive or always available after hours. FemCity Omaha strives to empower women to work and live mindfully, making choices that improve both their business and their whole being. Monge can relate to other women who may strive at work, yet see their personal relationships suffer as a result. “It quickly became apparent that I could not function without figuring that out,” Monge explains of finding her realistic work-life balance. “But as I became more successful, I had more freedom to implement it.”

Monge and her all-female board of directors host monthly events around the Omaha area featuring guest speakers who tackle topics ranging from self-awareness, self-empowerment, mindfulness, and even failure. Women may drop in to any FemCity Omaha event for $15 or join the organization for $125 per year. Monge knows a thing or two about pursuing her many passions. A former Omaha WorldHerald reporter, today she serves in many roles: a managing partner at Petshop Gallery; CEO and founder of Think.Start.Do, Welcor Enterprise Yoga, and Stefanie Monge Consulting; and a content strategist and event producer at San Francisco-based Serverless.

For example, there are consistent days of the week and even set times that are offlimits to Monge’s clients and co-workers. “And it’s beautiful, because it means that I start every day and every week basically on my own terms, and it feels much less hectic. It helps me to be more productive. It helps me to be more calm. It helps me to be more efficient. Ultimately that all goes back to mindfulness,” Monge says. Which is why FemCity Omaha has proven to be a meaningful and impactful organization for Monge and the more than 150 women who have attended a FemCity event since it launched in April of 2016. “The thing that really impressed me and really drew me to this group, and ultimately was a major deciding factor in launching a group in Omaha, is they really focus on women as whole human beings,” Monge says. “It is definitely about building a successful business. But it’s also about having a balanced life, and having a really strong support system of other successful, motivated women who are more than willing to share their resources and share their experience.”

Traditional networking environments, Monge says, often feel more like a non-stop sales pitch than an opportunity to develop deep connections with other individuals. Even today, she evaluates new networking opportunities based on what they will yield and what they will cost—largely, her time. “I felt there was an opportunity [with FemCity Omaha] to take the mission of helping women form really authentic relationships, to help support each other’s professional and personal growth, and promoting a welcome environment that is authentic,” says Monge, noting that the genuine warmth, kindness, and general sense of community that she both witnesses and personally experiences at each FemCity Omaha event is unlike anything else she’s seen in Omaha. “As women, female entrepreneurs, and female business leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of networking. Getting rid of that has been really appealing,” she says. Women who attend are in their mid-20s upward to age 60. They are business owners, women who seek to own business, and some are freelancers or consultants part-time. Others still are simply seeking an outlet to meet other professional and dynamic women. “The idea was to create a space that is only women, that is a safe, supportive space where women can feel less inhibited about speaking their truth,” she says. “The reality is, my experience as a female serial entrepreneur is very different from that of my male counterparts. The things I think about in my daily life, or the ways I balance my work and my life, are specific to being a woman. There is value in providing that place where women feel safe to voice those feelings and relate through shared experiences.” Visit femcity.com/omaha for more information. B2B


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WOMEN’S NETWORKING GROUPS

Christian Women’s Business Network Contact: Pamela Korth 402-829-5486 or info@cbwf.org cbwf.org

Women in Insurance and Financial Services Contact: Tonya Mathison 402-401-2330 or mathison.tonya@principal.com wifsnational.org

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Contact: Jenni Shukert 402-551-3400 or jshukert@aoomaha.com crewomahametro.org

Women in Technology of the Heartland Contact: Colleen Schinker colleen.schinker@hdrinc.com meetup.com/witheartland

Heartland Women’s Network Contact: Mindy Kidney 402-926-9928 or membership@heartlandwomensnetwork.com heartlandwomensnetwork.com Ladies Who Launch Contact: Leslie Fischer 402-203-0451 or leslie@togetheragreatergood.com facebook.com/ladieswholaunchomaha Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center (MOWBC) Contact: B.C. Clark 402-201-2334 or bc.clark@mowbcf.org mowbcf.org Nebraska Women in Architecture Contact: Kristi Nohavec kmnohavec@leoadaly.com facebook.com/nebraska-women-in-architecture

Women to Women Contact: Sarah Bernhagen 402-293-0999 or sbernhagen@johnagentleman.com (No website available) Women’s Council of Realtors Omaha Contact: Katie Clemenger kclemenger@celebrityhomesomaha.com wcromaha.com

Women’s Conferences

American Association of University Women Contact: Marilyn Bombac, 402-292-6245 or mbombac@aol.com Denise Britigan, 402-884-0185 or britigan@cox.net aauw-ne.aauw.net

ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference Contact: Lisa Turner 402-392-0746 or lturner@icanglobal.net icanomaha.org Do the Damn Thing Contact: Catrice M. Jackson 402-706-4244 or ​catriceology@gmail.com catriceology.com Women on a Mission for Change Contact: 402-403-9621 or womenonamissionomaha@gmail.com womenonamissionomaha.org

Omaha 30+ Women Contact: Kay M. Rowe embracelifellc@gmail.com meetup.com/omaha-30-plus-women Omaha Business Women Connection Contact: Barb Brady 402-882-1062 or barb@simplifiedaccountingfirm.com facebook.com/groups/omahabusinesswomenconnection/ Omaha Coding Women Contact: Sandi Barr sandi.k.barr@gmail.com meetup.com/omaha-coding-women

Women’s Fund Contact: Michelle Zych 402-827-9280 or mzych@omahawomensfund.org omahawomensfund.org B2B

Professional Women Connect Contact: Janyne Peek Emsick, Ph.D. 402-346-5856 or janyne@integrowinc.com Sarah Ericson, sarah.ericson@csgi.com pwcomaha.com

FemCity Contact: Stefanie Monge 402-813-7530 or omaha@femcity.com femcity.com/omaha


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BY LINDSAY WILSON  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN FE ATURE

JOB SEARCH ADVICE TO COMBAT GENDER INEQUALITY Cindy Wagner


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THE WAGE GAP IS CLOSING, IN LARGE PART DUE TO WOMEN WHO ARE NO LONGER SATISFIED WITH JUST A STEADY INCOME.

Bridget (Weide) Brooks

Though Nebraska is often touted as a thriving job market for men and women alike, the state has earned a C-minus grade for employment and earnings of women from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and is ranked 31st in the nation—behind Iowa, Missouri, and most of the East Coast. Women in Nebraska are earning an average of 73.1 cents for every dollar made by men. While the wage gap is closing, at this rate of progress, Nebraska will not achieve equal pay for men and women until 2066. However negative these statistics may seem, the job searching process for women is brighter today than it has ever been. The career search and application process is changing rapidly, and women learn at a fast pace. Thanks to the availability of resources to determine salaries of others in their prospective field, women are finding the process to be significantly less daunting and more hopeful.

When engaging in a job search, an activity that local résumé writer Bridget (Weide) Brooks says is now occurring close to every two to three years in an adult’s life, women are less commonly left to guess at how their salaries stack up to those of male counterparts in the same field or wonder about the dollar value of their unique skills. Career coach Cindy Wagner finds that the biggest mistake women make in their job search is to underestimate their skills, or “undersell themselves.” Wagner works with women to discover skills that they tend to disregard. She looks for the unique, and often less quantifiable, talents of each individual. As she guides a client’s career search, she starts by helping people uncover what truly drives them to seek out a new career, the idea beyond a simple paycheck.

The wage gap is closing, in large part due to women who are no longer satisfied with just a steady income. As more and more women make their way into higher ranking positions within companies, potential employees are setting higher goals than previous generations—and achieving them. Motivation to not only get a job, but to be hired by a company where their passions and talents will be utilized, is increasingly enabling women to surpass competition in the job market. Wagner’s next step is working with clients to develop a picture of what their ideal job would look like, factoring in their individual passions to create a fulfilling career concept. Then she helps with résumé, LinkedIn profiles, and other factors in her clients’ personal branding to make sure that the materials clearly and accurately reflect the value of the individual. CONT. PAGE 78


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FEATURE  |  BY LEO ADAM BIGA  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

OMAHA SMALL BUSINESS NETWORK EMPOWERS ENTREPRENEURS “WHAT OSBN SEEKS TO DO IS TO INITIALLY BRIDGE THAT GAP BETWEEN THE BANK AND THE CONSUMER. BUT AFTER RECEIVING AN OSBN LOAN, OUR DESIRE IS FOR YOU TO BECOME BANKABLE. EACH OPPORTUNITY WITH OSBN HELPED DEVELOP MY CONFIDENCE AS A BUSINESS OWNER. NOW, I REFER OTHER PEOPLE TO OSBN THAT WANT TO START OR GROW A BUSINESS,” -JULIA PARKER

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The Omaha Small Business Network is on its third female executive director since its 1982 launch. Julia Parker leads an all-female full-time staff that continues the nonprofit’s founding mandate to assist historically undercapitalized entrepreneurs achieve financial inclusion. OSBN helps remove barriers that inhibit some women and racial minorities from realizing business ventures. Parker says clients lack access to capital and lines of credit and often have no formal business training. Lacking collateral, they’re rejected by lenders. “To be eligible for our micro-loans, the first qualification is you be turned down for traditional financing,” Parker says. OSBN helps “un-bankable” clients do a financial makeover. “What OSBN seeks to do is to initially bridge that gap between the bank and the consumer. But after receiving an OSBN loan, our desire is for you to become bankable. We really hope after that two- or three- or six-year loan you develop a relationship with a local banker, through strong payments and good credit history, and then take the leap into the traditional financial market,” she says. “That’s really where we want you to go and thrive.” On The Edge Technology co-owner Rebecca Weitzel credits a $35,000 OSBN micro-loan, plus information gleaned from OSBN classes, and network opportunities with helping grow her firm and navigate the economics of doing business. She explored options at banks and credit unions before deciding OSBN was “the best choice for us.” “Each opportunity with OSBN helped develop my confidence as a business owner. Now, I refer other people to OSBN that want to start or grow a business,” says Weitzel. OSBN offers a three-pronged support system: micro-loans between $1,000 and $50,000 at low interest rates; free monthly professional development and small business training classes; and below-market-rate commercial office spaces at Omaha Business and Technology Center (2505 N. 24th St.) and

two nearby buildings. Ken and Associates LLC is one of two dozen OSBN tenants benefiting from commercial office space renting for 80 percent less than market value. OSBN has lent $2 million-plus in microloans to startups and existing businesses since it began micro-lending in 2010. As of October 2016, OSBN had $500,000 in outstanding loans, with $300,000 in loan payoffs during the past calendar year. Parker says, “Those are big numbers. Our clients are paying off their loans and going on their way as successful entrepreneurs. We’re pretty proud of that.” Spencer Management LLC owner Justin Moore is another OSBN success story. Since receiving a $35,000 micro-loan, Parker says his business expanded services, moved to a new, larger facility, paid off the loan in full, and exceeded $1 million in annual revenue. As a micro-enterprise development entity, OSBN is funded by private donations from local philanthropists and banks. Parker leverages her plugged-in experience in the nonprofit and business arenas. She served as director of operations and communications at Building Bright Futures from 2007 to 2013. She applies the skills she used there, along with lessons learned as a black female running a small business, to engage OSBN clients and partners. She owns her own communications consulting agency. “I think there’s always a barrier for minorities in certain spaces in Omaha,” she says. “The key is to try and overcome those by having a strong work ethic and being on top of your game at all times. But I think across the city, no matter what sector you’re in, there are barriers to entry.” She reports to a board whose members represent public and private interests. OSBN partners with leading Omaha giving institutions to even the playing field.

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“With the support of the Sherwood Foundation,” she says, “we have created a loan pool specifically for minority contractors and suppliers because of the issues they face. And we’ve teamed up with Creighton’s Financial Hope Collaborative to put those contractors and suppliers through a 12-week training course to ensure they’re prepared to go out and bid on, win, and fulfill those contracts. We just completed our first cohort and started our second.” Parker likes helping dreams be realized. It’s why she said yes when the board offered her the job in 2013. “I took the position because I really believe in the mission of supporting low-to-moderateincome entrepreneurs. I also like the idea of micro-enterprise development and its very unique take on financial inclusion.” She described that mission in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Capitol Hill last August. She says OSBN is “dedicated to bringing underserved local small business owners, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits the tools needed to become successful and sustainable entities.” She added, “OSBN and likeminded, community-based micro-lenders… have the ability to become a catalyst for both community and economic development.” She sees OSBN playing a role in increasing the dearth of black middle class residents and small business owners in northeast Omaha and stimulating economic revival there. “Small business ownership has long been held as a path to financial inclusion. Owning your own business allows you to break that cycle of poverty. Often those businesses become generational. We would love to see the 24th Street corridor come alive again with small businesses.” Besides, she says, small businesses have a positive ripple effect by creating jobs and paying taxes. Visit osbnbtc.org for more information. B2B


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FEATURE  |  BY JENNIFER LITTON  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

WOMAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS PROGRAM A HELPING HAND FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS

From left: Elizabeth Yearwood, Lisa Tedesco, and Kathleen Piper, staff at the Nebraska District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration


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“TO BE CONSIDERED ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED, THE WOMAN MUST MEET THREE ECONOMIC CRITERIA: PERSONAL NET WORTH MUST BE LESS THAN $750,000 ANNUALLY, ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME AVERAGED OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS MUST BE LESS THAN $350,000, AND PERSONAL ASSETS MUST BE LESS THAN $6 MILLION.” -LISA TEDESCO

Have you ever considered that the U.S. government is the world’s largest customer? The government buys a wide variety of products and is required by law to provide opportunities for small business owners. Fortunately for women entrepreneurs in Nebraska, this massive opportunity is made easier thanks to the Women-Owned Small Business Program.

percent owner who controls the business on a full-time basis and be a U.S. citizen. “To be considered economically disadvantaged, the woman must meet three economic criteria: personal net worth must be less than $750,000 annually, adjusted gross income averaged over the last three years must be less than $350,000, and personal assets must be less than $6 million.”

The program, which is implemented and administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, authorizes contracting officers to specifically limit or set aside certain requirements for competition solely amongst WOSBs or economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business, according to the administration’s website.

Tedesco says there is no formal process for self-certifying as a woman-owned small business or an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business: “Since it is a self-certifying program, the WOSB simply uploads the documentation providing eligibility into an SBA system, where it is housed if and when a contracting officer must verify eligibility prior to a WOSB award.”

The WOSB program ensures a level playing field on which small business can compete for federal contracting opportunities. “The program is still new enough that we haven’t seen quite the impact the program has had in Nebraska, but we predict it will continue to provide contracting opportunities for woman-owned businesses, particularly in those businesses and industries typically owned by men,” says Kathleen Piper, deputy district director of the Nebraska District Office of the Small Business Administration. Other services offered by the SBA include contracting education and assistance, business development, and various business trainings for women wanting to start their own business. “We have seen a trend of businesses being started by women that have traditionally been owned and run by men, particularly in construction and construction trades, cyber security, engineering, and facilities operation management,” Piper says. Lisa Tedesco, lead business opportunity specialist at the SBA, says that in order to be considered for the program, a woman owner must be a 51

“Starting a business is exciting, it can be financially rewarding, and it offers women a great deal of flexibility, but it is also risky, timeconsuming, and a lot of hard work,” Piper says. “The SBA and its network of resources partners (SCORE, the Nebraska Business Development Center, and REAP Women’s Business Center) exist to help business owners get free counseling, gain access to contracting programs, and obtain capital through SBA Guaranteed Loan Programs,” she explains. Piper says Nebraska is full of opportunity for aspiring business owners. She mentions a robust lending community coupled with low interest rates that make this a good time to start a business. She says that Nebraska’s business landscape is rich with things like excellent universities that are involved in world-class research with potential for new business and job growth. There are also multiple government contracting prospects thanks to the Offutt Air Force Base and United States Strategic Command, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and other

federal agencies buying goods and services for delivery locally and around the globe. “Business ownership is a journey, and it is one that women do not have to take alone,” Piper says. If only self-made Omaha business owner Melissa Stephens of The Cordial Cherry had contacted the SBA, she says she would have saved herself a lot of time and money. “I’ve problem-solved a lot on my own, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I probably should have reached out to an organization like the SBA just to help me adjust,” Stephens says. During her journey to bring Omaha exquisite and unique chocolate-covered cherries, Stephens discovered having passion for her craft is absolutely necessary. “It’s not all roses and daisies every day. In fact, more often than not, it’s discouraging,” she says. Stephens says it’s crucial to have resources and guidance like those provided by the SBA. Her years of creating her own support system of friends and family helped her in her business. “I think any time your business requires you to adapt, having that guidance helps you avoid pitfalls that cost you both time and money,” she says. Luckily for Nebraska women entrepreneurs, a support system—in the form of the SBA and the WOSB Program—is just a mouse click or a phone call away. Visit certify.sba.gov for more information. B2B


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omAHA!  |  BY CAROL CRISSEY NIGRELLI  |  PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED

HEALING BY DESIGN ANEETHA MCLELLAN

Is it possible for design, function, color, texture, light, artwork, botanicals, and aroma—things that form an indoor environment—to heal a person? Aneetha (pronounced “Anita”) McLellan believes they can, and do. She strives to use her gifts as an interior architect to advance the premise; in the process, McLellan has helped revolutionize the way people “see” health care. The award-winning, highly sought-after interior innovator heads the health care division of DLR Group, the architectural and engineering firm she joined in early 2016. She guides a team of architects, landscape designers, civil engineers, and electrical engineers in designing medical facilities, from sprawling hospitals to smaller clinics and rehab centers.


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“I’m an interior designer, but I impact the exterior architecture in every way,” McLellan explains. “The experience a person has walking from the parking lot to the front door and then into the building is a big deal to me.” As the model of health care moves away from the intimidating sterile corridors of huge hospitals to the more intimate spaces of outpatient wellness clinics, McLellan’s signature interiors share a basic template. They offer wide open spaces, clean lines, minimal clutter, peaceful outdoor views, and lots of natural light. Her work spans the globe, but examples of her unique vision punctuate the landscape in Omaha, her home base. “I cut my teeth on Children’s Hospital. It was my first big project,” says McLellan, who began her career with Omaha’s HDR. “It won Hospital of the Year in 2000,” she says, still amazed at the buzz created by the windowrich building at 84th and Dodge streets. She incorporated the same open, airy, and stunning effect of glass into Methodist Women’s Hospital off 192nd Street. During her 19 years at HDR, the accolades accumulated. CONT. PAGE 84

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LISA ROSKENS

WINNING THE FEI WORLD CUP FOR OMAHA

A group of horses first caught Lisa Yanney Roskens’ attention from a picturesque pasture beside her childhood home in Bloomfield Hills, a subdivision near Westroads Mall. Ever since, she has been enamored with horses. By the time she was 5 years old, her parents, Gail and Michael Yanney, bought her a pony named Taffy. A year later, Roskens began taking Western riding lessons, and by her preteens, she joined Jan Mactier at Ponca Hills Farm and began learning English riding. She rode and competed in equitation (the art of riding) through high school, through her college years at Stanford University, and eventually sold her horse upon returning to Omaha in the early 1990s. At that point, she began running instead of riding. But her former riding master knew where Roskens’ heart lay. “Jan called me up one day and said, ‘let’s go for a ride’ and I’ve never gone back,” Roskens says.

Roskens began training again, in earnest, eventually getting back to competition. She rekindled her passion for horses, and in 2009, began looking at bringing the sport to Omaha when she attended the FEI World Cup in Las Vegas, the world’s top equestrian event. “I was a junkie, and I went to see my heroes, and I wanted to see what this top level competition was like,” Roskens says. “I was overwhelmed at the level of horsemen, but I was underwhelmed with the facility, the layout, and how everything was set up, from both a spectator’s perspective and a horseman’s perspective.” She began to work towards bringing the event to Omaha. “I found some friends. What does a girl do but get all of her friends together and say, ‘let’s figure out how to solve this problem,’ ” Roskens says lightheartedly. CONT. PAGE 82


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AFTER HOURS  |  BY DAISY HUTZELL-RODMAN  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

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THE BRAND BRIEF

BY JASON FOX

THE GOLDEN RULE OF MARKETING There is no shortage of bad marketing to lampoon, nor is just a small amount of it targeted at women. When writing this column, I worried that some readers (not you, of course) might take my attempted satire seriously—seeing it at best as a middle-aged white guy mansplaining the finer points of selling to the gender that is not his own; or, at worst, a guide worth following. Besides, if I can’t end with the literary equivalent of Slim Pickens riding off into the nuclear sunset atop an H-bomb, what’s the point? Nonetheless, as the Brand Brief is geared— however dubiously—towards offering helpful advice for my fellow marketers, I will attempt to shed some light on advertising to women. All I ask is that you please read the entire piece before tweeting me a stink eye GIF or Willy Wonka meme. Thank you. The foundation of any successful advertising campaign, to women or otherwise, is what I call the Golden Rule of Marketing. I call it that because it’s a wholesale appropriation of the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12 and formerly taught in kindergarten before the New Math confused society’s collective moral compass or something. In this case, the Golden Rule of Marketing is defined as “market unto others as you would have them market unto you.”

The beauty of this purloined proverb is that, when followed, one avoids committing any number of marketing sins. Do you want to be shouted at? Then don’t shout at the consumer. Do you want to watch a boring ad? Then don’t create boring ads. Do you want more spam? Then go forth and spam not. Applied to the specific task of marketing to women, the Golden Rule of Marketing actually keeps it more generalized, forcing you, the marketer, to consider your audience not as a collective group sporting double-X chromosomes, but as individual human beings. Like, I assume, you are. Treat women like the people they are and not the bottomless pool of profits you hope them to be. Of course, we see painful violations of this spread throughout the advertising landscape. Often, this involves a headline that sounds like it came from Oprah’s third cousin thrice removed. And unless you really are The Oprah, calling someone “girlfriend” while marketing wrinkle-free business attire just doesn’t ring true. In fact, it signals that your brand isn’t strong enough to have a real personality of its own and, instead, is content to glom onto an individual’s or subgroup’s cultural cachet in hopes that it rubs off on your company in a lucrative way. Which it won’t.

Having written for companies whose target customers were either mainly women (Walmart) or almost exclusively women (Beauty Brands), I can guarantee you that no one ever gets upset at or tunes out from messages that are smart, interesting, and focused on solving a problem or fulfilling a desire. It’s the awkward, tone-deaf sucking up that does you in. Today, we live in an increasingly fractious and fractured society. One in which, from a marketing perspective, it is easy to assume every sub-niche of an already divvied-up demographic demands a certain level of magic “ingratiation” dust to be successful. But while we should always strive to know our customers and relate to them on their own terms, we would be wise to always think of them as people first and purchasers 143rd. Do that, and your marketing to women or men or millennials or boomers or Oprah groupies has a much, much better chance of being golden. B2B

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.


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38  | 

volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

Women in Business INTRODUCING OMAHA’S WOMEN IN BUSINESS SPONSORED PROFILES BY MARY HIATT

Less than a year ago, the Omaha Publications team commissioned an exhaustive audit by The Media Audit, a qualitative audience survey of Omaha metro residents, their demographics, and their media consumption preferences.

Although we were not surprised to learn that our magazines provide great branding partnerships, we were amazed that 67.5 percent of the readers of B2B Magazine are women. Thus began the concept for this themed issue. When the publisher asked me to be involved with this special edition, I came across a report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, titled “Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey.” The working paper features a fascinating statistic: “For profitable firms, a move from no female leaders to 30 percent representation is associated with a 15 percent increase in the net revenue margin.” This 35-page report studied 21,980 companies: nearly 60 percent have no female board members, over 50 percent have no female C-suite executives, and less than 5 percent have a female CEO. “Women do not participate in the global economy to the same extent as men do,” the study claims. No kidding. Yet, the report found a “positive correlation between the proportion of women in corporate leadership and firm profitability,” with an emphasis on “the importance of creating a pipeline of female managers and not simply getting lone women to the top.” The largest gains in net revenue happen when a company increases the proportion of female executives, then by increasing the proportion of female board members. Having a female CEO with no other females in the organization has no noticeable affect on a firm’s performance. Men: not only is the active promotion of women the right thing to do, it is the profitable thing to do! Ladies: be a part of the shift. Rather than competing against each other for the top spots in a man’s world, be supportive and encouraging of one another; help to build that pipeline of female leaders. A great avenue for achieving this collaboration is networking. On page 25, I’ve compiled a list of women’s networking groups, where you can comfortably discuss issues that women uniquely face or share some potential sales leads or job openings. If you have already achieved your goals, congratulations! Women need mentors as we seek to change business culture and actively participate in the global economy. Omaha Publications is thankful to have the support of these brilliant ladies on the following pages of our inaugural edition of Women in Business. We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading about these Omaha businesswomen as much as we’ve enjoyed meeting them. And, if you would like to meet some of them yourself, they’ll probably be at a networking event.

Mary Hiatt is a branding specialist at Omaha Publications. Visit piie.com/publications/wp/wp16-3. pdf for the report, “Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey.”


WINTER 2017  | 

omahamagazine.com

39

TRISH CODY 12 POINTS TECHNOLOGIES

Trish Cody had top security clearance as

a linguist in the U.S. Air Force for five years. It was an interesting challenge. But when she found that she and her husband, Tony, couldn’t be stationed together, she decided to be the one to leave the military. “He outranked me and made more money,” she remembers. Cody began the cyber security and digital forensics company, 12 Points Technologies. Her husband is co-owner. “I found moving into technology was a good fit because I enjoyed critical thinking,” she says. “I like technology. It’s always changing. That’s what drew me to this particular field.

times we are the first to bring the technology into the Midwest. We get the greatest and newest. That’s core to our business.” She says there are other national companies providing cyber security, but none offer such comprehensive services locally: “From compliance assessment to network security assessment, consulting, and recommendations. We can lock down all your security loopholes.” Digital forensics involve extracting and preserving evidence for digital devices, usually for criminal or civil court cases.

“It’s like a think tank here,” she says. “We use the same tools and processes that the FBI uses.”

“We can take digital devices and extract all pertinent information…We analyze that data and also provide mediation or expert witness testimony,” she says.

12 Points Technologies employees get exposed to tools and processes they can’t get their hands on elsewhere in Omaha. “What I love about our employees is they love learning new stuff,” she says.

Technology companies do some form of cyber security, making sure firewalls are up to date. Cody’s company operates differently, with end use security that actually blocks malware.

Cody actively seeks out new and emerging technologies that are not often accessible in the middle of the country. “We go to London or wherever,” she says. “A lot of

“We can keep it from happening in the first place,” she says. “We secure your network and computers so we can go in and be sure the way you are set up is secure from hacking.”

Despite what you may have heard, technology is not just a guy thing. There are many women in IT in the Omaha area. Networking groups like “Women in Technology” bring them together. “Our traditional roles have changed the last 20 years. Girls growing up are exposed to more and being told they can go out and do amazing things and that they can be the CEO of a company,” says Cody. While headquartered in Omaha, 12 Points Technologies has clients in other cities, including a division in Doha, the capital city of Qatar Customers return because of the company’s service, attention, and care, says Cody. “We have an incredible depth of knowledge and service. No matter what it is, we can fix it for them.” 3738 S. 149TH ST., SUITE 116 OMAHA, NE 68144 402.401.6805 12POINTSINC.COM


40  | 

volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

PATRICIA “BIG MAMA” BARRON BIG MAMA’S KITCHEN & CATERING

After graduating from the School of

Culinary Arts at Metro Community College in 1973, Patricia Barron worked in the corporate world. She retired from Qwest 30 years later. JOAN LUKAS LUKAS PARTNERS

Lukas Partners presi-

dent and owner Joan Lukas says the company has been woman-owned since its founding in 1973. It provides smart public relations and fund development solutions that are continually recognized with PRSA Paper Anvil and Best of B2B awards. TEAM IRISH BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES AMBASSADOR REAL ESTATE

The mother-daughter real estate duo of Sheila Irish and Brittney

Kusmierski have a simple philosophy when it comes to their clients. “We do what’s right, and we treat people the way we would want to be treated,” Irish says. “We do our business with heart; we care about our clients. This is the largest purchase most people will ever make. We go above and beyond to make sure things go smooth through the whole process from the loan to the closing. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying/selling a $70,000 or $1.5 million house—you’re going to get the best service from both of us.” Team Irish’s cozy office nicely fits the family atmosphere of their real estate group, she adds. “Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador Real Estate is a family. We work to help each other. We’re transparent, and we have an amazing culture that Vince Leisey has created,” she says. “The employees at our company are not agents and work directly for Vince. We’re always running around 100 miles per hour, and each of us have our own lives going on, but at any given moment we’ll stop and chat and be there to support one another.” That positive environment translates to great service for clients. “From contract to closing and beyond, we’re diligent in the work that we do and the service we provide,” Irish says. “We complete not only the necessary tasks to get a deal done, but we lead our clients on a journey that they remember. And we have fun!” 331 VILLAGE POINTE PLAZA OMAHA, NE 68118 402.618.5037 TEAMIRISH4HOMES.COM

“Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, as they drive 80 percent of all consumer purchases,” Lukas says. As the largest public relations and fund development firm in the Midlands, Lukas Partners helps clients engage women and other key audiences in many ways, including effective blogger relations, news media placements, popular events, capital campaigns, and other successful communication strategies and tactics. Expertise in strategic communication planning, news media relations, social media, fund development, event management, and research help clients engage audiences through award-winning public relations and fund development. The firm helps reach the right audiences with the right messages. LUKASPARTNERS .COM

Did she head for the beach? No. At age 65, she continued working, fulfilling her lifelong dream of opening her own restaurant. “You’re never too old to pursue your dreams,” she says, “I’m going to work until I’m 100 years old. In December 2007, she opened the restaurant she had dreamt about. The menu is as deliciously rich and full of history as its owner who says: “We prepare food the way my mother and grandmother did, made from scratch with a little soul and lots of love.” And the owner keeps going, not letting age slow her down. The restaurant’s nationally known cuisine, service and down home atmosphere keep customers coming back. Big Mama’s is headed for a new location next year. Combining her restaurant and sandwich shop in the 75 North Revitalization Project, a development of homes, apartments, and condos. The menu at the new location will feature many of the foods she has become famous for along with a few new items which Big Mama is excited to introduce to her customers. BIGMAMASKITCHEN.COM


LALLENIA BIRGE BIG BIRGE PLUMBING

The website for Big Birge Plumbing has an

old-fashioned look. “That’s intentional,” says Vice President Lallenia Birge. The theme is displayed on the company trucks, websites, and social media pages. “We started our company with the slogan ‘Old-fashioned values reborn.’” Throughout their marketing, you will notice Lallenia wearing 1950s-style outfits; her husband, president of the company, Brad Birge, appears dressed like a lumberjack. Their logo is of Brad’s muscular arm in a red and black flannel shirt holding an oversized pipe wrench. “It’s very tongue-in-cheek marketing,” she says, adding, “We try to be honest and fair with everything we do, and believe our marketing reflects that.” “It’s is unusual for a woman to own a plumbing company,” she says. It all began when she fell in love while working at the gym. “I saw this super attractive guy and found out he [Brad] was a plumber. Not realizing what went into the plumbing business, I would make jokes about it to my clients.” The jokes must have paid off! They were married in 2009. “He quit his job at another plumbing company, and in 2012, we officially started [Big Birge] together,” she says. “I was

still working as a trainer, started learning marketing, and dug into the business side.” Hiring their first employee in 2013, they have expanded to nine employees. Lallenia enjoys the supportive workplace atmosphere, which they encourage with regular company outings and weekly meetings. “It’s kind of like a brotherhood; we have each others’ backs,” she exclaims. Every Monday morning, they hold a meeting with their employees to discuss company core values. Protect the health of our community, tighten every bolt, and take ownership are three of the six values they review with the crew. “If something doesn’t go right, we do everything in our power to fix it. Plumbers sometimes get a bad rep, and I want to prove that is not the case with our company.” She goes on to explain the company has three plumbing divisions: service, residential remodeling, and commercial. “My role isn’t only marketing and business but to keep learning and growing myself and our team. I am even taking business classes at Metro. Someone has to keep those guys on their toes!” She says with a laugh. Her resilience on the job reflects the old-fashioned values that she holds dear from her diverse childhood.

Lallenia learned to be self-reliant at a young age. Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, her parents separated around the time she was 2. She was in and out foster care and family friends’ homes until age 9, then adopted. By the time she was 16, she was working three jobs while going to high school and living on her own. Following a friend to Blair Nebraska at age 18, she eventually made Omaha her home. “I give a lot of credit to the fact that I surround myself with positive people, people who are smarter than me, better than me,” Lallenia explains. Having already accomplished her dream of becoming a personal trainer, she now wants to be remembered as a loving mother to her children (Wyatt 6, Brielle, 11 months), a great wife, and an inspiration to others in and out of business. “I want to be known as a woman who is able to overcome and achieve something greater than herself,” she says. 402.575.0102 BIGBIRGEPLUMBING.COM


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

MARTI NEELY MARTI NEELY DESIGN & ASSOCIATES

A landscape designer who works independently,

Marti Neely has no obligation to any nursery or garden center. That means she can focus on a client’s needs. She calls on contractors who can help her achieve the dream she has for a client—workers with skills in installing swimming pools, fire pits, patios, seating areas, kids’ play areas, gardens, and more. And she’s a problem solver. “Ugly utility boxes and other similar things seem unsightly. I look at effective ways to hide them,” says Neely. She discusses with clients how the landscaping might add to the home’s future value. “We should always be practical and smart in what we are doing,” she urges. She believes there’s a lot of value in working with a designer. “Ultimately, it saves you money down the road by working with someone who understands the progression of a project,” Neely says. “Designers have ideas and knowledge that typical consumers don’t have.” JULIE TARTAGLIA TAG TEAM AT CBSHOME

The Tag Team at CBSHOME is different from other real estate groups, according to team leader Julie Tartaglia.

“We have all women and just one man. We call him the ‘lone wolf,’” she jokes. How they work with each other also is different. “It’s more of an atmosphere of lifting each other up with a positive and encouraging environment and helping people be successful,” she says. “We’ve made it a point to focus on helping each other succeed on every transaction.” Ask a team member to describe the Tag Team at CBSHOME, and you’ll be impressed by the passion they display. “We are a passionate group of professionals who have the philosophy that real estate doesn’t have to be complicated, and we’re driven for positive results,” says Tartaglia. “We pride ourselves on thinking outside the box with creative marketing and innovative ideas. We have a clock in the office that says, ‘Sometimes you just need one more patch than the inner tube has holes.’ We pride ourselves on being creative while being ethical and achieving desirable results.” Understanding that women are a significant part of any transaction and treating all clients with no bias is part of the team’s beliefs. “We don’t just do transactions,” she says. “We build relationships. And all of us build our businesses by referral. Referral-based business is the foundation of our whole team’s work. “Our philosophy and concepts work. We’re one of the top teams with CBSHOME.” 15950 W. DODGE ROAD OMAHA, NE 68118 402.215.2156 TAGTEAM-REALESTATE.COM

Clients appreciate her honesty, even when she disagrees with them. “I help them make good choices about how to spend their money,” Neely says. “I treat their property like it’s my property.” 402.630.0050 MARTINEELY.COM


Photo by Scott Dobry Pictures

LYNNE SANGIMINO COX BUSINESS

Lynne Sangimino tells women that to

move forward in their careers, sometimes they have to move sideways. “I worked for a company that I helped build that was bought by another company,” she says. “In hindsight, it was one of the best things that ever happened. The willingness to try another role is very valuable. You have to be prepared to make a number of changes, including making a lateral move before moving up. It will help you grow.” Sangimino has been with Cox for 10 years, making the move to Omaha three years ago to serve as vice president for Cox Business in Omaha. In her role she leads the Cox Business team for commercial customers, with clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. “I love this community,” she says. “It has high expectations of local business leaders for collaboration. I don’t know if Omaha realizes how unusual that is. We work together and compete for the greater good. I’ve not found that in other communities where I’ve lived.” Not only do local companies work together, so do the employees at Cox. Committees made up of Cox employees focus on ways that

workers can be involved in the community. Employees often volunteer to work for charities. “Many of our employees serve on philanthropic boards. So their influence is felt not only at the company’s business, but in the Omaha community,” says Sangimino. Technology has historically been a male-driven industry, she notes. But that’s not so at Cox. “What’s unique about Cox in Omaha is most of our executives here are female,” she says. “It’s a testament to our company placing high focus on diversity. Our female employees are very capable and very confident and especially involved.” The average tenure of employees on the Cox Business team is 10 years, “which I think is unique in business these days,” Sangimino says. Cox Communications is one of the largest broadband and entertainment companies in the U.S., providing video, internet, telephone service, home and business security. “We’ve been successful in the Omaha community 35 years with our residential services and have been offering business services for 18 years. Cox is a company that is in many markets nationwide,” she says.

“We are one of the first companies of our type to offer business security, (launched in July), both detection and surveillance for small-to-medium-size businesses.” Customers choose us as their technology partner because of our ability to be nimble, she says. “We break through red tape to get things done quickly. We are a large company with strong capabilities and financial stability that does not lose sight of our customer and serving them 24/7.” Reflecting on her legacy, Sangimino says, “It’s my hope that I’ve helped lift others up in their careers through mentoring and stretch assignments; it’s so satisfying hearing some employees I’ve led five or 10 years ago who started their own business or moved up the ladder, who called to say, ‘thank you.’ I serve my team and my company to leave it better than when I came.” 401 N. 117TH ST. OMAHA, NE 68154 402.934.3223 COXBUSINESS.COM


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

JERI SCHLICKBERND DVG REALTY

Jeri Schlickbernd enjoys working with

all of her clients. But she especially enjoys time spent with female clientele. “Our female investors are fun to work with because this is often new and exciting to them. Since I am a woman, they have a lot of trust in me, and they confide their fears, hopes, and so on with me more than they likely would with a man,” says the CEO of DVG Realty. “I do the same with them, which naturally creates a trust level.” Her office is unique in the real estate investment world—50 percent of her employees are female. “I think one of the greatest things about women working together is our ability to do business and get things done at a high level while also involving our emotions,” says Schlickbernd. “It creates a level of trust and camaraderie that men don’t typically share.” DVG Realty specializes in income-producing residential real estate—house flipping and turn-key rentals. “Turn-key” means that DVG Realty handles everything for a client—from acquisition through rehab and then rental or sale. Schlickbernd has been through the ups and downs of real estate investing.

“I started my real estate career in Phoenix, and I lived through the real estate crash of 2008. Because of this, I am super careful with my real estate investments,” she says. Women are generally a bit more cautious than men when investing, she adds. “So, our philosophy of investing only in what we would invest in ourselves and of looking at worst-case scenarios really speaks to our female clients,” says Schlickbernd. “Most investmentfocused companies sell the upside because it’s exciting. I sell the worst-case scenario because I want my clients to know that when the real estate market turns again, they will be fine, and when the market is good, they will be great.” Trust is a key word for customers. “We have a very successful track record, and our clients know they can trust us,” she says. “We look at every investment with the mindset of ‘would we invest in this ourselves?’” “Women control a large, and growing, percentage of the wealth in the U.S.,” she adds. “Many women are intimidated with investing this money. We make investing in real estate easy to understand and to be successful at by being a trusted partner and service provider.”

Some customers are single women or women investing without a spouse or input of their spouse. “Historically men have made investment and real estate decisions when it’s not the primary home they live in,” says Schlickbernd. Stocks or real estate? She says a big advantage that real estate investing has over investments like stocks is that you own a tangible asset: “So, if the market turns bad, you still have something instead of losing everything.” “We want to be the go-to company for real estate investing,” she says. “We want to be known as honest, fair, and trustworthy, while at the same time creating great return on investment for our clients.” 4669 L ST. OMAHA, NE 68117 402.680.1010 DVGREALTY.COM


BETH RAPER FUN SERVICES

From 20 people to 50,000 people. Fun Services provides entertainment for groups of all sizes.

The 50,000 people? That would be the Offutt Open House and Air Show, where Fun Services supplies entertainment. The company has been around 50 years, says Beth Raper, who runs Fun Services with her husband, Joey. They employ 40 people. She says not only is Fun Services the oldest firm of its kind in Omaha, it’s the best equipped in all of Nebraska and western Iowa to help customers plan special events offering inflatable rides, concessions, and casino parties, as well as party rentals, tables, chairs, and canopies. “We have been in the business so long that we have the inventory to accommodate the customer,” Raper says. “We help businesses, churches, and schools plan special events.” “Some people call to rent a few things. Some call and say, ‘Would you guys help with everything? I’m planning a party for 500 people,’” she says. “People appreciate that we‘re a one-stop shop.”

She and her husband bought the family-owned business five years ago. He was familiar with Fun Services and what it could provide—with good reason, she says. They both were working at Fun Services while in high school, when they met. “That’s everyone’s favorite story about us,” she says. After college graduation, she worked as a wedding planner for five years. Of course, she planned her own wedding to Joey. It was a small, quiet wedding with friends and family. No inflatable rides. No concessions. Just fun. Fun Services is a fun place for the collegeage students currently employed. “We provide great part-time jobs for kids. They are part-time in college and work parttime for us. We take care of our employees and have parties throughout the year.” Approximately 90 percent of her clientele are women. “A lot of women work in an environment where they are responsible for planning a party—perhaps a PTA mother or someone planning a church festival,” she says. “I want to be known for the fact that I love what I do. Everybody has a great time at events we plan. I try to put my touch on everything I do,” says Raper. “But when I am at home, I focus my time on family and kids.”

Raper goes from executive boss to mom in seconds when she walks out the Fun Services door. She has one child and is expecting another baby in time for Christmas. Separating the two worlds is important, she says. “I think women that are mothers but also have full-time jobs know it’s hard to balance. I try to leave work at work. And make sure when I am at home, I focus my time on family and kids.” 7535 D ST. OMAHA, NE 68124 402.393.7397 FUNSERVICESNEIA.COM


TRACY L. HIGHTOWER-HENNE AND SUSAN REFF HIGHTOWER REFF LAW

Under the Hightower Reff Law logo,

you’ll often see the words “Confident. Clear. Committed.” This female owned and dominated firm strives to make the phrase more than just a tagline: “Confident. Clear. Committed.” It’s the firm’s guiding principal and how partner attorney owners Tracy HightowerHenne, Susan Reff, and their associate attorneys practice law—and how HightowerHenne and Reff say they run the firm. The downtown Omaha family law and criminal defense/DUI firm helps clients navigate the legal system during what can be the most stressful time in the client’s life. The types of cases the firm handles can be hard for clients because they impact the client’s family or their freedom. “We help people when they’re facing a challenge or a life-changing event by being their legal representative and legal advocate,” says Reff. Making the case and the legal process as clear as possible makes a stressful time during a case easier, Hightower-Henne explains. “We think it’s really important for our clients to understand why things are happening,” she says. “I don’t know if all lawyers educate their

clients on what the next steps are and what the big picture is showing,” Reff adds. “We give them options and let them decide what they want to do, but we can give them advice as to one option being a better option over another and use our experience to guide them.”

Having a great reputation means word gets around, and a number of clients come to the firm after asking friends and family for recommendations. “That’s the biggest compliment, when we have referrals from past clients,” Hightower-Henne says.

The firm’s four attorneys and their three-person support staff work as a team. “We regularly meet to go over what’s happening on each case in our office, and that includes all our staff and the attorneys,” Reff says. “What we like to tell people when they hire us is that they’re hiring the whole firm to handle their case.”

Hightower Reff’s partner attorneys share their legal expertise in other ways, too. HightowerHenne is Executive Director of the Nebraska Innocence Project, a nonprofit that gives free legal representation to people in prison who have been wrongly convicted. Reff serves as a guardian ad litem, where she represents the interests of children in abuse and neglect cases as well as in custody, emancipation, and adoption cases.

Five of the seven people at Hightower Reff Law are female, including both partner attorney owners. “We’re a woman-owned business and that’s something we take a lot of pride in,” Reff says. “We want to be known for being really good lawyers, too,” Hightower-Henne adds. Reff agrees, being respected as good lawyers is the most important thing for both partners and the firm. “We want people to know we’re compassionate and effective, and that we’re committed to our clients. We have high ethical standards, and we want to be known for having a great reputation,” says Reff.

1625 FARNAM ST., SUITE 830 OMAHA, NE 68102 402.932.9550 HRLAWOMAHA.COM


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SUSAN HENRICKS ICAN

With decades of leadership experience at private and public companies—including First Data Corp. and RR Donnelley Corp. —Susan Henricks had established herself as a business leader on a global scale.

Series, 7x7x7, EVOLVE and a recently developed for-credit program called IMPACT. This new eight session, five month program builds leaders who manage higher performing teams with stronger strategic influence.

Then she began to contemplate how she could further encourage future generations of leaders. That’s when she joined the board of the Omahabased Institute for Career Advancement Needs. ICAN named her CEO a few years later in May 2014, and Henricks hasn’t looked back.

The largest event ICAN produces is the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, which draws 2,500+ attendees. This one-day insightful and intensive focus on leadership provides access to national thought leaders and leadership trends and transformations present in today’s workplace.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing, because I have the opportunity to take what I learned over a 35-plus year career in various corporations and share that with others,” she says. “The one thing I was always passionate about was developing people. So, now I have an opportunity to do that in a broader way.”

One important concept for women in the business world is balancing work and home, or as Henricks says “the work-life challenge.” ICAN’s 24th Annual conference will address this theme in 2017.

ICAN provides leader development programs, custom services and events with a focus on developing inspired and authentic leaders who transform their organizations. The programs were originally created to advance women in business when ICAN was founded in 1981, but the growth of the organization now caters to all leaders in the workplace. ICAN programs include Defining Leadership, Women’s Leadership Circles, the Speaker

“This topic is really resonating with a lot of the organizations that send people to our conference,” Henricks says. “We purposefully did not use the word ‘balance’ because it implies that one can achieve balance when in reality true balance is not really achievable.” How different generations and age cohorts look at the “work-life challenge” varies, says Henricks. “Historically, work life challenges have been the responsibility of the woman. This has now changed to also include Corporate Organizations, Men and Millennials. For example: from a man’s perspective with elderly parents or young

children,” she says. “Men want to participate more in their lives and are looking for more flexible work schedules. We’re also going to look at the work/life challenge from the standpoint of millennials. They want to do something they are passionate about. Unlike baby boomers who worked 12 hour days and didn’t have time for passion projects until retirement, millennials are saying, ‘I want to work, I want to work hard, but I also want my time.’ That’s a very different work structure.” Whatever the generation, whatever the reasons for wanting to approach the work life challenge, Henricks and her team are making sure to provide guidance and assistance to both businesswomen and their organizations. “In a lot of our programs, we focus on helping women and men develop their leadership voice, grow in their confidence, and their interrelational skills,” she says. “We are taking a specific role in that effort by creating active leaders who have the capacity to advance authenticity and intention in the workplace, and get more women in senior leadership.” 14217 DAYTON CIRCLE, SUITE 5 OMAHA, NE 68137 402.392.0746 ICANGLOBAL.NET


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

NANCY SCHLESSINGER LOVELYSKIN RETAIL STORE AND SPA

Women are not just major consumers of

skin care products and services, they also tend to be the decision-makers for the entire family when it comes to skin care, says LovelySkin.com Vice President Nancy Schlessinger. So it should come as no surprise that more than 85 percent of LovelySkin and Skin Specialists employees are women, that most managerial roles are filled by women, or that board-certified dermatologist (and Nancy’s husband) Dr. Joel Schlessinger has always valued the input of women in his practice. “Many employees have been with him for 10 or more years and have grown from entry-level positions to higher management positions,” Nancy Schlessinger says. “This is made possible due to the friendly and fast-paced but exciting environment with ample opportunities available for both women and men.” Schlessinger describes the workplace atmosphere as “fun” and “like a second family home” where hard work, attention to detail, and a sense of humor are all valued.

“We like to hang out together even when we’re not working, whether at a Taylor Swift concert, a companywide Halloween costume contest, or just having a tailgating picnic in the fall sunshine,” she explains. “Our female employees are a diverse group of smart, creative, incredibly hard-working women who take ownership for their part of the business.” And that business is incredibly successful. Customers and patients benefit not only from Dr. Schlessinger’s 20 years of dermatology clinic and research experience (and excellent connections), but also a team of award-winning estheticians, an unparalleled research department, and the best beauty supply store in Omaha three years running. “We have national product trainers on site every week, training our staff members on the latest products and breakthroughs in skin care and often offering advice for individual patients and customers on brands that are important to them. This is simply unheard of in this field,” Schlessinger says. “Additionally, to have a store with over 350 unique skin brands and over 15,000 individual products is astonishing. There isn’t another store in the world that offers this much skin care inventory in one place.”

The staff operates on the sincere belief that everyone can achieve healthy, beautiful skin, she adds. “We hope our customers keep coming back because they know we love them. ‘LovelySkin loves you’ is at the heart of our customer outreach and on every single box we send out. We apply that mantra to our customer service and train our employees to live that as well,” she says. “Many of our patients come to us for childhood issues and return as teenagers for acne, while their parents trust us with their adult skin concerns, such as wrinkles and cancer prevention.” Helping people put their best face forward and feeling confident is an important responsibility, she says. “We like to be known for the difference we made in the lives of the women and men of Omaha and all over the world as well as the lives of our valued employees.” 2929 OAK VIEW DRIVE OMAHA, NEBRASKA 402.697.1100 LOVELYSKIN.COM


MICHELLE SCHRAGE MASSMUTUAL NEBRASKA

When women are looking for a place to grow their careers, they want to be at a company that recognizes that work-life balance is important. They also take into consideration that family is a big part of their lives, says Michelle Schrage.

“It’s important to see our team members not just as professionals, but as passionate people. Driven women want to do well for our company, and we expect our company to do well for us,” explains Schrage, a single mother of an 11-year-old son. MassMutual was named one of Working Mother magazine’s “Top 100 Best Companies” for 2016. Schrage says that the company deserves the prestigious ranking: “Our commitment to progressive workplace programs, our advancement of women, our flexibility, childcare, and paid parental leave all excel.” Women do very well in the financial services industry because they have a natural ability to build relationships, says Schrage. “We’ve got a team of motivated women who want to earn what they are worth and build long-term relationships with their clients,” she continues. MassMutual Nebraska has a team-oriented environment. “We’ve created a culture of idea sharing and collaboration. We also have specialists who can come to the table to help our advisers

succeed,” says Schrage. “In our office, we have fun and laugh a lot. We are involved in the community through charitable and education-focused events, and we bring in speakers frequently to talk about important issues. Everyone on our team believes in keeping a ‘door always open’ approach.”

financial specialists aspire to build and grow their practices,” she says. “My personal goal is to always connect with people. I love meeting people and facilitating powerful connections. So in my role as the Marketing and Recruiting Director, I connect people with their desire to have a great career.”

“At MassMutual, we are proud of our ability to access a variety of different carriers for financial solutions. We truly have the ability to do what’s in the best interest of the client,” she says. “At MassMutual, we empower our advisors to build their client base and know they’ll never lose them if a company change should occur. Relationships are important, and we protect the right of our advisors to always keep their clients, no matter what.”

Schrage has contributed greatly to the community. She is the founder and Executive Director of Business4Business Professional Society, planning programs that bring together people who want to make a difference.

MassMutual has a prestigious list of rankings and honors, among them: • Named a World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute for three consecutive years, 2014-2016. • Named 2016 “Insurer of the Year” by Risk Management Association. • Ranked No. 76 by Fortune Magazine in the “Fortune 100” list. “Our company goal is to establish MassMutual Nebraska as a premier financial firm where

An actress for 20 years, she founded and ran the Nebraska Film Association for seven years. She lobbied state senators to provide tax incentives for the film industry. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. But because we don’t have incentives, filmmakers often won’t come here,” she says. She also is a board member of The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and serves on the board of the Engagement Council of the Greater Omaha Chamber. “I’m always looking for ways to make a positive difference,” she says. 10250 REGENCY CIRCLE, SUITE 250 OMAHA, NE 68114 402.397.8600 NEBRASKA.MASSMUTUAL.COM


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

AUDRA GUDE MIDWEST ULTRASONIC

Audra Gude lives and works by a very

simple rule: “I will never expect my team to do something that I have not done or am not willing to do myself,” says the managing partner at Midwest Ultrasonic. “You will never learn new skills if you don’t get your hands dirty.” It’s with that mantra that Gude leads her team. Midwest Ultrasonic provides ultrasonic cleaning of window blinds and shades, golf clubs and bags, and sporting gear and pads. Ultrasonic cleaning is the process that uses sound waves with water and detergent. “Ultrasonic cleaning utilizes sound wave technology to eradicate soil, odor, and harmful bacteria for items even in the smallest crevices,” says Gude.

“We all want to be able to deep clean items in a safe way, using detergents that don’t harm our family members, children, and the environment,” she says. She also works hard to be a positive role model for women inside and outside of the organization—including working mothers. Recognizing that they often struggle with being away from their kids during the day, she says she wants to provide a service that allows them to keep their home and the items in the home clean while not taking away from their family time in the evenings and on the weekends.

It’s that motivation to clean in a safe way with fair pricing that Gude says makes clients feel like part of the family.

“My ladies are part of my family,” she says. “We all work hard, laugh hard, and support each other in and out of the office. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to come to work every day and enjoy the people you work with.”

Couple that with a laidback work environment filled with incredibly dedicated, hardworking team members and Gude says she knows she has the perfect combination for great customer service and fantastic products.

Gude is also managing partner for another business in addition to Midwest Ultrasonic. FRSTeam is a fabric restoration company that helps families restore their textiles after fire or water damage.

Working in a family business, Gude says whenever she has any doubts, she remembers back to some somewhat harsh advice from her father. It still resonates with her every day—and motivates her wanting to do the right thing. “When I was looking at coming into the family business back in my 20s, my father looked me square in the eye and told me, ‘You provide zero value to my company. I do not need another body. Go find a real job,’” says Gude, who joined the family dry cleaning business nine years ago after completing two degrees at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. “That has resonated with me with all that I do within our family businesses,” she says. “I want to be known for doing the right thing and doing it with a smile. At the end of the day, I want my husband and my daughters to be proud of me.” 3305 S 66TH AVE. CIR. OMAHA, NE 68106 402.669.0555 MIDWESTULTRASONIC.COM


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PATRICIA REGAN PATRICIA CATERING AND COCKTAILS

A fter 30 successful years, Patricia

Catering and Cocktails gets a lot of repeat business—some of it even multigenerational. “Customers and guests at events remember us and seek us out even years later,” owner Patricia Regan says. “We currently have one bride coming to us to cater her wedding reception because we catered her parents’ reception years ago, and they loved the service. We have been doing business with some of our corporate clients for well over 20 years.” The team is knowledgeable, respectful, helpful, and takes tremendous pride in both product and presentation, Regan says. “We provide food and cocktails for corporate needs and special events,” she explains. “We also provide professional and timely service for our customers, from delivery and set-up to full-scale events with linens, china, bar service, and everything else that is needed for the success of our customers’ events.” In the catering business, Regan says that relationships are paramount. “We look at each customer as a partnership in success,” she says. “Success for them is success for us, too.”

SONJA KAPOUN-ROOF PINOT’S PALETTE LA VISTA

CARA KIRSCH SILVERSTONE GROUP

Before she became the owner of a Pinot’s

The thing Cara Kirsch enjoys most about

“I bought an evening to paint with one of my good friends for her birthday and had a great time,” she explains. “I also found it to be very helpful with my stress.”

“We work with a large number of employers— big and small—to help employers create employee benefit strategies that make the most sense for their organization,” she says. “We help them find solutions that meet their goals and objectives.”

Palette franchise, Sonja Kapoun-Roof participated in the sip-wine-while-you-painta-picture activity as an enthusiastic patron. The experience delivered an extra benefit.

When the accountant lost her job at ConAgra, she remembered the fun she had at Pinot’s Palette. The Bellevue resident believed this creative activity—perfect for girls night out or date night—would fill a niche in Sarpy County. The studio (due to open in January) will offer wine, beer, and soda as customers unleash their inner Picasso on a large canvas. Currently, a mobile unit can bring the painting supplies anywhere. Each session offers a specific picture to recreate. A professional artist walks everyone through each step of the process. PINOTSPALETTE.COM/LAVISTA

her job at SilverStone Group is the fact that she gets to help employers create employee benefit strategies that best serve their employees.

Kirsch says she is very proud to count female business owners and women who lead administrative teams—including human resources—among her many clients. She also works with her fair share of men in these and similar roles. Something else she’s particularly proud of is that she doesn’t do it alone. She represents a talented team focused on customer objectives with a holistic understanding of business. “Together, we’re able to strategize and create a vision for our clients, and we’re very focused on compliance in our choices,” she says. “Because of this, we pride ourselves on retaining clients for the long term.” SILVERSTONEGROUP.COM

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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

KRIS METZLER MAPLE 85 PREMIUM LANDSCAPE MULCH CENTER

As Maple 85 Premium Landscape Mulch Center nears its 20th anniversary, much of its business comes from repeat customers and personal referrals, says president Kris Metzler, who owns the landscape distribution company with husband Todd.

“It’s our customer service. We are very attention-to-detail and we try to make the process as efficient as possible,” she says. The experienced, all-woman office staff is responsible for making a good first impression and providing the kind of care that builds productive and long-lasting relationships with customers, she adds. In turn, they are supported by a warm, family atmosphere with owners who don’t hesitate to pitch in when needed and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty—literally. Maple 85 provides top-quality mulch and river rock, aggregates, top soil, fill dirt, and Nebraska compost to residential and commercial clients. Customers can also purchase accessories such as landscape fabric and edging. During the winter months, the company provides salt and sand to contractors.

KATE PACKARD KAPLAN UNIVERSITY

As president of Kaplan University’s Nebraska campuses—and a

woman—Kate Packard has a keen understanding of what the majority of her students need and want from their educational experience. After all, 75 percent of them are women, and just as she does, they learn to integrate education into their busy lives of children, career, and family. “As women, we understand the juggle—being a mom, daughter, employee, student, business leader, etc.,” Packard says. “As a female leader, I also juggle similar demands in a day. As a female leader, innovation is a valuable quality to possess. “This quality allows female leaders the opportunity to juggle and prioritize daily so that we can remain focused on personal growth and accomplishments.” Kaplan University is a higher education institution offering more than 180 programs including diplomas, associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as professional certifications and graduate certificates for eligible, nontraditional students.

Another way the owners of Maple 85 distinguish their business from the competition is by offering the use of dump trailers for a minimal fee with any size purchase.

Fifty-nine percent of Kaplan’s students are over the age of 30. Time spent on any level of education assists students to master both basic and advanced skills. The more time spent focusing on education, the stronger the students’ writing, reading, comprehension, and communication skills will develop. Packard says it’s the flexibility of Kaplan University that also appeals to students—male and female, traditional and nontraditional.

“We have different size trailers that we can match up with any size SUV or truck,” she says. “For those customers that don’t have a vehicle to pull a trailer, we can deliver the product to them. Customer service is our number one priority!”

“Each day I focus on pushing the boundaries by approaching what we do inside the walls of the university to support our students,” she says. “By the end of your program, you will have become accustomed to interacting with a wide variety of people and these social skills will assist students in their job search.”

8415 MAPLE ST. OMAHA, NE 68134 402.397.8278 MAPLE85.COM

5425 103RD ST. OMAHA, NE 68314 402.431.6100 KAPLANUNIVERSITY.EDU/OMAHA-NEBRASKA.ASPX

“We offer the most variety of mulch—eight different types and colors,” Metzler says. “Most of our competitors offer three, maybe four.”


PATSY SUMNER AND ANDREA BRENDIS MEDIASPARK

Today’s consumers are bombarded with

marketing messages every waking moment. These messages come from traditional mediums such as print, TV, radio, and billboard advertising as well as internet-driven digital and social media options that are increasing exponentially. Businesses that will survive and thrive in this rapidly changing environment are the businesses that take steps to make certain that their message isn’t just white noise. Creating the perfect message is only part of the marketing challenge. In order to drive results, brands need to deliver that message to the right people. This raises questions. Who are those people? Where do you find them? How do you choose the best possibilities on a fixed budget? For any media question, MediaSpark is the answer. MediaSpark can discover your best audience. Then, they can tell you where to place your message so that the audience can discover you. Most importantly, MediaSpark can measure your results on an ongoing basis to ensure that your message remains current and effective for your unique audience.

Patsy Sumner founded MediaSpark after almost 20 years of corporate marketing and branding experience. She has designed and launched many multifaceted national media campaigns. Not only does she have an excellent grasp of traditional approaches, she is well versed and connected in the new and developing arenas of digital and social media. Patsy specializes in media strategy to maximize your media budget. And, she makes sure that you understand your results helping you to keep your messaging on track. Andrea Brendis previously represented a national media agency where she gained experience with local, regional, and national media markets. She understands the best possible way to get the most targeted messaging out of any size media budget. She coordinates the performance of integrated media campaigns with her sharp negotiation skills and her relentless attention to client service. Not only do these ladies have impressive individual backgrounds—they are a real live sister act. MediaSpark clients can be assured of a unique blend of competitive spirit and camaraderie that comes from working with two powerful women who have been “working” together for over 35 years. Their clients find this partnership refreshing in today’s environment of virtual relationships. 

And, if all of that is not enough, these two were born and raised in Omaha and are genuinely committed to the community. Patsy serves on the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Friends Board and Andrea is a Scrubs Ambassador. They are also involved in a number of other charitable endeavors, including The Aksarben Coronation Ball and Scholarship Fund, Angels Among Us, and The Girl Scouts of America. There is no doubt—you want these sisters on your team. They are a win/win proposition in every sense of the word. They would love to buy you a cup of coffee, listen to your needs, and explore the possibilities. P.O. BOX 540965 OMAHA, NE 68154 402.980.1688 THEMEDIASPARK.COM


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

LESLEY BRANDT AND RENEE BLACK PLANITOMAHA “

Whatever it takes” is a personal motto for

both Renee Black and Lesley Brandt. As the founders and principal producers of Omaha’s premier event planning agency, planitomaha, this power female duo knows that “having it all” comes from a lot of hustle. No client request is too lofty and no event too grandiose. “On any given day, our team is coming and going, event supplies are shipping in and out, and face-to-face meetings with clients and vendors are constant,” Brandt says. Just because these ladies have headquartered their firm in the Midwest doesn’t make their agency small potatoes. For more than 18 years, planitomaha has worked from New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between to provide their clients with highly specialized and highly strategic corporate meeting and event management services. “Like most entrepreneurs, we started with a vision, a box of business cards, and the drive to make it succeed,” Black says. Years before that first box of business cards, the two actually met each other in high school and stayed in touch through college. After both developed careers in nonprofits, marketing, business, and—of course—event planning,

they came back together 18 years ago to form planitomaha when they realized their strengths and backgrounds were complementary. This special combination of skills has led to a legacy of delivering wow moments. Whether they are planning an event for six people or 6,000, planitomaha works as an extension of their clients’ teams to produce work that is on time, on-budget, and on-point. From Hollywood backlot parties to political national conventions, there’s practically nothing Black and Brandt haven’t touched as they’ve developed their small firm into a multimillion-dollar company. “We always relate to our clients as people and will always get the job done accurately,” Brandt says. “In a fast-paced and successful company, it’s important for our womenowned business to invest in relationships and empower those around us to do great things.” True to their word, Black and Brandt have devoted much of their careers to empowering women—especially young women. The entirety of planitomaha’s full-time staff is comprised of women, with the firm’s internship program regularly following suit.

“Our employees fit the brand by being smart, professional, and Type A personalities,” Black says. For interns who fill this niche, many have been hired on full-time. Beyond the unique makeup of the company, Black and Brandt say their firm’s event technology puts them ahead of competitors. One of the only event agencies in the country that has its own innovative technology program, planitomaha’s AttendeeXP is a custom attendee management system that also provides meeting and event elements in a virtual environment. It’s this progressive mindset and atmosphere that has led to planitomaha’s success in creating awardwinning events on a local and national scale. “It’s important people remember how smart and efficient we are,” Brandt says. “Our work ethic and problem solving skills are what our clients thrive on while our wide reach and experience keeps them coming back.” 10832 OLD MILL RD., SUITE 5 OMAHA, NE 68154 402.333.3062 PLANITOMAHA.COM


MARGARET STESSMAN STRATEGICHEALTHSOLUTIONS, LLC

The founder and chief executive officer of

StrategicHealthSolutions LLC—Margaret “Peg” Stessman—followed a great role model into the health care field: her mother, who was a nurse at a time when many women never worked outside the home and career options for those who did were limited. Stessman started out as an oncology nurse, but as her career evolved, she observed problems with high costs and low quality of care, spurring her eventual move out of traditional nursing into the administrative side of the industry. In 2005, she founded Strategic. Today, Strategic employs approximately 300 people, almost all of them with college degrees and with women comprising more than half of the corporate advisory team.

Strategic’s diverse employees also have a common goal they call the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of redefining health care as a sustainable resource and to protect the future of health care for generations to come. Their talented workforce has created systems and procedures to assure that quality outcomes are well-defined, repeatable, measurable and modifiable for continuous quality improvement, Stessman says. Government clients may have come to them initially because they were classified as a woman-owned small business, but as Strategic has grown, clients return because of the service. Stessman says, “Not only does Strategic have excellent quality, we can perform our services at a lower rate because most of our competition is in larger cities with higher costs of living.”

men-owned—only 10 percent of them actually employ people. Although that number is better than it’s been, it is still just a staggering few,” Stessman says. “Women represent 50.8 percent of the population and they have $11.2 trillion in spending power. When are we going to get caught up? When are we going to address the situation? I love that the government gave me a chance by giving me some set-asides for small women-owned businesses, but it’s not enough. Women-owned businesses continue to be underrepresented and continue to have the potential to significantly impact the financial well-being of the country, but only if we are given our fair share.” Stessman says the time is ripe for women to seek leadership roles in their organizations and become entrepreneurs.

“We have a very educated workforce and I think that tends to define your organization at a level that’s fairly sophisticated in their knowledge,” she says.

Although Stessman has built her business in an era where opportunities for women have increased, Strategic is still in the minority.

“I can tell you there’s only one sure-fire way you’ll never have a ceiling cap, and that is if you’re in charge,” she says. “We have power, we just have to use it.”

As a company, Strategic helps set health care policy, recoup misspent dollars, and develop education and training products for health care providers and beneficiaries.

“I was recently reading the 2015 National Women’s Business Conference Annual Report…Of all the woman-owned businesses— which there are significantly fewer than

4211 S. 102ND ST. OMAHA, NE 68127 402.452.3333 STRATEGICHS.COM


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Pictured: Heather Walraven, Chelsie Olson (Community Engagement Leader), Sarah Jank, Suzanne Gornell, Sarah Willson (Partner), Amy Weidner, Beth Boyle Thrivent Financial representatives are licensed insurance agents/producers of Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. They are also registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55415.Not all team members may be appropriately licensed to provide all products and services or licensed to do business in all states *InFaith Community Foundation is a public charity serving donors and the community through charitable funds. InFaith Community Foundation is independent of Thrivent Financial and its affiliates and financial associates. 1. Financial Advisor Magazine, Wanted: Women Financial Advisors; 2. Stanford Social innovation Review, Tapping the Great Potential of Female Philanthropists 3. Forbes.com, Women in Philanthropy

THRIVENT FINANCIAL

The need for women financial representatives is

rising. Recent statistics show that nine in 10 women will, at some point in their lifetime, will be the sole financial decision-makers for their households . The metro-area women of Thrivent Financial are ready to provide sound financial guidance for women in any stage of life--offering a unique approach that blends faith, finances and generosity. “It’s about feeling comfortable and confident with your finances,” says Beth Boyle, MBA, CFP®, “I’ve worked with recently singled women who are not only suffering emotional loss, but have been thrown into the role of financial decision maker with virtually no training. I guide women on decisions that need to be taken now, and assure them that some decisions can and should wait until they are emotionally ready for them.” At Thrivent, clients receive an over-all strategy that is aligned with their values. Thrivent Financial is a fraternal, membership organization of Christians. It’s a not-for-profit organization that’s owned by their membership.  Because of their not-for-profit status, Thrivent can give back to communities what

they would otherwise pay in certain taxes, and their members have a voice in where that money goes. Thrivent Financial has given back just over $1.3 million to churches and charities in the Omaha Metro through their generosity programs this year. “I’ve seen firsthand how living generously and putting clients’ needs first is the only way to do business,” said Financial Associate Suzanne Gornell, who recently decided to make the plunge, following her father’s lead who has worked for the organization for 33 years. “The fact that I work for an organization that gives back in a significant way, is one of the main reasons I do what I do. This is also very important to the members we serve.” According to a recent study, women hold 50% of the country’s wealth, approximately $13.2 trillion. Women also give on average 3.5% of their wealth to charity every year. “At Thrivent we are well-positioned to help women become more intentional about their giving,’ said Amy Weidner CLTC®, MBA.“We are fortunate to have the expertise of InFaith*, a public foundation, at our disposal for clients and

churches to learn estate planning and charitable giving strategies.” She added, ‘It feels good to be a part of making the generosity piece even bigger.” While Thrivent feels blessed with talented women financial representatives, the team is on a mission to grow. “With the increasing amount of women running businesses, leading households, and making a significant impact for nonprofits and charities, we will need more women financial associates,” said Thrivent Financial Partner, Sarah Willson, FIC. “If you’re a leader, are passionate about making a difference in peoples’ lives, and your values align with our own, perhaps you’ve found your next career move.” 11602 W. CENTER RD., SUITE 200 OMAHA, NE 68144 1408 VETERANS DRIVE, NO. 204 ELKHORN, NE 68022 340 E. MILITARY AVE., SUITE 2 FREMONT, NE 68025 402.932.0109 THRIVENT.COM


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VERNETTA KOSALKA VK EVENTS | FLORAL | PLANNING

Being trusted with the most important day

of a couple’s life or executing the planning of companies event or non-profit’s gala is humbling,” says event planner & designer Vernetta Kosalka, who began her first business in 2007. “In 2013, I added floral design services, the brand, Florist of Omaha, specializing in wedding and event design. “Also in 2013, I began working with a committee to plan the Omaha Police Officer’s Ball, which ignited my passion for planning and designing full-time. We work annually to raise funds benefiting Special Olympics Nebraska.” She turned her attention to helping nonprofit and corporate groups. “I want to have a legacy known for being a trusted source in the management of events and design, helping nonprofits reach their goals. Additionally, I want to be known for giving back to the Omaha community by helping women realize their potential and leadership.” She has realigned her business and services, additionally offering corporate/nonprofit event planning and design services. All services are aligned under the name, “VK Events | Floral | Planning.”

“I know couples and companies have a choice, and I am so thankful they choose me and my services to assist them,” says Kosalka. “Our clients appreciate and need professional help to guide the planning process.” “Nearing the end of my senior year at College of Saint Mary, I landed a job at one of Omaha’s largest full-service hotels as a catering administrative assistant, assisting one of Omaha’s leading and sought-after event professionals.” She says her company is a one-stop shop for couples and clients. “I also pride myself in taking an active role with my nonprofit and corporate clients by being active on the committee and boards. Therefore I fully understand the goals and guide the planning process internally.” Her service and attention to detail keep referrals coming. “I take the planning off your shoulders but not out of your hands. My couples and clients know I will work hard to anticipate needs, follow through on responsibilities and protect their interests.” She is the first in her family to graduate from college. “A quote that stands out to me most is by Catherine McAuley, ‘No work is more productive of good to society than the careful education of women.’”

Kosalka holds a Master of Science in organizational leadership from the College of Saint Mary, She received the college’s Queen of Heart Award based on values, character, and service. And that’s not all of her bragging rights. She has received the Wedding Wire Couple’s Choice Award annually for Event Planning and Floral Design. She is the recipient of the 2016 Volunteer of the Year for the Ralston Chamber of Commerce. “Our design work is regionally published in Nebraska Wedding Day Magazine: home of award winning services—The Wedding Planner Omaha LLC & Florist of Omaha,” she says. “As a child, I knew I wanted to own businesses and plan events. ‘Wow’ that’s a big picture for a 7 year old,” says Kosalka. “Many of America’s greatest businesses were started in homes with a dream and faith.” 801 S. 75TH ST. OMAHA, NE 68114 402.510.2241 VERNETTAKOSALKA.COM


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LALITHA NANDAM, KRISTIN LARSEN & YULIANA LINARES THE WEITZ COMPANY

In a field known to be male-dominated,

national full-service construction firm The Weitz Company offers excellent career opportunities for women as well as men, and its diversity in its workforce has contributed to the company’s longevity and success, say team members. “The Weitz Company is associated and active in many industry-related women’s organizations both on a national and local level, including Advancing Women in Construction and the National Association of Women in Construction,” says Project Engineer Lalitha Nandam. “Gender balance in the workplace helps companies improve their organizational performance and operating results. I can describe the female co-workers in our company as trustworthy, dedicated, and creative. The ladies in our office don’t shy away from problems and are open to suggestions on how to handle them.” “As different individuals bring their own views and ideas to the workplace, women also bring a unique perspective to the industry as a whole,” Project Manager Yuliana Linares says. “Having diversity in expertise and personalities helps our team at Weitz to tailor our services to each customer and to deliver not only an excellent product but a pleasant building experience.”

The Weitz Company, founded in 1855, has grown to become a national full-service general contractor, design-builder, and construction manager with offices around the country and team members who pride themselves in their ability to deliver the highest quality of customer service.

from start to finish is a great feeling,” she says. “It brings me a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

“Weitz uses a very innovative and flexible team approach that is unique on every job site,” Project Engineer Kristin Larsen says. “Each team member has their area of expertise but is working to bring the client’s vision to life.”

“Employees are their happiest and most constructive when they work in an environment that suits them,” Nandam says. “Our workplace is an informal work environment with open office layout, which helps in getting exposure and learning things faster.”

“In each effort, small or large, we value the partnerships we gain from each project we’ve done,” Linares says. “This kind of collective experience yields in our ability to provide value to our customers…Customers keep coming back because Weitz provides a collaborative approach for each project. We value the relationships we create; what we do is not just business to us.” It’s clear why Linares was recently named to the 2016 Constructech Women in Construction list, comprised of some of the most successful women working within the construction community. “Each construction project starts as a vision, and to be part of the team that brings that vision to life

One of the company’s core values is “Nurturing Personal Growth,” which is reflected in a supportive and enjoyable work atmosphere.

“Our office is very collaborative; no one is ever on their own in finding a solution or going through a process,” Larsen agrees. “Everyone has their own experience and expertise, and they are happy to provide their insights… Our office has a good balance of varied personalities. We also know how to have a lot of fun in our office and on our job sites.” 8715 S. 121 ST. LA VISTA, NE 68128 402.592.7000 WEITZ.COM


Building Dream Homes

CUSTOMIZING A FRANCHISE DREAM PG. 8

Silicon Valley Meets Silicon Prairie NEBRASKA WEB STARTUP EXPANSION PG. 5

Traction THE ENTREPRENEUR’S OPERATING SYSTEM PG.4

A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Winter 2017

TALENT EDITION


Volume 1 Issue 10

President/Editor • Cortney Sells

e s s -t o - B u s i n e s

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Director/Assistant Editor • Cassandra Powers

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Published by The Firm Business Brokerage

In-House Legal Counsel • Susanne Miller

2016 Winner

In-House Accountant • Cassandra Waltrip Brokerage Principal • Rene Rademacher Director of Strategic Development • Liz Jones Research Analyst • Daniel Hayes Research Analyst • Seth Balke

J OIN US APR I L 19 F O R A D AY O F LE AR N I N G, I N SPI R AT ION & CONNE CT ION

Outreach Coordinator • Jordan Burt Outreach Coordinator • Tina McGill Outreach Coordinator • LeAnn Moore Outreach Coordinator • McKenna Thorngren Office Associate • Adam Jaime

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Design • OBI Creative Contributing Writers • Kathy Rygg, Maureen Tierney, Kris Kluver Photography by Bill Sitzmann

To Subscribe: The Firm Business Brokerage info@TheFirmB2B.com 210 N. 78 St. Omaha, NE 68114 402.998.5288 Advertising Inquiries: 402.884.2000 todd@omahamagazine.com

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A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

The Bottom Line

Apg.8Dream Business Special Section

Features

7 Take Our Hand

The Firm Business Brokerage has over

Valley Meets 5 Silicon Silicon Prairie

$90 million in assets under management

Samantha Masson Acquires CareerBum.com

Absolute Customs Restructures into

of current cash flowing businesses for sale—from contracting companies to professional service businesses, to medical-based practices.

Dream Homes 8 Building Becomes a Dream Business an Ideal Franchise

12 Former Mrs. Nebraska

Makes a Winning Move

Columns

4 Kris Kluver

Take a Look at Traction: The Entrepreneur’s Operating System

11 Trending 15 Executive Impact,

Insight on List vs. Sale Price

Jordan Burt:

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship: Making an Internship Count

Sale of Dress Boutique Becomes Perfect Pageant Partnership

Discipline Translates 14 Military in Business

Sells Insights

Acquiring the College of Nail Design

The Importance of Talent Acquisition

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inding, training, and keeping the right employees can seem like a daunting task. Hiring and developing the right ties into company branding and messaging have far-reaching impact on the long-term success of a business. Strategic decision-making, rather than short-term position fills, should factor into these activities.

by Cortney Sells president/editor

the open position. Finding a company that shares their culture, philosophy, and values is often more important than the job opportunity. Once you onboard the talent, stay flexible. Sometimes that person you hired is a great fit for your business, but not the position you hired them for. If that occurs, try to move them to a position which capitalizes on their strengths and experience. As author Jim Collins advises: if they are a fit for your bus, then you need to find them the right seat.

Business owners need to be savvy in recruitment efforts, taking advantage of opportunities including online recruiting, social media, and networking contacts. Candidates have often done extensive research on your In this Talent Edition, we bring you brand, employees, and reputation in articles that further explore these the marketplace before they apply for ideas. Career and life coach Samantha

Masson purchases staffing business CareerBum.com with the goal of reducing the stress experienced by both job seekers and employers. Using the experience of The Firm’s Jordan Burt, Executive Impact explores the role of interns within a business (discussing the benefits both for the intern and the employer). Kris Kluver shows how EOS Traction provides entrepreneurs the tools needed to grow and strengthen the key components of their business. These are just a few of the stories which show that the right talent will take a business to the next level. THE FIRM

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A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Take a Look at Traction:

The Entrepreneur’s Operating System written by Kristopher Kluver

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ll businesses get “stuck” or hit the ceiling at one point or another. This process is inevitable and is actually part of the life cycle of every business. As human beings we innately know how to survive our growing pains, but it is often another story for business owners. According to a 2013 Forbes article, eight out of 10 startups “crash and burn” within the first 18 months. Please note, this excludes franchises and existing business that are purchased. The percentages are scary; however, before you go down the rabbit hole of despair, there is hope. In Gino Wickman’s book Traction, Wickman addresses this issue and provides solutions. His solution is known as the “The Entrepreneurial Operating System” or “EOS.” EOS is a complete system with a simple set of proven tools that help leadership teams to obtain three things: Vision, Health, and Traction. • Vision—from the standpoint of first getting the leadership team 100 percent on the same page with where the organization is going and how the team is going to get there. • Health—meaning to create an environment where the leadership team becomes open, honest, functional, and cohesive. Unfortunately not all leadership associates function well as a team.

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• Traction—from the standpoint of helping the leadership team to become more disciplined and accountable, becoming masters of execution, and achieving every part of the organization’s vision. Where the leadership team points, so goes the rest of the organization. The objective is for the entire organization to become crystal clear on the vision, becoming much more accountable and executing on that vision while gaining consistent traction. The Traction plan works well for any organization that is looking to grow, willing to be open and honest, and ready to do the work. This is not a seminar, quick fix, or flavor of the month. This changes culture, creates clarity, and establishes accountability. There are specific steps that can be taken to “implement” the EOS system into your organization. In some cases, leadership teams will work on self-implementing EOS and there are tools on the EOS, website to assist. In other cases, there are professionals who will help companies with the implementation. As Omaha’s first professionally trained EOS Implementer, I encourage you to visit entrepreneurial-advisors.com. On the website you can download the first chapter of Traction for free, and there is a complimentary download library of tools available to get started. If you would like to learn more about what the pure implementation of the EOS process looks like, feel free to reach out. One of the core values of EOS is “Help First,” and we live that.   THE FIRM


A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Silicon Valley Meets Silicon Prairie

Samantha Masson Acquires CareerBum.com written by Maureen Tierney photography Provided

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areer coach Samantha Masson’s plans for her new purchase, CareerBum.com, are both impressive and anxiety-inducing. Her ambition for the Nebraska-born job search board reaches far beyond its current local presence. What is now a humble, rural-servicing website may one day be a national employment engine, and Masson is moving quickly. She doesn’t even let a little thing like distance get in the way, despite the 1,500 miles between CareerBum’s home in Grand Island and her life in San Francisco; that’s the beauty of owning an online company.

Now, there’s not much in common between the Bay Area and Nebraska, but that divide is leveled when it comes to the need for effective job search tools. Launched in 2013, CareerBum.com was created to help rural communities attract the right talent to fill much-needed jobs. Masson was attracted to the perfect fit between her life as a career coach and the simple message of CareerBum: “give people what they need to get where they need and enjoy the process while doing it,” she says.

The Firm Deal Review Business Location: Central Nebraska Buyer Location: San Francisco, California Growth Plan: Grow from regional to national Industry: Online job search site Website: careerbum.com Purchase Type: Asset agreement

Masson, whose innate ability to reach people is what led her into career coaching, is a natural at sales and networking. Her determined approach and endless enthusiasm for her work and CareerBum’s potential is palpable. It helps that she not only has experience in sales, hospitality, and community relations, but she genuinely has a “passion for helping people and enjoying seeing people reach their goals.” Since 2011, Masson has worked with around 10 clients at a time to give them a singular experience in the job search arena. Even though she’s had success, she still wanted to branch out and own a business so that she could “take something (she’s) really good at and expand upon it.” Knowing what it’s like to apply for jobs, Masson “put her experience, talents, and knowledge into one basket and used it to find the right business,” and CareerBum more than delivered. It’s now become a launching pad for Masson to put her many ideas into practice, such as the staggering goal of doing business in all 50 states and potentially beyond. She’s even toying with taking CareerBum.com on the road in an RV, “but that’s just an idea right now.” Masson’s expertise in networking will be put to good use when she works with chambers of commerce to introduce CareerBum into a new area. There’s also the unique notion of working with small business licensing to give each new business registered information on CareerBum and how it can work to their advantage. Masson really takes to heart “making a difference in each community for both job seekers and employers.” After all, CareerBum.com is more than just another online business. Its aim is to be a job search lifestyle. >

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Travel is a major bonus of CareerBum (and also a factor in its purchase), but she is more than comfortable with the less exciting side of business and is adept with cold calling. Masson, who “loves meeting new people and making new friends,” is prepped for the marathon networking she’ll need to do so that CareerBum.com can mix with the big boys of the job search world. It’ll be a long haul, and while CareerBum consumes much of her thoughts, so far she’s “really loving it…and it’s brought so much joy” to her. Masson hopes to share that joy with as many as possible, working to alleviate the stress both job seekers and employers feel in today’s market. So, get ready. CareerBum.com will soon be coming to your town, and with it Masson’s contagious enthusiasm.  THE FIRM

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< While CareerBum is still in its infancy with Masson, she soon hopes to graduate from central Nebraska to a regional presence, and will then start her 50-state conquest with California, which she hopes to have saturated by the middle of 2017. Masson plans to use her experience with career fairs to start working with college campuses by helping recent graduates hone their job search and résumé building skills. The younger crowd also means perfecting a social media presence, which Masson considers crucial to success. “It’s a matter of spreading the word, doing a great job with social media, press releases, and getting into newspapers and chambers of commerce” to keep growing, she says.

Oma ha ’s

tel 800.608.3645 info@onesourcebackground.com onesourcebackground.com

2015 Winner DURO-LAST ROOFING, INC.

Visit us online Ciaccioroofing.com or call 402.293.8707 for a FREE estimate! 4420 Izard St • Omaha, NE

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Take Our Hand:

Featured Opportunities for Sale Commercial Cleaning Services with Clients Over a Three-State Area

** Durable Medical Equipment Business—40 Percent Seller Carry

PRICE $505,000 OWNER PROFIT $140,617 (Three-year average)

PRICE $805,000 OWNER PROFIT $476,420

This janitorial and maintenance service provider works to clean and maintain large office complexes. Services provided include: construction site cleans, office cleaning, floor care, mowing, snow removal, and more. The work is evenly split between weekly and quarterly cleanings for commercial complexes. These jobs are located in and across the states of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. and consistent.

New Profitable Childcare Facility PRICE $165,000 OWNER PROFIT $99,109 Being located in an upscale expanding neighborhood allows this business to flourish in the upcoming years. At its current growth rate, the building will reach capacity of 125 in less than two years. The 6,000-square-foot building was recently custom built with five classrooms sized for 25 children, each of which have child-height sinks, child-size restrooms, and individual egress to the 1-acre play area.

Downtown Lounge in Historic Building Featuring Live Jazz and Blues PRICE $65,000 SALES $155,568 (Annualized 2016) Excellent liquor selection in a 1920s building with lustrous original woodwork! Offering up to four nights of live music per week, this very popular lounge evokes a retro-modern vibe with its mix of ornate woodwork and comfortable modern furniture.

Full Service Lawn Care Company PRICE $1,095,000 OWNER PROFIT $304,859 Servicing southwest Iowa and southeast Nebraska for more than 40 years, this full service lawn care business has a strong and experienced staff along with hundreds of continual clients. Offering anything from regular lawn care to seeding, aeration, fertilizing, and tree or shrub clean up—this business has it all.

Providing support for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) mobility and respiratory needs, this two-location business serves clients in eastern and central Nebraska. Typical client is 55+ years old. The storefronts are open five days a week, stocking a variety of products and services that include: CPAP, ventilators, nebulizers, scooters, ramps, and lift chairs.

Pallet Distribution PRICE $7,943,845 OWNER PROFIT $1,765,299 (3 yr. avg.) This 60 year old business is currently shipping to all 50 states. The current owner is passive in the business and is seeking to retire which is the reason for the sale. The business is fully staffed and equipped to keep running successfully. The business emphasizes on customer satisfaction and has in return received several rewards.

Geotechnical Engineering & Environmental Services PRICE $1,195,000 OWNER PROFIT $380,299 With licensed staff in place and seller training for up to one year, this business is the perfect size for a new owner to maintain existing clients or pursue growth opportunities such as marketing (for the first time in company history), expanding into new territory, or providing additional services.

Allstate Insurance Agency with Highly Qualified Client Base PRICE $350,000 OWNER PROFIT $114,545 This Allstate Agency serves a prime market in Omaha which is expecting major growth in the next 5-10 years. The insurance policies are split 90 percent “Home and Auto,” 5 percent “Business,” and 5 percent “Life/ Retirement.” With two well-qualified employees, clients know that they will be taken care of.

** Broker’s Choice | 110+ Available Business Opportunities For Sale. Please visit TheFirmBusinessBrokerage.com.

Winter 2017

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A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Building Dream Homes Becomes a Dream Business

Absolute Customs Restructures into an Ideal Franchise written by Kathy Rygg | photography by Keith Binder

The Firm Deal Review Reason for Sale: To franchise nationally Seller Attorney: Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman, Jennifer Rattner Buyer Attorney: McGill, Gotsdiner, Workman & Lepp, Gary Gotsdiner Transition Period: Six months Custom Homes Per Year: 30

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ntrepreneurship can start at any age. When he was just 10 years old, Scott Warren started his first business making and selling sack lunches to construction workers on job sites. In junior high he had his own landscaping company, and in high school he started an asphalt driveway sealing business. So it’s no surprise that he eventually became the owner of his own home construction company, Absolute Customs, which he recently sold so that he can franchise the business concept nationally.

Following the path of his previous endeavors, Warren got into residential painting while attending the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. That led him to becoming a subcontractor for custom home builders. Ultimately, it was out of tragedy that he started building his own homes. When Benchmark Homes filed for bankruptcy in 2006, Warren became part of its unsecured creditors committee. What he learned from that experience enabled him to start a home building company with a different type of business model—one in which subcontractors are paid directly from the bank, and the homeowner carries the loan, ensuring neither loses money.

“What we offer is transparency,” Warren explains. “We partner with the homeowner so that there are no hidden fees or costs along the way.” Absolute Customs establishes an up-front management fee for building the home, and everything after that is done at wholesale pricing. Warren says this gives the homeowner greater value, either by allowing them to choose higher end finishes or having more equity in the home when it’s finished. And with up to 30 custom homes per year at an average price of $650,000, that business model pays off for everyone involved. As the company grew and expanded outside of Omaha, Warren’s time was divided between various markets. He saw there was opportunity in other cities such as Des Moines, Sioux City, and the big three in Texas—Houston, Austin, and Dallas—but knew he couldn’t give the Omaha market the attention it still needed if he was focused elsewhere. So at the beginning of 2016, Warren decided to look for a new owner for Absolute Customs and sell the business. He contacted The Firm to start the process and soon found the right buyer: Brett Eby. “Brett came across as having an understanding and a passion for custom homes, and he had the business experience necessary, so I felt comfortable he could come in and grow the company,” Warren says. Eby’s management background wasn’t the only thing that made him a good fit; outside of his regular work hours, he did a lot of home remodeling on his own. “I’ve always loved construction and the process of creating something new and beautiful,” he says.

WHEN HE WAS JUST 10 YEARS OLD, SCOTT WARREN STARTED HIS FIRST BUSINESS MAKING AND SELLING SACK LUNCHES TO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS ON JOB SITES Eby’s father and uncle were both small business owners, and for years he dreamed of owning his own business. He just didn’t know what type of business that would be. When faced with the risk of losing his job after the company he worked for was sold in 2015, Eby decided it was time to pursue that dream. “I reached out to everyone I knew asking if anyone was aware of a business for sale, but nothing interested me,” he says. That’s when he contacted The Firm. They started the process of looking for the right company for Eby, but home building never came up in conversations. “Construction companies typically aren’t for sale,” Eby says. “They’re usually passed down to a family member, so I never mentioned that would be an industry I’d be interested in. I didn’t even think it’d be a possibility.” He looked at several businesses but didn’t feel passionate about them. Until he learned about Absolute Customs. “It instantly grabbed my attention,” he says. After learning about the company’s structure, Eby knew it was a concept he could get excited about. And it was evident after his very first meeting with Warren that the two shared the same vision and passion for the business. “Our personalities really meshed,” Eby says. “We have similar life goals, and even the way we talk about business is the same.” Every conversation they had reaffirmed that it was the right move. And after five months, they closed the deal. “The Firm did a great job of knowing exactly what each side needed to come together, and they have a good deal process,” he adds. >

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A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

< Eby acknowledges that there’s a big difference between remodeling and new construction and knew he had a learning curve ahead of him. So the fact that Warren would stay on for six months and teach him everything he’d need to know about running a whole home construction business was a big factor. In fact, Eby can call on Warren at any time. “Omaha will always be the home base for the company, and I’ll always be here to help him grow the Omaha market,” Warren says. That’s a rare feature when purchasing a business. Even Eby says that when he decided to pursue entrepreneurship, he assumed he’d be buying a business from someone who planned to retire and wouldn’t be involved. Either that, or with most franchises there’s an element of corporate control. “This model is perfect because I own 100 percent of the business, but I have the resources of a national company behind me,” Eby says. And he’s eager to combine his business expertise in team management and marketing with his passion for the home construction industry. “This is so rewarding. I love this more than any other job I’ve ever had,” he adds. Although wearing so many hats can be challenging at times, Eby says he welcomes the responsibility of overseeing every aspect of the business. He’s already set financial goals for how to grow Absolute Customs locally while expanding into smaller surrounding communities. “The company is in good hands, and the Absolute Customs brand is going to be enhanced in the Omaha market, and hopefully I improve the process of building a home even more than before,” he says. The biggest surprise for Eby, when it comes to owning this business, has been how much he enjoys the actual sales process of home building. “I thought I’d like sales least and the construction aspect the most, but I love talking to homeowners,” he says. “There’s nothing better than talking to people about the one place where they want to spend all their time: a home.” THE FIRM

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Trends for Business Sales

A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

written by Sue Miller, J.D.

As 2016 comes to an end and 2017 begins, business owners need to understand that the decisions they make will impact the ultimate price a buyer will pay to acquire their business. Day-to-day operations are often the focus, but understanding annual cash flow is important when planning an exit strategy. Consider the trends that The Firm has observed over 2015 and 2016:

List Price vs. Sale Price Graph

$5,000,000

• Price negotiation is occurring across all business tiers.

$3,750,000

• Average sales price is within a 6-12 percent margin of list price.

$2,500,000

$1,023,000

• On average, businesses in Tier Three, with a list price of greater than $1.5 million, have less negotiation on sale price. • List price and sale price are directly related to the business’ cash flow.

$930,000

$1,250,000 $0

$1,023,000 $213,344

$187,000

$930,000

88%

List Price: Tier One List Price Average

91%

List Price: Tier Two Sale Price Average

94%

List Price: Tier Three Margin on List Price

List Price: Tier One List Price: Tier One List Price: Tier One $1,500,000+ $501,000 - $1,500,000 $0.00 - $500,000 Cash Flow Average Multiple Average

Cash Flow in Relation to Multiple • Multiples in the Midwest range from one to five. • Businesses with higher cash flow levels, seen predominantly in Tier Three, are obtaining higher multiples. • Higher multiples mean higher list prices and higher sales prices.

$87,790 2.85

$219,125 3.5

$1,400,000

$1,375,059 4.76

$1,375,059

$1,050,000 $700,000 $350,000 $0

$219,125 $87,790

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4

3

List Price: Tier One List Price: Tier Two List Price: Tier Three Cash Flow Average Multiple Average

Active Businesses • If a business is in acquisition mode or a new entrepreneur is ready to purchase a business, there are many opportunities in the Tier One level.

List Price: Tier One List Price: Tier One List Price: Tier One $1,500,000+ $501,000 - $1,500,000 $0.00 - $500,000 Active Businesses

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• With the year-end influx of buyers, sellers are in higher demand, especially in Tiers Two and Three. A business valuation can be done at any time, but acting in the first quarter is a good time. Knowledge is power. Whether or not you ready to sell, a business valuation will help plan for the future. Educate yourself and know your options.

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A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Former Mrs. Nebraska Makes a Winning Move

Sale of Dress Boutique Becomes Perfect Pageant Partnership written by Kathy Rygg | photography by Bill Sitzman

The Firm Deal Review Stat: On national TV show Obsessed with the Dress Post-Close: Seller staying as creative director Lender: Centris Financial Credit Union, O.J. Spooner Loan Structure: SBA

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onfidence and success typically go hand-in-hand. That’s been the experience for Michelle Strom in both her personal and professional life. Growing up as a competitive athlete in gymnastics, Strom has always welcomed competition. So when her friend asked her to compete in the 2007 Mrs. Nebraska pageant, she agreed. And it paid off by winning the title. Little did she know at the time, it would also be the start of a prosperous business career.

Although Strom was married with two children, she saw the pageant as another form of competition and was eager to train and get back into shape. She had never competed in a pageant before, but she was familiar with it, having helped friends’ daughters who competed. Competing also gave her the opportunity to learn how to become an effective communicator, including how to speak well in public. “It kept me focused and gave me a goal,” she says. “It also got me involved in the community, doing more volunteer work, and put me on a new pathway. It was a fantastic move for me.”

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I WASN’T LOOKING FOR JUST ANYONE TO TAKE OVER; I WANTED THE RIGHT PERSON -Michelle Strom

After winning her first pageant, Strom went on to compete in Mrs. America where she won second runner-up and then to the Mrs. United States pageant in 2009 where she finished in the top five. During her preparation, Strom needed to look for one of the most important pageant elements: the formal dress. Frustrated by the lack of local options, she started to design and sell pageant dresses out of her home. The home-based business quickly grew, and she opened a storefront in Rockbrook Village. Winning Crown Boutique became the premier place to purchase original, one-ofa-kind dresses not just for pageants, but for all special occasion needs. Strom competed in just the three pageants and then decided to shift her focus to helping other women—not only those competing in pageants—to look and feel their best. With her creative flare, Strom has a sense for what looks good on each individual. “I have a good attention to detail and have had a lot of success determining just the right gown for customers,” she says. That talent is what continued to grow Winning Crown into a successful business on an international level. In 2013, Strom was featured for a season on the WE TV show Obsessed with the Dress. Filmed at Winning Crown, the show followed Strom’s process for finding those perfect dresses.


A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Like many successful businesses owners, Strom had grown hers to a point where she had met all of her goals. With kids who are now teenagers, including a daughter who competes on a traveling gymnastics team, Strom felt the time had come to focus more on family and make herself available to attend out-of-town meets. After making the decision to sell Winning Crown, she contacted The Firm because she felt they had the personable, one-on-one approach that she wanted. Since finding the right buyer was so important, Strom decided to do a private listing. “I wasn’t looking for just anyone to take over; I wanted the right person,” she explains.

When Strom finally found that right fit, she says it was because “the buyer had all the right puzzle pieces.” With a daughter who competes in pageants and a business background in accounting, Strom felt the new owner would be able to run Winning Crown successfully. And the best part is that Strom will stay on as the boutique’s creative director. “I’ll be able to continue to coach girls in pageantry skills out of the store’s current location and help the store with the latest trends, buying merchandise, as well as design dresses,” she says.

Even though Winning Crown has changed hands, and they are in the process of transitioning ownership, Strom says the business model isn’t going to change. In fact, by combining the business expertise of the new owner and Strom’s creative expertise, she believes that Winning Crown will be even stronger. “Everything that customers know and love about the Winning Crown isn’t going to change,” she says. “We make sure that everyone we dress feels unique, special, and their very best.” THE FIRM

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Military Discipline Translates in Business

Acquiring the College of Nail Design

written by Kathy Rygg

The Firm Deal Review Development: Rockbrook Reason for Sale: Owner’s health Lender: Nebraska Enterprise Fund Stat: The only licensed nail college in Nebraska

taking it out from under me,” Myers says. The sale didn’t take long to complete, with Myers’ final offer being accepted within only a few days. That was in part due to The Firm’s ability to work under pressure, and the fact that Myers and the seller clicked during their first meeting. “We had a connection since I was an MP and the seller’s husband is a police officer,” she explains. “We felt we could be honest with each other and shared the same vision for the business.”

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eing a successful business owner requires discipline. Not just for yourself, but also for your employees. For Barbara Myers, this perspective is second nature. After a 14-year career in the U.S. Army, she decided to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur, bringing years of loyalty and discipline to her life’s next chapter. Prior to enlisting in the military, Myers had attended and taught at cosmetology school, hoping to one day own her own salon. Her decision to join the Army was the result of her desire to travel and gain education from the experiences the military could offer. In addition to being an MP, she also worked in logistics and was part of an aviation counter drug unit. As soon as she got out, she felt that familiar pull back to becoming an entrepreneur.

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The Firm Deal Review

Winter 2017

“I was working as an operations manager for a company, and my family kept telling me I should be working for myself,” Myers says. “I thought I’d wait until I had finished my degree in business entrepreneurship, but with all my experience, it seemed the opportunities were there.” After many sleepless nights researching companies, she reached out to The Firm to help with her search. “The Firm made all of it seem so simple and took the guesswork out of it,” Myers adds. She described what she was looking for in a company, and as soon as she learned about Bella Dea Day Spa and the College of Nail Design, she knew it was the perfect opportunity. Bella Dea was in an industry that she had always loved, it had the perfect location in Rockbrook, and its staff had been in place for years. “I made it clear to everyone that I wanted Bella Dea and didn’t want anyone

That vision includes making needed technology updates within the college to help improve classes and expanding the salon so there’s more room to hire additional staff to accommodate more clients. Myers was able to get financing through the Nebraska Enterprise Fund that provides financing for small businesses and includes a mentoring program. “I can see the passion and commitment you have, not only for what you do, but to be a great employer and partner (with The Firm),” says Melina Arroyo of Nebraska Enterprise Fund, commenting on The Firm’s assistance in the transaction. “You are doing a great job, and I am very proud of each successful and hardworking female I encounter each and every day.” Myers is focused on all aspects of her business while continuing with her full-time job and finishing her degree. But that’s where her discipline also helps. “I want a team that is loyal to the company where we all have our roles and help each other out. Then we’ll be successful,” Myers says. “Their success is my success.” THE FIRM


A Publication of The Firm Business Brokerage

Executive Impact, Jordan Burt

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship: Making an Internship Count written by Maureen Tierney

While the cost of doing business continues to grow, some of the most significant cost increases are associated with labor (with the added stress of finding qualified, trained talent). The way employees work is a constantly changing battle. As a business is subject to technological and social advances, so too are its employees. It’s beneficial for both parties to begin molding an employee, as early as possible, with the goal of employment upon graduation. The current generation of millennials are marked by the substantial debts they face upon completion of higher education. Tuition continues to rise, but the job market and pay scale have not matched pace. It behooves undergraduates to pursue internships as early as possible. Not only does it provide excellent experience for résumé building, but it increases the chances of retaining employment. It’s a strategy that has served The Firm’s outreach coordinator, Jordan Burt. A current senior at Creighton University, Burt was placed as an intern at The Firm through Jobs4Jays, a service run by Creighton for undergraduates and alumni. It’s been an all-around internship, with Burt working within various departments, and gaining insight into both the buy and sell sides of a deal. Having worked with buyers, Burt has learned “how much is involved with buying a business, and the amount of research it takes” to find the right fit. But Burt is doing more than just learning about an organization and furthering her career. She’s starting at ground zero and is already earning money before having a degree in hand. While still a full-time student and nearly a full-time employee, Burt has secured her future and can already begin paying back college debt or start saving—a struggle for many millennials. “I am one of two in my group of friends that has a solid plan after graduation, and this is so meaningful to me” says Burt.

Going down this path has also helped The Firm. An employer can reap the benefits of training an intern who has a lack of acquired bad habits that can hinder a seasoned applicant. It’s an opportunity to shape and mold an intern along organizational lines, making them an even more valuable employee post-graduation. Plus, there is the added benefit of training without the financial burden of a full-time employee. This win-win scenario has been observed on both sides by Cassandra Powers, director at The Firm. Like Burt, Powers utilized Jobs4Jays while still an undergrad over five years ago. It’s an advantage that has allowed her to grow into her role over a half-decade, rather than job jumping like many others struggling to find career paths. “I was able to become a homeowner at 25. Without my internship, this would not have been possible,” Powers says. Now on the

flip side of this equation, Powers can see the benefit of Burt’s internship with The Firm. “We’ve been able to take (Burt’s) skills and help her learn about the business while also using them to help shape her as a future fulltime employee of The Firm,” says Powers. Conserving the bottom line while keeping employees is a delicate balance, but the value of an internship is steadily increasing for all parties involved. Employers end up with an ideal candidate, and interns gain experience and financial stability. Even if there is a parting of ways, neither time nor money is truly lost in the transaction. THE FIRM

Winter 2017

The Firm Deal Review

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BY KEITH BACKSEN

WOMEN’S IMPACT ON TOURISM Who makes the travel decisions in your family? I am betting the majority of you will answer, “I do” (if you are a woman) or “my wife/girlfriend does” (if you are a man). It is typically the woman who plans the family vacations, it is the woman who figures out a way to get the cousins together for a reunion, and it is usually the woman who figures out the logistics of taking their child on college visits. It is also more than likely a woman who plans all the business trips in your office. Experts estimate that women make 70-80 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions, which includes the $947 billion spent on travel each year. Not only are they making the travel decisions, more and more women are traveling. At the Women in Travel & Tourism conference early this year, it was revealed that the average traveler was once a 28-year-old male—now it’s a 47-year-old female. This is one of the reasons the advertising we use to convince consumers to travel to Omaha targets women between the ages of 25-54.

Women make the majority of the travel decisions, and on the other side of the coin they also make up nearly 70 percent of the travel, tourism, and hospitality workforce. Think about it: who normally checks you in at the hotel, cleans your hotel room, serves you at the restaurant, takes your ticket at the airport, and plans most of the events, meetings, and conventions? Women. However, experts contend there is a marked underrepresentation of women in senior positions, with women holding less than 40 percent of all managerial positions.

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This isn’t the case at Visit Omaha, Omaha’s official tourism authority, where 82 percent of the staff are women and 57 percent of the senior leadership team are women, including our V.P. of convention sales and our V.P. of marketing and communications. If women make up a significant portion of your customer base, it makes sense that they should be represented on management teams. Research shows that companies with gender-balanced teams have a higher ROI, and those are numbers we can all support. B2B

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.


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volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

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BIZ+GIVING  |  BY SEAN MCCARTHY  |  PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN

TOGETHER A GREATER GOOD

A mobile-friendly app created by two Omaha marketing pros has made giving to local charities easy for shoppers around town. When folks download and use the Together A Greater Good app, they can scan their purchases from local participating businesses—including Big Mama’s Kitchen, The Bookworm, and Greenstreet Cycles—and donate a portion of the receipt amount to charities like American Cancer Society, the Open Door Mission, or a local school. TAGG, founded in 2012, is the brainchild of Holly Baker and Leslie Fischer. Baker and Fischer studied marketing and business (Baker at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Fischer at the University of Nebraska-Omaha). The two met in 2007 while working at another startup, GiftCertificates.com. Although the two worked together for less than a year, the hectic, frenzied work environment helped forge a future partnership. “You kind of bond through chaos,” Fischer says. After leaving GiftCertificates.com, Fischer worked for the construction company EAD. While at EAD, Fischer juggled administrative, human resources, and marketing duties. Coincidentally, both Baker and Fischer were pregnant around the same time while employed in their respective former jobs (Fischer at EAD, Baker at Qualia Clinical Services). Their gestations corresponded to the genesis of TAGG. When Baker was pregnant with her first child, she heard that Qualia was shuttering its Omaha operations. Around that time, Fischer asked Baker to help with some projects at EAD. And while Fischer was on maternity leave, she began brainstorming business ideas. One idea came from constantly being barraged by “cute kids wanting to sell stuff” for fundraising. Fischer says she remembers Baker saying, “Doesn’t there have to be a better way than this poor kid schlepping through all the neighborhoods?”

From left: Leslie Fischer and Holly Baker

For Fischer and Baker, the Groupon business model kept coming up. The popular web coupon site Groupon offers different deals for products, services, and events. Specifically, Fischer and Baker were interested in taking Groupon’s voucher system for deals and applying it to fundraising. From early 2011 until May 2012, Baker and Fischer kept bouncing ideas around.


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“I REMEMBER STANDING IN MY OFFICE, HOLDING MY RESIGNATION LETTER, THINKING, ‘THIS IS REAL. WE’RE DOING THIS...” - LESLIE FISCHER

In May 2012, Baker and Fischer quit their jobs to devote all of their resources into launching TAGG. “I remember standing in my office, holding my resignation letter, thinking, ‘This is real. We’re doing this,’” Fischer says.

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Fischer and Baker agreed it was best to scrap the design and start fresh. They relaunched that fall. Since launching, TAGG has gained 175 businesses committed to donating 5 percent of • customers’ scanned receipts to local charities. Twenty thousand people have downloaded the• TAGG app. And TAGG now operates out of a West Omaha office, a far cry from kitchen • table conversations that created TAGG.

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FEATURE FROM PAGE 27 A common problem faced by many women trying to create their personal brand is accounting for time outside of the workforce, often spent caring for children or aging parents. Taking time off to care for children can be especially problematic in Nebraska, which the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranks 50th in reproductive rights. Although many might consider a gap of a few years or more in their work history to be a weak point on their résumé, professionals such as Brooks and Wagner see such areas as opportunities for articulation of “softer” skills that could be a major asset for any job seeker. Companies hire employees because they have a problem, a need that is unmet. A potential employee who is able to discuss their problem-solving skills articulately makes for a strong candidate in almost any field. Volunteer experience, work with school organizations, problem solving, and interpersonal skills can all help raise the value of potential employees. Brooks emphasizes that gaps in work history are not necessarily a weakness if workers know how to showcase that time in a clear way. While it is helpful to take a few classes or continue to work part-time outside the home, the most important strategy to rejoining the workforce is to maintain connections with coworkers. Overall, the uncertainty Brooks and Wagner see the most frequently in their female clients stems from a lack of confidence. Women tend to be less aggressive in their job search and avoid “bragging” in their application process, which can impact a potential employer’s perception of their value as workers. Advice from a professional career coach or résumé writer can help build that confidence and show women that their skills translate to career opportunities. With information about the dollar value of talents available on the internet, women are now more prepared than ever to use their skills as leverage in negotiation of salary, benefits, and flexibility of hours. Women are great at building relationships, especially with other women, and shouldn’t be afraid to use those connections. Brooks states plainly, “people hire people.” Research, some self-reflection, and a strong résumé can help women and their prospective employers understand that their skills are worth far more than 73 cents on the dollar. Visit omahacareercoach.com for more information. B2B

volume 16  |  issue 4

B2B OMAHA MAGAZINE

TOP-10 NETWORKING TIPS FOR WOMEN BY BRIDGET (WEIDE) BROOKS Person-to-person networking is the single most effective way to find a new job, according to a survey conducted by Right Management, with 46 percent of jobseekers identifying networking as the reason they found their most recent job. Here’s 10 easy ways for women to build, nurture, and grow their personal network. 1. Don’t wait until you need a job to build your network. You should be constantly building—and strengthening—your connections with your network. Do something to build your network each and every day, whether that’s sending an email to someone you haven’t talked to in a while or identifying someone new you want to meet. 2. Don’t think of networking as some big, scary thing. It’s talking to people. It’s asking them for help. It’s offering help. It’s about cultivating relationships, not doing some forced, fake thing. 3. Identify who is already in your network. Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the people you know: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents and relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, your community contacts (civic leaders, clergy, etc.), alumni connections, and your doctor, financial adviser, attorney, etc. Your holiday card list can be a good starting point for identifying who is already in your network. 4. Remember the principle of “Six Degrees of Separation.” Research shows that you are likely six people away from the person you want to reach. There’s fun in figuring out how to get to that person. A practical application of this is to look for the person on LinkedIn and see who is connected to that person that you already know. Reach out to your contact offline (not on LinkedIn, but by phone or in person) and ask if they can help you connect with that person. 5. The power of the network is not just the people you know—it’s the people those people know. What if you can’t find a contact in common? Don’t be afraid to ask your network to help connect you with someone who has the information or resources you need. A very practical way to do this, for example, is to send a group text message or Facebook Messenger message that says, “Do any of you know someone who works for ABC Company?” 6. Give to get. Be the person who reaches out to your network of contacts regularly (at least a couple of times a year) to see what they are doing, to acknowledge those efforts, and to offer to provide assistance (should they need it). Segment your list of contacts into a “to do” list of check-ins. But make sure you are focusing on them when you make contact, not on you. You probably know someone who only contacts you when they need something. Don’t be that person. 7. Make time to get out and see people. The most powerful networking contacts are in-person, oneto-one interactions. If possible, arrange one to two coffee or after-work happy hour meetings with someone in your network each month. Also, when possible, attend networking events (for example, those hosted by a professional organization). If you can’t do that, network where you already are: your child’s soccer game, your neighborhood grocery store, and even at sporting events. 8. Network online. Participate in an online community. This can be a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, an alumni site (like Classmates.com) or your trade association’s website (which might have an e-list or message board to connect members). However, remember that online networking is not a substitute for in-person networking. 9. Be very specific when you activate your network. Identify the specific need you have, and then contact people who are in a position to help you reach that specific goal. You’ll sometimes see someone post a public request for help finding a new job—but more often, these types of requests are made individually and not as a broad “call for help.” 10. Once you build it, use it! Women are extraordinarily talented at creating small, powerful networks—we just need to do a better job of using them! B2B


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PLAYING BIG

by Scott Anderson

ESTABLISHING AN INNOVATIVE NICHE FROM OMAHA TO ITALY AND BEYOND While contemplating the theme of B2B’s Women in Business issue, I immediately thought of my friend and client, Amy Zier. She has experience launching and managing businesses in the United States and Italy, and her new cloud-based venture will have truly global reach. Originally from Omaha, Amy is a trained occupational therapist. Twenty years ago, she opened her first office in Chicago, Amy Zier & Associates. She moved to Italy 10 years ago and has clinics in Napoli, Rome, and Rovereto. The Chicago clinic is still operating, but Amy manages it mainly from Italy. I asked her if she noticed any differences between running businesses in the United States and Italy. She tells me it’s very rare for a woman to own a private business in Italy, let alone a therapeutic clinic. The challenges involved with starting up were different, too: “The steps to having a business and running a business in Chicago were much easier. You just do it. Here in Italy, there is a lot of bureaucracy to deal with. Building a business in the U.S. is much easier!”

“Building my practice in Italy challenged me in every way imaginable,” she says. “Learning to speak Italian at the level I could connect with professionals and families was difficult. Understanding the culture was an obstacle in the beginning as I really needed to understand perceptions of disabilities, child development, and the role of parents and extended family within the child’s life. I was fortunate to bring to Italy ideas and ways of clinically working with children and parents that were less common; many Italians are looking outside of their ‘system’ to find ways to support differences in their child’s development.” One of the keys to Amy’s success has been in carving out a unique niche: her clinics use a combination of two methods— DIR (the Developmental, Individualdifferences, Relationship-based model) and SI (Sensory Integrations). She tells me, “Innovation is highly valued in my organizations. I encourage thinking boldly, designing programs that make a difference, even though they might be outside the traditional way of practicing.” One newsworthy thing Amy is doing now is launching an online training/ certification program for her unique combination of DIR and SI. Her targets are anyone in the UK and Italian time zones and any English speaking countries.

“The DIR/SI organization was built on the idea of bringing innovative courses to practitioners, educators, and parents from around the globe,” she says. “Our approach to teaching is unique: by incorporating practice-based opportunities, mentoring from a range of experts in diverse fields related to developmental disabilities, and building foundational capacities related to reflective practice, observation of developmental phenomena, and analyzing how to measure our impact as clinicians in meaningful ways.” What is she looking forward to? “Bringing together participants from different countries and areas of clinical practice will be very interesting.” The takeaway: By uniquely combining two practices in her “industry,” Amy has become a great example of creating a niche in business. B2B

Scott Anderson is CEO of Doubledare, an executive coaching, consulting, and search firm.


WINTER 2017  | 

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WOMEN OF WORLD GROUP “BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL WOMAN IS HERSELF.” We would like to thank all of the outstanding WOMEN at WORLD GROUP for their years of dedication, hard work and expertise.

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FROM PAGE 35 The friends she brought together included businesspeople, horse people, and marketing and promotions people. She brought onboard Harold Cliff of the Omaha Sports Commission, whom Roskens says was “incredibly helpful.” By 2013, she and her friends watched their sport in their hometown (at the International Omaha), and last year, they won their bid to secure the 2017 World Cup. Omaha’s bid beat out London, Hong Kong, and ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. “To be honest, I thought the bid was kind of a trial run,” Roskens says. “We threw everything we had at it, but I really thought they’d get to know us, and we’d win for 2018. The entire equestrian community was surprised, and pleased.” Roskens, who trains on two horses six days a week, frequently rides in the mornings before getting ready for her day job as chairman and CEO of Burlington Capital. While she pondered riding professionally in the past, she appreciates that her business acumen can bring knowledge to this sport. “It’s easy to get caught up in how things are done and not look at them with innovation and a fresh set of eyes,” Roskens says. “That’s what I can bring to my sport.”


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Roskens also credits some advice given to her by her parents for allowing her to keep her hobby as a hobby.

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“Back when I was in high school, and I was considering becoming a professional rider, they said, ‘remember, when your hobby becomes your career, it’s no longer voluntary, and it changes the nature of your hobby fundamentally,’” she remembers.

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Roskens and her friends have learned how, and that has enabled them to bring a worldclass event to Omaha. When the FEI World Cup rolls into town in April, visitors will find an event that has been set up by a team of disciplined and passionate horsemen ready to welcome (and take on) the world. Visit omahaworldcup2017.com for more information. B2B

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Thank You Omaha!

For voting the Sprinter #1 in Best of B2B - Delivery Vehicle category.

And, it could be argued, she was meant to heal through design. Visit dlrgroup.com for more information. B2B

of Omaha

of Omaha

Mercedes-Benz of Omaha 14335 Hillsdale Ave, Omaha, NE 68137 www.OmahaMercedes.com Contact John Williams anytime at 402.981.9262 MSRP for a 2015 Sprinter Standard Roof 2500 is $37,455 excludes all options, taxes, title, regis., transporation/destination charge and dealer prep. 2015 shown with high roof option at $39,950 . (High Roof option $2,495) Options, model availability and actual dealer price may vary. See dealer for details. ** Please obey all speed laws. ©2015 Authorized Mercedes-Benz Dealers. For more information, call 1-800-FOR-MERCEDES, or visit MBUSA.com


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Thank You for Voting Us Best of B2B™ 5 Years in a Row! AUDIO VISUAL SERVICES OFFERED INCLUDE: • System design/engineering • Sales

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2700 sq. ft. of rental facility for conferencing, meetings, training sessions, receptions, gatherings, webinars Contact our Highly Trained and Certified Staff at 402-298-5011 | www.conceptsav.com | 4610 S. 133rd Street, Suite 106 | Omaha, NE 68137

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Thanks Omaha for 30 Years! 2016 Winner

FROM PAGE 19 A+ Rating 20 Consecutive Years

8 Consecutive Years

402.399.9233 | www.sparklingklean.com

Each year, she and Joe begin riding in the spring and increase their bike time over the summer and fall months—going out a minimum of two to three times a week when the weather allows.

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Kremlacek picked up her previously owned Big Dog Chopper in April, much-reduced from its brand-new sticker price of $35,000.

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planitomaha: A national and regional powerhouse in meetings, conferences & events.

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TD Ameritrade Park | First National Bank Tower | Midtown Crossing Village Pointe Shopping Center | UNO Weber Fine Arts Building | Children’s Hospital Aksarben Village | Joslyn Art Museum | Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center University of Nebraska Omaha Baxter Arena

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For more than 35 years, trusted on these and many other projects ...

“He always talked about motorcycles and riding, even before we were married, and he actually got me my first motorcycle so we could ride together,” she says.

As they do every year, they rode to Sturgis for the 76th annual Sturgis Rally this past August, but her longest ride to date was to California and back more than a decade ago. “I didn’t have any saddle bags on my bike, so I had to haul my luggage right behind me, which made for a somewhat uncomfortable ride,” says Kremlacek. “But riding a motorcycle is one of the few times in life when you’re in the moment and not always thinking about what to do next. It’s very relaxing. It’s an escape.”


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Pro Offic ud Memb e Mo ving er of the Allia nce!

Select Van & Storage

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Speaking of escape, during her 30-year career, 20 years of it leading operations at the OPPD Service Center, Kremlacek worked with highly technical telecommunications, microwave technology, and telephone systems—resulting in a fair amount of stress.

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When she felt particularly bogged down by work and life, she says hitting the 100-mph mark on the open road proved to be a fantastic cure. But has she ever been hit by flying debris or the wayward bird? “I did have a rather large bug hit me in the forehead once, and at the rate of speed we were going, it felt like a bird,” she says with a laugh. “On the way to Sturgis one year, we had a deer run out in front of us, nearly causing an accident, and we encountered three bobcat cubs in Wyoming. But those will never stop us from enjoying the tremendous freedom we have on our motorcycles.”

Businesses Are Buying Smarter

The All Makes’ team is trained to help you make design decisions and furniture purchases that fit your office atmosphere, your work style and your budget. Visit All Makes’ redesigned showroom to see the latest in new office furniture, pre-owned office furniture and business technology.

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Thank you for voting us #1 for 11 consecutive years!

www.allmakes.com | Omaha: 2558 Farnam St. • 402.341.2413 | Lincoln: 3333 O St. • 402.477.7131


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CELEBRATING BUSINESSES THAT HELP OTHER BUSINESSES KEEP THE BIG O’S ECONOMY ROLLING.

Vote for those vendors you call time and time again. Businesses anxiously await the results of this popular vote contest and celebrate them all year long. Results will be published in the Spring 2017 issue, which should be delivered by March 1. Only the ballot printed in this Winter 2017 issue will be accepted. We will not accept copies, faxes, or scans. A minimum of 10 categories must be filled out. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 31, 2016.

2017 Winner

Please mail your entries to: Goracke & Associates, CPA 12110 Port Grace Blvd., Suite 100 La Vista, NE 68128

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

BUILDING SERVICES

Accounting Office

Carpet & Rug Cleaning

Advertising Agency

Commercial Interior Design

Architectural Firm

Corporate Fitness

Collection Services

Door Company

Employee Benefit Company

Electrical Service

Employment Agency

Fence Company

Insurance Agency

Fire Protection

Law Firm

Garbage Collection

Public Relations Firm

General Contractor

Social Media Consultant

Heating/AC Service Janitorial Service Landscape/Lawn Contractor Locksmith Office Furniture Moving Company Painting Contractor


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Parking Lot Maintenance Pest Control Company Picture Framing Plumbing Company Property Management Real Estate – Commercial Roofing Company Security Equipment/Systems Sign Company Snow Removal Service Towing Company

BUSINESS SERVICES Advertising Specialties Auto Glass Auto Leasing Background & Drug Screening Service Business Broker Business Forms & Systems Commercial Photographer Computer Service Copier Service Corporate Gifts

FINANCIAL SERVICES Bank Credit Card Merchant Processing Credit Union Payroll Service

Corporate Jet Service Delivery Service Delivery Vehicle Dealer Electronics Recycling Fleet Repair Glass Company Internet Provider

FOOD SERVICES Banquet Facility Caterer Coffee Provider Restaurant – Business Breakfast Restaurant – Business Lunch Restaurant – Business Happy Hour Restaurant – Business Dinner

Mailing Lists Mailing Service Mobile Auto Detailing Networking Event Networking Group Office Supplies Printer Sales Training Water – Bottled Website Developer

TRAVEL & EVENT PLANNING Audio-Visual Service Business Conference Venue Florist Golf Course Hotel Event Planning Service Rental Service Store Travel Agency

Website Hosting


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