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The Know-It-All OmAHA! How I Roll

A Good Sport Harley Schrager

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FEATURES

COVER STORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Omaha Sports Commission’s Harley Schrager

Just as it was with the record-breaking attendance at the 2006 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship, and again when Michael Phelps broke records of another kind at the 2008 Olympic Swim Trials on his way to eight gold medals in Beijing, Omaha will be the center of the universe — this time for sweaty, Lycra-clad, catch-as-catch-can grapplers and their legions of fans.

FEATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Susan Madsen, Embassy Suites Downtown

how i roll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Joe Olsen arts & entertainment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Upscale Burgers the know-it-all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Dateline Tripoli, Libya omAHA! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Wild Goose Chase

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business ethics ....................................................... 44 What Sould You Do?

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Story by David Williams

cover story

Photos by minorwhitestudios.com

Omaha Sports Commission Scores Big with Olympic Swim Trials, Host of Events Next up: NCAA Wrestling Championships

Just as it was with the record-breaking

attendance at the 2006 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship, and again when Michael Phelps broke records of another kind at the 2008 Olympic Swim Trials on his way to eight gold medals in Beijing, Omaha will be the center of the universe — this time for sweaty, Lycra-clad, catch-as-catch-can grapplers and their legions of fans. The NCAA Wrestling Championship is being co-hosted by the Omaha Sports Commission and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, March 18-20, at Qwest Center Omaha. Additional Omaha Sports Commission events of note include hosting over 1,000 athletes this August for the USA Triathlon competition, another first for Nebraska.

8 B2B Omaha Winter 2010


Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 9


cover story continued from previous page

And anticipation is already running high for the 2012 return of the Olympic Swim Trials. Landing the trials again required a complex series of negotiations among disparate partners, said Omaha Sports Commission Chairman Harley Schrager, who explained the delicate dance that resulted in the NCAA modifying the College World Series schedule to make it all work. “A coup of cooperation,” he beamed. “It only further demonstrates how Omaha comes together to get things done.” The Commission, a tiny non-profit with a full-time staff of just two and an annual budget of only $300,000, has proven to be as nimble as a scrappy, 125-lb. dart-and-dodge takedown artist and as powerful as a menacing, 285-lb. behemoth. “Our success is no secret,” said Schrager, of AmeriFirst Home Improvement Finance. There is a special “Omahaness,” he says; in

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the way business leaders, city government, MECA and armies of volunteers drive each new triumph for the city and its people. “Omaha has a ‘can do’ spirit and the evidence of that is clear. Our Midwestern

warmth, work ethic and hospitality are clearly recognized. And with the widely watched and extensively reported upon swim trials and Olympics, our international profile has now been elevated like never before.”

Dana Markel knows a thing or two about elevating profiles. As executive director of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau, she tracked the indirect benefits of the swim trials that brought almost $25 million in direct revenues to the city at the same time that the national economy was teetering on the brink of recession. “The swim trials provided Omaha with the equivalent of $93 million in free publicity because of the number of times we were mentioned in the media, either during the trials or later throughout the Olympics itself,” she said. “It shows the world that Omaha has the ability to host events of international importance and provides a marketing benefit far beyond our budget, far beyond what we could even think of doing in terms of buying the same promotional value.” So how will Omaha’s economy fare when what seems like acres of mats are rolled out for the 2010 NCAA Wrestling Championship? Omaha Sports Commission


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President and Executive Director Harold Cliff points to the swim trials as a benchmark. “Over 60 percent of the tickets sold for the 10-day swim trials went to out-of-state sales,” said the Canadian native who was lured from Australia in 2007 to manage the trials before being convinced to stay with the Commission to captain still more success stories. “We expect 80 percent of the 48,000 wrestling tickets to go outside of Nebraska for that three-day event.” Landlocked Nebraska, hardly a hotbed of swimming, may have seemed an odd poolson-the-prairie choice to some, but wrestling is a natural, said UNL head wrestling coach Mark Manning. “People grow up with wrestling here,” said the skipper of the team ranked fourth in both major wrestling polls the week this publication went to print. “The sport epitomizes our Nebraska culture, one where lessons of hard work, perseverance and determination are an important part of our identity, of who we are. And now we’ll be able to showcase the sport and its ideals on the biggest stage of all. It’s great, not only for the state of collegiate wrestling, but for programs at all levels across Nebraska.” “In the long history of the NCAA Wrestling Championship,” added Brad Traviolia, chair of the NCAA Wrestling Committee and deputy commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, “all but five of the 79 team champions have come from the nearby states of Iowa, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Hosting the event in Omaha means that we are in an ideal location for the college wrestling world and all those faithful, knowledgeable fans.” It also means that you’d be wise to get your tickets early before a veritable horde of Hawkeyes, Gophers, Hoosiers and Cowboys snap up seats to the event. The city’s famous hospitality will have a chance to shine once again with the NCAA Wrestling Championship, as champions are crowned while new legends are born. And with each piercing chirp from the referee’s whistle, a multitude of cash registers all across Omaha will reply in a chorus of soothing retorts of their own.


STORY BY LINDA PERSIGEHL

PHOTO BY MINORWHITESTUDIOS.COM

Joe Olsen 2007 Lincoln MKX

O

ne might say Joe Olsen is “driven,” which makes him a perfect subject for our How I Roll! He’s a self-described serial entrepreneur and motivated leader, who’s chosen as his mode of transportation a sleek, black, loaded Lincoln MKX, decked out with a black grill. Olsen, a Burke High graduate and young family man, is co-founder and CEO of Phenomblue, an Omaha digital design and technology firm in advertising. “Phenomblue is the latest manifestation of my constant drive to create.” The Lincoln symbolizes a great deal to Olsen, who traded in his Mercedes for the MKX and liked it so much, he bought it at lease’s end. “I have always been a Ford guy, and Lincoln is simply a ‘better Ford,’” Olsen said. And “the Lincoln is a far better experience,” than the Mercedes, in his view. “I think the big body looks tough, yet it drives like a car, and while Lincoln looks pro, it’s still unassuming. I have never been into flashy, expensive cars. In today’s world, they just seem irresponsible.” Seems Olsen also likes the fact Ford was the only American car company to not take government bailout money. “I think that says a lot about a company.” What amenities does Olsen most enjoy about his Lincoln? “I love the air-conditioned seats, and the Sirius radio. Both were options I laughed at when told about them, but now I can’t imagine the car without them. The car is a workhorse for me.” Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 13


STORY BY AARON MICHAELS

PHOTO BY MINORWHITESTUDIOS.COM

Upscale Burgers:

Worth the extra cash, or just for show?

M

cDonald’s has been “lovin’ it” with the Big Mac since the 1940s. Burger King has been letting you “have it your way” with the Whopper for decades. Wendy’s has shown you “where’s the beef ” with the Single and Double since the late 1960s. And let’s not forget Runza, which has had its signature quarter- and half-pound cheeseburgers, as well as Runza sandwiches, since 1949. So in a marketplace stampeded by burgers of all shapes and sizes (and weights), what makes the so-called “upscale” burger from the likes of Smashburger, Fuddruckers, Red Robin or Burger Star a better product (and not just higher priced) than its fast-food brethren? Are consumers paying between $3 and $5 more per burger at these establishments because of quality? Perhaps. Is it because of extras, like flat-screen TVs or make-it-yourself toppings of their choice? Maybe. Or is it simply because they can slap a burger on a bun alongside a Budweiser (fast-food restaurants don’t sell alcoholic beverages) and a mound of fat French fries on a funky platter and people will pay for the “experience.” Hard to say. So, after visiting the drive-thrus and lobbies at Mickey D’s, BK, Wendy’s and Runza too many times to count in my relatively young life, I chose to instead pay a visit to each of these Omaha burg-

14 B2B Omaha Winter 2010


er eateries to find out for myself just what makes these burgers “upscale” and if they are worth the extra cost. Red Robin Of the four burger-centric eateries, Red Robin definitely offers the most “upscale” experience. What does that mean, you might ask? You order at your table and the food is brought to you, prepared to your specifications. You can choose whatever toppings you want on your burgers, and there are many different styles and flavors from which to choose, including turkey and chicken burgers (as well as other non-burger entrees). In addition to burgers, Red Robin offers appetizers like towering onion rings and creamy artichoke and spinach dip, wraps, sandwiches and soups, and even a kid’s menu featuring corn dogs and pizza. The restaurant has TVs and comfortable seating along with friendly wait staff. But is that enough of an “experience” to be able to warrant charging upwards of $8 for a burger? Sure, you can order it how you like it (I prefer medium well), but I’m pretty sure you’re paying for more than the meat when you order a $10 Monster Burger, even though it has two huge beef patties (according to the menu description). Fuddruckers In the mood for a salmon burger (yes, as in fish), or an ostrich burger (as in the long-legged bird), made to your satisfaction? At Fuddruckers, a longtime “upscale” staple in Omaha, you can order one of those or maybe a 1/3-, 1/2-, 2/3-, or even 1-pound burger along with a cold Budweiser (yes, they serve beer). Not only do the cashiers (not wait staff — you order at the counter) ask you how you’d like your burger cooked, but you also get to choose your cheese as well as side option (I recommend the sweet potato fries). Fuddruckers also offers a variety

of salads, including Taco and Napa Valley (which includes dried cranberries, apples and almonds), along with signature shakes that look like something from a 1950s malt shop. Of the four “upscale” burger restaurants, Fuddruckers is the only one which allows you to build your own burger from a selection of toppings available in the dining room. But what makes them worth forking over more than $10 (including drink and side)? Again, with a “bar” setting that includes sports on flat screen TVs, the

upscale part of these burgers (although they taste great) appears to lie in the extras. Smashburger I’m still trying to figure out why they’re called Smashburgers (oh, wait, they have a special Smashburger sauce — mystery solved), even though my burger was much flatter and leaner than what I had at Red Robin and Fuddruckers. More reasonably priced than its peers, Smashburger (1/3- and half-pound options) are made from Angus beef but are not cooked to your specifications (at least they don’t ask you when you order), although they are served on very tasty “artisan” butter toasted buns. Due to a small lobby and limited seating, Smashburger felt more like “fast food” than any of the other three “upscale” restaurants. Maybe it was just a very busy Friday night, but when patrons are forced to stand along the wall holding their food trays while waiting for an open booth or table, those of us

who were trying to enjoy our food (aside from very greasy fries) found it difficult. “Rushed” is the operative word, but it is a tasty burger. You’ll enjoy the aforementioned “secret” Smashburger sauce. It has a nice tang to it. Burger Star From its unique ordering system to orders racing along a wire connecting the front cashiers to the kitchen, eating at Burger Star is definitely an experience. When you first walk in, you mark your menu selections with pencil (but grab a table first — another small dining room) and then take it to the cashier. Your order is then sent flying across the restaurant (via the wire) to be cooked (not to your specifications) and then brought to your table. Also reasonably priced ($4.95 for a single 6 oz. Angus beef burger), Burger Star burgers are cooked through with your choice of toppings (which are sent with your burger — you check the ones you want on your menu). A fireplace in the center of the dining room creates a nice atmosphere on a cold afternoon as do the flat screen TVs, but overall, you are once again paying more for flair (you Office Space fans know what I’m talking about) than food (but you are getting a good deal here because the burgers are priced better). While the burgers might be a bit thicker, sometimes cooked to your specifications, and served in a “bar” setting (with beer as an option), my experience taught me that the true differentiation between upscale burgers and fast-food burgers is everything else you pay for. What I discovered, for the most part, is that when you subtract the gimmicky names, unique manners of ordering and receiving your food, toppings and “flair,” the bottom line to me, and probably a lot of people, is that a burger is a burger is a burger. Try them yourself if you haven’t and see if you agree with me. I’ll be interested to get your take. Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 15


STORY BY TONY ENDELMAN

PHOTO BY MINORWHITESTUDIOS.COM

Wild Goose Chase Collies find work clearing messy fowl

Menard with two of the Border Collies that make up his game-chasing team.

“I

t all started where I live, on Tiburon golf course,” remembers Yves Menard, known around Omaha as something of a restaurateur. Menard, an innovative food service consultant, owns two of Omaha’s most popular restaurants, Charlie’s on the Lake and Brewburgers. But, what he describes as having started on Tiburon Golf Course, is a far cry from the restaurant industry. Menard noticed that Canadian geese were damaging the landscape in his own backyard, and hatched the plan for his latest venture, Nebraska Goose Patrol. “I could see that the geese were becoming a big problem,” says Menard. “They were ruining the greens and leaving feces all over the fairways. So I started researching ways to get rid of them without breaking federal laws.” Eventually, Menard discovered that the most effective way to control Canadian geese is by using specially trained Border Collies to herd or haze the geese away. “I bought the herding dogs from a ranch in Kansas and a ranch in Oklahoma,” he explains. “Then I learned how to train these amazing animals. Each dog costs about $1,000, and training them takes a year.” Though Menard is undoubtedly the brains behind the operation, it’s his dogs that make up the Nebraska Goose Patrol. The Border Collies provide an environmentally safe, humane way of con-

16 B2B Omaha Winter 2010


trolling Canadian geese. Using these dogs to move geese from your property is legal eight months out of the year, and approved by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The Collies are both quiet and goose-friendly, but because their body language is similar to that of a predator, they scare the geese away naturally. With Nebraska Goose Patrol, Menard has found a solution to what is actually a fairly significant problem. Not only are there too many geese, but they flock to golf courses, public parks, school sports fields and other places that need to be closely maintained. Each adult goose produces 1 to 1 ½ pounds of droppings per day, which adds up to much more than a mess worth avoiding. Large quantities of goose droppings are detrimental to both grass and bodies of water. And, while grazing, an adult goose can destroy up to five square feet of grass each day. Border Collies have proven to be not just more effective, but far less harmful than traditional geese control methods. Canadian geese can become accustomed to pyrotechnics, fences, noisemakers, plastic swans, streamers, and chemicals. And, most of these methods are expensive for landowners, businesses, and homeowner associations. Moreover, chemicals can be extremely harmful to the environment or non-targeted species, and many are not biodegradable. Not to mention that most need frequent re-application. Thus far, Menard and the Nebraska Goose Patrol have cleared geese from both Tiburon Golf Course and the University of Nebraska at Omaha soccer fields. Menard also utilizes these spaces to train his dogs. “The dogs are nine and ten months old now,” says Menard, “and they’re in prime shape for cleaning both public and private properties. I truly love raising and training these animals, as well as using them to clear geese.” As long as Canadian geese continue to show up, you can be sure that Nebraska Goose Patrol will be on task. For more information, visit www.nebraskagoosepatrol.com

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feature

“We have a ‘Make a Difference’ culture at Embassy Suites and our associates are empowered to make decisions to deliver excellent customer service.”

18 B2B Omaha Winter 2010


Story by Elizabeth A. Elliott

Photo by minorwhitestudios.com

Susan Madsen: Bringing Midwestern hospitality to the masses

The

road traveled by Susan Madsen began in a motel in Avoca, Iowa, and continues today at the Embassy Suites in downtown Omaha, where she is general manager. Madsen knows a thing or two about hospitality. She’s spent much of her life learning the lessons of making people feel comfortable away from home. “My parents, Herb and Joyce Stearns, owned a small motel in Avoca, Iowa, where I grew up,” she said. “My sisters Kay and Linda and I worked there, checking in guests, cleaning rooms and doing the laundry. We literally grew up in the business. Because of that work experience early on, I realized this was a business suitable to my personality and goals.” Madsen has held various positions in the hotel business over the years. “I started working right out of high school and worked my way up through different departments and positions in the hotel business,” she said. “I started in human resources, and quickly realized that I loved the hotel business and always found the work to be very interesting and ever-changing.” During her 26-year tenure with Marriott International, she held various positions: Director of Services, Director of Human Resources, Area Director of Human Resources, and Resident Manager. She spent five years working at the Marriott Reservation Center in Omaha, and served as the general manager at the Kansas City Airport Marriott Hotel for a term as well. “I’ve had the opportunity to live and work [in Omaha], Minneapolis and Kansas City, and continue to find the Midwest the most hospitable part of the country,” she added. Madsen said there are many things that have surprised her in working in the hotel business, and that she enjoys her work every day. “You get to meet so many people from all over the world, both guests and associates,” she said. “When we exceed our guests’ expectation, whether it’s just a good night’s sleep or planning and hosting a wedding of their dreams, it’s very gratifying.” Despite the lagging economy, Embassy Suites has maintained a healthy business, Madsen said. “Although many hotels are experiencing a decline in occupancy and room rates, we’re fortunate to be in the Old Market and have close proximity to major businesses and the Qwest Center Omaha, so we’re keeping busy,” she said. The economic climate has mandated some changes at the hotel, though, including finding ways to do business more efficiently but without sacrificing customer service. “We still have to deliver the core pillars at Embassy Suites — two-room suites, complimentary manager’s reception and complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast — and are closely monitoring business conditions for the next

year,” she said. “Everyone is competing for the business and with so many choices in hotels, you really have to differentiate your product and service to secure new and repeat clientele.” Madsen finds joy in her work at Embassy Suites, and part of that lies in getting to know the associates who work at the hotel. “We have a ‘Make a Difference’ culture at Embassy Suites and our associates are empowered to make decisions to deliver excellent customer service, above and beyond,” said Madsen. “Celebrating success is important and we’re always looking for ways to motivate every associate!” She said she is surprised by some of the letters she receives about the excellent customer service at the hotel. “One associate baked cookies for a guest who was staying with us for several days, due to medical treatment in a local hospital. He was so appreciative of her thoughtfulness during his very difficult time in Omaha.” Madsen has had several encounters with celebrities at hotels over the years, though “most of the time, the famous guests like to keep a low profile and most check in under a different name.” Her most memorable encounter? Meeting Bill Cosby during his stay at the Omaha Marriott Hotel. “He actually came into the kitchen and wanted to make a sandwich, which he did, and went behind the bar and started making drinks for our guests,” she said. “That was really fun for everyone to see him as a ‘regular’ guy.” Madsen came to Omaha from Kansas City in January 2008. She lived in Embassy Suites for six months while her house was being sold, an experience she enjoyed very much. “I took the elevator home at the end of the day, and really enjoyed getting to know the Old Market and downtown area,” she said. Recently, she was excited by the opportunity to participate in the discussions on the master planning process of downtown Omaha’s growth and change. “It will be exciting to watch so many different areas of downtown being developed and improved,” she said. “We have such great dining, arts and entertainment in Omaha and we really need the Omaha citizens to take a ‘staycation’ locally.” “They may be surprised at all the options available right in our own back yard,” Madsen added. For those who want to take a ”staycation,” call Embassy Suites at 346-9000. Madsen is married with a young son, Alec, three grown children, Michelle, Erik and Aaron, and two grandchildren. In addition to work as general manager, Madsen is on the Metropolitan Hospitality Association Board, the Nebraska Hotel Motel Association Board, and is the President of Skal Omaha. Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 19


T H E K N O W - I T - A L L H A S B E E N T H E R E , D O N E T H AT .

Dateline Tripoli, Libya

I

’m in Libya working on a mid-9 figure contract. Not too bad for a Nebraska boy. While here, I have reaffirmed the thought that the best way to see ourselves is to ask others. So, I have spent some of my time here doing just that. From taxi drivers, to local billionaires, I have asked about America (Say U.S. here and nobody knows what you mean. We are known as Americans in North Africa). The consensus is clear: America is very well respected by people, rich and poor. It is all too often that we are critical of ourselves, and our country. It seems that all we read, hear and see is about how America is the cause of so many problems in the world. Not at all true, if you take the opportunity to talk candidly with people in their own element. I’ll give you a couple examples: 1) Four of us were driving through a small town southeast of Tripoli, looking for a shortcut to the north. We stopped in front of a police station to ask one of the officers out front having an animated conversation. One officer saunters over to our car and before we could ask directions he walks to each window and shakes our hands offering a greeting. It was then he enquired as to where we were from. Hearing that we were Americans, an ear-to-ear grin appeared. “America number one!” was his response. Then he took the time to describe the shortcut our driver knew of. I only wish we had listened to that officer because several miles along the shortcut we found ourselves in deep sand and had to dig, push and finally ask a farmer to tow our VW back to a firmer surface. 2) Again, we were driving to a very rural area on the Mediterranean coast to look at a 1,000-acre development site. Again, our driver took a shortcut across the sand to get to another road. And again, we were stuck. Stuck on soft sand that was just fertilized with a lot of goat droppings. Pushing the VW accomplished nothing. We needed to dig ourselves out. Fortunately the farmer who had owned the land for generations came to our rescue. The same farmer who the government told to leave his land so it could be developed. However, when the farmer learned that we were Americans who were looking at the land for development, he ordered his Somali laborer to help dig while we all pushed the car to the road. While his house was but a small hut, surrounded by his goatherd, he insisted that we stay and share his dinner. 20 B2B Omaha Winter 2010


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3) A couple nights ago, we were invited to dinner at what a Libyan family calls “their farm”: an estate on the Mediterranean coast, on the outskirts of Tripoli. The billionaire brothers, who own the farm, have built homes there to be their retreats from city life. At this dinner were friends from Italy, France and England, one from Canada, and a few Libyans. It wasn’t long before conversations turned to America. I was expecting to hear more of the same “blame America” stuff I am accustomed to hearing from the U.S. media. Instead, it was an insightful review of the qualities America has to offer. Qualities unique in the world. Each had great respect for the American attempts to better the world, despite the occasional missteps. The generosity of America, and Americans. 4) I have spent many hours with a wide range of government ministers. We discuss how Libya is half again bigger than Texas, with the population of Dallas/Fort Worth. How they have 2,000 km of unspoiled Mediterranean coast. How they have numerous ancient Greek and Roman cities, some of which have been rebuilt. The second largest Roman city after Rome is here (Leptis Magna). And the vast Sahara desert. Then the conversation comes around to the respect they have for America. Most of these ministers have graduate degrees from U.S. or U.K. universities. They are very well traveled and can even discuss favorite restaurants in particular U.S. cities. While political discussions are off-limits, it is easy to see how they respect America. They even discuss football and the Cornhuskers with a smile, regardless of who they support. When you are being battered by the domestic media about how the U.S. contributes to global warming, consumes 25 percent of the world’s resources, does too much here, or not enough there, take solace in the fact that if given the choice, most of the world would rather live in America. The land where anyone, regardless of their position in life, has the opportunity to advance to prominence. Isn’t it a shame that we Americans have to leave our country to find the great contributions we make to this world? How so much of the world wishes to emulate us, and just a few wish to eliminate us. Stand tall America, as we are the good guys.

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OMAHAprofile Kiewit Building Group is the commercial building group of Kiewit Corporation. They take a clientcentered approach to interactions with clients and design partners. Their local and regional network of offices affords them the community involvement of a local contractor while offering the services and resources of a nationally recognized company. They provide pre-construction, construction and postconstruction services using state-of-the-art tools, providing benefits and adding value for their clients and design partners. Kiewit Building Group is deeply committed to the success of their clients.

Bellevue Medical Center Pursuing LEED Gold Certification

As a founding member of the Flatwater Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, they strive to use innovation and green building practices to produce buildings that are healthier places to work, sustainable and profitable. By using sustainable construction practices, these buildings will provide immediate and long-term economic benefits for their owners. Green building is smart building, resulting in cost savings through reduced energy and water consumption and ultimately saving their owners money in the long run.

National Park Service Registered LEED Gold

Buildings that meet criteria put forth by the U.S. Green Building Council can become LEED Certified. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing highperformance, sustainable buildings. LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality. Kiewit Building Group currently has over 100 LEED Accredited Professionals within their organization. This certification distinguishes building professionals that have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building techniques, the LEED Green Building Rating System, and the certification process. “Building green means developing and implementing cost-effective, sustainable solutions with our clients that add a real value to their project. These solutions transcend our pre-construction, construction and post-construction practices in order to maximize the benefits for our client. We don’t consider a project a success unless our client is successful.” Joe Lempka, President of Kiewit Building Group.

Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education Registered LEED Certified

3921 Mason Street Omaha, NE 68105 (402) 977-4500 Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 23


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OMAHAprofile

Restaurateur Joe Nelson, General Manager of 801 Chophouse at the Paxton in the Old Market, has a unique perspective on grumpy customers: he sees them as the ultimate service challenge. He instructs his staff – a group of full-time professionals Joe says is like an extended family — to make it their special mission to help those diners who “may be having a bad day and feel there is no way in the world anyone can do anything right” turn their day around. “We always provide service that goes above and beyond, to everyone…Even when your mind is telling you to be rude right back to a guest, [our staff ] works to eventually win them over.” Case in point: “One of those bad-day guests became irate at the fact that his hash browns came to the table three minutes after the entrees,” Joe said. “Although inexcusable by our standards, this guest took his self-admitted bad-day frustration out on the server and general manager in an extreme way…a way that the entire restaurant knew.” “At the end of the meal, the manager brought over a complimentary bottle of Louis Roderer Cristal Champagne and said ‘Please allow us to show you all what service at 801 Chophouse at the Paxton is really like.’ They stayed another two hours, ordered our signature Grand Marnier Souffle dessert, and left with that feeling of a great experience.” A fine dining establishment modeled after a 1920s era New York chophouse, 801 Chophouse serves only USDA prime beef and provides the most attentive, detail-oriented white tablecloth dining service in the area. The restaurant accommodates a wide range of guests, from business travelers to theater-goers to “the person that just wants a one-of-a-kind dining experience once in a while.” 801 Chophouse at the Paxton has a sister restaurant in Des Moines by the same name, which has survived the finicky restaurant industry for 16 years. That name recognition and reputation for quality has “certainly helps with the businesses or even casual travelers,” Joe said. Establishing 801 Chophouse’s reputation as THE place for a great dining experience and making it a restaurant Omahans can be proud of are Joe’s primary goals. Not being tied to a corporate entity has been a plus. “We provide customized service that is not dictated by a corporate office in a completely different part of the county. This allows us the freedom to really meet and exceed our guests’ 24 B2B Omaha Winter 2010

1403 Farnam St Omaha, NE 68102 (402) 341-1222


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OMAHAprofile Kent Carlson says his job, and the No. 1 goal of his company, Advantage Coupons, is to help his clients grow their business through successful, “great-value” advertising. And just how has the direct mail coupon book business been able to accomplish that for 16 years? “Because of our brand awareness, our reputation, our pricing and the upgraded look of our booklets,” said Carlson. “We provide a costeffective way to get client ads into targeted homes and to get their ad looked at, which is the basic fundamental of advertising – get it looked at! “Our focus is on helping them and not on selling ads!” Advantage Coupons offers it advertisers many great options and features, including targeted mailing to specific markets, outstanding shelf life of its coupon books, variety of advertising, and affordable coupon pricing — as low as two cents per household. “Additionally, we have the outside cover ad slots [on the booklets] which provide great billboard-type visibility,” Carlson said. Carlson, who had a diverse career in the communications business with NW Bell/US West where he progressed to General Manager of a 14-state operation, and a partner at that time, started the direct mail company in Omaha in 1994. “Because we grew up out of the loose coupons business, we wanted a direct mail piece that did not have to be opened, would eliminate the selection process of putting ads into ‘keep’ and ‘don’t keep’ piles, and be kept. So we created the booklet format,” Carlson explained. The booklet format proved very successful and popular with merchants. Today, the company publishes and mails coupon booklets quarterly to 420,000 households in 21 mailing zones of 20,000 households each. To date, Advantage Coupons has mailed over 16 million booklets, and the brand, Advantage Coupons, is very well known in the markets of Omaha, Council Bluffs, Lincoln, Fremont; and in 2009, Des Moines. Though the Internet and other media have had an impact on the direct mail industry in recent years, technology has also made highquality print advertising more affordable. “A year ago, I significantly upgraded our booklets to be produced on slick paper, and 100 percent four-color, to which the client response and feedback has just been outstanding.” Kent and his wife, Donna, and three daughters moved here over 27 years ago. One of the things Carlson is most proud of is the fact that Advantage Coupons is truly a “Buy the Big O” direct mail option. “One hundred percent of our business is done right here. Obviously our sales efforts, but also all of the graphic design, the mail house work, and all of the printing and booklet production,” he said. He’s also proud of his ownership of a well-respected company. “From the first day, I wanted us to be a business that truly does focus on the needs of our clients, and not have it be just rhetoric, and to develop a reputation of being an outstanding ethical company, that does what it says!”

Kent Carlson

5919 S. 118th Circle, Ste. 200 Omaha, NE 68137 www.advantagecoupons.com kent@advantagecoupons.com (402) 333-3550 (office) (402) 659-3701 (cell)

Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 25


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OMAHAprofile If you’ve ever moved, whether it be across town or across county, you know it takes a while to figure out where to go for your regular shopping, daily errands and personal and household services. Where is the closest DMV office? What is the best place to shop for meat? How can I find a good shoe repair shop? At Your Service Marketing helps you answer some of those questions. The welcome service (and so much more!) provides new residents with community information, business referrals and other helpful knowledge to make settling into a new home a little easier. “Once someone moves their residence, or begins the process, they need to find new services and businesses,” said owner Elizabeth Nelson. “A welcome service provides this information by selecting businesses who offer good quality merchandise and outstanding services. We make qualitative referrals, which are more reliable than just asking around.

Marketing, Inc.

“We soak up as much as we can [about our merchants] to make an informed referral. We try to be know-it-alls, without the ego.” At the same time, At Your Service provides valuable services to its contracted merchants, who receive new resident contact information and can then market themselves via print or electronic welcome packets to these new residents in a cost-effective way. Nelson said since its inception in 1991, At Your Service has seen dramatic change. “[It] began as a traditional welcome service, but has morphed into so much more.” Initially focused on Washington County, the company today serves six counties in Nebraska and Iowa. The use and accessibility of technology, particularly the Internet, has led the way for change as well. At Your Service jumped on the online bandwagon early, and with great success. Many of the challenges faced by the company in years past — new residents not being home during the day, “do not call” provisions on telemarketing, lack of manpower to make home visits — have been overcome thanks to use of the Internet, email and social networking sites. “[Technology] has made our service much more user-friendly, since many new movers contact us with follow up questions and requests for referrals via email,” Nelson said. “And we can tailor our service to the delivery method preferred by the new resident. If they want personal contact, or prefer something less direct, we have a product available.” At Your Service has also expanded their marketing offerings to merchants as well. Said Nelson: “Actually, there’s probably some element in our service package that can meet the need and budget of every consumer-focused business in the metro.” Nelson said the most fun aspect of her job is dealing with new residents who are excited about their new hometown. “I love to hear from newcomers who are eager to know all about the area. They are ready to soak up information and want to explore. The other day a newcomer asked where he could get fresh produce and we were delighted to direct him to www.welcome2town.com,, where there was a resource for that. And it’s extra special when we get a thank you phone call or email!”

26 B2B Omaha Winter 2010

Elizabeth Nelson (402) 533-2217 (office) (402) 51-4037 (cell)


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OMAHAprofile Bold Office Solutions prides itself on simplifying its customers’ operations by being the ultimate, one-stop shop for office furniture, installation, space planning and design, furniture and employee moves, warehousing and much more. The company’s end goal: To help it’s clients become more profitable by creating a more productive, healthier, and happier workplace for their employees! The furniture retailer offers a unique blend of products for all its customers’ office interior needs, including: cubicles and system solutions; desks and conferencing tables; filing and storage systems; seating; and specialty products. But Bold Office Solutions is much more than a retailer, said Jay D. Bolding, who founded the company in January 2009. “We’re not just interested in selling product and then outsourcing it to someone else who will deliver it, and install it,” Bolding said. “We want to provide our customers with a professional experience from planning, design, purchase, move and installation.” The service aspect of each job is handled by Office Furniture Installers, a “companion” company founded in 1993, which Bolding acquired in March 2007. OFI staffs full-time professionals who specialize in office furniture installation, furniture and employee relocation, product warehousing, and facility management.

Jay D. Bolding

OFI was recognized for outstanding customer service by winning Best of B2B awards in both 2009 and 2008. That recognition helped Bold Office Solutions garner the only Kimball Office Select Dealership in the Omaha and Lincoln markets in 2009. Kimball Office, a division of Kimball International, is a diversified manufacturing company that is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of office furniture. Bolding said Bold Office Solutions and OFI employees follow a set of core values, which dictate how to approach each customer and every job: Treat every customer with respect; Take responsibility; Be honest and dependable; Be accountable; Give excellent customer service; Choose a positive attitude; and Give back to the community. It’s those values — along with an ear for listening to the customers’ needs — that have earned the company such faithful customers, and allowed it to see rapid growth and market expansion, he said. Bolding said he appreciates the caliber of people he works with here in the Heartland, and is glad to be headquartered in the Big O. “The business opportunities in Omaha are endless, and the people we deal with are genuinely interested in working with professionals. They’re loyal and appreciate the hard work and diligence to detail it takes to make sure every furniture install or move is successful.”

BOLD Office Solutions 7013 DODGE STREET OMAHA, NE 68132 www.boldofficesolutions.com (402) 934-6644 Office Furniture Installers 3167 Spaulding St. Omaha, NE 68111 www.ofi-usa.com (402) 451-8009

Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 27


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OMAHAprofile Warm, inviting, comfortable. That’s the atmosphere Crowne Plaza Omaha strives to create for each and every guest through its doors, from singles to families, wedding parties to business travelers. It’s obvious — from the traditional lobby and room décor which includes polished marble floors, rich dark wood and crisp, quality linens, to the personable, attentive customer service — the full-service hotel in Omaha’s Old Mill area makes making guests feel “well taken care of” its top priority. Sarah Becker, Crowne Plaza Omaha’s Director of Sales, said the hotel extends that same philosophy to the many large groups it hosts each year. With over 11,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, a full-service business center, and ergonomic Herman Miller Caper chairs for its meeting guests, the hotel is a popular venue for corporate events in Omaha. “We also have an experienced Social Catering and Event Manager that specializes in helping to organize once-in-a- lifetime events, such as weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs,” Becker said. “In a fast-paced world where communication tends to be automated and sterile, we take pride in always delivering that all-so-missed human touch that gave hospitality its name.” Part of IHG Hotels, the world’s largest hotel group with 620,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries, Crowne Plaza is one of several quality chains owned by the international hotel conglomerate. Crowne Plaza Omaha offers 223 spacious guestrooms, each with high-speed Internet access and many amenities. The hotel also boasts a fine dining restaurant, a cardiovascular fitness facility, and an indoor, lap-size swimming pool and atrium. In an extremely competitive hotel market, Becker said Crowne Plaza Omaha is always working to further improve their guest services and upgrade their atmosphere. Two examples: The hotel uses a Meeting Satisfaction Tracking System, which allows meeting planners to rate all aspects of their Crowne Plaza meeting experience. This feedback is used to improve future experiences. In addition, Crowne Plaza Omaha has begun interior decor renovations that will be completed by March 2010, with many new updates such as new carpeting, lobby furnishings and new heating/AC units in guest rooms. Said Becker: “[The renovations] will make the hotel even more comfortable and appealing to the leisure and business traveler.” Becker, who formerly worked as an executive meeting planner, professional vocalist and radio personality, said she’s enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many interesting people through her work in hotel sales. “My previous experience…has helped me develop the people-networking skills needed to be successful in this industry.”

28 B2B Omaha Winter 2010

Sarah Becker, Director of Sales

Crowne Plaza Old Mill 655 North 108th Ave. Omaha NE 68154 (402) 496-0850


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OMAHAprofile

Hiro Sushi Japanese Cuisine

If you’re a sushi fan, you’re probably already “a regular” of HIRO Sushi, a modern Asian-fusion restaurant at 129th & West Maple Road in Eagle Run Plaza. “Our sushi is considered some of the best in town, and our service always gets amazing ratings,” said owner Milton Yin, who opened the restaurant in 2002. All types frequent the west Omaha establishment, which serves both Japanese and Chinese cuisine: lunchtime sees a mix of the corporate crowd and families; happy hour brings in the hip and college crowd; and dinner attracts a bit more upscale customer. “We try and make our food accessible to everyone,” he said. For Yin, owning his own restaurant is a dream come true; one he began fantasizing about when he was just a kid. He learned the business young, while working at his brother’s restaurant, Imperial Palace — an Omaha landmark in the Old Mill area. “I honed my skills at Imperial Palace, and cooked in both the main locations and the IP Express when it first opened.” He also worked virtually every position — bus boy to cook to host to dishwasher — which he says has given him a true understanding of the challenges each job offers. Because of this experience, “I think that when I make a decision, it is an informed one and one that my employees respect.” That might explain HIRO Sushi’s virtually non-existent turnover – an anomaly in the restaurant business. “We really have a great crew here, and I think that shows in their performance as servers,” Yin added. With its customer base growing, HIRO is branching out into the downtown market. Yin plans to add an Old Market location within the next few months. “[A downtown store] will capture a lot of the business that we miss during large events at the Qwest Center. In addition, we expect our lunch business to be busier with all of the businesses that are headquartered in the Old Market. “We are serving a large market, and there is definitely room for us to grow.”

Current Location: Hiro Sushi 3655 N 129th Street (Eagle Run Plaza) (402) 933-0091

New Location: Opening Late January Hiro 88 1308 Jackson Street (402) 933-5168 Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 29


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OMAHAprofile Jim Nelson life’s work is helping people craft their message and bring it to life through multimedia. For him, it’s a passion, and he’s energized by the growing opportunities via the Internet and cable television to create and reach out to the public. Nelson’s company, Jim Nelson Media Services founded in 2001, serves businesses, consumers, government agencies and nonprofits, helping them produce a variety of media messages, among them: infomericals, howto videos, marketing/promotional materials, public service announcements, documentaries, video scrapbooks, trade show videos and others. His firm provides the video services, still photography, website development and print services needed for the creation of those materials. A University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate, Nelson has worked in television and video production for more than 30 years, most of it in Omaha. “I stayed in the industry in 1977 working part-time at KOWH, Omaha’s first black radio station, doing sales and production,” he said. He went on to work in television at WOWT, then KETV and eventually KMTV, where he spent the majority of his TV career. During those years, he honed his directing and producing skills while making documentaries, commercials, directing newscasts and hosting a weekly talk show for 10 years called “Common Ground.” Nelson said his extensive work history and his creative openness are his greatest assets. “The biggest difference my company brings is me, and my experience and willingness to grow,” he said. “I don’t know it all but I’m willing to learn and when I work with a client, we both become assets that bring value to our bottom lines.” In addition to growing his business, Nelson hopes to pass on his skills and talent to young people in Omaha through Sable Accent Media Experience, a nonprofit arm of his production company. Sable provides media production classes through its “Video Kool Skool,” which “offers hands-on classes to help students get the right foundation for employment in the field.” Nelson said he is happy to be doing business in Omaha, as he believes “there’s a pioneer spirit of ‘Life is what you make it here, with hard work and determination, you can make it.’ I’m discovering that folks in Omaha are open to whatever you offer when you keep it real. “After I graduated from UNO, I left and returned and left and returned again, and have been here ever since, vowing never to leave. Now, Metropolitan Community College made me an adjunct professor teaching Video Production at my studio beginning the 2009 winter session.”

Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson Media Services, Inc. Omaha, NE 68110 www.jimnelsonmedia.com (402) 614-8202

Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 31


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When you’re out tooling around the metro most days, you’re likely to run across an Omaha Carry Out vehicle, delivering tasty treats to hungry Omahans too busy to venture out. The locally owned and operated company delivers freshly prepared meals from many of the area’s most popular restaurants – China Buffet & Mongolian Grill, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Newman’s Pasta & Café, to name a few — to business offices, medical facilities, homes, hotels, or, according to its website, “wherever you are when hunger hits you.” Omaha Carry Out was founded in 2008 as a division of HotShot Deliveries. “The expansion into food delivery was part of an aggressive growth strategy that continues in 2010, as additional services are introduced and new restaurant partners are being added each week,” said president and CEO Jake Hillwick. Beth Barry, chief sales officer for Omaha Carry Out, is aiding that expansion effort. Today, Omaha Carry Out is the metro’s largest multi-restaurant delivery service, as well as one of the most efficient, thanks to the Internet. “Our investment in technology and online ordering capabilities offer our customers a convenient and efficient process to manage their meal planning needs, no matter how large or small the group,” said Hillwick. “In addition, repeat customers are rewarded by earning points that may be redeemed for gift cards at area retailers. The service has seen particular success serving business clients, who want an easy, hassle-free way to plan their next client meeting, training or party.” Omaha Carry Out’s strong relationships with its Omaha restaurant partners, as well as its commitment to setting the highest standards of customer service — carried out daily by its professional, uniformed delivery staff – bode well for the company’s continued success. And in true Husker fashion, CEO Hillwick uses a football analogy to describe his personal leadership style and the team structure for Omaha Carry Out: “I view myself as the head coach, with my vice presidents serving as assistant coaches. My dispatchers are quarterbacks that direct daily traffic, and my drivers are the ball carriers. The streets of Omaha are our playing field,” Hillwick said.

Jake Hillwick & Beth Barry

www.omahacarryout.com (402) 504-1100

Seems an appropriate analogy, since no doubt, Omaha Carry Out has made hundreds of visits to Husker tailgating and Superbowl parties. And like a good quarterback, they deliver! Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 33


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OMAHAprofile

“Now is a great time to be in the coupon book fundraising business as a Savings Sidekick dealer.” So says Jared Bakewell, founder and publisher of the coupon book, based here in Omaha. Savings Sidekick produces local editions of coupon books sold by local schools, youth sports teams, church groups and other nonprofits as an easy, fast, and profitable fundraiser. The books are filled with valuable discounts at local retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues and other merchants on goods and services. “Tough economic times mean that demand for our money-saving product goes up from consumers,” Bakewell said. “Fundraising organizations need to raise money more than ever, and businesses are looking for inexpensive advertising which produces immediate, trackable results.” In 2009, Bakewell began offering Savings Sidekick dealerships to local business owners in other markets “so they can publish their own coupon book for their city,” he said. A second dealer in Little Rock, Ark., was added, and Bakewell expects explosive growth in the next few years. Bakewell describes himself as a “do-er.” An Omaha native, he attended Millard South High, where “I was involved in a lot of activities that often required fundraising, so I got a firsthand look at the fundraising products available.” He went on to UNL, and co-founded his own business, Deck Dr., a deck and fence restoration company. While still in school, he began developing the Savings Sidekick model, and within a year of graduation, sold the deck business to his partner and started the coupon book biz as Omaha Coupon Book in 2005. “I’ve tried to let the ancient Latin proverb ‘fortune favors the bold’ guide my business career. It means that luck is more likely to fall upon those that take action, and I’ve found it to be true most almost every time,” he explained. Omaha has been an excellent test market for Savings Sidekick, Bakewell said, as well as a great place to call its home base. “Top- level people are easily accessible in our city, and our central location will make distribution to our nationwide network of dealers cost-efficient. Personally, Omaha’s my home and I love it here. People are judged on their character and actions, not on the label on their clothes or hood ornament on their car. That’s been a real plus for me as a young entrepreneur.” He also appreciates that his line of work allows him to make a real difference in peoples’ lives. “The thing I like most is how Savings Sidekick and our customers all work together to support local schools, youth sports teams, church groups and other nonprofit organizations. The money raised from the sale of local coupon books goes to buy things that make our communities better.”

SavingsSidekick.com (888) 553-5459

Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 35


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36 B2B Omaha Winter 2010

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OMAHAprofile Locally owned and operated. It’s a business tagline you see less often these days, as more and more companies go global and online and outsourcing customer service becomes the norm. One long-time Omaha company that can still proudly make that claim is SolutionOne, which celebrates its 72nd anniversary this year. “With so many national companies offering more automated, less customer-focused service, I am proud to be one of the few remaining companies giving customers the benefits of local service, support, and more importantly, decisionmaking capabilities,” said Owner and President John Kuchta. Founded in 1937, SolutionOne sells and services document and content management software, multifunction equipment and network printers and scanners — tools which help its business clients scan, store, distribute, and archive information quickly and more cost-effectively. According to Kuchta, too many companies make initial buying decisions about business equipment based on the upfront costs. This is a mistake, he said. “While some companies make decisions based on price, most of our customers recognize that while there is someone out there than can do it for five percent less money, that decision would cost them more in the long run due to sub-par service and support, which leads to excess downtime, increased labor costs, and diminished morale. The majority of our customers have chosen us because of the level of service we provide them AFTER the sale.” One of SolutionOne’s most unique and popular services is its Managed Print Services program. Customers receive an inclusive program that provides hardware specifically chosen for their printing needs, supplies that arrive on time, proactive maintenance, and a lower predictable total cost. SolutionOne’s Managed Print Services is an integrated and sophisticated approach to managing all aspects of document output and simplifies the current management of those devices. The company offers several other services, including its Professional Services Group program, which provides customized document and content management software for customers. “Professionals spend 50 percent of their time looking for information but only 15 percent using the information once they’ve found it (Gartner Group). Through properly deployed middlewear and software solutions, we reduce that time considerably, which improves employee productivity and increases profitability,” said Vice President Shane Piper. SolutionOne’s commitment to excellence in customer service helped them earn the April 2009 Small Business of the Month by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. The award honors a business for its commitment to the community, superior service, and business growth. The company was also the recipient of the 2009 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award, which recognizes those companies which have demonstrated ethical business practices with key stakeholders, including customers, employees, and the community.

www.SolutionOneNow.com (402) 861-0861 Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 37


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OMAHAprofile If you have bills and earn a living but do not manage it well, it’s a good idea to seek help. Perhaps you know someone who needs financial counseling. Most individuals and families need assistance with their finances at some point, but don’t know where to turn. As a non-profit organization, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Nebraska (CCCSN) serves individuals from all walks of life. They provide budget counseling, housing counseling, debt counseling and pre-bankruptcy counseling. With 13 certified counselors and 14 customer service support representatives, CCCSN counsels more than 6,000 area residents each year and assists many to repay their creditors through its debt management program. “We are not the organizations that keep the first month’s debt management payment for themselves or charge high fees. Our counseling sessions are free and comprehensive with certified counselors,” said CCCSN President Donald Leu. “For those who enter our debt management repayment program, a modest fee of $25 per month is requested to help defray the costs of the program,” she said. CCCSN continues to offer free debt counseling to the consumer despite the fact that creditors continue to reduce their funding of debt counseling organizations. “I have learned that operating a non-profit organization can be extremely rewarding. There is not a lot of applause from those you assisted, but there is great satisfaction in knowing that you and your team helped in making a positive difference in people’s lives,” said Leu. Leu, a lifelong resident of Omaha, earned his bachelors and masters degrees from University of Nebraska at Omaha. He wanted to help people and thought CCCSN would be a good place to start in his business career. After 28 years, he’s still guiding the company. “It is fulfilling to know you are making a difference in a person’s life,” said Leu. CCCSN began in 1976 with one office in Omaha. It now serves the whole state of Nebraska and western Iowa with branches in Lincoln, Grand Island, North Platte, Norfolk, Council Bluffs and Des Moines, Iowa. CCCSN is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “We helped to set industry standards to protect the consumer. Working with our congressional members, we have helped to make a difference.” Said Leu. In addition, Leu has served on many boards, including: The Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, served as Chairman of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and was Chairman of the Society of Certified Credit Executives. Leu’s staff works hard to make sure the environment is private for the counseling sessions, whether in person or over the phone. “The atmosphere is like a family and we are genuinely interested in your well-being,” he said. Leu added, “Our customer service and dedicated employees make the difference for the consumer who is in a tough financial situation or is facing a homeownership crisis. We are your community friend in the credit counseling business.” L-R: Cindy Pierce, Don Leu, Sharon Taubert

www.cccsn.org (402) 333-2227 Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 39


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OMAHAprofile

“Twenty years and still going strong,” is how founder/owner Jim Paulison describes his business, Best Buy Signs, a full-service, licensed and bonded sign company based in Omaha. Best Buy specializes in small- to medium-size sign projects, including all types of commercial signs, as well as flags and flagpoles and trade show displays. A look at the gallery of customers’ signs on its website at www.bestbuysigns.com serves as a “Who’s Who” of Omaha and Lincoln. Many of us pass by these works of commercial sign art every day: Charlie’s Seafood/ Grill, Lund Company, Pamida, Omaha Magazine…. “Nothing speaks better for us than our previous work,” the website boasts. The signs vary from high-grade, interior-lit aluminum signs for outdoors, to channel letters for interior signage, to colorful decals and vinyl banners, to neon signs and illuminated trade show fold-outs. Best Buy Signs recently was awarded an exclusive, multi-year contract to sell all the advertising on all City of Omaha bus benches. It also has an extensive USA flag department, which offers free delivery, free installation and free proper disposal of old flags, while guaranteeing the best prices on replacement USA flags of all sizes. College flags as well as flagpoles are also available for sale and installation. Owner Paulison grew up in Omaha, and credits his customers here for helping grow his sign company, long before the Internet and websites came along. “People here are terrific. The amount of business we do just from word of mouth [from customers] is huge.” The attributes he most admires in people? Midwestern values and honesty, which are abundant in Omaha. Paulison said although Best Buy Signs remains an independent business (not a franchise), just as it was in 1989, the business has changed considerably in the past decade. “Ten years ago, most of our fabrication was done in-house,” he said. “Now, we have dealer agreements with top producers across the nation. Those dealer partnerships allow us to offer products that are less expensive for our clients, and reduce our turn-around time. Our lead-time for our products is in many cases much faster than that of our competition. “Still, our products are always premium quality.”

40 B2B Omaha Winter 2010

17410 Storage Road, Ste. A Omaha, NE 68136 www.BestBuySigns.net (402) 861-0384


The Best of B2B Omaha celebrates businesses that help other businesses keep the Big O’s economy rolling! Vote for those vendors you call time and time again. The results are anxiously awaited and celebrated the entire year. The results will be published in the Spring 2010 issue. On the stands and in your hands on March 1! Only the ballot printed in this Winter 2010 issue will be accepted. Minimum of 15 catagories must be filled out. We will not accept copies or faxes. Ballots must be postmarked by January 29, 2010. Please mail your entries to:

Goracke & Associates, CPA, 12110 Port Grace Blvd., Suite 200, La Vista, NE 68128

Omaha’s Business to Business Magazine

Professional Services

Burglar Alarms & Monitoring

Accounting Office

Carpet & Rug Cleaning

Advertising Agency

Electrical Service

Employee Benefit Company

Fence Company

Employment Agency

Fire Alarm Company

Engineering Firm

Garbage Collection

Financial Planning Firm

General Contractor

Insurance Agency

Glass/Window/Door Company

Law Firm

Heating/AC Service

Public Relations Firm

Janitorial Service Landscape/Lawn Contractor

Building Services

Locksmith

Asphalt Company

Moving Company

Awning/Canopy Company

Office Furniture

Building Contractor

Painting Contractor Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 41


Pest Control Company

Florist

Picture Framing

Golf Course

Plumbing Company

Hotel

Property Management

Limousine Service

Real Estate – Commercial

Live Entertainment

Roofing Company

Party Planning Service

Security Equipment/Systems

Rental Service Store

Security Guard Service

Travel Agency

Sign Company Snow Removal Service

Business Services

Towing Company

Advertising Specialties

Vending Machines

Auto Repair Service

Window Cleaning

Background Screening Service Business Appraiser/Broker

Financial Services

Business Forms & Systems

Auto Leasing Company

Cellular Service

Bank

Computer Service

Credit Card Merchant Processing

Copier & Supplies Company

Payroll Service

Delivery Service Internet Provider

Food Services

Mailing Lists

Banquet Facility

Mailing Service

Caterer

Office Records Storage and Destruction

Coffee Service

Office Supplies

Restaurant – Business Breakfast

Photographer

Restaurant – Business Lunch

Printer

Restaurant – Business Dinner

Screen Printing Uniform Supply

Travel & Event Planning

Video Production Company

Airline

Water – Bottled

Auctioneer

Website Developer

Audio-Visual Service

Voter Signature: ________________________________________________________________________________ Date: _________/_________/_________ 42 B2B Omaha Winter 2010


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business ethics B Y B E V E R LY J . K R A C H E R , P H . D.

What Should You Do? You

are a plant manager. One morning, your CEO gives you some confidential information that your plant will close in four weeks. You will be responsible for the closing process including employee paperwork, etc. Your CEO stresses that you should not tell anyone about this until they make an official announcement. That afternoon, your best friend at the plant comes to you and tells you he is going to put a down payment on a new house that evening. Do you tell your friend that the plant is about to close and he will be unemployed? Or do you let him move ahead with his plans? The Omaha Business Ethics Alliance has multiple networking luncheons throughout the year. At our last luncheon we discussed five business ethics cases, including the previous one. The discussion that took place was like a textbook … I was at a table where a couple of women were adamant that the right thing to do is to tell the best friend that he will lose his job. “Nothing is more important than a friend,” they said. Others at the table agreed that loyalty to your friend is a virtue. But this case is not clear-cut. There is a moral dilemma here – a choice between a right and a right. You should be loyal to your friend but you also should be loyal to your firm. Which has priority? At another table, HR and PR professionals focused on their obligation to the firm. One stood up and said, “We are in these kinds of situations every day. It is not easy, but you have a duty to keep quiet. You cannot say anything to your best friend.” As plant manager, you have accepted a duty to follow rules, keep a confidence, and do what is best for your company. Someone at my table stood up to explain how she could keep the confidence but also help her friend. “I’ll say to my friend,” she said, “There are a lot of things going on at the company right now….[wink, wink]… ..I’m not at liberty to say, but it’s worth thinking about how strong the company is right now…[wink, wink]...” Several participants liked this idea of “going between the horns of the dilemma” to find some creative way to 44 B2B Omaha Winter 2010

fulfill both loyalties. Instead of the winking tactic they suggested asking your friend a set of questions that do not betray your confidence. “Is this really the best time to buy a home? How do you think the company is doing in this recession?” Others recommended going back to the CEO, telling him or her about your best friend, and asking what you should do. The hope, of course, is that the CEO would see the extenuating circumstances and say, “Go ahead. Tell your friend. But don’t tell anyone else.” Hmm…..how likely is this? So, what to do? Matt Ellis, facilitator of the luncheon program, helped us work through the alternatives. He provided a set of questions that Woodmen of the World recommends employees think about when confronted with a moral dilemma. One of the questions is: Could you disclose, without qualm, your decision or action to your boss, your CEO, the board of directors, your family, or society as a whole?” This question is the ol’ tried-and-true public test. It’s powerful. When I pictured my CEO sitting next to me when I talk to my best friend, I knew that I couldn’t just come straight out and tell my best friend about the plant closing, nor could I “wink, wink” to him. The thought that firmly came to mind when I pictured my CEO was, “This information is not mine – so it is not mine to give out.” I found myself siding with the HR and PR professionals and then wondering if my CEO would be proud of me, or not, if I used the creative questioning strategy. By the end of the discussion, I knew what I should not do. I also knew what I would not do and what I would try to do. How about you? Where do your loyalties lie, and why? Access omahaethicsalliance.org for further information about our networking luncheons. Beverly Kracher, Ph.D. Executive Director, Business Ethics Alliance Associate Professor of Business Ethics & Society College of Business Creighton University


Service comes first at Otis. To us, that means developing new products that meet our customers’ needs and challenges; providing reliable maintenance; and modernizing systems to keep pace with a building’s changing face and function. In all areas of service, Otis is committed to inspiring total customer confidence.

Our technicians are trained to service all makes of elevators. Give me a call, and let me give you a quote. Let me earn your trust and business. Otis Elevator Company

5366 ‘F’ Street, Omaha, NE 68117 www.otis.com

Tori Lemke, Sr. Account Representative tori.lemke@otis.com (402) 733-4525, ext. 14

Do you have a story that you’d like to share? Let us know at: editor@omahapublications.com

DESIGN

DoeS eXPerIence MAKe A DIFFerence?

As the Director of Design, I manage our team of 8 design professionals. Throughout my 23 year career at All Makes, I have designed projects worldwide. All Makes’ design team has the area’s most experience in creating business interiors that are cost conscious, right for people and the environment. Experience... just one more reason to trust the experts at All Makes.

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Gretchen Golter, leeD AP Design Director NCIDQ Certified 23 Years Experience at All Makes

Winter 2010 B2B Omaha 45


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