Schwindaman Takes the Reins in 2017

In addition to his role as the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and President & CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc., Scott Schwindaman has a family-run operation that breeds, raises, and shows rare black Clydesdale horses. Photo credit: Brett Schauf with tjstudios.com

Scott Schwindaman has a family-run operation that breeds, raises, and shows rare black Clydesdale horses.
Photo credit: Brett Schauf with tjstudios.com

Scott Schwindaman, President & CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. is the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. He’s been involved in the Chamber ever since Gary Mason with iSi Environmental recommended that it would be the perfect place for him to channel his passion for improving the business climate in Wichita.

Shortly after becoming involved in the Chamber, Schwindaman participated in the Chamber’s annual Washington, DC Fly-in. His visit with the Kansas delegation and his conversations with Chamber leadership solidified his interest in contributing his talents and energy to Chamber programs and initiatives.

He’s serving as the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board during the organization’s centennial year and recently took the time to share his thoughts on the company he leads, what he likes about doing business in Wichita, and the Chamber’s 2017 strategic priorities.

Company background

What products and services does Lubrication Engineers provide?
We’re a high-performance lubricant manufacturer and service company, operating in 74 countries around the world. We help businesses improve their bottom lines by improving their uptime and efficiencies from an operational standpoint.

Where do you see Lubrication Engineers in five years?
We’ll continue to offer our customers high value products and services. And we’ll be growing at a rapid pace through new international and domestic joint ventures and some acquisitions.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your company?
I am highly committed to growing our company and taking care of our employees. I also enjoy this industry because of the things I get to see and experience. One day I could be standing on a NASA launch pad, and the next day I could be eating ice cream at the Häagen-Dazs factory. We supply lubricants to a vast array of companies and industries.

Describe your business’ most recent success.
We’ve undertaken a joint international venture with Kyodo Yushi USA to create a new company, Kyodo Yushi Manufacturing Americas, LLC. The new company will be located in the Wichita region and we anticipate that they’ll create five permanent jobs and up to 30 contract jobs.

To what do you attribute your growth and success?
Our success is 100% due to our commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Our ability to give our customers what they need, when they need it, is our highest priority.

What’s the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
It’s very easy to do business here. Many deals are still done on a handshake and a relationship. You don’t find that on the coasts.

When did you get started in the business world?
My first job was with Southwest Grease and Oil when I was 16 years old. At that time they had three plants and one of them was located where the Hyatt now stands. I started with Lubrication Engineers when I was in college as a lab tech. So I grew up in the business.

Thoughts on the Chamber

What one word best describes the Chamber?
Dynamic. I see a lot of things happenings in our community right now, and I feel that some of that positive movement can be attributed to the Chamber. One example is the work of the Leadership Council’s Entrepreneurship Task Force that was launched at the Chamber. There’s an excitement in the city that I haven’t sensed for a long time, and it’s because leaders are coming together to do things that benefit the community as a whole, and not just for their own financial gain. We’re united in expanding the opportunities for entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

Through my work as the co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Task Force, I’ve seen Startup Grind Wichita, e2e, 1 Million Cups ICT, the Chamber, Startup Wichita, MakeICT, GroundWork, SCORE, WSU MakerSpace, the Wichita office of the Small Business Administration, and so many others working in concert to connect entrepreneurs to the resources and expertise they need. And the visibility of the organizations supporting young entrepreneurs like DECA, Youth Entrepreneurs, Junior Achievement, and SocialPreneur has also increased dramatically.

How does this Chamber compare to other Chambers?
I travel around the U.S. quite a bit so I get to see how Chambers operate in other communities. We have a very strong Chamber and we should be proud of that. We’re looking forward to increasing our membership levels this year.

What is your favorite Chamber event, program, or service and why?
I always look forward to the Annual Meeting. This Chamber does a tremendous job of selecting and bringing high caliber speakers to Wichita. That’s not common in other communities. I really liked the new format we used in 2016. Moving from a formal sit-down dinner to an informal networking event generated a lot of positive feedback from our members.

What do you find most valuable about your Chamber membership?
One of the many lessons I learned from my father was that everyone has a civic duty to give back to their community. So for us, giving back to the community where our business is located and where our employees live is a priority. Being a member of the Chamber is one way to accomplish that.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly would you recommend Chamber membership to a colleague?
9 – The benefits are so huge for both small and large businesses. From political advocacy, to education, to networking and leads generation – the benefits far outweigh the cost of a membership.

What do you consider Wichita’s biggest challenge that the Chamber can influence?Diversity and inclusion. The Chamber Board and staff have four strategic priorities in 2017, but our ongoing work in attracting and retaining our region’s workforce will be much more focused on diversity and inclusion. A workforce that’s engaged, innovative and productive is vital. But intent doesn’t always equal impact. Leadership is key to making it happen. Every single business and organization needs to step up and become involved. During our February 7 Chairman’s Lunch we’ll be providing our members with some specific tactics they can use to work on this issue. Working on this issue together strengthens our community as a whole and makes our region a much more attractive place to grow companies, careers and communities.

Personal

What is something people may not know about you?
My family is one of the major Clydesdale horse breeders in the U.S. Our operation has 30 horses. We’re unique because we raise and work with black Clydesdales, which are a rare color for that breed. We travel around the country showing and selling them and participating in events. All three of my children are involved in the operation and we’ve really enjoyed becoming part of an international network that’s allowed us to meet so many interesting people and even some celebrities. What I originally thought would be a six-month stint as a short-term hobby for my children when they were youngsters has turned into a lifelong interest and commitment that involves our entire family.

How do your colleagues describe you?
I’ve been called the “niche master” because I love the challenge of finding solutions to problems other people describe as unsolvable. Saying something is impossible to fix always motivates me to tackle it. Whether it’s researching horse pedigrees for breeding programs or finding solutions for my customers, I really enjoy engineering a solution.

Favorite app?
I’m a Weather Channel junkie, so I’m always checking my app to see what the weather is like, both in Wichita and other places I visit.

Favorite business book?
Good to Great  by Jim Collins

Favorite meal?
Bite Me BBQ (located at 132 N. St Francis)

Entrepreneurship changes lives

"Team Wichita" prepares to hit the stage for the evenings event.

“Team Wichita” prepares to take to the stage for the evening’s event. From left to right: Scott Schwindaman, Christina Long, Barry Schwan, Gary Plummer, Angie Elliott, Rachel Douglass, Trevor Crotts and Miguel Johns.

Enthusiastic entrepreneurs from as far away as Joplin, MO, attended the Chamber’s  Annual Meeting last night to hear our keynote speaker and entrepreneurial expert, Daymond John. We’ve heard many favorable comments about his inspirational message, the inclusiveness of the event, and the showcasing of so many talented young entrepreneurs during the networking portion of the evening and on stage.

Our thanks to our dedicated sponsors who recognize the value of expanding and promoting Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. And our special thanks to all who attended and demonstrated to local entrepreneurs that Wichita wants to provide more opportunities for local innovators.

Some of our favorite tweets from the event are shared below and you’ll also find links to the videos that were shown last night, the Wichita Eagle’s coverage by Dan Voorhis and images from the evening.

VideosSponsors, Wichita Chamber:  Activation, Incubation & Acceleration,
Wichita Eagle storyWichitans have no problem swimming in the ‘Shark Tank’
Facebook Album2016 Annual Meeting with Daymond John

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andrewsjohnsonbernstorfclarycml-collective-2

 

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.