Thinking Bigger Business—Feb. 2017

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VOL. 26 // ISSUE 2 // FEBRUARY 2017


Managing tough employee conversations

TRIED AND TRUE Find out how Veracity founder Angela Hurt has built her IT consulting firm with strong principles and a rock solid staff.



How entertainment businesses are attracting new customers

Think Bigger. Take Flight.

1 6 t h

a n n ua l

2 5

u n d e r

2 5® a w a r d s

“A mile of highway will take you a mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere.” -Unknown

Nomination Sponsor

Band Sponsor

Entrepreneurial Advocate sponsor

Red Carpet Sponsor

Media Sponsor

VIP Reception Sponsor

Alumni Reunion Sponsor

Print Sponsor

Entrepreneurial patron sponsors

Alumni Leader Sponsors

Burns & McDonnell CBIZ Crema HSMC Orizon JE Dunn

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Martin Pringle Law Firm People People Principal Financial Group Staffing Kansas City Sprint Supplier Diversity

The employee-owners of Burns & McDonnell congratulate the 2017 Class of 25 Under 25ÂŽ.

We wish you continued success as you think bigger!

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F E BRUA RY 2017 VOL. 26 // ISSUE 2


07 08 10 11 12 14 49 50

The Bigger Picture Biz Bits Legislative Briefs 25 Under 25® Updates BIG | deals At A Glance BIG | shots BIG | talk



KC MADE IT Structura

Olathe company makes light poles memorable


KC FUTURES JoCo Education Research Triangle

Investing in innovation S M A R T S T R AT E G I E S


ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY Brandon Simpson of Jazzy B’s

Reality checks made dream possible


BIGGER | law The Gig Economy

Enjoy the benefits, avoid the pitfalls


26 FOCUS ON PEOPLE Kaela Rorvig, executive assistant; Veracity founder and CEO Angela Hurt; and Hillary Stamper, manager of employee engagement discuss ideas at a meeting.

BIGGER | hr Difficult Employee Conversations


Tips for successful outcomes


BIGGER | growth Healthy Growth

It’s not about being busy


BIGGER | sales Capturing Sales at Trade Shows

Tips for maximizing ROI


BIGGER | tech Network Security Policies

How to use them to protect digital assets


BIGGER | finance Key Employees

Could your business survive without yours? 4



Veracity’s Moment of Truth The IT consulting firm mixes in honesty and transparency with its services to attract Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.




17 Apple Pie Painting’s Sweet Spot

22 That’s Entertainment

42 Webb Technology

Bringing painting to the customer

Experiential entertainment is catching on with customers

Cecilio Webb discusses the importance of focus SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®





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Kelly Scanlon Publisher




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Aspire for More Shawn Kinkade Do You Want to Love It, or List It?

WhiteSpace Revenue Zone Elizabeth Usovicz Now More Than Ever, Focus Is a Business Strategy

professionals with informative and interesting articles and news. These articles, and any opinions expressed in them, are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or business. Appropriate legal, accounting, financial or medical advice or other expert assistance should always be sought from a competent professional. We are not responsible for the content of any paid advertisements. Reproduction or use, without permission, of editorial or graphic content, in any manner is prohibited. Thinking Bigger Business(ISSN 1068-2422) is published 12 times a year by Thinking Bigger Business Media, Inc. Subscriptions are $24.99 per year. This amount includes varying sales taxes, which are contingent upon the location in which the publication is sold. Standard Mail Postage Paid at Shawnee Mission, KS.




Could You Pull Off a Turnkey Transition?


That made me think about how prepared our

couple of weeks ago, we witnessed a hallmark of

businesses are for transitions. If something were

American democracy—

to happen to you, could a successor walk in, take the reins and keep things running? Do you have

the smooth and peaceful transition of

documented processes in place that someone

power. Some of you may disagree about how

could refer to? Do key people know what to do without

smoothly it went and just how peaceful it was, but set politics aside for now. This column isn’t

you onsite every day? Does someone besides you have

about how you voted or which party you support.

relationships with vendors and customers?

It’s about transition. In a machine as large as the U.S.

Even if the challenge isn’t a transition from you as the

Federal government, a new President was sworn in,

owner, there are plenty of other transitions that can be a

President Obama and his family moved out of the

detriment to your business if you aren’t prepared for the

White House, and President Trump was ushered in via

possibility. What would happen, for example, if you lost a

a relatively turnkey operation. Some of the articles I

key employee? Or, what if your market changed quickly?

read noted that items and furnishings belonging to

Could you adapt?

the Obamas were left in place until they left for the

Stepping outside the day-to-day of running your

Inauguration, and then a team sprang into motion to

business and focusing on strategies like these can be

pack those items and unpack the Trump’s items for a

time-consuming and demand a focus you may not

complete turnaround in just a matter of hours. The idea

have at the moment. But, ultimately, spending the time

was that the family living quarters would feel like home

thinking about these scenarios and putting a plan in

for both Presidents.

place could save your company.

Ke lly S can lon

// Publisher //




Apply Now for American Small Business Championship

What makes your business unique? SCORE and Sam’s Club want to know. As sponsors of the American Small Business Championship, they are encouraging small business owners to participate in the competition. To enter, participants must answer the question, “What one unique aspect of your business will make you succeed over the next year?” Deadline for entry is Feb. 13, 2017. Sam’s Club will award three grand prize winners $25,000 each. Additionally, two businesses from each state and the District of Columbia will win $1,000 Sam’s Club gift cards. Businesses may learn more about the application materials, the voting process, and enter the competition through the official competition website.

K-State and Commerce Partner on Grant Program for Entrepreneurs Kansas State University’s Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship and Advanced Manufacturing Institute have partnered with KS State Bank and the Kansas Department of Commerce to offer $90,000 in grant funding to innovators and entrepreneurs in Kansas. The funds are intended to help launch and grow new businesses. The program is part of the state Department of Commerce’s JumpStart Kansas Entrepreneurs program. Award amounts will be determined on a case-bycase basis and will range from $5,000 to $15,000. Applications are currently open. Those interested may apply to the program through an online submission form at Grant awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis, pending approval, until all funding has been allocated. 8


The program is open to all Kansas-based individuals or companies. Award funding may be used to cover such expenses as business planning, engineering support, prototyping, market assessments, development of marketing and sales materials, and other activities that add value to the business.

solutions directed at helping these citizens succeed in entrepreneurship. The competition is open to all forprofit and non-profit entities and organizations. The submission period ends on Feb. 12, 2017. More details are available at

Charlotte Street Foundation Launching New Pilot Program

Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce Gets New Board of Directors

The Charlotte Street Foundation, a Kansas City organization launched in 1997 to nurture and support artists, is launching a 12-month Startup Residency program. The program is designed to foster the development of emerging arts and culture startups in the area. The program offers participants 12 months of free storefront space at Charlotte Street’s Project Space in downtown Kansas City. In addition to the residency, participants will have the opportunity for Artist INC or Artist INC II professional development training, mentoring, networking and cross-marketing opportunities with Charlotte Street. Applications for the Startup Residency program are due by Feb. 6, 2017. Selected participants will begin the 12-month residency on March 6.

SBA Launches Aspire Challenge to Help Previously Incarcerated Citizens

The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched the Aspire Challenge, a prize competition of up to $1.2 million to expand access to entrepreneurial education and microloans for formerly incarcerated individuals. The Aspire competition bolsters efforts by organizations nationwide to assist formerly incarcerated individuals by providing intensive entrepreneurial training, counseling, and increased access to microloan assistance. Up to 16 prizes of $75,000 will be awarded to entrepreneurial support organizations that propose innovative

The Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce has announced its 2017 board of directors. The new chairman is Kim Huyett, the director of alumni and community relations at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Rounding out the NEJC Chamber board are Chairman-Elect: Ashley McDonald, Shawnee Mission Health; Vice-Chairman: David E. Waters, Lathrop & Gage, LLP; Treasurer: Rebecca Wagner, First National Bank; Secretary: David Swinehart, Commerce Bank; PastChairman: Ed O’Connor, PC Partners; Megan Campbell, Growing Futures Early Education Center; Cathy Casey, Casey’s Auto Repair; Peggy LaPierre, AFLAC; Chief Tony Lopez, Consolidated Fire District #2; Bill Menge, KCP&L; Jose Ramirez, Moss Printing; Mike Souder, Johnson County Community College; Adam Terrill, American Family Insurance–Paul Ridgway Agency; Dale Warman, International Lineman’s Rodeo; and Nickolas Wilson, Edward Jones.

Spencer Fane and Business Incubator iWerx Establish Strategic Partnership

The clients of iWerks, a recently opened North Kansas City-based business incubator, now have in-house access to Spencer Fane LLP as a legal resource. Spencer Fane and iWerks have announced a strategic partnership, which includes Spencer Fane’s attorneys holding routine office hours at the incubator and offering presentations on legal topics that are critical to growing businesses.

The incubator is in the final stages of build-out of its 33,000-square-foot space. The facility encompasses 38 private offices and collaborative work space to support an additional 200 independent workers. Four conference rooms, a 4,000-squarefoot event pavilion, a video production studio and 10-gigabit internet connectivity are among the other resources available to clients. iWerx targets post-revenue companies that have grown beyond the startup phase and are looking for additional resources, including capital, to expand and scale operations. iWerx provides curriculum, programming, and partnerships to support companies with the goal of having them outgrow the incubator.

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Missouri Job Creation Leads Regional Growth

Figures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Missouri’s net gain of 57,100 jobs over the last year led all eight of its neighboring states. The state also ranked in the top 10 for the nation for job creation over that period. The same federal data indicate that Missouri was tied for the largest statistically significant decrease in the nation in the unemployment rate in November.

Revised Form I-9 If you haven’t updated your HR files with the revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, you need to do that now. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new version of Form I-9, dated Nov. 14, 2016. Employers were required to begin using the revised form by Jan. 22.





small businesses and promote legislation that advances the interest of small business and small business investors.

SEC Small Business Advocate Act Signed

House Passes Midnight Rule Relief Act

The SEC Small Business Advocate Act of 2016 establishes an Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as a Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee within the SEC. The Advocate will be tasked with assisting small businesses and small business investors while identifying problems that businesses have with access to capital and analyzing the impact of proposed rules on small businesses. Further, the Advocate will conduct outreach with

On Jan. 4, the House of Representatives passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21). The bill amends the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to repeal—in a packaged single vote—any rules finalized within the last 60 legislative days of the Obama administration. Sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the bill is intended to challenge federal regulatory overreach. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). It has been read and is currently being reviewed by the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

REINS Act Targets Federal Rulemaking

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Not long after being sworn in, the 115th Congress set its sights on challenging federal agency rulemaking. On Jan. 4, the House of Representatives passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017, or REINS Act. The bill revises provisions relating to congressional review of agency rulemaking and limits rulemaking without cost-benefit analysis, including analysis of the proposed rule’s effect on jobs. The bill further requires that agencies must classify proposed rules as major or minor. Major rules are classified as rules that result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, industries, government agencies, or regions; and cause significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. Agencies must then submit major rules to Congress for approval.

MISSOURI Tort Reform Likely This Session Both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly are considering tort reform bills. The pending bills would change Missouri’s jurisdiction and venue requirements, implement the Daubert standard for admissability of expert witness testimony, and make changes to the collateral source rule, which would likely reduce defendant’s liability. Currently, Missouri is an attractive venue for personal injury suits. The new jurisdiction and venue requirements would make it more difficult to join parties in a lawsuit, decreasing defendant’s potential liability. Further, by implementing the Daubert standard, judges would be tasked with ensuring that expert witnesses are qualified to offer expert testimony. Finally, by changing Missouri’s collateral source rule, plaintiffs will not be able to recover damages in court for claims that have already been reimbursed by a defendant or the defendant’s insurance company. The business community is supportive of such measures, but the bills have faced opposition from the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA).

KANSAS Kansas Considering Repeal of “LLC Loophole” Lawmakers in Topeka have begun considering changes to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s tax policy. Kansas eliminated tax on nonwage income for members of limited liability companies and other passthrough business organizations in 2012. With Kansas’ budget woes, lawmakers are considering changes to the current law. The House Committee on Taxation is currently considering a bill that would change the current law.

2 5 U N D E R 2 5 ® U P DAT E S

Hint (Class of 2005), a creative content and experience firm, has been acquired by digital agency DEG, which is based in Overland Park.

Rogers said that the strengths of the two companies will comTeri Rogers plement each other, combining Hint’s storytelling and creative expertise with DEG’s data-driven prowess.

Harmon Construction (Class of 2002) has

introduced a new logo and rebranding initiative in conjunction with its 30th business anniversary. The new look is intended to reflect the company’s culture of open communication and its team of driven, solutionoriented innovators. The company has also brought Matt Miller on board as a project leader and has welcomed Rob Pitkin to its advisory board. Pitkin is part of the Construction Law Group of Horn Aylward & Bandy LLC.

RESULTS Technology Champions Data Privacy Day RESULTS Technology (Class of 2014)

was one of hundreds of organizations and individuals that collaborated for Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28. The day is set aside

Culinary Center of KC’s Main Dish Serves Up New Product

Laura Laiben, the founder and “Main Dish” at the Culinary Center of Kansas City (Class of 2006) has created the Kitchen Boa, a stylish reinvention of the classic kitchen towel that is a fashionable alternative to the dish towel over the shoulder. She has licensed the product to Demdaco, and the Kitchen Boa is in hundreds of stores.

ECCO Select Names New COO ECCO Select (Class of 2003)

has named Darren Prenger as COO. He is the son of Jeanette Hernandez Prenger, who founded the IT talent acquisition and advisory firm in 1995.



Formerly Take Two Productions and T2, Hint was founded by Teri Rogers in 1990 as a video production studio. Over the years, the company evolved into a storytelling and ideation shop, bringing client stories to life through video and creative content, motion, experiential design and digital development. The firm’s accounts have included LinkedIn, Uber, Sprint, Puma and a number of other national and global companies.

Changes at Harmon Construction

ren renge P


Hint Sells to Digital Agency DEG

to generate awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.

“It’s not often in business that you find a true win/win. I knew we could build something much bigger together than I could build alone. That was what actually made me happy to sell,” Rogers said. Rogers will serve as the director of creative content and experience design. Hint’s 11-person team will integrate into DEG’s creative team, allowing for greater creative opportunities for clients across all of DEG’s service offerings. “This acquisition has the potential to both dramatically transform how we engage with our clients’ customers and enhance the work we’re able to produce,” said Neal Sharma, DEG CEO and co-founder. “Hint’s outstanding reputation, as well as Teri’s leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, will be invaluable as we continue to evolve creatively and strategically and define the new model of agencies in the future.”

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BIG | deals

WINNERS AWARDS/RECOGNITION New Inductees for UMKC Bloch School Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Four entrepreneurs with ties to the Kansas City area have been inducted into the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. The 2017 inductees are Kate Spade, Ollie Gates, Annie Hurlbut and Tom McDonnell. The Hall of Fame is a gift from Joe and Judy Roetheli, founders of the Lil’ Red Foundation and the creators of Greenies. The exhibit is located on the main level of the Bloch Executive Hall at 5108 Cherry St. Companies Honored by OPEDC The Overland Park Economic Development Council (OPEDC) recognized several companies at its 10th annual Honors Lunch on Feb. 2. LockPath, NeuAnalytics and Technical Training Professionals received the NOVA award, which recognizes fast-growing companies. The Business Hall of Honor award was presented to Central Bank of the Midwest and Rau Construction. The Commercial Development Award went to Capitol Federal Savings Bank, Occidental Management and Tower Properties. FUNDING Two Companies Receive Investment Rounds from KCRise PEQ and Dunami were selected recently for investment rounds from the KCRise Fund, a venture capital sidecar fund that supports early stage investment in Kansas City-based companies. PEQ is an Internet of Things (IoT) service enabler that connects home security and appliances to a user’s smart device. Dunami provides a big data analytics platform designed to deliver key insights to companies for growth, branding and other objectives. 12



IHS Receives Growth Investment Integrated Health Systems, a senior-living and post-acute care IT support solutions provider in Overland Park, Kan., has received an investment for growth from Chicago-based Traverse Pointe Partners. Traverse Pointe will work with founder Kevin Staley and the Integrated Health Systems leadership team to continue to expand the company’s IT support and compliance offerings and advance its market presence. M&A Incentives International Inc. Announces Acquisition Incentives International, Inc., a 33-year-old promotional products company in Overland Park, Kan., has acquired Midwest Premiums and Promotions, a company that has specialized in the premium products and incentive awards area for 40 years. In addition to providing promotional products, incentive programs and premium goods, Incentives International has experience in international manufacturing. ON THE MOVE Law Firm Expansion KC Road Lawyers is taking its show down the road with the opening of a second location in Butler, Mo. The firm provides legal services to those who have been injured in a vehicle accident or have received a traffic ticket. Brew Lab Prepares to Open Overland Park Brewery Brew Lab, a brew-on-premises shop and homebrew supply store, is moving about two blocks to a larger space at 7925 Marty as it prepares to open a full-scale brewery. Established in 2013, Brew Lab was founded by Clay Johnston, Justin Waters, Kevin Combs and Matthew




Hornung. The original concept was built around consumers’ growing interest to brew their own beer. The expanded space will eventually include a taproom, brewery and kitchen. Clinic Expands to Lenexa New Health Anti Aging Clinic

is expanding to Lenexa, Kan. Headquartered in Topeka, Kan., the new office at 10098 Woodland Road will offer medical weight loss solutions, hormone replacement therapy, body contours and PRP hair restoration. The company also opened a clinic in Manhattan, Kan., in 2016. BRANDING Name Change for Concrete Barrier Supplier Discount Crowd Control has changed its corporate name to 48 Barriers. The company, based in Liberty, Mo., is a supplier for new and used concrete barriers and barricades. The new name exemplifies the company’s relevance to the concrete barrier industry in the lower 48 continental states. The company has also launched a new website. Brookside Boutique Holds Grand Reopening The historic Brookside boutique Shop Beautiful recently held a grand reopening. The store, originally opened in 1936 and specializing in gifts, jewelry and accessories, underwent a major interior remodel and brand update. Shop Beautiful also has a location in Hawthorne Plaza in Overland Park. MILESTONES Construction Company Celebrates 100th Anniversary General contractor Fogel-Anderson Construction Co. celebrated its 100th year

in January. Martin and Paul Fogel founded the company as Fogel Constructors in 1917. Some of the projects the company has built over the years include the Thomas Corrigan Building, Union Station Power Plant (Bolender Center), Ararat Shrine Temple (Lyric Opera), Gate City Bank (Ambassador Hotel), Liquid Carbonic Building and Manor Bakery (Manor Square in Westport). Fogel-Anderson continues to be involved in a variety of projects, including retail, grocery, office, education, healthcare, automotive, hospitality and other commercial buildings. Content Marketing Firm Celebrates 10 Years KCWMS, a content marketing and strategy services company specializing in website content, blog articles, whitepapers, social media messaging and other collateral, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Originally founded by four graduate students at Baker University, the Olathe, Kan., company started by offering digital marketing services before focusing on content marketing and development, with agency support as a particular area of expertise. NEW CLIENTS Infinite Energy Construction Wins Federal Award The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded electrical and general contractor Infinite Energy Construction (Thinking Bigger Business cover story, August 2014) a three-year federal contract to build and update facilities at Fort Hood, Texas. Work on the base will include new construction, utility work, renovations, repairs and secure-area projects across various sites. The contract is worth up to $10 million per year to the firm, which was founded by Nilson Goes in 1996. Rx Savings Solutions Wins New Client The Teachers Health Trust of Southern Nevada has chosen Rx Savings Solutions (Thinking Bigger Business cover story, Feb. 2015) as a provider, enabling its 38,000 participants to gain more information about

and access to prescription drugs at more affordable prices. Founded by pharmacist Michael Rea, the Overland Park, Kan., company’s software relies on patented algorithms to analyze thousands of recommendations and maximize savings. OTHER NEWS Torn Label Launches Canning Operation East Crossroads-based Torn Label Brewing Company has launched six-pack cans of its three year-round flagship ales: Alpha Pale, House Brew coffee wheat stout and Belgian-inspired Monk & Honey. The six-packs of 12-ounce cans will be available for purchase throughout Kansas City, in both Missouri and Kansas, as well as select locations in Lawrence, Wichita and the Kansas City suburbs. Medical Device Company Announces New Patents Spinal Simplicity, a medical device company developing solutions to treat complex surgical problems, has been granted six new patents. The company’s portfolio now consists of 52 U.S. and global patents that cover 17 inventions in the spinal and orthopedic areas. ThinkViral Releases Social Media Guide ThinkViral, a firm that specializes in social

media business development strategies, has introduced a social media operations manual that offers guidance on social media strategy and execution, including what to post, who should be posting and how to get results. The guide also includes tools for organization, example social media posts, online networking schedules, a report template, supervisor checklist and a customizable social media policy. Two Companies Join Digital Sandbox Program H3TV and MovinHouz are the latest businesses to be accepted into the Digital Sandbox KC program. H3TV is a hip hop health startup founded by Reggie Gray and Roy Scott. MovinHouz is a mobile app that CEO Dominic Klobe says brings a new experience to the moving industry.






Save the Date!


The Ingredients for Success Nutrilyze and KC restaurants are helping diners eat smarter.

25 Under 25


Celebrate the 2017 Class of 25 Under 25® Honorees at the 16th annual Awards Dinner & Gala. More details and tickets available at

STARTUP // Nutrilyze ENTREPRENEURS // Joe Dunn and

Todd Whitaker HOW IT WORKS // Nutrilyze is a smartphone

Downtown Marriott | 6 p.m.

app that “scores” the food at local restaurants. The scores are based on a dish’s calories and nutrients, but that’s not all. The app also takes a user’s weight, height, activity level and weight goals into account. That way, you can tell if an order is a good idea for you specifically.

The BIG Breakfast

THE INSPIRATION // Right now, if you’re

» Saturday, March 4, 2017

A quarterly entrepreneurial panel sharing insights and advice you can put to work in your business. Plus, a delicious breakfast to start your day right! More details and tickets available at events/big-breakfast-series

» 1st Quarter Breakfast Thursday, March 23, 2017

trying to watch your calories or reduce your sodium intake, dining out can be a guessing

game. “We don’t know what’s in the food at a lot of local restaurants right now,” said Dunn. Fortunately, a string of KC eateries sees the opportunity in helping customers stay healthy, so they’re allowing Whitaker and Dunn to include their menus in Nutrilyze’s service. Some, like The Mixx, are working with the startup to come up with specials. WHAT’S NEXT // Nutrilyze just launched

for Apple devices. Check it out in the App Store, or learn more at the startup’s website,


Evolving Business Model Is Key to Growth City Wide expands with transition to second generation.

» 2nd Quarter Breakfast Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kauffman Foundation Conference Center | 7:30-9 a.m.

Brew :30 Drink local, network and meet some of KC’s up and coming businesses at this quarterly happy hour. More details and tickets available at www.ithinkbigger. com/events/brew30

» 2nd Quarter Brew :30 Thursday, April 20, 2017

Amigoni Winery | 5:30 p.m.



When Frank Oddo founded City Wide in 1961, the concept started as a small commercial cleaning company in Lenexa. By the mid-1970s, City Wide had become one of the biggest commercial cleaning companies in the city. City Wide continued to evolve over the years, from providing cleaning services and distributing cleaning supplies to becoming a professional management company in the building maintenance industry. In many cases, they became an extension of their clients’ facilities management team. Perhaps the company’s most significant milestone was when Frank’s son Jeff took the reins as president and franchised the concept in 2001. By developing franchising as a new growth strategy, the Oddos changed their business from successful to significant. The company’s projected 2017 annual revenue is more than $200 million.

“As ownership changes across generations, the company should be willing to evolve the company’s business model too,” said Jeff. “Successful leaders will recognize their clients’ needs, take on new risks and adapt their business procedures to stay relevant.” Today, there are more than 40 City Wide offices, and the Oddos are working to triple the company’s presence. In the past year, City Wide opened six new locations in Miami, Phoenix West, Wichita, Rhode Island, Salt Lake City and Charleston. “For a business to be sustainable, the company has to firmly establish its ‘why’ statement to communicate its purpose of being in business,” said Jeff. “By articulating a consistent message about City Wide’s mission, our brand has a solid foundation to support our company’s growth.”



Kansas City’s Annual Brand Square Off Begins

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How strong is your brand following? Do you have the numbers to win KCSourceLink’s sixth annual Battle of the Brands? Here’s how it works. The Battle of the Brands is a bracket-style competition among Kansas City companies— 64 to be exact. These local companies (startups, small businesses and brand giants) compete for votes online until only one brand is left standing. Participating companies are divided into four quadrants to reflect the four different types of entrepreneurship: » Innovation-Led // These companies are high-impact, high-growth companies driven by technology or innovative service.

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» Main Street // These are the businesses that create the character of Kansas City. Think store fronts, retailers, restaurants.

Be sure to order the CCQG: white queso with roasted poblanos, salsa roja, chips and guacamole.

» Microenterprises // These lifestyle businesses are typically sole proprietorships and companies with fewer than five employees. » Second Stage // These established businesses, typically with 10 to 99 employees, generate upwards of $750,000 in revenue. Similar to a sports tournament, each company faces off against a quadrant contender until there are four quadrant champs. Additional rounds of battle determine the championship round and finally a winner. Voting resets with each new round, and a brand’s fans can vote only once per round. The Battle begins on March 6 when voters will determine the 16 teams that will vie in each quadrant. Nominations to participate are being accepted until Feb. 12 at One major change in this year’s nominating process is that only the business owner or a business’s employees are eligible to nominate businesses. Winners of previous years’ competitions are ineligible. Any business that has entrepreneurial roots in the 18-county Kansas City metro region, shows evidence of growth and innovation and has been in business for at least one year is eligible. There is no charge to enter or to play. And no cash prizes are awarded. KCSourceLink hosts the Battle each year to shine the spotlight on Kansas City entrepreneurship and to promote local businesses. For more details about eligibility, format, contenders, elimination round dates and Battle highlights, follow KCSourceLink on social media.


You’ve got a wide range of fare available, including burger, pizza, salads, tacos and more. Check out the Fat Tire Chili, made with Fat Tire Ale, ribeye, ground chuck and pinto beans. Or try the steak tacos, covered with cotija cheese, pickled onions, avocado and cilantro. TRY THIS

The Mason Jar has a lineup of signature drinks that it serves in mason jars, including the Mason Jar Mule— Deep Eddy Vodka, lime and Gosling’s Ginger Beer. SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®


Hungry for Knowledge? Then register for our next BIG Breakfast. Learn behind-the-scenes stories from business owners featured on the cover of Thinking Bigger Business magazine.

» Erlinda Tjhai-Aydulun // MindLift » Don Peterson // Infusion Express » Angela Hurt // Veracity Consulting Inc. » Christina Scott // Shamerrific Shine Thursday, March 23 // 7:30 -9 a.m. Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Mo.


sponsored by





Apple Pie Painting Hits a Sweet Spot The company brings painting parties to homes and businesses.



Apple Pie Painting (913) 602-8296 TYPE OF BUSINESS

Mobile painting party business YEAR FOUNDED



ainting has been a passion for April Kramer since high school. She parlayed that passion into a viable business a few years ago when she and her husband Joey Kramer launched Apple Pie Painting. Apple Pie Painting is a mobile painting party company that brings painting to the customer’s home—or business, church, or school. “I’ve even done a party on an outdoor pool deck,” April said. Customers book with Apple Pie Painting, choose the party type and select a painting from more than 150 designs on their website. Fees are charged per painter based on size of canvas selected, with an eight-painter minimum. All the supplies are included in the fee. “Our instructors set up all the supplies, run the painting activity step by step, clean it up and you walk away with a masterpiece,” April said. In addition to standard kid and adult parties, Apple Pie Painting offers team-builders and fundraisers. “We do fundraisers with a 20-person minimum and donate back $10 per painter,” Joey said. “Last year we gave back close to $10,000 to local charities.” When the couple started Apple Pie Painting in October 2014, they did everything themselves. April instructed at the parties, and

Joey took care of marketing, finances and back end operations. Today, Apple Pie Painting includes the Kramers and four instructors who are independent contractors. One of the keys to Apple Pie Painting’s success was the Kramers acceptance into BetaBlox, a business incubator that has provided them with several tools to help them grow their business. Apple Pie Painting currently averages 30 to 50 parties each month; their rebooking rate is nearly 50 percent. While there are a number of businesses focused on the painting party concept, the Kramers said there is limited competition in the mobile market concept. “There are a handful of others regionally, but nobody has figured out the magic sauce and the way we will scale it,” Joey Kramer said. “We have created a product that is almost completely customizable and more personal.” Customers outside of Kansas City who want to have a party can order a home painting kit online. The kits include instructional videos to step customers through the painting process. Next up for Apple Pie Painting is the launch of new software, currently in beta testing, for the operations and scalability side of the business. The Kramers also have their eye on opening two additional markets for 2017, and they are finalizing a franchise model they plan to roll out too. Ruth Baum Bigus is a freelance writer based in Kansas City. SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®






lathe-based Structura has earned a national reputation by making light poles memorable. A series of high-profile clients have incorporated the company’s lineup of wood and metal poles—along with its facades and bollards (a type of waist-high lighting post)—into their projects. 18


You can find Structura products at REI, McDonald’s and Yum! Brands locations across the country. Architects have selected the company’s fixtures for major developments like the Detroit Red Wings’ new arena and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor District, to name just a few.

“There really aren’t many people in the United States doing this kind of work for the exterior,” said Dan Kohnen, the company’s co-founder and president. There used to be more companies in Structura’s field, but most were acquired by larger companies and, in the process, lost their commitment to innovative design.

modifications to existing products, such as the light poles that Kohnen and his team produced for the Port of Everett, a huge mixed-use development south of Seattle. Structura modified one of its models so that food trucks and farmers-market vendors could plug into the pole’s power. The rest are completely new, “dead custom” requests, Kohnen said. A good example is the light poles Structura designed for the University of Texas at El Paso. “The design team came to us and said, ‘This is what we’re thinking, can you do it?’ And we did it. Now it’s a standard product of ours,” Kohnen said. That product, the Reed, was recently selected for an attraction at Universal Studios’ theme park in Orlando. One challenge that Structura faces is its long sales cycle. For most jobs, it’s about a year. A recent job took “only” nine months, while the longest ran three years. (Large city parks and other projects involving governmental bodies tend to have longer lead times.) In many cases, the contractors aren’t ready to add Structura’s light poles and other fixtures to the site until the end. “We’re the last thing that gets installed,” Kohnen said. WHAT’S NEXT?

Duo light pole at The Pike, Long Beach, Calif. Below // LED Ring installed at the Corrigan Building, Kansas City, Mo.

Structura has built a real following among architects, landscape architects and lighting designers because they know the company cooks up eye-catching pieces. “Those designers come to us because they know they can give us a napkin sketch and we can develop it into a real product for them,” Kohnen said. HOW THEY’RE MADE

All of Structura’s products are produced in its facility in Olathe, just off Interstate 35. Though it sells several metal pieces, the company’s wooden poles are particularly striking. They’re made with Accoya, wood that has been acetylated. The process is a little

like pickling. “In fact, it smells like vinegar if you were to smell a raw piece,” Kohnen said. The treatment allows the wood to hold up even in the harshest of conditions. Structura picked Accoya partly because it comes with a 25-year warranty against rot. (Previously, the company used hardy tropical woods, but they’re more challenging to work with, and the supply chain for them was trickier.) About half of Structura’s output consists of items ordered straight from the company’s catalog. A quarter of its jobs are slight

Expect big things from Structura this year. The company made its reputation creating exterior fixtures, but it’s started designing interior lighting pieces. And it’s getting ready to unveil its first street or roadway light—that is, the light that sits atop the pole. When the company was founded, Kohnen said, its philosophy was “we’ll provide the pole, you provide the light.” By getting into the business of lights themselves, Structura aims to expand beyond higher-profile projects to, say, middle schools and high schools across the country, a massively larger market. “I think it’s exciting to create a company from scratch and a product from scratch and have some of the biggest design studios in the world like it and want to use it in the projects,” he said. James Hart Is a freelance writer in the Kansas City area. SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®






or nearly 10 years, the Johnson County Education Research Triangle (JCERT) has quietly, steadily invested in the county’s capacity for innovation. It’s only when you step back and consider its track 20 THINKING BIGGER BUSINESS // February 2017

record that you can see just how much has been accomplished. The triangle was created in 2008, when the county’s voters approved an eighth-cent sales tax to benefit Kansas State University’s

and the University of Kansas’ operations in Johnson County. Each year, the tax generates about $15 million. That revenue has helped fund new degree programs at KU’s Edwards Campus, as well as

According to Eilert, the initiative was originally inspired by a study commissioned by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “The study highlighted the imminence of the knowledge-based economy in life sciences, animal health and food safety and the urgent need for a higher education strategy that would ensure the availability of skilled workers in these fields,” Eilert said. “Johnson County leaders were trying to figure out the county’s part in the life sciences economy and in offering degree programs that would both meet employers’ workforce needs and help them attract and retain talent.” While large businesses benefit from Triangle support—according to Eilert, most of the country’s largest drug manufacturers have collaborated with KU’s Clinical Research Center—smaller companies also have received important help. » SmartVet makes a type of paintgun that can “shoot” livestock with anti-parasite treatment. The young company, which originated in Australia, decided to base its U.S. headquarters on the K-State Olathe campus, where it consulted with the school’s physics and engineering departments and its Advanced Manufacturing Institute in solving a problem. As a result, a few years ago, SmartVet gained a $5 million private placement investment. Ongoing University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center research using injectable targeted chemotherapy is showing great promise in the treatment of a variety of cancers in dogs and could lead to testing in humans. // Photos courtesy of KU Med. Center

the completion of its Business, Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Building. K-State Olathe’s International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute is a beneficiary of Research Triangle dollars too. In fact, the JCERT dollars were a catalyst for the construction of the Olathe campus itself. The Triangle also supports the University of Kansas Clinical Research Center in Fairway, which is doing important work in Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. JCERT helps fund local drug trials, which allows KC-area patients to take part without traveling long distances. When the KU Cancer Center earned

the prestigious National Center Institute designation, Triangle funding played a role. “Dr. Roy Jensen (director of the KU Cancer Center) will tell you that the JCERT investment in a Phase I Clinical Trials Unit was pivotal for the Cancer Center in acquiring that designation,” said Ed Eilert, the JCERT immediate past board chair. “The KU Cancer Center is the only cancer center in the country to receive local tax dollars. Our community and the region will derive long-term benefits from having that major university presence here.” All told, the Triangle is expected to create $1.34 billion in economic activity over the span of two decades.

» KU’s medical research, meanwhile, leads to “spin-out” companies like HylaPharm, a new type of injectable chemotherapy for dogs, which might have human applications at some point. Last year, HylaPharm scored a $300,000 Small Business Innovation Research contract from the National Cancer Institute. » K-State Olathe also assists food businesses with nutrition labeling, formula development and other research. Culinary Provisions, which makes a type of savory cracker, not only improved its formula with K-State help, but also found a way to streamline and scale up its production process. Eilert is confident the Triangle’s investments will continue to pay off in jobs and economic growth. All things considered, he said, “The Triangle is still very young.” James Hart Is a freelance writer in the Kansas City area. SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®



Experience Preferred Flyer experiences indoor diving at iFly. photo courtesy of iFly (

Entertainment businesses incorporate experiences to attract customers. ( by Pete Dulin )

by 3.7 million from the prior year. Frequent moviegoers decreased in the significant 12-17 and 18-24 year-old segments, among other age groups. One area that is providing an opportunity for growth and innovation, however, is experienced-based entertainment.

The business of entertaining the public isn’t all fun and games.


Recessionary impacts, competition for consumers’ time, and advances in technology that allow consumers to stream movies and engage online are just a few of the challenges the industry confronts. The Motion Picture Association of America reported in 2015, for example, that the total number of frequent moviegoers decreased 22


In their 1999 book “The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater and Every Business a Stage,” B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore outlined prescient ideas on the value of experiences. Nearly 20 years later, companies are emphasizing experiences over goods and services as the next stage of economic value.

These experience-based entertainment businesses combine participatory activity, quality food and beverage, a social media-friendly environment and an upscale setting. While mobile devices link us digitally, online interaction does not fulfill the human need for personal connection. Experiencebased entertainment creates opportunities to play together in ways that cannot be replicated or achieved at home or online. Kansas City entertainment businesses are catching on to the value and relevancy of the experience-based model. Live-action escape rooms, for example, have grown popular. They require teamwork, deductive and problem-solving skills, and time management. Local companies such as Escape Room, Breakout KC and Clue Pursuit

create themed rooms that groups of participants are locked in to and have 60 minutes to escape. Players crack codes, solve puzzles and use clues provided by a games master who remotely monitors the action by video camera. Sports and adventure-themed concepts like iFly indoor skydiving and TopGolf have also arrived in Kansas City. Pinstripes reimagines bowling as an upscale experience replete with bocce and a bistro setting. Rather than passively watching an event, customers participate in activities to create the entertainment experience. This model suggests a path forward for LBE venues, if global and local trends are an indicator. SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGERÂŽ



“Globally, especially in the Middle East and Asia, and domestically at a slower rate, the growth of experience-based entertainment infrastructure is huge. Urban attractions and family entertainment centers are growing at a double-digit rate around the world,” said François Girard, senior vice president of global business development at Thinkwell, a global design and production company based in Los Angeles. REIMAGINING THE GOLF EXPERIENCE

Thinkwell has developed and opened 50 projects in 30 different countries, including family entertainment centers, attractions, live events, and mixed-use developments. DRĪV Golf Lounge + Brewhouse, Thinkwell’s new sports-driven entertainment concept, is anticipated to open in 2018 as part of North Kansas City’s One North Development. DRĪV combines golf games with interactive group game play, real-time ball tracking and instant feedback via video screens, gastropub dining and a microbrewery. With DRĪV, Thinkwell recasts and expands the sport’s appeal for golfers and nongolfers. It brings data and the shared experience of online gaming to the physical world in a way that Baby Boomer-era golf can’t. “DRĪV is designed to attract larger demographics including including females, families, non-golfers as well as advanced golfers,” said Girard. “. . . It’s not intimidating or expensive. There’s no dress code or sixhour commitment to play. Millennials are not playing golf, but they will come to DRĪV for these reasons. They are looking for an experience.” Part of that experience is video feedback during game play. Video clips, selfie photos and leaderboard scores can be posted on Facebook. “If it’s not a cool place to be, then why would I take a selfie there?” said Girard. “DRĪV isn’t about golf. It’s about the experience. It’s a destination where there’s always something to do.” ENHANCING THE MOVIE EXPERIENCE

Adam Roberts and Brent Miller, owners of Screenland Armour and its sister operation Tapcade, integrated the movie theaters with arcade games and a craft beer bar. The hybrid entertainment mix distinguishes the venues from megaplex theaters. A signature 24 THINKING BIGGER BUSINESS // February 2017

food menu, custom film programming and other amenities transform movie-going into a memorable experience. “It’s not enough to just do an event, such as a movie release or beer dinner,” said Roberts. “You have to add extras, an aspect that creates a physical connection for the audience to see or touch.” Adding the craft beer bar capitalized on an emerging trend. Screenland was one of the first area bars with a wide selection that

“captured the hardcore craft beer audience,” said Roberts. “Five years ago, craft beer wasn’t what it is now,” Roberts explained. “Now, there’s a vast selection of beers. Applebee’s has craft beer. We have to have more personality and offer something ahead of the curve as the market fights for new ideas and the crowd.” The venues’ nostalgic ’80s and ’90s look and music playlist attract customers and retains them after the movie. Guests

feedback via social media and conversations with customers to identify problems and generate fresh ideas. “You can lose touch with your business quickly,” said Roberts. “You have to be engaged with customers. I take criticism and then work as quickly as possible to fix problems. If something doesn’t work, I learn quickly from it. I can’t guarantee success, so I pre-plan. I test the waters with small events.” MAXIMIZING ENTERTAINMENT TIME




1. Conceptual rendering of the DRĪV Golf Lounge + Brewhouse™ facility, featuring the building’s exterior design, interactive driving range, top-level lounge and putting green spaces. 2. Participants using clues to help them gather incriminating evidence in Escape KC’s Mr. Dupree’s office and escape before time runs out. // 3. Pickleball Clinic held in the indoor court building at Chicken N Pickle. Chicken N Pickle also offers teaching sessions, tournaments, and exhibitions.

socialize and discuss films onsite over food, beer, music and games. “I want people to have a beer and socialize together, to sit and talk about the movie they saw,” said Roberts. “We’re creating an

environment to have everyone be part of the conversation. Focusing on people and the experience gives us an edge.” Refreshing the experience renews interest for returning customers. Roberts gathers

At Chicken N Pickle, guests may reserve one of eight courts to play pickleball, a paddle-based racquet sport similar to tennis. The site includes a fast-casual restaurant, bar, food trucks, outdoor lawn games and living room with fire pits and television screens. These numerous options to socialize, play and dine appeal to the interests of the entire family and guests. Chicken N Pickle optimizes leisure time for busy families and individuals in one location, simplifying the decision of where to go and what to do. “As a father of two young boys and having a wife who works, I have about zero time to do family things. If you want to do something with your family, you have to book it,” said Bill Koning, executive general manager of Chicken N Pickle. “This concept groups a lot of those needs for families like mine.” “We want you to be able to spend the entire time here and not feel like time was wasted,” said Erin McGinty, vice-president of project development at Chicken N Pickle. “You don’t have to spend 20 minutes driving to eat, an hour eating, another drive to the theatre, two hours watching a movie in silence, and a drive home where maybe you talk about the movie.” The interactive format reinforces social bonds and builds memories. “The restaurant and entertainment industry is changing. People have less time, shorter attention spans and technology everywhere,” said McGinty. “This concept gives people the gift of connection. Around our property, you don’t see a ton of people on their phones. They are too busy having fun, playing, talking and returning to basic human connection.” Pete Dulin is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. He is also the author of Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail, Last Bite: 100 Recipes from Kansas City’s Best Chefs and Cooks, and Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries in Central Kansas and Missouri. // SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®


Hillary Stamper, Manager-Employee Engagement; Amy Krohn, VP-Technology; Angela Hurt, owner; Shawn McCarrick, COO; Rod Mack, VP-Strategic Solutions



The nation’s largest companies and government agencies trust Angela Hurt and Veracity Consulting.


Angela Hurt C O M PA N Y I N F O R M AT I O N

Veracity Consulting Inc. 2000 Baltimore Ave. Suite 100 Kansas City, MO 64108 (913) 945-1912 TYPE OF BUSINESS

IT consulting YEAR FOUNDED

2006 E M P L OY E E S

120 K E YS T O S U C C E S S

Employee skill set and staying true to the company’s pillars of honesty, transparency and sincerity.


ngela Hurt spent years working for large IT consulting firms that focused on the bottom line first. When she founded her own IT consulting firm, Veracity Consulting Inc., Hurt knew exactly where to concentrate her attention: her clients and employees. She knew that by hiring passionate and hard-working people and forming honest business relationships, her business would succeed. The bottom line would come naturally in a hot industry. Even the name of her IT consulting firm— Veracity, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as devotion to the truth—lets clients know Hurt’s operating style from the get-go. “The most important thing to me is the propensity to tell the truth,” she said. “The pillars of the company are all around honesty, transparency, sincerity.” If it all sounds too idealistic, then consider Veracity’s results. Veracity experienced a massive 230 percent revenue increase in 2015. It went from a few dozen employees to 120 in a few years. The leadership team is stacked with a who’s who of local and national IT executives who have seen and handled virtually every IT challenge. “We use technology to solve business problems,” Hurt said. Veracity targets Fortune 500 companies, large federal and state contracts. It expanded to small

and mid-size businesses recently in response to market demands. Veracity offers a comprehensive range of consulting services, including strategic planning, data management and analytics and program management. They consult on virtually any IT need available, including helping clients form long-term IT strategies and create the proper infrastructure. “We don’t often see an opportunity that we think we can’t handle. I don’t think that’s an ego thing. I think it’s an experience thing. We have several ex-CIOs on our staff and ex-VPs,” she said. “There’s not a scenario within an IT project base that they have not seen before.” CERTIFIED SUCCESS

Hurt launched Veracity in 2006 after a successful career working in sales for a large IT firm. She knew years earlier that she wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t until around 2005 that she discovered her opportunity. Her employer started losing out on business as Fortune 500 companies pushed for greater diversity among suppliers. Those corporations were abandoning relationships with larger IT businesses to work with smaller minority-owned firms in far-flung locales. Often those partnerships were more about staffing than solving problems and taking care of customer needs.

by Dawn Bormann // photography by Dan Videtich SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®


Hurt, who is Native American, knew she could do better. “What do I have to lose?” she asked herself. The dominoes fell into place from there. Hurt began the business and then set out to become certified as a minority and womanowned business. The timing was surreal. She expected to spend months jumping through government hoops. But Hurt was in for a surprise when she inquired about the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification with the MidAmerica Minority Business Development Council (now known as the Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council). There was a board meeting within days to review certifications. They were willing to give her a big break. If she could complete the paperwork overnight, they would inspect her office within 24 hours and add her business to the board meeting. “Within one week, I got certified as an MBE and then I turned in my resignation,” she said. Having her MBE and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certifications got Veracity in the door at several places, including coveted government agencies and Fortune 500 firms. But she soon learned those designations wouldn’t forge a lasting relationship unless she delivered results. Certification is no substitute for old-fashioned relationship building and hard work, Hurt said.

been in their shoes before. “I’ll have somebody at your office tomorrow. If you want them for four hours—no charge,” she said. “We just want to be your trusted adviser. We have somebody on staff from almost any area.” It sets Veracity apart from its competitors. “There’s not a company our size that I know of that has resources like we have that are available for whatever it is you need to know,” she said. Hurt has overcome several obstacles along the journey. For years, she handled everything at Veracity. Hurt quickly realized her weakness for internal


When a client recently asked Hurt what makes Veracity better than its competitors, she knew it was her employees’ skill set, leadership and commitment. Her leadership team has worked in major corporations and sat in the C-suite. They understand corporate deadlines, financial pressures and manpower issues. When a client needs help, Hurt can send someone who has 28 THINKING BIGGER BUSINESS // February 2017

operations was limiting her growth. She brought in a trusted former co-worker who would eventually take over as CFO. “It allowed me to get back out and do what I was good at,” she said. The growth was almost immediate. But Veracity hit yet another plateau in 2012-13 when Hurt realized once again that she was overwhelmed. She remembers having the sinking feeling that many successful entrepreneurs often feel: “If I didn’t own this company, I would quit my job,” Hurt said. ‘I NEED A BIG DOG’

She turned to a longtime mentor, Shawn McCarrick, former CIO at Freightquote. Hurt had

spent years running ideas and plans past McCarrick, who had moved to private consulting. Hurt wondered if McCarrick might help Veracity land another big client. “Will you go to this meeting? I need a big dog in the room,” she asked. He agreed and eventually proposed another idea: Why not bring him on to help build the business? Hurt couldn’t believe her ears. Her mentor wanted to join her team. He was one of many former corporate executives who have joined Hurt to build Veracity. It’s impressive, said business adviser Sherry Turner, to see how

many executives wanted to work for Hurt because of her people first attitude. “They want to work for her. That’s what’s amazing,” said Turner, Women’s Business Center executive director and founder of OneKC for Women. “They see the trust and the honesty and at the same time the vulnerability that she’s willing to say, ‘We’re going to do this as a team. I need your help.’ And she’s always got everybody’s back. There’s a trust level that creates the most positive culture.” Throughout the ups and downs of business growth, Turner said that Hurt’s trajectory has always been one of “we’re all going to be successful together.”

Hiring McCarrick as COO in 2014 was one of many pivot points that helped Veracity grow. Veracity experienced record growth last year thanks to his changes. McCarrick spent a year helping Hurt construct a solid foundation for Veracity. He sat down and talked with every employee in order to take stock of employee strengths and weaknesses. Employees soon learned that the process was essential to build a plan for long-term growth. “So when a business unit within this corporation asks me to deliver something, I

“We just want to be your trusted adviser. We have somebody on staff from almost any area.” Angela Hurt // owner, Veracity Consulting Inc.

understand our capabilities around doing that. So we essentially run our consulting company as though we’re a corporation, and we look at our clients like they’re a business unit,” Hurt said. “So we’re able to know what our skill sets are that we have on staff of those 100-plus people. We understand where we can help our clients and then that helps us know who is available just like if you’re in a corporation.” It’s a commonsense approach that Hurt said allows Veracity to work as an IT team, not a staffing agency like many other consulting firms. It all goes back to Hurt’s approach that honesty wins above all. McCarrick said he’s been allowed to hire strong employees as they become available “whether we have billable work or not and make an investment in our workforce. “If we have a good workforce, then the work will come. And then having the approach of ‘I’m going to do the right thing for the client.’ That’s really easy to say, but it comes because you don’t have Angie walking around with a gun to your head about getting certain numbers,” he said. Most executives want to make decisions based on tactical numbers even when they know it goes against the company’s best interests in the long term, he said. “I have the latitude to make more strategic decisions than I

think a lot of other companies that are in this space,” he said. TRUE TO HER WORD

As Veracity grows, Hurt takes great pride in staying connected to employees. She can’t interview every person these days, but she makes it a point to get to know each and every one. All Veracity employees work remotely, though some are situated inside client offices. But even though geography separates many employees, Hurt regularly meets up with staffers at company outings and team builders. Those gatherings generally revolve around philanthropic endeavors. They bond while swinging hammers at Habitat for Humanity houses, participating in 5K runs or sorting food at Harvesters. Hurt serves on nonprofit boards and encourages her employees to do the same. It’s her way of giving back to groups like the Women’s Business Center, where they helped her find resources and mentors in the early days. These days Hurt is a key mentor for Kansas City women. She serves as vice chair of the Women’s Employment Network board. None of it surprises Turner, who remembers Hurt promising to give back years ago when the time was right. Hurt, she said, was true to her word. Dawn Bormann is a freelance writer in the Kansas City area.

left // Veracity team members Shawn McCarrick, COO; Amy Krohn, VP-Technology;

Rod Mack, VP-Strategic Solutions; Hillary Stamper, Manager-Employee Engagement; Angela Hurt, owner; and Kaela Rorvig, executive assistant convene for a strategy session. SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®


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( by Sarah Mote )

Brandon Simpson // photo courtesy of Pete Dulin

The Price of a Dream: Reality Checks J

azzy B’s founder Brandon Simpson is standing in the middle of a dream come true. It’s been nearly a year since he opened the brick-and-mortar version of Jazzy B’s in Lee’s Summit. And his entrepreneurial journey has been full of reality checks. For six years, he tested his market and his recipes through Jazzy B’s food truck, a widely recognized and craved mobile eatery that specializes in BBQ fusion. In that time, he saw Kansas City’s food truck scene explode from just a few trucks roaming the streets to a full-fledged fleet.

work world. For 10 years, he stayed in the industry, gaining experience on the ins and outs of running and managing a restaurant, while always keeping a catering gig on the side. But he was frustrated by the confines of the corporate franchise and in 2008, he left the kitchen for a job in sales. That lasted two years. In 2010, his sales job—and the company he worked for— fell victim to the recession. Unemployed, Simpson “was stuck, sitting there, wondering what I was going to do now.” It was time to dust off the dream.

The Price of a Dream Since childhood, Simpson had wanted to open a restaurant. In 1998, as a football player and undergraduate at Northwest Missouri State, he finally had the tools and education he needed to map it out. He wrote a business plan, calculated the budget—and landed on a price tag of $1.2 million. “That just wasn’t feasible,” he says. He graduated with a degree in food and restaurant management and set out into the

Rev the Reality Checks In 2010, Simpson took his first steps toward that 1998 business plan: he opened Jazzy B’s Food Truck. With a lower entry point than the original plan, the food truck allowed Simpson to build an audience for his BBQ fusion. “It was a real eye opener,” Simpson said. His first reality check: People won’t buy what they don’t know.

With one of the first food trucks to hit Kansas City streets, Simpson found that people were reticent to try something new. He burned through five menus before he found his culinary charmers. Still, he struggled. Challenged both by the novelty of the food truck and BBQ fusion, Simpson was lucky to clear $150 in a day. “And no one can survive off of that.” Second reality check: Parking and praying doesn’t work. “It’s just not a good business plan,” he says. Instead of relying on the whims of unpredictable foot traffic, Simpson deliberately built his reputation and recognition with catering and big-crowd events. He soon built a following and a mouthwatering menu. Third reality check: You can’t beat them, so join them. The first three years were rough, Simpson admits. More and more trucks started roaming the streets, seduced by the prospects of a low overhead, lucrative business where you could set your own hours. Simpson had already survived the harsh realities behind that little piece of fiction. He’d also done his homework on how to build a thriving food truck business. “I was watching the food truck movement in other cities and realized that the best way to attract new customers was to build awareness,” he said. He joined with Michael Bradbury, owner of the Funnel Cake Truck, and in 2014, they co-founded the Kansas City Food Truck Association. Opening Day Flash back to nearly a year ago—March 2016. Simpson’s famed purple Jazzy B’s food truck was parked outside of the shell of a former Lee’s Summit BBQ joint. A temporary vinyl “Jazzy B’s Coming Soon” sign covered the former tenant’s stenciled lettering. You could see in his eyes that little boy who dreamed of owning his own restaurant, the student who never gave up on a dream despite the daunting improbability. With a tinge of anxiety, yet teeming with excitement, Simpson admits now: “This was always part of the plan.” Sarah Mote is the marketing director at KCSourceLink, an organization that helps aspiring startups and established small businesses find the right business resource to start, scale or accelerate. Find out more about their resources at SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®


BIGGER | law S M A R T

( by Samantha Monsees )


Does the Gig Economy Offer Your Business a Big Advantage? It can, but beware of the pitfalls of worker misclassification.


f anything good came of the Great Recession, it was Americans’ resourcefulness in creating their own income opportunities. Many turned to short-term assignments–or gigs–to help fill the gaps between jobs or to supplement underemployment. Despite the improved economy, this part of the workforce, which has leveraged digital systems to restructure traditional employment relationships between workers and employers, continues to grow, and is expected to become a mainstay. The Gig Economy is Big Economy The Congressional Research Service defines a gig economy, in part, as a collection of markets that match providers to consumers on a gig (or job) basis in support of on-demand commerce. If you’ve ordered a car and driver through Uber, purchased art through Etsy, stayed at an Airbnb, had a sandwich delivered by GrubHub or hired a freelancer through TaskRabbit, you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who have participated in the gig economy. And Americans are not just consuming; they’re providing. A recent Harvard University study reported that nearly 20 percent of respondents said they had sold goods or services in peer-to-peer exchanges via the internet. In that same survey, “alternative work arrangements,” including independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary agencies and contract workers, accounted for 15 percent of the workforce in 2015. When it comes to staffing, these workers can give companies a breadth of new options.


Giga Size Benefits and Uber Risks The gig economy has increased the pool of potential talent for companies, complementing current employee structures without hiring permanent employees. Some advantages to hiring gig workers include:

» Minimizing or eliminating recruitment and training costs. » Decreasing potential layoffs and employee turnover.

» Gaining access to specialized skill sets and expertise.

» Avoiding expenses such as taxes, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation —if the worker meets the legal criteria to be considered an independent contractor.

» Getting additional help for one-off or short-term projects.

On the surface, a gig work arrangement may seem like a win-win.

But, along with the benefits, these new workforce relationships have created potential legal issues for companies. The most common problem is the misclassification of employees – when a company incorrectly classifies a worker as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee, without understanding the legal differences between the two. The Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board, along with courts and state agencies, implement different tests and standards to determine a worker’s status. The IRS alone looks at more than 20 factors to determine whether the independentcontractor classification is appropriate. For example, gig economy workers who may dedicate all or a significant portion of

their working hours to a single company may not be independent contractors under the law. And, if workers are deemed to be employees, they then qualify for civil rights protections, back pay, overtime pay and other benefits. Companies that misclassify these workers may be subject to paying fines and back taxes. Several multi-million-dollar, classaction lawsuits (and settlements) against Uber, the on-demand car service, are addressing the misclassification question on behalf of the company’s drivers. At the heart of those legal battles is whether Uber’s relationship with its drivers is employer-employee or company-independent contractor. Just this past summer, the employee vs. independent contractor issue caused concern at the state level when

the New York State Department of Labor awarded unemployment benefits to two Uber drivers — meaning the NY DOL found that Uber drivers were misclassified as independent contractors. Keep Your Gig Workforce Legit If your company contracts with gig economy workers, be certain whether you can legally classify them as independent contractors. The DOL provides an “economic realities test” that looks at the six factors below to establish whether the worker depends economically on the employer (an employee) or is in business for himself or herself (an independent contractor). 1






Does the worker provide the service the company exists to provide? Can a worker profit or lose money based on his or her managerial skills? How much has the worker invested relative to the employer? Does the work require special skills and initiative? Is the relationship between the company and the worker temporary or indefinite? How much control does the company retain over the worker?

The DOL asks companies to examine and analyze the factors in relation to one another, with each carrying equal weight. Because the answers to some of these questions can be subjective, and no single factor determines a worker’s classification, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced labor and employment law attorney help you determine which classification is accurate. The gig economy is here to stay. Once you have determined how to correctly classify workers who peddle their wares and their expertise over digital platforms, you’ll be able to take advantage of the gig economy’s benefits while avoiding its potential legal pitfalls. Samantha Monsees is an associate in the Kansas City office of labor and employment firm Fisher Phillips LLP. She can be reached at (816) 842-8770 or smonsees@ SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®



( by Karen Hughey )


How to Make Difficult Conversations Easier A little preparation can give you more control when employee meetings get emotional.


f you have employees, you probably will need to have a difficult conversation with one of them at some point. The topic could be performance, attendance, job restructuring or elimination, mergers or acquisitions—or the dreaded body odor conversation.


Most managers avoid those difficult conversations for a variety of reasons. Why do you avoid them? Could it be that you are not comfortable with the topic? Maybe you don’t know what to say, or you aren’t confident you can answer employee questions or counterpoints. You might dislike

conflict, especially if you’ve had a difficult conversation in the past that didn’t go well. You may expect the employee will become emotional, angry or even start crying. What can you as a manager do to prepare so that a difficult conversation goes as well as possible? Preparation Is Everything First, you have to dedicate time to preparing for the conversation. Too often, managers quickly pull together some information and muddle their way through the discussion. That almost guarantees it won’t go well. Start by trying to thoroughly understand the situation. You need to clearly know the objective of the conversation. Be ready to explain to the employee what has occurred, what change in behavior needs to happen

and what the expectation is going forward. You have to be specific. Next, you need to consider the employee. You could have the exact same conversation with three different people and each one would go differently. How aware of the situation is the employee? If that person doesn’t know there’s an issue and is going to be surprised, you should prepare for a different reaction than if the employee is familiar with the situation. A while back, I coached a manager who was handling a corrective-action situation involving an employee named Jane. Unfortunately, Jane’s performance didn’t improve after several informal and formal write-ups. By the time we got to the termination meeting, Jane knew what was coming. She showed up with her coat, handbag and a couple of personal belongings. The meeting took three minutes. She said, “Thanks, I’m heading out the back door because I don’t want to see anyone. Please mail the rest of my personal items.” Understand that most meetings don’t go like that. Adapting to the Employee You need to consider the employee’s personality and communication style. Also, consider your personality and communication style as it relates to the employee. For example, if you are a very succinct communicator and the employee is very detail-oriented, you need to adapt your style and preference. Provide more detail. Even though it may frustrate you, you need to try to meet the employee’s needs for conversation success. Does the employee typically need time to think about information before being able to make a decision or commitment? If so, be ready to have two conversations: one to present the situation and possible options, and the second to reconvene and come to agreement on the action plan. How does the employee typically respond in difficult situations? Do they deflect and say something like, “Well, everyone else does (or doesn’t) do that.” Your response should be, “We are here to discuss you and your situation, not other employees. Let’s stay on topic.” The employee may deny or blame others. In Jane’s early formal performance conversations, she stated, “You didn’t train me, I

didn’t know.” The manager expected that and presented a list of dates of formal training classes and information on side-byside training Jane had received. It quickly quelled her claim.

When faced with an emotional employee, our natural inclination is to talk faster or louder to get through the information. The problem is that emotional people cannot clearly hear what the other person is saying. Their natural defense system takes over, and Handling Emotional Responses they become distracted—so much so that An emotional response could include they cannot comprehend your words. anger with defensiveness or a raised voice. In either emotional situation, if the Ensure that you stay calm and maintain a employee is unable to regain a calm compocalming voice. If unaware, we all naturally sure, suggest taking a break and resume the mirror the other person’s conversation later that day or at communication style. Don’t the latest, the next morning. Be Dedicate time become a victim of mirrorclear that the conversation will to preparing for ing. You will quickly lose resume and be completed. control of the conversation. Your preparation, knowledge the conversation. Another emotional of the topic, consideration of response could be crying. the other person’s style (as This is a tough one for most well as yours), and a little managers. If you anticipate crying, bring pre-meeting practice of what you are a box of tissues to the meeting. It shows presenting will go a long way in ensuring you are caring and definitely helps when a successful difficult conversation. talking with a sensitive employee. Give the employee a couple of minutes to regain Karen Hughey is the founder and CEO of KR-HR, formerly their composure. Maren. (913) 645-7129 //

Speak Loudly with Mail Inserts 1916 Clay Street • N. Kansas City, MO 64116 816-421-0298 • SMART COMPANIES THINKING BIGGER®


BIGGER | growth S M A R T

( by Adrienne B. Haynes )


What Healthy Growth Really Looks Like Learn to distinguish between the activities that signal growth and those that merely keep you busy.


hen your business launches and begins to gain traction, it’s an exciting time. But, don’t confuse lots of activity with healthy growth. Given the late nights to new hires and networking events, it’s easy to blur the line. Healthy business growth is measured by several indicators, including strategic plans, regular performance checks,


professional assistance and financial management. Have a Plan A business plan is a useful tool for articulating a business’s value proposition, core competencies, financial plan, and strategic plan of action. A concise, comprehensive business plan will keep you on mission and

act as a decision guide when you have new opportunities or challenges. For example, Collen and Jason Gerke, the owners of local winery Jowler Creek had identified a plan to acquire more land in their business plan. When their neighbor notified them that she was planning to sell, that business plan helped them make the decision to get a loan to purchase the land. The opportunity arose before they had planned to buy, but because they had developed a plan for growth, they knew that expansion played a critical role in their long-term success. Having an updated business plan was crucial in allowing Jowler Creek Winery to obtain financing for their land acquisition. That’s because banks use business plans to understand how businesses intend to manage their growth. “When an entrepreneur is seeking financing, the business plan can be a sales

tool to communicate that the entrepreneur knows what they are doing and that they will be a good steward of resources—all things that are very important to banks and investors when evaluating whether to put capital at risk,” said Jason Carter-Solomon, vice president, relationship manager in the commercial banking group of Enterprise Bank & Trust. Frequent Performance Checks To recognize and prepare for rapid growth, a business must be able to identify and track the most important metrics that signal whether the business is on track. Called key performance indicators (KPIs), they signal whether the business is growing by providing real-time data for management. Although you may find these metrics on a financial statement, they are often measures of day-to-day activity. Some examples are transition ratios from referrals to clients, number of customers and table turnover efficiencies, or number of downloads or page views. Ron Mirick, owner of Cass County Choppers, measures his business growth by tracking the ratio of social media traffic and phone calls received from customers. By identifying key performance indicators, business owners are better equipped to make strategic business adjustments. In addition to regularly tracking your key performance indicators, set aside time annually to identify financial metrics, workforce goals and priorities for the coming year. A SWOT analysis—a tool that helps identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats—is useful for managing rapid growth because it encourages business owners to think critically about the opportunities created by growth and the potential pitfalls when growth is not managed well. Develop a Professional Team As your business grows, you’ll find some business decisions that require the professional expertise of lawyers, accountants, bankers and insurance professionals. In anticipation of growth, identify service providers who are business minded, that know and understand your industry and business goals, and who would be willing to leverage their networks for your business. Having a solid professional team will help a business owner incorporate best practices

without having to learn the difficult lessons. Georgina Herrera, owner of Mackech Jewelry, meets with her lawyer and accountant regularly and ensures that their feedback is accounted for before major decisions are made. Georgina has made her professional advisors a crucial part of her growth strategy.

He worked with the staff of the Blue Hills Contractor Incubator and local mentors to learn what other flooring companies were doing and how to build a model that gave him the metrics he needed to track expenses and profitability. Spending time to build a model that worked for his business has allowed him to track growth and Knowing where your business Financial anticipate future Processes growth trends. stands financially is crucial to and Tracking Developing a Knowing where healthy business is managing business growth. your business stands a mission that takes financially is crucial time and patience. to managing busiIncorporating these ness growth. Developing a sound financial lessons and others learned along the way model may take time, but working with will ensure that your business is built intenprofessionals and researching industrytionally and that your growth is focused and specific examples can help develop a manageable. process that you will feel comfortable with. For example, Mike Totta, co-owner of Adrienne B. Haynes, Esq. is the Managing Partner of Totta Hardwood Flooring, was experiencSEED Law, LLC, a Kansas City-based business law firm, ing rapid growth in his business but had and SEED Collective, a business consultancy that manages difficulty developing a job costing system. small business programs throughout the Midwest.

Building Businesses Making Memories

Join us for round-tables, speakers and networking events to gain powerful insight and support from some of KC’s most accomplished women. NAWBO KC




BIGGER | sales S M A R T

( by Elton Mayfield )


How to Create a Trade Show Experience That Captures Sales The actions you take before, during and after the show will determine your return on investment.


rade shows can be a solid method for generating leads. But between the costs associated with attendance, in terms of both time and tickets, the pressure is on to maximize ROI. A solid plan geared toward lead generation keeps your business focused on getting the most from your efforts. Put the following tips into action to set you on the right path. NO. 1 Define measurable goals. Vague and loosely-defined goals are nearly impossible to measure. Outlining realistic and challenging goals as the first step of the planning process sets the tone for the trade show. Rather than a general goal centered on getting more people to visit your booth, for example, assign it a number instead. Maybe you want to have 20 new leads when the show ends. Perhaps you want to increase engagement with your sales reps by 10 percent over the last trade show numbers. NO. 2 Promote, promote, promote. View your attendance as an opportunity to showcase your own business prior to the show. Announce your attendance to all your contacts and customers. Consider paying for your strongest prospects to attend. Another tactic is to offer a drawing among those on your local contact list with the prize being a paid ticket that is sponsored by your business. NO. 3 Think unique when it comes to your personnel. The design of your booth is

an important element in getting noticed, but don’t stop there. Outfit your sales reps and other personnel in matching attire. Consider a t-shirt that stays away from being highly promotional. Instead, couple your 38 THINKING BIGGER BUSINESS // February 2017

brand with an intriguing element that gets attention. Remember to have people in your booth who are good with people. Above all, they should enjoy meeting new people. NO. 4 Go interactive. An engaged audience is one that sticks around and draws

a crowd. Use game-like elements such as contests and prizes to encourage participation, utilize technology such as touch screens, and provide live demonstrations to help answer questions. These strategies develop a positive association and experience with your brand. NO. 5 Be concise. Time is a commodity that is in short supply at trade shows. Be sure to focus on delivering the information attendees have come to hear. Keep the small talk

to a minimum. Instead, concentrate on the particulars of what your business has to offer. NO. 6 Go digital. If your brand has a great deal of products, it can be overwhelming—for both you and your audience — to have them all at the booth. Instead, provide your sales reps with tablets loaded up with a digital catalog of your brand’s offerings. Include copious links to your website, how-to videos, FAQs and whatever else you can think of to provide attendees with the experience they want. NO. 7 Follow up effectively. Use software to make ordering right on the spot seamless. For prospects who don’t complete their order, use their contact information to email a suggested order to them when

the show is over. You can base your suggestions on the conversations you have, as well as any items prospects looked at during the ordering process. Once you’ve generated leads at your next trade show, your work has just begun. Be sure to promptly and courteously follow up with all leads and be thorough in your responses. Elton Mayfield is the co-founder of ER Marketing, a B2B marketing firm in Kansas City celebrating its 15th anniversary. Elton is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Business Marketing Association, the nation’s largest B2B marketing association. He can be reached via email at, via twitter @eltonmayfield or phone at (816) 471-1400.

Kansas City SCORE

4747 Troost Ave., Suite 101 Kansas City, MO 64110 816-235-6675



BIGGER | tech S M A R T

( by Chris Brandow )


protection of and consequences for abusing the information technology assets at your organization. Sub-topics in this top-level policy might include acceptable use policy, computer use policy, internal access policy, external access policy, mobile device policy and so on. Be sure to periodically review and update these documents, especially as technology and employees change. Do I Really Need an NSP? Even a small company should have guidelines outlining expectations for the network and resources. Managers, employees and vendors may not all have the same guidelines, but expectations should be defined for what is and what is not acceptable, for what should be protected and how. It should define the consequences for ignoring the guidelines, and what to do in case of a data breach. Having an NSP is a matter of awareness, education and security for everyone involved with handling your digital assets. Should a breach occur, your NSP serves as a ready-made procedure to follow and prevents users from claiming “I didn’t know.”

Does Your Company Need a Network Security Policy? Defining your digital assets and creating a policy to protect them is vital.


very company has digital assets. A digital asset is simply digitally stored content such as images, videos and text files, or an online account the company owns. It is in your best interest to define what those assets are for your company and create a network security policy to protect them. Even if you don’t have an internal IT department, consult with your outsourced IT management


company to help you develop your security policy. Trust us when we tell you that someone somewhere wants what you have. In other words, if it has value to you, it’s valuable to someone else—even something as common as your company logo or contact list. What is a Network Security Policy? Generally, the Network Security Policy (NSP) is a document or set of documents explaining the accepted use of,

I’m Convinced. What Now? There are many guides online that can give you a good place to start. Determining what kind(s) of policies you might need is the first step. Generally, a good cornerstone is the Acceptable, or Appropriate Use Policy (AUP), a document outlining rules and practices to be followed for access to a network. It helps spell out what the users of your network can and shouldn’t do with network resources. It should be as explicit as possible to prevent misinterpreted guidelines. How Is an NSP Enforced? As part of the guidelines, stating the appropriate level of disciplinary action against abusers is vital. Not only should consequences be spelled out, they should be enforced when abuse happens. After all, it is your company’s data and infrastructure. Would your business survive if your digital assets were breached and misused? It’s a serious offense and should be enforced as such. Chris Brandow is a partner at Invision, a Kansas City IT services company that specializes in outsourced IT management solutions for small businesses. He may be reached by phone 913-962-6674 or email at

Join Us! Brew :30 is a quarterly Happy Hour event where you can meet new business owners, make valuable connections and discover some of Kansas City’s local wineries, breweries and distilleries!

Every Brew :30 features a rapid-fire program introducing select “Companies on Tap”— up-and-coming newer companies that have appeared in the pages of Thinking Bigger Business magazine.

Thursday, April 20 // 5:30-7:30 p.m. Amigoni Urban Winery 1505 Genessee St. Kansas City, Mo.

R S V P T O D A Y A T W W W . I T H I N K B I G G E R . C O M | ( 9 1 3 ) 4 3 2 - 6 6 9 0 F O R S P O N S O R S H I SMART P O PCOMPANIES PORTUN I T I E SBIGGER® 41 THINKING

BIGGER | finance S M A R T

( by Dawn Wolfgram )


there are several commonly used methods for placing a monetary value on a key person’s worth to your business: » Multiply the salary of the employee by three to 10 times. As the key employee’s value to the business rises, the multiple used can also increase. » Determine the difference between the key employee’s salary and the salary that would be paid to a replacement for the employee. Then multiply the excess by the number of years projected to find and train the replacement employee. Key employee valuation is flexible. Your financial professional can help you determine which method works best for you.

Could Your Business Continue Without a Key Employee? Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your business.


magine what would happen if your business suddenly had to continue without you, a partner or key employee. Could the loss of this individual cause the business to lose something valuable, such as experience, knowledge, time or money? What can you do to protect yourself and your business? Key Person Planning Since the financial loss could be severe enough to destroy a business, enough cash should be available to compensate for this loss. There are two common ways to accumulate cash: 1


Cash Fund— a specified amount saved each month by a company Purchased assets that generate a return

These methods allow businesses to set aside cash to help offset expenses and/or 42 THINKING BIGGER BUSINESS // February 2017

losses should a key person die. But with both methods, businesses risk the chance that: » The key person may die within a year. » More than one key person dies. » The business needs cash prior to the death and withdraws from the cash fund to meet other obligations. Key Person Insurance Another way to ensure the continuation of a business is to insure key employees. Life insurance can guarantee a cash payment upon the death of a key employee. The company owns the policy and is the beneficiary. The death benefit amount of the policy is determined by how important the employee is to the success of the business. If the insured dies, death proceeds are paid income tax-free to the company. Accumulated cash values are carried as a current asset on the books and are available for the use of the business. How to Determine an Employee’s Value Determining an employee’s value to the business— a dollar amount—is difficult. But

What If the Employee Quits or Retires? Some policies allow you to change the insured from the terminating employee to another key employee. Another option is to cash in the life insurance policy.* Or your business can continue to hold the insurance until death – and still collect tax-free death benefits. If your key employee retires, you may decide to sell the policy to the employee for its cash or replacement value. Key person insurance helps you and your business by providing funds for hiring a replacement, training costs and business expenses when a valuable employee dies. Do not overlook one of your most valuable resources, human resources, when reviewing your risk management program. Key person planning can help ease your business through a difficult transition. For more information about this and other financial topics, contact us. *Subject to surrender charges. Unpaid loans and loan interest will be subtracted from the accumulated value. Dawn Wolfgram is Regional Managing Director and Financial Advisor of Principal National Life Insurance Company and Principal Life Insurance Company and a Registered Representative of Princor Financial Services Corporation. Insurance products from the Principal Financial Group® are issued by Principal National Life Insurance Company (except in New York), Principal Life Insurance Company, and the companies available through the Preferred Product Network, Inc. Securities and advisory products offered through Principal Securities, Inc., (800) 247-1737, member SIPC. Principal National, Principal Life, the Preferred Product Network and Principal Securities are members of the Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, IA 50392. Dawn can be reached at (913) 317-6611 x3556.

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How ScaleUp! Helped Webb Technology Group Power Its Growth WEBB TECHNOLOGY GROUP LEARNED THAT GETTING FOCUSED THEMSELVES HELPS THEM BE BETTER PARTNERS FOR THEIR CLIENTS. nside Kansas City’s historic Livestock Exchange Building, the pioneering cattlemen that created a powerful agricultural brand for Kansas City are long since gone. But in that same building, Webb Technology Group is poised to create



the next generation of innovators that put Kansas City on the map. Principal Owner Cecilio Webb and his small but mighty team offer mobile application development and marketing, social media management and responsive website design for small and large businesses. In

two short years, the company has grown from two employees to five, with another five contractors on call. Webb doesn’t expect that pace to slow down. The growth brings a new level of risk and management that led him to apply for ScaleUp! Kansas City, a free training program offered by the UMKC Innovation Center and U.S. Small Business Administration that provides classes, peer mentoring, professional guidance and more. The program is designed for


things to all people. ScaleUp! helped him focus so he could move ahead on longrange goals. ScaleUp! advisors told him that people are going to remember only one or two things about the company, so he got to work determining the ones that were most important. As a result, Webb has produced a clearly defined list of services that complement each other and the firm’s app development work. “We develop an app for somebody, and we’ll also develop a website for them to administer the app and then also the marketing of the app. That’s where the website design comes in. The social media management of it actually is promoting the app and driving people toward the app,” he said. By knowing its core mission and services, Webb Technology is able to ensure that each component builds from the other in a carefully planned and strategic format that optimizes visibility for customers. MORE TOOLS IN THE TOOLBOX

companies striving to reach $1 million in annual revenues. MANAGING RISK

Growth in business doesn’t always follow a straight line. It can be fraught with risk. ScaleUp! has helped Webb navigate the bumpy path that accompanies growth. “I feel more comfortable managing risk,” Webb said. “I’m always comfortable with a little bit of risk, but the program helped me see how to manage it. What is this really going to take? And how is this really going to impact the company if I take this risk?” GETTING FOCUSED

Part of mitigating that risk was getting laser focused on the company’s core mission and services. Webb was used to being all

Webb applied to ScaleUp! because he recognized the limits of his own expertise. He knew he needed more tools and resources in order to lead his company to greater heights. One of the biggest changes came when Webb took ScaleUp! advice and wrote out every detail of the firm’s business processes. Doing so keeps everyone, including clients, focused on next steps and moving forward. “We sat down for an entire weekend and drove out those processes to the nth degree,” he said. “That’s just one example of the many tools and techniques ScaleUp! provided. … The whole point of having those processes in place is so that we are all on the same page, whether we’re five people or we’re 50 people,” Webb said. The idea was simple, but it made a radical difference for the company, said Dawnua Dawson, chief marketing officer at Webb Technology. “I have 17 years of design and marketing experience, and so a lot of my process was in my head,” she said. ScaleUp! also offered several financial tools that Webb has applied. For example,

he used to employ an 18-month financial forecasting method. “But it’s really hard to predict where the sales are going to be,” he said. ScaleUp! convinced him to use a fiveyear method to account for long-term ideas. Webb has also started to talk with his accountant more often. Instead of quarterly meetings, they now plan and review finances at least monthly so Webb can more closely monitor changes. “It’s definitely a positive change,” he said. EQUIPPED FOR THE FUTURE

Webb’s next challenge could be his biggest one yet. He’s planning to seek out federal contract work. It’s a market that Webb had been working on before joining ScaleUp!, but the class gave him the confidence and guidance to strengthen that effort. Dawn Bormann is a freelance writer in the Kansas City area.


Cecilio Webb COMPANY

Webb Technology Group 1600 Genessee St., #603 Kansas City, MO 64102 (913) 871-9327


Want to take your small business to new heights? Then check out ScaleUP! Kansas City, an elite program from the University of MissouriKansas City Innovation Center and the U.S. Small Business Administration. ScaleUP! offers training, mentoring and other help to get your revenues over the $1 million mark. For more information, visit




The 25 Under 25 ® Awards Gala is one of the biggest nights of the year for small business owners. This year, the celebration was kicked off with the 2017 Alumni Reunion. A BIG thanks to Country Club Bank for hosting the event on Jan. 12.

“A mile of highway will take you a mile. A mile of runway will take you anywhere.” -Unknown




Tune In ... Smart Companies Thinking Bigger Radio Network offers a full lineup of business experts providing strategies, insights and advice for growing businesses.

Every week on Smart Companies Radio and Smart Companies KC, host Kelly Scanlon talks with KC-based entrepreneurs, national business experts, insightful authors and speakers, and others with ideas to help you think bigger. » Tune in Fridays at 11 and 11:30 a.m.



BIG | shots

BierStation Bier Station welcomed two Missouri breweries—Logboat (Columbia, MO) and 4Hands (St. Louis, MO)—for an event featuring their beers, including a special collaboration between the two breweries.

Brew :30


Denise Moore of Principal and Richard Paschall with Converg Media enjoy Thinking Bigger Business Media’s Jan. 20th Brew :30 held at Lifted Spirits Distillery in the East Crossroads.

People answering people since 1956


AlphaGraphics Matt and Haley Haar, owners of AlphaGraphics, along with some staff members, attended the Rock The Ribbon II Concert on Jan. 13, which benefited Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City.





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BIG | talk

» The BIG thinkers behind the BIG ideas. »

Dan Gregory Dan Gregory, co-founder of The Impossible Institute, is a behavioral researcher and strategist, as well as an author, educator, international speaker and social commentator. Dan specializes in behaviors and belief systems—what drives, motivates and influences us. He is a regular on ABC’s Gruen Planet and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Vodafone, MTV and News Ltd.

Co-founder of The Impossible Institute KELLY » Does “The Impossible

Institute” really make the impossible happen? DAN » We

have a methodology called Asking the Impossible Question, and that really informed the name of the business. We found that often we don’t just struggle to find new answers, we struggle to ask questions that are challenging enough. A question actually provides the context into which you can work. Let me give you an example to make it tangible. We were asked if it was possible to create a restaurant that has no menu and no stored food. What that question allowed us to do was to conceive possibilities we thought would be impossible. So, now there’s a restaurant that has two master chefs that are housed in the middle of a fresh food market. You buy your fresh food and bring it to the chefs. There’s no menu. They produce the meal with the food that you bring them. There’s no set menu. There’s no food storage. Asking the question challenges your limitations, because most of our limitations are imagined. But when you look to be more innovative in your business, when you look to do new product development or new service design, having the capacity to look broader than where you have been before is critical.

were outside the industry that the innovation happened in.

KELLY » How do you take your

clients through the process of Asking the Impossible Question? DAN » One

of the biggest issues that we’ve found, particularly in the corporate world for the past 25 or 30 years, is that we basically squeezed the creativity out of people. We needed a work force that was very good at producing predictable routine results. But as we’ve moved into a more creative age, we need to be better at problem solving and a lot more flexible and agile in the way we work in business, with our teams and our customers. So, we’ve developed tools that allow people who don’t think of themselves as being creative to be creative. We realized that rather than giving people exercises that are so broad that it shuts them down, the more specific we can be in the question that we ask, the more opportunity they have to go a little bit wild and explore what’s possible. Most companies want to start with a creative or design brief


with a proposition. For example, they’ll say, “We need to create a system that makes customer service more efficient.” The problem is that’s a closed statement. Asking a question opens up possibilities. There’s a big difference between saying “We need to build a bridge” and asking “How can we get across a river?” KELLY » What factors are

important besides having a question-led mentality? DAN » We

found that diversity is important. Some great studies have found that the more diverse a group is, the more openly they collaborate and the higher the collective IQ. We tend to think of things like ethnic diversity or gender diversity or diversity of sexuality— and all of those are incredibly important—but diversity is actually more than those three categories. For example, many innovations have come from people who

An example of that is the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England. It has some of the best medical staff on the planet, but they had a problem transferring people from the operating theaters to the recovery ward. They had an error rate that was unacceptable. Instead of just having doctors and nurses and process people working on the issue, they invited in people from outside their industry—people who were experts at doing fast, critical, accurate transitions. The person who actually solved the problem wasn’t a medical expert at all. It was the pit crew boss from Ferrari’s Formula One racing team. To listen to the full interview, scan the QR code or visit theRadio Archives of

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