2021 Corporate Milestones

By Dennis Boone

Competition has always been the fire under the crucible of American business—innovate, improve and grow . . . or die. Sometimes, though, things outside a leader’s control can pose an existential threat. As we saw in 2020. Government mandates to restrict public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and unprecedented orders for certain kinds of businesses to close their doors entirely, were on track to wipe out 2 million U.S. businesses, according to the consulting firm McKinsey. But here, for a sixth year, Ingram’s presents a look at companies that have stood the test of time—time and time again. Some of these organizations are non-profits, some are public companies; most are private, and in many cases, still family owned. But all share that genetic bond, the desire to innovate, expand and improve. A lot of businesses suffered, and many closed, during the Great Recession a decade ago. This past year was much worse. So a business anniversary in 2021 is indeed something to celebrate. Here, then, are more than 250 companies that will light candles for golden anniversaries or more this year. Congratulations to one and all for making it here. Please join us in saluting them for their achievements, and for their example.

150 years (founded 1871)

Kendall State Bank After 150 years in business, there are bound to be some good stories to tell. As with the Kendall State Bank of Valley Falls, Kan. It’s been a long and winding corporate road since M.P. Hilyear opened the Grasshopper Valley Bank in 1871, when the town was known as Grasshopper Falls. In the years that followed, a succession of owners included Rufus Crosby, whose daughter Charlotte would marry a former shoe salesman who, in turn, would become the figurehead of a banking empire—William T. Kemper. From that union sprang the families that have led two Kansas City banking titans, Commerce Bank and UMB Bank, for more than a century. Another historical footnote: Lida Goodrich, who started working at predecessor Valley Falls Bank of Deposit in July 1892, would become the first woman to attain the rank of cashier at a bank in Kansas. Nearly a century after its founding, VFSB merged into Kendall State Bank—a relative pup took its name from a Crosby business partner, Alvin Kendall,
and after a series of mergers, took its current corporate structure in 1965. Today, with $52 million in assets, it’s the consummate picture of a community bank, still standing on its own in an era of increasing consolidation.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners The United States of 1871 still had a Wild West flavor—and 13 more states to add to the flag—when a forward-looking group of public-sector insurance overseers recognized the need to develop uniform financial reporting by insurance companies. This, mind you, was more than 30 years before creation of the federal Department of Commerce set the stage for a commercial regulatory environment, wherein each state retains ultimate authority over insurance matters. Today, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories or protectorates are all represented by the NAIC, which advocates for the commission in Washington, where the executive team resides; the central headquarters remains in Kansas City. The organization offers guidance to lawmakers formulating legislative concepts, as well as improved data collection and delivery, and presses for its members to raise their technological capabilities.

Shamrad Metal Fabricators Jesse James and Buffalo Bill Cody were still walking the muddy streets of St. Joseph when Shamrad Metal Fabricators began a mission of taming the American West with the muscle of industry: processing and heating boilers. It was a time, the company says, “when craftsmanship, quality, and personal service were not just slogans on a signboard, but a way of life.” But the pride taken by blacksmiths of the era translated into a corporate culture that thrives 1½ centuries later. Remarkably enough, Shamrad sits on the same location as it delivers metal-fabrication services for clients. The common thread throughout that history, the company says, has been the quality of its work force. “Seasoned, talented, caring craftsmen are truly Shamrad’s biggest plus,” it declares in boasting of the skills possessed by its professional registered engineers, welders, boilermakers, and metal workers. One reason for its longevity has been the ability to serve a broad range of industrial clients—in pollution control, earth-moving, construction, transportation, food production, chemicals, fertilizers, public utilities and many others. An asset that fell into the company’s lap was the 20th-century construction of Interstate 29, opening up ready access to other national markets.

140 years (founded 1881)

Prier Products The path to 140 years requires alterations in the business model of almost every company, and this Grandview-based firm is no exception. The brass-working skills of German immigrant Anton Prier planted the seed for a North American maker of residential, commercial and ground hydrants, angle sill faucets, plumbing brass, drainage products and specialty valves, with four facilities on its Grandview production campus. Creating a legacy, said President Nick Manning, “begins with knowing your organization’s purpose. When we shifted our focus toward people, we realized an increase in quality and profitability, which created more opportunities. In order to reach the next 140 years, we continually look for ways to empower our associates, live our mission statement and impact lives.”

135 years (founded 1886)

Burd & Fletcher A box isn’t always a box—especially if your brand’s visibility is riding on the design and integrity of that packaging. For 135 years, and across six generations, the folks at Independence-based Burd & Fletcher have been taking care of clients, helping their products stand out on store shelves, by using two key success metrics: the success of its customers and the performance of what it calls its most valued asset, its employees. The staff, with an average tenure of 20 years, helps navigate a serpentine path from concept to consumer by assisting clients with everything from brand strategy, design, prepress and printing, but shipping, fulfillment and guidance on consumer-facing retail shelf and food-service location. Among the brands supported by the company’s services are well-known names like Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Healthy Choice prepared frozen foods and Belfonte dairy products.

130 years (founded 1891)

Lawrence Journal-World In the past 20 years, beyond big-box retailers, has any industry been forced to weather more change than newspapers? It’d be hard to make a case for anyone more affected by the digital age than the newspaper industry. ut the Lawrence Journal-World continues to wage that fight with enhanced delivery of a digital information suite that covers local news, sports ranging from KU and regional high schools up to Kansas City pro teams, and business developments. In addition to city, county and state government reporting, it offers healthy living content, public safety and K-12 education coverage, commentary and more. From its founding in 1891 by W.C. Simons, the newspaper was owned and operated for four generations of the hometown Simons family before being sold to Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling, W. Va., in 2016.

125 years (founded 1896)

Faultless Healthcare Linen This is focus: Faultless Healthcare Linen provides the garments worn by health-care workers, along with the cleaning services for them. And that’s all. As such, it’s the only company in Missouri and Kansas that has earned critical certifications in four key areas: Hygienically Clean, HLAC, Infection Control University and Clean Green. In four states, spanning the Colorado-Utah border to the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Faultless provides compliance assurance and competitive superiority through its use of technology, inventory tracking and custom PPAPD reporting. It helps you see how you compare to peer so you can better control linen use and cost. The goal for customers: assured compliance with standards of cleanliness, effective cost management and enhanced patient satisfaction.

120 years (founded 1901)

Kansas City Tent & Awning Commercial and residential clients alike turn to Kansas City Tent & Awning for shade and climate control with a touch of artistry. And the product line—custom commercial and residential awnings, canopies, shade sails and wind breaks—is not limited to heat-relief: The company also has window and façade treatments that help prevent icy entrances on staircases, and others that offer protection from sleet, snow and bitter winds. Lake Country Investments, parent of Welhener-H.B. Wall Awning of Springfield, bought KCT&A in September 2019 but new owners Ron and Scott Neville kept the company name and intact, saying it was “tremendously valuable” as a brand.”

115 years (founded 1906)

Scavuzzo’s The history of Scavuzzo’s, like the stories of many a multigenerational family, covers a lot of timelines. But the earliest incarnation of what today is Scavuzzo’s can be traced back to the founding of a small butcher shop by Sicilian immigrants to Kansas City in 1906. Today, it is a woman-owned enterprise operating as a food-service distributor under the guidance of Pam Scavuzzo, whose husband, John, operates S&S Meat Co., the butchering descendant of the original operation. Scavuzzo’s stakes its claim to being the only independent, local food-service distributor based in Kansas City. It offers commercial clients beef, pork, seafood and poultry options, complete with on-line ordering and—fittingly enough in the pandemic era—even has contactless pickup services.

110 years (founded 1911)

Victor L. Phillips Co. For roughly 40 years, from 1880 to 1920, the Kansas City area was a red-hot market for construction and expansion. So when the Victor L. Phillips Co. opened its doors in 1911 by dealing in used construction equipment—concrete mixers, horse drawn concrete carts and the like—it had to hit the ground running. Survival meant innovating, and fast. Phillips and his business partner, W.C. Jones, knew there would be increasing demand for newer, more advanced equipment, and set out to expand the product line. That “get-‘er-done” mindset has been part of the company culture now for more than a century as the company has grown to become a construction equipment dealer serving the Midwest. It has six locations and more than 100 employees in the two-state area. Last year, it was acquired by the fastest-growing construction equipment rental and technology solutions provider in the U.S., and continues to operate as a separate division: VLP, an EquipmentShare company, offering new and used equipment, repair and maintenance services, and parts support.

100 years (founded 1921)

Carrothers Construction Co. Full-size swimming pools, spray parks, aquatic centers, fountains—if it’s a construction project designed around water, Paola-based Carrothers Construction has been on the job for a century. Rooted in a family partnership that began in Topeka, Carrothers Brothers Construction, the company moved to Paola in 1945 and has evolved into a regional power operating in 13 states. Its success ledger holds entries from more than 300 projects with a combined value north of $250 million, including five municipal-type pool models ranging up to nearly 6,700 square feet.

Ryan Building Materials When the folks at Ryan Building Materials talk about being a part of Kansas City’s construction history, it’s not an idle boast. Over the company’s first 100 years, it has provided the raw materials for construction companies that have given us local landmarks that include Arrowhead Stadium, Children’s Mercy Park, Prairiefire and Boulevard Brewing Co. It provides everything from asphalt tools to concrete products and materials, masonry products, pipe and drainage systems, and more, all from the biggest vendor names in construction materials today.

95 years (founded 1926)

D.H. Pace Co. The tagline says it all: “Everything Doors Since 1926.” And yet there’s more to D.H. Pace than doors. The Olathe company also specializes in docking and security solutions for clients nationwide, serving as a partner in construction, renovation, maintenance and repair of entry systems. With 55 locations nationwide, more than 2,900 employees and 1,300-plus service vehicles, if you can’t get assistance with your needs from D.H. Pace, you’re not making much of an effort. From its beginnings as Overhead Door Co., following the introduction of the lift-action garage door, the company has masterfully executed a plan for both strategic growth and targeted acquisitions. The company has been owned by the same family since Ed Newcomer purchased it in 1977, and today is run by his son, Rex, the chief executive, and had 2019 revenues of $677 million.

90 years (founded 1931)

Mid-West Terminal Warehouse Co. Fixed in the heart of the nation’s modern logistics sector, Mid-West Terminal Warehouse Co. was a force in the industrial-property scene long before Kansas City became one of the hottest markets in the country. The firm and its subsidiaries specialize in industrial real estate developments, warehousing, and bulk terminal operations—developing, owning, and managing more than 2.7 million square feet of industrial space in the Kansas City market. Midwest Terminal is one of three corporate silos; Industrial Park Realty Co. specializes in brokerage services, and MWT Bulk Services operates a dry bulk terminal for warehousing and transloading services.

85 years (founded 1936)

Milberger Pest Control Why has Everett Milberger Pest Control been around so long? “Because our products and staff get results,” the company declares. “We train, certify and bond our exterminators so you receive professional results and excellent customer service every time.” That consistency has been a hallmark of the company since its namesake started the enterprise. It offers termite, flea and other insect control solutions for commercial and residential customers. And as a measure of commitment to the community it serves, it in turn supports a number of non-profit causes with its corporate philanthropy, including Habitat for Humanity, City Union Mission, Harvesters-The Community Food Network and Toys 4 Tots.

75 years (founded 1946)

Anderson Survey Co. James Pearl Anderson plied his trade as a surveyor working for various companies—and on major projects like the Bagnell Dam and Lake of the Ozarks—before taking the entrepreneurial leap in 1946. He died just two years into that venture, but Robert and Oliver Anderson, his sons, took the reins to establish one of the leading surveying firms in the Midwest. Today, generation No. 3—Oliver’s children, James and Jeanette—are at the helm. Anderson is the place to go for archival atlases of North Kansas City and Clay County, part of a library brimming with extensive original copies of subdivision plats in Jackson, Clay, Platte, Johnson and Wyandotte counties—documents that cannot be found online.

Drexel Technologies Document management has come a long way since 1946, and Drexel Technologies has weathered the evolution with services that also include equipment placement, print operations, software and hardware focused primarily on clients in the construction and engineering/design sectors. Getting to a diamond anniversary is the result of what the company calls its founding principle: “to deliver outstanding customer service in the markets we serve.” It has found its sweet spot by being large enough to have the right resources available, but small enough to make quick decisions.

Gates Bar-B-Q The name is synonymous with the emergence of barbecue as a food for the masses: George Gates laid the foundation in 1946, forsaking railroad work to pursue his true passion. That mantle was handed down to son Ollie, who built the concept into a regional chain, now with six locations offering the famous assortment of smoked ribs, brisket, chicken, mutton and sausage, with all the goodies on the side. More than just a local culinary fixture, Gates Bar-B-Q has been a cultural phenomenon, as well, as the historical photos of Ollie Gates with past presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton attest.

Siggins Co. Manufacturing has long been the muscular element of the U.S. economy, but who do the makers turn to for their heavy-lifting needs?Businesses like Siggins Co., that’s who. Celebrating a diamond anniversary this year, this Kansas City company turns out conveyors, product pickers, palletizers, racks, shelving, carousels—the stuff of industry. It serves clients in more than a dozen key areas, from automotive and apparel to consumer products, medical and schools supplies, and more. And all of it aimed at improving product flow, storage efficiency, employee productivity and ROI.

70 years (founded 1951)

Anthony Plumbing & Heating The “Anthony” in Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric was Anthony D’Agostino, who built the consummate family business by adding five sons to the operation. His oldest son, Paul, bought the company in 1999, then in 2007, sold it to Steve Burbridge, who knew a little something about family-run plumbing companies—his father, Ralph, had purchased Neal Harris Heating, AC and Plumbing back in 1982. Today, the younger Burbridge and a team of 150 provide plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical and air-quality services. Neighbors Construction Co. Like a lot of family-owned construction company leaders, Roger Neighbors got his start by schlepping tools around a job site for his father—and taking grief from the crew because he was the boss’s son. But he vowed to work twice as hard to show he had what it took, and nearly 50 years later, Neighbors Construction continues to thrive, primarily as a builder of multifamily complexes in the region. He and wife Nancy, plus a third generation in their sons Ryan and Arron, also apply the company’s expertise in wood-frame construction to commercial buildings and rehab/adaptive reuse projects.

65 years (founded 1956)

Mize CPAs, Inc. Innovation and the ability to wield technology effectively were founding principles when Bob Mize and Ralph Houser opened this accounting firm in 1956, and through the decades since, those values helped create a op 200 firm, according to an annual survey by INSIDE Public Accounting. A full-service firm with expertise in audit, bill paying, financial planning and reporting, IT, tax and CPA services, the firm has a broad and diverse range of clients, including auto dealers and restaurants, construction companies, manufacturers and closely-held businesses. It also has the distinction of serving McDonalds’ franchisees nationwide—more than 200 owner groups operating more than 3,000 locations.

Nigro’s Western Wear Back when Tony Nigro Sr. opened his authentic western wear and tack store in Merriam, you didn’t have to go far to find horse owners, even in northern Johnson County. While the suburbs have changed things, the store on Merriam Drive continues to thrive with its sales of boots, hats and western wear. The ownership has passed to Tony’s son David Nigro Sr., Anita Nigro and David Jr. You won’t find many places in the entire region with a dozen cowboy-boot brands to choose from for men, and six for women. And if an authentic Stetson is on your wish list, you can get one here.The selections also include outerwear, shirts, belts and hat-care products.

60 years (founded 1961)

CFS Engineers The brand has changed—what was once Cook, Flatt & Strobel is now CFS Engineers—but the mission for this Topeka-based regional engineering firm, and it’s commitment to civil engineering services, never wanes. The firm specializes in public-infrastructure projects, including transportation, bridges, detention dams, parks, and utility-design projects. And with its building services, it addresses the needs for planning, platting, permitting, design, utility connections, and landscape architecture. From four metro area locations, plus offices in Jefferson City and Springfield, CFS also performs construction-materials testing, surveying, inspections, project management and other services.

Miller Group A family-owned business in every sense, the Robert E. Miller Group provides insurance, surety bonds, employee benefits, HR and risk management services to business owners and, in some cases, their families. The key to its sustainability—and ability to employ a third-generation in the children of CEO Sean Miller and his brother, Matt, President, has been adherence to values articulated by their dad, Bob Miller. Since the brothers assumed control two decades ago, Miller Group has grown roughly 600 percent. Why? In part, “because we’re an organization that encourages people do to the right thing.”

55 years (founded 1966)

Oddo Development It tell you something about how busy Frank Oddo was more than half a century back, in that not only is Oddo Development celebrating 55 years in business in 2021, but City Wide Maintenance—the nationally franchised commercial maintenance firm he started with a mop and a bucket—turns 60. Both enterprises are run by sons Rick on the development side and Jeff handling City Wide, and a third company, credit-card processor Basys Processing, is in the hands of the youngest, Brad. All three are ground in Dad’s value set, which has proven to be a formula for sustainable success.

50 years (founded 1971)

Euston Hardware The big-box hardware stores may be raptors, then between their talons, you can still find the neighborhood versions that once were fixtures in almost any suburban town square. Filling that role nicely after half a century is Euston Hardware, with stores in Waldo, Prairie Village and south Kansas City. There, customers—many of them known by name to long-time staff—will pay a small premium for the close-to-home access, products they need as professionals or guidance they seek for DIY home improvements—lumber, paint, plumbing supplies, tools and hardware, lawn machinery and fertilizer and much more.

Missouri Glass Commercial, residential, auto—even machine glass for backhoes and tractors—if you can think of an application that requires glass, you can probably find a solution in St. Joseph, at Missouri Glass. The company offer a full suite of services, from sales and installation to repair and replacement, with products that include auto glass, curtain walls and storefront and glazing work, among others, and it does custom glass cutting. In the home, it goes beyond window and door glass to cover consumer needs for showers, patios and patio table tops, mirrors and picture-frame glass.

The Dive Shop Roughly 800 miles separate Kansas City from what may be the closest ocean beach in Galveston, Texas. So why a scuba-diving specialty business? Why not? But there it sits in Prairie Village, nearly as old as the city itself, selling new and used diving equipment, providing rental gear, offering classes from introductory through professional level, and planning group trips to coastal or Caribbean destinations. The shop has an on-site pool for training, and can also outfit prospective divers with an array of accessories that include diving lights, knives, full set-up with masks, snorkels and fins, and waterproof containers.

Staco Electric Construction Co. A golden anniversary is a big deal, but at Staco Electric, says owner Vanessa Linscott, “we can only take any credit for success over the last five-plus years. However, we feel strongly that Staco Electric’s longevity is largely owed to a commitment in long-term relationships, excellent customer service as well as an exceptional end product.” Those standards were first articulated by the founding trio; Linscott and husband, Jeff, acquired the company in 2015 and continue to provide services to commercial and industrial clients, as well as those in health-care, utility and information systems, and meet renewable-energy needs. The goal going forward, Linscott says, “will be to continue to build on this reputation. We strive to always remain nimble in the commercial electrical market and willing to go the extra mile for our customers.”

United Office Products Family-owned and operating in Olathe since 1971, Quality Office Products is a one-stop shop for anything needed to keep an office running—or in the age of work-from-home, turn that spare bedroom into a fully function satellite office. Its office furniture showroom is among the largest in the region, and it offers a robust line of products that start with office supplies (calendars, stationery, etc.) and runs the gamut of tech tools (A/V players, cameras, computers and more), furniture (desks, tables, chairs, filing and storage) and even supplies and cleaning materials for your breakroom.


Ingram’s 2021 edition of Milestones-Corporate Anniversaries is a data dive that requires deep and intensive research by our staff. But we can only work with data as it exists, and frankly, the states of Missouri and Kansas have business databases shot through with inaccuracies. Even after years of refinement, there’s still a chance we’ve missed some companies celebrating a milestone anniversary this year. If yours is one of them, please let us know by emailing Editorial@Ingrams.com, calling us at 816.842.9994, and most importantly, registering your firm on www.Ingrams.com. While you’re at it, include your complimentary company profile. Register Your Organization at: Survey.Ingrams.com Ingram’s Leads & Lists Online is coming soon. For information on positioning opportunities, please give us a call at 816.842.9994; email Advertising@Ingrams.com.