Member Minute with Midwest Single Source

Member Minute profiles are meant to highlight Chamber member businesses in a format that can be read in a few minutes. This Interview was conducted by Intern Claire Harpool.

The team at Midwest Single Source received some well-deserved recognition in August when the company was named the 24th largest distributor in sales throughout the United States (the only Kansas distributor included in the Top 50) by the Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA).

The company was also chosen by the Wichita Urban Professionals as the Corporate Award Recipient at their 3rd annual Dreamchasers event. This award is given to a company that encourages diversity as displayed by its business practices and community presence.

Kevin Ulwelling is the President of Midwest Single Source Inc. “Both of these recognitions are special in their own way. To once again be one recognized as one of the leaders in our industry and documented by PSDA shows the consistency of sales we’ve maintained and expanded through the years,” he said. “The Corporate Award was a complete surprise, but it truly shows how involved and intertwined we are into the Wichita community and how many organizations we are lucky enough to partner with.”

Midwest Single Source has been a Chamber member for 30+ years.

Tell us about Midwest Single Source.
The company was founded by John H. Osborne in 1976. We are a distributor of office supplies, printing, promotional items, corporate apparel, furniture, mailing equipment and much more. We are headquartered in Wichita and have locations in Oklahoma City and an office with a warehouse in Topeka.

Tell us a little bit about Max.
We formally introduced Max in March of this year. He has always appeared on our marketing literature, but we had referred to him as the ‘Running Man’. There was a competition to officially name him and we invited our employees and customers to submit ideas through social media outlets. The winning name chosen was Max, to promote and remind our customers how they can ‘maximize’ their spend by utilizing our various business capabilities.

What is the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
Many businesses in the Wichita area appreciate and support their local business partners. We have been able to create very trusting and loyal long-term relationships with our customers that have progressed throughout the community.

What has the Chamber provided you?
An opportunity to communicate our services to other businesses in the area, especially through the Chamber’s platforms and events.

What has been the best thing about Chamber membership?
They do a good job recognizing members on milestones and awards they’ve received. The Chamber also does a great job with events. Exposure is phenomenal; Leadership Wichita is another great example.

Can you describe your most recent business success?
We recently hired Ashley Dalian as our Director of Sales Operations. Over the past three years, we have been looking for someone to lead our fantastic sales staff as we plan for future growth. We eventually did find the perfect candidate!

Where do you attribute your success?
We have allowed ourselves to evolve. We started as a two-man shop designing and printing forms. Gradually we started providing office supplies, which lead into promotional opportunities, followed by apparel and mail room solutions. We have a very forward-thinking owner who is not afraid to take some risks. He has allowed us to operate strategically. The bottom line is we have great people (52 employees in 3 locations).

What is your favorite chamber event and why?
I think it would have to be Exposure. It is very well run and promoted event. The intent and networking opportunity is excellent. It is a great celebration of all the local business.

On a scale from 1-10 how much would you recommend Chamber membership?
I would give it a 10. If you are in business in Wichita, then you need to continually increase your visibility with more people and the Chamber allows you to do that. Getting involved in the Chamber should be a no-brainer for any company.

What do people not know about your business that you would like them to know?
Our online capabilities rival many of the largest national companies. We are capable of building online stores for apparel, print, promotional items and more. Having these ‘company stores’ set up can save massive time and energy during the ordering process, while also controlling the brand that you want to celebrate!

What about your business are you most passionate about?
We are passionate about our online capabilities and getting the word out.  It is our goal to make it as easy as possible for our customers to place orders online. We will continue to invest in software and technology, as this is the direction many of our industries are going.

Complete this sentence when a customer walks into my business they will feel like…
They are the only customer we have. They will receive the timely response and the type of service that will make them continue to want to do business with us, regardless of size or needs.

Where do you see your business in five years?
We have a very aggressive sales growth plan, so it will be interesting to see how that flushes out. As our history has dictated, we will continue to look for additional ways to streamline our processes to better serve our customers.

Do you have a favorite business book?
I do; “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” I most appreciate the book as it helps recognize where issues may be hidden, and outlines opportunities for dealing with certain situations.

Is your company involved in any civic or community activities?
We are involved in numerous activities including USD 259, Wine Fest, Air Capital Classic, Exposure and Bloktoberfest. We are also heavily involved with Wichita State University, Newman University, Friends University, and other school districts throughout the state.

You can catch up with Midwest Single Source and Max on their website, Facebook or Instagram.

Would your company or organization like to be featured in a Member Minute profile? Just send your request to Courtney Sendall or give her a call at 316-268-1153. 

Youth Employment Project in action

Xavier Crawford worked at the Chamber during the summer as part of the Youth Employment Program.

My name is Xavier Crawford and I am from Wichita. I have eleven brothers and sisters and recently graduated from Chester Lewis Virtual High School. I was connected with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce through my experience with the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas’ Summer Youth Employment Program. Through the program I created a resume, searched and interviewed for jobs and was provided education in soft skills and customer service. The program provided me the opportunity to experience a real-life work environment.

My duties at the Chamber included a variety of tasks. I was able to work on everything from mailing out invoices and creating aging reports to putting together orientation packets for new member meetings. It was fun to attend meetings that highlighted changes in our community and how we can continue to improve our city as a whole. In many ways, I feel like Wichita is stepping in the right direction and should keep up the good work.

My favorite part about my internship at the Chamber would be the staff. The accepted me as one of their own. They were warmhearted and caring and were always there for me. Working at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has helped show me what every work environment should look and feel like. They’ve taught me how I can not only better myself, but create value for those around me.

While working at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some important individuals in Wichita that could potentially help point me achieve the career I desire. I’ve recently applied to Wichita Area Technical College and look forward to studying aviation.

Our thanks to Xavier for his contributions to our team this summer and to the Workforce Alliance for leading the Youth Employment Project. 

Xavier reported that some of his favorite assignments involved working with Accounting Clerk Peter Gaulding (pictured right).

Introducing our 2017 Leadership Wichita class

Thirty-three citizens from the Wichita region have been selected to participate in the 2017 Leadership Wichita class, a leadership training program presented by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. This class will join the nearly 1,000 other individuals who have committed to become stronger leaders for the community since the program was launched in 1983.

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. The Chamber received a record number of both nominations (202) and applications (101) for the 2017 program.

“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 contributions in our community, and this year’s class will graduate equipped with the insight to build upon their professional successes to make Wichita the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities.”

The 2017 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 2017 Leadership Wichita class will begin Thursday, Aug. 24 and will conclude Wednesday, Nov. 8.

2017 Leadership Wichita Class:

  • Abigail Arthur, FreeState Healthcare
  • Keturah Austin, Sedgwick County
  • Kyle Blasdel, Conco Inc.
  • Maggie Butler, Via Christi Health
  • Anne Chandler, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas
  • Carrie Cox, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, LC
  • Mike Ellis, Delta Dental of Kansas
  • Amy Feimer, Hunter Health Clinic
  • LaShonda Garnes, City of Wichita
  • Clay Germany, Wichita Police Department
  • Michele Gifford, Textron Aviation
  • Andrew Gough, Reverie Coffee Roasters
  • Jeff Hersh, USD 265 Goddard Public Schools
  • Jennifer Hughes, High Touch Technologies
  • Danielle Johnson, Wichita State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Justin Kasel, USD 259 Wichita Public Schools
  • Jason Knobbe, Kansas Air National Guard
  • Melissa Knoeber, Fidelity Bank
  • Paul Lavender, Sasnak Management Corporation
  • Jonathan Long, T-Mobile
  • Sheila McGuire, Hutton Construction Corporation
  • Cindy Miles, Nonprofit Chamber of Service
  • Robert Moody, Martin Pringle Attorneys at Law
  • Justin Pfeifer, Wichita Area Technical College
  • Mark Pierce, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jake Ramstack, Insite Real Estate Group
  • Tyler Roush, 18th Judicial District
  • Courtney Sendall, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Sharla Smith, University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita
  • Ty Tabing, Hudbella Government Affairs
  • Jacob Wayman, e2e Accelerator, Inc.
  • Rachel White-McQuillan, Westar Energy
  • Rachael Woods, Spirit AeroSystems

Introducing Kirby, the Chamber dog

Kirby is being trained to become a certified assistance dog.

If you have visited the Chamber building in the last month, you may have noticed the pitter patter of little paws or been greeted by requests for belly rubs by Kirby, a 15-week old female black lab. While more and more workplaces are becoming pet-friendly, Kirby is no ordinary pup because she is being trained to become an assistance dog.

Kirby is owned by KSDS Assistance Dogs Inc., located in Washington, KS. The nonprofit organization is fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and provides guide dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs to assist individuals with physical disabilities, and facility dogs that assist professionals in the field of education, counseling, health care, retirement or the legal system.

Kirby once received an invitation to City Hall to meet Mayor Longwell.

Volunteers known as “Puppy Raisers” are an integral part of the KSDS mission. The Puppy Raiser is responsible for teaching the puppy basic obedience, house and public manners, and socialization. Chamber staff member Courtney Sendall and her husband Jeremy are Kirby’s Puppy Raisers, and key to her socialization is accompanying her humans wherever they go (hence coming to work at the Chamber each day). So really, the entire Chamber staff is contributing to her raising.

When Kirby reaches four months of age, she will receive her official “Assistance Dog In Training” vest. If you see her when she is wearing this vest, we ask that you refrain from petting her because wearing the vest is her signal that she is on duty.

When Kirby reaches two years of age, she will return to KSDS for a year of formal training, after which she will be matched will an individual in need of an assistance dog.

So for the next two years, Kirby is will be an official part of your Chamber team. Will it be difficult to give her back? Absolutely. But will it be worth it knowing that she is changing someone’s life? Absolutely.

Even though she is a future assistance dog, she is also still a puppy, so we appreciate your patience if you hear her barks while you’re at our building for a meeting or if she doesn’t display proper manners when she meets you. We’re working on it and she looks forward to meeting you.

Note: A fully-trained KSDS dog is valued at $25,000 and is provided to individuals at no cost, and there is currently a three year waiting list due to a shortage of Puppy Raisers. KSDS reports that 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the support and placement of assistance dogs. Learn more at ksds.org.

Web marketing expert Marcus Sheridan coming to Wichita

Author and web marketing expert Marcus Sheridan will be speaking in Wichita on Oct. 27. His speech is titled “The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer Has Changed and What Your Business Must Do About It” and is specifically designed for marketers and small business owners. The program, presented by Digital Wichita and the Wichita Regional Chamber,  will be held from 7:15 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 27 at Abode Venue and includes breakfast.

Marcus is the author of the Sales Lion, a sales, marketing and personal development blog, and a partner in River Pools and Spas, which he is credited with saving during the 2008 economic crisis.

An internationally sought after speaker and strategic marketing consultant, Marcus brings clarity to what B2B and B2C companies must do to not only align themselves with the recent shift in buyer patterns, but take advantage of the digital age as well.

Forbes magazine named him one of seven “Best Speakers for Business Growth,” while Entrepreneur magazine last week named him among “11 Marketing Experts Whose Insights Could Change Your Business.”

Early-bird ticket are available for $40 through Aug. 31. A Social Host Package is also available for $375, which includes eight tickets and logo recognition at the event. Each ticket holder will receive a copy of Sheridan’s book They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer. Find more information register here before prices go up.

Event sponsorships are still available. Contact Rachel Douglass for more information.

Rachel Douglass promoted to Director of Engagement

Rachel Douglass

Gary Plummer, Chamber President & CEO, announced today that Rachel Douglass has been promoted from Manager of Engagement to Director of Engagement effective July 1. She joined the Chamber in September 2015, and her responsibilities include planning and implementation of events and programs which deliver visibility, education and peer connections for Chamber members. She has a comprehensive background in project management, marketing strategy and brand management. Douglass is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for several organizations including the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Barton International Group.

Plummer said that Douglass has proven herself to be a valuable part of the Chamber team. “Rachel has shown a great talent for assessing Chamber member needs and connecting them with the most valuable program. Her ability to develop meaningful relationships with our members, vendors and the community at large makes her an important part of the Chamber’s membership engagement efforts. I’m very pleased that Rachel is assuming greater responsibility for the direction of Chamber programming.”

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!

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.