New Engage & Ignite Small Business Conference Scheduled for May 11

2016_SBA_awards_4cLeading-edge ideas and enlightening discussions about the fundamentals of running a small business are the topics of a new conference that has been added to our annual Small Business Awards event. The Engage & Ignite Small Business Conference will be held on Wednesday, May 11, prior to the Small Business Awards Luncheon and the announcement of the 2016 Small Business of the Year.

Angie Elliott, Vice President of Business Services, says the new conference is the brainchild of the Small Business Awards planning committee. “The annual Small Business Awards luncheon is always well attended because people really enjoy learning the stories behind the success of our top ten small businesses. They like to peek behind the scenes and learn about the obstacles those businesses have overcome and how they can apply some of those lessons to their own organizations. We’ve been working on expanding that learning experience and the result is a new morning conference that will be followed by our annual luncheon.”

The conference will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency of Wichita. Three sessions are available for attendees every half hour with a short break in between. Topics range from Dealing with Common Family Business Challenges to Low-Cost Marketing Ideas. The luncheon begins at 11:15 a.m.

Elliott said the Small Business Awards committee kept the conference cost affordable at $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.”

Small Business Awards Events

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Broadening the Chamber’s reach in 2016

By Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman
Owner, House of Schwan

One of the Chamber’s 2016 strategic priorities is to enhance our regional profile. Our new partnership with The Wichita Eagle is one way we are increasing our regional reach as we accelerate our momentum. Eagle publisher and Chamber Board member Roy Heatherly has worked with his staff to develop two new tools in 2016 to communicate the Chamber’s initiatives and accomplishments across south central Kansas:  1) a Monthly Update in the Business section of the Eagle and 2) a six-page quarterly publication, called Synergy, inserted in the Sunday edition of the Eagle.

Barry Schwan 2016 Chamber Chairman

Barry Schwan
2016 Chamber Chairman

I’ve already heard favorable comments from colleagues about the three Monthly Updates we’ve published during the first quarter of the year. We’ve used this platform to inform Eagle Business section readers about new business openings, answer frequently asked questions about our role in the community, and encourage participation in a statewide summit of young professionals that takes place on April 22.

The first edition of our 2016 quarterly publication, Synergy, appeared as an insert in last Sunday’s Wichita Eagle. This publication replaces a printed quarterly 8.5” x 11” newsletter that used to be mailed to 3,500 Chamber members. The publication title remains unchanged and Chamber members will notice some similarities to the previous format. With more copy space available, we’ve  increased the coverage of Chamber members and activities. And our messages can now reach up to 197,000 Sunday readers. Chamber members will also receive the newsletter in a digital format and the public has access to it on our website.

I’m interested in your feedback about these changes and I encourage you to share your thoughts and comments with me, other Board members, and Chamber staff. We’ve set up a special communication survey on our website so that you can provide input about improving the delivery format and content of all of our communication tools. You’ll find the survey at

My thanks to Roy and his staff for making these improvements possible. New partnerships like this one are contributing to renewed momentum in the business community. These vital collaborations sharpen our focus on driving economic growth and community advancement.

Clark Bastian on the benefits of Leadership Wichita

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

Clark Bastian

Clark Bastian – Leadership Wichita Class of 1984

Introduced in 1983 as Leadership 2000, it was eventually renamed Leadership Wichita and is now the longest-running leadership program in Wichita. More than 750 local business, government and military leaders have completed the program. Fidelity Bank chairman and chief executive officer, Clark Bastian, was a member of the second graduating class. He completed the training in 1984, and attributes part of his leadership success to the program. He described the benefits of the program and how it still helps him succeed in an article published in the March 27 edition of the Wichita Eagle. You can read the full interview with Bastian and learn more about Leadership Wichita below.

–What was your most important takeaway from the program?

The presenters were so friendly and eager to share their perspective on Wichita with us.  They made us feel important and considered us to be the future champions of our city.

–What surprised you most about the program or agenda?

At our graduation dinner, one of the speakers pointed out that twenty years from now, there would still be fewer than 500 alumni from the program. It confirmed we were a part of something quite special.

–Any lessons you learned that you continue to use today?

It made me realize the value and enjoyment of mentoring future leaders.

–How did it differ from other leadership programs that you’ve experienced?

The Chamber’s Leadership Wichita program is unique in that the presenters are the top leaders of our community, who gladly give of their time to encourage the next generation of citizen leaders.

–What other community leadership positions have you held since 1984?

Well, it’s been over thirty years since my graduation and I’ve been afforded many opportunities to serve on committees and governing boards of organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in Wichita.

–Do you still interact with any of your classmates from the program?

Of the original twenty…sadly, some have passed away; some left the area for other opportunities. In 1991, one of my classmates and I traveled with our wives to Europe. Another, I bump into regularly at community events.

–Do you continue to recommend the program or nominate others that you mentor?

I highly recommend the Chamber’s Leadership Wichita program. And, over the years it’s been fun to meet alumni and tell them, “Hey – I was in the class of `84.” It’s an instant bond of friendship.

–Do you think it’s important for the Chamber to continue to facilitate leadership training? Why or why not?

The Chamber is in a unique position to furnish staff support and engage community leaders as presenters for the program. We owe it to the future champions of our city to provide this experience.

Leadership2000 - Class of 1984

Bastian is pictured in the back row of the Class of 1984 photo.

Those interested in participating in the 2016 program must be nominated and then submit an application by June 22. The sessions will be held from Sept. 8 through Nov. 17.

Check the Chamber’s online alumni directory for a list of other program graduates.

Strengthening and Diversifying Our Membership

A group of volunteers gathered at 7:30 a.m. this morning to discuss the importance of Chamber membership. Over the next two weeks these dedicated Chamber members will be asking their colleagues at other organizations to consider joining the Chamber. We’re fortunate to have such remarkable volunteers who are committed to strengthening and diversifying our membership. Their important work helps ensure the Chamber will continue to be a dynamic coalition supporting the economic growth and community advancement of the Wichita region.

You may be aware of a local business leader who has expressed interest in becoming more actively involved in shaping the region’s business environment. If so, please share with them why you devote your own time and resources to strengthening Wichita’s business voice. Encourage them to contact Kresta Dundas (316-268-1115 or for more information about the benefits of Chamber membership.

Please help us thank this devoted team of volunteers (especially event co-chairs Andrea Scarpelli of Simmons Bank and Michael Monteferrante of Envision) for enlisting other businesses in our ongoing effort to make Wichita the premier place to grow companies, careers and communities. See our Facebook album for photos of this morning’s event.


Event Co-Chair Andrea Scarpelli addresses the volunteers at the breakfast kickoff.


Kansas YP Summit coming to Wichita

Early-bird registration deadline extended to March 24

What is there to like about the month of April?

  • The blooming trees?
  • Fresh flowers and sunny days?
  • Famous Kansas thunderstorms?

How about it being the month the Kansas YP Summit is held? This is the first year the Young Professionals of Wichita will host the 7th annual event in Wichita, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency on April 22.

YP Summit STD

This year’s theme is “Taking Flight and Changing Tomorrow” and is all about creating something that soars more than you can imagine. The Summit will encourage young professionals to find their passion and determine how to bridge the generational gap in order to create viable steps to revitalize Kansas communities, with the ultimate goal of creating social change across the state.

Keynote_Jon AcuffThe recently announced keynote speaker is Jon Acuff (pictured), who plans to share insight into navigating change and how YPs can approach it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Acuff is the author of five books and has helped some of the biggest brands (think Home Depot, Bose, Staples and Dave Ramsey) tell their stories. Acuff points out that “change is upon us.” The focus of the Summit is to manifest the positive aspects of change and let it soar through communities, cities and states.

Clemons-Ebony-1_cropWestar Energy is proud to be sending more than ten people to this year’s YPs summit. Ebony Clemons (pictured), Community Relations Manager at Westar Energy, said, “It is our hope that this summit will help fuel our Westar PowerGen team members on their personal and professional development journey. Our high passion, richly cultured, diverse community challenges us to become better problem solvers and better collaborators. I believe the summit will inspire us to discover/rediscover our strengths, find and leverage opportunities, and create/develop transformative ideas and propositions that will help us move Kansas forward, together!”

The early-bird registration fee is $50 and will increase to $60 after March 24. This fee includes the pre-summit social, breakfast and lunch on the day of the summit. Keynote-only tickets are available for $25 and will increase to $30 after March 24. Besides the keynote presentation, breakout sessions covering topics like personal development, bridging the generation gap, capitalizing passions, and the role YPs have on economic growth and development will be offered.

For more information about the 2016 Kansas YP Summit, check out this page in today’s Wichita Eagle and register your YP employees here before the deadline expires.

Interested in getting your message in front of YPs from Wichita and across the state? Sponsorship opportunities are still available. View the sponsorship menu here and contact Meg Foreman for more information (

By Madison Harris and Lyndsey Edwards

Recap: Change Your Perspective. Change Your Performance.

Aaron Bushell

Aaron Bushell

Aaron Bushell of Equity Bank kicked off our Wednesday morning by reminding Sunrise Scrambler attendees that anything is possible. Oftentimes the only thing standing in our way of accomplishing the “impossible” is us. He said, “The impossible is often merely the untried.” Take for example running a 4-minute mile or space travel – just because something has not previously happened doesn’t mean it never will.

Aaron has provided a wonderful recap of his presentation on his website at Take a few minutes to check it out and then decide what limiting belief it is time for you to overcome.

Check out photos from the Sunrise Scrambler on our Facebook page. Big thanks to this morning’s sponsors: Legacy Bank, Wesley Medical Center and Davis Moore Autogroup.

Register for next month’s Sunrise Scrambler on April 14, when our 10 Small Business Awards finalists will provide a glimpse into their business philosophy and what they believe has contributed to their success.

Introducing our 2016 Small Business of the Year finalists

2016_SBA_awards_4cWe are pleased to announce the ten finalists for our 2016 Small Business of the Year award. This is the twelfth year for the Small Business Awards program, which is presented by the 2015 award recipients: Cornerstone Design and Development, Inc. and Zernco, Inc.

In addition to offering well-deserved recognition to small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community, the program provides owners and their employees the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story, and be rewarded for their efforts.

“Small businesses are at the heart of our community, with almost 90% of our members falling into the small business category,” Chamber President Gary Plummer said. “This program is one of the ways we can recognize the outstanding small businesses that are creating jobs, giving back to Wichita and making this a stronger community. Congratulations to each of these finalists.”

The award program is split into two categories: Tier One, for companies with 25 employees or less; and Tier Two, for companies with between 26 and 100 employees.

Tier One Finalists
Patton Termite and Pest Control
Specs Eyewear
TheraPlay Spot
Tru-Building, Inc.
Xclusive Events

Tier Two Finalists
Builders Plus Construction, LLC
Charles E. Mahaney Roofing Company
ComfortCare Homes, Inc.
Midwest Single Source, Inc.
The Martens Company

More than 100 small businesses were nominated for the award, and 25 completed the application process. The finalists will be featured at a Sunrise Scrambler event on April 14, and an Awards Luncheon will be held on May 11 to announce this year’s winners.

To apply for the award, companies must be headquartered in Wichita, have been in business at least three years, and be Chamber members. Applicants are then evaluated on their business success, employee relations and community contributions.

New to the Small Business Awards program this year is the Engage and Ignite Small Business Conference, which will take place from 9-11 a.m. prior to the Awards Luncheon on May 11. The conference will feature nine different workshops covering topics like employee appreciation, marketing, family business issues, growth and more.

More information about the Small Business Awards program and a complete list of past winners can be found at

2016 Finalists

2016 Finalists