Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Opportunities Expanding

Scott Schwindaman is the President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. He will chair the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

Scott Schwindaman is the President/CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. He will chair the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

By Scott Schwindaman
President/CEO Lubrication Engineers, Inc.
Chair Elect of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber’s current Chairman, Barry Schwan, recently wrote a column for the Wichita Eagle and the Chamber’s blog about the renewal of Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit. As Barry noted, I helped initiate and have co-chaired the Entrepreneurship Task Force (ETF) with fellow Chamber board member Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) since it started several years ago.

Two organizations, of many, critical to the success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem are the Chamber and the e2e Accelerator, an initiative of the ETF focused on activating, accelerating and mentoring entrepreneurs. I’m pleased to see a developing partnership between the Chamber and e2e that will provide multiple opportunities to highlight entrepreneurship at some upcoming events.

I’d like to encourage you to circle a few dates on your calendar where you can learn more about some of these new opportunities and connect with the people leading them.

September 29 – Innovators can make valuable connections at the Chamber’s annual business-to-business trade show, Exposure, this Thursday. More than 200 businesses will be exhibiting, including many of the ETF liaison organizations. Representatives of the newly launched e2e accelerator will staff a booth to answer questions about how to apply for their unique mentoring program and to provide details about the upcoming Accelerate the Heartland event. Connecting with the Small Business Administration representatives should also be a priority for those who want to learn more about their successful Emerging Leaders program and their range of lending options. Wichita State University’s Kansas Small Business Development Center will staff a booth to share information about their free consulting services and upcoming educational offerings.

October 5 – Formerly known as the Great Plains Capital Conference, the renamed Accelerate the Heartland event offers a full day focused on jumpstarting Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with opportunities to learn, share and network. The conference will include entrepreneurs, service providers, government, universities, mentors, investors and others who want to be part of moving new ideas, products and services forward.

December 1 – We’ll be learning from the best when internationally renowned entrepreneur and investor Daymond John takes to the stage for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. After sharing some of his thoughts about how to position and brand new products and services, John will interact onstage with local entrepreneurs and other area leaders who are fostering and mentoring new startups.

There’s been a tremendous groundswell in the number of opportunities for area entrepreneurs to connect with the people and resources they need to succeed. And it’s been rewarding to see so many organizations developing, supporting and promoting these opportunities together. I encourage you to be part of this movement. As the current chair of the Young Professionals of Wichita, Sam Foreman, so eloquently said earlier this year, our goal is to “shorten the distance from Dream to Done.” It’s all about creating new opportunities and transforming Wichita into the “Opportunity Capital.”

Renewing Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Barry Schwan 2016 Chamber Chairman

Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

By Barry Schwan
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.
2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

If you’ve followed the work of Wichita native and economic analyst James Chung, you’ve heard him outline the four challenges facing Wichita. One of those is the Entrepreneurship Challenge. Chung’s findings indicate that Wichita is behind the curve in startup density and venture capital investments. He’s challenged Wichita to “move the needle” on entrepreneurship and drive innovation forward as we’ve done in the past.

The Chamber appreciates the efforts of two business leaders who are helping Wichita move the needle on entrepreneurship. As co-chairs of the Entrepreneurship Task Force (ETF), Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) and Scott Schwindaman (Lubrication Engineers) have spearheaded an inclusive approach to strengthening our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through their efforts, we’ve seen the emergence of e2e (Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur), a new nonprofit initiative where experienced area entrepreneurs are offering mentoring, seed money and programming to startups and scalable business ventures (see e2ewichita.com).

In addition to their involvement in ETF, both Oborny and Schwindaman are members of the Chamber board of directors. Schwindaman will take over the helm as Chamber chairman in 2017. A past Chamber chairman, Wayne Chambers (High Touch Technologies), recently donated a prime downtown location to launch the e2e Accelerator. It’s at that new site that John Dascher, President/CEO of e2e, and Accelerator Director Jacob Wayman have assembled a team who are working daily to recharge Wichita’s entrepreneurship environment.

Awareness was the first step taken by Oborny, Schwindaman and others to face Wichita’s entrepreneurship challenge. They started convening nearly 40 different organizations on a biweekly basis nearly three years ago to focus attention on the most pressing needs of our entrepreneurs and the gaps in our support of them. Our hats are off to the many loyal supporters who are still a part of that movement in the Wichita region.

One of those partners has been the Wichita district of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Entrepreneurs must have access to capital, and it was reported in August that SBA expects to achieve a near-record lending total of $85 million in fiscal year 2016 (ending September 30). That’s up more than 15% from $72.3 million in 2015. Wichita SBA Director Wayne Bell attributes the increase in lending to more awareness about the variety of financing tools available to startups. That’s a very positive step in the right direction.

We’re also impressed with some of the partnerships that private companies are undertaking. GroundWork is a startup incubator housed in the new offices of Builders Plus Construction in downtown Wichita. Builders Plus Construction CEO Chris Callen believes that entrepreneurism is the key to Wichita’s future and he’s committed to housing early-stage startups who are working collaboratively in the new space.

To further energize Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit, the Chamber has secured one of the most sought after entrepreneurial experts in the country to speak at our December 1 Annual Meeting. As a major investor on ABC’s Emmy-winning Shark Tank series, Daymond John has invested more than $8 million to date on 61 deals with entrepreneurs across the country.  And while he certainly understands the importance of venture capital investments, his most recent book also champions the “power of broke” and the importance of creativity, substance and passion in entrepreneurial ventures.

All of these “good news” activities are renewing and revitalizing Wichita’s entrepreneurial spirit. The community leaders who are supporting these vital programs through financial investments, expertise and mentorship are too many to mention in this column. The Chamber applauds all of these efforts and is proud to be part of the growing network supporting the region’s businesses and advocating for the best possible business environment.

This column was originally published in the September issue of Synergy, the Chamber’s quarterly newsletter. Check this link for the full contents of the six-page issue.

Four Reasons to Attend Exposure

2016_exposure_stackedcolor_withsponsorIf you haven’t heard of Exposure, the simplest way to describe it is as ‘Wichita’s premiere business-to-business trade show and networking event’. Scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29, the show will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Century II Expo Hall.

More than 200 businesses from across the Wichita area will be showcasing their products and services. If you are looking for products, vendors and partners, you can find them at Exposure.

Admission to the show is complimentary and open to the business community. Find more information about the show WichitaBusinessExposure.com, then register in advance (to expedite the check-in process and secure a printed name tag) here.

Two longtime Exposure attendees have shared why they attend each year and why you should too.

Carol Skaff, Owner & President at Cohlmia Marketing

Carol Skaff, Owner & President at Cohlmia Marketing

Carol: Networking. Learning. Generating opportunities…those are three reasons that come to mind. Wichita and South Central Kansas have an active business marketplace, and Exposure is one event where we can sample a broad array of products and services.
Brian: We use the Exposure event to identify those organizations that might consider partnering with our firm.

Carol: At least four. The exhibitors change every year, and Exposure provides so many opportunities to learn and connect, on one day and in one location.
Brian: 10

Brian Campbell, CFO at The Specialists Group LLC

Brian Campbell, CFO at The Specialists Group LLC

Carol: Business cards are a must. Also, I use my iPhone to take photos along the way and do some visual journaling. We usually do a staff download at our weekly meeting, and if there’s something particularly unique and memorable, we’ll have photo reference.
Brian: Business cards, a good attitude, comfortable shoes and personality.

Carol: I would encourage first-time attendees to review the exhibitor list ahead of time and plot your course: people you want to see and products you want to explore. Some booths you will spend more time at because they are a primary need for your business.
Brian: I have found success in using the exhibitor list to identify the companies that I have an interest in. It’s difficult to visit all 200+ booths without a strategy in place.

Carol: Cocoa Dolce and The Farris Wheel, for our event-planning and gift-giving needs. And we always stop by to see our partners in television, radio and print media. It’s important to our client interests to keep those relationships strong, and sometimes they roll out new opportunities at Exposure.
Brian: The sponsors along the ‘red carpet’ aisle never disappoint.

Carol: Too numerous to mention. We produce a lot of events for our clients, so visiting the Biz Bites are a must.
Brian: We don’t have many catering needs in our company, so we focus on making it to vendors that we would like to do business with.

Friends University making positive strides

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

I had the good fortune of attending a “State of the Organization” breakfast this week at Friends University in Wichita. Friends President Amy Bragg Carey updated a gathering of community leaders, faculty and boosters on major milestones hit by the University in the past year. It was an informative look at the pressures facing higher education today, including competition for students,  quality job placement for graduates, concerns about costs and rising student debt. It was these pressures, along with declining enrollment and a challenging financial outlook, that faced President Carey when she took over the helm in 2015.

The entire University community has responded well to this challenge, evidenced by the two-year Revitalization & Growth Plan adopted on campus. The plan focuses on Friends’ mission, focuses on the University’s strengths and proactively addresses the organization’s bottom line. Dr. Carey was quick to point out that the past year included some tough financial decisions, but has laid the groundwork for a turnaround at Friends University.

Of course, the success of any educational institution depends greatly on its ability to meet marketplace demands. Friends has a history of that and is nationally recognized for programs like zoology and spiritual formation. In the last year, they have also launched the first cyber security program in Wichita to meet the need to defend information infrastructure of business, government and the military. Friends also launched an innovative special education program that allows teaching licensure within a year, helping Kansas meet the increasing demand for special education teachers. Quality programs and affordability landed Friends at No. 44 on LendEDU’s 2016 College Risk-Reward Indicator. The indicator ranks institutions in terms of average student loan debt (risk) and average early career salary (reward). Friends was the highest ranking college in Kansas on the list.

At the conclusion of the presentation, one member of the audience summed up what everyone in the room was thinking: President Carey’s leadership in her first year has been the key to this turnaround at Friends. Dr. Carey deflects that credit to a supportive board and engaged team, but she certainly has built a tremendous culture on campus and is having an impact through her involvement in the Wichita Metro Chamber and other organizations. We are delighted to have Amy and Bryan as new members of the Wichita community!




Celebrating 60th anniversary of the KC-135

This letter to the editor was published in today’s Wichita Eagle. It was submitted by Jack Pulley, Chairman of the Friends of McConnell and Pat Gallagher, Military Liaison for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. 

Today McConnell Air Force Base will host a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. More than 50 years after the delivery of that first KC-135, the fleet remains an integral part of Wichita’s aviation history and an essential component of our nation’s defense system.FOM - Tanker Anniversary

Next year will bring exciting new opportunities. McConnell AFB will greet the next generation refueler, the KC-46 Pegasus, designed to replace the aging KC-135 fleet.  Many local businesses and contractors have been working to ensure the base is on target to welcome this exciting new aircraft.

Before the last of the McConnell’s Stratotankers has been replaced, however, we have an opportunity to pay homage to their great history. We are thankful that McConnell’s airmen and leadership team are part of our community and we have a deep respect for the service they provide to our nation.

On this important anniversary date the Friends of McConnell and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce express our sincere appreciation to all those who serve at McConnell Air Force Base. We are grateful the base is part of our community and congratulate each of you on the pivotal role you have played in making this special anniversary celebration possible

The Friends of McConnell (FOM), an affiliate organization of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, is a support group of area business leaders and residents dedicated to providing meaningful social and economic linkage between senior military leaders and their metropolitan civilian counterparts. The FOM seeks to express community pride and appreciation of the area’s military by providing organizational and financial support for Commander directed programs on base. A primary goal of the Friends of McConnell is to make McConnell AFB the most desirable assignment of an Airman’s career.

Daymond John Energizing Entrepreneurship on December 1

By Barry Schwan
2016 Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.

Accelerating entrepreneurship and economic opportunities across our region is imperative to accomplishing the Chamber’s mission and vision. If you’ve followed the work of Wichita native and economic analyst James Chung (thechungreport.com), you’ve heard him outline the four challenges facing Wichita. As part of the Entrepreneurship Challenge, Chung has challenged Wichita to “move the needle” and grow entrepreneurship in our region.

Daymond's BlackSuitThe Chamber has always played a key role in driving innovation and improving our entrepreneurial ecosystem. And our 2016 Annual Meeting speaker will undoubtedly energize and inspire those developing new opportunities for our region. I’m pleased to announce that Daymond John, one of the most sought after entrepreneurial experts in the country, is speaking at our December 1 Annual Meeting. He will also be interacting on stage with local entrepreneurs.

As one of the stars of ABC’s Emmy-winning Shark Tank series, Daymond John has invested more than $8 million to date with 61 entrepreneurs across the country. And while he certainly understands the importance of venture capital investments, his most recent book also champions the “power of broke” and the necessity of creativity, authenticity, substance and passion in successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Known as “the people’s Shark” on the Shark Tank series, he’s developed a reputation for championing the underdogs on the show and helping them move their business models to the next level. An innovator, angel investor, television personality, author and motivational speaker, Daymond John is also a U.S. Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

Please plan to join me on December 1. And more importantly, please extend an invitation to the entrepreneurs, the innovators and the dreamers in your organization or company to join you. We must all be relentlessly fostering and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation so that Wichita becomes synonymous with economic opportunity.

Follow Daymond John @TheSharkDaymond on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Register to attend
Daymond John bio
Daymond John video – The Power of Broke (2 minutes)

Annual Meeting - Twitter

Introducing our 2016 Leadership Wichita class

Thirty-one Wichita-area citizens have been selected to participate in the 2016 Leadership Wichita class, a leadership training program presented by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. Leadership Wichita participants are identified through a nomination process, followed by submission of a formal application to the program’s Board of Trustees for selection.

“Leadership Wichita provides professionals the training to use their talents and skills to tackle local needs, such as education and economic development,” said Tyler Heffron, Chair of Leadership Wichita Board of Trustees. “Past participants of Leadership Wichita have made significant changes in our community, and this year’s class will graduate equipped with the insight to build upon their professional successes to make Wichita an even better place to work, live and play.”

The 2016 class will participate in eight sessions that cover issues such as economic development and the future vision for Wichita, workforce development and the impact of ensuring a highly educated workforce in our community, the importance of consensus within government, along with building leadership skills through real-life examples, group discussions and collaboration.

The 2016 Leadership Wichita class will begin Thursday, Sept. 8 and will conclude Thursday, Nov. 17.

2016 Leadership Wichita Class

  • Aaron Bastian, Fidelity Bank
  • Shannon Benoit, Wichita Public Schools
  • Laura Bernstorf, Airbus Americas Engineering
  • Vicki Bond, Medical Provider Resources
  • Ann Buckendahl, Via Christi Health
  • Stacey Burke, Sedgwick County Sherriff’s Office
  • Scott Crawford, Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference
  • Heather Denker, Greater Wichita Partnership
  • Katy Dorrah, Mark Arts (formerly Wichita Center for the Arts)
  • Ben Drouhard, Citizens Bank of Kansas
  • Holly Dyer, Foulston Siefkin
  • Ryan Entz, Sasnak Management Corporation
  • James Finkeldei, Catholic Diocese of Wichita
  • Mandy Fleming, Youth Entrepreneurs
  • Clark Goetzinger, Westar Energy
  • Josh Herrman, Hutton Construction
  • Troy Houtman, City of Wichita
  • Kevin Hunt, Spirit AeroSystems
  • Diane Iseman, INTRUST Bank
  • Tracy Lucas, High Touch Technologies
  • Lindsay Poe Rousseau, Sedgwick County
  • Alicia Sanchez, Wichita State University
  • Nicole Schaar, Bank SNB
  • Mallory Schwan, House of Schwan
  • Carmen Simon-Phillips, SJCF Architecture
  • Kent Simpson, KCoe Isom
  • Greg Unruh, Wichita Area Technical College
  • Bradley Warzeka, Cargill Meat Solutions
  • Leslie Wessel, J.P. Weigand & Sons Wessel Team Home Sales
  • Ken White, Howerton + White
  • Col. Vonda Wigal, Kansas Air National Guard

Please join us in congratulating this year’s class!

The 2015 Leadership Wichita class heard from Wichita entrepreneur & Freddy's Frozen Custard co-founder Scott Redler.

The 2015 Leadership Wichita class heard from Wichita entrepreneur & Freddy’s Frozen Custard co-founder Scott Redler.

Envision helps bring home the gold, silver and bronze

They say teamwork makes the dream work and we’re seeing a lot of that happening during this year’s Olympic games. It’s been a great ride and so uplifting to watch athletes from all around the world support each other. That encouragement makes all the difference and helps propel them to the medal stand.

Teamwork makes the dream work at the Chamber, too. This week we had an opportunity at our Federal Issue Forum luncheon to recognize one of our many outstanding partners who not only support our important government relations work, but also teams up with our Communications and Investor Relations Department on printed materials.

Photo Jan 27, 9 24 14 AMLast year Michael Monteferrante and his team at Envision stepped forward and agreed to make it possible for the Chamber’s Annual Summary to incorporate some extra flair. You may recall seeing the folded flag-shaped summary at our 2015 Annual Meeting or you may have noticed it when it arrived in your mailbox last January.  We enjoyed seeing photos of it shared across several social media platforms and hearing from some members who considered it a keepsake. In fact, one of our Chamber members still has it posted on their retail storefront window.

The Wichita flag piece has received three awards during the last six months.

  • GOLD – First Place award from the Kansas Professional Communicators
  • SILVER – Second in the Wichita American Marketing Association competition
  • BRONZE – An Honorable Mention from the National Federation of Press Women

These awards would not have been possible without the generosity of Michael Monteferrante and his team at Envision. We are very grateful for his partnership and the awards he and his team helped deliver to the Chamber.

And we’re grateful for the many other partnerships that propel the Chamber and our members toward our vision of making this region the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities. It’s through your investment and efforts that we can make the dream work.

Chamber President Gary Plummer (left) presented Michael Montana, Teresa Houston and Michael Monteferrante of Envision with commemorative frame as a token of appreciation for their partnership.

Chamber President Gary Plummer (left) presented Michael Montana, Teresa Houston and Michael Monteferrante of Envision with a commemorative frame as a token of appreciation for their partnership.

Making business easier, one app at a time

A recap of the August Sunrise Scrambler

Back by popular demand was a panel of Chamber members to share their favorite apps and tools that make doing business easier and more efficient. Our thanks to these panelists for sharing their knowledge with us at yesterday’s Sunrise Scrambler:

  • Brad Painchaud, Director of Business Development at Squid Ink Creative (Moderator)
  • Carlos Fernandez, Co-founder of Clutch Studio
  • Jordan Walker, Digital Director at Greteman Group
  • Bill Ramsey, Director of Communications for The Insurance Guys and Owner of uBreakiFix
  • Kevin Falting, Founder & Director of Wichitalks

                      Ramsey, Walker, Falting, Painchaud & Fernandez


First to the podium was Carlos Fernandez to speak about Snapchat.

  • With over 100 million daily active users and 400 million snaps per day, Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social networks.
  • The network is becoming a vital part of global marketing strategies with 71% of users falling into the 18-34 age range.
  • Carlos utilizes Snapchat for his personal brand, as it facilitates a one-on-one conversation with followers/clients.
  • You can’t deny the numbers: there are 100 million active Snapchat users, producing 10 billion snaps per day.

Jordan Walker recommends using WorldCard to organize and curate the business cards we all receive on a daily basis.

  • WorldCard puts business card information at your fingertips. You no longer have to search for cards.
  • It’s easy to use and fairly accurate with the scanning capabilities (although the paid version is much more accurate and it’s only $6.99.)
  • It syncs the data to your phone and email. You are also able to create categories to optimize organization.
  • The app uses the phone’s camera to scan.

Bill uses Genius Scan + to house all business expense receipts.

  • It has a simple, easy to use, interface.
  • No longer have to carry wads of receipts around, or lose them. Bill joked that he has no idea how much money has come out of his personal pocket over the years because of lost or illegible receipts.
  • Genius Scan + enhances receipt images, saves as PDF (which your accounting department will love) and uploads files directly to Dropbox.


Kevin recommended using Slack as an alternative to email for team communication.

  • Slack is simple to get started and use.
  • It promotes communication, collaboration, and is searchable.
  • Sharing files is made easy and file size limits are much larger than email.


A special thank you goes out to the sponsors of yesterday’s Sunrise Scrambler: Emprise Bank (Presenting Sponsor); Eberly Farm (Host Sponsor); and Burnell’s Fine Jewelry & Design (Showcase Biz Sponsor).

See photos from the event on our Facebook page.


Save the date for our next Sunrise Scrambler on Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Hyatt Regency Wichita, then head down to Century II Expo Hall for Exposure (Wichita’s largest business-to-business trade show)!

Pompeo Updates Chamber Membership

DSC_0046The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce hosted U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo at a Federal Issues Forum luncheon today. Pompeo shared his thoughts on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, the current regulatory environment for businesses, the state of the economy, military issues and the current risks and threats to national security.

A question and answer period followed his presentation. Pompeo took questions from Chamber members about these topics:

  • Congressional conflict and the need for bipartisan efforts to move the country forward
  • The findings of the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi
  • Agricultural security and the safety of the U.S. food supply chain
  • Viable options for combatting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism threats to this country
  • Challenges facing the nation’s healthcare system

Pompeo ended the Federal Issues Forum with remarks about his confidence in the ability of Americans to find innovative solutions to the issues facing our communities and our country.

Special thanks to presenting sponsor, Envision, for today’s event. Gold sponsors included AT&T, Cox Communications, Koch Industries, Inc., Legacy Bank, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., and the McGinty Machine Co., Inc. AGH Wealth Management provided an E-Media Sponsorship.

Please plan to join other Chamber members at the Congressional Summit, featuring the entire Kansas Federal Delegation, on October 14, the Local Elected Officials Reception on November 10, and the Chamber Issue Forum featuring Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell on December 14.

Photos from today’s event are posted on the Chamber’s Facebook page.