Tram Ngo joins Chamber Government Relations team

Tram Ngo has joined the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce as the Government Relations Project Manager. In her new position, Tram will coordinate the logistics of Government Relations events and sub-committees, in addition to assisting with advocacy-related research and community outreach efforts.

A Dean’s Scholar who recently graduated from Wichita State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing and management, she previously worked as a human resources coordinator at INVISTA, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.

Toni Porter, Director of Government Relations, said the skills that Tram brings to the team will serve her well in the role. “Tram’s work and volunteer experience, as well as her commitment to the Wichita community, have quickly made her a key addition to the Chamber team. I am confident she will play a key role in providing an exceptional service experience to our members, public officials and community partners. We’re pleased to have her on board.”

Her first day at the Chamber was May 30. Please help us welcome Tram to the Chamber team!

The Monarch, Mahaney Roofing Company named Small Businesses of the Year

Please join us in congratulating The Monarch and Mahaney Roofing Company, Inc. on being named the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Businesses of the Year! Award finalists were divided into two tiers based upon number of full-time employees. The Monarch represents Tier One (businesses with 1 – 25 full-time employees), and Mahaney Roofing Company, Inc. represents Tier Two (businesses with 26-100 full-time employees). Judges evaluated the finalists based on five key areas: leadership and performance, employee relations, entrepreneurship, diversity and community involvement.

The Monarch opened its doors in December of 2012 and currently employs twelve individuals in a full-time capacity. Owner Jennifer Ray has branded the establishment as a bourbon bar and has the largest craft bourbon and whiskey list in the state. Ray says the large majority of the business’ advertising budget is earmarked for donations to community organizations. “We have worked hard to build a business that adds value to not only the city of Wichita but also to the people who live here,” she said.

Founded in 1888, Mahaney Roofing Company, Inc. has a long history of growth in the Wichita community. The business currently employs ninety-three individuals, and the leadership is dedicated to delivering the highest quality product for their customers and providing a safe, fulfilling workplace for their employees. “We are never content to be ordinary,” Vice President Damon Young said. “As much as we have grown in the last three years, the next three years look even more exciting because we are growing through our people.”

The 2017 Awards program was presented ComfortCare Homes, Inc. and Occidental Management, Inc. Scott Redler of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers gave the keynote address.

Small businesses are responsible for creating 2 of every 3 new jobs in the U.S. and make up almost 90 percent of the Wichita Regional Chamber membership. The Small Business Awards program, now in its 13th year, is designed not only to provide small businesses the recognition they deserve but to also give other small businesses a chance to learn from the best.

Carrie Rengers of the Wichita Eagle served as emcee of the awards luncheon, where she told the audience that she has attended all thirteen of the annual luncheons. “I truly believe that all the businesses who made it to this point as finalists are winners,” she said. (View the Wichita Eagle article here.)

Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists and thank you for putting your time and energy into this program.

2017 Small Business Awards Finalists
Tier One (1 – 25 full-time employees)
McCurdy Auction, LLC
Reverie Coffee Roasters
The Monarch
The Workroom

Tier Two (26 – 100 full-time employees)
Builders Plus Construction
Mahaney Roofing Company
Elite Staffing Solutions
Fiber Dynamics Inc.
The McGinty Machine Co., Inc.

Visit the Chamber’s Facebook page to see videos of the live award announcements and more photos from the event, and visit the Chamber’s YouTube channel to see videos highlighting each of the finalists.

Samia Joins Chamber Team

Gabri Samia joined the Chamber’s Community Advancement team this month.

Gabri Samia recently joined the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce as the Manager of Community Advancement. In her new position Samia will plan and execute several of the Chamber’s unique leadership development programs, including:  Leadership Wichita, City-to-City Leadership visits and Wichita Insight.

Samia’s role involves interacting with numerous community leaders and assisting with the Chamber’s inclusion and diversity programming. “Gabri really enjoys working with people and building community,” said Suzy Finn, Community Advancement Director for the Chamber. “She’s enthusiastic about working with others who want to continually improve Wichita and the region.”

A graduate of Wichita State University, Samia earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and minored in English. One of her past experiences includes teaching in South Korea. Her first day with the Chamber was May 9. She replaces Stef Flores who recently relocated to the Denver area.

Please help us welcome Gabri to your Chamber team.

Leadership Wichita Graduates are Community Game Changers

Clark Bastian is the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Bank.

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Wichita program are underway. We’ve asked some area decision makers to weigh in on the benefits of the Leadership Wichita program. This blog post is by Clark Bastian, Fidelity Bank Chairman and CEO.

There are a number of ways you can increase your organization’s visibility and viability. One proven method is to provide your best and brightest employees with new learning experiences and opportunities to connect with their peers. Investing in their growth provides your organization with knowledgeable and respected ambassadors. And retaining the most engaged members of our workforce can change the course of a community.

Leadership Wichita is a highly successful Chamber program designed to inform, connect and inspire active community leaders. It’s an immersive experience that identifies 30 local achievers and then provides them with the tools they need to take increasingly significant roles in the community.

Top area leaders present and interact with the class over the course of nine intensive sessions. They willingly invest their time in the program every year because they see the results. Leadership Wichita graduates can be found leading game-changing initiatives for their companies and their communities.

The nomination process is easy.

  • Look for potential nominees in your own company, professional organizations, and places where you volunteer. Target those who want to make more meaningful contributions to the success of their employers, the business community and the region.
  • Spend two minutes on the Chamber’s website nominating them for Leadership Wichita.

We owe it to the future champions of our region, companies and organizations to equip them with the best possible understanding of the progress being made in our community as well as the challenging areas where we need their talent and energy. Mentoring the next generation of leaders is critical. It clearly demonstrates our confidence in their future contributions and our desire to make them an integral part of our community’s advancement.

Leadership Wichita is a program of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Educational Foundation. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.

Leadership Wichita – A Powerful Community Investment

Claudio J. Ferraro is the President of Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc.

Nominations for the Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Wichita program are underway. We’ve asked some area decision makers to weigh in on the benefits of the Leadership Wichita program. This blog post is by Claudio Ferraro, President, Via Christi Hospital Wichita St. Teresa, Inc.

Every day we assess the return on investment (ROI) for many aspects of our business, from equipment purchases to employee training. Most employees already have the technical training needed to do their jobs. And many companies offer internal leadership training for those who have demonstrated an aptitude for taking on more responsibility. So why should a local company or organization nominate candidates for Leadership Wichita and invest in that program?

The true value of Leadership Wichita goes beyond refining skills. It’s an opportunity to forge relationships with people across other industries and understand their perspectives. It’s the formation of long-lasting partnerships that strengthen and advance our businesses and organizations. Ultimately, it’s laying an important foundation for the future of our business community and the economic health of our region.

I think it’s quite possible that my own career might have taken a different trajectory if I hadn’t participated in the Leadership Wichita program in 2000. So many of my classmates from that program are now playing important senior leadership roles throughout the community. Michael Grier is the President and CEO at Martin Eby Construction. Debbie Gann is the Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at Spirit AeroSystems and was part of the leadership team that led them through their transition from a Boeing facility to Spirit AeroSystems. She was also the 2013 Chair of the Chamber. Richard McCafferty is an owner/officer at Key Construction. The list goes on and on. We share a common bond from our Leadership Wichita experience and I still interact with them in my role at Via Christi.

So when I nominate someone for this program, I’m looking for a candidate who is perceptive enough to understand that they will be doing much more than honing their own leadership skills. They will be learning about the dynamics of the region and building interpersonal connections with people who will eventually become key community leaders and contributors.

The nomination process is easy.

  •  Look for potential nominees in your own company, professional organizations, and places where you volunteer. Target those who want to make more meaningful contributions to the success of their employers, the business community and the region.
  • Spend two minutes on the Chamber’s website nominating them for Leadership Wichita.

The earlier we can identify our future decision makers and help them build relationships with each other, the more quickly we can achieve the maximum return on our investment with better results for our organizations, businesses and community.

Leadership Wichita is a program of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and Wichita Educational Foundation. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.

Conference topics help your small business achieve big success

Interested in leading-edge ideas and enlightening discussions about the fundamentals of running a small business? Then you’ll want to attend the Chamber’s 2nd annual Engage & Ignite Small Business Conference on Wednesday, May 24.

The Details
9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24
Hyatt Regency Wichita
Choose three of nine breakout session topics (listed below).
Register here for only $15 per person.

Rachel Douglass, Manager of Membership & Engagement for the Wichita Regional Chamber, says the success of the 2016 conference made hosting a second rendition an easy choice. “The best part of the Engage & Ignite Small Business Conference is that it is the brainchild of the Small Business Awards planning committee. All the sessions are planned specifically by small businesses, for small businesses.”

Ed O’ Malley of the Kansas Leadership Center was one of our 2016 presenters and is returning this year with “The Experimental Nature of Leadership.”

The conference will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Wichita. Three sessions are available for attendees every half hour with a short break in between. Topics range from social media marketing to optimizing HR and hiring practices. Douglass said the Small Business Awards committee worked to keep the conference cost affordable at only $15 per person. “We’re hoping that businesses will send more than one person to the conference since we have so many interesting speakers who are focused on providing valuable take-aways that attendees can immediately implement in their operations.”

The Schedule | Register Here

9 to 9:30 a.m. Breakout Session Options:

  • The Power of Listening and Saying Thank You | Damon Young, Charles E. Mahaney Roofing Company
  • Stories from a Serial Networker, Not a TED talk, but Close | Brad Painchaud, Squid Ink Creative
  • The Experimental Nature of Leadership | Ed O’ Malley, Kansas Leadership Center

9:45 to 10:15 a.m. Breakout Session Options:

  • Boosting Team Morale | Ashley Thill, Zernco, Inc.; Scott Ludwick, Builders Plus Construction; and Heidi Perez, Mahaney Roofing Company
  • Interviewing Techniques for Optimized Retention | Shawne Boyd, ARSI
  • Social Media Success In Just 3 Minutes a Day  | Tim Fruits, Malibu Creative, LLC

10:30 to 11 a.m. Breakout Session Options:

  • Redefining and Prioritizing Sales Activities for Small Businesses | Allen Clouse, Star Lumber & Supply Co. Inc.
  • Unique Employee Benefits Small Business Can Offer | Carrie Cox, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C.
  • Telling Your Why | Brandy Willett, e2e Accelerator, Inc.

The Awards
The Small Business Awards Luncheon will begin at 11:15 a.m., where two businesses will be named the Small Business of the Year. Scott Redler, co-founder of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, will deliver the keynote speech. This luncheon always sells out, so get your tickets today.

Find more information about all the activities schedule for May 24 at wichitchamber.org.

Friends of McConnell receives national award

The Friends of McConnell, an affiliate of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, was announced as the recipient of the 2016 Abilene Trophy on April 28 at the Phoenix Rally at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Since 1998, the award has been presented annually to the community that demonstrates the most support of its local Air Force Base. Also known as the Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, the trophy is awarded by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee.

To apply for the award, Friends of McConnell submitted a nearly-200 page document outlining how the Wichita region supports the airmen of McConnell Air Force Base. The document included examples of how the community worked alongside the military in preparation for the arrival of the KC-46, the re-designation of the 931st Air Refueling Wing from a group to a wing, and honoring the heritage and mission contributions associated with the 60th anniversary of the KC-135.

Pat Gallagher, Military Affairs Liaison for the Wichita Chamber, said Friends of McConnell was honored to receive the award on behalf of the entire Wichita community. “Wichita loves our Airmen and recognizes the vital role they play in our community,” she said. “I’ve been involved with McConnell for 25 years and I appreciate those who serve there tremendously. They are the very best this nation has to offer.”

A local award presentation and celebration will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 14 where the Chair of the Abilene Chamber will unveil the trophy and present it to the Friends of McConnell. McConnell Commanders will be present to express their appreciation to our regional partners for their overwhelming support. The event will be hosted by Friends University. Find more information and register for the event here.

Col. Al Miller, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Commander, said he was pleased the Wichita area was recognized. “For any Airman who is serving his or her first assignment and is fortunate enough to have been assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, they will struggle for the rest of their careers to find a community as supportive as this one. Wichita and the surrounding communities set the bar extremely high. This community is the very best.”

McConnell Air Force Base has an annual economic impact on the Wichita region of $800 million. The Friends of McConnell seeks to express community pride and appreciation of the area’s military by providing organizational and financial support for Commander-directed programs at McConnell Air Force Base. A primary goal of the group is to make McConnell the most desirable assignment of an Airman’s career.

Managing Underperforming Employees

By Rachel Douglass
Membership & Engagement Manager

Last week’s Small Business Owner Roundtable with Newman University Business Dean Brett Andrews was insightful – to say the least. It had attendees reflecting on not only how keyed into work their employees are, but also evaluating their own performance.

According to a recent Forbes study, four reasons employees underperform include:

  • Instructions were not clearly understood
  • They don’t have the resources
  • They don’t have the ability
  • They just don’t care


Can you tell which of these bullets are a leadership issue versus an employee issue? If you guessed the first three bullets as leadership issues (with the last bullet being an employee issue), you’re right. The activity served as a friendly reminder to all: employee issues usually begin with the leader or management.

Employee performance issues can become toxic if they’re ignored. As Andrews said, “It’s important to understand the difference between misconduct and poor performance when evaluating employee issues.” Misconduct can easily be defined as willful disobedience, while a performance issue is categorized as the failure to meet minimum standards.

Andrews walked attendees through six easy-to-follow steps to help address employee concerns. Those six steps include:

  • Early recognition
  • Early notification
  • Continuous observation and documentation
  • Verbal warning
  • Written warming
  • Conclusive action

Whether you utilize these specific steps or not, Andrews encouraged attendees to strive to adhere to a consistent and trackable procedure to optimize workplace positivity and increased productivity.