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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


stormont-vail & cotton-o’neil

three levels of care Stormont-Vail HealthCare provides a variety of levels of care. If a medical need occurs when your primary care physician is not available, you have three options: Mild

The ClinicModerate at Walmart by Stormont-Vail Severe 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays Located inside the north Topeka Walmart and providing minor health services without an appointment for patients ages 18 months and older. Staffed by an advanced nurse practitioner or a physician assistant.



Cotton-O’Neil ExpressCare Severe With three locations in Topeka and one in Osage City, these urgent care clinics, complete with lab and X-ray services, are available to patients of all ages who need treatment for a minor illness or injury. At each ExpressCare clinic, a physician is available to treat adult and pediatric patients, whether you are a Cotton-O’Neil patient or not. ExpressCare – Croco: 2909 S.E. Walnut Dr. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends ExpressCare – Urish: 6725 S.W. 29th St. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends ExpressCare – North: 1130 N. Kansas Ave. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays ExpressCare – Osage City: 131 W. Market 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends




Stormont-Vail Emergency and Trauma Center Open 24 hours a day, every day, and designed for sudden, serious injury or illness. Located one block west of Eighth and Washburn.

Call Health Connections’ Ask-A-Nurse at (785) 354-5225 evenings and weekends for help finding the most appropriate level of care.


Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

[contents] FEATURES


In Every Issue



4 6 70



54 54 56 66

A Word from the Chairs

The chairpersons of four cornerstone business organizations give you insight to their plans and purpose for 2013.

Expanding in Topeka

Five expansions happening in Topeka.


Business Hall of Fame

Get to know the four laureates selected by Junior Achievement to join the Topeka Business Hall of Fame.

Unique Partnerships

Businesses are working with nonprofits to create partnerships that benefit each other.



Women that are moms and entrepreneurs talk about what it is like to juggle both.


From the Publisher Live.

Spring 2013

Advertising Intervention Marketing to Women.

Editor's Note Inspired.

Style Advisor First Impressions.

Extra, Extra News and updates on local businesses and business professionals.

Scene About Town Waste Management's Recycling Material Recovery Facility Dedication

Stepping Up To Leadership Turning your job loss into a career gain.

From the Professor Fiscal Cliff Blues: The bigger problem is being ignored.

Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and GO Topeka 2013 Annual Meeting Golden ADDYS

Heart of an Entrepreneur

Von Kopfman and Terry McCart share their story of becoming the owners of Blue Dot.


Life of a Building

The history of the Topeka Landmark at 434 Topeka Blvd., owned by Terry Beck.


Thank you to our advertisers for supporting TK...Topeka's Business Magazine


TK Topeka's Business Magazine

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


[from the publisher] “A day without laughter is a day lost.” I’m not funny, but so many things in life are worth laughing over rather than hurting over. For example… gaining 60lbs in a pregnancy might sound like something a woman could be upset by. But I have to tell you, getting ready in the morning over the last four weeks is one of the funniest things I’ve experienced in a long time. It’s all how you look at it.

LIVE “A day without laughter is a day lost.” “To assume just makes an ‘*ss’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”


“To assume just makes an ‘*ss’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’” I say this to myself every time I try to cut a corner. I believe strongly that you cannot assume anything. You have to communicate all the information all the time. When you assume, EVERY TIME that you assume, bad things happen. I still fall short, but this saying reminds me that it was my own dang fault for assuming.

“Sh*t or get off the pot.”

“Sh*t or get off the pot.”

Those three sayings pretty much sum me up. (It also makes me realize that I tend to catch on to things with cuss words.)

Well, this is my key to success. I was fortunate to learn early from a mentor that action is the key to reaching your goals. Later, I learned that it

Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

was okay to fail, but I had to get back up quickly, correct the direction and get going again. So that little saying is the reason for all my forward movement, many of my quick decisions and my tool to stop over-thinking. So what sums you up? There are no wrong answers and you won’t get in trouble for cussing. (I might, because it’s in print for 35,000 people to read.) What’s the life you are living right now? What’s the life you are striving for in the future? And will your own self-talk get you there? My advice—Sh*t or get off the pot on all things that have been on your mind or on your to do list for over a week. Quit assuming that what you want is just going to appear or be done for you. And, laugh! Laugh a lot! Life is short—so don’t waste it.

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For more information, visit: TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


[editor's note]


Topeka’s Business letters to the editorMagazine Sprin 2013



Editor-in-Chief LISA LOEWEN


One of the perks of being the editor of this magazine is that when Tara and I sit down to plan out each issue, I get to pick the articles I want to personally write. With most issues we could toss a coin to decide, because the articles all interest me, but in the Spring Issue, I am adamant about that choice. What makes this issue so special? For me, it is the chance to talk with some of the most prominent and influential people in the business community—those selected to join the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame. The accomplishments and contributions of these individuals never cease to amaze me. When I sit across the desk from them, I admit, I get a little awestruck. This year is no exception. I spoke with a former NFL football player who went on to be a successful business owner and the impetus for incredible change in our community. I talked with a soft-spoken IT guru who helped create an accounting empire. I learned about a political activist who just happened to be the largest Holiday Inn franchisee in the nation. And I met a woman who turned a 115-year-old magazine into the largest trade publication in the floral industry. While these individuals come from diverse backgrounds and have achieved success in different ways, I found common threads that explain their accomplishments:

Creative Director/Designer JENNI PONTON

Account Executives Tara Dimick - 785.217.4836

Photographer RACHEL LOCK

Contributing Writers Deb Bisel, Melissa Brunner, Rich Drinon, Tim Kolling, Rick LeJuerrne, Lisa Loewen, Kim Marney, Karen Ridder, David Sollars, Thomas Underwood, Doug Von Feldt

Founder KEVIN DOEL PO Box 67272 | Topeka, Kansas 66667 785-217-4836 |

Comments & Suggestions

Publishing Company E2 Communications, Inc.

1. They work harder than everyone around them. 2. They don’t take NO for an answer. 3. They surround themselves with experts and brilliant minds. 4. They look beyond their own little world to see the big picture. On first glance, these hall-of-famers may seem larger than life, but they are actually quite down to earth. And that is why I love writing this piece. My thoughts go from “I could never do what they do” to “they aren’t so different from me, maybe I could do that.”


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2013 TK...Topeka's 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 there in. 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 companies, 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.

Eric & DiESEl 10 year Customer

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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


{the Chairs} A Word From

Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, GO Topeka, Topeka Independent Business Association and North Topeka Business Alliance make up four cornerstone organizations that represent various sectors of the business community. As we look to these organizations to define the future of the business community, it is the chair of each that must brave the road ahead and carry the weight of their organization's future through 2013.

Who will make the tough decisions? Who will admit mistakes and work to correct them? Who will step up to make business in Topeka better? Who will work to unite our business community? In the following pages, the Chairs of 2013 offer you insight into their plans, their purpose, and little about themselves.

Chairs from left to right: Louis XIV Style chair with blue leather upholstery originally from Vargas Furniture. Gilded Curule chair, Italian Renaissance Revival mid to late 1800’s. Neo Classical Style chair, newly recovered in a teal blue ultra suede on the inside and a great green and teal blue stripe on the outside. The wood has a new silver leaf finish. Bernhardt chair originally from Vargas. Contemporary take on Neo Classical design with ivory and silver leaf finish.


Spring 2013

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l l

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Spring 2013


{Chair of GO Topeka}

Allan Towle // President // Fidelity State Bank & Trust How is GO Topeka serving businesses in Topeka? “GO Topeka works diligently with state, regional and community partners to ensure that a positive business environment exists in the community. Our existing business program requires a unique marketing approach and many of the same community assets that attract new companies will keep existing businesses rooted in Shawnee County. The core of any community/city is its existing businesses. GO Topeka recognizes that much of Topeka and Shawnee County’s continued job growth comes from its existing businesses and industry. Businesses thrive in environments that provide support and resources, making it easy to grow and move their product to the market place. ” What accomplishment of GO Topeka are you the most proud of? “I believe the diversity of the successes of GO Topeka brings our community the most pride. In the past 10 years we have assisted 126 companies, including: 27 companies that we provided assistance and direct incentive funds; 53 companies that we provided assistance that did not require incentive funds; and 46 micro-loans to help start businesses. Of the 80 companies outside of the microloan program only nine were new companies attracted to our community bringing primary jobs. That means that 71 existing companies received assistance from GO Topeka to retain and grow jobs in our community. Besides the direct impact on the businesses that have received assistance, the effect and value of GO Topeka’s efforts were recently validated by our business community. Our “Seizing the Opportunity” capital campaign raised over $4 million of private funds to help support the behind the scenes administrative costs needed for continued economic development in our community over the next five years.” What made you decide to step forward as Chair? “When I was asked to serve as chair-elect and then chair, it was easy to say yes. There are very few places that one can serve for the benefit of the community as a whole.” What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Topeka businesses? “Topeka and Shawnee County must look strategically at how we can continually improve its infrastructure, business climate, educational and workforce development programs,


Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

quality of life, and other such improvements to make ourselves even more attractive to companies and quality workforce. A community is judged not only by where it is today but by where it is going in the future.” What was the last book you read? “smile & move© a reminder to happily serve” by Sam Parker Favorite quote? “We’re here to make good things happen for other people.” - Quote on a poster sold by

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


{Chair of Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce}

Coleen Jennison // Director of Government Affairs // Cox Communications How is the Chamber serving businesses in Topeka? “The Chamber works diligently to improve the business climate in Topeka and Shawnee County by providing member services, advocating for public policies that benefit business, training future leaders and working to improve the community so it is attractive to current and future businesses wanting to do business in our community. It’s important to remember that with every “big” story there are many small stories that never get recognized, but still help create the best environment for businesses and the community.“ What do you hope to accomplish in your time as Chair? “Continue to shine a light on what an amazing place Topeka is to live, work and play. Announce more job creation—be it new or existing businesses. Foster the teamwork from all sectors of our community.” What accomplishment of the Chamber are you the most proud of? “Focusing the Chamber’s efforts to create change by building partnerships and collaborations has paid off for our community. The Chamber has seen results with quality of life projects such as downtown and NOTO; workforce development programs, such as the Advanced System Technology Program at Washburn Institute of Technology; and growth of jobs in our business community. ”


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What do you see as the biggest challenge for Topeka businesses? “The biggest challenge the Chamber faces as we work to improve the business climate, is keeping the momentum going to create a quality community with an attractive cost of living and a climate that encourages businesses, large and small, to locate and expand in Topeka/Shawnee County. We must work in partnership to build a community that can retain and attract the skilled workforce needed by businesses in the community. In building an attractive community, the Chamber is working to promote workforce training and development, create downtown revitalization, improve our infrastructure and establish air service from Forbes Field.” What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Topeka businesses? “We’ve worked hard the past several years to improve our streets and assets such as the NOTO Arts District. Earning the designation from Kiplinger as one of the top ten cities to watch in this decade was quite an accomplishment. There are new opportunities for marketing, for our downtown and for continually improving our quality of life. As we continue to work together, creating positive collaborations and partnerships our community will thrive.” What was the last book you read? “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, an amazing thriller. Favorite quote? “Well behaved women rarely make history” - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich










Here's the story...

785.235.1700 515 VAN BUREN TOPEKA

to Greater Topeka’s 2012

3100 SW Huntoon, Suite 103 Topeka, Kansas 66604

Julie C. Swift, DDS, MS


TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


{Chair of Topeka Independent Business Association}

Bob Evenson // President // RW Evenson, Inc. How is TIBA serving businesses in Topeka? “By unifying like-minded small business owners in the area.” What are the long-term goals for TIBA? “To always protect the interest of and speak for independent business.” What accomplishment of TIBA are you the most proud of? “Being engaged with policymakers, city council, county commissioners and state legislature, and reporting back to the membership our accomplishments, as well as struggles. We have open and honest communication between all parties.” What made you decide to step forward as Chair? “If you know me, you know that I am a person who, if I strongly believe in a cause, cannot sit on the sidelines. I am in the game and leading the charge.” What do you hope to accomplish in your time as Chair? “When my term is over, I hope the organization has grown in membership. If this happens, it means the association has accomplished our goals and is living up to our mission statement.” What do you see as the biggest challenge for Topeka businesses? “The biggest challenge is being able to level the playing field between big and small business. Everyone should get the same opportunities.” What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Topeka businesses? “Regional growth being in between Kansas City and Manhattan.” If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? “This really sounds corny, but to find the cure for cancer. Being in the health insurance industry, I see what cancer does not only to the individual, but to the family.”


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What was the last book you read? “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand Favorite quote? “There is no independence quite so important as living within your means. Don’t let your checkbook be the saddest book you ever read.’” - Calvin Coolidge

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Spring 2013


{Chair of North Topeka Business Alliance}

Justin Glasgow // President // Performance Tire & Wheel How is NTBA serving businesses in Topeka? “Collectively we are a voice for the small and large businesses of North Topeka. Our mission is to improve the economic environment and quality of life in North Topeka.” What are the long-term goals for NTBA? “Very simple. Sustain our current business environment and look for ways we can grow it, while maintaining or increasing the quality of life for our neighbors.” What accomplishment of NTBA are you the most proud of? “Our current merit badge is the success of NOTO (North Topeka Arts District). We supported NOTO since its infancy, and we are very proud of where it stands today.” What made you decide to step forward as Chair? “I have been emotionally invested in North Topeka all my life. Both sides of my family have lived in North Topeka or Oakland for generations. Now, I am financially invested in North Topeka as well. Needless to say it was an easy decision to be part of such a good group of people.” What do you hope to accomplish in your time as Chair? “Paradigm shift. I think anyone who has lived in North Topeka knows how great of a community we are. We have a phenomenal school system with family buy-in and we have a good infrastructure for a business community.” Public perception is the only thing holding back North Topeka from popping. We need to shift people’s mindset of what North Topeka was into a mindset of WANTING to be a part of it. It really is the land of milk and honey; people just don’t know it yet.” What do you see as the biggest challenge for Topeka businesses? “We need butts in the seats! Topeka has been stagnant in growth for far too long. We need Topeka to be a destination for the young family that wants to call someplace home rather than lose them to Kansas City or surrounding communities.”


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What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Topeka businesses? “Although Topeka is a large city, it is still small in some regards. Great things can happen at a small level. NOTO is a great example. Anita Wolgast and John Hunter took a simple idea of an arts district and revived a dying portion of North Topeka in the process. Downtown North Topeka is now a destination for many around Topeka and throughout Kansas.” What was the last book you read? “I am Second” by Dave Sterrett and Doug Bender Favorite quote? “If you complain about a problem and you’re not willing to be a part of the solution, now YOU are part of the problem.” - Unknown

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


Expanding i n T o p e ka

by Lisa Loewen

Room to Grow Strathman Sales Co. When Anheuser-Busch distributor Strathman Sales Co. found itself needing more storage space for its craft beers, it began looking for a new location that would offer ample room for growth. It couldn’t just be any location. It needed to have easy access to I-70 for the large distribution trucks; it needed to have available utilities; it needed to meet the stringent refrigeration requirements for the facility; and it needed to offer additional room for expansion so the

company would be able to remain in that location indefinitely. All of those requirements came together at its new 59,000-square-foot facility at 4235 SW Burlingame. This isn’t the first time Strathman Sales has moved the business to a new location because it needed more elbow room. In fact, this is the fourth location since 1939. Matt Strathman, third generation owner of the distributorship, vividly remembers the last time the company moved in 1986. They thought then that they had found a permanent location. “At our Lakewood site, we never dreamed that space would become

Matt Strathman, owner of Strathman Sales Co.


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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

too small,” Strathman said. “We used to think—how could we ever outgrow this?” But grow it did. After adding on to its existing facility, Strathman found itself landlocked with no ability for additional expansion. So this time around, Strathman made sure its new facility would have ample room for growth.

“We purchased and leveled enough ground so that we could double the size of the building if necessary,” Strathman said.

As for the timing, even though the economy is a little sluggish, Strathman says it was a no-brainer to invest in a new facility. “We needed the space,” Strathman said, “and right now money is cheap and construction is aggressively trying to get business, so we went for it.” With 45 employees, the new facility doesn’t mean any new hires in the near future. What it does offer is more space to add additional products such as craft beers. It also provides more convenient storage and rack systems for loading and unloading, as well as added climate-controlled areas. Strathman built this new facility with an eye toward the future, preparing for the next generation.

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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


Kevin Brunton, manager of ISG Technology

Expanding Services ISG Technology

Information technology and data storage have seen explosive growth in the past few years. With the introduction of cloud computing and shared information, businesses find themselves needing increasingly sophisticated data management services. To meet this demand locally, ISG Technology is opening a new 12,000-square-foot facility that will house both a 10,000-square-foot data center and ISG’s local Topeka operations. Marketing Manager Stephanie McCoil says the data center will offer businesses the option of running their systems in ISG’s cloud and have colocation of production systems for off-site disaster recovery.

“We even offer private suites and cages for companies that require additional security,” McCoil said. “This gives companies an added layer of protection for critical data.” 20

Spring 2013

While cloud computing allows a business to run applications on a virtual server infrastructure, McCoil says, ISG’s focus is to also allow the option of local accessibility to their data. “Companies have the choice to use their own equipment and house it at our facility, or utilize ISG’s equipment.” McCoil said. The impetus behind the expansion was to meet industry demands, as statistics show business data doubles every 1.2 years. As the information technology industry shifts toward cloud and data center services, ISG saw an opportunity to meet growing business information needs. “The space requirement to store data has become expensive and cumbersome for business,” McCoil said. “Off-site data management has become essential for many local businesses. And we deliver a consultative approach to help customers make the right decision.” ISG’s data services include: data backup services, disaster recovery, colocation, IT management, broadband

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

services and web and email hosting. ISG’s new Data Center in Topeka will be an addition to their existing network of data center facilities. Currently, ISG operates data centers in Kansas City, Wichita and Columbia, Mo. CEO Ben Foster said the two key factors that came into play when selecting Topeka as the site for the company’s fourth and largest data center were ISG’s relationship with Kansas Fiber Network, a company that ISG's parent company partly owns, and the recent energy exhibited by the Topeka business community. “The revitalization effort of the downtown area, supported by Topeka businesses, speaks to the foresight of the community and its leaders,” Foster said. “That vision coupled with our ability to affordably connect customers with fiber technology back to any of our four data center locations through our relationship with Kansas Fiber Network helped make Topeka the right location."

Branching Out

Educational Credit Union As one of the oldest credit unions in Kansas, Educational Credit Union (ECU) has seen steady growth since 1939. With more than $130 million in assets, ECU is about to open the doors at its newest location, 1129 S. Kansas Avenue, formerly home to Community America Credit Union. When Community America decided to close its doors in Topeka, it approached ECU about not only servicing its existing accounts, but also purchasing its downtown building. Even though ECU already had a location downtown, it was too small to handle additional customers. After

Educational Credit Union Team: Mary Munger, VP Member Services; Janice Davis, VP Lending; Greg Winkler, President/CEO; Lisa Marshall, Executive Vice President; and Jennifer Kirmse, VP Business Development crunching the numbers, the board decided they could make it work. “We picked up more than 500 new accounts,” Jennifer Kirmse, vice president of business development said. “It made sound economic sense to move operations over there.” This new location gives ECU more than five times the square footage of its branch at 901 S. Topeka. This additional space gives them more room to spread out, allowing for greater privacy when working with customer accounts. It also gives them additional office space.

picked up accounts from Community America; we are buying a new building; everything just seems to be moving in the right direction.”

Repurposing Space

Topeka Event Center & Topeka Office Suites When Clark W. Trammell toured the space available on the second

floor of a building owned by H. Kent Hollins at 3615 SW 29th Street, he saw more than traditional office space. “When I walked into the big room, I just got tingly all over,” Trammell said. “I told Kent he didn’t realize what he had here.” Trammell’s vision included multiple office suites, meeting rooms and a cutting-edge event center. He called in his friend Kevin Doel who operated a similar shared office environment to see if the idea was plausible. Doel agreed that this space could become something unique in Topeka. Trammell, Doel and Hollins stepped in as partners to move the Topeka Event Center and Topeka Office Suites project forward. “It required a lot of research into existing meeting space in Topeka, and the demand for additional event space,” Doel said. They had to determine what businesses need and what this new facility could offer that no one else can. What they found was a huge need for executive office space paired with a premiere event center.

“We have already hired four new people and may hire more once the new location is up and running,” Kirmse said.

With four drive-up lanes instead of two, traffic flow in and out of the drive-up window will be much more convenient as well. The other benefit to adding this new location is an increased stake in revitalizing downtown space. “It feels like we are on fire right now,” Kirmse said. “We won the 2012 Business of Distinction award; we just

Clark W. Trammell and Kevin Doel, partners of Topeka Event Center and Topeka Office Suites

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


“We see an enormous amount of empty office space around town,” Doel said. “We actually have a glut of empty buildings.”

This project took a creative twist to envision something that fits a specific need and is different from other office space out there. All three partners recognized the opportunity in front of them. Trammell brought the talent to the table, Doel organized that talent to move the project forward, and Hollins found a way to use his existing space in a creative way. “The alternative was for Kent to do what all of the other building owners are doing in town and just sit there with empty office space,” Doel said. Topeka Event Center is wired for audio/visual with flat screen TVs, WiFi connectivity, and kitchen facilities.

services are also available for a complete turn-key business solution. On-site services include legal and business consulting, accounting and marketing support.

Looking to the Future

Washburn Institute of Technology The Midwest Training Center for Climate and Energy Control Technologies (MTC) located on the Washburn Institute of Technology campus opened its classroom doors in January. One of only two such training centers in the U.S., MTC looks to address the gap between education and industry workforce needs by

have to figure out how to replace all of those who will be retiring soon, and make sure our young technicians are properly trained.” Coco brought the concept for the new training program with him when he became dean last June. After touring a similar program in Wisconsin, Coco was determined to put Washburn Tech at the forefront of the HVAC training industry. Grants through the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Kansas Board of Regents and Ingersoll Rand, provided funding to renovate the facility and upgrade equipment. “We needed something to jumpstart the program and bring more interest to Washburn Tech,” Coco said. “This training center will definitely accomplish that.” With only 16 openings each year, Coco envisions a program that will draw top students from across the region.

“We are changing the way we recruit,” Coco said. “We are going to actively seek out students who have a passion for this industry.”

Coco plans to make Washburn Tech the flagship technical college in the state where students aren’t just training for a job; they are investing in a career. “We can place every student that comes through our doors,” Coco said.


Clark Coco, dean of Washburn Institute of Technology Topeka Office Suites offers eight executive full-service office suites, virtual offices, boardroom facilities, small meeting rooms and a customer lounge. Included in the package are telephone answering services, WiFi, mailboxes and networked access to copiers and printers. Soft business


Spring 2013

incorporating advanced training and updating equipment to reflect the technological innovation in the HVAC industry. “The average age of a HVAC technician is 55 years old,” said Clark Coco, dean of Washburn Tech. “We

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


junior achievement BUSINESS HALL OF FAME by Lisa Loewen

What do a former football player, an information technology specialist, a hotel mogul and a floral magazine owner have in common? More than you realize. These four people have been selected as this year’s Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame inductees. Individually, each one of these honorees has made a significant contribution to the Topeka business community. But as you will see in the next few pages, these business leaders also came together at various times to move Topeka in a better direction.


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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

eldon danenhauer Ask Eldon Danenhauer his secret to success and his answer is short and sweet, “Work hard and do business right. There’s no such thing as cutting corners.” Danenhauer learned the significance of hard work as a professional football player in the AFL. This offensive tackle out of Pittsburg State University played for the Denver Broncos from 1960 to 1966. He put in the hard work to earn his position, finding himself playing in conditions that only a weatherman could appreciate. “I remember one game we played on a high school field where the mud actually came up over our high top shoes,” Danenhauer recalls. But even that kind of weather couldn’t dampen his love of the game. “The best part of playing professional

That business venture catapulted him into the role of business and community leader. Danenhauer admits he didn’t know much about Topeka when he first moved here in 1967, but he was a quick learner. “It was a bit of a challenge because I was new to the community,” Danenhauer said. “I had to make the right contacts, understand the laws and learn the business.” He became active in community affairs, serving on numerous boards and advocating for growth. Danenhauer appreciated the abundance of successful businesses surrounding him and the talented people who ran them, but he felt that the community lacked motivation. “Nothing big was happening.” So he decided to make something happen. In 1982 he started the

“Life is about learning, thank goodness i am still learning.” football was that they actually paid you to do something you loved.” When playing football was no longer an option for this all-star player, Danenhauer took a job with Coors Brewing Company in Denver. A year later he purchased the Coors Distributorship in Topeka, which he named Lapeka. “It was a little bit of Lawrence and a little bit of Topeka,” he said.

Association for Action, a community grass-roots organization that coordinated approval for an airport terminal at Forbes Field, construction of the Kansas Expocentre, a new form of city government, and funding for Heartland Park Topeka race track. His involvement in these projects earned him the title of Topeka’s Most Powerful Person in 1990 by the Topeka CapitalJournal.

Of all of his accomplishments in life, the one he is the most proud of is his 55-year marriage to wife, Linda. Today, Danenhauer is enjoying retirement, but recalls his time in Topeka fondly as a true learning experience. “Life is about learning,” he says. “Thank goodness I am still learning.”

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

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When Frances Dudley was growing up, she didn’t plan on owning a magazine. In fact, she worked in a flower shop while attending school. But that love of flowers, combined with a knack for writing, proved to be a natural fit. Florists’ Review Magazine, based out of Chicago, hired Dudley as a freelance writer for a weekly column—a position that quickly segued into Dudley becoming editor of the magazine. As editor, Dudley split time between Topeka and Chicago, spreading herself a little thin. So when

an online version at this time, but according to Dudley that isn’t so surprising. “We don’t have a big demand for an online publication,” Dudley says. “Florists are so visual and so tactical, they want something they can hold and prop up in front of them while they work.” Dudley also owns Super Floral Retailing, a publication for large volume floral buyers such as supermarkets. Dudley says she is honored to be selected for the Business Hall of Fame, mostly, because only a few small business owners have received this

“The balance between home and work is really difficult,” Dudley says. “My social life and friends probably suffered.” the owner offered to sell Dudley the publication 25 years ago, she jumped in with both feet and moved the publication to Topeka. “It has been quite a ride,” Dudley says with a smile. Florists’ Review Enterprises is the publishing house for Florists’ Review Magazine—the oldest and largest trade publication in the floral industry. This 115-year-old magazine, which made its mark as the first floral publication to use photographs instead of sketches, is still setting the industry standard with cutting edge products offered to florists. The magazine doesn’t offer


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award and even fewer women. She admits that her road to success hasn’t always been easy. The long hours and relentless struggle to make a business successful has taken its toll. “The balance between home and work is really difficult,” Dudley says. “My social life and friends probably suffered.” But Dudley says she wouldn’t change a thing if she could go back and do it all over again. She truly loves being involved with the floral community because the business is still so family-oriented. “Florists tend to be very happy people,” she

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

says. “They may not be in the highest income bracket, but they feel they are doing something meaningful and they control their own destiny.” Dudley isn’t looking at closing the pages on her career any time soon. In fact, she is in the middle of working on the development of some new product displays made in China. “A few years ago I cut back my hours a little,” Dudley admits. “But I love what I do. It keeps me modern. It keeps me young.”

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brock nancial aspects of deals and the impact they would have not only locally, but on a national level.” Parrish credits that “big picture” mentality as the impetus behind Brock’s invention of the indoor pool and entertainment center concept—a concept that would make his corporation the largest Holiday Inn franchisee in the country with 76 hotels. Parrish, who worked for Brock when he launched the ShowBiz Pizza Place Restaurant and Entertainment chain (which later acquired Chuck E. Cheese Pizza), speaks of Brock fondly, recalling the mentoring he received from Brock both in politics and in business. “Even though Bob was incredibly influential, he always treated me like I mattered,” Parrish says. While Brock mentored numerous individuals, he wasn’t one to simply give advice to others; rather he led those asking for advice through a

Robert Brock was known as an accomplished businessman, a brilliant strategist and a tenacious supporter of the Democratic Party. Born in Pawnee Rock, Kansas, Brock received his bachelors and law degrees from the University of Kansas and was a lifelong KU fan. Brock is no longer with us, but his memory remains vivid for Jim Parrish and others who knew him well. “Bob was a tireless dealmaker,” Parrish says. “He had a tremendous grasp on the fi-


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Brock served on numerous local boards. He was a Trustee of the Menninger Foundation and a Trustee of the University of Kansas Endowment Association. Brock supported numerous non-profits and held a special affinity for Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka. Locally, Brock may be best known for his Holiday Inn and ShowBiz Pizza franchises, but his real love was politics. A successful businessman and staunch Democrat, Brock was somewhat of an anomaly in Kansas. His involvement in politics ranged from sponsoring local candidates to befriending governors, senators, congressmen and even presidents. Brock was named Kansan of the Year by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas in 1976. Parrish remembers Brock for his keen mind, incredible focus and uncanny business acumen, but mostly he remembers his personality. “When

“When Bob walked into a room with his great big smile, everyone knew he was there and they were glad.” thought process to help them find the answers to their questions themselves. “He would get you thinking creatively about what might go right and what might go wrong,” Parrish says. “Then he would let you come to your own conclusion by taking you through the possibilities.”

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Bob walked into a room with his great big smile, everyone knew he was there and they were glad.”


kimes At the first away game, the head student manager made a tactical mistake and got fired on the spot. By default, Kimes stepped into the role, and what started as an insignificant part time job, turned into an opportunity to rub elbows with the movers and shakers in MU athletics. “That happened to be the

That career, ironically, was tied to fellow laureate Bob Brock who approached Mize Houser about handling the accounting and information technology for his hotel franchise business—one that became the largest Holiday Inn franchisee in America. As Brock’s firm grew, so did Mize Houser. Mergers brought

“You have to balance ‘if you build it they will come’ with ‘they will come and then you build it."

Raised in a small town in Missouri, the son of a dentist, Terry Kimes grew up feeling like he knew everyone around him. This sense of familiarity fostered a personality that was comfortable around all types of people—a trait that has served him well throughout all aspects of his life. “I’m a people person,” Kimes says. “I love working with clients and vendors and interfacing with employees.” As a dual major in mathematics and chemistry at the University of Missouri, Kimes had the unique experience of attending MU at the same time as four of his first cousins. His aunt, who was in charge of keeping athletes academically eligible to play, found him a job as a student trainer under Head Football Coach Dan Devine.

year MU went to the Orange Bowl,” Kimes recalls. “What a fun, unique experience.” Kime’s love for all things business really began when he worked for a CPA firm his junior and senior years of college. His whopping $1.75 per hour not only helped to pay his school bill, but also taught him the value of hard work. Kimes began his career with a Fortune 500 company in Chicago, but he always had a desire to own his own business. When the opportunity arose to come to Topeka to join Mize Houser & Company, a new CPA firm that was starting a department in information technology, Kimes didn’t have to be asked twice. “They took a chance on a young 26-year-old to head that new department,” Kimes says. “Two years later I became an owner, and that began an almost 40-year fabulous and wild-ride career.”

in another large franchisee client, McDonald’s. The rest, as they say, is history. Actively involved in the community, Kimes served on several boards and played an instrumental role in helping fellow laureate Eldon Danenhauer bring projects such as the Kansas Expocentre and the airport terminal to Topeka. “You have to balance ‘if you build it they will come’ with ‘they will come and then you build it,’” Kimes says. Besides love for business, Terry’s passions include his family and exercise. Married for 47 years, Terry and his wife, Judy, have two daughters. Terry has completed five marathons, breaking the three-hour mark at the KU relays marathon. His reaction to being inducted into the Business Hall of Fame? “You’ve got to be kidding!”

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Unique Partnerships by Melissa Brunner It's no secret Topekans are a giving sort. The Corporation for National and Community Service reports nearly a third of Topekans volunteered their time in 2011, ranking 23rd among the nation's midsized cities. In addition to time, there's money. Data compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows people in Topeka gave a median 4.3 percent of their income, or an average of $2,307, to charity in 2011. That added up to $69,530,705 given to organizations dedicated to serving the community's needs. Corporate contributions regularly make headlines, with many companies also supporting employees by matching personal contributions or encouraging volunteer time. But a few companies have forged unique partnerships that go beyond simply writing a check.

to live independently, something his level of attention deficit disorder and Asperger's Syndrome made it difficult to do. Today, you'll find him working with a team to ensure rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Topeka are sparkling for guests, right down to the wrinkle-free bed covers. Patrick landed the job through TARC. Linda Dunn is the job coach

for a team of five TARC clients, all with varying levels of disability. She makes sure they're performing their duties correctly and assists in making modifications, if necessary, so the team members can carry out their tasks. "One person can't remember because of his disability, so we make a list with pictures so he knows what to do," Dunn said.

Holiday Inn Express & TARC Patrick Ice admits he didn't know how to clean his apartment, couldn't even make a bed. But he also wanted


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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Bill Michaud, Holiday Inn Express interim general manager and Linda Dunn, TARC job coach

room on their staff for the TARC team. Work ethic aside, Michaud says it's a partnership that gives a bit of personal perspective, too. "You recognize the struggles (some of the workers have) had and it gives you an appreciation for all you have in your everyday life," he said. "It makes your problems seem not as significant when you see them show up every day with a great attitude and living life."

GreatLife & YWCA Linda Dunn, TARC job coach and Patrick Ice, TARC team member

Keeping It Real The tasks aren't busy work. They are a real, paying job. Holiday Inn Express, part of Parrish Hotel Corporation, entered into the partnership with TARC about four years ago. "They are like another staff member," said Bill Michaud, the hotel's interim general manager. "They show up. They're excited to be here. They do their work. They really supplement the team." The TARC team cleans 14 rooms every day, just as one of the staff 's regular housekeepers would. They change the bed linens, clean the bathrooms, vacuum; all of the regular housekeeping tasks. Michaud says their work is held to—and meets— the company’s standards. Among the benefits for the hotel, Michaud says, is having a team that functions as one worker, "they're an employee who never misses a day," because others can cover if one of them has a sick day. Plus, there's the intangible of helping the community. "It's the ability to partner with TARC and offer a service to them just as much as they're offering a service to us," Michaud said.

Enhancing the Workforce The team at Holiday Inn Express is among 26 TARC clients who work at job sites around the community. Hill's, Tailgater's Sports Pub and Grill, the 190th Air Refueling Wing and the Army National Guard also hire TARC teams. In addition, more than 100 other TARC clients work through TARC industries, doing various tasks for community businesses. Assignments range from folding mailers for Kansas Commercial Real Estate to threading strings into laundry bags for Ameripride. Because the TARC clients are doing real work for real businesses, they get a real paycheck. Smith says the amount may be small, but it's a huge plus for the clients. Many live independently and receive assistance solely for the basics of food, shelter and clothing. A paycheck allows them a few extras. "They get to go out and buy something for themselves,” Smith said. “If they didn’t have jobs, they wouldn't be able to do that." But none of it would be possible without businesses willing to make

The YWCA of Topeka found itself at a crossroads. The country was in recession, donations and grants harder to obtain, and the organization's eight programs were stretched thin as they tried to stay afloat. The YW's board of directors embarked on a strategic planning effort to right the ship, but one area stared back at them in bright red from the balance sheet— the fitness center. The YW fitness center that operated from the lower level of their building at SW 12th and Van Buren had been hemorrhaging money; as much as $100,000 per year for a decade. "Everybody loved the fitness center, but it needed to be run by someone who knew the business," CEO Joyce Martin said. "We had some really tough decisions. Do we want to have a fitness facility?" About this same time, GreatLife Golf and Fitness, owned by Rick and Linda Farrant, was adding fitness centers to their golf course operations, and had grown to more than a dozen locations. They heard the YW might be open to a change and started what Rick described as a "superficial dialogue." Five months and a lot of paperwork later, the YW and GreatLife announced that they were joining forces on January 1, 2012.

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the future of the partnership. Martin says the YW is glad it didn't have to abandon meeting the need for a fitness center downtown that could complement its mission. The Farrants are glad they could support the mission, foster a positive atmosphere and, in the big picture, turn a profit, too. "It just has a vibe about it," Rick Farrant said of the location. "People are happy to be here."

Kid Stuff & Capper Rick and Linda Farrant, GreatLife Golf and Fitness owners "They have enough compassion and understanding of community needs that I don't think a partnership with another for-profit entity would have worked," Martin said. "Not everyone would accept that, for the people who'd been here 30 years, this was their home."

Establishing a Business Relationship But make no mistake—this is a business. GreatLife and the YW formed a legal LLC. The Farrants, representing GreatLife, and two representatives for the YW make all the decisions affecting the LLC. "We must assure the business side of the YW stays separate from the nonprofit," Martin said. Rick Farrant said it was also important for GreatLife to operate as a true business partner with the YW. "If they said simply lease the space, we'd have said no,” Farrant said. “In the long run, for the relationship to flourish, we get paid to manage it and they get paid rent."

Making a Change The first order of business was the facility itself. Linda Farrant said, structurally, it was "awesome," but there were lots of maintenance issues. GreatLife updated equipment and made repairs to other areas. Membership levels were also restructured, which actually resulted in savings for most members. While all admit there were some growing pains as members adjusted to new class schedules, instructor arrangements and various procedural changes, a year later, they report very few members left and they're starting to see an upswing.

Maintaining Its Flavor "In normal fitness centers, you see people mainly 50 and younger,” Linda Farrant said. “Here, you see people of all ages but also a higher concentration of retired people. You'll ask, 'How old are you?' and they'll say 86, but look 60. That's amazing and inspiring."

Moving Forward Both sides are optimistic about


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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

On the surface, it appears like any other well-oiled operation. On one side of the room, Travis is building boxes, one hand deftly holding the ends while the other streams out a straight line of tape to hold it all together. At a table a few feet away, Tina and Andrew are counting stickers into stacks of 20. The stacks given to Frank at another table nearby who pairs them with a stack of activity booklets, puts them into one of Travis' boxes, and holds the ends for Rocky to tape shut. They slide the box across the table to Christy, who peels off a label and positions it nice and straight on the side of the box, making it ready to ship. In the next room, Jeremy takes old boxes and breaks them down to be recycled. The scene unfolds each day at the Easter Seals Capper Foundation Adult Day Services Business Support Center. The employees, despite evident disabilities, are doing real work for Kid Stuff Marketing, a Topekabased company with clients on every continent. Kid Stuff works with restaurants and other entities to develop and provide what are best described as kids' meal components. When the toys, activity books, stickers, cups, sacks and other various items arrive, someone needs to count, combine

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Frank and Rocky complete work for Kid Stuff Marketing while Cissy Johnson supervises and package those items for a client’s particular order. Mark Larson, Kid Stuff operations manager, calls it a great relationship. "We really don't need to have fulltime staff here to do this kind of work," Larson said. "It's convenient for us to have them do work on a just-in-time basis. Without a lot of notification, they're able to get these fulfillment projects for us done." "Plus," he adds, "They do a really good job."

newsletters or printing posters for groups like Kansas Bankers Surety, National Trailer Manufacturers, Genstler Eye Center, Washburn University's School of Nursing and the state's Kansas Works program. Stiffler says they've also attracted work from companies who have an unusual one-time need. For example, Hormel hired them to remove expired coupons from thousands of otherwise useable packages.

Completing Needed Services

The Capper clients work under direct supervision. Cissy Johnson oversees the mailing center, where the Kid Stuff work is done. She says she lets them try any aspect of a task they'd like so they can test their capabilities. "I don't try to label them or look at them as a person with a disability," she said. “It makes them feel good that they can work and hold a job of their own." The joy is obvious as workers eagerly seek out visitors to explain their task, with broad smiles on their faces. "I like working," Frank says as he places more activity booklets into a box. "I don't want to sit down too much."

Kathy Stiffler, Capper's vice president for Adult Day Services, says the work is perfectly suited to the varying levels of ability their clients have. "Who else is going to pull crayons out of a box and replace the two blue ones with a yellow and a green?" she said. "Our position in the middle helps make it all affordable for the company." The program, which came to Capper in January 2012 through a merger with Individual Support Systems, Inc., currently serves 55 adult clients. In addition to Kid Stuff, they also do work such as compiling informational packets, producing


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Building Abilities

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Kathy Stiffler and Cissy Johnson, Capper supervisors

Making a Win-Win With businesses supporting the program, the program can support the clients. Stiffler says it's a win for the business in getting an affordable service and a win for the community as a whole, since the clients receive paychecks which make them less reliant on government and other assistance programs. Plus, she says, there's the intangible value of selfworth the clients derive from making a contribution through their work and being able to interact with others. "Just because they have a disability doesn't mean they're not capable of working anywhere," Stiffler said. "They're in this work environment because they have issues that could make it difficult for them to be successful in another environment. This is an environment tolerant of what makes them who they are." Who they are to Kid Stuff— partners in what Larson describes as a "symbiotic relationship." "We're able to provide ongoing activity, work and revenue, and we benefit also," he said. "I think it's a great environment and a great situation. I think it’s great Topeka can support something like that."





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Mom-preneur by Karen Ridder

What does it take? Why do they do it? Hard work. Long days. Sleepless nights. The responsibility of success sitting squarely on your shoulders. That pretty much sums up what it takes to be a business owner; it is also a pretty good description of motherhood. So, why would someone want to put those two things together at the same time? It comes down to making choices. The women on the following pages understand the sacrifices that have to be made for success. They choose to be mom-preneurs because motherhood makes them count the costs differently. The cost of lost sleep and odd working hours seems minimal compared to the reward of being able to control their time and make their own way.


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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

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or Tara Dimick, being a mom-preneur is almost like having two sets of babies— the ones that she puts to bed at night and the ones she “puts to bed” at press time. Dimick is the owner of E2 Communications, a marketing and public relations company that publishes TK…Topeka’s Business Magazine as well as MVP: Shawnee County High School Sports Magazine. She is the mother of two school-age children, Hope (9) and Cordell (8) and is expecting a baby girl, Harmony. After becoming a mom, Dimick went through several incarnations in her work life before deciding to create E2 Communications. She did contract and freelance work, then took a full-time job that allowed her to have a flexible schedule. However, an entrepreneur at heart, Dimick had a desire and vision for something more. “I want to help other women or men have the same path that I got to have, either as freelancers or contractors,” Dimick says. “I want them to be able to use their best talents, not just what I told them to do that day. I also want them to be with their kids and have flexibility.” The biggest growing pain for Dimick came when she moved E2 Communication offices out of her house to a downtown location. That move, while seemingly the right choice to grow the business, threw off her life balance. Her willingness to work until 3 a.m. was still there, but instead of working at home where she could see her kids, she was now 20 minutes away and didn’t get to be with them at all.

tara dimick E2 Communications


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"I know I could grow my business more if I gave it everything I have, but that would mean giving up everything that matters—my family. It’s an easy choice.” That was a deal breaker. Dimick renovated her basement and moved the offices and employees back into her home. “Now if I have a 6 p.m. meeting, I still get to spend the time before that with my kids when they get off the bus,” Dimick explains. “That’s the time that I lost with them when I was at the office. I’m not willing to miss out on watching them grow up.” Dimick says being a mom and an entrepreneur are both part of who she is, but she finds herself torn between her two sets of babies. She often either feels like she’s not giving enough time to her children because she’s caught up in making sure the business is doing well, or she’s not achieving her full potential in business because she is spending time with her children. “I know I could grow my business more if I gave it everything I have,” Dimick says. “But that would mean giving up everything that matters—my family. It’s an easy choice.”

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Megan Jones Jones Advisory Group

"I think with being a mom, I can support and show my children how good it can be if you put faith in yourself and just go for it."


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TK...Topeka's Business Magazine


orking out of her home most decidedly did NOT work for Megan Jones, owner of Jones Advisory Group. “I wasn’t compatible for that kind of environment,” Jones says. “I was always wanting to do the laundry or the dishes or go to the grocery store.” Jones often found herself working weekends and evenings with her full-time job as a financial analyst. The hard work didn’t bother her, but with two small children, Avery (now 9) and Macey (now 7), she wanted more control over her time. “There was no flexibility. The life balance really wasn’t there,” Jones says. Jones’ husband, a consultant for financial planners, encouraged her to learn the business, which she did in the evenings while she was still working full time. They both began to envision a different picture for their lives— building better financial paths for clients while creating a brighter future for their family. In 2008, Jones took the entrepreneurial leap and started Jones Advisory Group. Of course, working for herself did not mean the weekend and evening work stopped. That first year Jones led more than 70 evening classes. However, becoming the boss gave her complete control over her business life going forward. She still works in the evenings, but now, works around the kids’ schedules. “If I need to do some planning, I can wait until they go to bed and then work for an hour and a half doing planning,” Jones says. “It doesn’t have to be done during regular business hours.” Jones consciously built a business that was familyfriendly for herself and her employees. “Most of us are moms,” Jones says. “That’s what’s great about it. If school is out, we close the shop. We’re very family-focused and we do know what the priorities are. Sick days and things like that are all just part of being a mom.” With more than 200 clients, two offices and regular TV and radio appearances, Jones says the business is “absolutely everything we envisioned and more.” Her husband, Chris, has recently joined Jones Advisory Group full time. Jones says she is proud of what she represents to her daughters. She hopes they see by her example that they can do anything they want. “I think with being a mom, I can support and show my children how good it can be if you put faith in yourself and just go for it,” Jones says.

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or 12 years after her first child was born, Shelley Jensen worked for someone else. She had a full-time job as a graphic designer, but over time the job became unfulfilling for this mother of five. After her youngest child was born, she decided to follow a path that would marry her love of art with an entrepreneurial spirit. Owning a photography business was “in her blood.” Several family members had their own businesses. Following their lead, using social media and relying on word-of-mouth have all helped her grow her business quickly. Jensen works out of her home— the basement has been transformed

into a studio and work area. The kids generally know not to go down there while mom is working, although 5-year-old Taygen is the most likely to wander into a work session. The other kids, Bryce (15), Jordan (14), Adison (14) and Jacob (9), say they like it because mom is around more, even though they know they have to respect boundaries around the business. Jensen says being her own boss gives her the ability to make her own schedule, which makes it easier to keep up with those five kids. “The advantage is definitely being home with my kids, and being there when they need me,” Jensen says. “I’m there when they go to school. I can be there when they get home from school. I can

schedule around their schedule.” Jensen admits she never liked working for someone else. She enjoys being her own boss and doing work that she loves. “Everything else seemed like a job to me and this doesn’t seem like a job. It’s my passion,” she explains. While Jensen likes the freedom that comes with being her own boss, she says that freedom comes with great responsibility. She is the bookkeeper, accountant and client manager all in one. “I wear all the hats,” Jensen says. “I’m relying on myself to make the money for my family, and I am my own boss. So, I take responsibility for what happens good or bad.”

Shelley Jensen Shelley Jensen Photography


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"Everything else seemed like a job to me and this doesn't seem like a job. It's my passion."

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Heather Beckman Herbalife Distributor and Lifestyle Nutrition


hen Heather Beckman goes out with her children Trevor (9), Brody (6) and Griffin 3 months, they are usually dressed alike. At least, they all have some version of the same logo


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on their clothes – even the baby. It is the Beckman family’s way of constantly working on Mom’s business. “It makes us always aware of how we are acting and speaking,” Beckman says, “because we are wearing our

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

brand, and we want to represent it in the best way possible.” After the birth of her second child in 2008, Beckman realized it wouldn’t pay to go back to her old job, so she caught the entrepreneurial spirit.

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"I remember staying awake at night thinking 'What the heck am I doing?'" “If I went back to my old job and put the kids in parttime daycare, I wouldn’t make any money,” Beckman says. “If I went back to work full time, I would clear only a couple of hundred dollars a month. That didn’t make it worth it.” While trying to decide what to do financially, she found herself also struggling with fatigue and low energy. As a nutritionist, she believed that the right diet supplements could improve her overall health. After doing some research, she decided to give Herbalife products a try. She liked the results so much she signed up as a distributor. In 2009, less than a year after she started making money with the product, this mom-preneur opened Lifestyle Nutrition as a club with a coffee-shop like atmosphere that could give her and others the opportunity to promote their Herbalife sales business. “It took some guts to do it,” Beckman admits. “When we started our nutrition club, I remember staying awake at night thinking ‘What the heck am I doing?’” She took the chance because a mentor advised her that passing up an opportunity does not mean the opportunity will go away. It just means someone else will take advantage of it. The successful club has helped Beckman build her down-line in the multi-level marketing company to more than 500 people. But success is accompanied by sacrifice. Beckman spent two years working full time at the club after it opened—time away from her kids. But for Beckman, the sacrifice was worth it. Now she is excited to about being able to pass along her success to others. “What my business is all about, is to help people develop action to make changes and develop their own course,” Beckman says.

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"I'm just a piece of the takes a neighbors and friends, and a gre

Kristina Dietrick Creative Business Solutions


Spring 2013

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a village. I have great eat husband."


ristina Dietrick also changed course after having a second child. Dietrick, who owns the human resources consulting business, Creative Business Solutions, with her husband, John, worked as a HR professional for many years. She had a successful career, but after the birth of her second child, the cons of working for someone else began to outweigh the pros. A lot of her salary went to child care. “I was basically paying someone else to raise my children,” Dietrick says. She had enough of it, and completely quit work to stay at home with her two girls, Lauren (now 12) and Mary (now 9). While she loved every minute of the stay-at-home mom life, when her youngest hit pre-kindergarten, she decided it was time to get back in the workforce. The challenge she saw was that she did not want to give up flexibility and accessibility to the kids. She and John decided the best thing to do was to run their own business. For the Dietricks, it made sense to buy an existing business. The right opportunity came in 2008 with Creative Business Solutions, but John was still working in another business at the time. So for Kristina, it was a 180 degree switch from stay-at-home mom to mom-preneur working overtime. “That’s called baptized by fire and it was,” Dietrick says. Dietrick says she feels lucky to have a good support system, not only in her co-business owner husband who helped her learn the complexities of running a business, but also in the community they’ve built around their family. “I’m just a piece of the puzzle,” Dietrick says. “The reason my kids are doing well is because it takes a village. I have great neighbors and friends, and a great husband. It’s not all about me. I feel very blessed.” As a business owner, Dietrick finds herself working far more than 40 hours each week. But she makes it a point to not work during family time. She often rises early to catch up on e-mails and plan before the rest of the house is awake. For the Dietricks, the most appealing thing about being business owners is getting to reap the rewards of their labor. If they succeed, it is because of hard work. If they fail, it is because they have not been doing what they needed to do. They control their own company and their family’s future. At the end of the day, we are employed, and the reason is because we are in control.”

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Spring 2013


"Make sure that you yourself are happy and balanced so that you don't get so caught up in work that you lose something else."

gina nellis The UPS Store


Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine


ontrol is something that allows Gina Nellis to be a successful mom-preneur, but it is also something she has had to learn to keep in balance. Nellis, who owns the UPS Stores on Wanamaker and Gage, tries to be the complete package. She sees herself as both a full-time career woman and a full-time stay-at-home mom to her children, Ashleigh (22), Carter (11) and Kendall (7). Nellis did not start out to be a mom-preneur. She was working full time for someone else, and began doing the books for her husband’s business in the evening at home. It did not take long before she got hooked. “The more involved I got, it seemed like a better fit,” Nellis explains. She quit her full-time job and worked with her husband for several years. Then, in 2006 she bought the Gage store, and her husband got out of running the businesses. As a mom, the roughest years were when her youngest children weren’t in school and she didn’t have set daycare. “It was crazy. Sometimes they [the kids] came to work. Sometimes, I had people who would come to the house to watch them. My mom helped out a lot, a lot, a lot,” Nellis says. While a manager runs the day-to-day operations of the store, Nellis handles the marketing, books, payroll and taxes. Work often spills over into personal life. That has included returning early from vacation when computers went down

at the store and signing payroll checks while she was in the hospital having a baby. Because two of her children were born in January, that also meant being very pregnant during two holiday seasons—the busiest time of the year for the business. But Nellis never considered quitting. “I don’t want to ‘not work’, because I enjoy it, but I also don’t want to send my kids to daycare if I don’t have to, and I want to be at their school things,” Nellis says. For Nellis, the best part of being a mom-preneur is the flexibility, making her own scheduling and getting to work around her kids’ needs. Laundry and marketing are mixed in with checking e-mail and dropping the kids off at school. “I’m always doing something,” Nellis says. “I don’t watch TV. I don’t sit. I get up early. I check my email. I plan my day.” The disadvantage to being the boss is that all problems fall on her back. “When there is a crisis at the store, there is no one I can call to fix it. I’m it,” Nellis says. Her advice to other mom-preneurs is to make sure you have a good staff working for you, people who share your vision, people who you can trust. Also make room for your own health and physical fitness. “Make sure that you yourself are happy and balanced so that you don’t get so caught up in work that you lose something else,” Nellis explains.

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kathleen cain

Topeka Pediatrics

"...the biggest challenge is being able to balance things." 50

Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine


or Kathleen Cain, disconnecting helps her stay connected to her family. That means family dinner has a “no phone rule” and the next vacation is always on the calendar. The Topeka pediatrician owns two businesses and has enough professional volunteer commitments to nearly count as a third job. She also has four children, Brenna (17), Maggie (12), Collin (12) and Liam (10). “I guess the biggest challenge is being able to balance things,” Cain says. Cain owns Topeka Pediatrics, a business she started in 2001. It was born out of a desire to help other pediatricians provide a more personal delivery of health care. She started a vaccine purchasing group called National Discount Vaccine Alliance as an extension of that goal. Vaccines are the most expensive part of the business side of pediatrics. The purchasing group allows doctors to get these important preventive health tools at a cost that can keep them in practice. She also has worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to get FDA approval for bar coding on vaccines to prevent redundancy. This balancing act has molded and changed as her kids have grown. When the kids were younger, she would leave work in the car when she arrived home, retrieving it after bedtime to continue working. “It got a little more complicated when they got older, with practices and meetings and lessons,” Cain says. “I might drive to a soccer practice and work on a lecture while I was there.” Cain admits the best part of owning her own business is being able to make the rules. She can provide the kind of service to her patients she feels is important and also block off time in her schedule to run cupcakes to school. Teaching her kids about balancing work and play has been another important part of keeping the Cain home running smoothly. The kids all take on responsibilities and have chores to do. “Everyone helps with cooking,” Cain says. “My girls do their own laundry. We have work time where we get all that work done, and everyone knows if they don’t get the work done they aren’t really participating in the team.” She also always makes sure to have a vacation on the calendar. That gives them all something to look forward to together. Cain hopes her children can learn from watching her work. For her girls, to understand that they can be moms and also be professional women. For her boys, to know that in order to run a household you have to be a partner and be part of the team.

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


advertising intervention:

Marketing to Women “Tim, why don’t you write about marketing to women?” When TK asked me to write about this topic, I thought maybe I was being set up! My wife looked over my shoulder the whole time I was writing, just to see what I was going to say. In all seriousness, even back in the early 90s, my marketing professors emphasized that if you want to sell a product, you need to appeal to the female in the household. Yet according to, 91 percent of women say advertisers don’t understand them. I decided to do my own research. I talked to clients and observed how women reacted while taking in media (listening to the radio, watching TV, reading magazines and browsing websites). I even spent two days at the Bridal Fair studying how merchants communicated with brides. My observations found that women easily see through commercials that are “set up” or “scripted” and react better when the people are “real.” They also want advertisers to talk TO them, not AT them. And surprise, surprise they hate it when businesses yell at them in commercials. At the bridal fair, I watched vendors achieve success by asking questions and listening to what the brides wanted. I also saw vendors who lost bookings because they tried to tell the brides what they needed. Women want to have input on buying decisions, but they want their partner involved as well. I learned

very quickly that having an area for men to escape to does not benefit the store or the event. He better be right there whether he is needed or not! These statistics from MediaPost show why it is so important to reach the female audience.

#1 EARNING POWER • The average woman is expected to earn more than the average male by 2028. • 51% of U.S. private wealth is controlled by women. • Women control more than 60% of personal wealth in the U.S.

#2 SPENDING POWER • Women account for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the U.S. • Over the next decade, women will control 2/3 of consumer wealth. • Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases. • Women make 80% of healthcare decisions and 68% of new car purchase decisions. Marketing to women can be boiled down into something my Dad taught me years ago. “You better not just pretend like you are listening to her—you better really pay attention to what she is saying.” That was good advice he gave me when I was a new groom—and it’s good advice to businesses who want to appeal to women.

Tim Kolling is a Marketing Consultant for WIBW 94.5 FM and 580 AM. He has worked in the advertising industry for 17 years.


Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

style advisor:

first impressions Before you’ve even had a chance to give a firm handshake, offer a business card or present your 30-second pitch, new colleagues often make an assessment of you based solely on your appearance. As a walking brand ambassador for yourself, what you wear speaks volumes about your work habits and personality. Are you confident? Meticulous? Professional? Do you stand above your peers? A thoughtful, carefully selected wardrobe is not only cost-effective and time saving, it sells who you are to clients, co-workers and those you want to impress.

Top 5 Wardrobe Essentials for Professionals 1. A well-fitted suit 2. Crisp shirts (or blouses) in solid colors and/or minimal patterns 3. Pants and skirts, pressed and hemmed correctly 4. A proper trench and overcoat 5. Shoes, always polished, never scuffed!

Top Reason for Not Getting Promoted: Wrinkled and Too Casual Clothing (Source: Career Builder)

Kimberly Marney,a University of Kansas graduate, is a Stacy London-trained style for hire personal stylist and market manager with more than nine years of experience. @SFH_KSKimberly

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[stepping up to leadership]

Rich Drinon, M.A. Drinon & Associates, President

Over the past few years, record numbers of Americans have received pink slips from employers that they have come to depend on for making a living and paying the bills. This article refers to those growing ranks of the disenfranchised as “Pink Slippers.” Some futurists, when writing about the emerging job market, suggest that more “Pink Slippers” will be self-employed in the future as contractors who provide products and services back to the same businesses that—perhaps—once employed them. Whether you are a “Pink Slipper,” or simply someone who wants to launch your own small business, it is vital for you to identify your marketable skills, discover business opportunities through the use of intuition, and learn how to market your products, services or expertise to buyers.

Identifying Marketable Skills, Talent & Abilities You most likely have some “natural” gifts, talents and abilities that became apparent when you were a child. It’s important to consider all natural talents you may have, whether developed or not. If they are undeveloped, but waiting just below the surface for a green light, it may be time to give them the go ahead signal. Some come into their own at an early


Spring 2013

Job Loss Career Gain

Turning Your into a

(Excerpted from “Revenge of the Pink Slippers” by Rich Drinon, M.A.)

age, some in middle age and some at an older age. Being able to recognize your marketable skills, talents and abilities is followed by your efforts to put that expertise into a form that will appeal to others who will make decisions about what you plan to offer the marketplace. Knowing how you plan to make a living using your skills, talents and abilities gives you a “package” to market to others.

Using Intuition to Identify Opportunity

Intuition is a way of getting information from beyond your five senses. Some refer to it as a sixth sense—and we all have it. You are fully equipped to receive responses to your prayers, answers to your questions and solutions to your problems. 1. Articulate what you want and formulate specific questions pertaining to those desires to prime the intuitive pump. 2. Get comfortable, achieve mental quietness and pray, meditate or contemplate to receive intuitive messages. 3. Be ready to receive the message. Having an inner-vision, hearing the voice of your inner-guide or getting a gut feeling about what comes next is a vital step on your inspired career path.

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Selling, Marketing & Promoting Your Products, Services or Expertise Being able to persuade others to purchase your products, services or expertise is essential in order to survive and succeed in the marketplace. To find customers, you must know where to look, and with whom to speak. You need to understand how to contact prospective buyers and how to appeal to their purchasing needs and desires. What can you DO with your knowledge or knowhow? More importantly, what is it you can do for a potential customer? When thinking about how to market your skills, always think in terms of what that means to the end user. Learn to talk in terms of specific benefits to the person who is “buying” your product or service. What value are you bringing to the potential client or employer? For more on this topic, check out Rich Drinon’s new book, “Revenge of the Pink S l i p p e r s ,” available online at Amazon. com.


TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


e h ft

r p e tr

o t r a e



Spring 2013

by Rick LeJuerrne

Accidental Entrepreneurs Von Kopfman and Terry McCart: The Blue Dot Story

In 1983, Harvard Business School Professor Howard Stevenson famously defined entrepreneurship as the “pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” An excellent definition that rings true for anyone who has ever created something out of nothing, but where is the heart? I love entrepreneurs not for the soothsaying, the marshaling, or the ability to will the way, but for the hard work it takes, the sacrifice. It is a selfless act to start a business the right way. It is not easy. It takes dedication. Perseverance. What you will find if you spend any time with Von Kopfman and Terry McCart, owners of Blue Dot of Kansas, is the kind of heart it takes. At Blue Dot you will find a partnership forged by a mutual respect for each other, the deep-down kind that is only created by knowing what had to be done and then going out and doing it. You will find two accidental entrepreneurs who didn’t plan it this way, but when they had to, rose up and saved their company. It is a great, unknown story about one of Topeka’s best businesses, one worth hearing.


r u e en

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OPPORTUNITY In 2003, Von had been with Blue Dot for only one year as a salesman when the company president asked him to join in a buyout of the company. Von felt it was a good opportunity, his chance to work hard and retire at 55 with a “piece of the pie.” The company had great long-term employees, loyal customers and seemed poised for growth. Von had one condition, however. He insisted that Terry, who he knew to be technical expertise behind the company’s success, be included in the new ownership group. A life-long Topekan, Terry had worked at the company since 1986 as a technician and had developed a passion for his craft, the ability to engineer systems and fit sheet metal in ways that was both functional and beautiful. He never aspired to start his own business, but when offered, saw a good investment opportunity. Both men invested everything they had for a 3 percent stake each in the company, with the understanding that their ownership interest would increase over a five-year period.

Terry McCart and Von Kopfman, owners of Blue Dot

It was a risk. Both of them had young families; they would have to work even harder to make it happen. Von and Terry buckled down, each focusing on their role in growing the company.

A REAL MESS By early 2005 there were signs that things were amiss. Before the buyout, cash flow had never been an issue. Now the company was always short on cash. The company president, who was difficult to deal with on his best days, started making financial decisions that looked increasingly strange. It didn’t make sense to Von and Terry who were working harder than ever. “Von and I were selling 90 percent of the revenue,” Terry said. “I was quoting the work and knew our margins; we couldn’t understand how we were not making money.” The financial situation worsened and the company, continually out of money, had to lay off key middle management and sales people. Then service technicians began to leave. “We lost some really good people, some who had been with the company from the beginning,” Von noted. By the end of 2006, the situation had become a pressure cooker. Von and Terry had purposely been kept in the dark, but the rumors were impossible to ignore. Vendors were not getting paid. Once-loyal customers were turning elsewhere for work. Exasperated with the situation, Terry had had enough. He wrote a note and left it on his desk – he was leaving Blue Dot.

Von knew if Terry left, Blue Dot was finished. He drove to Terry’s house and begged him to help him figure out a way out of the mess. It was a moment of clarity. Both knew that they owed it to the remaining employees and customers not to walk away. “That was the turning point, we became very resolved to do something about the situation,” Terry recalled. As minority shareholders, Von and Terry had no say in the management of the company, but they now knew what was going on. As more key technicians quit and additional information of malfeasance came to light, the time had come to confront the president. There was not going to be a company left if he remained in control. Once confronted, having bankrupted the company, the president did something Von and Terry wouldn’t do. He walked away, relinquishing his shares in the company. It was easier to leave; the company was $500,000 in debt and on its last legs. No vendor would extend credit. Blue Dot was done.

SAVING A BUSINESS Even today, discussing it openly is hard for Von and Terry. At the time, real tears were shed. It wasn’t the investment or the loss of a job - it was the employees. Von summed it up, “We have a really good group of people here. We all like each other, care about each other. Most of our people have been with us for a long time, you get vested in families, you watch their kids grow up. It is more than a

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


business, it is family.” Von and Terry closed ranks and stuck together. They personally borrowed the $500,000 owed to vendors, effectively buying Blue Dot a second time—this time a failing business with no credit and bad will. They repaid every, personally delivering many of the checks. “We guaranteed regular payments and since 2007 have never missed a payment,” Terry said. “It has not been easy, there have been many times that we personally did not get paid.”

STRONG PARTNERSHIP It took a full year to recover, but starting in 2008 Blue Dot turned the corner and today, despite the on-going effects of the recession, is a healthy company. Through Terry McCart and Von Kopfman it all Von and Terry have remained good friends and business partners. drove the streets in this area and counted a staggering 240 They count only two real arguments all these years. empty commercial spaces. Their map is littered with little “Most people really aren’t aware of the tough times that we black dots for each empty space. have been through together to keep this place going,” Von “A lot of the small businesses that have vanished in said. “That is why we get along as well as we do. We both this area were Blue Dot customers,” Von laments. “A good know the other puts the company’s interest first.” portion of our commercial business relies on the locally Terry agreed. “There is complete 100 percent trust in owned small business. We are a service business, if there is the other.” nothing to service, we are out of business.” Most business partnerships placed under this strain Von thinks we change this trend if we focus on Topeka’s would have failed. Ask Von and Terry their secret and they core with incentives for business owners to repurpose are quick to reply. Every day Von and Terry spend at least 20 buildings in this area. “The longer these buildings sit minutes talking about the business. They have lunch two to empty, the worse they become. We keep annexing land and three times a week. Open communication is critical. They providing incentives to outside companies to come in. Why? have a mutual respect for each other; both realize that each In the last six months, Topeka has lost 1,162 jobs. We need brings different skills that are important to Blue Dot’s longto help our locally grown companies stay and encourage term success. They value each other’s opinion and agree development in our core.” that it is okay to disagree. Help Topeka solve a problem that big? I wouldn’t bet against Von Kopfman or Terry McCart, two accidental entrepreneurs who know a thing or two about what it takes. Today Von and Terry are focused on continually making The hard work, sacrifice, perseverance… One thing you can Blue Dot better. Their core services, heating and air and count on, they won’t walk away. plumbing, are always needed, but the industry is extremely TK competitive. The retail price of a furnace is essentially the same it was 10 years ago, but costs have gone up. Their biggest concern is not inside their company, but outside in the community it calls home. They show me a map of the area bounded by Kansas Ave., 6th Street, Fairlawn Ave., and 29th Street. Recently, Von and Terry



Spring 2013

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Life of a

building 434 Topeka Boulevard


Terry Beck’s relationship with the house began, as do many relationships, with a Ford. In 2000, Terry had taken his car into the Laird Noller dealership for repairs and found fellow attorney, Ralph Skoog, in the same situation. They stood around and passed the


Spring 2013

time while their Fords were being repaired. Skoog confided to Terry that he planned to retire and sell the house his firm had used for an office since 1975. Three days later, that building belonged to Terry. “No one else even had a chance,”

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

said Terry with a grin. Terry had been searching for a building to house his law office. He had already noticed the three-story, red-brick house at 434 Topeka Blvd. and admitted that he began coveting the office long before he learned Skoog was ready to leave it.

The ornate house had been a Topeka Landmark for decades before Skoog and his law partner saw its potential as office space. An advocate of history and pastpresident of the Shawnee County Historical Society, Skoog’s role in saving this historic home is entirely appropriate. Likewise, passing the key to Terry, another advocate for preserving history, was fitting. As Terry showed visitors through the house, he kept pointing out the ornate woodwork again and again. His pride likely mirrored that of Charles W. Horn, the man who built the house in 1905 and owned the E. Horn Company, “manufacturers of fine interior and exterior finishings for buildings.”

portion of his losses and he came back stronger than ever.

Building a Landmark The rebuilt company manufactured sashes, doors, interior and exterior finishings, moldings, columns, and plate and window glass. The New England building, the Crosby store building, the Palace Clothing Store, the National Hotel and many prominent Topeka homes feature the handiwork of Horn’s company. Most notable however, is the home he built for himself at 434 Topeka Boulevard.

trim and took great pride in obtaining the best materials for the home. Each stairway landing post is topped by a carved urn design and has a carved wreath design on the side.” Beveled glass was prominent throughout the house, on the windows and in French doors and accents. A wide porch wrapped around a corner of the house, large enough for folks to have gathered with guests decades ago to watch new Model T Fords driving past on Topeka Boulevard. Eventually, Horn became something of a financier and a real

Terry Beck

Weathering Adversity Horn was a first-generation American, born to German immigrant parents in 1849. Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War would have been big news. In those post-Civil War years, America looked to the West, and Horn joined the wave, moving to Wamego, Ksnsas in 1885. According to biographers, he had a cattle ranch in Pottawatomie County for five years until he opened a planing mill in Topeka. A fire destroyed the business only two years later, and with no insurance, the loss was devastating. Horn took a job to make ends meet until his mother loaned him enough money to pay off his “most pressing obligations.” His solid reputation allowed him to get another business loan. He purchased a workshop for a $1,000 and was back in business. Disaster struck again when fire destroyed most of his shop in 1902, only 10 years after the first fire. This time, insurance covered at least a

Horn built the home in two stages between 1905 and 1910. A 1975 Topeka Capital-Journal article stated: “Horn got his lumber buddies in many parts of the nation to help him to find various kinds of fine woods for the front stairway, doors, floors and

estate investor, and served as a city councilman. He and his wife moved to California in his later years, but upon his death his remains were brought back to Topeka Cemetery for burial. His biographers often characterized Horn as a self-made man, noting his

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


beginnings on the farm and how he had become a well-respected and successful businessman. It was often repeated that he attained his success “unaided.” Except for that loan from his mother, that would appear to be true. Years later, the home would belong to yet another self-made man.

Changing Hands William J. Bryden, an insurance entrepreneur, purchased the home in 1929. When Bryden was 12 years old, he worked in the coal mines near Scranton, Kansas, to help support his family. His parents had come to Kansas from West Virginia. The beginning of the young man’s mining career also meant an end to his education. However, Bryden would become one of the most successful insurance executives in the Midwest. Unbeknownst to him, the Osage County Republican Party placed Bryden’s name on the ticket for clerk of the district court in 1904. He subsequently served two terms in the state legislature. This led to an appointment in the state insurance department and his service as the “state actuary,” a position he resigned in 1921 to become general manager of the Victory Life Insurance Company. As its success grew, so did Bryden’s pocket book. When the Horn home came on the market in 1929, Bryden purchased it, and the home remained in the family for more than 45 years. The address was popularly


Spring 2013

referred to as the Bryden Home by Topekans for decades, even after its conversion to an office.

Preserving the Past While the building may be considered magnificent, many unglamorous duties abound when maintaining an older home— roofs, furnaces, old plumbing, air conditioning. Terry is matter of fact about those expenses. He noted that the knob-and-tube wiring is still in place because replacing it would be astronomical; it is also functioning so he has no pressing need to update it. Terry is preparing to work on the outside of the building—tuck pointing bricks and giving an overall facelift to the porch and carport. His office occupies the back room which offers great privacy and has French doors opening to a conference room. Attorney Mike Francis offices in the front parlor and the law library is upstairs. A servant’s quarters above the garage has been renovated and is rented as an apartment. Many of the illustrations and artifacts around the office pay homage to the legal heritage the house has come to possess, including photos of members of the Topeka Bar from more than a hundred years ago. A student of history, Terry obviously relishes his role in preserving a piece of Topeka’s past. “Practicing here has been a joy,” he said. “The place suits me and the clients seem to like it, too."

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All because of that fortuitous meeting more than a decade ago when Terry and Ralph were having their Fords serviced.

Deb Bisel

Deb Bisel is the author of The Civil War in Kansas: Ten Years of Turmoil published by the History Press.

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Spring 2013


[from the professor]

Fiscal Cliff Blues


The bigger problem is being ignored.


In addition to eggnog and Auld Lang Syne, our holiday season brought forth a media frenzy ominously termed the “fiscal cliff.” The magic date of December 31 was enshrined into law 18 months ago in another one of those kick-the-can-down-the-roadlegislative deals. Unless Congress and the President agreed to some terms regarding tax increases and budget cuts to reduce the federal budget deficit, all tax rates would automatically increase back to Clinton-era levels. There would also be across-the-board spending cuts (called sequestration) for most of the non-entitlement programs, including defense.

Professor, what was the “fiscal cliff” agreement that became law in January?

David L. Sollars

Dean & Economics Professor Washburn University School of Business


Spring 2013

The simple answer is “tax increases on the ‘rich,’ no spending cuts.” • The top marginal income tax rate on married couples earning more than $450,000 (individuals earning more than $400,000) increased from 35 to 39.6 percent; everyone else’s federal income tax rates remained the same. • Tax rates on interest and dividends increased from 15 to 20 percent for these same high earners; • Phaseout of many tax deductions

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begins for married couples earning $300,000 (individuals earning more than $250,000); • The estate tax rate increases from 35 to 40 percent for estates valued at $5 million plus (and will now be indexed to inflation); • The Alternative Minimum Tax was “permanently” fixed (to adjust income levels for inflation). Additionally, a whole host of legislative barnacles rewarding good lobbying rather than policy-making were attached to the legislation: continuance of the dairy price support program, the Medicare doctor reimbursement fix, wind energy tax credits, help for some specific industries in the form of tax credits, extension of unemployment benefits, etc.

Professor, I’m just scraping by, but I noticed my 2013 paychecks are less than last year? I thought the tax increases were only for the rich? Not talked about by the politicians (and very little by the media) was the end of the partial Social Security tax holiday. As you noticed with your first 2013 paychecks, the Social Security tax rate that you pay went back to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent. For the average

same for consumer spending. The bigger hit will come from the increased payroll tax. That typical family without that extra $1,000 is going to spend less on consumer items. Some estimates suggest that the hit to the GDP growth rate from the increase in the Social Security tax alone will be one-half of a percent, not a small amount when the economy was only expected to grow at a sluggish two percent this year.

Ok, Professor, isn’t this great news, Congress and President Obama are finally doing something about the deficit and the national debt!

family that is a $1,000 tax increase per year. Also, wealthier folks ($250,000 plus) face yet another income tax increase as the Medicare payroll tax will rise from 2.9 to 3.8 percent and now applies to both wages and investment income as a result of the Obamacare legislation.

So, what are the macroeconomic implications of this agreement? In total, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deal will result in deficit reductions of $60 billion per year over the next 10 years. The macroeconomic implications of these changes are slightly negative as the tax increases on investments will likely slow investment spending and the higher income taxes will do the

What was accomplished was small potatoes. There is a real fiscal cliff out there, and no, we won’t tumble off of it at the stroke of midnight someday while drinking eggnog. We have already stepped off of the cliff, and will slowly sink like we are mired in quicksand. We face trillions of dollars of government debt and future liabilities. Let’s use nice round numbers. As of today, the national debt is $16,500,000,000,000 (Yes, that is a lot of zeros!). There are about 330 million Americans, so simple division tells us that our national debt is $50,000 per person. Have a family of four? Your family’s share is $200,000! Even under this fiscal cliff agreement, the amount added to the national debt is expected to increase by another $4 trillion over the next decade, adding another $48,000 of debt for that family. We are talking about new debt of $13 per day per family for 10 years. The federal deficit will still be a trillion dollars this coming year. Rather than shrink, our national debt mountain continues to grow.

As the chart illustrates, the gap between federal tax receipts and federal expenditures is on a long-term trajectory to give us more deficits and accumulated debt, not less. The prime driver for the increases in federal expenditures is not national defense (which is going to decline to pre-Carter levels as a percentage of GDP), and most of the federal government’s socalled discretionary spending. These expenditures are also scheduled to decline as a share of national income. Nope, the real cost drivers are the increases in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare expenditures that will occur as more and more of the baby boom generation hits the eligibility age. Social Security is the single largest redistributor of wealth in the US. Resources in the form of payroll taxes are transferred by those who are working today to those who have retired (or qualify for other program benefits) in the form of a monthly payment. Even today, social security taxes do not cover the benefits paid to recipients. Political lore has it that there is a “trustfund” or as Al Gore, put it, a lock box where the payroll taxes of the past are kept to be paid out in the future. Unfortunately, the trust-fund is much like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Duh. Under this bizarre thinking, you can build wealth by just writing yourself a bunch of IOUs and sticking them in your desk drawer. Even a minor reform, such as using a more accurate inflation adjustment measure, was quickly eliminated from consideration. While we can blame our elected officials for not having enough backbone to make tough decisions, we also have to look in the mirror. Are you willing to have a smaller annual COLA, pay higher taxes, or push back retirement age to 69

continued on pg. 68 TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


or 72, even for those currently younger than 50? All of these changes help bring costs back in line with revenues. Any takers? Are you willing to vote for a candidate who backs such measures? So, Grandma Sollars won’t like it, but will some Social Security policy changes solve our debt problem? It’s a start. However, the Social Security problem pales beside the coming fiscal bomb we call Medicare, and, to a lessor degree, Medicaid. Despite all of the ballyhoo about Obamacare, the reality is that as our population ages we will seek more and more health care and the government will spend more money for it. Spending money for better health and longer, healthier lives is something we should all want to do! The problem is that benefit promises to seniors far exceeded the ability to pay for them.

Hang on Professor, didn’t I pay that Medicare tax all of my life? Yes you did (since 1967). The problem is that Medicare expenditures made on your behalf will exceed your tax contribution by two or three times, even after all of your copays, coinsurances, and donut holes. Politicians


Spring 2013

love to promise benefits, but very often are less enthusiastic about paying for them in full. Willie Sutton famously said he robbed banks because that was where the money is. For the federal budget, Social Security and Medicare is where the growth in spending is. Without some real entitlement reform, the national debt will continue to grow as the difference between expenditures and revenues continues to widen. Under most current projections, our debt to GDP ratio increases to the point where the fiscal solvency of the US government becomes suspect. Historically, at the breaking point, governments either default on their debt, or attempt to monetize the debt (print money to pay the debt, resulting in hyper-inflation). Both are terrible outcomes. Savings and wealth are destroyed, and standards of living decline precipitously.

Well, if the recent fiscal cliff drama didn’t result in any long term solutions, what will? The January 1 fiscal cliff deal only moved the across-the-board sequestration cuts back a few months, so

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be prepared for yet another drama in March. In fact, Democratic leaders have announced they are going to seek more tax revenue; Republicans will say no. Republicans have proposed various entitlement reforms, but they aren’t going to stick their neck out only to have it chopped off by angry voters in 2014. What is often good economics is bad politics, and vice-versa. Heard about the platinum trillion dollar coin? We are in true bizzaro world when it comes to serious solutions emanating from our leaders in Washington. Call it Fiscal Cliff II, and we all know that the sequel is usually not as good as the original.

Okay economics professor, you have lived up to your “dismal scientist” reputation. Are there any other possible solutions? Yes. Stronger economic growth spins off more tax revenues and reduces some social safety net spending (see the 1980s, 1990s). Both reduce the deficit. How can we help our economy grow more quickly? That is topic for another day.


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Spring 2013


[extra, extra!] 100

BT & Co. celebrates its 100-year anniversary by giving back to Topeka through fundraising and donation drives in 2013.



The Topeka Area Association of Realtors awarded five individuals for their contributions to the Topeka real estate industry in 2102: Sam Carkhuff: 2012 Realtor of the Year Vivian Kane: 2012 Salesperson of the Year Bryon Schlosser: 2012 Outstanding Member Kellerman Real Estate: 2012 Outstanding Company William Haag: 2012 Distinguished Service Award Educational Credit Union now serves as a location to purchase Topeka Rescue Mission Executive Director Barry Feaker's book, "In Darkness, A Light Still Shines."

Washburn University wins gold award for website design The Council for Advancement and Support of Education awarded Washburn University’s website, washburn. edu, a Gold Award in Integrated Advancement Programs – Complete Institution Websites. Washburn’s new site was developed by BarkleyREI and jones huyett Partners.


Spring 2013

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Members of the 2013 Leadership Greater Topeka class are: Ashley Bahm, President, Bahm Demolition, Inc. Philip Blume, Major, Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office T.J. Brown, President, Board, Oakland NIA, Oakland NIA & Community Coalitions Trey Burton, Assistant Deputy Chief, U.S. Probation Office Joseph Caldwell, Vice President, Division Director, Bartlett & West, Inc. Bree Dowd, Student, Class of 2013, Seaman High School Erik Epperson, KC135 Instructor Pilot/Unit Deployment Manager, Kansas Air National Guard Chris Fisher, II, Anchor/Reporter, WIBW TV Greg Gathers, Owner/Operator, Custom Tree Care, Inc. Jodi Gee, Accountant, Department of Veteran Affairs Health Resource Center Jeremy Goodwin, Chief Meteorologist, WIBW Channels Larry Graves, Director, Tecumseh Energy Center, Westar Energy Michael Haugen, Major, Topeka Police Department Ryan Hellmer, Associate, Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds & Palmer, LLP Brianna Holmes, Communications Coordinator/Executive Assistant, Heartland Visioning Anje Kearney, Owner/Operator, Anje’s Lawn Service Richard Kelly, Student, Washburn University G.R. Laughlin, Jr., Homeless & MIS Administrator, Community Resources Council Amy McCarter, Member Services Coordinator, KaMMCO Scott Mickelsen, Manager, Pet Nutrition Resources, Hill’s Pet Nutrition Shalyn Murphy, Communications & Marketing Director, Visit Topeka, Inc. Gina Newsham, Marketing & Membership Coordinator, Topeka Country Club Carrie Ogonowski, Executive Director, Sunflower Soccer Association Tony Pham, Student, Class of 2013, Highland Park High School Barb Quaney, PT, PhD, Program Director & Assistant Professor, Washburn University Dennis Rose, Vice President, Delivery Systems, Capitol Federal Savings Ann Shelton, Manager – Tax, ASO & Accounts Payable, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Jeanne Slusher, Second Vice President and Director of Audit, Security Benefit Corporation Grant Sourk, Realtor, Kirk & Cobb Realtors Keith Tatum, President, Community Advocates for Social Enrichment (C.A.S.E. Inc.) Karily Taylor, Executive Director/CEO, Marian Clinic Yolanda Taylor, Founder/President, Heavenly Visions Foundation Constance Wagers, Director of Medical Imaging Services, Stormont-Vail HealthCare Janel Warmington, Relationship Manager, US Bank Sheryl Weller, Chief Financial Officer, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Adriene Williams, Senior Financial Systems Analyst, Collective Brands, Inc. Jenifer Woodman, Certified Staffing Professional, Key Staffing

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Spring 2013


[extra, extra!] Local Business Owner Creates Book and CD to Help Those of Lost Loved One Heal Letters For Healing: The Theraputic Power of Writing to a Lost Loved One by Topekan Von Kopfman, with forward by Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis is an intimate collection of letters from those left behind to lost loved ones with a cd of songs based upon the letters. The book is now available for preorder at

Stormont-Vail HealthCare Receives Award for Heart Attack Response Stormont-Vail Regional HealthCare has received the American College of Cardiology Foundation’s NCDR ACTION Registry – Get With The Guidelines Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2012. This achievement is completed by fewer than 164 hospitals nationwide. The award recognizes Stormont-Vail for its commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients.

Chamber Presents Annual Awards Parrish Hotel Corporation was named the Chamber Member Firm for 2012. Maynard Oliverius, retired from Stormont Vail HealthCare and now a community volunteer, was named Member of the Year.

Greenwave Electric earns Angie’s List Award Greenwave Electric has earned the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award for its excellent customer ratings.

Couture for Cancer Features Fashion with Compassion Couture for Cancer, a joint effort between the American Cancer Society, local retailers and fashion designers, will present a live runway show and auction on Saturday, April 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Warehouse, 100 S. Kansas Ave., to raise money for cancer research For more information, visit

Le Flambeau Re-emerges as Premiere Dining Experience Ramada’s Le Flambeau, an upscale dining experience, made its debut on Valentine’s Day and will open its doors once a month for a four-course extravaganza. Executive Chef Mark Stephens will design a unique menu each month that offers diners a culinary adventure. The next dining event is set for Friday, March 22. For reservations, contact Stephanie at 785215-8251.

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Spring 2013

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Where YOU Belong!

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Spring 2013


[scene about town] Golden ADDYS Ramada Convention Center February 9, 2013

[Tabitha and Brandon Todd, Kevin and Dena Johnston]

[Michael, Dan and Megan Lindquist]

[Iain Trimble, Jeff Carson, Doug Stremel, Greg Ready, Keith Walberg and Liz Brownback]

[Rachel Selden and Bita Givechi]

[Dan Holmgren, Shanna Goodman, Colin MacMillan, Jaclyn Collins, Steven "Cleveland" Vondruska and Brian John] 72

Spring 2013

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[Martha and Gary Piland]

[Ali and John Holcomb]

no Job too Big or too sMall

take a look at our website and find us on facebook!

landscape design / installation Retaining Walls laWn and Bed Maintenance iRRigation systeMs paveR/stone Walks patios and dRives seed and sod Fire Pits • Lighting OutdOOr Kitchens WateR FeatuRes pool design

TopekaLandscape_TM12wi.indd 1

10/29/12 7:50 AM

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Spring 2013



Spring 2013

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[scene about town] Waste Management's Recycling Material Recovery Facility Dedication November 16, 2012







[Aaron Dunkel, Kansas Department of Health & Environment; Steve Kelly, Kansas Department of Commerce; and Kansas State Representative Ted Ensley ]

Clayton Financial Services, Inc. v

Fidelity State Bank & Trust Co. v


Hansen Design / Architects v

Harvesters-The Food Network v

Heritage Mental Health Clinic v

[Bruce Sykes and Steve Rutschmann, Hills Pet Nutrition; Jonathan Wimer and David Peralta, Washburn Institute of Technology]

[Scott Cornell and Ron Beng, Waste Management]

Housing & Credit Counseling, Inc. v

jones huyett Partners v

Kansas Association of School Boards v

Kansas Medical Society v

Michael E. Michel D.D.S., P.A. v

Myers and Stauffer LC v

Silver Lake Bank v

[Greg Trevor and Jason Sharp, Waste Management]

Summers, Spencer & Company, P.A. / SS&C Solutions

[Chris Drier, Waste Management and Marsha Sheahan, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce]


Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority v

Valley Self Storage v

VisionBank v

Willis of Greater Kansas Inc. These companies are either new or increased their donation significantly in 2012 Small Business Sponsor:

[Waste Management Team] TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013



Spring 2013

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[scene about town] Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and GO Topeka 2013 Annual Meeting Ramada Convention Center January 24, 2013

[Carl Ricketts and Jack Dicus, Capitol Federal; Mark Kossler, Fidelity State Bank & Trust; and Joel Oliver, Capitol Federal]

[Cindy Wilson, Kelsey Williams and Mark Gettys, Westar Energy]

[Kathey Brown; Shawn Brown, Hy-Vee; Adrianne Evans, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce; Shannon Reilly, Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy]

[Brie Engelken, Michelle Stubblefield and Bita Givechi, jones huyett Partners; Eileen Caspers, Topeka Public Schools; Coleen Jennison, Cox Communications]

[Deb Korbe, Mary Beth Klecan, Scott Raymond, Jenalea Randall, and Fred Palenske, Blue Cross and Blue Shield]

[Aaron Hove, Adriene Williams, Justin Pulikkan and Miguel Rivera, Payless ShoeSource] TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

Spring 2013


Striving for Organizational Excellence: A Customer Focused Process by Doug Von Feldt and Thomas Underwood - Center for Organizational Excellence - Washburn University The term “excellence” is common parlance in our language. We describe things we really like, such as a meal or a movie, as excellent. We give awards to people who demonstrate excellence. But what do we really mean by the term “excellence”? Vince Lombardi is credited with the quote, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” So excellence is an outcome of striving for unattainable perfection, but this refers more to the value or ideal of excellence, not an indicator or strategy that can help advance an organization. To strive for excellence, then, requires that organizations identify what makes them exceptional as determined, at least in part, by the customer, be that the consumer, the tax payer, or the shareholder. In order to be successful, an organization must be more than just good at what it does; it must be better and/ or different from everyone else. We can use a three-pronged approach to understanding excellence by asking three questions: (1) Who is your customer? (2) What do they want? (3) How can you deliver what they want? If we don’t understand or get even one of these questions wrong, we will fail to provide value to our customers and will never achieve excellence.

WHO IS YOUR CUSTOMER? Many times we don’t spend time thinking about who our specific customers are, or we think everyone is our customer and so we don’t really focus on any of them. But how can we provide excellence if we are not clear who we are serving? Even if we have many customers, it is important to group them into segments to better understand them and tailor specific solutions just for their needs.

WHAT DO THEY WANT? Each of the segments listed above probably have different needs or wants from your restaurant. If you optimize your business for one segment, you may not satisfy another segment. It is critical for a business to determine who it must serve and who it chooses not to serve. Many times we must be innovative in creating products or services that solve the unmet need of the customer. Try to ask a question from the customer’s perspective to better understand this point. The question is “I chose you because…” Think about why customers would choose you over all the other choices they have. If you haven’t developed a product or service that clearly answers this question, you may not be providing the value your customers are looking for.

The Center for Organizational Excellence, a University partnership between the Office of Academic Outreach and the School of Business, and in affiliation with the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce/GO Topeka, serves as a resource to the Topeka community and the region by providing professional development and consultation that supports organizational excellence. The Center will address problems and opportunities throughout the year in a TK article series on areas such as innovation and employee empowerment.


Spring 2013

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

HOW CAN YOU DELIVER WHAT THEY WANT? This could include the physical delivery mechanism or the experience you want them to have. For the restaurant, you will have to decide how you will deliver the service. The way you deliver the service may also be different depending on each customer segment you identified. Everyone has customers. Striving for excellence requires an understanding of who they are, what they want, and how you are going to deliver to them what they want. Otherwise, excellence is simply a value or ideal that is unattainable.

HOMEWORK: Who is your


If you haven’t thought about your customers in a while, take out a pi ece of paper and w rite down who you think your customers are and group them by customer segmen ts. You may also want to list segments that may not be your pr imary customer. Example: "If I am a restaurant, my customer segments might be retired peop le , young people on a da te, or the busin es s lunch crowd. "

do they want?of HOMEWORK: What ece ke out another pi

To test this ta swers wn three to five an paper and write do you. er would choose to why the custom you are se you because Example: “I choo a sittown that serves the only place in der $5.00.” down lunch for un


EASY TIP Processed foods and prepared foods are the greatest sources of sodium in the American diet (75 percent by some estimates). Choose fresh and homemade foods over processed foods whenever possible. Favor fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Learn where sodium hides, and make healthier choices.



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Spring 2013



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Spring 2013 TK...Topeka's Business Magazine

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine Spring 2013  

Spring issue of TK, Topeka's Business Magazine highlighting the businesses, professionals and leaders of Topeka industry.

TK...Topeka's Business Magazine Spring 2013  

Spring issue of TK, Topeka's Business Magazine highlighting the businesses, professionals and leaders of Topeka industry.