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Omaha’s Business-To-Business Magazine

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B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    3


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B2B Omaha is published four 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, excepting individually copyrighted articles and photographs. Unsolicited manuscripts are accepted, however no responsibility will be assumed for such solicitations.

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OMAHA’S BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS MAGAZINE • Summer 2013 • VOLUME 13 • NUMBER 2 Now check out B2B Omaha Magazine online. Using flipbook technology to give you a whole new magazine reading experience.


on the web:

FE AT U R E S U.S. Senior Open. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Commercial Real Estate Section:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Educational Building Design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Commercial Mortgage Refinancing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Apartment Construction Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Retail Center Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Market Beat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 OnTrack, Inc. Recording Studio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Cover Story: David Brown’s Omaha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Chamber Leader Focused on Making the City Shine Buy Omaha Profiles: Kracklin’ Kirk’s Fireworks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Eleven19. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Albers Communications Group, LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Dogs at Work, Trend Slowly Gains Steam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

On the Rise: Chad Eacker. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 In the Office: Juggernaut Interactive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 OmAHA!: Café 110, a Square Deal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 How I Roll: Hangar One’s Fly Boy, Tyler Klingemann. . . . . . . . 42 OmAHA!: ProTech Xpress. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

cover feature

Page 28


Omaha CVB: A Major Moment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Office Furniture: Five Trends in Office Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Business Ethics: Bringing Community Responsibility to Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Social Media: Digital Immigrant, Meet Demand Generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

The Know-It-All: Is Our Liberty to Succeed or Fail in Jeopardy? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

Check us Out on Facebook and Find Out How to Subscribe and get a 50% discount. Search for Omaha Magazine.

B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    5

on the rise

S tor y b y K y le E usti c e • P hoto b y B ill S itzmann

Chad Eacker

Delinea Design


s creative director and

co-owner of Delinea Design in Downtown Omaha, Chad Eacker has made it his mission to pay attention to the details, whether that means working on his clients’ advertising campaigns or finding new ways to motivate Omaha’s future leaders. In addition to overseeing his creative agency, which offers branding, graphic design, advertising, and web development services, Eacker also serves on the board of Omaha Young Professionals, a catalyst organization within the Greater Omaha Chamber whose primary goal is to retain and attract young professionals to Omaha. But how, you ask? 6 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

By providing “a dynamic, inclusive, and integrated community where diverse young professionals want to live, work, and play.” Originally from Lincoln, Neb., Eacker attended Southeast High before heading to University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study English. His original plan was to apply to law school, but as his interest in graphic design grew, his desire for law school faded. Graduating from UNL in 2007, he moved to Omaha on graduation day to embark on his business venture with fellow co-owner Matt Bross; however, it wasn’t part of his initial plan. “It really took off, and I really enjoyed it,” Eacker says. “I didn’t expect it to. I was working retail, and it was a lot better than that. I like being my own boss. I didn’t intend on starting my own business. It just kind of happened despite my better judgment. At the beginning, I was kind of wide-eyed and stupid. There was no pressure. I was still living in my parents’ basement.” Five years later, Delinea Design has grown, and Eacker has taken on more responsibility in the community he now calls home. This year, serving as YP’s communications chair, he played a vital role in the planning of the Young Professionals Summit, held Feb. 28 at CenturyLink Center Omaha. The YP Summit featured prominent singer and keynote speaker John Legend.

“The thing about the Young Professionals Summit…it’s broken up into so many committees. My part was really early on in the summit,” he explains. “It had been determined that the past ones had gotten kind of stale. We were asked to liven up the CenturyLink Center. Working with them, they had certain limitations for what we could and could not do. I was in charge of reimagining it. We wanted it to feel less staunch and corporate.” With Eacker’s assistance, the 2013 YPS was a big success, and next year’s event will most likely be just as intriguing. In the meantime, Eacker can be found making coffee, enjoying premium whiskey, sporting colorful footwear, and working hard on Delinea Design’s inevitably bright future.

B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    7

in the office S t o r y b y C h r i s wo l f g a n g • P h o t o s b y B i l l S i t z m a n n

Juggernaut Interactive






Juggernaut Interactive mimics characteristics of the company itself. You couldn’t find it if you weren’t looking very, very hard. Even when you reach the business park it hides in just west of Westroads Mall in Miracle Hills, you’d never guess what’s really behind the corporate-looking oak door. If Brian Daniel, owner of the two-yearold interactive web-experience company, is in the office, Zeke might be, too. The sixyear-old toy poodle will happily chase a laser pointer around the small office’s common room, which is lime green. The one white wall displays a projection of comic sketches instead of typical office artwork. A visitor could almost mistake the place for a trendy frozen yogurt shop, except that Sharpies fill the glass apothecary jars instead of coconut flakes and candy. “When we moved in, this space was really dark,” Daniel says of the 1,850-square-foot office. “The wainscoting, the trim pieces were all black.” Within the last two years of Juggernaut Interactive inhabiting the small suite, black has been relegated to tasteful accents only, giving bright colors the stage. Cindy Ostronic, an interior designer with The Designing Edge, helped Daniel pull colors from the company’s own brand to fill the area with lime green, maraschino red, and what really should be called Orangesicle. From the multicolored couch pillows to the red iPad cover on a black sideboard, pops of the signature hues are everywhere. Ostronic was also the one who realized that a traditional reception desk/receiving area shouldn’t be a part of Juggernaut Interactive’s space. “That’s not really how they work,” she points out. “They needed more of a collaboration area out in the open where people can do their thing.” Each room is named: The Grotto, the Hotbox, the Dojo, the Darkroom (oddly enough, as a corner office, it’s the brightest room), the Rabbithole (“You go in there, and things get lost”), and the Boiler Room (“It gets so darn hot in there”). The break room is 8 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

Hear your music, drink your beer, do your work at Gotham.

Juggernaut owner Brian Daniel in his workspace dujour.

called Red Mango after, yes, the yogurt shop, which is a Juggernaut Interactive client. The fridge is stocked with a variety of beers, the cabinets contain salty snacks, and lunches are up for grabs in the freezer. The office as a whole is nicknamed Gotham. “We voted on all the names,” Daniel says, referring to his 10 or so employees. “What’s the personality of the room, why are we meeting in there, you know.” In the interactive branding business, he states, the more comfortable and relaxed you can be, the better. What’s more relaxing than a little personalized mood music? “We have three Sonos systems running through here,” Daniel says, each of which enables employees to play different music zones on one of Juggernaut Interactive’s three networks. When guests come in, Daniel tends to ask what their three favorite songs are. “Everybody can control their own music, which is kind of nice,” he says. George Strait gets carried away in the Dojo, for example, while Adele sets fire to the rain in the Darkroom. The Sonos systems and two independent Apple TVs run off the office’s main network. The other two networks are for guests and voice over IP. Two Epson projectors work with the Apple TVs to showcase everything from a client’s desktop to late-night YouTube videos. A huge part of the office’s aesthetic is obviously its tech. Juggernaut Interactive employees are drowning in it. Everyone has either a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, an iPad 2 (some also have an iPad mini), as well as a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display monitor, “which is complete overkill,” Daniel admits, “but they all have them.” Except, that is, for Daniel, who doesn’t use a monitor or really even a particular office. His workspace is his iPad mini, a projector, and whatever dry-erase surface happens to be nearby. A phone call to the office rings three times before it goes to Daniel’s cell, making sure that the statehopping owner doesn’t miss a call. “I’m creating a business for the lifestyle I want,” he says, which does not include an office full of people he has to babysit. “I want this to be a creative space where people come in, get their work done, get out.” The office attitude is indeed come and go. Daniel says his employees have been around the block enough with their careers that they work very efficiently. The office space reflects that attitude: informal but professional. Sharp and tidy, but colorful and creative.

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feature S t o r y b y m i c h a e l wat k i n s • P h o t o s p r o v i d e d b y 2013 U. S . S e n i o r O p e n

Omaha’s Hole in One Nebraska’s first U.S. Senior Open anticipates record attendance.

A look down the 9th hole at Omaha Country Club.


hen officials with the United States Golf Association (USGA) began

the selection process for the 2013 U.S. Senior Open more than five years ago, one city and one course stood above the rest. Prior to an expansive renovation of the Omaha Country Club in 2007, every time Omaha tried to lure a major golf event to town, the USGA declined, saying there was no course in the state of Nebraska that was capable of hosting this level of national championship. Not anymore. “The USGA was impressed with what the club and [designer] Keith Foster had done when they renovated the golf course,” says Tim Flaherty, senior director, U.S. Women’s and U.S. Senior Opens for the USGA. “By bringing back the Maxwell features [put in place during a 1952 renovation of OCC by renowned golf course architect Perry Maxwell] and by lengthening the course, we felt it was a worthy test for the Senior Open. Our number-one issue is the golf course, and we really feel like Omaha Country Club is a hidden gem that a national audience will not be familiar with. 10 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

“We were also impressed with the club leadership and [general chairman] Patrick Duffy in particular. These championships are a collaborative effort, and we felt like the club would be a wonderful partner in this endeavor. Lastly, we were intrigued with the city of Omaha and all of the success it’s had with major, national events. There is a strong corporate base which supports events of this kind and that was readily apparent when we made the decision to accept the club’s invitation.” Convincing the USGA to host such a widely followed and prestigious event as >>



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<< the U.S. Senior Open was quite a coup for Omaha. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase Omaha to an international audience, as the championship will be broadcast live on ESPN and NBC to more than 100 countries for four days between July 8 and 14. With internationally known names like Tom Watson, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples, and Mark O’Meara—among many other former tour championships—competing for the title, Championship Director Liz Leckemby says spectators will experience an event like none other in Nebraska. According to Leckemby, Omaha and the Omaha Country Club were selected from an elite list of clubs interested in hosting the championships—some past sites and some new contenders. This is the first time the U.S. Senior Open has been in the state of Nebraska, although there have been two smaller USGA championships held in the state. “Because the Senior Open is the biggest event for the players over 50, it provides the largest purse, and the trophy is the one the players all want to win, so we never need to go out and actively recruit players to come to this event,” Leckemby says. “This championship will go down in the record books for being what we anticipate to be the biggest Senior Open in history, so while having the top-name players is important, if someone does not make the field list due to injury or another reason, the championship will go on.” “The rookie class for 2013 is pretty exciting, as we have Colin Montgomery, Steve Elkington, Vijay Singh, and Rocco Mediate who will all be eligible for their first U.S. Senior Open.” From an economic impact, Leckemby says the USGA is conservatively expecting a crowd of 150,000 for the week to watch the 156 players and their caddies. Add in a few hundred media and broadcasters, volunteers, spectators, manufacturers, rules officials, USGA staff, USGA executive committee, and some vendors traveling to, staying and eating, and spending money in the city, and Leckemby is anticipating an economic impact of $30 million-plus to the local community. She adds that the local public and private communities, as well as large and small companies, have been tremendous in supporting the championship. Ticket sales have been strong in both Omaha and Lincoln, and companies understand why it’s important to support major national championships like the U.S. Senior Open.

Pro golfers Freddy Couples (top) and Fred Funk (bottom right) are among past U.S. Senior Open champions.


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Flaherty agrees with Leckemby in predicting this championship is poised to be the most successful Senior Open in history. The event has already eclipsed the previous benchmark for corporate support, and ticket sales will end up in the top two or three championships in history. “These are significant results and confirmation that Omaha is a great town for these types of events,” Flaherty says. “The club has been a pleasure to work with, and our championship staff is excited to be there in July. Successful Senior Opens are the ones that transcend the club and the USGA and truly become a community event. The unprecedented corporate support, strong ticket sales, and a full volunteer force are all indicators of a successful championship on the horizon.” Leckemby says she expects the coverage and notoriety Omaha will get as host city of the Senior Open will intrigue organizers and decision-makers of sporting and entertainment events to investigate and ultimately choose the city for a variety of reasons. “Anytime you can feature a successful event to a national and international audience, it opens the door for future events,” Leckemby says. “There are many people who may be learning about Omaha for the first time when the NBC broadcast coverage opens at the Senior Open on Saturday afternoon. “I personally grew up in New Jersey, an hour outside of NYC, so Omaha was never a place I knew much about. I think this championship will do wonders to educate people about Omaha, and the golf fans in particular.”


402.292.5553 B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    13

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A Major Moment


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shuttle buses, 700 cases of beer, 250 kegs, 200 golf carts, and 196 portable restrooms…sounds like a big party and it is! Add in a celebrity guest list that includes big-name golfers such as Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Hale Irwin, Corey Pavin, plus 152 other professional and amateur players and the party just got bigger and better. The U.S. Senior Open, July 8 through the 14 at the Omaha Country Club, is expected to attract 150,000 spectators throughout the week-long event and put Omaha center stage in front of an international audience. The premier golf event for the senior tour will be broadcast to more than 100 countries and will include four days of live television coverage on ESPN and NBC Sports. That means millions will see what Omaha has to offer, generating valuable awareness for our city, as well as building upon Omaha’s growing reputation as a destination that knows how to successfully host big events. And if there was any doubt as to the value tourism brings to our city, not only will the U.S. Senior Open provide premium media exposure, it will add $30 million to the local economy—$30 million in one week…Now that’s a party worth celebrating. Questions or comments? Email us at info@ Dana Markel, Executive Director Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau 1001 Farnam Omaha, NE 68102 402-444-4660


  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

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educationalbuilding design

commercialmortgage refinancing apartmentconstruction trends retailcenter review

photo provided by DLR Group

B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    15

COMMERCIAL Real Estate Story by Kara Schweiss • Photos provided by DLR Group DLR Group’s current project, Alfonza W. Davis Middle School (OPS), is under construction at 129th & State streets.


educational building design future expansion, safety, energy issues play greater roles chool buildings have come a long way from the stately, institutional structures

of yesteryear. Today’s newest K-12 environments echo some of the best elements of commercial and residential design trends, say representatives of integrated design firm DLR Group. “What we really see as far as trends are a lot of renovations, a lot of energy retrofits, and a big push for security measures as well,” says architect and DLR Group principal Pat Phelan, K-12 sector leader. While established structures in longstanding neighborhoods undergo renovation and expansion, most of the new construction has been in elementary schools, says architect and DLR Group principal Mark Brim, K-12 designer. He adds that it’s a matter of numbers related to how school districts are structured, explaining that “for every high school you build, you’re going to be building three, maybe four, elementary schools and maybe two middle schools.” 16 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

One lesson learned from the past is planning for future expansion during new construction and major renovation, Phelan says. “With some of the older buildings that weren’t designed for expansion, those present some unique challenges, obviously.” Brim adds: “We’ve had the opportunity to work with the rapidly growing districts here in the metro area. In those cases, the new buildings we were involved with, we did master-plan those to expand as enrollment increases.”


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District residents also have a vested interest in their school buildings, and today’s schools include spaces that can be adapted to serve the community for activities from public meetings to presentations and receptions. Of course, durability is also a consideration when it comes to school buildings with a life expectancy of 75 years or more. “It’s selecting the right yarn type so the carpet will hold up, or high performance paint,” explains Melissa Spearman, DLR Group senior associate and interior designer leader. “A school is going to have a lot of traffic. It may not have a lot of money to fund a lot of maintenance,” Brim adds. “Energy efficiency is always a concern, but also sustainability with the push for green architecture, and not only on the energy side but also with use of more environmentally friendly materials and recycled materials.” Spearman says function now drives form when school interiors are planned. “We’re seeing how the teachers interact with the students or how the students can work in small groups, how different collaboration zones are set up, or how maybe they’re studying in common spaces and those are becoming more gathering spaces,” she says. “We’re really focusing more on the learning environment overall,” Phelan agrees. “That involves bringing natural light into as many spaces as we can, it means comfortable climate, it means transparency so students are more engaged in what’s going on in different spaces.” Phelan explains that engagement elements range from wi-fi to adding more display areas for student works to considering environmental features evocative of where students naturally congregate, like the comfortable, portable seating in malls or coffee shops. “We think that research supports the fact that the learning environment has an impact on the performance of students in the classroom. As a result, DLR Group has become the number-one K-12 firm in the country,” Phelan says. “That’s something that we take a lot of pride in, and we don’t rest on that; we know we have to continue to always look to the future, look to innovate, and listen to our clients.”

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COMMERCIAL Real Estate Story by Traci Osuna • Photo by Bill Sitzmann and provided by Great Western Bank

strictbanking requirements

make refinancing commercial mortgages ‘no walk in the (business) park.’


Gary Grote, Great Western Bank

ith interest rates having been at all-time lows for over a year and forecast

to remain at record lows for the foreseeable future, it’s likely that either you or someone you know has refinanced their home recently. But does the same hold true for commercial building owners? Have business owners and those with commercial leases been able to take advantage of such low rates? Have entrepreneurs seeking new loans been able to set their dreams in motion, even in these tough economic times? According to Gary Grote, Omaha group president for Great Western Bank, while commercial loans may not have been impacted by the low rates as much as residential loans have, there still has been a significant effect in the commercial market. “The difference between residential and commercial is that in the commercial loans…there may be pre-payment penalties that apply until the maturity day,” explains Grote. “So you can’t always just pick up the phone and…refinance on a whim like with a residential mortgage.” He does add that though it may not be as “easy” to refinance a commercial loan, “many people have already taken advantage of the low rates…and we continue to see opportunities.” Craig Lefler, senior vice president and manager of commercial banking with Mutual of Omaha Bank, agrees with Grote, saying while there may be a few more obstacles for commercial loans to be refinanced, there are still ample opportunities for businesses to seek lower interest rates on existing loans. “A lot of commercial real estate loans are done by banks on 18 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

Craig Lefler, Mutual of Omaha Bank a five-year type of basis and some of those, depending on the bank, may have a penalty for early payoff. That would certainly be a consideration for [when it comes to the] cost of refinancing the loan.” Both Grote and Lefler say that although rates are at historic lows and there are many opportunities available for commercial loans to be granted as well as refinanced, the process and underwriting standards are higher than ever. “After the financial crisis, credit certainly tightened up and [banks] returned to more prudent, conventional underwriting standards,” says Grote. Lefler agrees that there are more stringent standards and more in-depth analyses today than in the past. However, those are countered by the benefit of lower interest rates.

“It’s a mixed bag,” he says. Interest rates for commercial spaces are different than those for residential mortgages. Grote explains that the typical five-year loan originated from the trouble that the Savings and Loans went through in the 1980s. The S&Ls offered CDs for two to four years at fixed rates. They then would loan money at fixed rates for 10- or 15-year loans. “When the rates went up, they got burned because their cost of money increased but their loans were at a fixed rate.” He shares that banks typically keep fiveyear commercial loans on their balance sheets while traditional home mortgages are sold off to other organizations. As another option, Grote says that some banks, such as Great Western, may offer certain clients 10– and 15-year fixed rates. But he says that this is a unique situation. Thirdly, he shares that the Small Business Administration has a popular product called the SBA 504 Program, in which a portion of the loan allows the borrower to do a 10- or 20-year fixed rate. “So there are options out there, and it just kind of depends on the property and the borrower and where they’re at in their life cycle and what makes the most sense for them.” Depending on whether the loan is for owner-occupied real estate or investor real estate, Grote explains that the lender will underwrite the occupant’s financial statements or the investor’s ability to rent space. Both men recommend that businesses have their financial records in order and ready to be submitted for review. “Be organized and be able to quickly produce their financial statements in an organized fashion,” says Grote. “That helps banks respond quickly and be able to give good guidance and good answers.” Lefler adds that, in addition to the financial records, the lender will also consider “the projection, going forward, of how the space will be used and ultimately, from the lender’s point of view, will the debts get repaid. “My sense is that there is a feeling that banks are not willing to lend money on new business ventures and to projects like this, but I would say that this is not true,” says Lefler. “In our market, which is stable, banks play an active role in these spaces on a daily basis.”

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COMMERCIAL Real Estate Story by Traci Osuna • Photos by Bill Sitzmann, Thom Neese, and Malone & Co.

Christian Christensen, Bluestone Development At right: The 9ines Apartments, 13th & Cuming streets


trends toward smaller spaces, entertaining, & fitness amenities.


hen it comes to looking for the perfect apartment, bigger is not always better…

or affordable. And with the main demographic of apartment dwellers in Omaha being Generation Y—those ranging in age from 22 to 27 years-old—they are making their feelings known and developers are listening. Christian Christensen, owner of Bluestone Development, has been working in commercial real estate for nearly two decades and owns several apartment buildings, including The 9ines and Joslyn Lofts. He knows intimately the wants and needs of those looking for their next space to live. “We have done condos, townhomes, row homes, historic renovations…” says Christensen, “but our focus right now is on apartments…all urban. Part of that is due to the market and part of it is due to our passion for apartments.” While the Old Market has been for years the go-to location for urban living, Christensen says that things are changing, especially with the development of Midtown Crossing. “Basically, anything east of I-680 are projects that we look at.” With his primary customers being Generation Y, Christensen says that price is a big concern. “To make [these spaces] affordable, you’ve got to work hard on floor plans.” He explains that most developers today are designing smaller floor plans because, not only are they more reasonably priced, but “people are heading toward a no-waste type of living.” “When you look at how homes were developed 15 years ago, you really only utilize 60 percent 20 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

of your home on a daily basis. The other 40 percent you’re paying for, but not really utilizing it. It’s the same thing with apartments.” Combine this with the fact that fewer people are living with roommates, these highly sought-after urban apartments are becoming more accessible to people who, a few years ago, could only dream of living in these locations. Jerry Banks, portfolio director of real estate for NewStreet Properties, LLC, also works with developing and remodeling apartments, as well as retail and office spaces. The Omahabased company owns properties all over the country, including Tiburon View and Huntington Park Apartments in Omaha,. While NewStreet does not develop urban locations and his tenants tend to range from

20- and 30-somethings to empty nesters, Banks says that his tenants are also looking for scaled-down floor plans. “We’re seeing more and more trends toward smaller units, both in studios and one bedrooms.” Safety and security is another big focus of his tenants, says Banks. “That’s always been and will continue to be a very important renter requirement…very high on the list.” To meet the demands of his residents, Banks says that NewStreet has been actively addressing a variety of security concerns, including changing all exterior lighting to brighter, more efficient LED bulbs, as well as implementing new, fully automated locks for all their apartments. Banks refers to the possible security breach of buildings that have master keys or by former residents who may have had copies of keys made in the past. “None of our apartments have a master key of any type…we’ve de-mastered 100 percent of all the locks on all of our properties.” Each key is also tracked by a bar code, allowing the property owner to know who has borrowed a key and when that key was returned. “We put a real emphasis on safety and security for our residents,” says Banks. “These are just some things that most residents don’t see and think about but just take for granted.” Both Christensen and Banks say that their tenants are looking for convenience and ways to make their lives easier. Fitness facilities, both indoor and outdoor, as well as pet-friendly spaces and amenities, fire pits, and plenty of grilling areas for entertaining are options that NewStreet is providing to their residents. Bluestone is exploring the options of adding a hot yoga studio, as well as the possibility of shared gaming rooms and a community kitchen that may provide cooking lessons and opportunities for socializing. Both Christensen and Banks say that customer service is their main priority. “Going forward, everyone is going to have to look at their operation and see how they can deliver outrageous service,” says Christensen. “Because that’s what our customers get when they go to other places. They go to Starbucks…they go to Urban Outfitters… they get outrageous service. They can expect that service where they live.”

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B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    21

COMMERCIAL Real Estate Story by Kara Schweiss • Photo by Malone & Co. Shadow Lake Towne Center


retail centers recap strong 2012, ramp up expectations for 2013. or some of the Omaha area’s newest and most cutting-edge retail developments,

2012 was a successful year during a time when the national economic climate was still uncertain, and 2013 is so far looking good, say representatives. “Both shopping centers had solid sales performances overall for 2012 and the 2012 holiday season, and of course, some retailers reported considerable sales increases compared to last year,” says Kim Jones, marketing director for both Shadow Lake Towne Center, located at 72nd Street and Highway 370 in Papillion, and Village Pointe, located at 168th Street and West Dodge Road in Omaha. The two developments are managed and leased by RED Development, based in Phoenix, Ariz. “Both centers welcomed new tenants in 2012. And we will be making announcements for both properties soon. There’s a great interest in both shopping centers and that just means that retail is certainly coming back after we’ve had some leaner years during the recession.” “If we look at year-over-year sales development-wide, we saw retail sales up 12 percent. I think our retailers will tell you, they’re happy and cautiously optimistic about the future, given the trend lines,” says Molly Skold, marketing director for Midtown Crossing in the Turner Park area near 33rd and Farnam streets. “Our anchor tenants are also doing well. Wohlner’s (Grocery and Deli) was up 31 percent in March, year-over-year, and Element, Marcus, and Prairie Life have all seen double-digit growth. “Our condo sales are doing extremely well also. From January to April 2013, we have had 18 new contracts; that’s a 63 percent increase, year-over-year, from 2012.” Regarding plans for 2013, Skold adds: “We currently have two letters of intent from potential retail tenants. Tenants looking at our development are service-type tenants and specialty stores. And we have an olive oil concept store, Chef Squared, opening in June.” The 2012 retail year wasn’t without its challenges. One retail sector that has struggled somewhat is apparel, Skold reports, and its performance has slightly modified the outlook for Midtown Crossing’s development. “The apparel industry nationwide has performed lower than expectations. In 2012, we actually saw one of our apparel stores close its doors, a national chain,” she says. “The apparel industry is opening fewer and fewer stores nationwide. We would have thought that, at this 22 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

point, we’d have more boutiques or apparel stores.” However, the apparel sector may be gaining some steam in 2013, Skold says. “Currently, we have five apparel retailers interested in specific spaces—doing drawings, looking at plans, expansions, etc. We are encouraged by the activity.” Another ongoing concern in the retail industry is that online shopping, which continues to grow, may funnel away sales from its tangible counterpart—shopping centers and freestanding stores. Jones says, however, that there is plenty of room for both channels. “While online sales are certainly not going away, you can continue to see lots of brick-and-mortar and online retailing in concert together, so it’s really just giving the shopper more of an advantage,” she says. Both Skold and Jones say some of the success of their respective developments lies in how they are structured to reach beyond merely retail services to support a lifestyle and serve as neighborhoods in and of themselves. “The lifestyle center is currently predominant, but you’ll see it evolve in what kind of tenants it brings in. In some cases, it will hybridize. For example, Shadow Lake is a

hybrid with the power center, which is on the perimeter with the big boxes, while the lifestyle center is on the main street,” Jones explains. “So together they offer a different kind of shopping center for Papillion and the community beyond.” Skold says Midtown Crossing’s growth and development centered around four anchors, with restaurants and retailers developing out next, and service providers coming onboard more recently to round out the development as it passes 90 percent occupancy. “Those last 10 percent of types of retailers we’ll be looking for are those service-type of stores that really will be providing services and products to our guests and visitors and residents alike,” Skold says, adding that 2012 events and activities, including the new holiday celebration Miracle on Farnam and the summer Architects of Air exhibit, add to Midtown Crossing’s ambiance and image. “I think we have moved from development to a neighborhood,” she says. “I think we have met our goal of Midtown becoming a destination rather than a pass-through.” Midtown Crossing will also open The Pavilion at Turner Park, which will provide a permanent stage and infrastructure to the center, ideal to host many entertainment and shopping events on the grounds and predicted to draw many new shoppers. “The Pavilion is a stunning addition to Omaha’s Turner Park,” Skold says. “Omahans are in for truly amazing treat!” The structure is scheduled to be complete by the first Jazz on the Green concert July 11th. Creating community spirit is also an important part of Village Pointe’s and Shadow Lake Towne Center’s identities, Jones says. “Having community ties is very important to us because we want to make sure that our community knows that we’re invested and that we want to serve them beyond just providing great retail,” Jones explains. “We want to be a place where they come even if they’re not going to shop. It may be to enjoy one of the concerts during one of our concert series or an event that’s going on like a charity walk or something of that nature, or various attractions we have throughout the year. So while they’re retail centers, we also like to consider them community centers.”

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lasting relationships

B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    23



Statistics provided by Cushmann & Wakefield | Lund Company


market Beat OMAHA, NE

office snapshot | omaha, ne

Q1 2013

A Cushman & Wakefield Alliance Research Publication

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW market remains strong and stable with positive performance in Just as Omaha remained resilient thru the key economic indicators. Unemployment in the metro area was recession, the market remains strong and stable 3.2 percent compared to 7.7 percent nationally, and for the first time with positive performance in key economic in several quarters, there is true, robust growth in the local economy.

indicators. Unemployment in the metro area was 3.2% compared to 7.7% nationally, and for theOMAHA first timeMARKET in several quarters, there is true, robust growth in the ACTIVITY local economy.

vacancyACTIVITY rates. In particular, the suburban Class A market OMAHAlow MARKET vacancy rate was 4.5topercent, has led thevacancy first specuThis economic uptick has led positivewhich absorption andtolow lative development in several years. The leading submarkets rates. In particular, the suburban Class A market vacancy rate was have remained consistent to vacancy as well; West Dodge 4.5% which has led to thepertaining first speculative development in several – 7.6 percent, Regency – 10.0 percent, Central Dodge – 8 percent. years. The leading submarkets have remained consistent pertaining Although leasing activity has been steadily increasing over the past to OUTLOOK vacancy as well; West Dodge – 7.6%, Regency – 10.0%, Central OUTLOOK several quarters, we did experience negative absorption for the Dodge – 8%.AAlthough leasing activity has been steadily increasing As and As Class Class A multi-tenant multi-tenant projects complete construction and new new first quarter of 2013 dueprojects largelycomplete to some construction corporate consolidations, over the past several quarters, we did experience negative absorption product is added to the inventory, the immediate logical assumption product is added to the inventory, the immediate logicaldoes assumption downsizing, and relocations. The absorption statistic not paint forwould the first quarter of 2013 due largely to some corporate be rents. However, there such an accurate picture ofpressure the trueon market this is would be downward downward pressure on rents.conditions However, in there iscase. suchAsaa the consolidations, downsizing and relocations. The absorption statistic pent up demand for large blocks of high-end office space that the market stabilize, has been upward pressure on pent up continued demand fortolarge blocksthere of high-end office space that the new new does not paintmay an accurate picture of thelong trueenough market to conditions in properties not be on the market have an rental ratesmay across classes.long Thisenough will likely continue as we properties notall bebuilding on the market to have an impact impact thisshift case. As athe market continued stabilize, there has been on of key indicators. In the upward from market into ato more leasing environment. on any any of the thetenant key market market indicators. In neutral the mid-term, mid-term, upward upward pressure on rental rates across all building classes. This will pressure pressure on on rents rents should should continue continue as as the the market market further further corrects. corrects. likely continue as we shift from a tenant market into a more neutral STATS ON leasing environment. STATS ON THE THE GO GO Q1 Q1 2013 2013





Direct Asking Rents (psf/yr)

2011 2011

2012 2012


Q1 Q1 2013 2013

13.0% 13.0%


24    B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013 LEASING ACTIVITY LEASING ACTIVITY

Cushman & Wakefield | The Lund Company


14.5% 14.0%


13.5% 2010



psf/yr psf/yr

2010 2010




Westplex IV will wrap up construction this summer and bring an DIRECT RENTAL RATES additional 100,000 SF of VS. ClassVACANCY A office inventory DIRECT RENTAL VS. VACANCY RATESto the market. Additionally, there are several planned developments that will add to $19.00 16.0% $19.00 the inventory at the top of the market including Sterling Ridge at 16.0% 15.5% $18.50 125th and Pacific Street, and Aksarben Village at 67th and Center 15.5% $18.50 15.0% 15.0% Street. $18.00 TD Ameritrade is near 100% completion of their $18.00 14.5% headquarters building and employees were already moving into the 14.5% $17.50 $17.50 14.0% building at the end of the first quarter. Gavilon’s new build-to-suit 14.0% project$17.00 is also well underway in downtown Omaha. $17.00 13.5% 13.5% $16.50 $16.50




For more information, contact:


Q1 2013



LEASING ACTIVITY 12.0 10.0 8.0 6.0 4.0 2.0 0.0

100,000 sf



and new product is added to the inventory, the immediate logical assumption would be downward pressure on rents. DIRECT there RENTAL VS.a VACANCY RATES However, is such pent-up demand for large blocks of highend$19.00 office space that the new properties may not be on the16.0% market long enough to have an impact on any of the key market indicators. 15.5% $18.50 In the mid-term, upward pressure on rents should continue as the 15.0% market further corrects. $18.00

previously mentioned) speculative213,955 Class A office development. YTD Leasing Activity (sf) 112,130 -47.6% 213,955


s Class multi-tenant complete construction YTD Leasing ActivityA(sf) 213,955projects 112,130 -47.6%

Overall Vacancy 14.2% 14.4% over 0.2pp Overall 14.2% 14.4% 0.2pp There haveVacancy been a variety of new construction projects the past Direct Asking Rents (psf/yr) $17.73 $18.12 2.02% 12 months, from new corporate owned headquarter buildings Direct Asking Rents (psf/yr) $17.73 $18.12 2.02%to (as YTD Leasing Activity (sf)



Q1 Q1 2012 2012

the past 12 months, from new corporate-owned headquarter buildings to (as previously mentioned) speculative Class A OUTLOOK office developments. As Class A multi-tenant projects complete construction and new Westplex IV will wrap up construction this summer and bring product is added to the inventory, the immediate logical assumption an additional 100,000pressure square on feetrents. of Class A officethere inventory would be downward However, is suchtoa the market. Additionally, there are several planned that pent up demand for large blocks of high-end officedevelopments space that the new will add to may the inventory top oflong theenough market,toincluding Sterling properties not be on at thethe market have an impact Ridge and Pacificindicators. streets andInAksarben Village at 67th and on anyatof125th the key market the mid-term, upward Center streets. TD Ameritrade is near percentfurther completion of their pressure on rents should continue as 100 the market corrects. headquarters building, and employees were already moving into the STATS ON THE building at the endGO of the first quarter. Gavilon’s new build-to-suit project is also well underway inQ1Downtown Y-O-Y 12 MONTH 2012 Q1Omaha. 2013



Q1 2013

his economic uptick has led to positive absorption and


here has been a variety of new construction projects over





ust as Omaha remained resilient through the recession, the






2013 YTD

LEASING ACTIVITY The market terms and definitions in this report are based on NAIOP standards. No warranty or

feature S t o r y b y k a r a s c h w e i s s • P h o t o b y B i l l S i t z m a n n

OnTrack, Inc. Original music and audio work drive recording studio success.


Johnny Ray Gomez IV

f you’ve ever found yourself

singing “Pepper, Pepper, Pepperjax Grill,” or “You’ll like it...Kelly’s Carpet,” or “It pays to cross the bridge...Lake Manawa Kia,” Johnny Ray Gomez IV is the man largely responsible. He created these jingles, along with dozens and dozens of others, and it’s only a facet of what he does as the owner, president, and creative director of OnTrack. Gomez rattles off a long list of OnTrack’s offerings: “We’re an audio post-production facility. We do original music jingles for radio, television, web, and multimedia. I do demos for singers and musicians. I do audio for video. We do ADR [Additional or Automated Dialogue Recording for TV and movies]. We do sound design, sound effects, a lot of voiceover work.” Gomez manages all of this from his 3,200square foot facility near 118th and Harrison streets in Omaha. “We have a main studio, one smaller studio, and what I call the composing suite. We have the latest computers with music software, industry standard. And we also have the capability to link up to studios worldwide, which basically brings anybody to your doorstep with the touch of a button,” he adds proudly. This technical capability means Gomez works with clients from all over the country. “Just last October, [actor and Saturday Night Live alum] Will Forte was in town working on the new Nebraska movie with Alexander Payne. He was in Norfolk filming for a month and doing a sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, so we actually recorded all of his voice animation parts here,” he says. “For three years, we did work for >> B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    25

office furniture

feature <<Teen Mom with Farrah Abraham. Instead of MTV flying her to New York, they just brought her here to OnTrack.” He adds that even YouTube sensation and Columbus, Neb., native Lucas Cruikshank recorded dialog as Fred Figglehorn for Nickelodeon’s Fred: The Movie. If Gomez seems rather casual about these brushes with fame, it’s because he’s met and worked with lots of well-known names in the music industry over the years, from Marvin Hamlisch and Bo Diddley to Peter Noone and Reba McEntire. A third-generation musician and master of multiple instruments, Gomez actually cut his teeth on the other side of the business. His father was a prolific regional performer who first brought his namesake onstage at age 3 as part of a family revue and later, to sometimes collaborate with nationally known singers and musicians. “Back in the ’70s, my dad and brother and I had publicity shots with the ruffles and tuxes,” Gomez says, grinning at the memory. “We also had one where we kind of had the Elvis look...the jumpsuits.” Gomez left home after high school at 17 and traveled the world for four years as the music director and pianist for The Platters, one of the most successful vocal groups of the ’60s. “I got tired of being on the road. I literally lived out of a suitcase for five years. I knew I wanted to be in music, but I didn’t want to travel,” he says, explaining his impetus for starting a recording studio in his hometown and getting into the jingle business. “When I first started I did spec work, where you just pick a client and write a jingle [without] having it sold,” he recalls. He sold his very first jingle to Camelot Cleaners and landed his second for Idelman Telemarketing. One of his early works, for Garden Café, ran for 12 years. “I just kept going and started networking with ad agencies.” OnTrack is a one-man show, but Gomez says the connections and partnerships he’s developed over the years make it possible to offer a wide spectrum of services to his clients. “Even with the workflow I have, I’ve been able to do everything by using all of the resources I have.” What lessons has Gomez learned in his decades in the biz? “Have a good quality product and do what you do well. And surround myself with people who also do what they do well.” 26 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

P r o v i d e d b y AL l M a k e s o f f i c e e q u i p m e n t co.

Five Trends


in Office Design

ffice environments are ever-changing. From height-adjustable

desks to mobile work surfaces to LED lighting options—the possibilities are endless. Today’s best offices are designed to reflect the shifting expectations and needs of their employees. Here are five current trends in office design. 1. Technology is key. Technology is now integrated into office environments. Interactive white boards, electrified surfaces, and “touch down” areas that allow for mobile devices to be used are just a couple examples of how technology is breaking down barriers of the traditional workplace. 2. Open workspaces. The lowering of panels or even the removal of all dividers between people can enhance the teaming of groups and sharing of information without even moving away from their work areas. Open spaces can make people feel more comfortable and not so boxed in, which can create greater productivity and efficiency.  3. Collabor ation.  Collaborative areas are designed to get people more involved and connected with one another. Meeting spaces are being created to encourage collaboration between staff members. This might include lounge areas, benches and tables, or even café areas.  Collaborative areas can take the place of formal reserved conference rooms or even private offices.  4. Decline in avail able space.  The economic recession has led to companies purchasing smaller offices or downsizing current offices, which means individual workspaces are shrinking. 5. Fewer private offices.   Having fewer private offices provides useful space for more collaborative areas. Today, furniture that is mobile, adjustable, multifunctional, and adaptable is just as important as private offices. When companies incorporate modern design into their workplace, they will retain and attract the best talent and increase their overall productivity. Visit the All Makes showroom at 25th and Farnam streets in Omaha to see the latest office furniture and design trends on display. The All Makes team is trained to help you make design and furniture purchases that fit your office atmosphere, your work style, and your budget.

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cover feature S t o r y b y L e o a da m B i g a • P h o t o s b y b i l l s i t z m a n n


  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013


David Brown’s Omaha

Chamber Leader Focused on Making the City Shine

avid Brown did his fair

share of moving around before settling in Omaha in 2003 to become president of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Before assuming that post, the Detroit native worked in his home state of Michigan, then in Indiana, before spending a solid decade in South Carolina. Brown has always stayed longer than the norm for chamber professionals because he also does economic development work and that field requires long-term commitment. “Economic development is really my first love. The part I’ve grown to love the most is [determining] what to do to improve the community so that it’s more attractive to companies and individuals to stay here or to come here,” he says. “When you do chamber work, which traditionally does not include economic development, you don’t put down as many roots as you do if you’re doing economic development, where you’re selling dirt and really learning about the community. Clients have to see you’re knowledgeable and committed.” After 10 years down south, he and wife Maggie looked to get the youngest of their two sons settled in school. Moving to the middle of the country held great appeal. “We wanted to get into a more positive public-education environment for Elijah, who was getting ready to go into middle school. We wanted to get back to the Midwest where our roots were,” says Brown. “Fortunately, the Omaha position was open, and I threw my hat in the ring and got the job. “This is my 10th year. We’ve been here about as long as we’ve been anywhere. This is home.” His devotion to Omaha is such that he’s influenced extended family members to make this their home as well. He enjoys working with people who share his passion for enhancing Omaha. “There has been a collection of leadership here that seems to have in the back of their mind, ‘How do we improve this place?’ You’ve got this intentional effort to try and improve the place, married with the unbelievable generosity of the philanthropists here and the corporate support for making this a better place. You see remarkable amenities created, not to bring tourists to Omaha but >> B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    29

cover feature Omaha business and civic leaders value Brown’s efforts. Dave has worked diligently to shape the business environment—from tax policy and incentives to employment training—to create an attractive place for businesses to locate. He has promoted the Grow Omaha (GO!) campaign to promote the values of Omaha on a national level. — Daniel Neary, CEO, Mutual of Omaha He’s always focused on the end result. He’s a good mediator when he needs to be, but he’s also a good salesman for what we need to do. He interacts easily with all kinds of people and groups. He’s very passionate about what he does and he’s a very consistent person. — Rex Fisher, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations, HDR He’s got a professional approach to things, he’s very level-headed, he’s a consensus-builder. I’ve never been in a community where the chamber is as influential as ours is here, and it takes a dynamic individual to lead that. He understands the moving parts in our community and works around them. — Roger Dixon, President/CEO, MECA David Brown came to Omaha 10 years ago as the chamber’s new executive. There were big expectations because Omaha was quickly growing up as a world-class city. David did not miss a beat and neither did Omaha. His vision for enhancing our community in every way should be recognized— from his passion for economic growth, to the support of the young professionals, to the publicprivate partnerships he has helped build. — Linda Lovgren, Lovgren Marketing Group 30 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

<< to enhance the quality of life for the people who already live here. The fact that they’ve had a tourist appeal as well is just chocolate on the sundae.” Add it all up, he says, “and that gives us a competitive advantage over other places where that kind of development and quality discussion doesn’t happen as consistently. We’ve got people who have been able to sit down and say, ‘What is it we need to be a better place?’ and then they’ve gone about the process of getting it done. It’s fascinating to see how quickly some of this stuff has occurred, like the riverfront redevelopment. There was a frenetic pace almost that took place in the ’90s that continued into the 2000s.” For Brown, there’s nothing better than seeing projects like the CenturyLink Center Omaha or Midtown Crossing take shape. “I guess what really trips my trigger is that I can point to things I’ve been involved in that have made [Omaha] a better place and given people jobs. I like making a difference, that’s really what it comes down to. It’s very rewarding at the end of the year to sit back

and say, ‘What did we do this year?’ and know we made a measurable, demonstrable difference in the community we live in...Not just me, but the team we function with, from our volunteers to our members to our staff.” Brown will be guiding the new Prosper Omaha campaign that seeks to brand the city as never before. Omaha’s aspirational spirit resonates with him and the work of the chamber. “Omaha’s always been a business town, and the business community here plays a big role in making things happen. We’ve been fortunate as an organization that the business community has looked to the chamber to accomplish some pretty significant things, so over time, we’ve picked up some additional responsibilities. We find ourselves in things a lot of chambers don’t find themselves involved in.” The Young Professionals Association is an example. “We have this dynamic young professionals organization that’s involved in virtually every major community activity you can think of,” Brown says. “The management and leadership of that process has been a whole new learning

Brown spoke to Omaha’s future leaders at the 2013 Young Professionals Summit in February. experience for us. There are 5,000 young professionals who, at some point or another, have plugged into this process of making Omaha a better place. We’re mentoring and engaging [them] so they can be leaders in the future. It’s become part of our leadership agenda.” In terms of projects, he says, the chamber is “getting deeper and deeper into things the community needs. When [then-Omaha Chamber board chair] Dick Bell said in 2004 that the chamber is going to be involved in making sure every Omahan has an opportunity to succeed and every area in Omaha has an opportunity to grow, that [declaration] got us in the community development business. We’re going to help Midtown grow, were going to help NoDo grow, we’re going to help North Omaha grow, we’re going to help South Omaha grow. That changed the way we think about economic development and the activities we’re engaged in doing community development.” Brown says he likes that the Omaha Chamber not only “provides services to our members to grow their businesses, but

we’re also a catalytic organization.” He adds, “That means we’re sometimes change agents. Sometimes we lead. Virtually always we’re conveners. We convene a wide diversity of people that can help solve problems. Advocacy is always a part of the agenda.” A graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played football and baseball, Brown is a natural people person and team player. “I really like people,” he says. He says lessons he learned playing team sports “are all things I use every day with our team here at the chamber and with the teams we build within the community,” adding, “The chamber rarely does things ourselves. We always partner with people and collaborate with others to get things accomplished, and that’s a different kind of team but a team nonetheless.” He also likes getting things done. “I like change…It’s something I really embrace. If I don’t see change happening, I’m wondering if I’m doing my job. I like to come up with new ideas and trust my team to tell me which ones are good and which ones

are bad and then see ideas come to fruition. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me who gets the credit, as long as we get stuff done. That’s the way the chamber operates and, in large measure, it’s the way Omaha operates. I think that’s one of the things that makes us unique.” Away from the office, Brown says he enjoys golf, hunting, landscaping, and reading. Maggie is often by his side. “She’s my best friend, and we do everything together,” Brown says. “She’s been my partner in this whole career process. She’s a great saleswoman. She’s done the trade show and conference thing with me. She knows the spiel. She can pitch just like I can. She’s great with volunteers and board members.” Keep up to date with Brown and the Greater Omaha Chamber at Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at

B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    31


OMAHA profiles


LTHOUGH THEY’RE AROUND FOR about ten days each year throughout eastern nebraska, Kracklin’ Kirk’s is a booming business—and that business is fireworks sales. despite the small downturn during last year’s drought, owner Kirk myers says Kracklin’ Kirk’s has had “record sales every year.” myers got started selling fireworks when he was out of work. his brother-in-law [robert aunkst] called to inform him of an ad in the paper looking for someone to run a fireworks stand in york, neb. “he said we could maybe do it together,” adds myers. after the first year, the myerses decided to run a stand of their own. “it was a ‘no-name’ stand. We had [my] son, josh, and [my] niece, Kashia [aunkst-epp], work on a name…[Kashia] came up with Kracklin’ Kirk’s fireworks because it sounded nice.” Kracklin’ Kirk’s is unique in the fireworks market because the business is determined to help their customers create great holiday memories. “One problem many people have with fireworks is, come july 4th, there are fireworks stands on every corner. a quick stroll through and you’ll find several items that look really cool, [but] you ask the guy working if the item is good, and he says ‘i don’t know. i’m just working till 4 then i’m off’…so you drop $50 or more on this item, take it home, and it’s a great disappointment. Our solution: a customer demo, where you can try it before you buy it,” myers says of this little extra mile that he believes helps earn him more business. technology helps, too. a website, 400+ videos on youtube, and lots of information on facebook all help consumers. “We also guarantee our fireworks by providing a no-dud guarantee,” he adds. “if you have a dud, bring it back, and we’ll make it right.” above all, Kracklin’ Kirk’s is family-oriented—the whole myers family and extended family love to help out. “We love our country, what it was founded on, and the liberties and freedoms we have as americans. as born-again christians, deb and i both have a desire to serve the lord jesus christ and help other people. We try to honor him in our lives. We hope to get the opportunity to help you with your 4th of july celebrations!”

Kirk and Deb myers

Kracklin’ Kirk’s Fireworks


  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

Springfield, NE Railroad & Main St.

Waterloo, NE 301 S. Front St.



OMAHA profiles


REATIVE AGENCY ELEVEN19 SPECIALIZES in customized design solutions in both print and on the web. Over the years, eleven19 has worked with a variety of clients, from one-person shops to fortune 500 companies. “almost all of our work has been referrals or from people finding us online,” says co-founder donovan beery. beery graduated from the university of nebraska-Kearney with a bfa in visual communications and design. he worked as the website designer at union Pacific railroad in Omaha before moving over to one of their subsidiaries and then venturing out on his own to start a business. in 2002, he co-founded eleven19 with business partner marc butterfield. “Originally, we just started doing freelance work because designers who did website coding were not as common 15 years ago.” eventually, enough work became available for beery, and self-employment became the perfect option. today, beery and nicholas burroughs make up eleven19’s creative staff. burroughs, who joined eleven19 earlier this year, studied graphic design at iowa Western community college and spent the last three years working at local agencies. both beery and burroughs have spent time giving back to the design community by serving on the board of aiga nebraska, the local chapter of aiga, the professional association for design. the team says their biggest goals for eleven19 are to always be more creative and keep the focus on design. and while they work hard to achieve those goals, they also have a playful, informal side, which is noticeable in the eleven19 office. “it’s a lot of vinyl records, toys, and things that inspire us all over the place,” explains beery. “We may be serious about design, but we try to let the ‘i can’t believe we get to do this for a living’ show in the work when needed.” beery adds that they get asked a lot where they came up with the Donovan Beery name. “We had our meeting to figure out the company name around… We figured we’d look up if there was anything that happened on november 19th, and it turns out that milli vanilli was stripped of their grammy that day in 1990. eleven19 stuck. “We always think long-term and never set any goals in such terms where we felt it wasn’t flexible. We’re still not sure if where we are was planned in advance, but we’re very happy to be here,” says beery.

nicholas Burroughs


The 7400 Building 900 South 74th Plaza, Suite 100 Omaha, NE 68114 402-408-3072

B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    33


Omaha profiles


s far back as he can remember, Tom Albers has had a passion for helping organizations achieve their goals by telling their stories. “Early in my career,” he says, “I learned how public relations can be a powerful management function to help organizations meet their corporate objectives.” Albers Communications Group is now the largest public relations and social media firm in Omaha. “Our services are very scalable to both small and large businesses,” says Albers, President of Albers Communications. With clients such as Home Instead Senior Care, Farmers National, Merry Maids, and Verizon Wireless, the group has grown to serve companies in all 50 states and Canada. “We work with businesses who want to use PR and social media to affordably increase their brand recognition, become known as their industry’s expert and newsmaker, and connect meaningfully with their current and prospective clients,” says Albers. By selecting a team of professionals focused on client service and results, Albers Communications Group becomes true partners with its clients, immersing into their cultures. Clients keep coming back to Albers Communications because of the group’s investment in their success. “We’re continually learning about their business and industry,” Albers says. An ability to cost-effectively create positive exposure is also a plus, as well as fully integrating social media into PR campaigns. “My philosophy has always been that if we do superior work for our clients and provide them with tangible results,” Albers says, “they will be our greatest source of new business.” A majority of the group’s new business does indeed come from referrals and positive word-of-mouth: Albers Communications actually doubled its staff in the last three years and has grown its revenues by an average of 15 percent in each of the last five years. Albers, an Omaha native, learned the business of PR from the ground up thanks to Nebraska public relations veterans Patty and Ed Leslie. “As a result, it was natural for me to start my own firm in 2000,” he says, “with the core purpose to build positive relationships for the benefit of our clients.” The culture of Albers Communications Group is reflective of that goal, with a staff of PR and social media professionals who are collaborative, innovative, positive, reliable, and responsive. “My biggest sense of accomplishment comes from creating an environment where our team members can thrive and successfully deliver outstanding, measurJeff Huber and Tom Albers able results for our clients,” Albers says.

Tom Albers

albers communications P.O. Box 285 Bellevue, NE 68005 402-292-5553


  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013


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Bringing Community Responsibility to Life


ythons. Hooded Pitahuis. Pygmy Marmosets.

Omaha is known by many across the nation because of Wild Kingdom, Mutual of Omaha’s primetime television show that brought animals to life in our living rooms. But the show’s impact has been more profound for us [Omahans] than it has ecologically speaking. We identify with and claim the show’s reputation as our own. We feel community pride because, after all, it’s Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. This pride generates a strong sense of community responsibility. So maybe not coincidentally, community responsibility is accepted as one of the five Omaha City Values. Wild Kingdom is one of the coolest examples in Omaha of what is called “traditional philanthropy.” This kind of philanthropy refers to the age-old practice of companies making cash donations or inkind contributions to worthy causes. Most companies participate in traditional philanthropy because of their sincere desire to be involved in their communities and/or to give something back. Traditional philanthropy promotes reciprocity that produces important business benefits, including increased customer loyalty, higher employee retention, and enhanced corporate reputation. As compared to traditional philanthropy, strategic philanthropy is a concept that has grown in prominence since the 1990s. This kind of charity involves a process where companies align their community relations initiatives with their core business products and services. Instead of a Wild Kingdom animal television show sponsored by an insurance firm (what’s the connection there?), corporations donate to specific community projects that align with their core competencies. For example, ConAgra does strategic philanthropy by focusing its charity on food and hunger issues, like Kids Cafés. Some organizations are finding ways 36 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

to impact their communities through employee engagement practices. Firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) recognize that young professionals crave choice. So they’ve created an innovative program for performance incentives that offers a choice to support a cause in their name. Every staff member gets to choose how they receive their incentive—cash, a charity match, a tech package, or a gift card. This is an ingenious way to bring community responsibility to life. At the furthest end of the community responsibility spectrum are social enterprises. These organizations flip the capitalist model on its head. Maximizing profits is no longer the purpose of these businesses. Profit is a means to a broader end of enhancing the well-being of the community. Nonprofits, as well as for-profits like Herman Miller, Grameen, and PlanetReuse, are bringing community responsibility to life in this way. Their employees and clients are supporting their model with extreme loyalty. From traditional philanthropy to social enterprise, we challenge Omaha businesses to continue to enjoy the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that come from bringing community responsibility to life. And don’t forget—a sense of community responsibility starts with our kids. One of the ways the Business Ethics Alliance has promoted this is with our team of moral superheroes who live in the Itty Bitty City at the Omaha Children’s Museum. Take your kids to the museum and kick-start their sense of community responsibility by spending time with the superhero Reese.

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feature S t o r y b y B y Bo b N e l s o n • P h o t o b y B i l l S i t z m a n n

Reisdorff with her 2-year-old Husky mix, Sam, in Dogtopia’s back office.

Dogs at Work Trend Slowly Gains Steam


or millennia, humans have

used dogs for a myriad of purposes – as guides, as friends, even as surrogate children, which is increasingly common in 21st-century America. But coworker? Office buddy? Cubicle K9? “I’ve heard of companies letting you bring your dogs to work in other parts of the country,” says Nicholle Reisdorff, owner of the full-service doggie boarding house and playground, Dogtopia. “In Omaha? I bring my dogs to work. Many of the vet clinics allow it. But not much beyond animal-centric businesses as far as I know.” Apparently, Omaha is behind the curve compared to the coasts regarding the increasingly common company policy of allowing employees to bring their dogs to work. The biggest employer in the greater metro area to allow pets is Google, which allows dogs at its Council Bluffs data center, as well as its other facilities across the country. Google allows dogs at work, Google >> B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    37

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feature << spokeswoman Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg says, because the company recognizes that dogs in the workplace can often enhance the quality of employees’ work lives. The presence of dogs has been a “unique and treasured” part of the company’s culture, she explains. Yes, there are restrictions. The company’s dog policy rests on respect for other employees and visitors at Google facilities, she says. Dogs must be properly licensed, vaccinated, supervised, and leashed at all times. Although Google has been able to pull off the dogs-at-work concept for years (as have numerous Silicon Valley companies among others), Reisdorff says she can imagine problems in some workplaces with certain types of dogs. “I totally agree with the concept that having your dog is a stress reliever

 I totally agree with the concept that having your dog is a stress reliever and likely something that makes you happier at work.







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  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

and likely something that makes you happier at work,” she says. “But I wonder about those potential impacts on those around you.” Such a “dogs-at-work” program is part of the broader trend of humans increasingly treating their pets as “basically their children,” she says. You’ve seen those couples who talk to their dogs as if they were little offspring and take them to nice doggy daycares like, say, Dogtopia. Why the growing attachment to dogs in our society? “I think with people getting married later, with people having children later, you more and more have the pets playing the role of children in peoples’ lives,” she says. “And there’s just the simple fact that dogs are such super-social beings, so full of love. Once you love a dog, it’s hard not to want to pamper them and be with them as much as possible.”

omAHA! S t o r y b y B a i l e y h e m p h i l l • P h o t o s b y b i l l s i t z m a n n

Allan Zeeck, owner of Café 110.

A Square Deal Café 110 opts against traditional transactions for something more efficient.


afé 110 opened its doors at

the corner of 13th and Farnam in March 2012. Owner Allan Zeeck had been at the Benson Grind in the hip Benson neighborhood for about eight years before he closed shop and headed downtown with his eyes set on a space in the Old Market’s business district. The business, which is known for its catering and live music weekends, serves delicious foods and drinks to its Old Market customers from 7am to 5pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Breakfast and coffee are the main attractions, in Zeeck’s opinion, but Café 110 also has an assortment of pastries, a healthy soup and salad bar, and fresh sandwiches. But it’s not just the food that has Omaha buzzing about Café 110. It’s Zeeck’s implementation of an electronic payment service called Square. Similar to the Passbook app, which stores >> B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013    39


<< coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, and more on a smartphone, Square is the newage system of business transaction around the country. Rather than using the traditional cash register, businesses that use Square can have their customers pay either by swiping the card through a reader attached to a portable device, like a smartphone or computer tablet, or through the Square Wallet app. With the Square Wallet app, customers can set up a user profile on a smartphone, linking their name, a photo, and their credit or debit card information. When it’s time to pay, all customers need to do is open the app and make a quick payment with the touch of a finger. Receipts are then sent directly to the customer via text or e-mail. The app also allows customers to pay with gift cards and coupons and keep track of business punch cards. Zeeck, who began experimenting with Square four years ago and has been using it ever since, has nothing but praise for the technology. “The process is very efficient,” he says. “It keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need. It [also] lets me know what sells and what isn’t selling.” He adds that the best parts of using Square are that each swipe is only 2.75 percent with no additional fees, and the money is in his business account the next day. Though he’s heard some mixed reviews about the Square technology at his café, Zeeck says overall, his customers have received it very positively. “People like that it’s so snazzy and modern. There’s no pen or stylus to deal with; you just use a finger and a phone…It’s easier to retain records of the purchase too, so if there’s ever any kind of misunderstanding with a purchase, I have the ability to go back and refund without the pain of the bank.” Zeeck knows there are other systems similar to Square available, but he’s certain that he wants to stick with Square. Down the road, he even hopes that his customers will be able to both order and purchase from their phones with Square. “You always worry about minimizing the personal communication with your customers, but I think as long as [Square] continues to progress at a rapid pace and continues being so efficient, I’ll keep using it.” 40 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

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Digital Immigrant, Meet Demand Generation

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hances are you are a “digital immigrant,” one who was not born bathed in bits, who played video games as a toddler or learned keyboarding in third grade. This means you have a steeper learning curve than “digital natives”—those for whom all this social media stuff isn’t stuff at all. It’s just part of everyday life…how they live, work, play, access information, and make decisions. Indeed, there is a whole generation of digital natives who command where, when, and how they find information. They are in control, and that is why they are called the “demand generation.” They compose our customers, our prospects, our employees, our constituents, and our advocates. A key to understanding social media is understanding how to reach, and more importantly, engage with the demand generation. Here are some tips: • Acknowledge that the sales process is no longer linear. The internet has jumped squarely in between you and your customer and interrupted what used to be a good opportunity for you to control the conversation. Now consumers visit blogs to get information and recommendations on what to buy. The average consumer uses more than 10 sources to make a buying decision today, and 70 percent of Americans look at product reviews. What was once linear may be turned upside-down, twisted sideways, and backwards. Consumers may see a product in the store, but then go out into cyberspace to investigate it, only to go back into the store to buy. • Content is king. As a writer by trade—and a digital immigrant—knowing this makes me very happy. It also makes me work hard to relate to my target audience with personal, direct, relevant conversations that matter to them. Customers who engage with brands online spend 20-40 percent more on that brand’s products/services. Know your target. Understand their perspective. Quench their thirst for the knowledge they seek. A long time ago, author and speaker Bert Decker impressed me with his edict, “You’ve got to be believed to be heard.” Break through that frontal cortex, and your message just may get through. • You do have to be every where—and on the go. This seems the antithesis to target marketing, but what it means is you can’t think that because you have your website and a Facebook page, you’re good to go. Chances are your target customers aren’t sitting still. It’s likely—not statistically shown—that 78 percent of consumers shop across multiple channels. This means the internet—your site if your SEO is up to date, social media, Twitter, Vine, blogs, email deliveries from you/your competitors, and their phones. And here’s the deal with phones: 31 percent of consumers research products on their phones before buying in-store while 40 percent research products from their phones before buying online. Is your site mobile optimized/responsive so that it feeds the information to fit the user’s screen? The good news about all this—for those willing to keep swimming in the deep end—is that there is demand, a marketer’s dream. We can meet that demand with products people need and want—and by getting in and staying in the conversation with relevance, content, personalization, and engagement.

(Special thanks for inspiration and sourcing for this article from Bob Thacker, former CMO of OfficeMax.) Wendy Wiseman Vice President & Creative Director of Zaiss & Company, a customer-based planning and communications firm in Omaha.

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Hangar One’s Fly Boy Tyler Klingemann


  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013


t the ripe old age of 23, Tyler

Klingemann, flight instructor at Hangar One, has been flying for seven years. “I began at 16,” he says, “which is the FAA’s minimum age that a pilot is allowed to fly solo.” The dream took hold much earlier than that though. The night before a family vacation to Disney World, 8-year-old Klingemann couldn’t stop thinking about a Travel Channel episode he’d seen. “The host jokingly stated that all passengers in the back were fed dirt

and worms while first-class passengers were wined and dined,” he says. He stayed awake, dreading his first flight ever. The story does end happily; after the trip, it wasn’t Disney World he told his friends all about, but rather the airplane. “Ever since that moment, I saved every dime I earned,” Klingemann says, “whether it was babysitting, mowing lawns, or working at the local bagel shop to earn enough money to pay for flight lessons.” His diligence paid off as a junior in high school with his private pilot’s license and again in May 2012 with a degree in professional flight from University of Nebraska–Omaha. Klingemann has his ratings in instrument, commercial, and multi-engine, as well as his flight instructor’s certificate. He began working at Hangar One five years ago as a line-service technician, towing, fueling, and cleaning aircraft. He’s since moved on to certified flight instructor, educating students in UNO’s aviation program, instructing business owners in expanding their companies’ outreach, and just sharing his love of flying with anyone who wants to learn. “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life!” Klingemann says. The best feeling, he adds, is seeing a student land an airplane solo for the first time. He has no problem with the 24-hoursa-day, seven-days-a-week availability to his students, and he doesn’t mind the very late hours of nighttime training. But there is one aspect of flight instruction that Klingemann doesn’t embrace with enthusiasm. “I don’t like others getting sick,” he says. When the occasional passenger gets struck with motion sickness, Klingemann lets them control the plane, opens the air vents, and lands as soon as possible. “Knock on wood, I haven’t had someone throw up yet!” Though flying is the job that is also a hobby for Klingemann, the bachelor manages to get away from the Millard Airport to hang out with friends or volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters. But he’s never away from flying for long; his two other jobs consist of instructing jumpers at Skydive Crete and training students in UNO’s aircraft simulator. “Any time I fly, I’m happy,” he says. “Seeing the city lights and circling downtown at night is one of my favorite things to do.”

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omAHA! S t o r y b y C h r i s wo l f g a n g • P h o t o b y B i l l S i t z m a n n

Jon and Michelle Fouraker run diagnostics on a client’s car.

ProTech Xpress


inspects cars before you buy. eople are just so busy,” says Michelle Fouraker, cofounder of ProTech Xpress.

“If you find a car on Craigslist during your break at work, it’s not like there’s a bunch of them sitting on a lot. There’s one. Call us up, we’re there, we’ll go.” Michelle, along with her husband, Jon, launched the vehicle inspection service in Omaha last September. Drawing on his 25 years of experience as an automotive technician and used-car inspector, Jon takes his knowledge on the road, inspecting used cars on behalf of prospective buyers. “It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for some time,” Jon says of the business. “You know, when I worked for dealerships, they didn’t always fix everything that needed to be fixed. They did it out of economics,” he explains. “You can’t afford to fix everything that 44 

  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

needs fixed on a car. So I’m kind of out there fighting for the guy with his hard-earned money. I don’t want him to get ripped off.” Prospective buyers can request an inspection by visiting, where they can email or call with a car’s information. If neither Michelle nor Jon picks up the phone right away, they’ll get back to a caller within the day, usually within a few hours.

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The inspection itself takes an hour. “We’re going out to the car for you,” Michelle clarifies. “You don’t have to be there; we can email you the report. We’re not trying to sell you parts, we’re not selling you repair service, we’re not going to recommend anybody to you. This is our 100-percent-unbiased opinion of the car.” After he receives a request for an inspection, Jon contacts the car’s owner and sets up an appointment to inspect the vehicle. Following the inspection, he doesn’t show the owner his report, however—that’s for the prospective buyer’s eyes only. For the most part, he just presents the facts of his findings. It’s not about advising someone to buy or not to buy. If he finds something seriously wrong with the car right away, Jon will call the prospective buyer to let them know. “I’ll ask if they want me to finish the inspection,” he says. If the buyer says, no, thank you, they’ll pass on the car, Jon charges $25 for his time and moves on. A completed inspection runs $99.95 for twowheel drive vehicles and $129.95 for four-wheel and all-wheel drives. If an inspection takes place outside the Omaha metro area, ProTech Xpress does charge extra for the mileage. A five-page PDF is available for download on the site as a comprehensive sample of what the ProTech Xpress inspection entails. “It’s all in my head,” Jon says of the checklist, “all from experience.” Michelle recounts one instance where the inspection uncovered that a car had indeed been in an accident, even though the vehicle’s CARFAX report came up clean. “You can tell with a paint meter,” she says. “The paint’s thicker where it’s been repainted, and there was a little bit of overspray on one of the tires. The car’s owner didn’t even know it had been in a wreck because they had bought it second-hand, too.” The buyer was able to take that info and request a few hundred dollars off the price of the car. “Which more than pays for the cost of the inspection,” Michelle adds. Jon has found rust spots covered with a nice paint job and some duct tape. Another woman was purchasing a used SUV from a dealer and, based on ProTech Xpress’ report, was able to receive a new set of tires for free from the dealer. Eventually, the couple would like to franchise the business. “That’s the big goal,” Jon says.

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  B2B Omaha Magazine  •  Summer 2013

t’s an issue that affects small busi-

nesses—the push for more and more sharing with others who don’t have as much as you do. This trend can be seen in many business practices, too. For example, the sales commission question below: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This Benjamin Franklin quote, with its many derivations, points toward a simple fact that, for one to expect a government to guarantee something, a part of one’s liberty will be the price. The questions is: How much of your liberty will you gladly trade for an increased level of governmental protection? In other words, is it the responsibility of government to feed you, house you, educate you, care for you, etc…if you are sick, unwilling, or incapable? Most of us feel that it is the obligation of government to provide us with some of these needs and desires. Others feel that government should do that and much more. This is the age-old contest between those rowing the boat and those along for the ride. The sales adage says 80 percent of the sales are made by 20 percent of the sales force. In school, grades tend to follow a bell curve with a few students getting excellent marks while most are average, and a few bring up the rear. Should the sales staff getting 80 percent of the sales get the same commission as the rest of the team? Should the top students share their grades with those less fortunate, thus everyone getting a grade of C? What level of “sharing” do you consider fair? What if you were a doctor who endured many years of school with considerable effort and expense? Economic justice would dictate that the doctor’s earnings be shared with those who were not capable, for whatever reason—even laziness—to achieve the same

degree of earning capability. Would you be willing to have the government decide how much of a doctor’s income gets redistributed? If so, what incentive would current medical students (or anyone considering entering into a lengthy and expensive effort) have to continue becoming a doctor only to have their efforts taken away? To the consternation of so many, life isn’t fair. Is it the role of government to make life fair? This exact precept was explored throughout the 20th century. The direct result of these experiments offered two class societies: the ruling elite and everyone else. Sadly, the ‘everyone else’ class was considered expendable by those ruling. China squandered the lives of over 60 million in an effort to purchase world power status. The average Chinese existed and died on a daily caloric intake smaller than that of the slaves of Auschwitz. Russia bartered the lives of their bread basket Kulaks by the millions in exchange for the materials of industrialization. No, the only way a government can enforce equality is by reducing the living standard of the ‘everyone else’ class. As America celebrates the 4th of July, a time for quiet contemplation of the uniqueness of this American experiment is due. All throughout history, tyranny is the norm. The liberty Americans have is truly unique. The thread that holds this together is the Constitution. I contend that the freedoms across the globe are there only so long as Americans remain free. Free to succeed, free to fail, free to risk their all in the pursuit of personal happiness. If Americans lose that desire for liberty, the rest of the world will lose as well. Any views and/or opinions present in “The Know-It-All” are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of B2B Omaha Magazine or their parent company and/or their affiliates.

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June/July/August 2013 B2B Omaha Magazine  

June/July/August 2013 B2B Omaha Magazine