So you’re running a business or organization that has operated for many years?
Congratulations: You’re not just a high-stakes gambler, your organization is a high roller. You and your team have looked the odds squarely in the eye and, without blinking, you’ve run the table.
And what you’re doing matters. While the vast majority of the nearly 29 million businesses in this nation are one-man or -woman shops, your company with a respectful number of employees stands out. Especially the small businesses (those the feds defined as having fewer than 500 employees), which account for 99.7 percent of those enterprises. In your community, your organization provides not only jobs, goods and services, but the economic well-being that makes your organization something special.
You, above all others, need no reminder of the challenge that ownership/leadership entails. But just to put your work into perspective, and show the world why
your company stands out, keep these numbers in mind:
• One company in three will not survive its first year of operation.
• Half of all start-up businesses will not be in operation in five years.
• Just one in three companies will make it to a 10th anniversary.
That tells us about the difficulty of getting past startup; business statistics show that the longer a company has been in business, the more likely it is to stay there. That’s because you’ve mastered the early-stage challenges of cash-flow management, mis-targeted marketing, overcoming seasonal fluctuations, finding the right talent, navigating a benefits minefield now larded with eye-popping costs for health care, finding expansion capital—yours, that of other investors or perhaps a bank or SBA loan—and, really, enough other hurdles to fill every page of this magazine. Twice.
But know this: Smaller companies in it for the long haul, which have survived the 18 percent interest rates of the early ’80s, the dot-com bust, the Great Recession and other milestones along the way, are accounting for 60 percent of job growth since 2009.
So congratulations on making it past 40, or 50, or even 100. You’ve earned the right to celebrate.
So do it. Then, get back to work. Your next milestone anniversary will be here before you know it.
Although plenty has changed in the nearly 200 years that Fairbanks Scales has been around, one thing has remained constant: Products need to be weighed. The company, founded in 1830 by Thaddeus Fairbanks, makes industrial weighing equipment for large products and equipment. Although the manufacturer began in Vermont, it has called Kansas City home since 1988. Fairbanks is still going strong, with more than 500 employees and offices or distributorships in 49 states and 25 countries. The company has changed with the times effectively, developing epoxy-encapsulated circuit boards in its scales to handle wear over the years, and sanitary scales that can ensure products weighed are contaminant-free. Last year, more company innovations created new livestock-weighing equipment and conveyor scales that weigh moving products.
Kaw Valley Bank
The Civil War had been over for only five years when Kaw Valley Bank was founded, and it has been serving the Topeka area ever since. Though the bank changed ownership in 2017, from Kaw Valley Bancorp to Topeka Bancorp, it is still a locally managed community entity and has retained its original name. “We have always emphasized exceptional personalized customer service and a willingness to make commercial loans based on character and business ability rather than wealth, balance sheets, or impersonal criteria,” the bank declares. Kaw Valley currently has seven retail branches, as well as a trust office, in the Kansas capital and reported nearly $316 million in total assets and about $275 million in deposits at the end of the third quarter of 2019.
Bank of Odessa
Another financial institution that has stayed true to its local roots for well more than a century is the Bank of Odessa, with two branches in its Missouri hometown–—its main branch on U.S. Highway 40, and another in Downtown Odessa. The bank is a long-time supporter of Odessa Parks and Recreation, Odessa R-VII School District and the local chamber of commerce. At the end of the third quarter, Bank of Odessa had just over $268 million in total assets and nearly $213 million in deposits. “As Odessa’s hometown bank, we take pride in knowing that we have a vital role in the growth and development of our community. Since 1880 we’ve worked side-by-side with town leaders and residents to help shape the future of Odessa,” states its website.
Evans Real Estate & Insurance
Even though we are living in 2020, if you get a homeowner’s insurance policy from Evans Real Estate & Insurance, of Tonganoxie, it will still be hand-delivered to your door. That’s part of the reason the 125-year-old company is still in business, says John Evans, the fourth-generation owner of the enterprise. The company started as a real-estate entity selling horse and cattle ranches. And his son, John Evans II, company president, is the fifth generation leader. The enterprise branched out into insurance, which makes up 85 percent of its business today, in the 1920s. During the past 125 years, family members have pretty much been the only Evans employees, except for a few recent hires. “I don’t want to hire a lot of salespeople,” Evans said of his family’s role in the company and not wanting to expand more into real estate. “When you have your family sitting across the table from you, you can discuss things and figure them out pretty smoothly.”
Kansas City Life Insurance Company
The Kansas City Life Insurance Company was founded in 1895 as Banker’s Life Association and changed to its current moniker five years later. Its landmark headquarters building, at 3520 Broadway Boulevard, was built in 1924, costing $1 million (about $15 million in today’s figures). For much of the institution’s existence the top executive position has been held by a single family. The insurance company’s current president is R. Philip Bixby; he’s a fourth-generation top executive and the great grandson of J.B. Reynolds, who was its president from 1904 to 1937. Kansas City Life has grown through the years with some significant acquisitions, including, most recently, the 2018 purchase of Grange Life Insurance Company and GuideOne Life Insurance in 2003. A public company, it had just under $4.8 billion in total assets at the end of the third quarter.
Kansas Mutual Insurance Co.
Topeka-based Kansas Mutual Insurance Co. started out in 1895 as Alliance Cooperative Insurance Co., as a vehicle to insure farm properties. The firm started covering non-farm assets in 1905 and changed its name in 1959. Kansas Mutual’s headquarters moved to its current location in 1966, two months before one of the worst-ever tornadoes to hit Topeka touched down, cementing the firm’s commitment to service in the community. The company still covers farms today, offering coverage for farm dwellings, livestock, equipment, buildings and liability.
Portraiture outfit Strauss Peyton started out in 1900 as Strauss Studio, when Benjamin Strauss moved to Kansas City from St. Louis. Then in 1908, he made
artist Homer Peyton a partner and the pair opened a studio in the Muehlebach Hotel. Strauss Peyton took portraits of several celebrities and politicians, including presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, Fred Astaire, Al Jolson, Bette Davis and Jean Harlow. The duo was also sought after to take
portraits of notable KC residents. Strauss Peyton moved to the Country Club Plaza in 1929, and by a stroke of luck, its then owners donated the studio’s historic negatives to the Johnson County Historical Society before the 1977 flood destroyed its headquarters. Strauss Peyton has been owned by the Braswell family since that time, and the studio is now located in Overland Park. “There is always appreciation and desire for a finely lit and posed portrait,” says co-owner Kaela Braswell. “Wall art of your loved ones will never go out of style.”
Rockhurst High School
Rockhurst High School, an all-boys institution, goes by the motto “men for others,” a phrase that comes out of the tradition of Roman Catholic Jesuit college-preparatory tradition. Originally founded as the Academy of Rockhurst College, it changed its name to Rockhurst High School in 1923 and became a separate corporate entity from Rockhurst College when it moved to its current location, at 9301 State Line Road, in 1962. Through the years, the school has produced many Kansas City area business leaders. David J. Laughlin was named the 17th president of the institution at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Rockhurst boasts a 99 percent rate of graduates attending a four-year college, average composite ACT scores of 27 over the past five years and the Class of 2019 produced eight National Merit Finalists.
Rockhurst College was founded with Rockhurst High School in 1910, and its first college classes were held in 1917 at Sedgewick Hall, which is still on its Troost Avenue campus. Based on the approach of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the school offers a liberal education and a focus on community service. The College of Arts and Sciences offers several undergraduate programs, and the university also has a College of Business, Influence and Information Analysis and a College of Health and Human Services that also offer graduate-degree programs. An NCAA Division II school, its men’s soccer team often ranks high nationally. Now called Rockhurst University has produced many regional politicians and actor George Wendt, who played Norm on the TV show “Cheers.”
Charles Tivol opened his first jewelry store in Downtown Kansas City on Petticoat Lane in 1910 and Tivol has been a fixture in the metro’s high-end retail landscape ever since. The Downtown outpost was popular and President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess were known to be customers. In 1951 Tivol moved to the Country Club Plaza, under the direction of Charles’ son Harold, who represented the brand for 70 years and was named to the National Jeweler Hall of Fame in 1986. Tivol still resides at its original Plaza address, and another location, in Leawood’s Hawthorne Plaza, opened in 1994. Cathy Tivol is now the third-generation chief executive of the company, and her son Hunter is a vice president at the retailer.
Madden-McFarland has a century of interior-design work to its credit around the Kansas City area. The company, now based in Leawood, was founded by Gene E. McFarland in his home studio on Paseo Boulevard. In 1969, Bernie Madden joined the outfit, and he later bought out the business, hired professional interior designers and moved to a larger showroom space. The company is still family-owned and works on residential and commercial interior design and also has a retail home-furnishings showroom, in Leawood, that sells furniture, lighting, art, and floor and wall coverings. Madden-McFarland also has a warehouse in Grandview. The full-service business handles new construction and renovations; furniture selection and remodeling; window, wall and floor-covering selection and installation; and other design needs.
Tom Burge Fence & Iron
Overland Park-based Tom Burge Fence & Iron has built fencing around some major Kansas City-area institutions, including the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs stadiums, the Country Club Plaza, Interstate 35, Worlds of Fun and numerous residential subdivisions. Throughout its 100 years, the operation has been owned by the Burge family, with Tom Burge, Sr., as the current owner. “This family has eaten, slept and drank fences for generations,” said CEO Dan Madasz. What Burge does differently than other fencing companies is use steel in its gates. The company also does in-house design, welding and customization instead of just assembly, Madasz says. It also fabricates its own egress covers and spiral staircases, and performs about 1,700 jobs per year.
Providence Medical Center
Founded in 1920 by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Providence Medical Center continues to serve the Kansas City, Kan., community. The institution, which was purchased in 2013 by California-based Prime Healthcare Services, along with Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, has a sizable sponsorship presence in the area, with the naming rights to Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, in Bonner Springs. The hospital itself has 400 beds, nearly 1,200 employees and a medical staff of about 250. Providence Medical Center annually has more than 9,000 admissions and 217,000 outpatient visits. On its campus is the 45-bed Providence Place, a 45-bed seniors housing facility that provides skilled nursing and rehabilitative care. The hospital-affiliated Prime Medical Group has clinic outposts in Basehor, Bonner Springs and Leavenworth.
Ernest J. Straub, Sr., started his firm in 1920 developing homes, churches and schools in the Mission Hills neighborhood and those around the Country Club Plaza. His son, Ernie Straub, Jr., who had an engineering background, took over the business after returning from the Korean War, and Straub Construction started working on major real-estate developments. The third generation took over in the 1990s, and Ernie Straub III transformed the firm into a full-service general contractor. Today its capabilities include pre-construction services, general contracting, construction management, design build and sustainable building. Straub Construction’s portfolio includes Corrigan Station in the Crossroads, parts of Johnson County Community College, St. James Academy Athletic Field, and several multifamily, religious and academic projects around the region.
Medical and science laboratories have undoubtedly changed greatly over the past 95 years, but Labconco Corporation, based in Kansas City, has adapted to the times, manufacturing equipment such as ventilation enclosures, biological safety cabinets, specialized forensic enclosures and other products. The venture was started in a Downtown Kansas City auto shop by Ralph Callaway and Philip Goldfisch making products that removed acid fumes from milling operations. Callaway’s son, Redman Callaway, continued to grow the firm. Now distributed worldwide, Labconco’s equipment is manufactured in south Kansas City and Fort Scott. “Our growth is due to our ability to understand customer needs and respond quickly, said Laura McConnell Perin, vice chairman at Labconco. “The lab equipment market has changed dramatically with consolidation of major players, technology influences and dynamic local and international markets. During our entire history, we have been a locally owned and operated company, managed by industry professionals.”
Winstead’s restaurants was founded in 1940 and has stayed close to its roots. The menu is simple, with its signature steakburgers, as well as a few other choices, and its restaurants feature soda fountains, where one can still order a root beer float and other ice cream sodas. Its three restaurants, its original location near the Country Club Plaza, and two in Johnson County, appear to be from another period, with their Art Deco exteriors. The Winstead family sold the chain in 1967 to the owners of the former King Louie bowling alley chain. Winstead’s changed hands again in the 1980s when it was purchased by Nabil Haddad, a former McDonald’s franchise owner, and it is operated by the Haddad Restaurant Group.
Blue Springs-based Fike Corporation was started in 1945 by Lester Fike, Sr., as L.L. Fike Metal Products Company in his Independence home’s basement. A metal fabricator, Fike first invented the Triple Topper, a bottle and jar opener that can be affixed to a wall. Fike then saw a need in the market for rupture discs, used when areas become over-pressurized to prevent explosions. Fike opened its world headquarters in Blue Springs in 1957, and from there, the company started making fire-suppression systems. All the while, Fike has been a family affair. After Les Fike Sr., retired, Les, Jr., took over the company and expanded it globally, starting with a facility in Japan. In the 1980s, he handed over the reins to his brother-in-law Gary Batz. Now it is led by his son, Brad Batz, who is president and chief executive officer. “The sense of family at Fike allows our people to identify with the company as a part of their lives, not just their work,” he said.
Lexington Plumbing was founded in 1945 by Tom Parrino and his wife Connie after he returned from World War II. In those days, it was a neighborhood shop on Lexington Avenue in Kansas City. After a while, Parrino’s reputation grew and he was working on large commercial projects. With a focus on industrial, medical and other commercial buildings, the business eventually moved to its current location on Troost Avenue and has been run by three generations of the Axtell family. Now its employees work on as many as 60 buildings a day around the metro area. In addition to troubleshooting problems that building operators face daily, Lexington also works on new construction projects and builds plumbing systems in developments.
An Ingram’s Best of Business 2019 winner, McLain’s Bakery first opened in the Waldo neighborhood in 1945. The McClain family operated it for three generations Wornall Road near 74th Terrace, where it became known for its German chocolate coffee cake and other baked goods. The business was bought out in 2001 by another family and moved to 201 E. Gregory Blvd., but the popularity has never waned—as a quick perusal of the Saturday-morning throngs will attest. The Hirleman family, its current owners, purchased McClain’s in 2014 and have grown the concept. In addition to the Waldo location, the new owners created McClain’s Market, a full-service restaurant concept, in Overland Park in 2016 and then another one in Lawrence, in 2018.
Albert Tamm Lumber
“Tamm Good Lumber” has been sold from Kansas City for 70 years thanks to the Albert Tamm Lumber company. Tamm, who had been in the lumber business for years, founded his own venture in 1950. Though the business was nearly wiped out due to a lightning-caused fire in 1962, and ownership changed from its eponymous founder long ago, when it was acquired by Ercell Arney, the company’s original name has stuck. Albert Tamm supplies major commercial construction and renovation projects in the metro, with products for roofing, decks, insulation and other building areas. Swope Park’s Lakeside Nature Center and the interiors of city-owned buildings are among some of the historical renovation projects the company can claim.
Carter Broadcast Group
Carter Broadcast Group, is best known as the parent company behind radio stations KPRS, which broadcasts 103.3 Hot 103 Jamz, station KPRT, which features Gospel 1590 AM and 106.1 FM. Andrew Skip Carter founded KPRS, known as the first African-American-owned radio station west of the Mississippi, in 1950. Since that time, the Carter family has remained as owners, and Chris Carter, grandson of Skip, is now the third-generation owner and chief executive officer. Staying on the cutting edge of radio programming and technologies have been keys to the company’s success, Carter says, but “our longevity has been our commitment to the community.” The company’s philanthropic work goes beyond larger organizations to “a small church or a community center because they need help too,” Carter adds. “We’ve always tried to be a voice for the community.”
Clayco Electric has been family owned and operated since 1965, and management says that’s one of the keys to its longevity. Another reason is having a company which has lived through several booms and recessions, with a diverse line of business, says its president, Richard Brull, whose father was founder Gabe Brull. “While 75 to 80 percent of our business is new construction, we have always maintained a strong service department,” Richard Brull says. “When the economy slows down and construction comes to a stop, it has been the service department that has carried us through.” Brull says that his employees also stay abreast of and embrace electrical industry advances in technology.
André’s Confiserie Suisse
Chocolatier André’s Confiserie Suisse is named after its founder, André Bollier, who trained as a master pastry chef in Switzerland and immigrated to the United States, settling in Kansas City, with his family in 1955. André’s Confiserie Suisse opened that year at 50th and Main streets, featuring chocolates, pastries and tortes. The following year, Bollier added a tearoom, serving Swiss-style lunches. Bollier’s son, Marcel, and daughter-in-law Connie, went to train in Switzerland and later took over the business. They increased its distribution and moved André’s next door to a larger location at 5018 Main St., where it remains. In 2002, André’s daughter Brigitte Gravino and her husband Kevin opened an Overland Park location, called André’s Rivas. René Bollier, André’s grandson, now heads up the business.
An Ingram’s Top 100 Privately Held Company, Henderson Engineers is a national building systems design firm that was founded in 1970 by Fran Henderson.
Their systems bring buildings to life. They have the ability to take a static building and make it live and breathe, with the right air and water flow, power, lighting, technology, and security design. Henderson offers various design services—acoustics, architectural lighting, audio-video, broadcast, code consulting, commissioning, construction management, electrical, fire and life safety, mechanical, plumbing, refrigeration, retro-commissioning, security, smart building systems, sustainability, and telecom—under one roof, with one point of contact. Headquartered in Lenexa with a KC office, Henderson is led by Pres-ident & CEO Rich Smith and has nearly 900 employees across 12 national offices.
John Knox Village
When John Knox Village was founded back in 1970, senior-living facilities were grouped into two categories: independent-living complexes and care centers. The ownership of John Knox, in Lee’s Summit, decided to make room for both at its 450-acre site, and that formula has worked for half a century. “We’re not just a single-line provider with a niche we’re trying to reach,” says Daniel Rexroth, John Knox’s president and chief executive officer. “People move here with a long-range retirement plan. We believe we have a sacred trust to keep our promise with these people.” That involves serving 5,000 people over a 12-county area both on site through facilities from single-family homes to hospice care, as well as caring
for people who intend to live out their days in their own off-site residence.
Fasone & Partners
Fasone & Partners has been “the little agency that roars” for 45 years, assisting local, regional and national businesses with their marketing needs. Founded in 1975 by Michael Fasone and George Reuter to provide services that were less corporate and more creative, the new agency was called Reuter Fasone Advertising. Reuter moved on after a few years, and Fasone would eventually purchase his own building and move the agency from the corner of Westport Road and Broadway Boulevard to the current location at 4003 Pennsylvania Ave. After a few name changes, the firm became Fasone & Partners in 2006. The agency now operates under the ownership of Michal Fasone and Karol Angotti and continues to be one of the more recognized advertising agen-
cies in Kansas City. “Staying media-neutral and keeping the client and audience first is key,” Fasone said of his business’ longevity. “Creatively, as always, we help find your voice. Be somebody somewhere or get lost in the crowd.”
Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen
In its 45 years, Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen is said to have served over eight million tacos and 350,000 gallons of margaritas. During his time as a Marine in the Vietnam War, founder John Ponak dreamed of starting a restaurant, and following his return, that’s exactly what he did. Ponak went on to establish what is now one of Kansas City’s best-known eateries along the Southwest Boulevard Mexican food corridor. An Ingram’s Best of Business 2019 winner, Ponak’s margaritas are legendary for their potency, a recipe created by the founder, who reportedly declared “it can’t get any better than this” when the final product was made. The cuisine is influenced by the Sonora region of Mexico, and the first commercially-tapped keg of Boulevard Pale Ale was poured in the restaurant in 1989.
The Wilson family has owned Wilson Lighting for 45 years, when the first store was opened in Overland Park. Its showrooms display a wide array of lighting fixtures, lamps and home furnishings. Over the years, additional locations have been added in Clayton, Mo., in urban St. Louis, as well as Bonita Springs and Naples in Florida. The company boasts a staff of several American Lighting Association-certified employees and offers in-home design services.
J. Duncan McInnes IV founded his own insurance and financial-products firm in 1980 after a career of several years at Mass Mutual. It started off as McInnes, Schifman, & Remley as a cluster agency under the Haas & Wilkerson Group. After a reorganization that involved the partner companies becoming separate entities, McInnes Group as it is today was created in 1991 under the slogan, “We don’t want to be the biggest, but we want to be the best.” As a boutique agency, McInnes prides itself for hands-on support, customized solutions and long-term results. It also continues to be a family-operated venture. Duncan McInness is still affiliated with the firm as chairman; his son, Matt McInnes, who started with the firm in 2003, is the firm’s current president and chief exec-
Schloegel Design Remodel
Kansas City-based Schloegel Design Remodel has been helping area homeowners give their houses a facelift for 40 years. The firm was started by husband and wife team Jake and Debby Schloegel after the former had graduated from then Rockhurst College and decided to start a remodeling company. Schloegel Design Remodel uses a five-step process when working with clients on their homes, from discovery to design, then planning, construction and warranty. As the firm has grown over the years, the Schloegel’s son, Charlie, was named a co-owner and serves as vice president of sales, marketing, design and administration. Every year the company partners with the Love Fund for Children on “Big Splash,” which awards a special-needs child with a bathroom makeover, installing handicap-accessible features and fixtures.
Did We Miss You?
Ingram’s wants to know. We compile our annual list of Milestone companies from huge data sets kept on file at the magazine’s offices and by the secretaries of state’s offices in both Missouri and Kansas, and by local municipal registers and our own list research each year.
With more than 75,000 companies operating in the Kansas City area, and many thousands more across the two-state area, even those dedicated efforts haven’t been entirely comprehensive. We’re working to change that.
If we’ve missed you for these important Milestone Companies years, register your organization at Survey.Ingrams.com or e-mail us at Editorial@Ingrams.com.