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OLD BUILDINGS NEW PURPOSE

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THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

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RETHINKING THE TRADES SPRING 2019

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF KANSAS

GEN Z


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CONTENTS FEATURES

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PG.

OLD BUILDINGS NEW PURPOSE

Two old Topeka buildings have been repurposed into beautiful new business spaces.

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PG.

HEART OF THE ENTREPRENEUR HEART OF THE ENTREPRENEUR

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FROM PASSION TO PROFIT

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Learn the stories of husband and wife entrepreneurs Alonzo Harrison and Renita Harris.

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PG.

TOPEKA BUSINESS HALL OF FAME LAUREATES

Discover the stories behind this year’s laureates and the contributions they have made to local business and the community.

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PG.

THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

Go inside the world of local lobbyists and understand the role they play in the legislative process.

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Photos by EMMA HIGHFILL

PG.

RETHINKING THE TRADES CREATIVITY AT WORK

COVER PHOTO PAGE 10

OLD BUILDINGS NEW PURPOSE

PAGE 46

THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

PAGE 56

RETHINKING THE TRADES SPRING 2019

TOPEKA BUSINESS HALL OF FAME LAUREATES

Michael Wilson Beth Anne Branden Rob Briman Patrick Gideon

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF KANSAS

Cover Photo Credit: David Vincent

GEN Z

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IN EVERY ISSUE TK BUSINESS EXPERTS PG.18 PG.78

Tracy L. Jepson Joe DeMeo

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PG.

SCENE ABOUT TOWN

Topeka Country Club Grand Opening Greater Topeka Partnership Annual Meeting Cyrus Hotel Grand Opening

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PG.

LAST WORD

Cody Foster, co-founder Advisors Excel and owner of AIM Strategies.

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Jobs in the trades are in hot demand, and local companies and educators are looking for ways to attract new talent.

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PG.

FROM PASSION TO PROFIT

Anyone can be an entrepreneur—even local high school students who are putting their passion to work and earning a profit.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP—DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU THINK A Washburn University professor reveals the truths about entrepreneurship.

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CREATIVITY AT WORK

Local businesses are helping people discover their inner creativity and offering a fun and inspirational experience.


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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Photo by JD MELTON | 83 PIXELS

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AM PERSONALLY OUTNUMBERED by members of Generation Z in my household. As I watch them grow, it is exciting to see the world through their eyes, as they literally see a world without boundaries. My 15-year-old daughter, Hope, uses apps like Poshmark, Depop and Mercari to buy and sell clothes. She buys items locally and online at a low price and sells them for profit all over the world. Just last week, she bought shoes from a person in Hawaii, sold a shirt to a person in Texas, and purchased a dress from China. But it doesn’t stop with buying and selling; she is learning marketing skills and the value of customer service. It is commonplace for packages to come with a personal message from the seller, a small gift or even a small branded item that showcases the seller’s personality. She is also experiencing the power of a consumer review and the importance of taking care of your customer. Sellers are rated on every transaction—if what you say you are sending doesn’t match what is received—watch out! Reviews are a lesson in integrity, business ethics and customer satisfaction.

And then there is the empowered inspiration—not only does Gen Z become inspired by the things they see on their phones and tablets, but they also have access to learn the secrets to turn that inspiration into reality. By buying and selling online, Hope has encountered people designing their own brands. She has taken that inspiration, and by watching YouTube videos, she has learned more about fashion design, sewing, and the tools she needs to design her own line of clothes. Hope is now moving from “what if ” to “how can I.” She is seeking out people to teach her the skills she needs—like her grandma teaching her how to use the sewing machine. Generation Z has skills, knowledge and a perception of the world that can be incredibly powerful to business. But they also need us to mentor them, give them the tools to enhance their efforts, guide their knowledge and listen—together we will move our businesses from good to great. As you read about the three Gen Z entrepreneurs in this issue of TK, I hope it inspires you and serves as a catalyst for your own dreams.

Tara Dimick Tara@TKMagazine.com

@TKBusinessMag

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@TK...Topeka's Business Magazine TK Business Magazine

@TK Business

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CHECK OUT

magazine.com Check out TKMagazine.com to get expert business advice and up-to-date information on business in Topeka. Send your news releases to braden@tkmagazine.com. ONLINE-ONLY BUSINESS STORIES

BUSINESS GROWTH

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BUSINESSES IN-THE-NEWS THE TOPEKA COUNTRY CLUB unveils new $7.5 million clubhouse and wellness center. STORMONT VAIL HEALTH AND MANHATTAN SURGICAL HOSPITAL announce a new partnership. SCHENDEL LAWN AND LANDSCAPE is relocating its Topeka operations to 4100 SW 40th Street.

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CREATIVE DIRECTOR & DESIGNER Janet Faust MANAGING PARTNER & SALES DIRECTOR Braden Dimick braden@tkmagazine.com 785.438.7773

COVER PHOTOGRAPHER David Vincent

Mark Reinert, CFP®, RICP®, MBA Reinert Wealth Management

THE TOPEKA ZOO AND MOHAN CONSTRUCTION AWARDED the Associated General Contractors of Kansas (AGC) State Building Award of Excellence for their work on the Camp Cowabunga exhibit.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Lisa Loewen

LEAD PHOTOGRAPHER Emma Highfill

FINANCES:

THE KANSAS AVENUE LOFTS, formerly Seymour Foods, was gutted entirely to create 33 apartments.

PUBLISHER Tara Dimick

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jeff Evrard Thomas Hall Emma Highfill Rachel Lock JD Melton Megan Rogers Shawna Slack David Vincent CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Miranda Ericsson Kim Gronniger Lisa Loewen Wendy Long Karen Ridder Adam Vlach Kathy Webber CONTRIBUTING EXPERTS Tracy L. Jepson John DeMeo Rick LeJuerrne

PUBLISHING COMPANY E2 Communications 7512 SW Falcon St. Topeka, KS 66610 785.438.7773 FOUNDER ǀ Kevin Doel

tkmagazine.com 2019 TK Business Magazine is published by E2 Communications, Inc. Reproduction or use of this publication in any manner without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Every effort was made to ensure accuracy of the information in this publication as of press time. The publisher assumes no responsibility of any part for the content of any advertisement in this publication, including any errors and omissions therein. E2 Communications, Inc. makes no endorsement, representation or warranty regarding any goods or services advertised or listed in this publication. Listings and advertisements are provided by the subject company. E2 Communications, Inc. shall not be responsible or liable for any inaccuracy, omission or infringement of any third party's right therein, or for personal injury or any other damage or injury whatsoever. By placing an order for an advertisement, the advertiser agrees to indemnify the publisher against any claims relating to the advertisement.


Solutions since 1972 And we're just getting started!

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OLD BUILDINGS

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By KATHY WEBBER

Photos by EMMA HIGHFILL

A building is more than just a place made of bricks, wood, steel and cement; it is the home to dreams, struggles and triumphs. A building is the holder of the stories of the people who build them, and thus shares the stories of owners past and present. For Jim and Charlene Robuck, the story is one of renewal. For Heather Graves, it is a new beginning. Both are journeys, and the buildings they are renovating will tell their stories for years to come.

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Charlene and Jim Robuck, new owners of The Vinewood, show off the bridal room they added during recent renovations to make the venue more appealing.

THE VINEWOOD

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

When you think of Jim and Charlene Robuck, you can’t help but think of jewelry. However, in 2016, after 51 years, the Robucks retired and closed their retail store, Robuck Jewelers. But that didn’t stop them from working. Today, the Robucks are busy renovating The Vinewood located at 2848 SE 29th Street near Lake Shawnee. It is a building that has a long history not only with Topeka, but with the Robucks as well. The Vinewood dates back as far as 1889, and in the early 1900s was known as Vinewood Park. Back then, Vinewood Park boasted wooden roller coasters and a carousel, and offered paddle boats and canoes for people to use on the creek that surrounded the property. When the City created Lake Shawnee in 1935, The Vinewood became more of a dance hall, and that is where Jim and Charlene met 30 years ago. “In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, I was out here all the time,” Charlene said. “I came out here Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to dance. They had single dances on Friday nights, and that’s when Jim and I met, so we have a lot of history with the building.” The Vinewood is not a park or a dance hall anymore; it is a wedding and event venue that can house 499 people and easily seat 250. The Robucks purchased the building last April and began to make renovations to give it a more open and welcoming atmosphere. “The inside was just dark. You would open the front door and there were no windows, no light. It was black in here,” Charlene said. “It needed a brighter, cleaner look. We wanted it to be more appealing to everyone, especially the younger people.” Renovations have been under way for the past six months. They installed new windows along the front of the building, which quickly lit up the space, and added

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Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

The Robucks transformed The Vinewood from a dark, windowless space to a bright, open and welcoming venue ideal for weddings and events.

stone to the front to give it a more modern feel. “It’s like with any old building, you are always running into surprises,” Charlene said. “The roof was leaking in a number of places and the ceiling was an ugly orange color. The fireplace was not usable at all, in fact, it was dangerous because it was broken and cracked, so we rebuilt everything. We also added a bridal room, so brides would have a place to get dressed. It has just been on-going, nonstop!” With all the renovations, however, there are some things that the Robucks want to preserve. Inside the women’s bathroom the walls are covered by newspaper articles, pamphlets and pictures dating back as far as 1895. “Those pictures are so full of history, it was just phenomenal. When we bought The Vinewood, the first thing someone wanted to do was tear the pictures off the walls, and we

said ‘No!’ I’m not sure who did the “wallpaper” in there, but whoever did it was thinking about the history of the building,” Charlene said. “Those pictures have been a point of interest to just about everyone coming in.” Fixing up old buildings is not new to the Robucks. They started their renovation business when they relocated their jewelry store to North Topeka. At the time, they were one of the first retailers in the area and noticed that many of the buildings were in poor condition. “When we moved to North Topeka, everybody told us we were crazy. We saw that there was potential there, and truthfully, it was the best move we could have made. We noticed that many of the buildings were run down and falling apart. That’s when we started purchasing old store front buildings just to save them. We still own 12 buildings now,” Jim said.

That was almost 20 years ago. Since that time, the area has developed into the NOTO Arts District. Shana Stitt, event coordinator for The Vinewood, said NOTO probably wouldn’t be what it is today without the Robucks. “They take little credit for anything they’ve done for Topeka, but I think they really helped to develop the NOTO area and make it what it has become today. They are the “founders” of that area by simply buying the buildings and saving them,” Stitt said. As of right now, The Vinewood is mostly being used as an event space, but the Robucks, having met there at a dance 30 years ago, dream of bringing those dances back to The Vinewood. “We would like to have dances here. We used to come here and dance and now there just aren’t any more dance venues left in Topeka,” Charlene said. “Maybe in the future.”

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Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Determined to make her dreams come true, Heather DiDomenico Graves, owner of Onyx Salon and Wellness Spa, felt herself drawn to NOTO where she found the perfect rundown building to restore and renovate.

THE ONYX SALON AND WELLNESS SPA

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As people who purchase old buildings to renovate for their businesses are painfully aware, sometimes it is necessary to just completely start from scratch or at least get pretty darn close to it. Heather DiDomenico Graves, owner of Onyx Salon and Wellness Spa, didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, she always dreamed of being able to gut a building and start from scratch. When Graves purchased the building at 920 N Kansas Avenue in NOTO, she knew it was going to need extensive work to make it inhabitable.

TK Business Magazine

“You would open the front door and you would fall down to the basement. The floor was completely termite ridden; they had to completely rebuild the main floor as well as the upstairs floor,” Graves said. It took a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to turn the old, run-down building into a modern, beautiful salon and wellness spa, but Graves was determined to make her dream come true. Graves started her career in 2002 in San Diego, where she attended the Paul Mitchell School and worked under well-known stylists such as Jet Rhys at Vidal Sassoon Salon. Graves moved to Topeka in 2010, and after several years as a commission-based stylist, she decided to open her own salon where she could teach classes and use all-natural products. When looking for an ideal location for her salon, Graves immediately found herself drawn to NOTO. “I love NOTO. I have always loved the older buildings. I love the arts district. I love the environment down here. I just really wanted to be a part of it all.” Graves said. In addition to the salon, Graves created a studio apartment on the upper floor for herself and her 6-year-old son. “I’m a single mom and I work until 8:30 at night,”

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Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

The structure at 920 N Kansas Avenue had to be gutted down to its four outer walls, and then rebuilt to house a main floor salon with a studio apartment on the upper level.

Graves said. “So, it works out well that I can be close to him and still be able to work and to pay the bills.” Completing a project as big as this one not only takes time but also money. Graves took advantage of the GO Topeka small business incentives and was able to make her dream salon even more spectacular. “I could never have done this if I lived in San Diego. It would have cost millions of dollars,” Graves said. “But here in Topeka, I was able to do it.” The building renovations only took about six months to complete from start to finish once the contractors began, but the whole

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process of purchasing the building and getting the necessary permits took around two years. Graves said contractors had to completely gut the building, leaving nothing but the four outer walls. In addition to structural corrections, contractors had to dig out mud in the basement still remaining from the great flood of 1951. That process uncovered some additional history. “You could see what it was like during the flood, which is kind of eerie and cool. There was a bucket stuck in the wall, and we realized it was the coal feed for the chimney,” Graves said. “It was really awesome

TK Business Magazine

to watch the history of the building unfold and see all the different things that were down there.” They found several antique glasses that had survived the flood, molded together 45 records and an antique camera that Graves said she plans to take to Wolfe’s Camera Shop to see if any of the film was preserved. Originally built in 1910, the former liquor store has been transformed into a gem in the heart of the NOTO Arts District. “Being able to build my dreams here has truly been an amazing experience,” Graves said. TK


C O M I N G

S O O N

CLUBCARWASH.COM

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BUSINESS BOOKKEEPING

Tracy L. Jepson PHOTO SUBMITTED

OWNER TLJ BOOKKEEPING + CONSULTING

Every Business Needs a Bookkeeper This time of year, owners are seeking out accountants and tax preparers—or avoiding them—to help them wrap up their year end and analyze how the prior 12 months were for them financially. Unfortunately for many, having gone another year without a professional managing their accounting, ends up requiring costly corrections and causing headaches for them and their CPA.

O

PERATING YOUR BUSINESS without the assistance of a bookkeeper is like driving your car while looking in your rearview mirror rather than out the windshield. Without proper accounting systems and tax planning in place to track your journey and direct your business, you can get lost along the way and end up crashing and burning. Not being able to make payroll, living client payment to client payment and not being able to pay sales tax owed are just a few of the ramifications of not having proper financial management in place in your business. In order to stay out of the ditches, hiring a bookkeeper and connecting with a certified tax advisor are your best bets to stay in compliance and know you are on the road to success. Here are four reasons you need these individuals as your financial navigators:

1 STAY IN YOUR LANE.

Doing what you do best is your secret sauce. Growing your business means you should be focusing on strategy, handling daily operations, putting your best product or service into the market and managing your team, if you have one. Focusing on all of those details may mean you are not giving your financials the attention they deserve. Accounts payable, tax liabilities, understanding a balance sheet and making sense of your P&L may seem a little overwhelming. Leave it to the pros to process this information and teach you what to look for in these reports so you can use the real time data to make the right decisions.

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2 BE WELL-BALANCED.

Entrepreneurs tend to have an unlimited amount of energy when it comes taking care of business. You can work all hours of the day tweaking and perfecting things and still come up with 10 other business ideas in the process. Your brain speeds along at 100 miles per hour, and the ones who suffer are across from you at the dinner table. Having someone help you with your bookkeeping can relieve some of the stress and confusion of finances that surrounds most entrepreneurs, allowing you more freedom to be present with your family and not get caught up in the burn out.

3 CHECK YOUR BLIND SPOTS.

It is important to have another set of eyes on your business for some perspective. When you are driving your business forward, clarity can be shaded by the excitement to close a deal or develop a new product. Having a bookkeeper working in tandem with your tax advisor can show you the “big picture” so you can keep your plans on track.

4 SAVE YOURSELF MONEY.

You may think that by doing everything yourself, you will save money. The reality is that hiring a professional bookkeeper will actually save you money. By reducing human error from lack of knowledge, keeping your real time numbers up-todate, and ensuring your creditors and liabilities are paid, your bookkeeper will give you back your time—and your time is money. This time saved will free you up to bring new revenue into the company and focus on growth. It will always cost you more to go back and clean up bad bookkeeping than it will to do it right the first time—especially during tax time. TK

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THE HEART OF THE ENTREPRENEUR

ALONZO HARRISON AND RENITA HARRIS

By KAREN RIDDER

Photos by EMMA HIGHFILL

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His and Hers takes on a new meaning for entrepreneurs Alonzo Harrison and Renita Harris. This husband and wife each own construction companies that solicit heavy civil contracts all over the country. Both companies are based in Topeka because Topeka is home. It

TK Business Magazine

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Building Businesses Together and Apart is where they chose to raise their five children. It is where they have family and friends. TK talked to the duo about their business stories, their shared love of mentoring others and what it is like for two entrepreneurs to manage life together.

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Alonzo Harrision, owner of HDB Construction, originally started out on a totally different career path than the family business, but a "aha" moment while employed at Menninger's helped him realize he wanted to work for himself.

HDB Construction

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Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

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LONZO HARRISON, owner of HDB Construction, says his drive for entrepreneurship was inspired by his father and thrives with many members of his family. When he was younger, it took him a while to come around to it, though. “I never wanted to go into his business,” Harrison said. Harrison’s father, Walter J Harrison, started Harrison Trucking (the company that would later become HDB) in 1958. As a fourth son, Alonzo Harrison grew up watching his father in business. He and his three older brothers started driving trucks for the company nearly as soon as they could reach the pedals. Stretching those legs and skills early in life must have helped Harrison as he grew up. He went to Washburn on a track and academic scholarship and set records in the 100-yard, 200-yard and triple jump that stood for decades and put him in the Washburn Track & Field Hall of Fame. He did NOT go into his father’s business. Harrison decided to become an engineer for IBM, and then he worked for the Department of Labor in the CETA program before becoming a financial analyst for Menninger. Along the way, he kept stretching his knowledge, earning a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and completing programs at Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. It was at Menninger that Harrison realized that maybe he wanted to work for himself after all. At Menninger, he had worked on a national program called CHARLEE to provide services

for families and children. He set up the programs in several states and put together a plan to expand it nationwide—then Menninger decided to not support the funding. “It made me realize that I really wasn’t going to be able to influence things there on a large scale. No matter how hard I worked,” Harrison said. He decided to go into the family business after all. He incorporated HDB in 1985 and started getting contracts for Harrison Trucking. He also bid on heavy civil projects like bridges and underground mechanical. And of course, he continued his education at law school.

TK Business Magazine

“At the time, I got into a situation where my contractor didn’t want to pay me. I had signed a contract that gave me a great deal of latitude. I went to law school, so I could understand contracts better and fight back,” Harrison said. Harrison has operated HDB since 1985. His three brothers still work with him on the trucking side of the business. His father passed away in January of 2017. His daughter is their corporate attorney. His niece is the chief administrative officer. His sister is the internal auditor. It seems the only family member conspicuously missing from Harrison’s company is his wife—Renita Harris.


THE HEART OF THE ENTREPRENEUR

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Renita Harris, owner of My Company, has earned respect in the industry for numerous reasons, but being on a jobsite, filling in on a shorthanded crew, is what led to marriage and a family.

My Company

R

ENITA HARRIS named her company “My Company” for two reasons. First, she wanted people to be clear that the company WAS hers. Second, she wanted people who hired her to have a feeling they had some buy-in to the company as well. She wanted them to be able to say, “My Company” and feel like they had someone working on their side. “When they talk about the company, they can take ownership in it,” Harris said.

Harris grew her expertise in heavy civil construction by working hard, watching, learning and not being afraid to fill in gaps when others gave up on the job. Harris started out her career working for an attorney who owned a construction firm. Wearing a lot of hats, she ended up running the construction firm herself by the mid-1980s. When the attorney shut down his construction business, she started working for another construction company. When that owner also walked away from the business, many of the jobs they had

undertaken were still in progress, so Harris made sure they were completed. She decided, since she was doing the work anyway, she might as well start her own business. In 1999, she incorporated My Company. The man she once worked for now works for her. “I’ve built the business. I started out doing remodeling. Now I do heavy civil,” Harris said. Like Harrison, Harris often has to seek work in different parts of the country. Though they have had success other places, Topeka is a more difficult market for them. Harris has encountered discrimination all over the country, not only as an African American, but also as a petite woman. Sometimes people underestimate her skills. “One of the men came out on a job once,” Harris said. “I had just gotten new boots and he said to me, ‘I can tell your lack of experience by the boots.’ He thought I was a kid.” Over time, Harris has earned respect in the industry by paying attention to details, knowing the budget, staying on top of the job and never leaving unless she is confident she has a credible person taking the lead. When things start falling apart, Harris leaves the office and hits the field until the problem is fixed. “I don’t mind being out there [in the field] for a couple of weeks. I don’t mind putting on the hardhat and getting greasy and muddy. I can dress up, but I can also dress down and still feel myself,” Harris said.

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THE HEART OF THE ENTREPRENEUR WORKING TOGETHER, BUT SEPARATELY It was that dedication to work hard that first brought Harris and Harrison together. She was out on the job, fillingin one day when her crew was shorthanded. Harrison spotted her and saw something special. “My guys were out there working, and I saw this little bitty person holding up a ‘SLOW’ sign. She didn’t mind being out there in the field,” Harrison said. He fell in love with her hard work and intelligence. Traits they not only share but also passed on to their four daughters and son, who are all building impressive resumes of their “[Alonzo] has his projects, own. When the girls were in college, and I have my projects. If we they learned the value of hard work in the family business—but this have questions, we bounce generation had Mom at the helm. ideas off one another and “They did demolition of the VA that seems to work. If I don’t hospital and reconstruction. Hard use an idea of his, or he work won’t kill you, and we could pay our kids good wages to do the doesn’t use my idea, that’s work,” Harris said. okay. It’s just great having the When bidding for work, the ability to converse about it.” two companies overlap a bit because —Renita Harris they both bid for heavy civil jobs. and Harris solve this Owner Harrison problem by not getting in each My Company other’s way. They either look at jobs in different parts of the country, or simply don’t compete for the same bid. HDB is also a much larger business than My Company and often they are looking at projects and bids of a larger scope. From time to time, if it makes sense, they may subcontract for one another, but the businesses are strictly separate operations.

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While they would both love to have jobs closer to the town they call home, they have also committed to keep going where the work is. “We refuse to starve to death in the land of plenty,” Harrison said. When they have to be apart from each other for extended periods of time, Harrison and Harris stay in regular contact via phone and make time to visit. Being in the same type of business allows them the advantage of being able to discuss business issues with each other. Harris says they try to do that with respect for each other. “He has his projects, and I have my projects. If we have questions, we bounce ideas off one another and that seems to work. If I don’t use an idea of his, or he doesn’t use my idea, that’s okay. It’s just great having the ability to converse about it,” Harris said. HELPING OTHERS One of the things both Harrison and Harris enjoy about owning their own businesses is being able to mentor young entrepreneurs. The two regularly take other business owners under their wing and help them be successful. “There’s money out there to be made, and if you don’t have someone who is willing to help you, a lot of people just won’t give you a chance,” Harris said. Harrison also enjoys the freedom to give back to the community that comes with being an entrepreneur. “If you are working for someone, it curtails the time you have to give to others. Working for yourself, you have the opportunity to take the time to have full conversations,” Harrison said. TK


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JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF KANSAS

MICHAEL WILSON ROB BRIMAN BETH ANNE BRANDEN PATRICK GIDEON By LISA LOEWEN

Photos by DAVID VINCENT

The Junior Achievement of Kansas Topeka Business Hall of Fame recognizes business professionals who have exhibited unparalleled leadership qualities and worked to make the community a better place to live and work. The 2019 laureates include four individuals who have not only created successful businesses, but who have also been recognized for their contributions to Topeka.

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Beth Anne BRANDEN

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Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes those unexpected detours and pesky roadblocks actually put us on a course correction that turns out to be an incredible ride.

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ETH ANNE BRANDEN has encountered more than one of those lifechanging detours, but instead of waiting for someone else to clear the roadblock, she forged her own path. The first detour for Branden came seven years after graduating from college.

DESIGNING A CAREER Having been a stay-at-home mom for several years, a divorce had her scrambling to find a way to support her family. With a degree in interior design and having worked for Linda Lee as an intern in college, that was the first place she turned. “I called Linda and asked if she had any work I could do,” Branden said. “She didn’t even hesitate, and I basically started the next day.” Linda Lee operated her interior design business in Topeka, but her sewing school in San Francisco monopolized her time. As the only interior designer working for the company in Topeka, and with Linda Lee gone most of the time, Branden often found herself working alone. “I had no one to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with,” Branden said.

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“We are at a stage in life where we should be winding down and here we are gearing up. I think we have some kind of entrepreneurial illness.” —Beth Anne Branden Regional President BA Designs

As Branden contemplated her future, she concluded that what she really wanted to do was start her own interior design company. She asked her father, Harry Craig, Jr., for some financial backing, received Linda Lee’s blessing, and opened BA Designs in 1995. By the end of the first year, BA designs added two more employees and Branden found the camaraderie she had been hoping for. The complexities of owning a business were nothing new to Branden. She grew up in her family’s business, Martin Tractor, and learned not only how to run an efficient and successful business, but also how to treat employees and customers. Her father showed her every day, through his actions and words, that the first rule of business is to always treat your customers with integrity and respect. The second detour came a year after starting her business. CREATING A PATTERN FOR SUCCESS “At first we planned to just be an interior design consulting firm,” Branden said. “However, we learned we might starve if we took that route.” BA Designs began selling office furniture along with offering design services, and then in 1999, the company began offering installation service to ensure quality control in all aspects of the business. “Now we could touch everything from design to product to installation,” Branden said. “That allowed us to offer the level of customer service that had been instilled in me by my father.” At that point, business took off. Branden’s husband, Russ, joined the company to manage the installation side, and BA Designs thrived for the next 20 years. Then came another detour. RENOVATING A COMPANY The office furniture industry saw a major shift from small design firms to national companies with superior buying power. BA Designs began to struggle to compete with the pricing those larger companies offered. Branden saw the hazard warning and decided to take the detour rather than wreck the business, so she sold the company in 2017 to Pure Workplace Solutions.

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While the decision to sell the company was difficult for Branden, who stayed on as Regional President of BA Designs, she knew it was the best choice not only for herself, but also for her employees. “I needed to find a way to keep my employees—my work family—employed and the company viable so they would still have jobs in 10 years,” Branden said. Branden says the new relationship is working well, and in many ways has allowed her to come full circle. “I basically gave up my design career to run the business side of the company,” Branden said. “Then I had to give up the business side, so I could once again pursue my design career.” FASHIONING NEW IDEAS That same detour that has allowed Branden to once again focus on interior design has also reignited her entrepreneurial spirit. She and her husband opened Built Interior Construction in Kansas City three years ago and added a branch in St Louis last year. They are currently in the process of adding architectural services as a new division. “We are at a stage in life where we should be winding down and here we are gearing up,” Branden said. “I think we have some kind of entrepreneurial illness.” Branden credits her father and his unrelenting demand for excellence in customer service for her continued success. “I got to learn from the best of the best,” Branden said. “I was blessed to be mentored by such quality people.” Branden now wants to pay it forward by mentoring others. She sees it as her responsibility to help young entrepreneurs because so many of them don’t have the background in business she was blessed to have. “I love the enthusiasm and blissful ignorance that make young people ready to take on the world,” Branden said. “They just need someone to help them navigate their course once in a while.” While Branden’s career path seems pretty clear ahead, she doesn’t worry about the future because those detours keep life interesting.


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Rob

BRIMAN

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Walking into Briman’s Leading Jewelers is like walking through a sparkly wonderland. Beautiful diamonds glitter from glass cases and designer watches sit majestically on their pedestals waiting for just the right wrist to adorn. But it is upstairs, away from the glitter and sparkles, where Rob Briman makes the real magic happen.

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ITTING AT THE SAME engraving machine that Rob Briman used when he was in junior high to help his dad in the store on weekends, Briman creates customized charms for a longtime customer. While computers and lasers have taken over the jewelry industry in most stores, Briman enjoys doing some things the old-fashioned way. “When I sit at this machine and guide it by hand, I feel like the artisanship of the craft is still alive,” Briman said. UNCOVERING A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH Briman didn’t plan to step into the family business. He was your typical teenager looking to spread his wings. He moved out for a brief stint and discovered there really is “no place like home.” So, he found his way back to Topeka where his father offered him a job.

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As a third-generation owner of Briman’s Leading Jewelers, he learned from an early age that the most important aspect of a successful business is taking care of your customers. Briman watched his father, Dale Briman, treat people with respect and integrity as he helped guide them through what could sometimes be very emotional purchases. “My dad understood that in treating people right, he was creating generations of repeat customers. That is why he didn’t want me in the office,” Briman said. “He wanted me out on the floor interacting with people and creating lasting relationships.” He has been out on the floor connecting with his clientele for the past 39 years. DESIGNING A UNIQUE SETTING “My dad understood that in Briman joined the family treating people right, he was business in 1979 when the economy creating generations of repeat was booming. People were excited customers. That is why he didn’t about all of the development on the Wanamaker corridor. Briman’s father want me in the back room. He and uncle took advantage of the wanted me out on the floor momentum and opened a store in interacting with people and the mall in 1988. That store became Rob’s baby. creating lasting relationships.” He went into management without any real experience or —Rob Briman business knowledge but survived Owner his trial by fire and spent the next years making the mall location a Briman’s Leading Jewelers 20 success. “That is where I truly cut my teeth in this business,” Briman said. “It was frightening. It was exhilarating.” During this time, his father and uncle started gifting company stock to Briman and his cousin, Debbie, to begin the transition to the next generation. Also during this time, the economy began slowing down and the mall location was barely staying in the black. “In 2008, we were hemorrhaging money,” Briman said, tears filling his eyes as he reflected on that memory. “We knew we had to cut off the leg to save the life.” In 2010, the mall store lowered its gates for the last time, and Briman moved back down to the Kansas Avenue store where his story first began.

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REDISCOVERING A PRECIOUS GEM Downtown Topeka hadn’t escaped the economic downturn either. The birth of the mall and the booming growth on Wanamaker started the slow death of downtown. Major retailers moved out of their downtown locations, leaving the area full of empty buildings and devoid of retail draw. Fortunately, about the time Briman’s Leading Jewelers consolidated into the store on Kansas Avenue, the push to revitalize downtown was underway. With focused leadership and renewed energy, those dreams of customers once again walking up and down Kansas Avenue began to become a reality. As a member of Downtown Topeka, Inc. (DTI), Briman found himself in the thick of the planning and excitement as public and private dollars flowed into the project. Briman literally grew up on Kansas Avenue, so seeing an area that he watched die out years ago burst back to life, renewed his own enthusiasm for both the downtown area and his own business. “Downtown is my home,” Briman said, once again tearing up as his emotions took hold. “I have been running around Kansas Avenue my entire life, and it only seems fitting that I end up back home to watch this transformation happen.” CREATING AN HEIRLOOM Briman served two 3-year terms on the DTI board and is a past board chair. Briman also sits on the Small Business Council and is proud to be one of the many people forging the path for a better Topeka. Giving back to his community in other ways, Briman has been a member of Topeka South Rotary for 24 years, sits on the board of Capper Foundation Advisory Council and is a past board member of Brewster Foundation. He isn’t one to sing his own praises. In fact, he says he has no idea why he deserves to be in the Topeka Business Hall of Fame. “I am not a wealthy man. I am a working man,” Briman said. “I am just a guy walking through the world.” Rob and his wife, Carol, have been married for more than 30 years and share two children and three grandchildren.


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Michael WILSON

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Michael Wilson’s name is synonymous with countless buildings and development projects across Kansas. As founder of Architect One, he has literally helped formulate a blueprint for the landscape of Topeka.

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ICHAEL WILSON WORKS to make his hometown a place where future generations will want to work and live. That means not only providing excellent professional services, but also giving his time and energy on a personal level.

FORMING A FOUNDATION As so many young people do, Wilson had to leave home and experience the world before he could truly appreciate what he already had. A Topeka boy born and raised, Wilson headed to the slopes of Aspen right out of college to forge his own way in the world. It only took a couple of years for Wilson to realize his true home was back in Topeka. When the architecture firm Wilson worked for in Topeka closed its doors in 1987, he leaped at the opportunity to buy them out. He opened the doors of Architect One in 1988 with two clients, some local connections and no idea what it would take to be a business owner. “At 30, I was green enough not to know that I shouldn’t be doing that,” Wilson

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30

YEARS

LISTEN. DESIGN. INSPIRE

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January 2019 commemorates our team at Architect One professionally serving our clients and community for 30 years! The timing couldn’t be better as this coincides with the celebration of the completion of one of our exciting projects in Downtown Topeka, the CYRUS HOTEL! And with that, we are honored to announce we are complementing our Manhattan and Topeka offices with a new Architect One office in the historic Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Mo. SPRING 2019

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Patrick

GIDEON

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100 YEARS OF THANKS

Multi-generational businesses don’t always survive the transition from one generation to the next. The younger generation often feels the need to spread their wings and be independent of the family business even if they eventually come home to roost.

Foulston Siefkin LLP Celebrates a Century of Helping Our Clients Succeed Since 1919 As our 100th anniversary begins, Foulston Siefkin LLP is grateful for the trust our clients, lawyers, staff, and communities have placed in us. We hope we have repaid that trust with excellent legal counsel and client service, a tightly knit and collegial firm, and strong corporate citizenship.

P

ATRICK GIDEON NEVER FELT like he had to fly away to prove himself. In fact, he has been with one company for his entire career— Silver Lake Bank.

INVESTING IN A FUTURE Gideon was only 10 years old when his father purchased the principal share of the bank in 1968, but being 10 didn’t stop him from working in the family business. “In our household, everyone had a job,” Gideon said. “I became a janitor at 10 because dad told me I couldn’t be a teller until I was 16.” He went off to get his business degree at the University of Kansas because that was what was expected of him at the time, but he always knew he would come back to Topeka. Having grown up in the banking business, Gideon was fascinated by finance and intrigued with the idea of helping other people realize their dreams. He also felt drawn to the difference that a small community bank in Kansas could make in his hometown, as evidenced by the way his father, Clarence Gideon, conducted business.

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As 2019 launches our second century, we remain true to our core values – treating our clients, lawyers, and staff as we would want to be treated, and giving in meaningful ways to our communities. We continue to partner with our clients, seeking innovative ways to help them manage legal costs and reach their goals while managing risks. A firm with nearly 90 lawyers and offices in Topeka, Kansas City, and Wichita, we offer our deepest appreciation for the opportunity to be part of three vibrant communities and this region. Stay tuned for the next 100 years.

For more information, contact Jeremy L. Graber, partner-in-charge, at 785.233.3600. 534 S. Kansas Avenue #1400, Topeka, KS 66603

www.foulston.com

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“My dad always taught me to look people in the eye, give a firm handshake and do what I say I am going to do,” Gideon said. BANKING ON CHARACTER As president of a bank whose roots were planted in the agricultural lending market, Gideon’s father often made lending decisions based on the character of the farmer, even if on paper it looked like too much of a risk. Even though changes in the banking industry over the past decade have eliminated the ability for banks to lend money with just a simple handshake, small community banks still have the freedom to take some risks that big national banks either “Don’t ask your employees to do can’t or won’t. “It still comes down to character something you wouldn’t be willing in this business,” Gideon said. "I don’t to do. Show up every day and loan on properties or buildings. I loan create the best possible work on people.” For example, while national environment for others. Be a financial institutions would not even good listener, but also be a good consider loaning a customer money follower. Add value to everything for something out of the norm, you do and work your tail off.” such as a “Shouse” (a combination shop and house), Gideon says Silver Bank lenders listen to what —Patrick Gideon Lake the customer wants to do and try to President figure out a solution that is best for Silver Lake Bank the customer. Sometimes doing what is best for the customer is as simple as calling them by name when they come into the bank. Other times it means updating technology to offer digital alternatives for those customers who want to do all of their banking from their smart phones. And sometimes, doing what is right means having to steer a client away from a lending decision that might not be best for the customer, even if it would benefit the bank. “There is a reason we have been in business for 110 years,” Gideon said. “Our customers trust us to help them make those

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financial decisions because they know we will always shoot straight.” LENDING SOME ADVICE With hindsight being 20/20, Gideon says he would have some advice for his 25-yearold self. First, he would tell himself to take better notes about his experiences and the people he has met during his time at the bank. His dad always told him to keep note cards and write down everything he could about his customers—who they are, their community connections, family members, etc.—but at the time, Gideon didn’t see the value in that type of information, so he didn’t follow through. “I didn’t think my dad knew what he was talking about,” Gideon said. “Now I wish I had done that.” Second, Gideon says he would tell himself to be a better listener. “I should have listened more to my father, to my coworkers, to people I looked up to in business,” Gideon said, “because you don’t know what you don’t know. And as a young man, there was a lot I didn’t know.” With one of his sons now working at the Silver Lake Bank branch in Lawrence, Gideon says he hopes to pass on some of the lessons he has learned in his more than 30 years in the banking business. One of those lessons is the importance of being involved in your community. Gideon has served with Midland Care, United Way of Greater Topeka and the American Diabetes Association. He is one of the founding members of the Topeka Independent Business Association and is a graduate of Leadership Kansas. Another lesson Gideon would share is to lead by example. “Don’t ask your employees to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do. Show up every day and create the best possible work environment for others. Be a good listener, but also be a good follower. Add value to everything you do and work your tail off.” TK


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Founded on an honest love for service, Vaerus Aviation is responsibly growing to be one of the largest aircraft management companies in Kansas, with a second base of operation in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Vaerus becomes one of only 288 companies worldwide to attain the top safety ranking for international business aviators.

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AERUS AVIATION has achieved Stage 3 International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) registration, placing them in an elite rank of business aircraft operators. Stage 3 is the highest level of certification according to the most rigorous safety standards in the world, and Vaerus is one of only 288 companies worldwide to attain the top safety ranking for business aircraft operations.

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PREMIER SAFETY This premier safety ranking reflects a recent audit’s finding that Vaerus Aviation fully integrates the highest level of safety standards in the world. Accreditation by IS-BAO is voluntary, and any level of certification reflects adherence to a stringent code of best practices. Worldwide, there are 651 total operators with ISBAO certification of some

kind, and just 288 have been certified as Stage 3. Vaerus has been accredited by IS-BAO since 2014 and repeats the rigorous auditing process regularly to remain certified. “At Vaerus Aviation, safety is at the foundation of all our services,” said Vaerus Aviation Vice President and Director of Operations, Patrick Traul. “Our steadfast dedication to passenger safety and

security is supported by a comprehensive and ongoing program of internal review and third-party audits.” BEST PRACTICES Developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), IS-BAO is a global code of best practices for business aviation. This industry code of practice is designed to foster standardized, safe and highly professional aircraft SPRING 2019

operators. The three levels of IS-BAO certification represent the progressive maturation of an aviation business—organizations enroll at level one with a goal of eventually growing to level three. Vaerus reached a Stage 2 IS-BAO certification in 2016, and with the Stage 3 designation reaches the most advanced level of this prestigious safety certification.

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THE BUSINESS OF

LOBBYING By ADAM VLACH

Photos by THOMAS HALL & EMMA HIGHFILL

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When we hear the word “lobbying,” a few things may come to mind. For many, the common-butoften-misunderstood word conjures up thoughts of men and women in fancy suits and pricey dresses, dining at even fancier restaurants with even pricier wine. For others, the terms “rubbing elbows” and “schmoozing” might come to mind. To be sure, this is an image commonly associated with some high-ranking politicians, and because lobbyists work so closely with elected officials, they often find themselves guilty by association. But here’s the thing: even if lobbyists do dress sharp and dine with political leaders, they are not doing so on taxpayer dollars. Companies—entire industries, rather—spend billions of dollars per year on lobbyists because their services are valuable. They are some of our communities’ greatest educators and many organizations’ most loyal advocates. Being the state capital, Topeka has its fair share of lobbying, consulting and political advocacy firms. Representing the interests of companies and communities across the state, lobbyists go to bat every week for those who cannot be in the Capitol to speak for themselves.

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THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

JOHN FEDERICO Federico Consulting: A Public Affairs Group

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HE BEST WAY TO EXPLAIN lobbying is the way I explain it to my mom. She always asks me, ‘Are you, or are you not, a lawyer?’” said John Federico, president

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and owner of Federico Consulting: A Public Affairs Group. Federico did indeed graduate from law school, but he immediately began working for a large lobbying firm. Not long after, he left to build his own firm,


which became the successful business he still runs today. WHAT LOBBYISTS ACCOMPLISH “In any given year, 600 to 700 bills are introduced in the state legislature,” Federico said. “It’s nearly impossible for business owners throughout the state to know what’s going on, so we represent those different companies and associations, and our job is to keep an eye on their interests at the statehouse and make sure nothing bad happens to them.” What that all entails can vary depending on the organization being represented and the nature of the legislation up for debate. “In some instances, we do nothing more than serve as eyes and ears on behalf of our clients over the course of a legislative session,” Federico explained. “In other cases, we provide advocacy and prevent legislation from passing that would damage our clients. “There’s nothing magical about it. It’s simply gathering good facts and data and going over and talking to people.” THE PRINCIPLE VALUE Smooth-talking and flattery can be found in any industry or business, and lobbying is no exception. But just because such behavior can make an appearance doesn’t mean that it is condoned or even necessary. On the contrary, Federico says that in lobbying there is one principle valued above all else: trust. “I would say that ‘influence’ might be the wrong word,” Federico said, in

“It’s quite an honest process if you do it the right way— with integrity.” —John Federico President/Owner Federico Consulting: A Public Affairs Group terms of convincing an elected official to see his side of an issue. “It does help if you have relationships, but it comes as a result of a lot of different things. We hope it comes from a position of trust from working with us over the years and knowing we won’t give them misinformation. Just be a straight shooter.” Now, do lobbyists and political advocates go out to eat with legislators? Certainly, just as a project manager might grab a bite to eat with one of the vendors he’s working with. “Almost 100 percent of our time we are not talking about legislative issues at lunch or dinner. We’re just getting to know them, and hopefully they’re getting to know us,” Federico said of dining with elected officials. “At the end of the day, any legislator would prefer to hear back from their communities.” Because of these relationships and open dialogues, lobbying firms are able to advocate quite effectively for the interests of Kansas businesses and associations once the legislature is in session.

CLIENT REPRESENTATION Federico Consulting represents 23 clients from across the state. Some are large corporations, while many others are associations and small businesses that need a champion in the statehouse. “We’re proud of the work we do for CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), the nursing home industry, and firefighter associations. “Everyone needs a voice.” On a personal level, Federico says that lobbying is both challenging and rewarding, and entering his 27th legislative session, he’s seen plenty of both sides. “For example,” Federico illustrated, “if the legislature is about to pass a bill that will affect nursing homes and senior citizens across the state, we are able to work with that group, go into the state house, have good honest conversations with the people that are making laws or funding budgets, and convince them that they ought to be taking care of the elderly. “To know the elderly are being taken care of means you’re successful— that’s meaningful. That’s what makes it worthwhile.” On the other hand, if there’s a major employer who employs thousands of people in, say, Kansas City, Kansas, Federico and his team are able to help make sure the state has good tax policies, which will allow the business to operate and grow and the thousands of workers to keep their jobs. Of course, when working with elected officials, things don’t always go as Federico would hope. But, that’s just the way it is, he says. All in all, he believes it’s a good system, and one designed to help people.

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THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

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ETWEEN WORK SCHEDULES and locations, it can be quite tricky for small business owners and association leaders to meet with elected officials when they have a concern that needs addressing. Natalie Bright and Marlee Carpenter of Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc. are all too aware of this, and for the past 18 years have dedicated their careers to making it easier for working Kansans to be heard. “Our job is to work as a liaison between state policymakers and private sector businesses, and to help find solutions for issues that arise,” said Bright, cofounder and partner of her firm. As contract lobbyists, Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc. represents numerous organizations spanning multiple industries. The company was founded after Bright left her job as a tax lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber and partnered with Carpenter, whom she had met at Washburn Law School. Together, the two make up the Bright & Carpenter firm, which boasts a strong foundation in private business lobbying, but also more recently has worked with some municipalities and social services groups.

NATALIE BRIGHT & MARLEE CARPENTER Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc.

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“Even If I don’t agree with everything [politicians] decide, they truly do want to make things better.” —Natalie Bright Founder/Partner Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc.


DON’T MISS OUT MULTIPLE ROLES “Lobbyists wear a lot of hats,” Bright explained. “First and foremost, we’re educators. Our job, essentially, is to gather as much information as possible and then communicate between different parties so that legislators can make the best decisions.” Working not only with multiple businesses but also with hundreds of elected officials in the statehouse, Bright and Carpenter interact with plenty of individuals, each with their own background and interests. Navigating those diverse personalities can be challenging, Bright said, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling parts of the job. THE SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACT Bright said lobbying and working in the political arena as a whole has become a bit trickier since the advent of social media. It is more common now for things to be taken out of context or portrayed in a negative light, and the original meaning or intent often doesn’t make it into the 280-character recounting. “Many people have a negative connotation of politicians, but I have the bird’s eye view and can see that 99.9 percent of them are there for the right reasons,” Bright said. “Even if I don’t agree with everything they decide, they truly do want to make things better.” At the end of the day, Bright and Carpenter simply want to help lawmakers ‘make things better’ for as many people as possible.

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Country & Food Truck Festival May 11

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THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

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THIRD-GENERATION ENTREPRENEUR, Kimberly Svaty—owner of Gencur Svaty Public Affairs—has been in business for 11 years. Svaty is a lobbyist and political advocate, but she describes herself with another word: teacher. “Companies have laws and regulations that pass by lawmakers,” Svaty explained. “My job is much like the job of a teacher—such as my mom— in that when it comes time to decide on a bill, legislators are not experts in all the areas that the bill might affect. So, it’s my job to educate them in their role, in whatever market they’re making decisions for.” When a bill or law is about to pass, many times even the companies being affected by it don’t know the full extent of what the policy change might do. For this reason, one facet of Svaty’s job includes conducting large volumes of research. Then, it is her duty to inform both sides of the situation (i.e., the policymakers and the businesses) as to how a certain policy change will affect a company or industry. “One part that is consistently not talked about is that it is incumbent upon me to make sure a legislator fully understands the picture of the marketplace, and that means all sides,” Svaty said. “I can’t go in and just give a legislator one side of the story. It is important to talk about the client’s perspective, but you must make sure it is balanced.”

KIMBERLY SVATY Gencur Svaty Public Affairs “Trust is important. Honesty and forthrightness are key.” —Kimberly Svaty Owner Gencur Svaty Public Affairs

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BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS Because she must work closely with both parties, relationship building is a critical part of what Svaty does. “Trust is so important,” she said. “Honesty and forthrightness are key.” Svaty also is a big believer that most everyone involved in the lobbying and political scene are there for the right reasons. “I feel extremely lucky about the work I do because of who I work with,”

Svaty said. “They are working every day to improve the lives of other people.” But it is still politics after all, and every once in awhile things don’t go as they should because of a political reason, and that can be frustrating. “A bill or law with no opposition and great benefits might not get passed for no other reason than that it’s politics, and you don’t always know what the motivations are,” she said.

MEANINGFUL WORK Those outlying situations aside, though, she finds her work incredibly meaningful. As someone who represents many companies in the energy, air and agriculture industries, Svaty knows that her work plays a part in keeping people’s power on, providing food on the table, and bringing good jobs to the state of Kansas.

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THE BUSINESS OF LOBBYING

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OW IN HIS 39TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION as a lobbyist, John Pinegar—partner and lobbyist at Pinegar, Smith & Associates—is a seasoned veteran in every sense of the word. Founded by John Pinegar and Doug Smith in 1991, Pinegar, Smith & Associates is a government relations and public affairs firm located in Topeka, Kansas. The firm’s goal is to help businesses interact with government regulators and officials. Put simply, their “primary purpose is to design long-term solutions for clients.” Pinegar was introduced to state government and the legislative process through an internship program while a student at Washburn University. During this internship, he was able to observe the legislative process and became intrigued by the role lobbyists played.

JOHN PINEGAR & DOUG SMITH Pinegar, Smith & Associates

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“Being a lobbyist is an integral part of the democratic political process, and unfortunately, it's not always well understood by the general population.” —John Pinegar Partner/Lobbyist Pinegar, Smith & Associates

CREATIVE SOLUTIONS Pinegar said he enjoys working with legislators and members of the executive branch, along with his clients, to address challenging issues and develop creative solutions. Much of his time, Pinegar says, is spent simply learning about different issues flagged by businesses and then educating government officials on the impact of their proposed and existing public policies. But it’s not all book work and studying. Much of what Pinegar does involves relationship-building and communication. In fact, fostering strong relationships with elected officials and members of the executive branch is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a lobbyist, Pinegar said. By forming these relationships,

he and his team are better able to work with lawmakers on improving and introducing beneficial policies, which in turn help the consortium of 36 businesses and organizations he and Smith represent—including their alma mater, Washburn. PART OF THE POLITICAL PROCESS “Lobbyists come from all different walks of life,” Pinegar said. “Being a lobbyist is an integral part of the democratic political process, and unfortunately, it’s not always well understood by the general population. It involves a lot more than just persuading legislators. We do research, attend hearings, educate government officials, and advocate for clients.” TK

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RETHINKING THE TRADES By KIM GRONNIGER PHOTO SUBMITTED

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As traditional college tuition costs increase and concerns about student debt mount, technical certification programs are becoming more popular not only for the practical skills they impart but also for the lifelong earning potential and career satisfaction they provide. Jobs in the trades are in hot demand as large employers and small business owners compete for top talent. In Topeka, an expansive network of entities is heightening efforts to develop workforce skill sets and position the capital city for future growth. Whether it’s a significant bump in an individual’s wages or a business choosing to locate or expand here, technical education plays a pivotal role in Topeka’s prosperity.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES Clark Coco, dean of Washburn Tech, has spent the past seven years helping students find their passion and collaborating with instructors, local employers and national manufacturers to educate the public about the earning power of technical careers and elevate trade-path prestige. The former basketball coach knew in grade school that he wanted to be an educator who helped others find their purpose. “It’s a gift to work, to be able to go out and help people,” Coco said. “And you need to be proud of what you do so you don’t play second chair to anyone. No apologies. When you show up to fix someone’s furnace when it’s 4 degrees outside, that customer wants you to be the best.” Coco worked with faculty to implement a dress code of uniform shirts color-coded by specialty to instill professionalism in students pursuing any one of the 38 programs offered. The leadership team put plans in place to pump up programs and partnerships and beautify the campus, from painting buildings and pulling weeds along sidewalks to replacing projection units and other classroom equipment. In 2014, Coco initiated the nation’s first signing day for technical careers,

bringing kids, proud parents, corporate partners and even the governor together to celebrate and honor their decision. The dean and others worked to fulfill requirements for NC3 membership, gaining access to highprofile partners like Chrysler and CASE. Faculty members continue to prepare students to compete in nationwide SkillsUSA and other competitions and strengthen outreach efforts with local employers to create customized training and identify new opportunities. “Our faculty and leadership are phenomenal, and we have exceptional relationships with our local workforce partners,” said Coco, who will retire this summer. “It’s a collaborative partnership, not just tech teaching and employers hiring.” And employers are hiring. With low unemployment and steep competition for talent, technical certifications are a golden ticket. “I’ve told kids that if they showed up in my office drug free with a reputation for having a good attitude, a good work ethic and the ability to conduct themselves appropriately, then I could take their resume at 9 a.m. and get them a job by 5 p.m.,” he said. “How many other fields can say the same?”

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Students enrolled at Washburn Tech benefit from the administration’s and instructors’ focus on instilling professionalism as they learn a trade skill in one of the 38 programs offered.

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BUSINESS ATTRACTION Access to a well-trained workforce is a key factor in the selection criteria companies consider when determining whether to relocate or expand in a community. “One of the biggest costs of doing business is labor,” said Molly Howey, senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Topeka Partnership. “It’s a recruiting asset when companies know they won’t have to invest in a lot of training to get a new workforce up to speed, especially in a tight labor market.” Howey said Washburn Tech’s ability to not only prepare new students for a trade career path but to also supply ongoing training for experienced employees at global companies like Goodyear and Mars is another benefit for Topeka in attracting new businesses and enhancing ties with existing employers. “The ability to be flexible with our training offerings and to sit down with a company and develop a comprehensive program specific to their processes is a critical advantage,” she said. “It’s one of the best competitive tools we have.” PERSONAL POTENTIAL Barbara Stapleton, vice president of business retention and talent initiatives at GO Topeka, said nearly 10,000 people in Shawnee County ages 18 to 64 don’t have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Local school districts, Washburn Tech and other entities are working to reverse these numbers by providing opportunities for students to earn “stackable credentials” like a technical certification while still in high school so they can make $15 to $20 an hour right after graduation.

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“And if they choose to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, they can greatly reduce their debt while doing so,” Stapleton said.

“Our employers across the region are looking for technical skills as well as problem-solving abilities in new hires.” —Barbara Stapleton GO Topeka Stapleton is involved with the new Washburn Tech East location, which began classes Jan. 7 with 87 students working toward certifications for building trades, health care positions or commercial truck driving licenses. Adult education classes are also offered to help individuals earn GEDs. NEW MARKETS Lalo Munoz, executive director of El Centro Topeka, an agency that provides services to immigrants,

PHOTO SUBMITTED

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serves as chair of the Washburn Tech East Task Force. “There are often multiple issues and obstacles, including flexibility and funding, that may prevent someone from pursuing a GED, but not having one keeps people out of the workforce,” he said. “But getting that GED is just the first great milestone in the process. After that, they can begin to think about a trade that can give them greater skills and higher income to take them further.” In partnership with Washburn Tech, the Greater Topeka Partnership, faith organizations, elected officials and other leaders, Munoz has been involved in multiple events with area neighborhoods, from community center presentations and cookouts to door-to-door conversations, to make people aware of advancement opportunities available close by. “It can be scary to think about going back to school, but Washburn Tech and Washburn Tech East will bend over backward to meet people where they are and help them succeed, changing the trajectory of their lives and the community as a whole.”

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Washburn Tech East opened in January with 87 students working toward certifications for building trades, health care positions or commercial truck driving licenses.


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JOB OPPORTUNITY Skilled trades workers are in high demand across the country. An aging workforce combined with fewer young people choosing to enter the trades fields has resulted in a shortage of electricians, carpenters, welders, HVAC specialists and even pilots that many companies desperately need to operate their businesses. HME Jon Haas, president of HME, oversees a team of 400 employees who build steel fabrications for the construction market, including athletic facilities, high rise buildings, airplane hangars, hospitals and water treatment facilities all over the world. He relies on a myriad of trades and professions to get the job done in the manufacturing facilities and on construction sites. An engineer himself, Haas thinks more young people contemplating careers should consider technical training. He asked one of his team members to

create a spreadsheet showing the long-term financial cash flow that can be had from pursing a technical track instead of a traditional college path. The spreadsheet can be downloaded from HME’s website, HMEInc.net/Careers. Haas said the notion that young people should obtain a college degree to have a successful career is outdated because technical professions have become just as valuable in the marketplace. “It’s simple supply and demand,” he said. “If you pursue a career with high supply and low demand, you’ll struggle. Tech careers, though, have short supply and high demand. It doesn’t cost as much as a college degree and you can get it faster and maybe even get farther down the road to realizing your financial goals.” Haas said people may have shied away from pursuing technical careers in the past because of perceptions of low pay and undesirable working conditions, but today’s environments have computer-controlled machines

“Our business operates in the extremes—zero degrees or 100 degrees. We help people in dire times of need.” —Greg DeBacker DeBacker Inc. performing repetitive tasks and are heavily regulated by OSHA to ensure safety. Haas said the salaries HME pays to technical employees are comparable to those paid to traditional college graduates, the latter of which “are finding they like being able to move around or work with their hands in the field instead of sitting in front of a computer all day.”

STOCK IMAGE

With fewer young people choosing to enter the trade fields, companies are finding it difficult to fill positions to operate their business.

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DEBACKER INC. Greg DeBacker leads DeBacker Inc., a four-generation heating and air conditioning company founded by his grandfather in 1949. He started working in the business part time as a Seaman High School student in the 1970s and became hooked on the technical components of the tasks and the hero aspect of customer interactions. “Our business operates in the extremes—zero degrees or 100 degrees,” he said. “We help people in dire times of need.” Busy times may require employees, including DeBacker’s son, Dan, to work 60 to 80 hours a week. When moderate temperatures slow demand, DeBacker still finds something for crews to do so they don’t

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EVENTS

Fast Trac March 26 – May 14 at 5:30 p.m. GTP Board Room 6th floor Women’s Forum March 7 at 5:30 p.m. Topeka Country Club Spring Boot Camp April 13 at 8 a.m. GTP Board Room 6th floor CEO Round Table April 25 at 11 a.m. GTP Board Room 6th floor Small Business Awards May 14 at 11:30 a.m. Ramada Downtown

Entrepreneurial & Minority Business Development A GO Topeka Program

SEMINARS

Advance QuickBooks Washburn Institute of Technology 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 8, 2019

Legal Issues Topeka Shawnee County Public Library 6 – 8 p.m. April 10, 2019

Beginners QuickBooks Washburn Institute of Technology 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 7, 2019 Business Planning Certification Workshop Small Business Development Center 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 20, 2019 April 17, 2019 May 15, 2019

Sales Tax for Construction Contractors Small Business Development Center 1:30 – 4 p.m. March 21, 2019 May 23, 2019 State Tax Workshop Small Business Development Center 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. March 21, 2019 May 23, 2019

How to Start a Business Topeka Shawnee County Public Library 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. April 3, 2019 May 1, 2019 For more information email MaryAnn.Anderson@TopekaPartnership.com March 6, 2019

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lose pay, a family philosophy based on “treating people well.” Thanks to Wichita Technical Institute and Washburn Tech turning out top-notch labor, he said he’s been fortunate to hire “great, young talent.” But aside from proficiency, DeBacker also looks for drive and the ability to deal well with people. “Whenever I hire someone, I ask if they own their own tools, if they change their own oil or if they fixed their bikes when they broke when they were kids, because I want someone who loves the mechanics of the job,” he said. “If someone spent a lot of time playing video games, then this field may not be a good fit.” Even though DeBacker has seen heating and air conditioning equipment evolve into high-tech units, physics and math still remains at the forefront of any technical solution. In addition, DeBacker emphasizes that abilities to write well and relate to people are just as important, advice he remembers from his Washburn University chemistry professor, Dr. Sheldon Cohen. “Our technicians might visit eight or more houses a day, and each one is like a little museum reflecting the owner’s interests and personality,” said DeBacker. “Some owners want to visit with us while we work or have us serve as a psychologist and listen to a problem they’re having. Others just want us to fix the unit as fast as we can and leave. You have to really like engaging with people and respecting their preferences to do this job well.” KENDALL CONSTRUCTION As a teen growing up in the Oakland area, Rick Kendall worked

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for the plumbing company his grandfather started. At 18, he became a carpenter’s apprentice, serving in supervisory positions with other contractors before deciding at age 34 to launch Kendall Construction with his wife, Sheri. Today, the commercial construction company employs 35 people. Kendall, who serves on the Kansas Building Trades Fund board of directors, said that the average age of new participants in the profession is 37, up considerably from 21 when he started. “People are often making career changes in their 30s to join the profession, but the work takes a physical toll, so most carpenters retire in their late 50s,” he said. “If you’re starting in your late 30s, you’re going to have a shorter career.” Another notable trend is the shortened amount of experience required for superintendents overseeing construction jobs. Whereas the standard used to be 10 years or more, now Kendall said he often sees ads requesting just 3 to 5 years of supervisory experience. Kendall welcomes the idea of people entering trades later in life, but hopes young people with an aptitude for math and a strong work ethic will consider carpentry as an option early

TK Business Magazine

Photo by RACHEL LOCK

Kendall Construction welcomes young people entering the trades, who possess an aptitude for math and a strong work ethic, to join their company.

on, especially with average wages of $25 an hour. “We work at plants like Mars, Bimbo Bakeries and the Target Distribution Center, and we’re also competing with them for talent,” he said. “These companies all want us to have the same high qualifications as their own employees, people who are not only competent but also safety conscious, reliable and drug free.” At 59, Kendall is contemplating his own retirement and in a couple of years will turn over his company to Dave Cooper, a 20-year employee and a partner for four years.

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PHOTO SUBMITTED

“There’s never been a better time for someone contemplating being a pilot to pursue it,” said Brooks Pettit, founder of Vaerus Aviation.

VAERUS AVIATION When thinking about a career in the trades, most people don’t even consider the idea of becoming a pilot. However, similar to those individuals who choose to become electricians and plumbers, specialized training that you can’t get in college is required. A third-generation pilot, Brooks Pettit founded Vaerus Aviation in 2007. His grandfather flew planes during World War II. His father owned a local manufacturing company and bought and sold planes as a means to travel around the country for business more quickly. “I learned at an early age, from my dad’s example, the value an aviation company can provide to help businesses be more efficient,” he said. “Just like a manufacturer might

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purchase a new laser cutting table to boost productivity, today many companies realize that an airplane investment can do the same thing by facilitating faster face-to-face communication.” Pettit said flying offers a great quality of life for people who don’t want to spend eight hours a day behind a desk. “We get to participate in a lot of cool events and travel to neat corners of the continent, but the best part is developing relationships with the people we fly frequently,” he said. Vaerus Aviation pilots typically fly 12 to 18 days a month, staying over in various locations about six nights a month. When they are not flying, they are overseeing other operational aspects of the business, such as client relationships or safety compliance.

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Prospective pilots can complete a traditional aviation program or fulfill requirements at a local airport, as Pettit did, completing his first solo flight at 7 a.m. on his 16th birthday at Billard Airport. Once licensure and flight requirements are met, individuals can earn their commercial, multi-engine rating and pursue an entry-level position to start building experience. Pettit hires pilots who have had at least two jobs before joining Vaerus Aviation to fly the company’s 11 planes. “There’s never been a better time for someone contemplating being a pilot to pursue it,” he said. “Baby boomers are retiring in large numbers, leaving a vacuum of experience.” TK


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GEN Z ENTREPRENEURS

SANTANA HOLBERT Shawnee Heights High School Sophomore

From Passion to Profit By MIRANDA ERICSSON Photos by EMMA HIGHFILL

HARPER ZIMLICH Washburn Rural High School Senior

MADDIE LAMOND Shawnee Heights High School Junior

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It’s not unusual to find high school students on social media. Generation Z has grown up as digital natives, hardwired to easily navigate technology from a young age. Teens understand how to communicate through various social media platforms intuitively, while many adults spend hours reading tips or attending classes to wrap their heads around the specifics and strategies. For some local high school kids, social media is more than social—it means business.

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Stange Law Firm, PC was founded in 2007. Since 2016, Law Firm 500 recognized the firm as one of the fastest growing law firms in the country. Members of the firm have been given awards and/or recognition from organizations such as Super Lawyers Magazine, the National Trial Lawyers, Lead Counsel and others. Attorneys from the firm also present on family law topics for other legal professionals through organizations such as the Missouri Bar, the National Business Institute, myLawCLE and others. Stange Law Firm, PC limits their practice to family law matters including divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, guardianship, adoption, juvenile matters, collaborative law, mediation and other domestic relation matters. Stange Law Firm, PC gives clients 24/7 access to their case through a secured online case tracker found on the website. They also give their clients their cell phone numbers. Stange Law Firm, PC understands the emotions that can

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The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Kirk Stange is respsonsible for the content. Principle place of business 120 South Central Ave, Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105. Neither the Supreme Court of Missouri/Illinois/Kansas nor The Missouri/Illinois/Kansas Bar reviews or approves certifying organizations or specialist designations. Court rules do not permit us to advertise that we specialize in a particular field or area of law. The areas of law mentioned in this article are our areas of interest and generally are the types of cases which we are involved. It is not intended to suggest specialization in any areas of law which are mentioned The information you obtain in this advertisement is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Past results afford no guarantee of future results and every case is different and must be judged on its merits.

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When Santana Holbert, owner of Santana Balloons, made $30 in tips at a local pizza parlor twisting balloons into shapes, she realized that her passion might actually make her money.

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ANTANA HOLBERT, a sophomore at Shawnee Heights High School, was about 4 years old when she found a balloon twisting book and supplies left over from a birthday party. She started learning to twist balloons on her own and quickly got good at it.

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Santana Balloons

She was 10 when she walked up to Stan the Balloon Man at Topeka’s annual Fiesta and told him that she could make balloon art, too. He laughed at first, but when she created a sword, he was impressed, and he let her help him all week.


GEN Z ENTREPRENEURS

BALLOON DÉCOR Twisting balloons is half of Santana’s business. The other half is balloon art, or

décor. Santana and Stacie got their first opportunity to try balloon décor with an arch for a Zumbathon. It took hours to complete the piece, but they did it, and one job led to another. Now arches and party décor are a big part of the business. She and her mom even attend conventions to network and take classes with experienced artists. This year, Santana will make a balloon dress for the couture night fashion show at Float, a convention dedicated to décor. She will also compete for the first time at the Twist & Shout Convention, which focuses on balloon twisting. Santana says her mom gave her the courage to enter the competition. “I wasn’t sure that I was ready, but my mom encouraged me to try,” she said. “She really built my confidence and made me want to reach higher.” MONEY & MARKETING Like any savvy entrepreneur, Santana invests some of the money that she makes back into her business. She buys supplies, of course, and the money helps pay her way to conventions. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to budget for advertising, because her business still relies on wordof-mouth and on social media. Santana is emphatic about how important social media is to her business. “We share our designs on Facebook and Instagram, and it keeps us in people’s

Twisting balloons into shapes has led Santana Holbert to expand her business to include balloon décor like party decorations and entry arches.

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

AHA MOMENT Her next opportunity to shine came when she and her family went out to hear local performer Kyler Carpenter on family night at a pizza restaurant, and her mom, Stacie Torrez, had the idea to bring some balloons along. Kyler welcomed Santana to twist balloons and keep the tips she made. At first, she only knew how to make a few things, but when kids would ask for a design she didn’t know how to make, she would learn. The first night that she left with $30 in tips, the light bulb turned on. “That’s when I realized that I could really make money doing this,” Santana said. And with that, Santana Balloons was born. At first, Santana’s jobs were all through word of mouth. Kyler recommended her, and one job led to another. As Santana got faster and learned how to make more options, she asked for a bit more per hour to do the work. When she was hired for a carnival, her mom stepped in as her assistant. “She was still 10 years old, and those long lines could be stressful,” Stacie said, “so I helped her by inflating the balloons ahead of time, and then she would twist. Now I’ve learned how to do some twisting, too, so sometimes I do jobs on my own.”

minds. When an event comes up, they think of Santana Balloons.” Santana knows other teens who are running a business using social media, too. She says that social media has definitely made it easier for young people to SPRING 2019

put themselves out there and let people know what they have to offer. Her best piece of advice for young people who have a passion or an idea is to follow it. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” she said. “You can!”

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Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

GEN Z ENTREPRENEURS

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Harper Zimlich, owner of Harper's Homemade, became fascinated with baking shows. She started practicing recipes on her family and friends, which eventually turned to paying jobs.

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ARPER ZIMLICH, a senior at Washburn Rural High School, watched a lot of baking shows as a kid, and she was fascinated with

what she saw. “I fell in love,” she said, “and wanted to experiment for myself. I would practice new recipes and give them to friends and family to try. Eventually, people started contacting me to make cupcakes for pay.”

EXPANSION Harper began selling her cupcakes in seventh grade and relied on word of mouth to build her business at first. About a year ago, she decided to expand beyond business cards and personal references to reach a new audience through social media. She uses Instagram to post videos and photos, and to connect with buyers. “Teens and young adults might not have the connections that adults do,” she said. “Social media is a great way to gain exposure that might be difficult otherwise.” Harper plans to attend UMKC after graduation to study business. She hopes to operate her own business after graduation, and pursue baking, though she’s open to other options. Despite the advantage of social media, Harper sees education as an important part of learning to successfully operate a business.

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GEN Z ENTREPRENEURS

Harper Zimlich advises to "find people willing to help you take those first steps and then keep moving forward." “I think the main difference between my generation and the ones before is the way we communicate,” Harper said. “Technology plays a key role in business today and how conversation occurs between owner and customer.” SUPPORT SYSTEM Harper credits her strong support system for her success. Family and friends were her first customers and helped spread the word about her business. For aspiring youth entrepreneurs, she recommends finding that network of support with family, at school, or online. “You have to get yourself out there,” she said. “Find people willing to help you take those first steps, and then keep moving forward.”

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

HEALTHY BALANCE Harper also advises a healthy balance, above all. “I do have to make sacrifices to make this work,” she said, “but I feel very satisfied with my teenage life, and I still love baking. I played sports, I’m in clubs at school, I have a social life, and I’m involved in my church. It’s possible to take on a lot of things and be healthily invested. It’s hard to learn how to manage time, especially how to use free time productively. I think that learning that balance will really help me in college.”

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GEN Z ENTREPRENEURS

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Maddie Lamond turned her passion for makeup into a business when she started posting video tutorials on Instagram.

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Maddie Lamond likes to help people find the products that work best for their skin and a look that boosts their confidence.

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MARKETING & TACTICS “I put myself out there,” she said, “and one thing just led to another.” Maddie promotes her services solely through social media. She often posts that she will be available for limited bookings for special events, and her list fills up fast. “Instagram is a great way to connect with people and get the word out about what you’re doing,” Maddie said. “Generations to come will definitely continue to use social media to show their creations and advertise.” CAREER GOALS Maddie says that she would consider taking some classes in business, but her focus is on make-up. She would like to take classes to become an esthetician, focusing on skin care, make-up, and beauty consulting, and she dreams of ultimately becoming a make-up artist for celebrities. In the meantime, Maddie sees a lot of opportunities to do what she loves. “I like to help people find products that work well with their skin, and to help them find looks that boost their confidence,”

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

ADDIE LAMOND, a junior at Shawnee Heights High School, has always loved playing with make-up. Over the last 18 months, she has used Instagram to turn her passion into a business. She started out posting video tutorials showing people how to apply make-up. She gathered followers and good feedback, then people started asking her to do make-up for formal events such as prom. Maddie filmed these jobs and posted them, which led to more jobs. Last year she did the make-up and hair for the school play, and this fall she is booked for a wedding.

she said. “I’d love to work with photographers, getting people ready to take great photos, and I hope to work at the MAC counter while I’m attending school.” Maddie says that a lot of the money she makes goes right back into expanding her kit and buying new products. It is important to her that she have a wide variety of shades and products for people to try. “Skin tones are so unique,” she said, “and sometimes I have to mix shades to get the color just right. I want to be able to work with anyone who comes to me, so I’m constantly buying new colors.” SUPPORTERS Like Santana and Harper, Maddie gives a lot of credit to her family. “My parents are my number one supporters,” she said. “I’m so thankful for them. They’re willing to open up our home when I do consults, and my

mom has helped me a lot with supplies, especially when I was getting started.” Friends at the MAC counter also played a part, by giving her encouragement and telling her that she has a real talent for make-up. “They told me to follow my dreams,” she said. “They made me realize that what I’m doing is good enough to put it out there.” Maddie says that it’s important for anyone getting started in business to have a support system. “When you have people behind you, it gives you the drive to go further,” she said. Her best advice to young entrepreneurs is to avoid burnout, so that the work stays fun. “I do other activities that inspire me and keep me creative,” she said, “and school always comes first. You have to balance today with the future, but always find time for your passion.” TK

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HERE COMES

Inc. Magazine lists the following differences between Gen Z and Millennials.

#GENZ

DIGITAL NATIVES VS. DIGITAL PIONEERS

40%

REALISTIC VS. OPTIMISTIC

SAID THAT WORKING WI-FI WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM THAN WORKING BATHROOMS.

77% EXPECT TO WORK HARDER THAN PREVIOUS GENERATIONS. Millennials became optimistic, thanks to their encouraging Baby Boomer parents and growing up in a time of prosperity and opportunity. Generation Z will be realistic, thanks to their skeptical and straight-shooting Generation X parents and growing up in a recession.

Millennials witnessed the introduction and rise of social media, instant messaging, smartphones, search engines and the mobile revolution. Generation Z did not witness these innovations but, rather, they were born into it. Ubiquitous connectivity, highly curated global information, on-demand video and 24/7 news cycles are native to Generation Z.

INDEPENDENT VS. COLLABORATIVE

71% SAID THEY BELIEVE THE PHRASE “IF YOU WANT IT DONE RIGHT, THEN DO IT YOURSELF.” In fact, 69 percent of Generation Z would rather have their own workspace than share it with someone else.

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PRIVATE VS. PUBLIC

70% WOULD RATHER SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION WITH THEIR PET THAN WITH THEIR BOSS. Millennials explored (and in some cases exploited) social media and made public their thoughts, opinions and every noteworthy or menial life update. With safety and security top-of-mind, Generation Z will be much more calculated or selective with the information they share online.


ROLE-HOPPING VS. JOB-HOPPING

75%

FACE-TO-FACE VS. DIGITAL-ONLY

74% PREFER TO COMMUNICATE FACE-TO-FACE WITH COLLEAGUES. Equipped with their experience communicating using full sight, sound and motion over Skype, FaceTime, Snapchat, etc., Generation Z is positioned as the ideal generation to finally strike the right balance between online and offline workplace communications.

WOULD BE INTERESTED IN A SITUATION IN WHICH THEY COULD HAVE MULTIPLE ROLES WITHIN ONE PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT Growing up in fast times and coming of age in an on-demand culture, Millennials have little patience for stagnation, especially when it comes to their careers. Generation Z won’t want to miss out on any valuable experience and will want to flex their on-demand learning muscle by trying out various roles or projects (marketing, accounting, human resources, etc.) inside of the organization.

ON-DEMAND LEARNING VS. FORMAL EDUCATION

75% SAY THERE ARE OTHER WAYS OF GETTING A GOOD EDUCATION THAN GOING TO COLLEGE.

GLOBAL CITIZENS VS. GLOBAL SPECTATORS

58% OF ADULTS WORLDWIDE (AGES 35-PLUS) AGREE THAT “KIDS TODAY HAVE MORE IN COMMON WITH THEIR GLOBAL PEERS THAN THEY DO WITH ADULTS IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.” Millennials were considered the first global generation, because they shared similar characteristics and values across borders and they were able to view significant global events in real time. However, Generation Z interacts with their global peers with greater fluidity than any other generation.

Generation Z will explore education alternatives. They will pursue on-demand or just-in-time learning solutions, like how-to YouTube tutorials, or will seek employers that offer robust onthe-job and development training.

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MARKETING TO GENERATION Z

Jon DeMeo PHOTO SUBMITTED

OWNER TOP CITY CREATIVE

GEN Z: THEY ARE

HERE.

G

ARE YOU

READY?

ENERATION Z, classified by those born from 1997 to present, is a growing generation that is marked by having technology integrated into their lives since day one. They do not know a time without access to the Internet. Pearson Ed says, “They are already the largest generation in the U.S. and will represent 40 percent of the population in 2020.”1 If we are not intentionally learning how they think, feel and act, our marketing is going to miss the mark, or worse off, we will lose their trust. HOW THEY THINK If one word could sum up Generation Z it would be connected. They have always had the ability to be connected, are very entrepreneurial and value a stable work-life balance. While they are adventurous, they also want to be unique and set apart from the rest, many times fueled by the gratification of online praise from their followers.

The activism that has spawned from incidents like the shooting at Parkland High School and other social rallies is what this generation will grow up with, thus giving it a sense of normalcy. When discussing the broadening ethnic makeup of millennials, Ben Graham, from the Writer’s Guild, says, “Gen Z is the first to experience that change as the new normal during their formative years.”2 HOW TO MARKET TO THEM While a digital approach needs to be taken, there must also be a focus on authentic interactions and even offline approaches. Companies and organizations will need to be more transparent than ever and be sure the overall message has a meaningful story attached to it. Many marketers have forgotten about YouTube and its power to influence and reach the next generation, but Generation Z values it due to its quick learning approach and more authentic style.

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MARKETING IDEAS FROM TOP CITY CREATIVE

PREDICTION Generation Z may think twice when it comes to what they share digitally. Since nothing is “new” to them online, they will take a more balanced approach as they mature and even take a small step offline and pursue face-to-face interaction. According to Relevant Magazine,

“Gen Z is likely to be far more private, having learned from some of the mistakes of older generations.”3 We see this shift already in platforms like Instagram that has recently released the feature of “close friends” to allow this generation to only share content with a select few individuals with whom they trust. TK

Curate a small group of customers/supporters and utilize private groups to gain real insight and engage in ongoing dialogue.

Be authentic. Generation Z can sniff out a fake and are looking to buy into not just the product but also the values of the company.

Explore micro-influencers. These are influencers with a smaller sphere of followers who can build brand trust with the everyday consumer. Forbes says, “Win over Gen Z consumers by working with a diverse variety of influencers that represent their core values: sustainability, equal representation, rebellion and humor.”4

Test out YouTube. Make your videos short, useful and authentic.

1 Kalkhurst, D. (2018, March 12). Engaging Gen Z students and learners | Pearson Blog. Retrieved from https://www.pearsoned.com/engaging-gen-z-students/ 2 Graham, B. (2018, March 07). Five Big Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z That You Need to Know. Retrieved from https://medium.com/writers-guild/five-big-differences-between-millennials-and-gen-z-that-you-need-to-know-fdefb607fc41 3 Adkins, M. (2008, June 15). 4 Things Millennials Can Learn From Gen Z. Retrieved from https://relevantmagazine.com/issues/issue-94/4-things-millennials-can-learn-from-gen-z/ 4 Council, F. C. (2018, August 29). 12 Ways To Market To Generation Z. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/08/29/12-ways-to-market-to-generation-z/#5126d30e5d3b

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FROM THE PROFESSOR

Entrepreneurship— Different from what you think By RICK LEJUERRNE Photo by MEGAN ROGERS

Rick LeJuerrne is a lecturer at the Washburn University School of Business and owner of Flow Capital.

THE TRUTHS ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP* TRUTH #1 Entrepreneurship is not reserved for startups. TRUTH #2 Entrepreneurs do not have a special set of personality traits. TRUTH #3 Entrepreneurship can be taught (it is a method that requires practice). TRUTH #4 Entrepreneurs are not extreme risk-takers. TRUTH #5 Entrepreneurs collaborate more than they compete. TRUTH #6 Entrepreneurs act more than they plan. TRUTH #7 Entrepreneurship is a life skill. * Entrepreneurship: The Practice and Mindset, by Heidi M. Neck, Christopher P. Neck and Emma L. Murray. SAGE Publishing, 2017.

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VERY SEMESTER one of the first questions I ask my students is, “who or what is an entrepreneur?” The common answer is “someone who starts a business.” This was also my answer 16 years ago when I first joined the Washburn Small Business Development Center specifically to work with entrepreneurs. It is easy to assume that entrepreneurship is focused only on startups. After all, most of my students still identify Steve Jobs (Apple) as the poster child, although I hear the name Elon Musk (Tesla) more often each semester. The reality is that entrepreneurship is nowhere close to this exaggerated view of the “hero entrepreneur” the media has made both Jobs and Musk (and others) to be. I like to show my students the humble garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first hung out—this is more telling. What I have learned—and am still learning—is that entrepreneurship is about more than just starting a business. Most of my students are surprised that they could be an entrepreneur and never start a business in the traditional sense, that the principles of entrepreneurship apply to all work, self-employed or not, and that entrepreneurship is a pathway to solving our most pressing problems.

TK Business Magazine

The truth is that entrepreneurs can be found anywhere but are still the exception. They can be found in our largest corporations, in our non-profit organizations, in our hospitals, and even in some corners of our government and universities. Entrepreneurs can be found managing our small businesses, which I continually remind my students, despite what they read about Elon Musk, represent 99.7% of all businesses. WE FORGOT THAT WE ARE ALL ENTREPRENEURS The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a global research study founded by Babson College and the London Business College, reports that 13 percent of the US adult population from 18 to 64 years old is involved in some type of entrepreneurial activity.1 Why are entrepreneurs the exception and not the rule? Entrepreneurs are often mistakenly described as extreme risk takers, having an unusually high tolerance for ambiguity, or are simply far more passionate than everyone else. Risk, uncertainty and passion, in other words —crazy? No wonder most students and adults lack entrepreneurial aspirations. My students who are reluctant about entrepreneurship often cite an unwillingness to take risks

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or uncertainty about their future (college debt certainly compounds this view). Passion is often interpreted with a dose of skepticism.

Method Versus Process ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A METHOD

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A PROCESS

A set of practices

Known inputs and predicted outputs

Phases of learning Steps to complete ENTREPRENEURS DON'T FIT THE MOLD Iterative Linear The stereotypes about Creative Predictive entrepreneurs are not Action focus Planning focus supported in practice. There is no evidence that Investment for learning Expected return entrepreneurs take more Collaborative Competitive risks than anyone else. In Credit: Neck, H. M., Greene, P. G. & Brush, C. (2014). Teaching Entrepreneurship: A Practice-Based Approach. truth, entrepreneurs, by and Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing. http://www.e-elgar.com/ large, are the opposite of extreme. They are calculated, understand risk/reward, are adept at mitigating risk and proficient A NEW APPROACH TO in calculating affordable loss. they wanted, they would have said ENTREPRENEURSHIP Further, recent research suggests faster horses,” spent more than two Elements of the traditional linear that entrepreneurs actually exhibit years experimenting before finishing approach to entrepreneurship—think common patterns of thinking where his first vehicle, the Quadricycle. Built of idea, research idea, write a business the focus is on creating the future, not in a humble shed, Ford's Quadricycle plan, pitch idea, obtain financing, just living in it. This means creating sold for $200. and go to market—still apply in new opportunities, accepting and Outside of the startup context, the startup scenario. Financing is learning from failure and building the old ways of entrepreneurship impossible to obtain without a written relationships. Defined as the theory are even less helpful. Planning and business plan. It is still the price of of effectuation, it is the idea that pitching are still important, but admission. Investors expect effective the future is unpredictable but neither will help one develop the presentations with 10-slide pitch controllable.2 in-demand skills of opportunity decks and proforma financials. While no one will discount the recognition and innovation. However, the traditional linear role passion plays in persistence, This is where the practice of approach is fraying at its ends and alone it is not enough. Opportunity, entrepreneurship has changed middle. It matters less what the experience and execution all play a most, from a linear one-size-fits-all startup entrepreneur thinks; the role. In sum, entrepreneurs aren’t approach to new methods focused on problems and needs of the customer crazy, they just look at the world business models and testing. are what matters most. To learn what differently; instinctually they seem The good news is that the method matters most, you have to be willing to remember what most of us have approach to entrepreneurship is to talk to customers long before forgotten. They see entrepreneurship open to all types of entrepreneurs, taking the first order. A strong value as a mindset to identify opportunities, including intrapreneurial employees proposition is more interesting than a approach problems in a specific way, and small business managers. The great idea. adapt to conditions and take control new approaches apply across all While business planning is of personal goals. industries, from healthcare to higher critical, the written business plan education to government. Students is not (it’s usually wrong anyway). (and adults) can benefit by learning “All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we Low cost experiments, building on to think and act like an entrepreneur, were in the caves we were all self-employed… what you learn, and small actions even if starting a business is not in the finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where should precede significant financing. plans. human history began. As civilization came we Success is often the marriage of the suppressed it. We became labor. We forgot that we entrepreneur’s effectual force of will EMBRACE YOUR INNER are entrepreneurs.” with the hard work of testing ideas ENTREPRENEUR —Muhammed Yunus and validating markets. Entrepreneurship begins with Social Entrepreneur/Economist Henry Ford, who famously a desire to improve things and a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient quipped, “If I had asked people what willingness to test new ideas. To

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Security Benefit products are available exclusively through independent financial professionals. For more information about Security Benefit, visit SecurityBenefit.com. 99-00486-35 2019/01/24

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do this well, one benefits from developing a growth mindset, customer empathy, a willingness to experiment, and thinking strategically about business models. This is where we all can start:

The Business Model Canvas Key Partners

Key Activities

Customer Relationships

Trendy T-shirts for kids

Personal in-store advice

Selecting designs

Eco-friendly material

Social Media

Fashion-conscious parents

Key Resources

Original designs by new artists

Channels

Trendy junior high and high school kids

Managing stock Sales T-shirt suppliers

• BELIEVE In a growth mindset, people believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication, effort and hard work. They see failure as an opportunity to improve and to learn from mistakes. The ability to spot opportunity, organize, and take action, i.e. having vision requires a growth mindset, which can be developed.

Value Proposition

Artist and designers

Store location

Customer Segments

Internet

Sales People

Brick store

Network of artists Word-of-mouth

Inventory

Cost Structure Employees

Revenue Structure

Sales and marketing

• EMPATHIZE T-shirt sales in-store T-shirt sales online Store rental T-shirt Paying artists One practices the skill of purchases empathy when they take the time to relate and understand Credit: BMC is from the book Business Model Generation by Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2010. the needs of others.3 For http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas/bmc the entrepreneur, this means connecting to prospective customers and stakeholders. Whether we choose the startup path or not, we The goal of the interaction is insight into unmet needs—what all can approach the world as entrepreneurs. Doing so problem does my customer have that I can solve in a meaningful creates tremendous value, not only for the customer, way? but also in the businesses in which we work, the • EXPERIMENT organizations in which we serve and the places where we Experimentation is best described as acting in order to learn: live. It is the good fight. TK trying something, learning from the attempt, and building that learning into the next iteration.4 In the context of entrepreneurship, experimentation means taking action, such as 1 Kelley. D., Singer, S., & Herington, M. (2015). Global Entrepreneurship getting out of the building and collecting real-world information Monitor 2015 global report, Global Entrepreneurship Research to validate assumptions.5 Taken together, the skill of empathy Association. Retrieved from http://www.gemconsortium.org 2 Sarasvathy, S.D. (2008). Effectuation: Elements of entrepreneurial and willingness to experiment form the basis of design thinking. expertise. Northampton , MA; Edward Elgar. Design thinking leads to real innovation. • PLAN A business model is a conceptual framework that describes how a company creates and delivers value.6 The Swiss business theorist Alexander Osterwalder created the business model canvas (BMC) in 2008, and it has changed fundamentally how entrepreneurs conduct the business planning process.7 The right side of the canvas is about creating value and the left side is about delivering that value as efficiently as possible. The business model canvas helps an entrepreneur find answers to their most important questions and, in doing so, define their competitive advantage. It is especially useful to existing business owners and managers— business models should evolve over time.

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3 Neck, H. (September 9, 2014). Entrepreneurship requires practice: Part 1—The five practices. Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com 4 Dew, N., Read, S., Sarasvathy, S.D., & Wiltbank, R. (2009). Effectual versus predictive logics in entrepreneurial decision-making: Differences between experts and novices. Journal of Business Venturing, 24, 287-309. 5 Neck, H.M., Greene, P.G., & Brush, C.B. (2014/2015). Practice-based entrepreneurship education using actionable theory. In M Morris (ed.) Annals of Entrepreneurship Education an Pedagogy (pp. 3-20). Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar. 6 Skarzynski, P., & Gibson, R. (2008). Innovation to the core: A blueprint for transforming the way your company innovates (P.112). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. 7 Osterwalder, A., & Pignuer, Y. (2010). Business model generation: A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


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CREATIVITY AT WORK By WENDY LONG

Photos by EMMA HIGHFILL

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SPARKING CREATIVITY

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Bedsprings and Burlap: Modern Vintage Decor

Denise Pretsch and Jill Beam, co-owners of Bedsprings and Burlap: Modern Vintage Decor, are passionate about teaching and expanding their clients' artistic skills.

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Jill Beam loves to create. She has traveled around searching for unique paint and products to make her “shabby chic” home decor pieces more unique. As her simple projects evolved into larger pieces of furniture, she found herself needing additional resources that were not readily available in this area. So, she decided to incorporate those resources into her business so she could continue making more art—this time with new friends. “I have always loved to make things,” Jill said. “It was my dream to do something like this.” She opened Bedsprings and Burlap: Modern Vintage Decor at 4008 SW Topeka Boulevard almost six years ago. The store now sells three lines of specialized milk paint along with unique home décor and furniture creations. With a passion for teaching others, Jill was soon offering classes to help her clients expand their artistic skills. However, she soon found that the classes were not really about the supplies or the techniques but more about sparking their creativity—and ultimately about building community. “I feel like adults don’t have a lot of confidence in their creativity,” Jill said. “They are apprehensive about coming and making things.” The goal of the classes is to teach various painting techniques. Participants can then apply these techniques to create home decor pieces or transform furniture. Many times, family and friends will sign up together as a group. Jill said some people come to the classes very nervous and uptight, worried they are going to mess something up. They end up having a good time and learning something new in the process. “It is great when they get the confidence in themselves that they can make something,” Jill said. “The best part of the class is that they are proud of themselves for what they have created.” The classes have been growing and the business expanding. After assisting with classes, Denise Pretsch joined Jill as co-owner in May


Class participants learn various painting techniques at Bedsprings and Burlap so they can create home decor pieces or transform furniture.

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

2018. Denise brings her own excitement and knowledge to the mix. One of the classes, the monthly Paint Club, has become its own little community. This busy group includes teachers, librarians and other professionals. They say it is their therapy because they know they can come and relax together. They all have a sense of ownership in the place, knowing Bedsprings and Burlap is their sacred space to create.

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. enture v d a r you Enjoy

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EXPRESSING YOUR INNER ARTIST

Potwin Pottery

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Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Christa Murphy has seen many different types of people come through her studio space over the past 20 years, but her goal has remained the same: to help people express their inner artist. And to make some great memories in the process. After painting pottery at a location in Kansas City for a business meeting, Christa wanted to bring this type of venue closer to home, literally. Opening the first pottery painting location near her home in the historic Potwin district, Potwin Pottery has become a creative space for generations of Topekans. While growth for the business has been great, it also caused some growing pains. Potwin Pottery outgrew its Potwin area space, so Christa moved the store to Fairlawn Plaza Mall, a location with better parking options and the ability to expand. The move has also brought in more business. A family friendly atmosphere brings in multiple generations to create pottery together. And a special party room is ideal for baby showers or birthday parties. Potwin Pottery also offers a “Ladies’ Night Out” where guests are encouraged to bring their own adult beverages. Onsite and offsite team building activities for groups and businesses are also available. Christa says the most common thing she hears from customers is, “I am not creative.” “People think if they can’t draw that they are not artistic or creative. That is just not true,” Christa said. “Just put it into motion.” The studio makes it easy to create something beautiful by setting the painting process up in small, achievable steps. Customers choose from a wide variety of pieces and find inspiration

"People think if they can't draw that they are not artistic or creative. That is just not true," explains Christa Murphy, owner of Potwin Pottery.

from corresponding finished samples. They can use a sponge stamp to make simple shapes or tissue paper to trace more elaborate designs. Painters often take an idea they see online or around the store and change it up with their own choice of colors and small details. For those who need extra encouragement, staff are readily

TK Business Magazine

available to demonstrate different tools and provide helpful support. “If someone wants special lettering or a name on their piece, this is what we do every day, so we are glad to do it,” Christa said. “We just want to make it a better experience for them.” Christa encourages painters to remember that it is more about the process rather than the final product.


Hundreds of unfinished bisque pieces of pottery line the shelves at Potwin Pottery for customers to select from and personalize.

SMALL BUSINESS INCENTIVE PROGRAM

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Are you looking to grow or expand your small business? Do you or your employees need training to become more competitive? Ask about the Topeka & Shawnee County Small Business Incentives Program.

Equipment Purchase Reimbursement Spending quality time together with loved ones is the most important element. “I love to see people come in and do a baby’s footprint or a child’s handprint. Those are things you just can’t buy,” Christa said. Some people come in and want everything to be perfect, Christa says. If they start a painting project and something does not turn out exactly as planned, they sometimes get stressed out. “It is not a mistake; it is an opportunity. It makes a piece more unique. You just have to change your viewpoint on it,” Christa said.

Employee Training

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• Construction & Renovation Reimbursement • Marketing Assistance Find out if your business qualifies and learn about your options by contacting MaryAnn.Anderson@Topekaartnership.com

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CREATING COMMUNITY

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Paint Therapy Uncorked

A Paint Therapy Uncorked staff member helps painters with the steps and techniques to complete their project.

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Many adults haven’t picked up a paintbrush since kindergarten. Margie Mudge wants to change that. She wants to not only get people interested in the arts who never were before, but also give them an opportunity to create art for themselves. Margie opened Paint Therapy Uncorked at 5130 SW 29th Street almost eight years ago because she wanted a place for people to have something exciting to do right here in town. In her interactive art lounge, people can connect and create in a fun and positive atmosphere. Painters are encouraged to bring their own food and drink to create their own “party.” “It is not about the art. It’s about socializing and having fun while you are doing it,” Margie said. Paint Therapy Uncorked offers many weekly public painting events limited to participants 16 years of age and over. The studio also offers team building events and private parties with no age restrictions. Unplugged Family Day is open every Sunday for people of all ages. The canvas, paint, brushes, and aprons are provided to help painters create their own masterpieces. Amazing local artists are also there to help every step of the way. The studio brings in people from all walks of life. Margie has seen some people come in with a bad attitude and scowl, but have a great time and leave with a smile. Her favorite memory so far was a pig farmer from Iowa who was excited about how well he did. “I love to see the change in the people and how proud they are of themselves and their artwork,” Margie said. “They are able to create something they never thought that they could.”


Paint Therapy Uncorked clients discover the experience is about socializing and having fun while creating a memorable piece of art.

Photo by EMMA HIGHFILL

Margie believes art has the power to create a stronger and healthier community. Art can positively affect people’s lives emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. Even those experiencing grief or dealing with a chronic illness can find peace and solace, if only for a few hours. In the spirit of community wellness, Margie and her staff paint with residents in assisted living facilities around the area. Art can be a fulfilling activity for seniors suffering from disease, including Alzheimer’s. It can increase their quality of life and become a means of expression even after other types of communication start to fail. “Painting is a calming activity for people and opens them up to selfexpression,” Margie said. “They don’t think about their problems once they start painting. While they are creating art, everything else goes away. Art really is therapy.” TK

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SCENE ABOUT TOWN

Topeka Country Club Grand Opening

PHOTO 1 Catherine Walberg, Erin Lesser, Amber Oetting, Gina Patterson

PHOTO 2

TOPEKA COUNTRY CLUB JANUARY 12, 2019

Keith Walberg, Clista Seals, Nikki Hutton

PHOTO 3

Photos by SHAWNA SLACK

Doug & Janelle Wareham, Gilbert Garcia

PHOTO 4 Dan & Julie Hejtmanek, Vicki & Joe Conroy, Sandy & Scott Griffith

PHOTO 5 Matt & Stacy Ricks, John & Klee Zaricky

PHOTO 6 Terry Beck, Jim & Rowena Regier, Harold Youngetob, Sam Vigare

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PHOTO 7 Ryan Tomlins, Scott & Barbara Hughes, Braden & Tara Dimick

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SCENE ABOUT TOWN

Greater Topeka Partnership Annual Meeting

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KANSAS EXPOCENTRE JANUARY 24, 2019

PHOTO 1 Patti Mellard, Jamie Stafford

PHOTO 2 Kathleen Hein, Richard Kelly, Jason Finson

PHOTO 3 Joe Pennington, Brittany Kelley, Danielle Fulton

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PHOTO 4 Jason & Jessica Lehnherr

PHOTO 5 BACK: Pepper David, Alisa Snavely, Morgan Padgett, Karen Linn, Steve Ridpath FRONT: Cheryl Hayward, Cynthia Darting

PHOTO 6 BACK: Mark & Dawna McCabe, Lawrence Reynoso, Brian Habig, Guy Habig FRONT: Stephanie Thompson, Susie Weick, Mitch Miller, Royce Muller

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Photos by GREATER TOPEKA PARTNERSHIP

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LAST WORD

CODY FOSTER How do you balance your Advisors Excel responsibilities and AIM Strategies projects? I have hired really good people and let them do their job. I still spend over 95% of my time on Advisors Excel and have a great team that works on other projects that we have going. I have also found it is really critical to build a team of people that are really good at the things I am really bad at. Nobody would ever accuse me of paying attention to all the small details, so it is important to have people that do that for me.

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Why are you passionate about Topeka? Because I live here. I have never understood, and probably never will, people who complain about or put down our city. I love Topeka. I love the people. I love the lifestyle. It is small enough that you can be involved and make a difference, but big enough that you can hide a bit also if you want. But more than anything, it is the city I call home, and I want to make it the best city I can.

PHOTO SUBMITTED

Cody Foster is co-founder of Advisors Excel, an industry-leading financial and insurance marketing organization as well as owner and founder of AIM Strategies, LLC, a capital investment group that partners with businesses and entrepreneurs to fuel growth.


Specifically, why downtown? Infrastructure and Opportunity. I have said before that it is not so much about “downtown” as much as it is that downtown has the density and properties to become a quality of place destination. When you look at some of the amazing buildings, the number of large businesses and people working downtown, and the attractions like the Capitol, I felt like it could be a great destination, and I think that’s proving to be true. Now that the Cyrus Hotel is open, what is next on your agenda? We have two main priorities. First is making sure we continue to improve on each project: Pennant, Iron Rail and Cyrus. People may think it is easy, but opening a restaurant, or a hotel, is a lot of work. Opening three in less than 11 months is borderline insane. I feel like each place is getting better, but we still have plenty of work to do to get them where we want them. You will likely see some menu tweaks and other improvements this year as we settle in and have some

time to work on improving the food, service and experience. Second, we want to focus on fixing up the other buildings we have downtown. I don’t think we will launch additional businesses this year as much as we will get those buildings more movein ready and hope to attract some other great businesses to Downtown Topeka. There is a really strong business case to be made to relocating downtown as the volume has really increased in a major way. Every project we launched in 2018 exceeded our projections in major ways. What advice would you give new entrepreneurs on how to get started and be successful? There are a few things that I think are really important to understand if you are an entrepreneur. First, most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade. It is going to take a lot of hard work. You can’t shortcut success; it takes work and it takes time. Don’t get frustrated with

the process of building a business. Second, comparison is the thief of joy. I have always tried to focus on making our businesses the best they can be and not comparing what we do, or where we are to other people. You don’t have the perspective to see what they have done to get where they are. I laugh when people tell me, “You guys are this overnight success.” We have been doing this for 15 years now, but most people didn’t know anything about us for the first 5-7 years that we were in business, but that is when the foundation for our success was built. If you compared your business to ours today, you may not be excited about where your business is. If you compared your business to ours in 2007, you would feel really good about where your business is today. So, just don’t compare. Finally, if you can find a partner you trust, it can be a game changer. I was lucky when we started Advisors Excel to have two friends and partners that I trusted completely.

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Having someone that you can count on, and that will challenge you, makes you a stronger entrepreneur. When you look back at the last 15 years, what makes you the most proud? That I made the most of the opportunities that God gave me and used those opportunities to shine a light on him. What can other Topeka business leaders do to help create growth? Support other Topeka businesses. Encourage your employees to support Topeka businesses. Be a positive voice for all the amazing things going on in our community right now. And finally, do everything you can to continue to grow your business and create more jobs. With all the irons in the fire how are you able to relax or sleep at night? I have never had much of a problem sleeping at night. In the grand scheme of things, what happens in any given day isn’t that big of a deal. A glass or two of wine doesn’t hurt either. TK

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SCENE ABOUT TOWN

Cyrus Hotel Grand Opening CYRUS HOTEL JANUARY 29, 2019

PHOTO 1 Kelsey Wiens, Sherriene Jones-Sontag

PHOTO 2 David & Danielle Byers

Photos by JEFF EVRARD

PHOTO 3 Anita & Larry Wolgast

PHOTO 4 Amber & Brett Oetting

PHOTO 5 Lindsay & Jared Kooser

PHOTO 6 Dusty Snethen, Ryan Cavanaugh

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Cassidy Manetta, Emily Kobzar, Amber Lee

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“Our patients know we care because we take the time to listen.” — Loli Diehl, Phlebotomist

Every moment matters. Team Members at Stormont Vail Health take time to focus on what’s important: You. Patients tell us how a simple gesture, a kind word, or in Loli’s case, a hug, made all the difference in their care.

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