A Tough Act to Follow

What’s behind us, and what’s still in store …

By Joe Sweeney

Laurel and Hardy was among my favorite shows as a kid and this edition reflects a bit of the Hardy syndrome, being released on the heels of what might be one the larger and most historic and well- produced publications of this organization’s history. 

Ingram’s 50th Anniversary edition was packed with the history of business and the companies, players, events and developments that shaped this great city and region. It may be required reading for young, aspiring business leaders. We printed a few thousand additional copies and we’ll gladly work with organizations to provide bulk copies when buying subscription packages. If you didn’t learn things of significance from that edition, you’re very wise. If you did, empower members of your team by investing in a subscription. 

Last June, I was asked to present to our colleagues in Detroit on the importance and art of special publications, including anniversary editions. Co-presenting was my great friend from Louisiana, Julio Melara, a huge LSU fan who recently hosted this year’s conference. Naturally, I referenced our Chiefs Super Bowl tribute editions. I can tell you that other parts of the country are experiencing Chiefs fatigue because of their dominance. Folks liked our mid-market underdog Chiefs—for a while. I can also tell you they absolutely hate the Chiefs in San Francisco, as they should after a pair of Super Bowl losses. To close the session last year, I was asked a final question: “How can Ingram’s produce so many great special editions?” I simply smiled and said, “If you (SOBs) could field a damn team that can compete with my Chiefs, you would be doing these special editions too.” Then I dropped the mic and walked away laughing. Half of the 200+ publishers, owner and friends belly laughed. The others groused for days.

I was proud to bring Ingram’s 50th Anniversary special edition to Baton Rouge and share it with my colleagues. What they’ll read in that unique edition are the virtues of the greater Kansas City region, how it was built, and by whom. Our team is looking forward to publishing two similar special editions. We’ll showcase half a century of business and leaders from throughout of the great state of Missouri in August. A similar publication will showcase the companies, players and the events and developments that defined the past half century throughout the state of Kansas in November. 

If you like what you saw with Ingram’s 50th, we hope you’ll support these statewide editions. These are extremely difficult to produce but our team is committed to archiving the business history of the past half-century throughout Missouri and Kansas. 

It’s a privilege and an honor to produce the history of regional business and its dynamic personalities and organizations. It’s been a great 28-year run at Ingram’s. I suspect I won’t have many big anniversary editions to memorialize going forward. That’s why we really want to exceed expectations on these three publications.

Building a Team and The Art of Culture

I find myself bragging about our team a lot in recent years as I truly believe we have one of the most cohesive and compatible teams  of any organization in the region. One of my friends referred to our team as the 60 Minutes news crew of regional publishing. I get it. Six from our full- and part-time team of 10 have served this magazine for a collective 155 years. We have a great culture here but we’ve been a bit too busy to enjoy it. We’ll host a fun escape as we near the end of this celebratory year. We all can use a break, especially after last month’s edition.

Michelle and I have found ourselves at the epicenter of publishing Ingram’s during this 50th anniversary and opening a resort, including an awesome restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks. Turns out, that 50th anniversary edition was published the very day of the soft launch of Pebble Bay Club Grill. So we’ve been a bit fragmented.

Unlike sophisticated organizations that have great processes to hire, onboard and stabilize teams, we’re not used to doing so in big numbers. Fortunately, we do not need to heavily staff.

But the restaurant business, as we’ve come to understand, is more challenging. Our particular start-up requires hiring two dozen people. I’d say we’re halfway there in our first month. The Lake of the Ozarks is an interesting region; its persona is not all that different from Jason Bateman’s terrific Netflix series, “Ozark.” I advocate on behalf of our state and always will but the lake region is challenged with an unproductive work force. If in doubt, try building something or hiring there. 

We have been fortunate as we’ve assembled a great team thus far, but not before rearranging the seats on the bus and letting a few passengers off along the way.

As Michelle is well aware, I’m too high-strung to sit idle when I retire. We’ve built something special and I write this column two days before our Grand Opening. Great service always goes far and we’re aspiring to bring great service at the waterfront restaurant and our lodging accommodations. 

We hope our patrons will come and enjoy one of the best meals you’ll ever have, prepared by Executive Chef Rich and Executive Sous Chef Nick. These two and their teams are absolutely remarkable and I see big things coming as a result of this second-to-none culinary team.

About the author


Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher


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