The Chamber of Commerce Works for All

Today is National Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day. To celebrate, we asked Board Member Joy Eakins to share why she chose to join the Chamber and become more involved in creating a better business community.

By Joy Eakins
President of Cornerstone Design & Development, Inc.

I once assumed the local Chamber was just for big business. Not long after I started my business, my husband’s employer invited us to join their table for the Annual Honors Night. As we discussed the evening on the way home, Eric told me I should look at joining the Chamber. So I did. That was six years ago.

I still remember my first event: the Small Business Owner Roundtable. The location: High Touch Technologies. The topic: How to Recruit and Retain Employees.

I had just moved out of my home office. I had one part-time staff member. My business cards were printed on my home printer. I was intimidated and I almost didn’t go.

Every year since, a photo from that event (below) has popped up on my Facebook page, and I have been reminded how glad I am that I went. That day, I discovered one of the greatest assets of Wichita – other fantastic business leaders who care deeply about their companies, their employees, their customers, and the direction of the city and the state. I found people who are compassionate and giving. And I found people who honorably carry the weight of business ownership.

As a small business owner, I know the isolation that comes from wearing all the hats – the HR department, accounting team, janitor, lawyer and sales all at the same time. I know what it’s like to come in on the weekends and finish the books or get a head start on the next week. The nagging fear that it might not work out. The joy of the goal accomplished!

And at the Chamber, I found other business owners who understood. I found people who were willing to share what they learned when it didn’t work out, and leaders willing to celebrate the triumphs when it did. I found community. 

Sure, there are large businesses in the Chamber. There are also middle-size businesses, small businesses and micro businesses. The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has worked hard to ensure that all of us have a voice in this Chamber community. The support, advocacy, and work of their team make each of us better at what we do.

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. 

Five Chamber Members Named Among Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies

Our congratulations to the nine companies from Wichita that were recently named to the 2017 Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list. Five of them are Chamber members.

Two of the companies have won the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year award in the past – Profit Builders & Occidental Management. Another Wichita company on the list, Elite Staffing Solutions, was a finalist for the award this year. Two other Chamber members, Freddy’s & Syndeo Outsourcing, also made the 2017 list.

In a recent news release, Chris Rickerson with Elite Staffing said, “We were the fastest growing company in the Wichita market in 2016 and among the top three in 2017. We just want to thank all of our clients for helping us reach this great accomplishment.”

You’ll find more information about the success of Elite Staffing in the September issue of Inc. magazine where the company is mentioned in a column by Editor in Chief Eric Schurenberg and a feature story by Sheila Marikar. 

Dundas receives Lifetime Sales Achievement Award

One of our favorite things to do is celebrate milestones with our member businesses. Almost equally as exciting is celebrating milestones in the careers of our employees, and today we have that opportunity.

Kresta Dundas, Director of Membership Development for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, has been recognized with the ACCE’s (Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives) Lifetime Sales Achievement Award. Kresta was honored in the Silver Category, meaning she is responsible for 750 new members or $300,000+ in sales over the course of her Chamber career. The official announcement was made in July at the ACCE’s national conference in Nashville.

Kresta joined the Chamber in July 2012. Her responsibilities include overseeing the sales of Chamber memberships, the retention of current members, representing the Chamber at Member Milestone events, and helping businesses get the most value from their membership investment.

“Kresta is an amazing asset to any business, big or small,” said Heather Branson, CEO of Dynamic Sign Solutions. “Her desire to help others grow their organization, along with the Chamber resources she provides, are well worth our annual Wichita Chamber membership dues. The business relationships she can help spark, the wisdom she can share, and her caring demeanor make her a quality investment.”

“Kresta is a key member of our leadership team and is committed to ensuring businesses are successful in their Chamber membership,” said Gary Plummer, Chamber President/CEO.  “She is most deserving of this recognition, and we are proud of her contributions to the Wichita Chamber and our region.”

She has more than 15 years of marketing and sales experience, including nine years in media sales. She is a graduate of Wichita State University and a volunteer for various animal welfare causes.

Please join us in congratulating Kresta!

About ACCE
ACCE—the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives—serves more than 7,500 chamber of commerce professionals, 1,300 chambers of commerce and hundreds of other businesses and organizations, like convention and visitors bureaus and economic development organizations. Established in 1914, ACCE offers resources, industry information and data, professional development opportunities, peer connectivity and best practice sharing through the annual convention and topical conferences, their award-winning magazine, online education, peer networking and other activities.

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.

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.

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.

Love of people, community unite #SmBizAwards finalists

Our 2017 Small Business Awards finalists truly couldn’t be more different when it comes to the industries they span (think from roofing to retail). But what they all do have in common is a love of people and a love for their community. The Wichita Eagle has profiled each of the 10 finalist companies in today’s edition, and links to each story can be found below.

There is another opportunity to hear directly from the finalists at next week’s Sunrise Scrambler, where a representative from each company will share some entrepreneurial insights about what has contributed to their success. The event will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26. Then the Small Business of the Year will be announced at a luncheon on May 24.

About the Small Business Awards
Small business is at the heart of what we do at the Chamber, so we’re so pleased to celebrate the 13th annual Small Business Awards this year. This annual program offers well-deserved recognition to small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community by offering the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story and be rewarded for their efforts. Click here to learn more about the program and to see a list of previous award recipients.

Have a favorite small business? Nominate them!

2017_sba_awards_4cThe Wichita Chamber is accepting nominations for the 2017 Small Business Awards now through Friday, Dec. 9. The program, now in its 13th year, is presented by ComfortCare Homes, Inc. and Occidental Management, Inc. It offers well-deserved recognition to small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community and provides owners and employees the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story and be rewarded for their efforts.

Business Criteria for Participation

  • Headquartered in Wichita Metro area
  • Employ between 1-25 FTE for Tier One, or 26-100 FTE for Tier Two
  • Have been in business for at least three years
  • Demonstrate a commitment to good business practices
  • Maintain good employee relations
  • Contribute to the community
  • Have primary source of revenues from business operations, rather than grants, donors, or governmental funding (not-for-profits may be eligible to apply if they meet this criteria)
  • Be a member in good standing of the Wichita Metro Chamber at the time of application

Nominations can be made online at wichitachamber.org/awards.

One business from each tier will be selected as the 2017 Small Business of the Year, and an awards luncheon will be held in the spring to announce the recipients.

ComfortCare Homes, Inc. was the recipient of our 2016 Small Business of the Year Award (Tier 2) and is a Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Program.

ComfortCare Homes, Inc. was the recipient of our 2016 Small Business of the Year Award (Tier 2) and is a Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Program.

5 Reasons to #ShopSmall on Nov. 26

Think about your favorite coffee shop, boutique or restaurant. Now imagine Wichita without all of our local businesses that make our city unique. Small Business Saturday, a day when holiday shoppers are encouraged to support local brick-and-mortar businesses, is scheduled for November 26, 2016.

K. Lanes is a women's boutique located at 600 S. Tyler.

K. Lanes is a women’s boutique located at 600 S. Tyler.

But what exactly are the benefits of shopping small (on the 26th and everyday)? Here are just a few:

1. Supporting your city
When you shop small, you’re also supporting and growing your community. Businesses pay taxes, which in turn fund schools, roads, firefighters, etc. Studies have shown that $68 of every $100 spent at small businesses stays in the community.

2. Impacting the economy
More than half of new U.S. jobs created since 1995 have come from small businesses, making small biz the backbone of America.

Burnell's Fine Jewelry and Design is located at 550 N. Rock and offers pieces from world-famous designers, as well as custom work.

Burnell’s Fine Jewelry and Design is located at 550 N. Rock and offers pieces from world-famous designers, as well as custom work.

3. Being WOWed by excellent customer service
One of the biggest advantages small businesses have over large retailers is the ability to provide more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service. You will most likely be helped by the owner, their family or someone vested in the success of the business.

4. Finding unique items
Searching for the perfect gifts can be difficult enough without seeing the same products time after time. Small businesses are more likely to offer “Where did you get that?” items not found in departments stores.

MODE is a designer denim outlet boutique located at 2431 N. Greenwich.

MODE is a designer denim outlet boutique located at 2431 N. Greenwich.

5. Being part of the American Dream
Small-business owners are the embodiment of the American Dream; supporting  them makes you part of the dream, and who wouldn’t want that?

Search #ShopSmall on social media to see many more reasons, then add your own!