B2B April/May 2022

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APRIL · MAY 2022 | U.S. $3.25

2022 Results

LEADING LADY ICAN’S NEW PRESIDENT/CEO

DECONSTRUCTING A PB&J SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

NEW AND IMPROVED HENRY DOORLY ZOO


Inspiring Possibilities

Discover what inspires you at allmakes.com and allsteeloffice.com Featured: Altitude A6, Fit™ Panel System & Radii™ ®

2022 Winner


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855.385.8527 | fostergrp.com/b2b PLEASE SEE IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION, ADVERTISING DISCLOSURE INFORMATION, AND THE LIMITATIONS OF ANY RANKING/RECOGNITIONS, at www.fostergrp.com/disclosures. A copy of our written disclosure Brochure as set forth on Part 2A of Form ADV is available at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. For specific details about the award, visit www.fostergrp.com/who-we-are/industry-recognition. Working with a highly-rated advisor does not ensure that a client or prospective client will experience a higher level of satisfaction or performance. This award should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor by any client.

2022 Winner


02 | B2B MAGAZINE

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2022

VOLUME 22

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ISSUE 2

FROM THE EDITOR

EXECUTIVE publisher Todd Lemke

CREATIVE creative director Matt Wieczorek

associate publisher Bill Sitzmann

senior graphic designer Derek Joy

EDITORIAL managing editor Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

graphic designer atlarge Mady Besch

associate editor Linda Persigehl

photographers Katie Anderson Keith Binder Scott Drickey Sarah Lemke

digital specialist/editorial assistant Julius Fredrick contributors David Brown Dwain Hebda Dawn Gonzales Jeff Lacey Lisa Lukecart Joel Stevens Wendy Townley Deborah Ward Mike Whye INFORMATION advertising information 402.884.2000 subscribe online omahamagazine.com/ pages/subscribe B2B Magazine is published six times annually by Omaha Magazine, LTD, P.O. Box 461208, Omaha NE 68046-1208. Telephone: 402.884.2000; fax 402.884.2001. 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.

SALES executive vice president sales & marketing Gil Cohen branding specialists Dawn Dennis George Idelman contributing branding specialists Greg Bruns Jillian Dunn Mary Hiatt Tim McCormack assistant to the publisher Sandy Matson senior sales coordinator Alicia Hollins sales coordinator Sandi McCormack OPERATIONS accounting/operations manager Kyle Fisher ad traffic manager David Trouba digital manager Megan Bartholomew distribution manager Damian Ingersoll

OMAHA’S ZOO, ALL-STAR ACCOUNTANTS, AND LEADING LADIES, THE BEST IS FOUND WITHIN THESE PAGES E

lephants are one of my favorite animals, so I enjoyed seeing the news in January, twice, that baby elephants were born at Henry Doorly Zoo. I was also a bit saddened by the news Feb. 14 that the man who helped envision the Suzanne and Walter Scott African Grasslands is retiring. Dennis Pate has done a spectacular job of filling the large hole left by Dr. Lee G. Simmons in 2009, but now it is time for another person to fill those shoes. Some of the many improvements to Omaha’s Zoo is the subject of our big feature this month.

Lindsay Corp. Senior VP and CFO Brian Ketcham and his family have been involved with the MakeA-Wish Foundation of Nebraska since 2008. They have specifically been involved in wish-granting, and Ketcham is on the board at the organization; in fact, he is set to become the board chairman. I also think Make-A-Wish is an incredible organization. The Omaha Volkwasgen Club, to which my husband and I belonged for many years, gave time and effort to Make-A-Wish. This came in the form of restoring a Volkswagen that the club then raffled at their annual car show. The proceeds from the raffle often resulted in a couple of thousand dollars.

The supply chain is causing headaches for many people, from CEOs trying to run their businesses to moms trying to make lunch for their kids. We checked in with a couple of local businesses to find out what the impact has been for them, and how they are managing it.

On the subject of cars, many auto enthusiasts bring their prized vehicles out of storage starting in spring, and real estate agent Nico Marasco is no exception. He has several vehicles in his collection, including a 2006 Ford Mustang GT and a 2000 Dodge Viper, but his heart lies with a 1994 Viper originally owned by his father, Ralph Marasco. This vehicle left the family for a while, but is back in Nico’s possession. How that came to be is the subject of our How I Roll.

Frank Hayes started as an accountant in his early 20s. In fact, he had not yet graduated from college when he passed the CPA exam, and by his late 20s, he opened a firm. This impressive man also helped start the organization 100 Black Men of Omaha, and still serves on boards of organizations he cares about, such as Great Plains Black History Museum. I am fond of the organization ICAN, and was pleased when I heard the name of the woman to succeed the amazing Susan Henricks. That leader, Aileen Warren, is familiar to many, especially those in human resources positions and on community boards. Warren has been president of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, on the Omaha Home for Boys Board Executive Committee, serves as president of the Omaha Downtown Rotary and is a member of the Urban League of Nebraska Guild. She will be a great leader for this organization that helps develop future leaders, and I am excited to see where she takes things.

These articles and more can be found in the second half of the book, because the front half is taken with our annual Best of B2B section. There, you will find the full list of winners, as well as sponsored profiles by businesses that want you to know more about their products and services. This edition is always one of my favorites, as it includes articles on some of the best business in the metro area. I hope you enjoy them all, and congratulations to the Best of B2B winners. B2B

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is the managing editor of Omaha Publications. She can be reached at daisy@omahapublications.com


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TABLE OF CONTENTS COVER

60

LEADING LADY ICAN PRESIDENT/CEO IS A FAMILIAR FACE

FEATURES

50

52

DECONSTRUCTING A PB&J SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

56

NEW AND IMPROVED HENRY DOORLY ZOO

A GUIDING LIGHT

FRANK HAYES INSPIRES

DEPARTMENTS

38 BIZ+GIVING

42 HOW I ROLL

46 ON THE RISE

40 AFTER HOURS

44 IN THE OFFICE

48 ROUNDTABLE

BRIAN KETCHAM

NEIL SANDHOEFNER

COLUMNS

NICO MARASCO

FARM CREDIT SERVICES OF AMERICA

RACQUEL HENDERSON

WHAT KEEPS CEOS UP AT NIGHT

SPECIAL SECTIONS

ABOUT THE COVER

APRIL · MAY 2022 | U.S. $3.25

02 FROM THE EDITOR OMAHA’S ALL-STARS

64 OMAHA CVB

2022 TRAVEL AND TOURISM

05 BEST OF B2B RESULTS

31 BEST OF B2B

SPONSORED PROFILES

2022 Results

LEADING LADY ICAN’S NEW PRESIDENT/CEO

DECONSTRUCTING A PB&J SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

NEW AND IMPROVED HENRY DOORLY ZOO

64 CHAMBER

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE THE BEST?

She can. Aileen Warren started as president and CEO of leadership organization ICAN in January 2022. This busy professional brings a plethora of experience with the organization, including being co-chair of their signature event, the ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference.


THANK YOU!

For giving us the opportunity to serve your Search, Staffing, and Consulting needs. Omaha’s business leaders chose Hemphill as Omaha’s Best Employment Firm in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022!

2022 Winner

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2014 Winner

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OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

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2022 Results This special edition of B2B showcases the best companies for business owners to work with, as chosen by the business community. The categories are tailored for businesses. In the Building Services category, readers can learn where other business owners go for electrical services, snow removal services, and more. The Business Services category features necessities such as office supplies and computer IT services. Financial Services lets readers know who other business owners like to use for payroll and investments. When a business needs to hire a social media consultant or an insurance company, owners can turn to the Professional Services category to see who other business owners voted as the best choices in Omaha. This might be a contest involving all work, but the Food Services category lets B2B owners know the best places to go for happy hour, while Travel & Event Planning reveals the best audio-visual services. The winners are all revealed within the next 22 pages.

AND THE WINNERS ARE…


The Sky’s the Limit! When it comes to your goals, that’s how we see it. We’re in business to grow your business. We start with your goals and apply smart marketing strategies to makes things happen. PR, or earned media, is a key channel we leverage to gain traction for your brand. We form relationships, implement big ideas and gather metrics to know what’s working.

We’re now in Blackstone Plaza and would love to give you a tour!

New home of Zaiss & Company

If you’re not experiencing these business-building results from PR, let’s talk. Honored to be named BEST PR FIRM

zaissco.com • 402-980-0296 • 3555 Farnam Street • Suite 103 • Omaha


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

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2022 Winner

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THE HONOR NEVER FEELS ANY LESS ELECTRIFYING.

BUILDING SERVICES Proud to be voted the Best of Omaha for 12 consecutive years. Humbled by those who made it possible.

AIR COMPRESSORS Ingersoll Rand H.G. Klug Sons, Inc.

CARPET & RUG CLEANING

2022 Winner

COIT Cleaning & Restoration Jones Services

COMMERCIAL INTERIOR DESIGN

millerelect.com

MIL-4015_BestB2B_v2.indd 1

1/28/22 1:09 PM

TACKarchitects LK Design

CONCRETE REPAIR/REPLACEMENT Thrasher Foundation Repair Aksarben Concrete 402.290.2016 gogreenpumice.com

ABE’S

DOOR COMPANY

TRASH SERVICE

Norm’s Door Service

Quality, Dependable Trash & Recycling Service

Omaha Door & Window

SALES • SERVICE • RENTALS For Over 60 Years

ELECTRICAL SERVICE Miller Electric Brase Electrical Contracting Corp.

ENVIRONMENTAL AIR CONTROL

COMMERCIAL

• Waste Disposal • Rear Load Containers • Front Load Containers • Recycling

Environmental Air Technology AMI Environmental

2022 Winner

CONSTRUCTION & CLEAN-UP

• Roll-Off Containers • C&D Landfill • C&D Recycling • Green Build Services

D ential umpst er sid s Re

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2022 First Place

2022 First Place

COMPACTORS

RESIDENTIAL

• Stationary Compactors • Self-Contained Compactors • Cardboard Compactors • Recycling • Compactor Maintenance Performed

• Dependable Weekly Trash Service • Trash Carts & Recycling Bins • Weekly Recycling • Weekly Yard Waste

Locally Owned and Operated 8123 Christensen Lane | 402-468-5434 | abestrash.com


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2022 Winner

3rd Generation Family-Owned Business

FENCE COMPANY American Fence Company OMARAIL 2022 Winner

FIRE PROTECTION Continental Fire Sprinkler Company General Fire & Safety

10 YEAR PARTS & LABOR WARRANTY ON NEW EQUIPMENT • 24 Hour Emergency Service

UP TO

$1000

off

A NEW SYSTEM (based on qualifying system)

No Commisions Earned by Our Techs=Fair Treatment to Our Customers

• 3rd Generation Family-Owned Business •

Residential & Commercial Contractor

402.391.2336 | soshvac.com | 8314 Maple St. Omaha, NE 68134

GARBAGE COLLECTION Abe’s Trash Service, Inc. 402.468.5434 abestrash.com

Waste Management

GENERAL CONTRACTOR Lueder Construction The Weitz Company 402.592.7000 weitz.com

HEATING/AC SERVICES SOS Heating & Cooling 402.391.2336 soshvac.com

A-1 United Heating, Air, & Electrical 402.593.7500 a1united.net

JANITORIAL SERVICES Jani King 402.932.0514 janiking.com

Sparkling Klean


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

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WE BUILD COMMUNITIES A BETTER WAY

www.weitz.com

MAY | 09


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VOLUME 22

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ISSUE 2

Thanks Omaha for over 45 Years!

2022 Winner

LANDSCAPE/LAWN CONTRACTOR Lanoha Nurseries Sun Valley Landscaping ®

LOCKSMITH Keymasters Locksmith

2022 Winner

Carl Jarl Locksmiths

OFFICE FURNITURE 402.399.9233 | WWW.SPARKLINGKLEAN.COM

All Makes BOLD Office Solutions

Thank You for voting OFI Best of B2B for Commercial Moving!

OFFICE SANITIZING City Wide Stratus Building Solutions

MOVING COMPANY Select Van & Storage Best of B2B 2008‐2013, 2017‐2021, & 2022!

2013 Chamber of Commerce Excellence Award Small Business of the Year Winner

www.ofi-usa.com | 3167 Spaulding Street | 402.451.8009

Call us Today!

Thank You, Omaha, for voting BOLD 8 years in a row!

402.935.3700 selectvan.com

Office Furniture Installers (OFI)

PAINTING CONTRACTOR Traco, Inc. Midwest Painters & Services

PARKING LOT MAINTENANCE Miktom Parking Lot Services Parking Area Maintenance, Inc.

www.boldofficesolutions.com | 4526 F Street | 402.934.6337


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

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CLEAN RESULTS.

2022 Winner

2022 Winner

For all of your facility cleaning needs, Jani-King’s trained and dedicated franchisees deliver beyond expectations. It’s all of the efforts behind the scenes that prepare you for success.

PEST CONTROL COMPANY ABC Termite & Pest Control Lien Termite & Pest Control 402.397.8884 lienpest.com

PROUD CLEANING PARTNER OF K-STATE’S WEST STADIUM CENTER

PICTURE FRAMING Michaels

PROUD CLEANING PARTNER OF SPORTING KANSAS CITY

OFFICIAL CORPORATE PARTNER OF KANSAS ATHLETICS

Call our local Jani-King office today and discover how our efforts help your business each and every day.

Lewis Art Gallery

402 . 932 .0514 • 5 8 8 5 S . 11 8 CI RCLE O MAHA , N E • JAN I KI N G .CO M

PLUMBING COMPANY Eyman Plumbing 402.731.2727 trusteyman.com

Backlund Plumbing

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT HA ’

2016 Winner

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Cushman & Wakefield | The Lund Company

2018 Winner

2021 Winner

2022 Winner

REAL ESTATE - COMMERCIAL CBRE Noddle Companies 402.496.1618 noddlecompanies.com

ROOFING COMPANY Ciaccio Roofing Corp 402.293.8707 nebraskabestroofne.com

D&M Roofing & Siding, Inc.

2019 WINNERS‘BEST ‘BESTOF OF B2B’ B2B’! !FOUR YEARS RUNNING! 2022 WINNERS SEVEN YEARS RUNNING!

OFFICE MOVING - DATA CENTERS - COMPUTER/SERVER MOVING - HEALTH CARE FACILITIES LIBRARY MOVING - PACKING SERVICES - RECYCLE/DISPOSAL - SPACE DECOMMISSION LONG DISTANCE LTL & TRUCK LOAD - FINAL MILE DELIVERY - LOGISTICS & WAREHOUSING 8006 J Street, Omaha, NE, 68127 selectvan.com - 402.935.3700


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VOLUME 22

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ISSUE 2

THANKS FOR VOTING US

BEST OF BRANDING

WE’RE HONORED

2022 Winner

Independently Owned and Operated / A Member of the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance

-SECRETPENGUIN Largest Durolast Contractor in Nebraska

C O R P

Flat Roof Specialists

Reroofs • Repair • Metal • Skylight 34 Years of Quality, Integrity and Service

Visit us online Ciaccioroofing.com or call 402.293.8707 for a FREE estimate!

2022 Winner

4420 Izard St • Omaha, NE

SECURITY SOLUTIONS

Thanks for voting us #1! 2022 Winner

WE

CREATE / REFINE

BRANDS SECRETPENGUIN.COM 402-637-1250


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

APRIL

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MAY | 13

THANK YOU FOR VOTING FOR US!

2022 Winner

2022 Winner ROOFING SPECIALIST

SECURITY EQUIPMENT/SYSTEMS SEi 402.333.3233 seisecurity.com

2021 Winner

2020 Winner

Licensed, Bonded, Insured & Locally Owned in Papillion, NE Insurance Claims Welcome • New Roof & Reroofs Roof Maintenance & Repair

Atronic Alarms, Inc.

SIGN COMPANY Renze Best Buy Signs

SNOW REMOVAL SERVICES A&P Construction 402.740.0800 apconstructomaha.com

Call us today! 402-740-0800 | apconstructomaha.com

AJ’s Landscaping

Parking Area PARKING AREAMaintenance, MAINTENANCE, INC.Inc.

TOWING COMPANY

Serving Omaha Since 1984

Neff Towing

We Cover it ALL for Your Parking Area Needs!

402.733.5500 nefftowing.com

Asphalt Paving • Sealcoating • Crack Sealing

724 Towing Service Omaha

Line Striping FREE Estimates

• •

402-496-3400 . PARKINGMAINTENANCEOMAHA.COM

402.572.6070

ontrol Serv ice st C Pe

2022 Winner

ontrol Serv ice st C Pe

ontrol Serv ice st C Pe

2022 Winner

Warranted Programs 2022 Winner

2021 Winner

PROFESSIONAL CONTROL OF:

SPIDERS . TERMITES . CRICKETS . SILVERFISH . ANTS BED BUGS . BEES . FLEAS . WASPS . RODENTS . ROACHES POWER SPRAYS . YARD SPRAYS . RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL RODENT CONTROL . MOSQUITOES AND MORE...

A Family Operated Business Since 1991 - Serving a 40 mile radius of Lincoln and Omaha!

8516 Maple St., Omaha, NE 68134 | ABCTermite -Pest.com | Lincoln 402.434.3290


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VOLUME 22

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ISSUE 2

M E RGE R S & ACQU ISI T IONS 2B

O MA H A ’

S

B

Selling Omaha Businesses using Ethics, Integrity and Confidentiality

2018 Winner

2021 Winner

2022 Winner

402.913.9080 | Resultsba.com 12020 Shamrock Plz. Suite 200 Omaha, NE 68154

Voted Best in Background & Drug Screening

WE ARE

COMPREHENSIVE CUSTOMIZABLE COMPLIANT 2022 Winner

onesourcebackground.com


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

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MAY | 15

2022 Winner

BUSINESS SERVICES

Serving the Great Customers of Omaha for 77 Years!

ADVERTISING SPECIALTIES Ideal Images Bergman

Thank You

AUTO GLASS

2022 Winner

Metro Glass Omaha Omaha Glass Pro

for Voting Us #1 for 11 Years!

Nefftowing.com | 402.733.5500 | 4315 South 50th Street

AUTO LEASING Doering Fleet Management Mike Albert Fleet Solutions

BACKGROUND & DRUG SCREENING SERVICES One Source Staff Mid-America

BUSINESS BROKER Result Business Advisors Sunbelt Business Brokers Nebraska

BUSINESS COACHING

We believe a company’s greatest asset is its employees. This family run business has been helping organizations with their employee benefit programs for over 35 years. Join our family and protect your greatest asset.

Vistage 402.659.3321 vistage.com

Revela

Contact us 866.289.1046 16820 Frances Street, Suite 202 Omaha, NE 68130 www.theolsongroup

2022 Winner


16 | B2B MAGAZINE

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2022

2022 Winner

VOLUME 22

Your workplace, working better

·

ISSUE 2

2022 Winner

BUSINESS FORMS & SYSTEMS Donis Corp. Standard Printing Co.

BUSINESS TELEPHONE SERVICES InTouch Communications

bbec.com | 402.537.8000

Omaha Communications

Fax – 402.537.4379 | 4125 S 94th Street, Omaha NE 68127 Offices in Lincoln & Pierce NE and Lawrence KS

COMPUTER IT SERVICES InfiNet ECS Technology Solutions

COMPUTER REPAIR Thompson PC Repair Special Touch Computer Repair

COPIER SERVICES All Makes Bishop Business

Voted Best IT Services

CORPORATE GIFTS Corporate Creations 402.596.0201 corporatecreations.net

Made in Omaha 2022 Winner

T H A N K YO U F O R YO U R V O T E S ! Outsource Your IT. Contact us Today!

CORPORATE JET SERVICES Jet Linx 402.422.0393 jetlinxomaha.com

NetJets 402.350.0372 | contact@ecs.rocks | www.ecs.rocks


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

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2022 Winner

COWORKING SPACE Modern Work Suites & Studios Enterprise Center of Omaha

DELIVERY SERVICES

MAY | 17

·

SECURE DATA DESTRUCTION COLLECTION EVENTS PICK UP SERVICES CLEAN OUT SERVICES

Capital Express R.J. Delivery, Inc.

DEALER-DELIVERY VEHICLES RDO Truck Centers

2020Winner

2022 inner

Woodhouse Ford

ELECTRONICS RECYCLING 2020 Winner

Sadoff Iron & Metal Company

2021 Winner

2022 Winner

402.345.6624 sadoff.com

Cross Electronic Recycling

GLASS COMPANY City Glass Company Quality Glass & Mirror

INTERNET PROVIDER Cox Communications

tracoinc.com 402.345.7213

Great Plains Communications 531.721.2670 gpcom.com

LABEL PRINTING Pro Label AmeriCAL

2022 Winner

COMMERCIAL PAINTING CONTRACTOR Painting • Wall Coverings • High Performance Coatings

CONSTRUCTION SERVICES DIVISION Remodeling • Additions • Renovation • Restoration


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VOLUME 22

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ISSUE 2

2022 Winner

MAILING LISTS nSightful 866.249.1977 nsightful.com

DatabaseUSA

MAILING SERVICES DBS Burke Digital Express

AUTO DETAILING Owner’s Pride t Year! 9 9 Straigh

Omaha Auto Detail

NETWORKING EVENT CRE Summit AIM Heartland Developers Conference

NETWORKING GROUP Heartland Women’s Network Millard Business Association

OFFICE SUPPLIES

2022 Winner

BEST OF OMAHA WINNER FROM 2018-2022

o Detailing Aut

Pay-LESS Office Products Office Depot OfficeMax

2022 Winner

Thank you Omaha for voting us Best Auto Detailing! ownerspride.com | 402.715.9749

PRINTER Firespring Elman Print


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2022 Winner

SALES TRAINING Sandler Training ProMax Training & Consulting

THIRD PARTY LOGISTICS Gratton Warehouse Nebraska Warehouse Company

TRUCK LEASING Truck Center Companies-Omaha

2022 Winner

At Lueder Construction, your vision for your project becomes our mission. You can count on us to transform your vision into a beautiful, functional, vital space. lueder.com | 402.339.1000

Penske Truck Rental-Omaha

THANK YOU for voting us BEST OF OMAHA!

WATER- BOTTLED Ideal Pure Water 402.392.2600 idealpurewater.com

2022 Winner

Clean Water Guys 402.330.6440 cleanwaterguys.com

WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTION Nebraska Cash & Carry Wholesale Co.

Commercial | Residential | Remodels New Homes | Apartments | and More Monday—Thursday | 8am – 5pm Friday | 8am – 3:30pm 14242 C Circle Omaha, NE 68144

Glass & Mirr or me s Ho

Visit our showroom | qualityglassomaha.com | 402.339.3737

Mid USA Wholesale

WEBSITE DEVELOPER JM Online little guy branding

WEBSITE HOSTING Websnoogie, LLC 402.813.4034 websnoogie.com

Flywheel

A L W A Y S L O C A L, A L W A Y S B E A U T I F U L. Included with an Omaha Magazine Subscription— OmahaMagazine.com/pages/Subscribe


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VOLUME 22

2022 Winner

Omaha’s No. 1 printer—and so much more. Award-winning print is just the tip of the iceberg at Firespring, where we help businesses with every aspect of their marketing.

Let’s start something amazing. Claim your 22% off your print, design or mailing services* at firespring.com/b2b. *New clients, this is exclusive to you!

Thank you Omaha Thank you for recognizing ACCESSbank as one of the Best Bank’s in Omaha for the 9th year in a row. — To help you reach your goals, for your business and for your life. Connect with us today!

ACCESSbank.com

2022 Winner

·

Marketing Printing Websites Strategic Guidance

ISSUE 2


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2022 Winner

FINANCIAL SERVICES BANK FNBO ACCESSBank

CREDIT CARD MERCHANT American Payment Systems Heartland Payment Systems

INVESTMENT COMPANY Foster Group

HONORED TO SUPPORT BUSINESS, BIG AND SMALL. At FNBO, we’re here for your business. Thank you to our customers for naming us a B2B Best Bank. It’s an honor to be recognized for our dedication, integrity, and service by the businesses we proudly support. It’s what you can expect from the great big, small bank.

855.385.8527 fostergrp.com/b2b

Bridges Trust

CREDIT UNION Centris Federal Credit Union 402.334.7000 centrisfcu.org

Veridian Credit Union

PAYROLL SERVICES ADP Ideal Payroll Services

Member FDIC

• Guaranteed Lower Fees

• Guaranteed Lower Fees • Guaranteed Lower Fees • Low-cost Terminals & • Low-cost Terminals & • Low-cost Terminals & • Guaranteed Lower Fees Point of Sale Point of Sale Systems Point of Systems Sale Systems • Guaranteed Lower Fees • Low-cost Terminals & • Guaranteed Lower Fees • Top-rated Customer Service • Top-rated Customer Point of Sale Systems •Service Low-costService Terminals & • Top-rated Customer • •Guaranteed Lower Fees Low-cost & • Gift & Loyalty Card •Programs Point of Terminals Sale Systems • Gift & Loyalty Card Programs Top-rated Customer Service

• Low-cost & Point of Terminals Sale Systems • Gift &theLoyalty Card Programs (Including PinPointPoint Card Program) • Top-rated Customer Service of Sale Systems • Gift & Loyalty Card Programs • Top-rated Customer Service 2022 Winner (Including the PinPoint Card Program) • Gift & Loyalty Card Programs For more information call 402.502.9985 orinformation (Including the PinPoint Card Program) • •Top-rated Customer For more call 402.502.9985 Giftor & Loyalty CardService Programs (Including the PinPoint Card Program) visit AmericanPaymentSystems.com (Including the PinPoint Card Program) 9 years in a row • Gift & Loyalty Card Programs visit call AmericanPaymentSystems.com For more information 402.502.9985 or For Owned moreBusiness information 402.502.9985 orCard Program) avisit LocalAmericanPaymentSystems.com & Family For call more information call 402.502.9985 or (Including the PinPoint more information call 402.502.9985 or aFor Local &AmericanPaymentSystems.com Family Owned Business visit visit aAmericanPaymentSystems.com AmericanPaymentSystems.com Forvisit more information call 402.502.9985 or Local & Family Owned Business Local&&Family FamilyOwned OwnedBusiness Business visit AmericanPaymentSystems.com aaLocal (Including the PinPoint Card Program)

a Local & Family Owned Business

a Local & Family Owned Business


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VOLUME 22

PROFESSIONAL IMPECCABLE MEMORABLE

·

ISSUE 2

“Thank you for selecting us the Best Caterer in Omaha for the past 15 years!” - Joe Thallas

Owner/General Manager

2022 Winner

Ask for Brandeis Catering at Many Fine Venues Throughout the Omaha Metro

FOOD SERVICES

OU R E XC LUS I V E V E N U E

BANQUET FACILITY

Livestock Exchange Ballroom

A View Venues Omaha Design Center

CATERER 2022 Winner

Brandeis Catering

(402) 334-5446 • www.brandeiscatering.com

A Catered Affair

COFFEE PROVIDER Host Coffee Midwest Equipment Company

RESTAURANT-BUSINESS BREAKFAST First Watch WheatFields Eatery & Bakery

RESTAURANT-BUSINESS LUNCH

PODCAST

The Drover 402.391.7440 droverrestaurant.com 2022 Winner

Get Van’s podcasts directly in your inbox every month by subscribing on Apple, Spotify, & vandeeb.com or on your favorite podcast platform. Can your business use some new energy and encouraging motivation? Van Deeb is the country’s foremost expert on building relationships and is dedicated to helping others become successful in the sales and service industry. He has inspired tens of thousands of professionals throughout the country to succeed through his motivational and informative keynote speeches, workshops, speaking events, newsletters, and books. 402.680.8448 | Van@vandeeb.com | vandeeb.com

Charleston’s Restaurant

RESTAURAUNT-HAPPY HOUR Spezia Charlie’s on the Lake

RESTAURANT-BUSINESS DINNER Mahogany Prime Steakhouse Jams American Grill


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2022 Winner

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Empowered to make a difference

ACCOUNTING OFFICE Bland & Associates DeBoer & Associates, PC

ADVERTISING AGENCY Sleight 402.334.3530 sleightadvertising.com

BluePrint Advertising Agency

ARCHITECTURAL FIRM LEO A DALY RDG

BRANDING AGENCY Daake 402.933.2959 daake.com

As our landscape continues to change, the ability to respond quickly, creatively and compassionately is essential. At Lockton, our people are empowered to make a difference for our clients, for each other and for our community. We celebrate our Associates for embodying the independence, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Lockton. IT’S OUR PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE and the reason Lockton has been voted Best of B2B and a Best Place to Work.

SecretPenguin 402.637.1250 secretpenguin.com

BUSINESS INSURANCE Lockton 402.970.6100 lockton.com

2022 Winner

Chastain Otis Insurance

BUSINESS LAWYER Croker Huck Law Firm Dvorak Law Group, LLC

13710 FNB Parkway, Suite 400 | Omaha, NE 68154 | 402.970.6100 lockton.com | © 2022 Lockton Companies. All rights reserved.

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WE ARE HONORED TO BE NAMED B2B’S BEST INVESTMENT COMPANY OF

2022.

2022 Winner

For commission-free financial advice–retirement, estate planning analysis, charitable giving, and more–talk to the people who listen first, then craft a custom plan just for you. Helping you enjoy life now and in the future. Discover the joy of being Truly Cared For.® Get a complimentary One-Hour Second-Look portfolio review.

BQ & Associates The Collection Analyst

COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER

855.385.8527 | fostergrp.com/b2b

Don Shepard Photography

PLEASE SEE IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION, ADVERTISING DISCLOSURE INFORMATION, AND THE LIMITATIONS OF ANY RANKING/RECOGNITIONS, at www. fostergrp.com/disclosures. A copy of our written disclosure Brochure as set forth on Part 2A of Form ADV is available at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. For specific details about the award, visit www.fostergrp.com/who-we-are/industry-recognition. Working with a highly-rated advisor does not ensure that a client or prospective client will experience a higher level of satisfaction or performance. Foster Group has not been paid to be selected for this award and recognition. This award should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor by any client. 55742-1-FG April May Free Ad 5x4.917 FINAL.indd 1

COLLECTION SERVICES

Dana Damewood Photography 2022 Winner

EMPLOYEE BENEFIT COMPANY The Olson Group

2/16/22 11:47 AM

402.289.1046 theolsongroup.com

Strategic Benefits

EMPLOYMENT AGENCY Hemphill Search Group 402.334.4500 hemphillsearch.com

Cornerstone Staffing

EMPLOYMENT LAWYER Fraser Stryker PC, LLO Vandenack Weaver, LLC

HEALTH INSURANCE Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska UnitedHealthcare A Law Firm with over 30 years experience in representing retail and commercial creditors.

IMMIGRATION LAWYER

BQ & Associates can assist you in getting the money you are owed.

Blackford Law, LLC

Our Firm represents creditors throughout the United States through our network of attorneys. 2022 Winner

client-service@bqlaw.com

Please contact our office to see if your matter can be handled on a contingent fee arrangement. (402)-554-4400

Kasaby & Nicholls, LLC


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The #13th ranked branding agency in the world, and #1 in Omaha. 13th out of 32,177 worldwide branding agencies by clutch.co. B2B Magazine number one in Omaha four years running.

DD15721_2022_B2B_Ad.indd 8

A pivotal-moment brand agency daake.com

2/18/22 10:55 AM


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Managing risk.

Building relationships to last. 2022 Winner

INSURANCE AGENCY FNIC Trusted Insurance Advisors 800.344.5624 fnicgroup.com

Accredited Insurance Group, Inc.

Thank you for voting us Best Insurance Agency!

402.334.1780 accreditedins.net

2022 Winner

LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR Van Deeb

Commercial Insurance . Employee Benefits . Farm and Crop Insurance . Personal Insurance

402.680.8448 vandeeb.com

402.861.7000 | fnicgroup.com

Nick Bartholomew

PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM Lukas Partners Zaiss & Company 402.980.0296 zaissco.com

REAL ESTATE LAWYER Celebrating 50 Years of Award-Winning PR

Smith Slusky Law Modern Law Firm

Thank you for voting us Best of Omaha!

RETIREMENT PLANNING Feltz WealthPLAN

We’re honored to serve great clients and be recognized in B2B Magazine’s top rankings for the past 8 years.

Curnes Financial Group 2022 Winner

SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT 316 Strategy Group Omaha SEO 2014 Winner

2015 Winner

2016 Winner

2017 Winner

2018 Winner

2019 Winner

2020 Winner

lukaspartners.com | 402.895.2552

2021 Winner


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VOLUME 22

a national and regional powerhouse in meetings and events

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2022 Winner

MEETINGS CHANGE THE WORLD. WE’RE READY WHEN YOU ARE. 2022 Winner

VIDEO PRODUCTION Digital Moxie Studio

www.planitincevents.com

Frost Media Group 402.566.5222 frostmediagroup.com

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYER Cassem, Tierney, Adams, Gotch & Douglas Gross, Welch, Marks, & Clare PC, LLO

TRAVEL & EVENT PLANNING AUDIO-VISUAL SERVICES Concepts Audio and Video Design Audio Visions

BUSINESS CONFERENCE VENUE Scott Conference Center 402.778.6313 scottcenter.com

1415-The Meeting Space

EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY M.J.B. Photography Since 1950, United Rent-All has been Omaha’s trusted partner for events, conventions, receptions and more!

Multi-Images Photography

4990 G St. | Omaha, NE

Call 402.556.1600

unitedrent-all-omaha.com

2022 Winner


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2022 Winner

EVENT PLANNING SERVICES planitinc. 402.333.3062 planitincevents.com

402 Event Services 402.964.2244 402eventservices.com

FLORIST Beyond the Vine Blooms

HOTEL Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District Embassy Suites by Hilton Omaha La Vista Hotel & Conference Center

RENTAL SERVICE STORE United Rent-All AAA

TRAVEL AGENCY Corporate Travel Management Pegasus Travel

B2B 2022 BEST NEW B2B BUSINESS 2022 Outlook Business Solutions

What do you want from your agent?

Honesty? Integrity?

At Chastain Otis we believe these traits are a given. Our philosophy is that an agent should have superior knowledge of their products, should inform their clients of their risks to financial loss, and should actively search the markets for the best options at the best price… and not just when they first sign you up.

What is your agent doing for you? • • • • •

2022 Winner

First Place, Independent Agent of the year, Omaha Magazine “Trusted Choice Agency of the Year” Three “ Young Agent of the Year” award winners “Committee Chairman of the Year” winner Two “Outstanding Customer Service Representative of the Year” winners (and one was a National finalist) • Two “ Distinguished Service” Awards

11 Years in a Row

10822 Old Mill Road, Ste #2 Omaha, NE 68154 • 402-397-2500 • ChastainOtis.com


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EXPERIENCE THE BEST THAT OMAHA HAS TO OFFER

222 N. 10TH STREET, OMAHA, NE 68102 | 402.807.8000 | MARRIOTT.COM/OMADM

402.342.1111 ext.122

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RENZE.com

Centris + Turnpost + RENZE

Brand your environment.

2022 Winner


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2022 Winners

BEST OF B2B 2022 SPONSORED PROFILES PHOTOS BY KATIE ANDERSON & PROVIDED STORIES BY ALLISON JANDA, SARA LOCKE, KARA SCHWEISS & PROVIDED Business involves many moving parts, as all owners and managers know. One day’s work may involve finding the best advertising agency to help with their marketing needs and managing IT solutions. The next day might involve meeting with an executive coach to help navigate HR decisions. The following pages feature native content from Best of B2B winners, and because they won this contest, readers can be assured that they offer quality products and services. B2B

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SPONSORED CONTENT

2022 Winner

BLUEPRINT ADVERTISING AGENCY BluePrint Advertising Agency experienced their best year yet in 2021 by providing full-service advertising capabilities to clients in Omaha, as well as across the U.S. They have used this past year to grow their clientele, then, in turn, grow their team by promoting internally and hiring new talent. In 2021, the team was able to provide their clients with top-notch, quality, and authentic service to allow them to make smarter decisions for their businesses. “We strive each year to be better and do better, and we came nothing short of that in 2021,” said Caley Cahoy, advertising director at BluePrint Advertising Agency. Be Better, Do Better One of BluePrint’s main business models is to maintain its clients for life. The way they accomplish this goal is to focus on each client individually to make sure their businesses succeed to get them their best ROI. “When the client succeeds and grows, we grow,” Cahoy stated. At BluePrint, employees are constantly researching and finding new ideas and ways to help their clients achieve

their best potential. The agency adopted a new software system in 2021 that allows them to enhance their market research and provide their clients with even more facts and figures to tell the story of the campaign. What does authentic service look like in an advertising agency? That is the question the staff aims to answer at BluePrint. Finding the answer to this question with their tactics is how they obtain the trust and satisfaction of their clients. There is no one right way that works perfectly for all clients. Each client has different goals, and, at BluePrint, they are tasked with implementing tactics to make sure those goals are met. Smarter Decisions BluePrint Advertising Agency team members want their clients to get the most for their dollar by avoiding unnecessary fees. They gather market research to ensure their clients are getting all the information needed to make the smartest and most informed decision for their business. The team members strive to provide their clients with the What in terms of the tactics they are proposing as well as the Why, in terms of their feelings that these certain tactics are a good fit for the campaign.

BluePrint also aims to make smarter decisions as a team. Making the office a collaborative environment helps BluePrint reach its goals to help the clients. A good work culture invites low employee turnover, which ultimately aids the client by the team having a better understanding of their business. The team at BluePrint is learning and growing into new roles day-by-day. Cahoy stated, “One of the best parts of the job is hearing how much we have helped these businesses grow. At the end of the day we are not doing our job to the fullest if our clients aren’t seeing results in growing their businesses.” 15705 WEST DODGE ROAD, SUITE 101 OMAHA, NE 68118 402.671.5000 BLUEPRINTADAGENCY.COM


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2022 Winner

BRIDGES TRUST EDSON L. [TED] BRIDGES III & NICHOLAS A. WILWERDING The tagline for privately owned trust and wealth management firm Bridges Trust is “Trust for generations.” It’s fitting in the sense that Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer Edson L. “Ted” Bridges III is the third generation of leadership. Bridges said the company also serves many families multigenerationally and sets up clients for future generations. “The firm was started by my grandfather in 1945, and I would expect that we will be here in 2045 and 2075. We are focused on the future and we are focused to grow and be a strong resource for the community,” Bridges explained. “We’re vibrant and we’re growing, and we’re trying to leverage that growth by reinvesting back into the business for future growth.” The executive leadership team includes Bridges, President and Chief Operating Officer Nick Wilwerding, and Senior Vice President Megan McMurray. The firm is also developing leadership with an eye to the future.

“We are blessed to have an extremely strong group of emerging young leaders at the firm including Jack Holmes, Jennie Hudnall, Brenda Keady, Meg Knauf, Kelly Leeper, Brian Miles, Angel Sacco, Jenny Strako, Dan Walker, and Lisa Wellendorf,” Bridges said. “They work extremely well together and are exceptionally talented.” The firm employs more than 60 and manages about $9 billion in client assets for approximately 700 client relationships. “Bridges Trust exists to meet the financial needs of its clients, primarily through helping clients identify and articulate what their primary investment objectives are, and then building out investment policy that is designed to effectuate those objectives,” Bridges said. “We also provide the portfolio management—the investment management—of those clients’ capital to make those objectives be a reality over time.” Since its founding, the firm has also built a suite of multiple wealth advisory services around its core of investment management, including wealth planning, trust and estate management, family office services, and philanthropic consulting. “We have trust powers so that we can provide trust and estate services for our clients. Family office

provides broader and deeper services ancillary to investment management. One of the fastestgrowing areas of the firm is philanthropy services. Many of our families are very charitable and they look to us to help them develop ways to give back that are as effective as the ways we have helped them create the wealth in the first place,” Bridges said. “Ultimately, our assets are our people, and because we are a people-based and service-based business, the culture of our firm is absolutely critical to the success of what we undertake.” To support that culture, Bridges Trust strives to build a team of people who have very specific attributes in three areas—core investment management, client service and operations, Bridges said. These include “a heart to serve others, because we’re in the service business; we need people who have extremely high professional skills and experience, because we’re asking people to trust us with their money and invest in capital markets that are extremely risky and challenging; and the third cultural attribute is a very high and diligent work ethic.” 13333 CALIFORNIA ST., SUITE 500 OMAHA, NE 68154 402.393.8300 BRIDGESTRUST.COM


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SPONSORED CONTENT

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ECS TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS BRYAN & JAMES THOMPSON Tenacity was never a quality that Bryan Thompson lacked. As a farmer, persistence and determination were a way of life. So, when he suffered an accident in 1999 that left doctors unsure if he’d ever walk again, Bryan forged a new path and put some certainty back into his future. He returned to school for a degree in the growing field of information technology; then he graduated in sync with the IT job collapse. But he was up to the challenge and opted to start his own company, Elkhorn Computers. Committed to treating customers and employees right, Bryan worked with residential and business clients, servicing various IT needs—including internet set-up, viruses, computers that wouldn’t turn on, and similar. While this business model worked for a while, it was difficult to sustain. Bryan’s small staff tended to fix the same problems repeatedly, causing a lack of excitement around the work. And every time staff departed, it became more difficult to keep up with the growing needs of clients.

Bryan’s son, James Thompson, began working part-time for his dad in 2011. Upon graduating with his degree in management of information systems, he decided to take a more active role in the business. “This is an industry of change and you have to be open to continual change in order to be successful,” James explained. It was a sentiment with which his dad was completely on board. In addition to changing the name of the company to ECS Technology Solutions, Bryan and James took steps toward becoming an acclaimed local service provider. “We shifted focus from what we were providing to what customers needed and found a lot of growth opportunity on the commercial IT services side,” James said. “Specifically in managed IT services, which ultimately enables a company to outsource us for their IT tasks.” He added that this is an especially popular option for smaller businesses that don’t have the budget for a full-time IT employee. Additional commercial services expanded to include managed antivirus, backup and disaster recovery, procurement, and Endpoint Detection and Response, to name a few. In doing so, ECS Technology Solutions naturally created a solution to retaining employees. “One of our core values is family,” James disclosed. “We’re

a family owned and operated business, yes, but we also care deeply about our employees. Still, we lacked opportunities for them and so it made sense that they would go and look elsewhere.” Now, ECS Technology Solutions has created what they call a culture of opportunity. Designed to attract the best in IT-related talent, including engineers, developers, cybersecurity specialists, the company gives its workers the freedom to develop and take their job in nearly any direction they choose. “We have so many staff members that have been with us a long time and who continue to stay with ECS because they choose to be part of this family and its growth,” James said. 2720 N. 206TH ST. ELKHORN, NE 68022 402.350.0372 ECS.ROCKS


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2022 Winner

FNIC SCOTT HILL, CLYDE WILBERGER & DAVE JESSE 2021 was a year of “transformation” for FNIC, formerly the Harry A. Koch Co., said President Scott Hill. It was also a year for growth and opportunity. “Transformation was us taking the 17 agencies that the family owned and merging them into one new entity with one name, versus the 17 decentralized agencies that we had, so we could leverage our brand and leverage our scope and our size. That has given us many new opportunities for our employees,” Hill said. “It also brings to the table additional resources that many of our clients didn’t have access to before now. So, we feel like transformation and the FNIC brand puts us in a position that we’ve never been in before.” The Omaha-based company’s reach extends across Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois. FNIC’s association with First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO), also affiliated with the Lauritzen Corporation, reflects on FNBO’s longtime role as a supportive and collaborative partner. FNBO’s history of tradition, community, differentiation,

and approachability are synonymous with FNIC’s key guiding principles of trust, knowledge, and integrity. The new name and Circle One icon in FNIC’s logo acknowledges that relationship and what the two entities have in common. The FNIC brand may be new, but the company’s roots go back to 1916. FNIC provides creative risk management and financial security solutions with services in four areas: commercial insurance, employee benefits, surety bonds, and personal insurance. Chief Operating Officer Dave Jesse said that the FNIC team of more than 250 brings a tremendous amount of not only coverage knowledge, but also understanding of their clients’ business sectors. “We have strong industry specialization verticals— in the agricultural world, manufacturing construction, health care, and medical staffing, just to name a few—where our people have become adept in that industry for those businesses, in addition to coverage advisors for the insurance policies that are applied to their businesses,” he said. This specialization results in long-lasting relationships built over time, he added.

“People buy insurance for four main reasons: price, coverage, service expertise, or relationship. We spend a lot of time and effort educating our agents, and when we sit across from a prospect, the main thing we talk about is coverage knowledge,” said Senior Vice President and Director of Sales, Commercial Insurance Clyde Wilberger. “And a lot of the business we win is because we take their current policies, review that program, and point out the gaps in coverage.” The FNIC team is looking forward to continued growth, Hill said. “We have just finished a five-year strategic plan for our entire footprint. We have growth plans for each and every location, and we think we can grow our agency by 50% in the next five years,” Hill explained. “We have aggressive plans to expand our team, especially in the production arena. We believe we’ve hired more people in the last 12 months than we did in the previous five years combined, both production and service.” 14010 FNB PARKWAY, STE. 300 OMAHA, NE 68154 402.861.7000 FNICGROUP.COM


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SPONSORED CONTENT

2022 Winner

REVELA MICHELLE HILL, ANDREA FREDRICKSON, COURTNEY FISHER & ASHTA JOHNSON Business leaders know in order to remain valuable and meet the needs of their clients they must look for ways to disrupt how things are done. The team at Revela has the assets and experience to help business leaders change their mind about their business. “There are three basic ways disruption can occur,” said Andrea Fredrickson, Revela Coach and Owner. “It can be forced on you, like the events of the last two years. We’ve all had to reimagine our businesses and lives, whether we like it or not. The second is that you can choose to disrupt things yourself. Change your surroundings or routines. The third is that you can hire a coach or someone to help you challenge the way you think or the way you do things.” Business leaders who find there is a gap between the business they have and the results they know they’re capable of seek us out,” she said. And our passion is for the medium to large private or family-owned businesses who invest in their employees.”

Fredrickson and her team of coaches and facilitators believe in the possibility of people becoming better versions of themselves and helping their businesses do the same. They employ a thorough and proprietary process of understanding each client and conflict before helping managers and business leaders build on the strengths and resources already at their disposal to improve their business and relationships. Revela’s process cuts straight to thought disruption. “One process we utilize has clients look at the situation or story through a new lens. There are situations where things don’t go as they’d like or the results they are getting aren’t what they’d like. We help them change the story they tell themselves. By changing the story, they change their reaction to it and ultimately can change the outcome.” Fredrickson outlines the scientific process this exercise follows to create a neuropathway related to habits of thought. This isn’t toxic positivity at work. Rather, clients should think of it as strength training routine that builds growth and continuous improvement into the fabric of the business culture.

“Through mindful thought disruption, we can train ourselves to consider the possibilities.” Fredrickson said. To find new ways to make things happen instead of dwelling on all the ways things can go wrong.” Business leaders are the heroes of this story. Revela has simply been helping them discover ways to build stronger, more inclusive and sustainable businesses through the relationships and results. 1508 LEAVENWORTH ST. OMAHA, NE 68102 712-322-1112 REVELAGROUP.COM


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GROWTH GURU RICK FABER Growth Guru helps passionate, high-impact business owners develop the vision, strategy, and leadership skills they need to propel their company forward. Through an experiential, engaging process, the deeply experienced Growth Guru team helps business leaders develop the foundational behaviors of every successful, sustainable business— vision, courage, discipline, and accountability.

work best for business owners who are serious about growth and who are willing to professionally and personally grow in the process. We’re not just building a business—we’re creating a healthy culture of top performance.” Because real growth takes more than surfacelevel coaching, Growth Guru brings together the business owner, top leaders, and all decisionmakers in a company. Through individual coaching and leadership exercises, Growth Guru helps its clients align and ignite their businesses from the ground up, so everyone is poised for success.

Build Bigger by Looking Further Ahead. The Real Challenge for Small Business Owners. Unlike some business coaching models that first focus on business metrics and performance, Growth Guru starts with the long-view, working one-on-one with the company owner to clarify the company vision. From there, they reverse engineer its success by developing and articulating the discipline, behaviors, and goals it will take to make it come to life for everyone on the team. “While it’s absolutely true that our method works for every company and industry, it’s not for everyone,” said Rick Faber, MBA, serial entrepreneur, and founder of Growth Guru. “We

According to Faber, one of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is trying to grow revenue and profits without changing their perspectives, processes, or people. “Muscling business growth only tires the organization and burns most out,” he said. “Doing what you’ve always done only harder or faster is rarely the way to get a new, better, bigger result. If you want something different, you have to think, behave, and move differently. You also have to think outside yourself to find all the answers.”

This “what got you here will not get you there” mindset drives Growth Guru to challenge every leadership team they work with, and the results have been staggering. Better customer service, higher sales and revenue, improved teamwork, and greater market flexibility are all possible when businesses make the decision to grow and bring in the right support partner to help. The COVID impact—and how businesses can actually benefit. Amid COVID pandemic shut-downs and hybrid workplace dynamics, Growth Guru started picking up on a positive trend for business owners. “With ‘the great pause’ lasting longer than most of us expected, it has forced us all to reflect, reimagine, and refocus on our people, our potential, and our purpose,” Faber added. “This is a very good thing—if you know how to articulate, activate, and accelerate those changes.” And that’s exactly what Growth Guru helps growth-phase companies do. If you’re a business owner who’s serious about scaling your company, open to new approaches, and ready to roll up your sleeves, contact the Growth Guru team at rickf@mygrowthguru.com or 402-659-3321.


“WE WERE THERE WHEN FATHER AND MOTHER PULLED UP IN THE CAMPER, AND THE GRANDMOTHER BROUGHT THE KIDS, [INCLUDING] ANDREW, OUT. THE JOY AND EXCITEMENT ON EVERYBODY’S FACE WAS, WELL, THE WHOLE POINT.” -BRIAN KETCHAM


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BIZ+GIVING | STORY BY JEFF LACEY | PHOTO BY BILL SITZMANN

THE JOY IS THE POINT

BRIAN KETCHAM SET TO BECOME CHAIRMAN OF MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION OF NEBRASKA

B

rian Ketcham has donated his time and talent to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Nebraska for well over a decade, and, in September, is slated to become the next chairman of their board of directors. He couldn’t be happier. Ketcham’s relationship with Make-A-Wish began with the help of his wife, Lisa, who started donating her time to Make-A-Wish in 2008. The more he learned about the organization, the more his appreciation of the organization grew. Of course the mission to grant life-changing wishes for critically ill children is fundamentally inspiring, but the people he worked with to bring hope and joy to the children and families battling life-threatening illnesses made the work all the more meaningful. “I got to know the staff, and I learned what an outstanding organization it was,” Ketcham explained. “When they eventually approached me to join the board, it was a really easy decision. I was at the point in my career, as well as in my family life, that I had the time to give back. It was really a no-brainer for me.”

Ketcham has been involved in granting lots of wishes over the years, but lately those wishes have been particularly memorable because of the pandemic. Many travel wishes have been put on hold, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from pursuing its mission. Ketcham recalled one wish granting that took place in July 2020 that involved a then-6-year-old boy named Andrew. The youngster suffered from congenital heart disease, and had made it through nine open heart surgeries at the time. “We were restricted from granting travel wishes because, in the early throes of COVID, travel had been suspended,” Ketcham recalled, “but the family had wished for a camper. So we got them one. We were actually standing socially distanced in the driveway and on the lawn, and we’d purchased toys and camping equipment.” Holding back tears, Ketcham recalled the reveal, an act that not only pierced Andrew’s situation, but the collective struggle the entire country was facing. “We were there when the father and mother pulled up in the camper, and the grandmother brought the kids, [including] Andrew, out. The joy and excitement on everybody’s face was, well, the whole point,” Ketcham explained. That week was especially memorable for the family. Andrew’s younger brother Jaxson has a genetic disorder and was granted his wish, an outdoor play set, the day before Andrew received the camper. Ketcham was not a part of Jaxson’s wish granting.

“YOU CAN REALLY TELL HOW GENUINE HE IS ABOUT THE MAKEA-WISH MISSION.” -BRIGETTE YOUNG Make-A-Wish Foundation of Nebraska CEO Brigette Young couldn’t be more enthusiastic about working with Ketcham.“We are so grateful and appreciative of both Brian and Lisa,” Young said, “and you can see the joy and excitement on Brian’s face when wishes happen. You can really tell how genuine he is about the Make-A-Wish mission.” For Ketcham, working with Make-A-Wish has become a family affair. Not only are he and Lisa invested, his daughter Lindsay and son-in-law Dustin are involved in wish granting as well. Add to this that Lindsay Corp., where Ketcham is the senior vice president and CFO, has been the title sponsor of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Nebraska’s Blue Jean Ball fundraiser since 2019. Ketcham feels that Make-A-Wish isn’t merely a charity, it is an investment in hope itself. Last year, despite the pandemic, the organization granted 90 wishes. According to Ketcham, “You get out so much more than you put into it.” Visit wish.org/nebraska for more information. B2B


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AFTER HOURS | STORY BY JOEL STEVENS | PHOTO BY BILL SITZMANN

DRAWN TO FILM

NEIL SANDHOEFNER EARNS FESTIVAL ACCOLADES

N

eil Sandhoefner didn’t set out to become an award-winning filmmaker, or even a filmmaker at all.

“But I think it’s also important to acknowledge this is a real thing that happens to people, and you shouldn’t have shame or a stigma about it,” he said.

The 34-year-old Omaha native, a product performance director at Mutual of Omaha, aimed to push the limits of his own short fiction and accompanying sketches and doodles into a less static medium.

His goal in telling the story was to show these things happen and this is a reaction to it.

In much the same way the onetime University of Nebraska at Omaha English and philosophy major stumbled into a career as an actuary at Mutual of Omaha over a decade ago, he found he liked filmmaking. And film festivals liked him. In September, Sandhoefner’s five-minute, animated short film “Samson and Samson” took home Honorable Mention for LGBTQ Short at the Los Angeles-based IndieX Film Festival. In November, the film added to its accolades, winning Best Microfilm at the New Wave Shorts Film Festival in Munich, Germany. Sandhoefner’s always been creative, but never considered film until he had some down time during the pandemic and thought, “film might be the right medium for getting across what I’m going for.” “So, I took my short story writing, coupled them with drawings, and filmed it almost like a comic with music,” he said. He describes “Samson and Samson” as a “kind of sad” story tracking a gay man in a domestically abusive relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The story is based on personal experience Sandhoefner preferred not to go into details about.

“I just want to share that with people. I think that’s really what art is. Sharing your creation is hoping people find meaning in it.” “Samson and Samson” is handmade in almost every way. Sandhoefner drew each image on transparent acetate cels, and, using his iPhone, shot each image frame-by-frame. He then used editing software to stich it together. He also performs the strummy guitar music that plays throughout the film. He admits he’s no animator, but his characters, in their own squiggly minimalism, are distinctly drawn. There’s no spoken dialogue, rather, word bubbles provide the narration.

“THE ONLY SOUND IS MUSIC. IT’S ALMOST SILENT FILM-LIKE TITLE CARDS BETWEEN DRAWINGS.” -NEIL SANDHOEFNER

“I was like, ‘Hey this is a strange thing I did, what do you think about it?’,” Sandhoefner said. The feedback was encouraging enough that he posted the film on YouTube. He began submitting to film festivals last year. “I was proud of it enough I wanted to get it in front of other people and share it.” No one was more surprised than Sandhoefner that the film was a hit at festivals, which, due to COVID-19, were mostly online. The festivals praised the film’s story but called the filmmaking “rough.” He doesn’t consider that an insult. “It is a little rough and I think that’s part of what it is,” he said. “The way I do it, it’s always going to be a little bit rough, and that’s kind of my style. I just want to get better at it to make it easier for more people to access what I’m trying to get across.” Sandhoefner’s second film is on his YouTube channel now. He hopes to continue to make short films that focus on personal stories and experiences in his own handmade style. He feels like he’s found his home there, but didn’t rule out live-action films in his future. “I’m happy with how they’ve turned out and what I’m doing,” he said. “But who knows what’s next?”

“The only sound is music. It’s almost silent film-like title cards between drawings,” Sandhoefner said. When he completed a rough cut, he showed a handful of family and friends.

Search for “Neil Sandhoefner” on youtube.com for more information. B2B


IN SEPTEMBER, SANDHOEFNER’S FIVE-MINUTE, ANIMATED SHORT FILM “SAMSON AND SAMSON” TOOK HOME HONORABLE MENTION FOR LGBTQ SHORT AT THE LOS ANGELES-BASED IndieX FILM FESTIVAL. IN NOVEMBER, THE FILM ADDED TO ITS ACCOLADES, WINNING BEST MICROFILM AT THE NEW WAVE SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL IN MUNICH, GERMANY.


“THE GUY JUST BABIED THE CAR FOR 21 YEARS.” -NICO MARASCO


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HOW I ROLL | STORY BY MIKE WHYE | PHOTOS BY BILL SITZMANN

A SPECIAL VIPER RETURNS TO OMAHA

NICO MARASCO BUYS BACK HIS FATHER’S VEHICLE

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ico Marasco is one who loves to search for cars that he may want to own—and he felt especially rewarded by the end of the search to a black 1994 Dodge Viper that was delivered to him this past October. It was the first Viper owned by his father, Ralph Marasco.

Four hours later, Nico received a text from the man who had bought the car in 1999, saying he still had it. “It was absolutely wild,” said Nico, noting that the man had put only about 14,000 miles on the Viper. “The guy just babied the car for 21 years.”

However, in 1999, Ralph sold it and then bought another and another and…“We always have had a Viper,” said Nico, who added that the 1994 Viper remained in his heart because it was the first in the family. Like his father, who died in 2020 at age 59, Nico is an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador real estate. Outside of real estate, they enjoyed cars together, much like some other sons and fathers go hunting or fishing. Family friend John Wanninger said about Nico, “I can only imagine how much more we’d get done each day if we didn’t go on and on about cars.”

A phone call followed, and Nico asked if the man might sell the car to him. The owner asked for some time to think and a few days later texted Nico that he was willing to talk more. After agreeing on a price, Nico flew with Wanninger to where the man lived in Indiana, test-drove it, and, not long after that, the Viper was on a truck coming to Omaha.

When he initially wondered if the Viper still existed and how he could search for it, Nico happened upon an old registration slip bearing its identification information. “Then I went back and forth [whether] to find it or not bother. I was afraid if I went looking, I’d be disappointed,” he recalled, wondering if whoever had it since 1999 had cared for the Viper. Several people helped Nico search for the car; eventually two phone numbers surfaced, and Nico decided to contact its owner. “I texted them with a picture of the registration so they wouldn’t think I’m just some crazy person,” he explained.

The Vipers Dodge debuted the Viper in 1989, but it did not go on sale until 1992. More than 35,000 were made before production ceased in 2017. The Viper was not designed to be a touring car, or a sports car, but a high-performance car. “It’s a monster,” said Nico about the car harboring a 10-cylinder engine that generates 400 horsepower to turn its rear wheels at incredible speeds. “They’re just phenomenal cars.”

The 1994 Viper lacks some features found in other contemporary cars and later Vipers, such as air bags, traction control, external door handles, and even cup holders. The side windows are plastic sheets that have to be zippered shut. It also did not come with air conditioning, which Nico would welcome. “You’re pinned between the transmission tunnel and the exhaust pipe, and it gets really hot in there,” he says. Home in Omaha Again The ’94 Viper is now stabled in a large barn designed to shelter several beautifully restored vehicles owned by Nico and Wanninger. These include a 1980 Monte Carlo once owned by Nico’s aunt, although it now sports a 550-horsepower engine; a 1961 Lincoln Continental; a 2000 Viper that Nico and his father bought in 2018; a 2006 Mustang GT that he co-owns with Wanninger; and his day-to-day car, a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera. B2B


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VOLUME 22

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ISSUE 2

IN THE OFFICE | STORY BY LISA LUKECART | PHOTOS PROVIDED

LATEST BUILDING PLOWS A FRESH PATH

FARM CREDIT SERVICES OF AMERICA SHOWCASES MODERNITY

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amilton stands on his short legs, leaning against the glass barrier and peering over the wood banister. The portly ceramic pig’s nose can be seen over the edge as he looks down into the well-lit canyon of the office space while a lanyard holds Hamilton’s employee badge with his name displayed under his photo. Marsha, a cow, sometimes “provides” dairy products, such as ice cream during the summer. The black sheep at the bottom of the stairs has yet to be named, possibly due to his disreputable reputation. These mascots remind employees that it’s all about farmers and ranchers at the financial cooperative Farm Credit Services of America. The outer structure of the brick likewise nods to agriculture with abstract art fanned out along all three buildings. The main building showcases 12 months of agricultural fields. The north structure, a 77,000-square-foot expansion built in 2011, houses masonry that appears to wave like wheat fields in the wind. The brick detail at the top of the west building, finished in 2021, implies that earth has been turned by a plow. “They have a similar vocabulary, but the spaces are unique. It’s a difficult thing to do on that scale,” said Aaron Hartung, an architect with Clark & Enersen, the company that designed the building.

POPS OF RETRO NEON HUES, FROM THE CARPET TO THE COLUMNS, GLOW. Some tricks of the trade went into designing the new building to ensure a cohesive flow. A 290-stall parking garage resides underneath, with separate entry points. The $44.1-million building combines many factors, including a secure access point outside the visitor center. After being buzzed in, visitors find comfortable orange booths and lime green chairs resting on an ocean blue carpet. Fluid, acrylic, vertical artworks hang on the wall, illuminated by LED lights in neon greens and yellows. An impressive skywalk runs over 118th Street to connect the 200,000-square-foot, four-story office building with the rest of the corporate campus. The interior shows how Farm Credit employees interact with casual collision spaces, countless conference rooms, and innovative brainstorming centers. Recyclable carpets and bamboo paneling whisper environmentally friendly notes. Vibrant paintings by local artists hang in the hallways. Pops of retro neon hues, from the carpet to the columns, glow. “We are not afraid of color. Color adds energy,” vice president of corporate services Sharlyn Konfrst said. The space focuses on fresh, lively, and modern designs to lure teammates into the office. Since the pandemic, only 200 of 800 teammates have elected to work remotely. A similar number chose a hybrid model.

“In a world that’s changing, where people want to stay home, it’s important to have an attractive and welcoming place,” chief operating officer Scott Binder mentioned. In the main building, streams of natural light from the windows shine on employees while executives work in modest offices. The third building continues this concept of an employee-first work force. Desks elevate to enable people to work from a standing position with a push of a button. “Hookups,” or media spaces, allow for brainstorming and include whiteboards pre-filled with erasable markers. An enclosed innovation center holds floor-toceiling whiteboards, a big-screen monitor, and bar-like chairs. The Farmers Market café is decorated with bright blue tiles. A cook can whisk an omelet for breakfast or customize a sandwich for lunch. A self-service kiosk is also available. One can relax in a booth with a coffee or compete at foosball on the outdoor patio. “We work hard, we play hard,” Konfrst added. “I have the coolest job in the world, with great people at a place people choose to go.” Visit fcsamerica.com for more information. B2B


“WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF COLOR. COLOR ADDS ENERGY.” -SHARLYN KONFRST


“I LOVE THAT WHEN [RACQUEL] WORKS WITH STUDENTS SHE LEARNS AS MUCH AS SHE CAN ABOUT THEM AND BUILDS A RELATIONSHIP.” -SHEILA SCHOESSLER


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ON THE RISE | STORY BY WENDY TOWNLEY | PHOTO BY BILL SITZMANN

DEDICATED TO THE FUTURE

RACQUEL HENDERSON DEVELOPS RELATIONSHIPS

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etropolitan Community College Success Navigator Racquel Henderson develops deep relationships with her students. Her mentoring work is designed to walk in lockstep with students who land on the MCC campus from a variety of backgrounds: students who are first generation, low income, and those just beginning their transition to college. “My role is intensive academic support to help students reach their goals,” Henderson explained. “And it looks different for every student.” Henderson will host tutor sessions twice a week for some of her students. For others, it’s keeping in touch via email or text message. Henderson also uses in-home visits to maintain a level of trust and partnership with her MCC students. It all involves more than homework and exam prep. Henderson will connect her dedicated caseload of students with resources at MCC and in the Omaha community, which can extend to counseling and even mental health services. No resource is off the table, Henderson explained.

“SHE USES HER EXPERIENCES TO UPLIFT AND SUPPORT OTHERS SO THEY DON’T FEEL ALONE OR HAVE TO NAVIGATE THE ISSUES THAT ARE IN THE WAY.” -ASHLEI SPIVEY “I am so thankful to have Racquel support students at MCC and really, the entire community,” said Sheila Schoessler, executive director of MCC’s Career and Academic Skills Center. “She is ideal for her role because she pushes people to be their best and never settle for mediocracy. I love that when she works with students she learns as much as she can about them and builds a relationship. She wants to make sure students are known and valued for who they are.” Henderson’s work at MCC and beyond hasn’t gone unnoticed. Her list of accolades include the Omaha Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Omahans Award in 2021; the Greater Omaha Chamber Change Maker Award in 2021; the International Women’s Day Award in 2019; and the Young, Black, and Influential Award in 2017. It was through the YBI Award that Henderson met Ashlei Spivey, who developed the annual recognition opportunity in 2017.

“Racquel works in creating transformation without any acknowledgement. Her story, her passion, and her character is young, Black, and influential,” Spivey explained. “She uses her experiences to uplift and support others so they don’t feel alone or have to navigate the issues that are in the way.” Schoessler added: “When Racquel shares her journey with others, she shares the opportunity for greatness to come to each of their lives. She reminds people, including myself, that each of our lives will come with struggles. That helps us grow as a person and determine what is most important in our lives. The way in which she lives her life and gives back to others continually inspires me and others.” Henderson holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UNO, and is pursuing a master’s degree in the same program. She said the formula for a successful life involves a variety of factors. But hard work is just the beginning. “Success is a culmination of things. With the right support, resources, and encouragement, we can reach our full potential,” she said. “I try to be that for other people.” Visit mccneb.edu for more information. B2B


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ISSUE 2

ROUNDTABLE | STORY BY LINDA PERSIGEHL | PHOTOS PROVIDED

WHAT KEEPS CEOS UP AT NIGHT

THREE INDUSTRY EXPERTS CHIME IN

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oing business in a pandemic era—with product demand high, unemployment historically low, and financial uncertainty great—offers real challenges. B2B reached out to three Omaha professionals to name the biggest issue they’re dealing with right now, and how they’re trying to best respond: Brett Clarke, principal/founder of high-end custom home builder Frontier Builders; Karie Milford, founder of/realtor with boutique residential sales firm Milford Real Estate; and Mack La Rock, executive VP for locally owned ACCESSBank. B2B: What’s the issue facing your businesses right now that causes you the greatest concern? BC: The biggest worry we have currently in our industry is the supply of goods. From lumber to HVAC ducting to windows, everything is taking longer, costing more, or even no longer available. Daily, we have to adjust to those ever-changing supply issues in order to deliver our product in a timely and fiscally reasonable manner. KM: Inventory of homes has been historically low. As soon as a home goes on the market, [it] almost immediately goes under contract. This can be exhausting for home buyers and put a damper on their enjoyment of the full process. Our main focus now is making sure our clients have plenty of options so we can help them find the perfect home. ML: The significant influx of government funding into the economy over the past 24 months has led to concerns of inflation and rising interest rates. Monitoring the impact this may have on our clients will be a key focus as we move forward into 2022 and beyond. Employee shortages, supply chain issues, and rising input costs are also significant hurdles being faced by our client base, requiring them to pivot/modify the way they are managing their business model.

B2B: How is this issue impacting your operations? BC: Time has been the biggest impact. It [takes] time to re-select products, time to reorder, time on the phone with suppliers, with clients, with crews. My biggest fear moving forward is that it will not get back to how it was. KM: Having to almost immediately make a decision as soon as you step on the property, while ensuring the home is a good fit for them, can take some of the pleasure out of the search for a perfect home. We have to be strategic to balance keeping the process stress-free and calm for our clients, while also preventing them from feeling rushed to make an offer. Real estate is always changing, and part of being in the business is being able to change and grow to accommodate those changes. ML: Financial tech companies entering the commercial space are creating additional challenges driving the need for the banking industry to place more focus on digital delivery channels. Being able to provide a fast, efficient, and seamless client experience, while maintaining the personal touch will be key for the long-term success of community banks. B2B: How are you dealing with this challenge moving forward? BC: We can’t control this issue, but we can plan for it better than we could at the beginning of the pandemic. We believe that communication with our clients is key. The longer this has gone on, the more we can game plan, adjust due dates for selections, and adapt our timeline. As one area gets resolved, another appears. I fear that cost and delays will continue far longer than many anticipate.

KM: Everything we create, the client is top-ofmind. We didn’t want to limit our clients’ options, and through that process we cultivated Milford Select. We knew there was a better way, and it pushed us to be creative in solving their problems while serving their needs. With Milford Select, there are three options our clients can choose from when it comes to selling their home: we’ll buy their home as-is; we’ll purchase their home with a contingency in place; or we’ll sell it the oldfashioned way. It’s incredibly easy for our sellers, and they love it. We are always looking at ways to streamline and improve the client experience. ML: ACCESSbank’s substantial investment in technology and continued focus on relationship banking has positioned us well to expand our market share while continuing to be a trusted advisor as we navigate these economic headwinds alongside our client base. It will be of the utmost importance for our bankers to understand our client’s one- to three-year goals and objectives. This will allow us to help guide their capital investment and financing decisions with appropriate leverage, while ensuring working capital reserves to weather the uncertain times ahead. B2B


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FEATURE | STORY BY XXXXXX | PHOTOS BY BILL SITZMANN

ONE ONE

Brett Clarke

TWO TWO

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Karie Milford

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Mack La Rock

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Ansley Fellers


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FEATURE | STORY BY DAWN GONZALES PHOTOS BY BILL SITZMANN

DECONSTRUCTING A PB&J

SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES STILL CAUSING HEADACHES SHE ADDED THAT GROCERY STORES RUN ON A 1% TO 2% MARGIN AND ALL THE COSTS IN THE MIDDLE HAVE GONE UP.

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he shared experience of hoarding toilet paper and paper towels is not-sodistantly tucked away into people’s memories from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. While toilet paper seems to now be in ample supply, shortages continue to plague grocery stores, auto dealerships, and truckers who are trying to get supplies to their destinations. If it is not a component for manufacturing a product, it is a shortage in staff needed to get the product to market. Or it is the closure of a business because employees are sick with the latest COVID19 variant or there are not enough employees to keep the doors open. In between these larger issues are the smaller ones that consumers rarely think about. From weather issues to shipping and labor shortages, components such as peanuts, citric acid, sugar cane, and vegetable oils may be impacting a person’s ability to make a peanut-butter-andjelly sandwich. While people don’t think that a shortage of cardboard could impact their beloved PB&J, it is in some parts of the country. A recent box shortage has made it more difficult to ship and stock bread. A shortage of citric acid, used as a preservative, is impacting manufacturing of products such as jelly, which uses citric acid to keep it shelf stable.

Ansley Fellers, executive director of the Nebraska Grocers Association, explained that grocery store staples continue to be in high demand, and demand for various products continues to shift due to changes in the supply chain. “It is something different every day and every week,” Fellers said. “We will probably not see the empty shelves of the products that people need most but manufacturers have gone to making products in more limited quantities of items that are in demand.” Paper towels are now available, but stores may not be getting them in quantities they are used to. She said that there are more staples and less one-offs, meaning that the product is available but in fewer choices than it was pre-COVID-19. She said that consumer demand changes as businesses open and close. “When the rules change, behavior changes. It has been hard to predict consumer behavior especially early on in the pandemic,” Fellers said. This is an ongoing struggle as variants spread and retailers in general have to be mindful of how this impacts business. Shipping problems have led some large brands— including Walmart, Costco, and Target—to charter smaller ships that can land at quieter ports, hastening the process of bringing product to market. CONT. PAGE 63


“SINCE THAT PLAN CAME OUT IN 2010, WE’VE DONE MORE EXHIBITS, MORE CONSTRUCTION, AND RAISED MORE MONEY THAN ANY OTHER ZOO IN THE UNITED STATES.” -DENNIS PATE


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FEATURE | STORY BY MIKE WHYE PHOTOS BY SARAH LEMKE

THE NEW AND IMPROVED HENRY DOORLY ZOO GLACIER BAY LANDING ONE OF MANY COMPLETED PROJECTS

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ven though Dennis Pate is not an elected official, there are times that he finds himself in charge of Nebraska’s fifth largest community. That puts his community ahead of all others in the state except Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue, and Grand Island. On some summer Saturdays and Sundays, about 15,000 people visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, where Pate is the president and CEO. Of course, he has about 30,000 other heads in addition to the visitors—the small to large inhabitants of the zoo. The zoo has come far since it opened in the 1890s when it was named the Deer Park Zoo and had 120 animals. A good portion of that growth occurred since 2010, when the zoo kicked off a multi-layered improvement plan under Pate that was to cost $175 million and last 10 years. As it turned out, some portions of that plan finally finished this spring and the expense was $185 million. Despite the extra time and expense, Pate, who announced his 2023 retirement Feb. 14, is pleased. “I think a lot of people do plans and they never quite finish them. It’s awfully nice to say we finished ours,” he said. “We’ve raised the money, and more, that we said we were going to. For the most part, we built all the exhibits, at least the major ones.”

Along the way, changes occurred, such as when more utility work needed to be done in the $71 million African Grasslands exhibit that opened in 2016. “We had a South American section planned that we deferred in order to put more money into the utility side of the grasslands,” Pate said. “Things come up that you discover along the way that need your attention that weren’t necessarily in the plans. If I were to do this again, I’d put a lot more money into the unknown pocket of the plans. There’s a lot that you can’t anticipate.” The zoo had hoped to build a new animal hospital, but it didn’t because a decision was made to upgrade the sea lion pool from what had been originally planned. Construction costs escalated, as did materials. “Some increased costs can be accommodated but that’s always guesswork,” Pate added. “For the most part, we did it. We started at $175 million and we finished at $185 million,” Pate said. “Since that plan came out in 2010, we’ve done more exhibits, more construction, and raised more money than any other zoo in the United States.” CONT. PAGE 54


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FROM PAGE 53 From his office in the zoo’s administration offices on the third floor of the Robert B. Daugherty Education Center, Pate can see the zoo’s latest addition, Glacier Bay Landing. Adjacent to the $20 million Owen Sea Lion Shores that opened in 2020 (Pate proudly pointed out that recent visitors say it’s the zoo’s best exhibit), the theme of Glacier Bay is that of an Alaskan coastal town. Large shade structures and umbrellas shelter its plaza, and 1890s-era false front buildings serve food, including new menu items Crab Cake Sliders and Alaskan Cod Sandwiches. Its structures include men’s, women’s and family restrooms, a nursing area, a rental facility with seating for up to 240 visitors, a children’s playground with climbing structures and a lighthouse. The zoo’s new north entrance brings visitors immediately into Glacier Bay Landing, which is now the home of one of zoo’s longtime favorites—Sue’s Wildlife Carousel. The popular merry-go-round sports 33 fiberglass animals that whirl around under a tent of red and white stripes as calliope music fills the air. The aforementioned Daugherty Education Center overlooks Glacier Bay Landing. This 42,000-squarefoot structure was built to consolidate educational facilities and conservation offices that had been scattered across the zoo grounds. In particular, the center’s two lower floors house classrooms for courses that had been taught on a part-time basis over the years. The zoo now has a full-time high school of juniors and seniors, offering core courses with a focus on biological programs. “We have students from eight school districts—from Council Bluffs to Millard to private schools. We have 120 slots and this is pretty much their full day,” Pate said. “Students work in teams making use of our curators, Ph.D. researchers, and veterinarians, doing studies they normally wouldn’t do until they’re juniors in college. We have six Ph.D.s in our conservation department.”

VOLUME 22

The center also has two pre-K classes, one fulltime and the other part-time, and two full-time kindergartens. On all the windows of the center are transparent plastic sheets spackled with one-inch-wide silhouettes of about 50 Nebraska animals. The symbols help deter birds from flying into the windows. In the meeting room next to his office, Pate remembers the first zoo he visited as a child in San Diego. As he attended high school and college, Pate realized he was not cut out to be a veterinarian as he had hoped. He landed a job as a keeper at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo and later became its assistant curator of mammals. Next, he was the general curator at the Portland, Oregon, zoo before he returned to the Lincoln Park Zoo, this time as its senior vice president. In 2002 he became the director of the Jacksonville, Florida, zoo, where he created five new exhibits, including the nation’s largest collection of jaguars. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree for his studies of the double-striped stick-knee, a shorebird that lives in parts of Central and South America. In March 2009, Pate became Henry Doorly’s new director, succeeding Dr. Lee Simmons who had joined the zoo in 1966 as a veterinarian and became its director in 1970. During Simmons’ tenure, he directed a spate of improvements that propelled the zoo into joining the nation’s top five zoos as determined by various publications. Among his achievements, all of which cost more than $150 million, are the Lied Jungle; the Desert Dome, where the world’s largest glazed geodesic structure covers the world’s largest indoor desert; Kingdoms of the Night; Hubbard Gorilla Valley; Suzanne and Walter Scott Kingdoms of the Sea Aquarium; Skyfari; and Expedition Madagascar.

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“IT’S OUR TOP ATTRACTION. IN ADDITION TO OMAHA STEAKS AND BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY, THE ZOO IS ONE OF THE THINGS OMAHA IS KNOWN FOR.” -DEB WARD “Doc Simmons had done some very nice things, and one of the reasons I came was because of the head start he gave this place,” Pate said. “And I saw lots of potential for moving it forward.” In particular, he liked the immersive experiences where, instead of looking at animals contained in small spaces, visitors walk through areas embraced on many sides by the animals and their environments. The indoor desert and jungles are prime examples of immersive environments, as is the Hubbard Gorilla Valley. Once he was at Henry Doorly, Pate walked its grounds and began seeing things, so to speak. “I saw all kinds of possibilities and I wanted get the rest of the staff involved in that vision,” he said. “This was not just me. It was 20 people or so, the board members and more, and we wanted to develop a common look forward.” To help create the master plan, the zoo hired CLR Design, a Philadelphia planning firm with expertise in planning zoos. One area that the planners saw as a problem was just that—area. The Omaha zoo has little room to grow beyond its boundaries. It’s hemmed by neighborhoods, railroad tracks, Interstate 80, and south 10th Street, although the location where Rosenblatt Stadium and a Nebraska Tourism building once stood has become parking spaces. Still, creating more room for exhibits within the zoo’s 162 acres—which is smaller than the Columbus, Ohio, zoo’s 580 acres and the 2,600acre North Carolina Zoo—is akin to making a picture on a sliding tile puzzle. Some elements had to be shifted, and Pate and his crew squeezed out more space wherever they could. Every square inch counted.


OMAHAMAGAZINE.COM

From the plan has come the 28-acre African Grasslands, where two baby elephants joined the herd in January; and the $22 million Asian Highlands that feature ancient temples. Visitors can touch the smooth skins of rays gliding through the pool in Sting Ray Beach. Circulation patterns were rerouted to form loops into various regions along a main path that passes through the zoo with improved lighting. Steps are gone and the zoo is ADA compliant throughout. More benches were installed along with more venues offering food. Speakers low to the ground softly play music relating to the nearby exhibits of the world’s animals. Gardens now sprout where lawns were once mowed. Overall, 24 buildings disappeared, replaced by 54 new ones that use the space more efficiently. Not only has the zoo increased its space for animals, it’s given them what Pate called a richer space. “It’s more engaging for them. There are more climbing structures, more heat pads for them and more ways for them to interact with the keepers for training, space we didn’t have before,” Pate said. “The biggest focus is on the animals, to really upgrade their exhibits. We have to really take care of them or people aren’t going to come.” When African Grasslands opened in 2016, it proved so popular that attendance swelled to 2 million in that year and in 2017. It fell a bit, to 1.78 million, in 2019, and then COVID-19 hit. Attendance for 2020 was 817,000. It rose to 1.68 million in 2021. “We lost probably 44% of our revenue in 2020 and 54% of our attendance. That was over $20 million,” Pate explained. As with any zoo, the animals come first. “That puts pressure on everything else,” Pate said. “There were labor cuts but we were fortunate that the federal grants came through and helped pull us out of that. Some of the community donated $3.5 million to help. It was a tough year. ’Twenty-one was a much better year. We’re not back to where we were but we’re considerably better than we had been.”

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Admission tickets make up about 25% of the zoo’s income, with another 25% from membership, down to about 86,000 members from 90,000 a few years ago. The rest comes from the zoo’s entrepreneurial side. “We have to run this like a business—the restaurants, the gift shops, the facility rentals, the rides like the Skyfari, train, and tram,” he said. “It’s about a $50 million operation here.”

“Roughly a third of our attendance comes from out-of-state including across the river. We advertise from Kansas City to western Nebraska, and over into Iowa and Minneapolis,” said Pate, who noted that some years ago, the zoo began creating packages combining various elements of the zoo for lower prices, such as admission, the giant screen theater, rides on the train and tram, and more.

By comparison, the San Diego Zoo has a $300 million budget. After the cost of living difference, that is about three times higher than Omaha’s budget; and San Diego’s zoo is 100 acres and houses 12,000 animals.

Some area hotels have also been creating packages that cover rooms and admission to the zoo.

Pate is proud when he hears people talking positively about the zoo, like when Omahans are asked by out-of-town visitors what’s to do in Omaha. “Invariably, they say go to the zoo,” Pate said. “The community is proud of the place, and they tell everyone and their brother about it.”

THE ZOO IMPACTS OMAHA AND NEBRASKA BY ABOUT $200 MILLION A YEAR. THAT RELATES TO PEOPLE PAYING FOR GAS, MEALS, HOTELS, AND MORE WHILE IN TOWN. The zoo impacts Omaha and Nebraska by about $200 million a year, Pate said. That relates to people paying for gas, meal, hotels, and more while in town. Deb Ward, executive director of Visit Omaha, the city’s tourism bureau, said research shows that 60% of the overnight leisure travelers in Omaha visit the zoo. Likewise, 33% of the business travelers and 45% of those attending sports events also go to the zoo.

“I can tell you that one of our most popular packages is about the zoo,” said Ward. “And we recommend to hotels that they put together these packages.” Adam Daeges, general manager of Four Points by Sheraton Omaha Midtown, a Marriott hotel at 30th and Dodge streets, said the zoo is among the first things guests mention. He also believes packages are worthwhile. Ward said Visit Omaha has tracked an increase in visitors to the metro area over the years, 2020 and 2021 notwithstanding. “When the zoo started its 10-year plan in 2010, [we saw] a gradual increase in out-of-town visitors coming to Omaha. Is it all for the zoo? No, but it is a huge catalyst for the leisure market,” Ward said. “It’s our top attraction. In addition to Omaha Steaks and Berkshire Hathaway, the zoo is one of the things Omaha is known for.” A major part of the zoo’s appeal, said Ward, is that it grows and evolves. “The zoo doesn’t rest on its laurels,” she said. “It’s constantly creating new travel experiences.” Visit omahazoo.com for more information. B2B



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FEATURE | STORY BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOS BY BILL SITZMANN

A GUIDING LIGHT

HALL OF FAMER FRANK HAYES INSPIRES OTHERS

F

“I LOOKED AT THE INFORMATION AND I WAS LIKE, OK, THIS IS ABOUT ACCOUNTING. I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT ACCOUNTING. BUT IT HAD A SCHOLARSHIP COMPONENT, SO I WAS GOING TO LOOK INTO IT, BECAUSE I WANTED TO GO TO COLLEGE.” -FRANK HAYES

rank Hayes, longtime CPA and founder of Frank Hayes & Associates, was a 2009 inductee into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame. This remarkable moment was part of a remarkable life, and the capstone of a journey so unlikely that years later, he still speaks of it in tones tinged with awe. “It was absolutely, positively, something I thought would never happen,” he said. “Keep in mind who I am: I’m a person from a little town, Mendenhall, Mississippi; 10 brothers and sisters; raised on a farm, some days when I was a little kid not even having food to eat; went to segregated schools; didn’t have much money, didn’t have a lot of mentors.” He continued, “Going from that to where the business community recognized me for my accomplishments is amazing. Omaha has so many great businesspeople, and to be in that group is still almost unbelievable.” If Hayes’ life had played out as typecast, he might still be scraping a subsistence out of the Mississippi earth as his father and grandfather, farmers both, had done. From a young age, however, Frank Hayes has dreamed differently. “Living a farmer’s life meant working very hard, because we farmed the land with our hands. There wasn’t a lot of equipment,” he said. “School became an escape for me. My mother encouraged that; my dad, not so much.” His mother moved him to Omaha in search of better opportunities and it didn’t take long to pay off. Originally bent on medical school, Hayes’ life was altered by his high school chemistry teacher.

“He said ‘Frank, this came across my desk and I thought of you,’” Hayes recalled. “I looked at the information and I was like, OK, this is about accounting. I knew nothing about accounting. But it had a scholarship component, so I was going to look into it, because I wanted to go to college.” Hayes was able to attend Creighton University, where he majored in accounting and, as was allowed then, passed his CPA exam as an undergrad. He also earned valuable experience working part time for the Internal Revenue Service, which continued full time after graduation. By age 24, he’d taken his career into the private sector, landing with Grant Thornton LLP. Three years later, in 1983, he hung out his shingle. It was his boldest move yet, as he faced the dual hurdles of being a person of color and perceived as an inexperienced youngster. “I made a strategic decision opening the firm,” he said. “I’d noticed there was a demarcation line in Omaha; there were people who lived west of 72nd and those who lived east of 72nd. There were people in Omaha who would not go north of Cuming Street. CONT. PAGE 58


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“FRANK IS ONE OF THOSE GUYS WHO IS JUST THE EPITOME OF CLASS. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT SOMEBODY WHO REPRESENTS OMAHA WELL, HE’S THE EPITOME OF SOMEONE TO TRULY LOOK UP TO IN BUSINESS AND PUSHING ORGANIZATIONS FORWARD.” -MARCUS BELL

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Frank knew where he wanted to practice accounting. “I decided I was going to open my firm west of 72nd and south of Dodge,” he said. “I know that sounds trite, but I thought, ‘If a person doesn’t want to work with me because of the color of my skin, so be it. But I’m not going to give them the excuse they can’t come to a certain part of town.’” Hayes augmented this strategy with multiple community service activities, leveraging the power of social networking long before the digital version was invented. “I became a member of the [Omaha] chamber of commerce, I participated in Leadership Omaha, I joined a couple of organizational boards. That let people know who I was,” he said. “Then, if they needed accounting or tax services, or any kind of consulting services we were providing, they’d at least give me a shot.” Of course, Hayes’ community service was about more than client recruitment; he was investing time and resources in his fellow citizens and in future generations.

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“What stands out for me is he is very humble, a good mentor, good coach, and good person to reach out to for advice. He makes anybody he’s dealing with a better person,” said Eric Ewing, executive director of the Great Plains Black History Museum, of which Hayes is a board member. “He’s brought great leadership to the museum and brought more awareness to what the museum does.”


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Hayes’ shared expertise advanced organizations, and individuals. He was among a group of involved citizens who founded 100 Black Men of Omaha to provide guidance and mentoring to local Black youth. Also part of that group was Rick Bell, whose son Marcus is now the group’s executive director and CEO, and said the organization still reflects the mentor mentality of its founders. “One of our mottos is ‘What they see is what they’ll be.’ That truly was the foundation of the organization and we’ve carried that forward with our youth. Not just telling them do this or do that, but actually showing them and living it out in our own lives,” Bell said. He continued, “Frank is one of those guys who is just the epitome of class. When you think about somebody who represents Omaha well, he’s the epitome of someone to truly look up to in business and pushing organizations forward.” “100 Black Men of Omaha pretty much defines who I am,” Hayes said. “We wanted to show young Black kids that if you did things right, if you worked hard, if you maintain your dignity, you can succeed. And then we gave them models of that success so as they saw it, they could dream, ‘That can be me.’ It’s truly been the highlight of my life to make this community better.” Visit hayes.cpa for more information. B2B

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LEADING LADY

ICAN PRESIDENT/CEO IS A FAMILIAR FACE

A

ileen Warren has been many things in her life, but a follower isn’t one of them.

Warren’s aptitude to lead positive change and mold people has been her calling card in career roles as diverse as community activist and major corporate HR executive. Today, it’s the octane that fuels her goals as the newest president and CEO for ICAN, the Omaha organization specializing in leadership development and education. “To this day, I really feel there’s not another organization in Omaha like ICAN,” Warren said. “ICAN really has its own special niche when it comes to leadership development with their premier program being the Women’s Leadership Conference, but also doing a lot of the custom programs that we offer as well.” She continued, “I just love the drive of it; I just love the energy around making sure that we are developing future leaders in Omaha. ICAN is something unique and I am glad to be a part of it.” Warren speaks with a knowing voice about the organization. She has been active in ICAN in various capacities since 1996, most recently as a two-term member of its board of directors and board executive committee, a hitch concluding at the end of last year. Prior to that, she graduated from the group’s INFLUENCE program and served on its Leadership Award selection committee, among other roles. Also notable was co-chairing the group’s signature ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference in 2010, with the additional distinction of having been a speaker at the nationally acclaimed event, a plum feather in any leadership expert’s cap.

Given all of that, plus her long line of career successes in the nonprofit and corporate world, her selection as ICAN president and CEO was a no-brainer. But as she took office on Jan. 24, there was no hint of resting on her—or the organization’s— proverbial laurels. “ICAN has done a phenomenal job when it comes to leadership development, whether that’s the standard programs that they offer or the custom programs that they offer for area companies. And, of course, the signature conference,” she said. “The opportunity is how do you take all that to the next level?” “I think it’s about expanding on what we want to do. I think the foundation is there, but I definitely want to explore some additional options. We have recently gone through a strategic planning process and we got a lot of different feedback from various points of view. I’m looking forward to digging into that along with discussions with the team as far as their ideas for areas where we can advance.” Warren made it clear that growing diversity in participation is a priority area as she begins her time at the helm. “Our conferences, everything that we do is open to everybody, but ultimately it’s the companies who decide who they want to be a part of that program,” she said. CONT. PAGE 62

“ICAN HAS DONE A PHENOMENAL JOB WHEN IT COMES TO LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, WHETHER THAT’S THE STANDARD PROGRAMS THAT THEY OFFER OR THE CUSTOM PROGRAMS THAT THEY OFFER FOR AREA COMPANIES. AND, OF COURSE, THE SIGNATURE CONFERENCE.” -AILEEN WARREN

ISSUE 2


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FROM PAGE 60

D ig ital g n i s i t r e v Ad s n o i t u l So Reach your ideal audience, wherever they are. G ARKETIN EMAIL M MEDIA SOCIAL ING DVERTIS A Y A L P DIS ING TARGET E C N E I AUD

“One of the things that I would like to focus on is how can we be more deliberate and more intentional in terms of making sure that everyone is having the opportunity to be developed as a leader? How do we help ensure that when companies select people for our programs, that they are selecting a cross-section of people to be developed?” Susan Henricks, who held the job for the previous seven years, has known Warren for more than two decades when they were colleagues at First Data, now Fiserv. She said Warren’s take-charge attitude and drive for self-improvement are familiar attributes for anyone who knows her. “I’ve known her for quite some time and she is an outstanding leader,” Henricks said. “She is a person of great integrity and she’s very committed to developing people in their roles in business.” She continued, “Her confidence and her integrity are things that have always stood out about her. If Aileen said she was going to do something or make something happen, she did it and she made it happen. That has continued throughout her whole career and her whole life.” Warren’s natural leadership skills have always been on ready display, going back to her days at Omaha North High School where she was homecoming queen, a member of National Honor Society and president of the Black History Club, to name a few of her many accolades. A Goodrich Scholarship recipient, she attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha, from which she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She later earned a master’s degree in social work from UNO.

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“ IF AILEEN SAID SHE WAS GOING TO DO SOMETHING OR MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN, SHE DID IT AND SHE MADE IT HAPPEN. THAT HAS CONTINUED THROUGHOUT HER WHOLE CAREER AND HER WHOLE LIFE.” - SUSAN HENRICKS After graduation, Warren migrated to Urban League of Nebraska, where she served as vice president of Economic Development and Employment for nearly three years. First National Bank of Omaha then recruited her to help launch an employee training program. Eventually, she’d oversee the bank’s management training program, merging more fully into the HR department. She split the next 25-plus years between First Data— ultimately reaching the level of VP of HR—and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she’d serve as associate vice chancellor and director of Human Resources. Warren has been a fixture in the community, serving multiple organizations including Women’s Fund of Omaha and Omaha Home for Boys. She is the 2022 president of Omaha Downtown Rotary and a member of Urban League of Nebraska Guild. Visit icanleaders.org for more information. B2B


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FROM PAGE 51 As the pandemic has continued, pricing of goods has also increased. Fresh groceries are impacted by winter—when the spread of COVID-19 is higher and weather is bad—which can delay delivery of perishables. “Winter is definitely harder than warmer months and meat prices are impacted by this,” Fellers said. She added that grocery stores run on a 1% to 2% margin and all the costs in the middle have gone up. Throughout the supply chain, trucking, processing, wholesale, and retail are all impacted by the increased costs from COVID-19. “Not everyone realized the middle costs. Maybe a year-and-a-half ago, there were many grocers trying to absorb that cost and get through it and then they couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. While finding favorite products at the grocery store may pose an occasional challenge, finding a new car during the pandemic has left many buyers adding their names to waiting lists and hoping that the one they want will arrive within the next few months. Cody Gilmore, new car manager at Superior Honda, said that the main reason for the low new car inventory is that the computer chips were not being produced for the vehicles. Gilmore said that the auto industry was forced into the inventory issue due to COVID-19. Computer chips for the vehicles started the supply chain issue and was followed with cars stuck in the ports coming in from overseas, or at railheads where they may be short-staffed getting vehicles off trains and onto trucks. Then there is the shortage of drivers that also contributed to the supply chain interruption. It has forced car dealers to ask buyers to place security deposits and pre-sell the cars before they arrive at the lot. “I have 25 Odysseys due to me in the next few months and 15 are already essentially sold,” Gilmore said. “People have placed a security deposit to hold the car. We notify them once it is built, then we have a four-day window to know when it will be shipped to us. Once it has been built it gets here quickly.” Gilmore said that most of the Hondas they sell are built stateside. Some are coming in from Mexico, Canada, and Japan but well over 50% are built in the United States.

“OLD OCCUPANCY WAS A COUPLEHUNDRED CARS ON THE LOT AND NOW IT IS LESS THAN 10.”

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-CODY GILMORE The percentage of lot occupancy is running low, Gilmore said. “Old occupancy was a couplehundred cars on the lot and now it is less than 10. On the north side of our lot, there used to be three rows of cars parallel to the building where we housed most of the Accords, Civics, Pilots, and Odysseys. You would see the lot full and the rows in the back of the lot were full,” he said. “Driving through the lot is very bleak, it feels weird.” Gilmore, who has been selling cars for 18 years, said that the dealership is still busy and consumers are being more flexible when it comes to getting a new car. Tangible vehicles are hard to buy right now and 20% to 30% of customers will upgrade depending on the availability of the vehicle they want to purchase. “If you are looking for a car today—be open to the possibilities,” Gilmore advised. If you are in a time crunch, be open to a pre-owned vehicle.” He said that car inventory levels will continue to improve but not to look for many new models being introduced in the next year. As we continue to live and learn through all the variants of COVID-19, the biggest lesson that Fellers hopes we have all learned is how fragile the system is here and abroad. “The way we source things and prepare for demand, I hope people have learned how interconnected everything is,” she said. B2B

Q&A WITH CEO OF PERCIPIO PARTNERS, LLC JIM RICH Growth Guru works with a variety of companies that are growth-focused. Growth Guru Founder Rick Faber recently sat down with Jim Rich, CEO of Percipio Partners, LLC. RF: What is changing at Percipio, it’s leadership, focus or direction? JR: Percipio has grown in several directions over its 10 years. As we have grown we have evolved from investments in commercial real estate into a number of operating companies. RF: What is your interest in this industry? JR: I like the variety of challenges that we get involved in, and the investment of our capital in our projects. I also like applying my skills in management and finance. RF: What is your vision for Percipio? JR: My vision for a best-in-class investment company that is known for taking care of its investors’ capital and for creating a great place to work. RF: What do you do to continue to grow as a leader? JR: I recognize my weaknesses and I also try hard to surround myself with team members who are calculated risk-takers and not afraid to make a mistake. RF: How has Growth Guru helped Percipio? JR: Growth Guru has helped to create a culture of identifying, prioritizing, and closing on pressing issues.


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OMAHA CVB BY DEBORAH WARD

2022 TRAVEL AND TOURISM TRENDS F

or the tourism industry, the pandemic has often felt like a never-ending road trip filled with twists, turns, and plenty of stalling. Despite the bumps in the road, 2022 projections for the industry are looking up—both nationally and for Omaha. Domestic leisure travel in the U.S. is expected to drive recovery this year past 2019 spending totals. An Expedia survey shows 40% of travelers plan to splurge on trips in 2022, but that does not mean everyone is going to a swanky international destination. In fact, 59% of Americans say they only plan to travel domestically. A quarter of American travelers surveyed said they want to visit lesserknown destinations, while close to half want to try food they have never eaten before. However, the impact of COVID19 and its variants have resulted in uncertainty among industry experts regarding the timing of recovery for convention and meetings business.

Forecasts continue to change based on the course of the pandemic, event attendee behavior, workforce availability, and economic stability. Tourism Economics, a global research organization, predicts this year’s group demand in the U.S. will be 74.5% of 2019 levels. In 2023, demand will be 94.5% of 2019 levels, and in 2024, projections are that convention and meeting business will be 100% back to pre-pandemic levels. Locally, hotel projections are encouraging. STR, a company specializing in collecting and analyzing hotel data, predicts 57.8% of hotel rooms in Douglas County will be full in 2022. For comparison, 58.6% of hotel rooms were full in 2019. STR also forecasts area hotels will collect $245 million in hotel revenue for 2022, which exceeds pre-pandemic (2019) numbers by $26 million. The road trip continues and recovery is certainly ahead. So when you ask, “are we there yet?” our answer is, “almost,” all the while hoping there’s not another detour up ahead. B2B

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GREATER OMAHA CHAMBER BY DAVID BROWN

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE THE BEST? A

s a former athlete, I have always been impressed with what it takes to be the best of the best. In my days as a high school football player, it always struck me that on virtually every team we played against—and even our own—there were a very small number of possible college-level players. These players were so clearly better than the supporting cast around them. Though, even with these stars there was a hierarchy as even fewer of these high achievers were potential Division One players. Then, when those players made it to the college level, even they all had to contend with the fact they were now surrounded by others of their same or better abilities. At that level, there were even fewer players who were pro football caliber who could make it to the big show. How did they get to be so exceptional that they were at the top of heap? When did they realize that they had what it takes? You can do the same math on virtually any sport, and in a timely comparison, to Olympic athletes. Just what was it that made them work so hard to rise to that level of excellence when so many others aspired to that success but could not make it?

Deborah Ward is the executive director

David Brown is president and

of Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber.

I contend much of the success centers around the person’s ability to find that drive within themselves to be the best. There is a lot to be said for God-given physical and mental gifts, but I think we all know of individuals described as phenoms who just didn’t quite make it. Gifts are important, but not in a vacuum. I return over and over again to the inner drive, the passion for excellence, the stubbornness not to give up. I think that same drive can be found in successful business people. In this edition of B2B Magazine, the publishers are celebrating businesses who were voted “Best of” by their readers. I would suggest that you take some time to familiarize yourselves with the stories of these businesses and the focus the owners of these businesses have on leadership, customers, teams and markets. When you do, I know you will find them to be people that are driven to succeed, passionate about their teams, and convinced that the best is yet to come. From all of us at the Greater Omaha Chamber, congratulations on your success. B2B


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