Making Good on a Show-Me Challenge

By Joe Sweeney

We’re pleased to introduce Ingram’s 2015 Class of 40 Under Forty

There’s a reason why we chose Show-Me Publishing as the name for the corporate entity that publishes Ingram’s: I’m a Missouri guy, and when you tell me to take something on faith, my response is likely to come in two words: Show Me.

 That’s the approach we’ve taken, for a 17th year, with our 2015 Class of 40 Under Forty. Once again, we’re delighted to spotlight a new cohort of what we believe is the future of business leadership in the Kansas City region. We asked people we know and respect—many of them past 40 Under Forty honorees, but also many top executives from the most successful and prominent corporations in the region—for their recommendations of candidates.

Once again, the field was teeming with highly qualified and accomplished candidates who are getting it done for their organizations and who are inordinately engaged in civic, philanthropic, school and church life.

It is always very difficult to exclude candidates from consideration, especially those who are 39 this year and won’t be eligible hereafter. Odds at best are 1 in 10 candidates being chosen from the field and that field could include as many as 800 current and past nominees eligible for consideration. Through much deliberation, we’re proud to name a final field that we’re proud to call our 2015 Class of 40 Under Forty.

But not a single one of them got in on someone’s word: We asked nominators and candidates to offer the performance metrics that supported the case for their inclusion. In short, we ask everyone—nominator and nominee: Show me. And they did.

It’s the same level of diligence we’ve applied in each of the previous 16 classes. What did that get us? Including this year’s group, 680 drivers of business success and pillars of their respective communities. In a work force the size of Kansas City, that means each has beaten the odds that suggest your chances of making this elite field in any given year are about 1 in 25,950.

But don’t just take my word for it: Let me show you how that diligence has paid off. A stroll through the roster of only a few 40 Under Forty alumni should do the trick.

From our inaugural year alone, 1998, the promising talent that year yielded the market president for the region’s largest locally owned bank, Kevin Barth at Commerce Bank. And Kansas City’s current police chief, Darryl Forte. And the former CEO of AMC Entertainment, Peter Brown. And entrepreneurial visionaries like Danny O’Neill, whose little specialty coffee company has grown into The Roasterie we know and love today.

Since then, we’ve selected Marty Bicknell (2005) and Peter Mallouk (2007), who have gone on to earn distinction from Barron’s as the nation’s top two wealth managers. Two are currently holding statewide elected office—Attorney General Chris Koster (2002) and Secretary of State Jason Kander (2014). Two are in Congress: Rep. Sam Graves (2002) on the Missouri side, and Rep. Kevin Yoder (2011) on the Kansas side. Mike Maddox (2004) is CEO of CrossFirst Bank, the region’s fastest-growing bank as measured by assets. Jeff Roe (2003) has gone from a specialist in local politics with his Axiom Strategies to earn a national reputation as a political consultant, currently with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

These few alums represent less than 2 percent of our alumni body and are only a small sampling of the extraordinary alliance of accomplished business leaders we’ve named to our 40 Under Forty program and had the pleasure of aligning with over the years.

It is, in short, a line-up of heavy hitters who have validated their selections by showing us. And because of their achievements, they’ve helped make Ingram’s 40 Under Forty the most talked-about business recognition feature we publish each year.

A point of personal pride for us is that employers do not control selections in any way and none of this is pay-to-play: Some of the companies and associates of these honorees step up to support them with congratulatory ads or marketing messages after selections are made. You can’t buy your way in.

So I hope you’ll join us in congratulating this year’s 40 Under Forty, as we again congratulate those who paved the way in previous classes.
The contributions from each have made Kansas City is a better place to live, work and do business.

Thanks for all you do.

About the author


Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher