The Most Powerful Business Leaders in the Kansas City Area
In a metropolitan area of 2.77 million people strewn from Topeka to St. Joseph to Sedalia, is it possible to pick out 250 people that are absolute pillars of commerce? Yes … yes it is. But for every slam-dunk choice that went into selecting the Ingram’s 250—high-profile chief executives of the region’s largest companies—there are vast numbers of people who operate behind the scenes, in key roles on corporate or non-profit boards, in private-capital environs, or in other important ways. We asked them about their best advice for young executives and biggest achievements, and threw in a few off-the wall questions, just for fun.
Sometimes, the nature of their work keeps them flying below the radar. Sometimes, they simply prefer to occupy that space. In this, our first-ever Ingram’s 250, we bring you our take on where business muscle is being flexed, where influence is being exerted, and by whom. Some you’ll see as naturals; some you may take issue with, and some not on this list will, in readers’ minds, be missing. We’re prepared for this, and we’re open to that discussion. So let us know who you think we’ve overlooked, and why you think they belong. We don’t do this one often, but when we do, you can bet it will once again include 250 people who are, unequivocally, the drivers behind business being done in the greater Kansas City area region.
While the inaugural line-up in the Ingram’s 250 is loaded with C-suite power players, sprinkled throughout are key executives from non-profit and public-sector settings, those whose day-to-day decisions go a long way toward influencing regional business. It all comes down to throw-weight: The financial power they have at their fingertips, the influence their companies exert on business transaction volume and public policy, their presence in civic affairs as well as corporate. We started with lists of the largest employers in the region, we factored in the top public and private revenue generators, we combed public data for executives whose skills command the highest compensation—we even made allowances for companies whose cultures that promote civic engagement, rather than cases of bottom-line tunnel vision. For many in the Ingram’s 250, objective criteria helps make the case. A certain element of subjectivity, however, must necessarily be involved, and ours was informed by this staff’s combined half-century of editorial experience covering the region’s business scene and its key influencers.
PARTNER, SHOOK, HARDY & BACON
Rob Adams is a Rainmaker in the truest sense. Serving clients in the insurance, medical and construction sectors, he drives top-line revenues for the firm with more lawyers in this region than any other. This son of a trial lawyer has won numerous accolades: Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America, the Legal 500 in the U.S., Best Lawyers in America, Dean of the Trial Bar and Missouri Lawyer of the Year—it’s a long list.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
BEST ADVICE: “If you work hard and play nice, you will do well.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jim Schwartz of NPC International. Jim is smart, personable and successful in his professional and family life. He is a great role model and shows that “nice guys can and do finish first.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Teaching young lawyers how to be great trial lawyers.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Sailing across the Atlantic.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Fly fishing, scuba, and sailing.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chicken!”
CEO/CHAIRMAN, MIDWAY FORD TRUCK CENTER
Fleet and commercial trucks are key to moving the U.S. economy, and many of them roll out of Midway Ford Truck Center. Founded in 1961, Midway has never had a loss year, a trend reinforced since the early 1980s by the switch to employee ownership. Under Ahnger’s leadership, it has achieved an average annual growth rate of 22.67 percent and has been on on Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 list of fastest-growing companies eight years running.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, University of Texas-Austin
BEST ADVICE: “Focus on worthwhile goals, work hard, live by the Golden Rule.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Ronald Reagan, for his accomplishments and delegation skills as president.”
TOP ACHIEVEMENT: “Developing and implementing the first Employee Stock Ownership Plan ever approved for a Ford Motor Co. dealership.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: ”None. My life has been very full. I only want to continue doing what I am doing for as long as God is willing.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Cabernet Sauvignon.”
FOUNDER/CHAIRMAN/CEO, ALEXANDER OPEN SYSTEMS
Over a quarter century that started with IBM and then continued with Sperry Corp. and the merger that created Unisys, this veteran of the 101st Airborne Division rose from sales representative to division president. Today, Gary Alexander runs his own company, with revenues above $100 million, matching businesses with technology solutions, earning a 99:100 customer referral ratio and 4.8 out of 5.0 rating in customer satisfaction.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; Master of Divinity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Building a company that I am proud to have carry my last name.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Joe Kroger, President at Sperry Corporation. He was a completely magnetic person. I would have followed him anywhere.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Marrying my wife, Betty. Best thing I ever did.”
CEO, PETERSON MANUFACTURING
Think we don’t build things in America anymore? Don Armacost might disagree. He’s the man directing Peterson Manufacturing, a company with multiple divisions cranking out all manner of safety accessories for trucks, boats and almost anything motorized—lighting components, reflectors, mounting fixtures, mirrors, antennas and more. And they make things at a high level, with certified quality standards that exceed industry requirements.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, University of Missouri-Kansas City
FAMILY AFFAIR: Don Armacost Sr. bought the company in 1956, and Don Jr. has plenty of family help: his brother, Dave, is president, and each has a daughter on staff: Don’s daughter, Kristen Goodson, is vice president of product management; Dave’s daughter, Erica, is in the HR office of a Peterson subsidiary.
DIVERSE INTERESTS: The company’s client roster includes names like Harley-Davidson, Caterpillar and John Deere.
EMPLOYMENT MUSCLE: More than 650 people work for the company, most of them in the 670,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Grandview.
PHILANTHROPIC RESOURCE: The Armacost Car Museum is a unique venue for many non-profit organization’s fund-raising events.
CEO, AMC ENTERTAINMENT
This Philadelphia native is also a co-owner (and former CEO) of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. He came to KC this year to lead a company with nearly $3 billion in annual revenues. After a distinguished career in travel and tourism, With decades of customer-engagement expertise, he’s now focused on pleasing 200 million moviegoers a year at AMC, already an industry leader in guest satisfaction. We can’t wait to see what he has in store.
COLLEGE: B.S., Government, M.B.A., Harvard University
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: Aron knows a good time when he sees one: He’s been CEO of Vail Resorts, the world’s second-largest ski-resort operator, and Norwegian Cruise Line, then the world’s fourth-largest pleasure-cruise operator. He’s also worked for United Airlines and Hyatt Hotels.
RECOGNITIONS: Aron has twice been recognized by Ad Age as one of the nation’s top 100 marketing executives, and he’s been included in Travel Weekly’s Club 33, an exclusive club made up of just 33 travel and tourism executives worldwide.
SUCCEEDED: Gerry Lopez, who had been CEO since 2009.
CEO, SHAWNEE MISSION HEALTH
Ken Bacon washes nurses’ cars in honor of National Nurses’ Week, scoops ice cream at events and enjoys a few laughs with the third shift during midnight meals because he feels it’s important for CEOs to serve employees and interact at all levels. Fostering an upbeat atmosphere is all part of his desire to grow the impact of Shawnee Mission Health, the second-busiest medical center in the region last year, by admissions.
COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting & Business Management, Union College; M.B.A., Texas State University
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Pete Weber, CEO of the hospital where I got my first job as CFO. He was always respectful of others and understood the emotional side of this business.”
TOP ACHIEVEMENT: “To see people who have worked for me move on to bigger and better things. I am very proud that some of those people are now CEOs as well.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Riding motorcycles.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To see my three kids graduate from college.”
CHAIRMAN/PRESIDENT/CEO, BALL’S FOOD STORES
This third-generation head of the family business recommends firsthand experience of every job in an organization to help leaders make good decisions. He also believes in supporting charitable causes, especially KVC Health Systems, which his family is committed to help. It provides 60 thousand children and families each year with services including behavioral healthcare and youth substance abuse treatment.
COLLEGE: B.A., Personnel Administration, University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Treat everyone with respect and dignity, and always remind them how important they are to the overall success of the company.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My mother, family CEO and my father, company CEO. They taught me, ‘If you’re going to do a job, always do it the best you can.’”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Creating, developing and nurturing a company culture that all of us at Ball’s Food Stores can be proud to be associated with.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Go to the mountains for a full month, and ski every day!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My passion is the retail grocery business; my hobbies are working outdoors, skiing and boating.”
CMO, NBH BANK
Relentless focus on achieving success while recognizing it takes a team to achieve it is central to Bartelli’s approach to community building initiatives, integrated brand strategy, marketing programs, product development and client service initiatives. A believer in community involvement for execs, she works with several organizations, including the Executive Women’s Leadership Council for KC Chamber.
COLLEGE: B.F.A., Communications, Pittsburg State University
BEST ADVICE: “Be relentless in your pursuit of gaining professional knowledge and exercising your voice. But never forget the importance of emotional intelligence. You can’t earn followers on intellect alone. Balancing ‘what’ you do with ‘how’ you do it is key.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, is a strong but thoughtful leader who values both IQ and EQ. She champions change in what can be a complicated dynamic when it comes to women helping women in the workplace. Women sometimes state they prefer to work for men, which is a big miss on female leaders’ part. I wholeheartedly support changing this dynamic.“
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Exploring the countries that represent my family’s heritage.”
MARKET PRESIDENT/COO, COMMERCE BANK
Success never really changed Kevin Barth: Even though he’s market president and COO of the region’s largest bank, and one of the nation’s best-performing banks, this Iowa native became the kind of executive who will spend half an hour on the phone addressing a customer’s complaint. He joined the bank right out of college, and his star potential was pretty clear from the get-go; he also was a member of the first class of Ingram’s 40 Under Forty back in 1998.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration/Economics, Graceland College; M.B.A., Rockhurst University
BEST ADVICE: “Form your own personal board of directors, two or three people whose judgment you trust.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Herb Kelleher, retired CEO of Southwest Airlines, for understanding the importance of culture in making a business successful.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To one day spend six weeks a year in a different country experiencing the people, culture and geography.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Anything in or on the water; skiing, scuba diving, boating.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Dill pickles.”
FOUNDING PARTNER BARTIMUS, FRICKLETON, ROBERTSON & GOZA
Jim Bartimus isn’t just a trial lawyer with four decades of expertise in complex medical malpractice and pharmaceu-tical-related cases, particularly those involving negligence: He’s regarded as an expert in med/mal legal affairs worldwide, having addressed more than 200 legal and medical-education events in the U.S., Europe and Australia. He backs that legal expertise up with years of medical studies at the UMKC School of Medicine.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Missouri; J.D., UMKC School of Law
BEST ADVICE: “Separate yourself from your peers and remember there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Elon Musk because he is a true visionary who is always willing to push the envelope and do what no one else was going to do.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “President, International Society of Barristers.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Spend a month in the Greek isles.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Traveling with my wife.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “All things Italian.”
CHAIRMAN/PRESIDENT/CEO, GREAT PLAINS ENERGY
The leader of the region’s largest utility may soon be managing a company twice as large: Terry Bassham’s Great Plains Energy, parent of Kansas City Power & Light Co., is amidst its acquisition of Topeka-based Western Resources. It would create a company with more than $5 billion in revenues and 5,500 employees. This native Texan came to Kansas City in 2005, and served as CFO before assuming his current duties.
COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, University of Texas-Arlington; J.D., St. Mary’s University Law School, San Antonio
PREVIOUS CAREER STOPS: El Paso Electric Co., were he was general counsel, then chief financial officer and chief administrative officer.
FULL SCHEDULE: Bassham’s board service includes corporate duties, as with the board for Commerce Bancshares, and civic causes like the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Linda Hall Library at UMKC and win|win, an organization that promotes the advancement of women in business.
ROAD WARRIOR: Among Bassham’s favorite extracurricular activities is time spent riding his motorcycle.
PRESIDENT, SOAVE AUTOMOTIVE GROUP
With four decades of experience behind him, Battaglia’s job puts him in charge of Aristocrat Motors and Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City, two big reputations to uphold. The secrets to his success? Respecting the expectations of customers who seek out his elite brands and giving his people the freedom and knowledge required to serve those needs on the spot without having to seek constant approval from management.
LUXURY LINEAGE: Battaglia has spent most of his career in high-end vehicle sales. He’s been with Soave, as president of Mercedes Benz of Kansas City and Aristocrat Motors in Merriam and for a decade, and is also president of BMW of Topeka and VW of Topeka. He previously served as presient of Baron BMW.
EMPOWERING POWER: Soave says Battaglia’s success is tied to a philosophy of empowering employees to make decisions in the best interests of their customers, even if it means acting without prior approval from managers.
BOARD SERVICE: Battaglia has been the face of Soave’s civic engagement, working with boards for Sleepyhead Beds, the Ali Kemp Foundation, Harvesters, the University of Kansas Hospital and other key non-profits.
CEO, GEORGE K. BAUM
Jonathan Baum, who took over as the third-generation owner of his investment banking firm in 1994, includes integrity, fairness, respect, loyalty and tenacity among the qualities he seeks to emulate. He brings all of those to bear in business and in his work with organizations like Children’s Mercy Hospital, UMKC, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, and The Pembroke Hill School.
COLLEGE: B.S., Kansas State University; M.B.A., University of Chicago-Booth School of Business
BEST ADVICE: “Be mindful of your choices, they have consequences.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Roberto Goizueta of Coca-Cola. He was driven by curiosity, intellectual courage and integrity.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Cycling Northern New Mexico, summer of 2016”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Learning, family, health and fitness, outdoor adventures, food, wine and gardening.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Tortilla Chips.”
CEO/OWNER, P1 GROUP
This one-time member of Pipefitter Local 50 in Toledo, Ohio, has never forgotten the value of getting every detail of a job right. That same spirit drives his work with the mechanical, electrical and plumbing experts on his team today. Under Smitty Belcher’s leadership, his company, nationally recognized for its safety standards and quality craftsmanship, brought in revenue of more than $210 million in 2015.
COLLEGE: B.S., M.B.A., University of Toledo
BEST ADVICE: “Set your goals and dreams big. Never give up trying to achieve them. Never listen to someone who tells you that you can’t.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jack Welch, General Electric, for his ability to turn the company around. He consistently strived for improvement and efficiencies.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Growing a business successfully while maintaining balance with family.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Complete half an Ironman Triathlon before I retire.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Running, lifting weights and spending time with family.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chocolate cake.”
PROVOST, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS
When she was dean of KU’s School of Business, Neeli Pendapudi had a to-do list topped with: Get a new building. Last spring, the $70.5 million Capitol Federal Hall was completed, and she was able to check that off. Since July, she’s been provost and executive vice chancellor for the state’s largest university. A native of India, she followed her father’s path. He, too, earned a doctoral degree at KU.
COLLEGE: Ph.D., Marketing, University of Kansas
PREVIOUS STOPS: It hasn’t been all Ivory Tower for Bendapudi; she’s also applied her marketing savvy in the private sector, as executive vice president and chief customer officer for Huntington National Bank. She also has served as a consultant for companies like Cessna Aircraft, Deloitte and Procter & Gamble.
BROAD TEACHING EXPERIENCE: In addition to her work in administration, Bendapudi has taught marketing at every academic level: undergraduate, M.B.A., Executive M.B.A. and Ph.D.
BOARD DUTIES: Bendapudi is also on the board for Kansas City-based MRIGlobal, one of the nation’s leading research organizations.
CHAIRMAN/CEO, MIDWEST TRUST
After more than 30 years of experience running trust companies, Bergman cites having helped hundreds of thousands of families achieve financial security as his top professional achievement. In his career, he has also brought his “you haven’t lost until you give up trying to win” philosophy to commercial banking, a law practice and the law classes he has taught. He is also board chairman of Johnson County Community College Foundation.
COLLEGE: B.S., Illinois State; J.D., Washburn University
BEST ADVICE: “Become an entrepreneur as early in your career as you can. You will love the freedom of expression and creativity it allows you.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “George Washington, he had unbridled power and walked away from it to return to his farm, like his hero Cincinnatus.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Preserving architectural history and significant environmental resources.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Local, American and International History. I am passionate about them all.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Cabernet Sauvignon.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, TENSION CORPORATION
This fourth-generation leader admires CEOs who lead and transform during periods of significant change. On Bill Berkley’s watch, Tension became the nation’s second-largest domestic envelope manufacturer and a diversified three-division business. His community activity includes Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Hall Family Foundation, among other interests.
COLLEGE: B.A., Colorado College; M.B.A., Dartmouth College-Tuck School of Business
BEST ADVICE: “First, the most successful people work very hard and are determined to reach their goals. Second, earn and maintain the trust of the people you work with. Without trust, you will not go far.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire the CEOs who continue to lead and transform their organizations during these periods of significant change.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Moments when I can share new experiences with my family remain at the top of my list.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Photography and travel are hobbies of mine.”
Following the footsteps of a dad with a legendary reputation isn’t easy, but Steve Bernstein is more than up to the challenge. He sees his firm’s job as going beyond advertising its client brands to having direct impact on them. Impact is at the heart of his creative vision, as is surrounding himself with people better than he is and encouraging a culture that views diverse opinions as a source of great ideas.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Arizona; J.D., M.B.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook), for being opportunistic and philanthropic all at such a young age.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being an entrepreneur in both spirit and action.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Hiking to Mt. Everest base camp.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Family, pop culture, University of Arizona basketball, and the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Kung Pao chicken.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, MARINER HOLDINGS
He was born to be an entrepreneur—his father was National Pizza Co. founder Gene Bicknell—but Marty Bicknell has put his own brand on that business trait. He left Edward Jones in 2006 to launch Mariner Wealth Advisors, which, with parent Mariner Holdings, has more than $30 billion in assets under management. Bicknell is a multi-year honoree as one of the nation’s Top 5 wealth advisers by Barron’s.
COLLEGE: B.S., Political Science, Pittsburg State University
BEST ADVICE: “Find your passion.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Ben Edwards, former CEO, A.G. Edwards. He taught me that a firm’s culture is the most important aspect for long-term multi-generational success.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “That my company has an extremely high associate retention rate.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I want to scuba dive with my granddaughter (she is 3).”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf is my No. 1 hobby. My No. 1 passion is to help people achieve their goals.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Cauliflower.”
ROSANA PRIVITERA BIONDO
PRESIDENT, MARK ONE ELECTRIC
The business legacy of Red Privitera continues today at Mark One Electric, where his four children operate one of the region’s biggest electrical subcontractors. Daughter Rosie sits in the top executive’s chair as president for the past 22 years, while her three brothers, Joe, Carl and Tony, hold key executive roles at the family business. Outside the office, she’s a one-woman whirlwind of civic and philanthropic engagement.
COLLEGE: University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “Always dream big and go for it!”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Carl ‘Red’ Privitera.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Continuing the family legacy companies.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Travel to countries in Europe.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Italian pasta and meatballs.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, KANSAS CITY LIFE INSURANCE
“Understanding the business processes from the beginning to the end,” is a key part of Bixby’s management style. Of course, such attention to detail is to be expected from a nearly four-decade company veteran who worked his way from entry level through management as a fourth-generation member of the family that has led Kansas City Life for more than 70 years.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Missouri-Kansas City
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My great-grandfather, J.B. Reynolds. He led Kansas City Life Insurance Co. through trying economic times with a vision of providing Security Assured to protect policyholders and their families from financial loss.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Becoming president, CEO and chairman of this great company and keeping it competitive in the life insurance world.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Having a family and seeing my wife and children achieve in their interests and life.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Cappuccino.”
MANAGING PRINCIPAL, BLOCK REAL ESTATE SERVICES
In commercial real estate, Kansas City has a name that tends dominate: Block. From a seedling planted by brothers Allen and James Block in 1946, a tree has branched out, and one of the branches is overseen by Ken Block, who founded BRES in 2009 and built it into a billion-dollar production powerhouse. “We believe,” he says, “we are changing the way people do real estate business in Kansas City and in our other markets, as well.”
COLLEGE: Michigan State University Honors College
BEST ADVICE: “Work very hard. Be honest. Be bold. Take risks.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My father, Allen Block. He built an incredibly successful company, was entirely honest, and believed that his word was his bond.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To play Augusta Country Club (have done it three times); then to get a hole-in-one, and finally did that last month after 53 years of trying; guess I have to start a new list!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf is a great way to de-stress after work, and while it is my favorite hobby, my passions are my family and work.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Steak!”
CEO, LATHROP & GAGE
In just the three years before becoming CEO, Bluhm represented clients in acquisitions and divestitures totaling more than $1 billion. His success, combined with his vision of a team working together to improve an organization while respecting the strengths and personal priorities of others, makes it easy to see why he’s been entrusted with leading the firm he started working for as a second year law student.
COLLEGE: B.A., Stanford University; J.D., M.B.A., Washington University
BEST ADVICE: “Remember that everyone needs to earn respect from everyone every day; a title doesn’t guarantee respect.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “John Kreamer, managing partner of Gage & Tucker. He treated everyone with respect. He was an excellent communicator. He handled himself with class in all situations.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “When younger, it was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. But now I’ll settle for climbing Machu Picchu.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Hunting: ducks, turkey, pheasants, quail.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Cheese.”
When Brad Botteron joined his grandfather’s company in the 1980s, it was a small business in electrical construction services. Today, Wachter provides state-of-the-art electrical, data, security, communications and automation infrastructure solutions for a diverse array of industries including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, finance, insurance, education, hospitality, transportation and corrections.
COLLEGE: B.S., Brigham Young University
ABOUT THE COMPANY: William Wachter immigrated from Switzerland in 1921, founding the company in 1930.
FAST GROWTH: With revenues of nearly $230 million in 2015, Wachter grew by more than 50 percent in just three years.
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf, skiing, scuba diving, reading.”
PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: “Strive to live the teachings of the Gospel.”
For more than four decades, Tom Bowser worked the insurance side of healthcare management, wrapping up his career with a nearly decade-long stint as president and CEO of the region’s largest carrier, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, in December 2010. A native of Coffeyville, Kan., and the son of an insurance agent, Bowser would eventually see BlueKC surpass 1 million enrollees in its coverage plans.
COLLEGE: B.A., Journalism, University of Kansas (a program that received part of the $4 million donation that Bowser and his wife, Judy, made to KU in 2011).
RECOGNITION: Bowser’s final two years at BlueKC also saw him in a leadership role with the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield association, where he served as chairman, the highest-ranking position at the national level.
CIVIC: It’s hard to count the civic causes Bowser has engaged with, but he’s currently chairman of the board of directors for MRIGlobal, the Kansas City-based research institute. Previously, he’s chaired both the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Area Development Council boards, and served on the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, and other key causes and organizations.
JEAN PAUL BRADSHAW
MANAGING PARTNER, LATHROP & GAGE
Jean Paul Bradshaw, recently named office managing partner for Lathrop & Gage, is a go-to source in cases of white-collar criminal defense and corporate investigations, complex civil litigation and class actions and other business law. He brings to the task a perspective deeply rooted in Missouri values: A former U.S. attorney, he’s the son of former state senator and grandson of his namesake, who ran for both governor (in 1944) and U.S. Senate (in 1964).
COLLEGE: B.A., Journalism, J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
BEST ADVICE: “Listen more than you talk, and be humble.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Mike Slive, former commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. He led a group of other CEOs (college presidents), which is a different challenge than most CEOs. And in so doing, he was extremely successful in creating the strongest brand in collegiate athletics.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Serving as U.S. attorney.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Work in a wine harvest.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Family, politics, wine, golf.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Pasta.”
CEO, BROWN COW CAPITAL
Before establishing Brown Cow, David Brain co-founded EPR Properties and led the company from zero to over $5.5 billion in enterprise value, expanding from an exclusive focus on movie theatres to a broad portfolio of destination entertainment, recreation and education properties. Brain’s civic and charitable activity includes the University of Missouri-Kansas City Board of Trustees and Urban Land Institute Kansas City.
COLLEGE: B.A., Tulane University; M.B.A., Freeman Graduate School of Business
BEST ADVICE: “Be positive. Be a ‘can-do’ person. Listen well, understand and embrace the problems of others. Create solutions and value first, worry about your reward second and things will work out very well.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: ”Michael Brown, Euronet Worldwide. He created a high-performance, high-value software company in middle-America and that was basically unimaginable.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Going into outer space.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Eggs.”
Joe Brandmeyer built a line of medical antiseptic products under the company name of Medi-Flex (rebranded as Enturia in 2006), before selling the business to Cardinal Health for $490 million in 2008. He formed Brandmeyer Enterprises, and with his enterprising family went on to reinvest that money in a wide variety of endeavors, many of them focused on stimulating the economy and community of the Kansas City metro area.
COLLEGE: Rockhurst University
KAUFFMAN FAMILY TREE: Before founding Enturia, Brandmeyer served as president of the scientific division of Marion Laboratories, founded by one of the region’s most revered entrepreneurs, Ewing Kauffman.
PHILANTHROPIC MIGHT: Brandmeyer and his wife, Jean, made one of the largest individual donations to the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s drive to become a nationally designated cancer institute, $10 million.
FUN FACT: Put himself through college as a butcher.
MANAGING PARTNER, BRYAN CAVE
A consummate litigator, Perry Brandt leads strategic growth, marketing, diversity and attorney development at a firm that prides itself on innovation and a unique approach to client needs. His perspective has been forged over four decades, more than 60 trials and a broad practice spectrum that includes complex financial-services cases, antitrust and employment litigation and white-collar criminal proceedings.
COLLEGE: B.A., Vanderbilt University; J.D., Vanderbilt University Law School
BEST ADVICE: “Develop your skills, develop your personal brand, develop your network.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Carroll Kimball—a past president of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association. She is an extremely charismatic leader.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I loved being president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know so many great judges and lawyers.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “2015 family safari in South Africa. It was life changing!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I love to travel. So far, I have visited 26 countries.”
You can’t assess business in this region without including $6.5 billion agribusiness giant Seaboard—or the third-generation member of the Bresky family at the publicly-traded company’s helm, Steven. And impossible to profile him: He doesn’t do media interviews. Period. The milling company started by his grandfather in 1918 now has a global reach with pork and poultry processing, cargo shipping, commodities and more.
EMPLOYMENT MUSCLE: Only a couple of hundred people work from the headquarters building in Merriam, but Seaboard has more than 25,000 employees worldwide.
PUBLIC OWNERSHIP: Technically, yes, you can buy stock in Seaboard, since it trades on the NYSE—at roughly $3,450 a share. But more than 75 percent of the outstanding shares are owned by the Bresky family.
PORK PLUS: Known best for its pork production and processing, Seaboard also is into poultry, with a 50 percent stake in Butterball, acquired in 2010.
LANDLOCKED: Despite being more than 725 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Seaboard has a considerable maritime presence, with nearly 80 cargo ships sailing the world’s oceans.
OWNER, EXECUTIVE HILLS MANAGEMENT
If his bucket-list wish to fly with the Blue Angels ever comes true above Kansas City, Bridges will see a lot of personally familiar spots whizzing by below. His company, in conjunction with its partners and affiliates, owns about 4 million square feet of Class A office space and related parking structures in the Kansas City area. That includes the towering, 43-story One Kansas City Place in Downtown’s central business district.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; M.A., City & Regional Planning, J.D., Rutgers University
BEST ADVICE: “Whatever the event is, good or bad, own it. Analyze every situation as if it is a chess contest. In a chess match, there is a single goal with an infinite number of paths to achieve it. Find the path that works. Last but most important, as my wife has taught me, give back to society and the community you are in—your reward will be 100-fold!”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “No CEO in Kansas City history has done more for the shareholders, the employees, and the city of Kansas City than Tom McDonnell.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Yet to be determined.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “The pursuit of understanding any subject I encounter.”
CEO, EURONET WORLDWIDE
After the dark shroud of communism lifted across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Mike Brown recognized that services fundamental to a healthy capitalist system—say, perhaps, capital—would soon be in demand. Back then, before the Internet, ATMs were the thing, and cash flowed into Europe. Since its launch in 1994, Brown’s company has grown to deliver a full suite of digital-payment services in 165 nations.
COLLEGE: B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia; M.S., Molecular and Cellular Biology, UMKC
FAST-GROWTH SPECIALIST: Pre-digital records get fuzzy when you go back that far, but we’re pretty sure that Brown is the only CEO to take two separate companies to No. 1 and No. 2 in our annual compilation of fastest-growing companies. He did it in 1987 with Innovative Software, topping that list, and was runner-up with Euronet in 2000.
BILLION-DOLLAR CLUB: Euronet went public in 1997, three years after launch, and soared to $1.6 billion in annual revenues over the next 18 years.
RECOGNITION: In 2014, Brown was inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.
FOUNDER, GRASSMERE PARTNERS/STANDEES/
Meet Mr. Eatertainment. A 20-year run at AMC Entertainment, where he was chairman and CEO, diverged as his interest grew in expanding the dining potential for movie theaters, leading to the Standees and C. Frogs concepts. The founding chairman of EPR Properties, an entertainment-venue property owner, he also founded Grassmere Partners, a private investment firm, and he sits on the boards of CenturyLink, EPR and Cinedigm.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Relentlessly add value.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffett, because he exemplifies the adage: ‘a good investor is a good businessperson and a good businessperson is a good investor.’”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “1) Keeping AMC Entertainment thriving while the rest of the industry was going into bankruptcy. 2) Founding EPR Properties, which has grown from $276 million to a company worth almost $7 billion.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Going to the four ‘Grand Slam’ tennis tournaments.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Peanut butter.”
PRESIDENT/CEO GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES HEALTH ASSOCIATION
Having the right attitude, Julie Browne says, “can get you through just about anything.” Indeed, attitude—and a healthy dollop of executive skill—have seen her through to the chief executive’s chair at GEHA. Based in Lee’s Summit, it’s the second-largest national health plan serving federal employees and retirees and their families—more than 1 million covered lives worldwide for both health and dental.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration and Marketing, Kansas State University; M.B.A., Management Information Systems, UMKC
BEST ADVICE: “Learning to have a growth mindset helps you to see mistakes as opportunities to improve and not evidence of failure. See learning as a life-long process—don’t be afraid to dive into the unknown.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) and her thoughtful conversation on being a successful leader. Steve Jobs, he was creative, prescient, and stood by his vision through tough times.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I’ve always wanted to visit the Great Wall of China.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My family, of course, including my three busy kids.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “My mom’s cooking.”
FOUNDER, LANE4 PROPERTY GROUP
Two decades on the commercial real estate scene in Kansas City gave Owen Buckley the big-picture vision he needed to start his own company, and he did that by founding LANE4 in 2006. Since then, it’s become one of the biggest names in retail development and redevelopment (more than $200 million worth in the past three years), working across eight Midwestern states.
COLLEGE: B.A., M.B.A., theUniversity of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “To have both patience and sense of urgency—how’s that for confusing a young person!”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Not sure about CEOs, but I really like coaching leaders like Tom Osborne, Bill Snyder and Phil Jackson. Consistently work hard and smart.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Besides enjoying my growing (grandkids) family, I look forward to traveling to new places and back to favorite places.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My passion is the work I do. Still working on the hobby part, but plenty of time to figure it out.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Potato chips.”
PRESIDENT, FINANCIAL ENGINES ADVISORS
This one-time Charles Schwab branch manager came up through the Schwab ranks for 11 years before going on to make a big impression at TD Ameritrade, a reputation that won him the nod for CEO of The Mutual Fund Store in 2012. Those stores have become Financial Engines Advisor Centers, since then, but the growth-focused energy of Bunch’s leadership remains the same.
COLLEGE: University of Iowa; University of Michigan-Ross School of Business
PREVIOUS: As president of retail distribution at TD Ameritrade, Bunch was responsible for overseeing the entire retail client experience.
EARLIER CAREER: At Charles Schwab, Bunch held positions ranging from call center rep, to branch manager, to head of training and development, advice marketing and product development and divisional senior vice president.
INTERESTS: Motorcycles, classic rock.
Zane Burke says the biggest professional achievements aren’t necessarily defined by a few distinct moments, but by building relationships over time. He sees client relationships as long-term investments and delights in seeing them bear fruit. Cerner was his client at KPMG accounting, so he knew the company well when he arrived. Today he leads the way in solution operations, new business efforts, revenue generation and marketing.
COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting, M.B.A., Kansas State University
BEST ADVICE: “Focus on your clients, external or internal. Collaborate and communicate; keep connected. Maintain a culture of accountability for yourself and others. Develop deep relationships; your relationships matter.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My dad, Marty, was a serial entrepreneur who was never afraid to take risks. He had incredible presence, and people thought he was tough. But he always valued his people and was a people person through and through. That balance of serious business and valuing people has guided my own style and approach.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Our clients’ collective success.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Visiting the hot springs of Iceland.”
Ronnie Burt knows what a good time is: He’s in the business of selling memory-making experiences at VisitKC, the city’s face for recruiting business conventions and promoting tourism. He got his start working in the gaming industry, then transitioned into municipal work in 2005, with stops since then in Baltimore, Indianapolis and Washington before Kansas City made this New Jersey native a Midwesterner.
COLLEGE: B.A., Marketing, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
BEST ADVICE: “Relationship-building should be a priority, with a focus on personal relationships vs. digital relationships. Strive for deeper understanding of your role inside your organization beyond the job description and job function. Always have an appetite for learning and keeping the bigger picture in sight. Use analytics to shape decisions vs. feelings.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “African Safari.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “All things sports, where competition is at its best and winning is the ultimate measurement.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Seafood.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, YMCA OF GREATER KANSAS CITY
The son of two mill workers from North Carolina, David Byrd learned early that success in life would require commitment and hard work. Service work, during his progress toward Eagle Scout, had a special appeal, as did health and wellness and working with kids and families. The YMCA fit all three interests when he was fresh out of college. “I really don’t view my position as a job,” says Byrd. “Instead, I see it as a calling and my ministry.”
COLLEGE: B.A., High Point University; M.A., Health Education in Business/Applied Science, University of North Carolina
PREVIOUS STOPS: Byrd came to Kansas City in mid-2010 after serving as chief operating officer for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee in Nashville.
SEAT OF STABILITY: Byrd is just the ninth person to lead the area YMCA since its founding 150 years ago.
PASSION/HOBBY: Fly fishing, traveling, reading and spending time with family.
CEO, TRIUMPH FOODS
He grew up on a rural farm, became a CPA and went on to put his collected experience to work for the pork industry. Mark Campbell is known for limitless enthusiasm for his company, but not only his vision for it. He believes in attracting the best talent, sustaining a culture that encourages and accepts change, strengthening partnerships, recognizing success and using resources to give back to the community.
COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, Westminster College; M.B.A., Rockhurst College
BEST ADVICE: “Be willing to continuously learn for your entire career. Be humble and remember there will always be a way to “raise the bar.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Steve Jobs at Apple. He dreamed big, honed the vision, hired the best talent, modeled the work ethic needed to be successful, demonstrated an ability to execute on plan and learned from failure.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Eventually, having the opportunity to teach high school or undergraduate level students on business and helping to successfully navigate their paths into the business world.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Time with family and ‘relaxing’ on our farm in rural Kansas.”
CEO, INTOUCH SOLUTIONS
Turkish native Faruk Capan spent nearly nine years polishing his pharmaceutical-related marketing skills for Teva Neuroscience and sanofi-aventis, then dove deep into entrepreneurship and the emerging possibilities of the Internet by founding Intouch Solutions in 1999. Since then, it’s consistently been one of the region’s fastest-growing companies, specializing in digital marketing services for clients in the pharma sector.
COLLEGE: Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey; M.B.A., Business Administration and Management, Central Missouri State University
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Winning Agency of the Year for the first time in 2010 was extremely exciting, and more recently being recognized as 2013 Industry Person of the Year was beyond gratifying,” he says. “I’ve been very fortunate, but I believe my best career moment is still yet to come and take nothing for granted.”
FAST-GROWTH STAR: Intouch Solutions now employs more than 600 people, and has made Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 list of fastest-growing companies nine times, doubling in size between 2012 and 2015, when it topped $100 million for the first time.
HEAD OF MIDWEST OPERATIONS, GOOGLE FIBER
Meet the woman behind those Google-rabbit vans popping up around town. An optimist who believes in empowering the people she leads, Carnago speaks with pride about creating value and making a difference in her community by bringing life-changing products to families, neighborhoods and small businesses in her hometown. A lifelong learner, she has an education resume that includes university study in France.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, University of Utah; M.B.A., Finance, University of Pennsylvania-Wharton School of Business
BEST ADVICE: “Find something that you love to do and work hard. Find role models you respect and admire and learn from them.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffett. Beyond his business acumen and success, what really sets him apart is his generous philanthropy, his authentic communication, his intellectual honesty and integrity, and his faith in people and humanity.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Attending the NCAA Final Four tournament.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “French fries.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, MIQ LOGISTICS
Carr’s company improves transportation and supply-chains, helping companies get goods where they need to be. Living abroad and extensive international travel have helped him better understand cultural differences, a core value at MIQ. Logistical thinking also plays something of a role in a personal interest—breaking the incarceration cycle through an organization focused on the life trajectory of inmates’ children.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, M.S., Counseling Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi
BEST ADVICE: “Always work harder than those around you, but not to the detriment of your family.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Richard Yuengling Jr. of Yuengling Brewery is a great example of perseverance, determination, and not accepting the norm. He left the company for a period because of a difference in opinion on direction but did not give up on his is commitment to the brewery, coming back years later to lead it to tremendous growth.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The people I met and the connections I have made along the way. Many of these great people have since joined MIQ Logistics.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Get a pilot’s license, so I can determine my travel schedule.”
CEO, KANSAS CITY AREA LIFE SCIENCES INSTITUTE
His background in clinical development of pharmaceuticals for Pfizer, Inc.—including brands like Viagra, Erlotinib, Sutent, and Darifenacin—helped make Wayne Carter the candidate of choice when the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute was looking for a new president and CEO in 2012. Before that, he was board chairman for Kansas Bio for nine years and vice president of Colgate-Palmolive in Topeka for five.
COLLEGE: B.S., D.V.M. and Ph.D. in veterinary medicine, Purdue University
BEST ADVICE: “Follow your passion and have a positive impact in our world.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Irv Hockaday (formerly of Hallmark). Irv is articulate, well-read, exceptionally engaging, a contemplative listener and a great community leader.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Traveling into space.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Working outside, gardening.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chocolate.”
MANAGING PARTNER, UNITED BEVERAGE
It’s hard to tell why Deron Cherry has the place he does in the hearts of Kansas City football fans and beer lovers: Was it because of the caliber of play he turned in over 11 seasons with the Chiefs? Or since then, as a distributor of the nation’s most popular line of beers from the Anheuser-Busch lineup? Both, we suspect. He’s also part of the co-owner of the monster $234 million Gateway Village development project in Grandview.
COLLEGE: B.S., Biology, Rutgers University
DRAFT HISTORY: Despite three seasons as MVP for the Scarlet Knights—as both free safety and punter—Cherry wasn’t drafted. He signed with the Chiefs as a free-agent punter in 1981, but made the team for his defensive acumen.
STATS: Over his playing career, Cherry had 927 tackles, 50 interceptions, 688 return yards and a touchdown. Many a Chiefs old-liner will be pleased to recall that his first career pick was against the Oakland Raiders. Heh.
BREAKING BARRIERS: Cherry was part of the founding ownership group for the Jacksonville Jaguars when the expansion team launched in 1995, making him the NFL’s first minority owner.
BILL CLARKSON, JR.
PRESIDENT, CLARKSON CONSTRUCTION
Carrying on the 1880 legacy of G.G. Clarkson, who started out grading for roads and excavating for foundations, Bill Clarkson Jr. leads an award-winning heavy construction company that prides itself on its role in much of the Midwest’s most enduring infrastructure and important sites. Its projects have included the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, Sporting Kansas City Stadium, Legends at Village West, and a million miles of vital roadway.
SELF-RELIANT: The company performs over 80 percent of the work on projects with its own labor and equipment forces.
OTHER INTERESTS: Clarkson Construction also owns Total Risk Management, Everett Quarries, Johnson County Aggregates and Superior Bowen Asphalt.
CUTTING THE GORDIAN KNOT: Among the work the company has performed in the region was the reconstruction of the former Grandview Triangle, once one of the biggest navigation challenges facing motorists in south Kansas City.
In 2014, Marcelo Claure demonstrated his commitment to Kansas City by moving his family to the area, rolling up his sleeves and getting to work on a remarkable turnaround. Sprint has dramatically improved its network performance and pioneered revolutionary wireless service approaches. His disciplined approach to managing the business has resulted in millions of new connections and record lows in postpaid customer churn.
COLLEGE: B.S., Economics and Finance, Bentley University
OTHER INTERESTS: In addition to his telecom duties, Claure is working on establishing a pro soccer team in Miami.
WELL-TRAVELED: Claure came here after stops in Miami, Guatemala, Morocco and the Dominican Republic.
COMPANY INFLUENCE: Sprint was #1 on Ingram’s first-ever Corporate Report 100 ranking of fastest growing companies, and for years was the largest private employer in the Kansas City region.
5TH DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, U.S. HOUSE
This native Texan has a boulevard named for him, but Emanuel Cleaver really has made his mark on Kansas City at an intersection—the place where business and public policy converge. He’s just locked down a seventh term in the U.S. House, representing the district that includes most of Kansas City’s urban core. Before that, he served eight years as Kansas City’s mayor, focusing in particular on redevelopment of the city’s core.
COLLEGE: B.A., Prairie View A&M; M.A., St. Paul’s School of Theology
BREAKING BARRIERS: In 1991, Cleaver became the first African-American to be elected mayor of Kansas City.
PULPIT POWER: A gifted speaker, Cleaver has also honed his oratorical skills at St. James United Methodist Church, where he was pastor until 2009.
CAPITOL INFLUENCE: Cleaver is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, senior whip of the Democratic Caucus, and past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
PRESIDENT/CEO, H&R BLOCK
From PepsiCo to Pizza Hut, to a record $2.6 billion in revenue at eBay, Bill Cobb developed retail, digital and brand expertise that has helped drive success at Block. He places special importance on a healthy organizational culture and common purpose, vision and values. Through a company-wide “we do the right thing” attitude, he encourages employees to see clients’ lives through the lens of taxes and find ways to help.
COLLEGE: B.S., Economics, University of Pennsylvania-Wharton School of Bus-iness; M.B.A., Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management
BEST ADVICE: “Concentrate on being the best at your job. Don’t worry about promotions or what’s coming next. Focus on being the best at what you’re currently doing and you’ll be rewarded.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Meg Whitman, my boss at eBay. Meg is relentless, resilient and completely growth oriented. She is such a great mentor and friend to this day. I have tremendous respect for her.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I’ve mentored many people who have gone on to hold important and exciting positions across the country. That’s very gratifying.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Playing golf on a beautiful seaside course in Ireland.”
MANAGING PARTNER, KANSAS CITY, BKD CPAS & ADVISORS
Professional achievement for this accomplished accountant equals the trust and respect of partners. Proud of what he calls a “world class” team, he sees himself as an advocate for his team members and ultimately wants to help them achieve their ultimate career goals. Previously, Cole focused on building BKD’s presence in higher education and insurance regionally and is still a resource on those industries for the firm.
COLLEGE: Missouri State University, B.S., Accounting
BEST ADVICE: “One of my favorite sayings we use at BKD, is ‘integrity trumps economics every time.’ This philosophy should dictate how you do business and living it will give you crystal-clear solutions to difficult problems.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bob Page, of The University of Kansas Hospital has done a fantastic job leading that organization, which now ranks among the nation’s top academic medical centers. The people who work for Bob always have wonderful things to say about him personally along with his approach to leadership.” BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Drive in the BAJA 500.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I love spending time driving my boat at the lake.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, PORT KC
This former transportation, trade, commerce and economic development adviser to Sen. Kit Bond has the perfect resume for his job. His organization is leading a portfolio of transportation, trade, commerce and real estate development activity along the Missouri River and elsewhere. Collins also serves with Park University, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Economic Advisory Council and Kansas City Streetcar Authority.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, Park University; M.B.A., Rockhurst University-Helzberg School of Management
BEST ADVICE: “Listen and ask questions, then ask more questions. Empower and inspire those around you to enhance their professional and personal ‘best self.’“
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Without question it is Terry Dunn, former CEO at JE Dunn. He managed through many storms within the construction industry, acknowledged that CEOs make mistakes and told me to always lead with sincerity, integrity and a vision.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Playing golf at Augusta and on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf, smoking meat and enjoying time with my family.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Tacos. Definitely, tacos.”
CEO, BARDAVON HEALTH INNOVATIONS
The face of healthcare is changing nationwide, shifting from reactive care to proactive wellness, and in the Kansas City region, that face looks a lot like Matt Condon. He’s CEO at both ARC Physical Therapy+ and Bardavon. He launched the first in 2003, sold majority interest in a $36 million deal a decade later, then jump-started Bardavon to help companies make data-driven decisions for improving work-force wellness
COLLEGE: B.S., Kinesiology, Iowa State University; J.D., M.B.A., University of Toledo
BEST ADVICE: “Be prepared to persevere. Just like your personal life, your professional journey will be filled with opportunities to either quit or push forward. Always push forward for the things that are important.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “In 2010, ARC Physical Therapy+ won the coveted KC Chamber’s “Mr. K” Small Business of the Year. It was obviously a profound honor for ARC just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mr. Ewing Kauffman.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To sit front row at a championship boxing match.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Fly fishing. Unfortunately, the strikes don’t come as often as I would like.”
On his first day at ad agency VML, Jon Cook was one of 30 employees. He’s been the CEO since 2011, and it now has 2,500 employees on six continents—there’d be more if Antarctica had anyone to market to. This year, VML was recognized by Advertising Age as one of the top 10 agencies in that sector, and Cook’s charge is to forge strategic relationships with some of the world’s best-known brands, like Ford, Colgate-Palmolive, Kellogg, Pepsi and Wendy’s.
COLLEGE: B.A., Journalism, University of Missouri
BEST ADVICE: “Show up and follow-up.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Martin Sorrell, WPP. I love the global stage he has created for advertising, and that he started a company 30 years ago that he is still actively leading.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “A big safari through Africa with my whole family.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Hiking the mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “It’s hard for me to go more than a week without a giant, endless bowl of chips and salsa.”
PRESIDENT, BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS KANSAS CITY
David Cooper has been on the real estate scene here since getting his seller’s license in 1972—as an agent, branch manager, regional manager, owner-partner, VP, Executive VP and president. He leads what Better Homes & Gardens considers a flagship market, sharing his experience in the economic and emotional aspects of choosing a home and providing leadership with the goal of empowering people to do their best.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Know your people and build relationships.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jack Frost of Hardin and Stockton, Coldwell Banker and J.C. Nichols—my mentor growing up in the industry.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Owning my present company.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Children.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chicken or Italian.”
PRINCIPAL, COPAKEN BROOKS
This man’s family has been helping to shape Kansas City’s commercial real estate landscape ever since Russian immigrant, Herman Copaken, set up shop in 1922. With a reputation for seeing through complexity toward solutions, this Copaken is active in the entire spectrum of real estate services: leasing, development, management and investment. Currently, he’s heading up efforts on the 69-acre City Center in Lenexa.
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, University of Pennsylvania; Master’s, City Planning, University of California-Berkeley
BEST ADVICE: “Keep focused on what you want to accomplish and have fun along the way.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Paul Copaken, my father and mentor.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping to bring Nordstrom to Kansas City.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Travel through Europe with family and friends.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Working out with friends.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chocolate-chip cookies.”
MAYOR, OLATHE, KANSAS
Five-term Mayor Copeland has served the City of Olathe since being elected to the city council in 1993. He sits on boards at Olathe Chamber of Commerce, KVC Health Systems, Johnson County Community College Foundation and Union Station Kansas City. His honors include a Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award from the NAACP Olathe Branch and a Chairman’s Award from the Olathe Human Relations Commission.
COLLEGE: B.A., MidAmerica Nazarene University
BEST ADVICE: “Listen, and be humble. Always be respectful of others’ opinions.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Ewing Marion Kauffman, a Navy veteran, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. I deeply admire his determination in making his company great and his tenacious commitment to the betterment of our region.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Working with my Olathe City Council team to successfully navigate the variety of issues confronting our growing city.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Sailing off the coasts of Australia and Belize.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Spending time with my family.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF KANSAS
Turnover is not high in Corbin’s job. He’s only the seventh to hold it in more than 70 years. He also leads three company subsidiaries. In addition, he serves with Go Topeka, an economic growth organization, Kansas Insurance Education Foundation and has served with Meals on Wheels and United Way of Greater Topeka. Corbin was honored this year with induction into the Junior Achievement Topeka Business Hall of Fame.
COLLEGE: B.A., Education, Wichita State University
BEST ADVICE: “Do what you say you are going to do; don’t let success go to your head.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “John Dicus at Capitol Federal. He maintains a family legacy with conservative thought and grace.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Leading optimistically.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Catch and release a giant sailfish.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Cattle and fishing.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Mexican food.”
VICE PRESIDENT, COSENTINO GROUP
Cosentino represents a family grateful to his grandfather, an artist who painted scenes in Kansas City Catholic churches, who also bought a fruit stand for his kids in 1948. They’ve come a long way from the $56 the stand brought in on its first day, but family unity and effort is still the engine behind Cosentino Food Stores, its dedicated employees and its commitment to build relationships, “one customer at a time.”
COLLEGE: B.A., Marketing and Communications, Missouri State University
BEST ADVICE: “Always work hard and be passionate about what you do. Have patience with yourself in the beginning because time creates experience.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My father, Dante Cosentino. He was a professional grocery man with a genuine appreciation for the people around him. Everyone who knew him admired and loved him.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being part of the initiative to revitalize Downtown Kansas City by opening Cosentino’s Downtown Market in 2009.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My family.”
MANAGING PARTNER, FIVE ELMS CAPITAL
Fred Coulson started his career in financial services with Citigroup Asset Management in London, then worked in investment banking for Morgan Stanely in New York before going into private equity. He spotted a hole in the growth-equity market for emerging businesses, spawning Five Elms Capital when he came home in 2006, and is fixed on a goal of helping emerging businesses grow in the service and technology sectors.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, University of Kansas
GROWTH MARKERS: Following investment by the firm, the average company in the Five Elms portfolio has grown revenues by 53 percent a year.
NOTABLE HOLDINGS: Among the local companies funded by Five Elms are Smart Warehousing, SelectQuote, and Spring Venture Group, a sales and marketing company specializing in health and life insurance.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Coulson serves on the Board of Advisors for KU’s School of Business and Finance Department.
He’s president and CEO of the region’s highest-profile business-development organization, the Kansas City Area Development Council, but Tim Cowden says he still hasn’t logged his biggest professional achievement: “I am still working towards it,” he says. “I never want to become complacent with what I may have already accomplished.” That can only bode well for the region, as he leads the strategic direction and vision for the council.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Journalism, University of Oklahoma
BEST ADVICE: “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use them proportionately. Make sure you are truly pursuing a career in a field you love. Otherwise, you will eventually end up burning out yourself and those closest to you.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I plan to participate in Royals Fantasy Camp in January of 2018 with some of my good friends. I love baseball and the Royals—plus January in Arizona will be nice!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Being part of our kid’s lives. Watching their successes and helping them through the inevitable rough patches. My wife and I are so proud of all four.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Wow—obviously, KC BBQ.”
CENTRAL AREA PRESIDENT, SPRINT
Kevin Crull has long focused on growing businesses by dev-eloping consumer insights and then devising programs to deliver results. His responsibilities include sales strategy and execution, network oversight, customer service, marketing communications and more for 15 Midwest states. It’s a multifaceted position that allows him to lead and foster an employee-unifying culture of ownership at the market level.
COLLEGE: B.S., Marketing, Ohio State University; M.B.A., Masagung Graduate School of Management, University of San Francisco
RECOGNITION: In the judgment of Forbes, ScribbleLive and LinkedIn’s fourth annual Global CMO Influence Study, Crull was the third most influential marketer of 2015.
VARIED BACKGROUND: Previous companies he’s worked for include Nestle USA, AT&T, US West/Qwest and Bell Media (Canada).
BOARD SERVICE: Among the organizations he’s supported with his time are the Walk for Kids Help Phone and the Sick Kids Foundation.
CHAIRMAN/CEO, TRADEBOT SYSTEMS
The roots of Kansas City’s position in the world of stock-market trading run all the way to the spare bedroom where
Dave Cummings, with $10,000, started Tradebot Systems in 1999. Since then, it has grown to account for up to 5 percent of U.S. stock market sales volume, thanks to its unique algorithms that add liquidity to those markets. He also was the founding force behind Bats Global Markets.
COLLEGE: B.S., Computer and Electrical Engineering, Purdue University
BEST ADVICE: “If you want to start your own business someday, work for a successful entrepreneur early in your career. The experience will be worth far more than your paycheck.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Neal Patterson (Cerner). He took the time to mentor me and several other emerging Kansas City leaders.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Founding Tradebot and Bats. Bats will have a $3.2 billion exit, and Tradebot is still private.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I have visited all 50 states. Someday, I’d like to travel around the world, including Australia and Asia.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Flying. I have my private pilot’s license.”
PARTNER, C3 CAPITAL
Before managing the $460 million in assets C3 Capital uses to finance growth for the companies they invest in, Curran was CEO at Cook Paint and Varnish. In 1979, he took it private in one of the first leveraged buyouts ever, a move he still considers his top business achievement. He has served on the board of numerous Midwestern companies, including Applebee’s International, Gold Banc, Lockton Companies and Unitog.
COLLEGE: B.A., Stanford University; M.B.A. Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Business
BEST ADVICE: “Persistence is the ultimate quality to success, and the belief that gravity always takes over.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My partners at C3 Capital. We all have our own specific strengths and we build upon them together. Also, the many CEOs I have had the privilege to work with, who have been instrumental in their companies’ success.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Having a wonderful wife and family.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf with friends and Sporting KC.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Steak!”
REGIONAL OWNER, RE/MAX MID-STATES & DIXIE REGION
He bought a RE/MAX franchise in 1975 and sold it in 1990 with a sales volume of $200 million and a 43 percent market share. Today, Dennis Curtin owns all RE/MAX sub-franchise rights for Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. He also brought the RE/MAX concept to Ireland, building an 80-office business there before returning rights to the region to Europe in 2009.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration and Marketing, Rockhurst College
BEST ADVICE: “I believe the best aspiring leaders are prepared to do any and all tasks in the organization regardless of its apparent importance today. Management will notice.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire the co-founder of RE/MAX, Dave Liniger. I have watched him build an internationally known brand from meager beginnings into a publicly traded company located in nearly 100 countries, worldwide. His vision and execution has been very inspiring to me over the years.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Trekking in Nepal to Everest base camp.”
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/CFO, BLACK & VEATCH
Karen Daniel joined Black & Veatch in 1992, was named CFO in 1999 and joined the board of directors in 2006. She also serves as president of Black & Veatch’s Global Finance & Technology Solutions Division, leading the global finance and IT organizations. She previously was named vice-chair of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.
COLLEGE: B.A., Northwest Missouri State University; M.S., Accounting, University of Missouri-Kansas City
PREVIOUS STOPS: Before joining Black & Veatch, she spent 11 years with the CPA firm of Peat Marwick (later KPMG).
RECOGNITION: Daniel was included in one of the earliest classes of Ingram’s salute to women executives, Women Executives-Kansas City, in 2002.
A BIG JOB: As the ranking financial officer at Black & Veatch, she’s in charge of managing finances for a 101-year-old company with revenues of more than $3.3 billion, ranking No. 8 on Ingram’s list of the Top 100 Private Companies in the Kansas City region.
DAVID DEHAEMERS, JR.
PRESIDENT/CEO, TALLGRASS ENERGY PARTNERS
With the analytical skills of an accountant and the insight of an attorney, David has long been a top executive in what the energy industry calls “midstream” transportation services. Whether crude oil is $25 a barrel or $150, it still needs to travel once it gets out of the ground. The same thing goes for natural gas: it needs to get where it’s going. David and his company are the people who make it move.
COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting, Creighton University; J.D., UMKC School of Law
BEST ADVICE: Be a leader, and decisive—with humility. Listen to others well; you can always talk.
PHILANTHROPY: According to online profiles, The Dehaemers Family Charitable Trust has a wide range of interests including, elementary and secondary education, children and youth and the economically disadvantaged.
PASSION/HOBBY: Cars .
JACKIE DESOUZA-VAN BLARICUM
CEO, RESEARCH MEDICAL CENTER
Winning her prestigious role before 40, DeSouza-Van Blaricum is the first woman and first person of color to be Research Medical Center’s CEO. With a love for developing leaders and building lasting relationships while standing on solid principles, she is credited with recruiting highly-trained physicians, bolstering employee engagement, upgrading millions in equipment and renovating thousands of square feet of patient care space.
COLLEGE: B.S., Health Services Administration, James Madison University; Master of Health Administration, Medical College of Virginia-Virginia Com-monwealth University School of Medicine
BEST ADVICE: “Find a sponsor. This is more than a mentor. A sponsor helps young executives in their career over a long period of time, advising and helping guide their decisions and their leadership development.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My husband, CEO of his food-truck business, Pita for Good. He is a successful entrepreneur, a wonderful father, and my perfect life partner.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Visit the places my husband’s family and my family originated.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Tacos.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, OLATHE HEALTH SYSTEM
Frank Devocelle has been in his job since 1975, which gives you an idea of just how good at it he is. Olathe Health was a relatively small operation then and he has overseen its growth from $3.2 million to approximately $950 million in gross revenues. He has also chaired numerous boards and received several awards honoring his community commitment, including the honor of being named an Olathe “Citizen of the Year.”
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, Quincy College; M.B.A., Western Illi-nois University
BEST ADVICE: “I truly believe the key to success is surrounding yourself with people who are better than you. I, as an individual, accomplish very little. We, as a team, can accomplish so much!”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My wife, Molly, is the CEO of our family and our home. I can’t think of anyone I admire more than her. She is willing to consistently give of self and expect nothing in return.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Our Board of Trustees and our leadership have had a vision for many years of a full continuum of care available on one campus. I am very proud of how well we are continuing to meet that vision.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, CAPITOL FEDERAL FINANCIAL
Since joining the Topeka-based bank in 1996, John Dicus has been transformative, overseeing its conversion from a mutual savings association to a stock savings bank in 1999, and in 2010, the second-step conversion from mutual holding company. Today, it’s the biggest bank in the state, with $9.26 billion in assets. He and his father, former CEO Jack Dicus, led the Capitol Federal Foundation’s
$20 million donation to help KU build its new school of business.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business, University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Work hard and follow your passion.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jack Dicus, for the way he conducted himself and how he treated the people around him.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Taking Capitol Federal public in 1999 and 2010.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Caddying in a professional golf tournament.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Oatmeal-raisin cookies.”
PRESIDENT, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Andy Reid handles the Xs and Os on the field, but the man who makes the Chiefs a champion of business is Mark Donovan, the team’s president since 2011. Like Reid, he came here from Philadelphia and spent two years as COO before taking on day-to-day oversight in 2011, and he’s responsible for managing all aspects of the club’s business operations. He also has held senior executive roles for the NFL and the NHL.
COLLEGE: B.A., Organizational Behavior and Management/Political Science, Brown University
BEST ADVICE: “Have a mindset that every point of contact is an opportunity.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “This will sound self-serving, but I believe Lamar Hunt is a great role model for anyone. Lamar treated everyone with kindness, his humility is an inspiration and he was one of the most innovative people in the history of sports.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Have not achieved it yet.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Long list without a clear No. 1.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Playing golf.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Is red wine a food?”
OWNER, FIORELLA’S JACK STACK BARBECUE
Right up front, we admit to a “duh” moment: We actually asked Case Dorman, owner of perhaps the premier barbecue establishment in the region, what one food he wouldn’t want to live without. “I’m going to go,” he responds dryly, “with barbecue.” He worked his way to the top after starting there as a teenager—his degree, he says, came from BBQ U—and he now oversees a company plating it up at five area locations.
BEST ADVICE: “Make it your priority to serve others. Surround yourself with people with character, talent, empathy and drive.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Dave Goebel (former CEO of Applebee’s). Character, values, leadership, selfless. Passion for people. Love that man.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The culture of our company, in addition to the amazing people that make it what it is.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Traveling the world with my family.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf, followed closely by fly-fishing.”
CEO, UNITED REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS
Dan Duffy is the proud leader of a team that has restored and refreshed a 91-year-old business, resulting in career opportunities and positive outcomes for affiliated brokers, agents and auctioneers nationwide and on four continents. He believes a leader needs to be curious, calling curiosity “the distillate of all amazing things.” On the personal side, he is a supporter of national and community conservation groups.
COLLEGE: B.B.A., Indiana University; M.B.A., Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Steve Jobs. He had an amazing capacity to see things dif-ferently and then the will and passion to make new and better realities.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Maintaining balance between a large family and an intense business schedule.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Watching my five boys live joyful, fulfilled and purpose driven lives.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Coaching youth lacrosse, travel and scuba diving.”
MAYOR, LEAWOOD, KANSAS
She’s one half of what’s arguably Kansas City’s grand champion power couple, and Peggy Dunn has played on many stages in that role: Mayor of Leawood for nearly 20 years, omnipresent civic booster on behalf of various initiatives and boards supporting UMKC, the United Way, Johnson County Community College, Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Centers, and more than a dozen other human-services or arts-focused non-profits.
COLLEGE: B.A., Sociology, University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “Don’t be afraid to be a risk-taker. Always prepare by thoroughly reading all materials provided in advance of meetings or presentations. Seek out a valued and trusted mentor.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Don Hall, Jr. He has an amazing work ethic and extraordinary vision for initiatives that lead to success. In addition, the Hall Family Foundation does tremendous good throughout our broad community.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being mayor of Leawood is my most esteemed honor.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “My No. 1 passion is my family, especially my 13 grandchildren! My hobbies are walking and reading.”
CHAIRMAN, JE DUNN CONSTRUCTION CO.
When Steve Dunn finished college and went to the company his grandfather started, it was already half a century old. But a new generation was about to make it a lot bigger. Dunn had a hand in that with various vice president roles, as treasurer, and, since 2000, as chairman of the board. During his tenure, JE Dunn transitioned to employee ownership, but retained the philanthropic vision that has made the company a civic pillar.
COLLEGE B.S./B.A. Marketing, Rockhurst University
BEST ADVICE: “Identify a mentor early on who you respect to provide you with the counsel and wisdom you will need to be successful in your career.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “William H. Dunn, Sr. He has always set an amazing example for employees and the community through his generosity and integrity. His outstanding leadership provides support to so many people by helping them reach their potential.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Hiking five days (over 50 miles!) with my son, Joe, in Glacier National Park was a bucket list item I checked off this past summer.”
CHAIRMAN, JE DUNN CONSTRUCTION GROUP
No other family puts its stamp on business and civic life quite like the Dunns, and the chairman/CEO of the holding company for JE Dunn Construction was at the operating unit’s helm as it grew nearly eight-fold in revenues and soared into the Top 20 of the nation’s largest general contractors. He’s also one of the most active proponents of civic and charitable initiatives through his board service.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, Rockhurst University; MBA, UMKC
BEST ADVICE: “Surround yourself with outstanding mentors.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Peggy Dunn, Mayor of Leawood. I marvel at her professionalism and achievements.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Marrying Peggy and raising a great family. I am very lucky and fortunate.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Travel with Peggy to Australia, New Zealand and Africa
PASSION/HOBBY: “Hiking and travel with Peggy.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Coffee—I need it to get an early start to my day.”
CHAIRMAN/CEO, BLACK & VEATCH
For the past three years, Steve Edwards has been running the region’s largest engineering firm and its engineering, consulting and construction projects across the world. The firm is one of the nation’s largest employee-owned companies (No. 12), as well as one of the 150 largest private companies nationwide. Within its sector, it’s a consistent Top 10 firm for power generation and delivery, water infrastructure development and telecommunications.
COLLEGE B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia
EXPANSION-MINDED: After becoming chairman and CEO, Edwards said the company’s longer-term strategy would focus on diversification, by both expanding its service lines and its geographic presence around the world.
LONG HISTORY, PART I: Edwards has been with the firm his entire career, starting there in 1978. He became COO in early 2013, transitioning into the leadership that fall.
LONG HISTORY, PART II: Black & Veatch last year celebrated its centennial; it was founded in 1915 by Ernest Black and Nathan Thomas.
GLOBAL REACH: Since its founding, Black & Veatch has managed projects in more than 100 countries around the world.
CHAIRMAN, JOHNSON COUNTY COMMISSION
For 28 years, Ed Eilert was Mr. Overland Park, serving a term on the City Council, then a remarkable 24 years as mayor of Johnson County’s biggest city. He switched public-service paths in 2006 to join the County Commission, and has twice been elected chairman of that board. Eilert is a former teacher who moved to Overland Park in 1965, just five years after the city was officially incorporated.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, M.A, Business Education, Emporia State University
FINANCIAL ACUMEN: Eilert’s day job, for most of his years in public service, was as a consultant with A.G. Edwards, for nearly 37 years.
BOOM TOWN: During Eilert’s tenure as mayor, the population of Overland Park more than doubled, reaching 168,800.
KEY ROLE: As chairman of the board of county commissioners, Eilert holds the position of highest authority in county government, and its chief elected official.
EXECUTIVE VP, KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN
This former chief-of-staff to Sen. Kit Bond and former member of Gov. John Ashcroft’s staff today oversees internal Kansas City Southern affairs including the legal department, claims and railroad security. Externally, Erdman’s focus includes regulatory affairs, government relations and communications, and long-term infrastructure needs of the railroad and the communities it serves. He’s an omnipresent force in civic causes.
COLLEGE: B.A., Westminster College
BEST ADVICE: “Be a good and respectful listener, and seek to understand what others are saying and why to inform you in your own views and efforts.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Missouri governor and U.S. Senator Kit Bond was a CEO to me. I admired his clear thought and reasoning, balance, respect and fairness, and his focus on completion of result.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Experience a University of Missouri football national championship.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Betterment of Missouri to ensure it remains competitive and a growing, attractive place for future generations.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, SAINT LUKE’S HEALTH SYSTEM
Melinda Estes came to Saint Luke’s in 2011, when the health-care industry was changing, along with the way patients approached choices. A physician who saw the need for change, she launched a streamlining effort, enabling the pursuit of a successful innovation and growth strategy. Her goals have been accomplished, she says, in part by surrounding herself with smart, passionate people who help craft a vision and follow it through
COLLEGE: B.S., Sam Houston University; M.D., University of Texas Medical Branch; M.B.A., Case Western Reserve University
BEST ADVICE: “Live your professional life as a continual quest for learning. Don’t ever think you have all the answers, but rather ask lots of questions. Take advantage of every opportunity given to you that will allow you to learn new things and grow.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I have always admired Bill Gates—not just for his incredible business acumen and technological brilliance, but for who he is as a generous contributor to our global society.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: My husband and I enjoy traveling. Several places on our list include Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, LIBERTY HOSPITAL
David Feess knows well the institution he has led since 2011. He started there in 1987 and has had extensive experience in patient safety, project management, corporate compliance, quality improvement and overall patient care, has managed various construction projects, was involved in the implementation of the hospital’s clinical information system and served as the hospital’s corporate compliance officer.
COLLEGE: B.B.A., Pittsburg State University
INNOVATOR: Under his guidance, Liberty Hospital is collaborating on a $66 million healthy-living community called Norterre, a multigenerational residential setting that will incorporate various tools for wellness and healthcare delivery.
HEALTHCARE ANCHOR: Since opening in 1974, Liberty Hospital has grown from a 130-bed facility to a state-of-the-art, 226-bed hospital with more than 330 physicians covering all medical specialties.
EYE FOR NUMBERS: Feess is also a certified public accountant.
PRESIDENT/CEO, FERRELLGAS PARTNERS
Propane sales weren’t high on the list of things young Jim Ferrell wanted to do with his life, but his father’s small business in Atchison was faltering, and needed his help. Half a century later, that one-man shop has blossomed into Ferrellgas Partners, a Fortune 1000 company that has more than 3,600 employees, and serves roughly 1 million customers in every state and Puerto Rico.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business, University of Kansas
THE BIG LEAP: Ferrell’s business skills—buying smaller companies at discounted rates—helped lead his own company to profitability, but the real breakthrough came in 1986, with the acquisition of Buckeye Pipeline’s propane assets, making Ferrellgas a national company.
SHARING THE WEALTH: In 1998, Ferrell oversaw the company’s formation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and it’s one of the 20 largest companies nationwide with that ownership structure.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP: From 1998-2000, Ferrell was president of the Paris-based World LP Gas Association. He also worked with the Propane Education & Research Council and was chairman of the Propane Vehicle Council.
CEO, CENTRAL BANK OF THE MIDWEST
Tom Fitzsimmons has spent more than 40 years in banking, and knows the industry from inside out, particularly from the rural-banking side. But he’s also seen banking from a policy perspective, as a former Director of Finance under Gov. John Ashcroft. There, he helped Missouri’s banks weather challenging times in the late 1980s—part of his career that Fitzsimmons still considers his biggest professional achievement.
COLLEGE: B.S., Edcuation, Central Methodist University
BEST ADVICE: “Accept every opportunity for additional responsibilities or new projects.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bryan Cook, Central Bancompany, for the successful management of the family banking company as the fourth-generation CEO.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Experience life with grandchildren.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Kansas City barbecue and Arrow-head Stadium hot dogs.”
FORMER CEO, SPRINT AND PAST PRESIDENT, MU SYSTEM
Gary Forsee didn’t have to work: When he left Sprint Corp. in 2007, this former CEO could have comfortably sailed into the sunset. Instead, he chose to accept an offer from the University of Missouri system, which included his alma mater in Rolla, and become its president. He held that role for the next three years. Most recently, he’s been working as one of eight members of the MU System Review Commission.
COLLEGE: B.S., Civil Engineering, Missouri-Rolla (Missouri University of Science & Technology); honorary degree, Engineering, honorary doctoral degree, MUS&T.
BEST ADVICE: “Get grounded (spend enough time) in a discipline so you have solid reference points in your career.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Leo Morton, Chancellor, UMKC. He’s the right leader at the right time. Great cities need great city universities and he works every day for all students, faculty, and our community.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “See the day again where national and state leaders are interested in governing and problem-solving vs. partisan politics.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Oregon Pinot Noir (new food group).”
PARTNER, STINSON LEONARD STREET
David Frantze is a lawyer, but what he really does is help build things, ensuring that development deals are done right. His expertise in both law and the policies that drive a metropolitan area forward with new construction and redevelopment helped give us Union Station’s rebirth, Sprint Center, the P&L District and other major projects. He’s a champion for both the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society and the Boy Scouts, among others.
COLLEGE: B.A. (magna cum laude), History/Speech & Theatre, Avila University; J.D., UMKC School of Law (with distinction)
BEST ADVICE: “Two items: (1) You can never be certain that you are the smartest person in the room, or the best educated person in the room, or the richest person in the room, but you can make certain no one works harder than you do. (2) Thomas Edison quote: ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ Make sure you’re not most people.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Buying a blue 1957 T-Bird and driving across the country along Route 66.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Besides family, I am a sports nut—particularly Royals’ baseball.”
David Gaboury’s advice to young executives is, “Be authentic. Whatever business you are in, you are in the people business.” That philosophy comes through in his focus on the safety of the employees who help construction clients identify and overcome obstacles to the safe completion of projects. He brings that same focus to his work on the Olathe Medical Center and Olathe Medical Services boards of trustees.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Massachusetts-Amherst; M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; A.M.P., Harvard Business School
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Consistent, prosperous growth of the company. Personal commitment to everyone going home safe every day based on genuine care and concern for employees and their families. Applying this care and concern to all we do.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Experience and perspective gained by living and working across the country—east, west, mountain and central.”
OWNER, GATES AND SONS B-B-Q
For more than six decades, Ollie Gates has been building a company founded by his parents back in 1946. Today, it has roughly 1,500 employees serving the good stuff at six red-roofed locations in the area, and also distributes its distinctive sauce to retailers. Gates is a longtime Kansas City Parks Board member who has contributed to efforts to build fountains and memorials honoring African American war veterans.
COLLEGE: Lincoln University in Jefferson City
BARBECUE PEDIGREE: The restaurant’s offerings were influenced by Arthur Pinkard, who had worked for the so-called founder of Kansas City barbecue, Henry Perry.
MUSICAL DISTINCTION: We’re pretty sure that Gates is the only Kansas City barbecue magnate to be featured in a video by rap star Tech N9ne.
OTHER INTERESTS: Gates hasn’t limited himself to being a restaurateur; he has also developed a pair of inner-city sites as retail shopping centers.
RECOGNITION: In 2004, the state House of Representatives issued a proclamation recognizing Gates for his tenure on the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, including a stint as its chairman.
PRESIDENT, CRESTWOOD MIDSTREAM PARTNERS
Even at the CEO level, says Bill Gautreaux, “no one is perfect, so I look for leadership traits across the spectrum.” He also serves as chief marketing officer for the LP gas concern, and his views on leadership are instructive: “Great leaders,” he says, “have to be spotted because they are not usually promoting themselves. I look for the people at the top of their field in skill and knowledge.”
COLLEGE: B.A. History, William Jewell College; Oxford University
BEST ADVICE: “Play the long game and stay the course. It takes a long time to get really good at something. Focus on all that you don’t know, because big fundamentals are likely changing. Run your business like you own it.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Starting at the entry level in my first job and looking around 30 years later at a highly successful team of people who are willing to work with me as their leader.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “A series of longer vacations with my wife and daughters to places we have never been before like the African and Asian continents. And I would like to get on Augusta National.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “A toss-up between collecting art and golf.“
PRESIDENT/CEO, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
OF KANSAS CITY
Most people on this list are here for contributions to the regional economy. Esther George fits that profile, but she also influences the nation’s economy with a say-so in monetary policy as a member of the board of governors for the Federal Reserve Bank, and CEO of its 10th District. The Kansas City branch has more than 1,600 employees, with offices in Denver, Oklahoma City and Omaha, and oversees seven states.
COLLEGE: B.S./B.A, Business Administration, Missouri Western State University; M.B.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City; American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking; Stanford Graduate School of Business
LONG HISTORY: George has been with the Fed since 1982, and previously served as a bank examiner and as the District’s chief regulator. She became CEO in October 2011.
CONTRARIAN VIEWS: As a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets key interest rates, George has consistently argued for higher rates—nudged up slowly—to reflect an economy that is slowly regaining strength.
RECOGNITION: She also is an alumna of Ingram’s Women Executives-Kansas City, earning that distinction in 2002.
MAYOR, OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS
Eagle Scout. Four-year Division I basketball letterman. Marketing vice president for screen-printing company Gill Studios. Three-term mayor of the region’s biggest suburburban city. When Carl Gerlach sets his mind to something, things get done, and at a high level. He’s also been an active booster of civic causes and educational initiatives. We’re pretty sure he’s the only Ingram’s 250 honoree ever selected in the NBA draft.
COLLEGE: B.S., Marketing, Kansas State University
BEST ADVICE: “Find what you are passionate about; get involved in your community.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Ben Craig. He always was focused on the ‘greater good’ when making decisions, acknowledging there would be some people disadvantaged from the decision and they needed to be helped. But the ‘greater good’ was the key.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Vision Metcalf. As a city ages, redevelopment is important to invest back into the older parts. We brought together the citizens, the development community and city government to create a redevelopment plan for Metcalf Avenue which is now being built.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “College basketball and golf.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, COMMUNITYAMERICA CREDIT UNION
If anyone in this region understands the unique position, mission and function of a credit union, it’s Lisa Ginter: She’s held executive leadership roles for three of them. Nearly 20 years after signing on with CommunityAmerica—the region’s biggest—she was named president and CEO in early 2015. She’s also been CFO for School Employees Credit Union and president of Catholic Family Credit Union.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, Rockhurst University; Advanced Leadership Institute, Harvard Business School
INSPIRATION: Her mother. “She sacrificed her own career to stay home with 10 kids,” Ginter once told us. “She made everyone believe we could do everything we set our sights on.”
VARIED ROLES: On her way up the ladder, Ginter worked in almost every aspect of CACU’s operations—sales, marketing, business development, information services, mortgage and electronic services.
TRACKING GROWTH: Since she joined the company in 1995, its assets have soared from $595 million to nearly $2.4 billion.
EXECUTIVE VICE CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS MEDICAL CENTER
This decorated Navy veteran oversees education, research, patient care and community engagement for the university’s schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions in a sprawling and growing campus adjacent to Midtown. He has published 14 book chapters, 70-plus scholarly journal articles, and has been on international medical missions in places such as Uganda, Guat-emala, Mali, Philippines and Mexico. He also co-chairs KC Rising.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Calif.-Davis; M.D., University of Calif.- San Francisco
BEST ADVICE: “Work selflessly and with a focus on the greater good and great opportunities will present themselves.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Greg Graves (Burns & McDonnell) dedicated his career to one company and experienced tremendous corporate growth. He has dedicated tremendous time and energy to supporting and improving the KC region through civic service.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Ushering the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (as Chairman) to a USNWR Top 50 program for the last 8 years”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Going on safari in Africa.”
OWNER/CEO, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
He’s had quite a career overall, but David Glass will be remembered most fondly here as the owner who brought the World Series championship back to Kansas City. Before acquiring the Royals, this member of the Retail Hall of Fame spent 25 years with Walmart, 12 as president and chief executive officer, and is credited with leading the company through a period of unprecedented growth to become the nation’s largest retailer.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business, Missouri State University
GROWTH CHAMPION: When Glass joined Walmart, the company had 123 stores as a regional retailer. When he left in 2000, it was on a trajectory that would reach 4,000 stores.
INVESTMENT SAVVY: Glass bought the Royals for $96 million in 2000. According to Forbes “The Business of Baseball,” the team is now valued at $865 million.
BASEBALL BUSY: Glass is also on the board of directors of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Executive Council of Major League Baseball, and served as chairman of MLB Advanced Media.
SHOW-ME ROOTS: He made his name south of the state line, but Glass’ home town was Mountain View, Mo.
PRESIDENT, MCCOWNGORDON CONSTRUCTION
Co-founder of one of the largest construction companies in the Midwest, Brett Gordon has watched it succeed based on core values of integrity, performance, relationships, associates, community and clients. In the greater community, Gordon serves with the Kansas City Area Development Council, the Downtown Council, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and other civic and philanthropic organizations.
COLLEGE: B.S., Colorado State University; M.B.A., Rockhurst University
BEST ADVICE: “Entrust, empower and enrich your associates. They are your biggest asset. Also, find and train your replacement.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Ewing Kauffman, a pioneer in building a company that prospered, but also rewarded his associates and gave back to the community.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “To have been part of building a company that competes against some of the biggest competition in the country, while ensuring our associates have a great place to work and giving back to the community.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Just spending time with my family, doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as I get to enjoy it with the people I love.”
PARTNER, STINSON LEONARD STREET
When you assess law-firm expertise in financial services, Stinson Leonard Street is always competing for the top spot on the list, in large part because of the work of its Corporate Finance Division, where John Granda is the chairman. Under the wing of this iconic rainmaker, the firm has placed nine practice groups, handling everything from capital markets to mergers and acquisitions to venture capital.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, M.B.A., University of Iowa; J.D., L.L.M., Taxation, Georgetown University
BEST ADVICE: “Work smart and hard, follow the Golden Rule and stay humble.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Tom McDonnell, former CEO of DST; extremely bright, analytical, hard-working and humble.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping build the strongest corporate finance practice in Kansas City and arguably this region.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Driven pheasant shooting in England.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Bird hunting.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Steak.”
Grant leads the SelectQuote group focusing on Medicare Supplement Insurance with the goal of helping customers navigate the process of purchasing Medicare insurance. Previously, he was a senior vice president at Quest Diagnostics and chairman, president and CEO for LabOne, Inc. He sits on the Commerce Bancshares board and is a member of University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; M.B.A., University of Pennsylvania-Wharton School of Finance
PAST AFFILIATIONS: Former member of boards including, LabOne, Inc., BMA Corporation, Assicurazioni Generali Life Insurance Company and Kansas City Power & Light Company.
HISTORICAL NOTE: SelectQuote Insurance Services was among the first agencies to offer the direct marketing of term life insurance.
BEST THING ABOUT KANSAS CITY LIVING: The mild winters.
FAVORITE MOVIE: 12 Angry Men.
CHAIRMAN & CEO, BURNS & MCDONNELL
Have we ever seen a more devoted, or more effective, champion of both business and civic affairs? Hard to think of anyone who’s outhustled Greg Graves, either in the engineering world or as a civic booster for all things Kansas City. The firm grew fivefold under his 12 years at the helm (he retires in December) and his huge roster of philanthropic and community causes was payment on a debt, he says: “It’s all about giving back to the community.”
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines & Tech; M.B.A., Rockhurst University
BEST ADVICE: “A favorite college professor said, ‘The only thing that matters in life, is to matter in life.’ Powerful words. From that moment on, I made a conscious effort to make every position I took on in my career matter.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Having Burns & McDonnell recognized as a best place to work. We work hard at nurturing our corporate culture and never take it for granted.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Working on that one now, developing some property in rural Missouri. This is a dream my wife, Deanna, shares with me. In fact, for our recent anniversary, I bought her a tractor—and she loved it!”
HOBBY/PASSION: “Collecting wine.”
6TH DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, U.S. HOUSE
This sixth-generation family farmer beat an incumbent on his first run for state representative. He calls it his biggest political achievement because he did it through nothing more than determination and hard work. Today, Sam Graves represents his lifelong district in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and sits on the Committee on Armed Services.
COLLEGE: University of Missouri-Columbia, Agronomy
BEST ADVICE: “Outwork your competition. It’s that simple. Just about the only thing you can control in this world is how hard you work. If you’re at it when other people aren’t, you have an advantage over everyone who is not willing to make that sacrifice.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “What I really appreciate is any individual who has successfully started his or her own business. It’s truly one of the hardest things to do, to deal with everything that goes into that, and still succeed in spite of it all.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To someday teach my grandchildren to fly.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Performing at air shows with my team at the Texas Flying Legends Museum.”
GENERAL MANAGER, BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
Don Gray knows all about power. And water. He has to, as general manager for the municipally owned utility that provides electricity to 63,000 Wyandotte County customers and water to 50,000. For more than 40 years, he’s been with the BPU, rising to manager of water operations before taking the leadership role a decade ago. He’s credited with the BPU Charity Golf Tournament, raising more than $500,000 for children’s charities.
COLLEGE: B.S., Microbiology, Kansas State University; B.S., Chemistry, Rockhurst University; M.B.A., University of St. Mary
BEST ADVICE: “Expand your knowledge, never stop improving your proficiencies through educational and training opportunities. Excellent communications skills are paramount; this includes also being a good listener. Working well with others, critical to success is being a team player. Exhibit leadership skills by having vision and also with creative thinking.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Former head of the BPU Water Division, Erv Sims, Jr. He was consistent, fair, honest and set the bar very high for his integrity and he never micromanaged his staff.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Attending the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.”
OWNER, TJG ENTERPRISES
Trent Green played 15 seasons in the NFL, including six with the Chiefs, then retired in 2009 to take on various business interests, and stayed here to do so. He still keeps his hand in the profession as a color analyst for CBS, and through TJG, he’s been involved with stone-quarrying operations, broadcasting ownership and residential land development in Johnson County, as well as being chairman of the Trent Green Family Foundation.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Marketing, Indiana University
BEST ADVICE: “Take a vested interest in the people working for you. Make everyone feel they are a part of the team. People just try harder when they feel like they are involved.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Lamar Hunt. He always made people feel good about their efforts. That they mattered. He never put himself above others. He was a great visionary and worked hard to implement those strategies.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL after being drafted #222.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to jump out of a plane, but I think it will be a very exciting.”
MANAGING PARTNER, MCANANY, VAN CLEAVE & PHILLIPS
He’s an expert in workers compensation matters for MVP, but for Fred Greenbaum, those issues aren’t just business: They’re personal, too. That’s why he carves time out of his schedule to assist with fund-raising for Kids Chance of Missouri, which gives scholarships to children of workers killed or badly injured on the job. He’s also managing partner and president
of the board for the firm where he’s worked for 37 years.
COLLEGE: B.S., Kansas State University; J.D., Washburn University Law School
BEST ADVICE: “Treat everyone the right way.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping build a business where people enjoy coming to work and make a reasonable living.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Continuing to be with our children and hopefully their grandchildren.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “1. Golf (in spite of my lack of ability), 2. Tennis.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Right now, salads. Most of the time, and Papa Minsky’s Pizza.”
PRESIDENT, BUILDERS ASSOCIATION
He makes his living in two worlds: One, where white-collar business takes place, and one where people get their hands dirty for a living. Don Greenwell’s role with the Builders Association gives him a keen understanding that a community doesn’t move ahead unless it’s re-inventing itself, physically as well as psychologically. The association provides a wide range of support services for the construction sector.
COLLEGE: B.S./B.A., Finance, University of Missouri-Columbia; J.D., UMKC School of Law
BEST ADVICE: “Find mentors.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. He thinks really big.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping others determine/pursue their vocational passion.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To travel into the Himalayas.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Seafood would probably be what I would miss the most.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, MGP INGREDIENTS
While still in college, Gus Griffin helped teach a man to read so that he was able to get a promotion at work. “I have never forgotten that feeling,” says the CEO of MGP Ingredients, “and want to do it on a larger scale.” That has framed his outlook over a long career in the adult-beverage industry, particularly with sales and marketing of fine spirits, and he applies those skills at one of Atchison’s largest employers.
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, M.B.A., College of William and Mary
BEST ADVICE: “Learn everything you can from every role or experience. It may not seem relevant at the time, but you will be constantly increasing your value.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Larry Page, Google, for his vision and impatience to achieve it. He is not concerned about being measured against competitors, but rather about their progress towards achieving their undefined potential.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Developing people, challenging them and helping them realize their true potential is certainly my proudest achievement.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Swimming, in any body of water, particularly the ocean.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, UNION STATION KANSAS CITY
When he goes to work, Guastello brings along a passion for high-value educational and entertainment experiences and making them fun. Described as “ever the showman,” it shows in his resume. Among other roles, Guastello was Vice President of Marketing for Starlight Theatre. He has received a Non-Profit Professional of the Year Award and the Greater Kansas City Hotel Association’s Hospitality Leadership Award.
COLLEGE: B.S., M.B.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “You certainly have responsibilities to many stakeholder groups, but your customers are ultimately the ones with the biggest vote regarding your success or failure. Listen to them carefully and often. Seek their insights and respond to their praises and concerns.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The 100th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration of Union Station. The events invited people from every corner of our community and amplified the tremendous affection Kansas City has for our historic train station. It also reintroduced hundreds of thousands to our world-class science center and other fantastic attractions.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “French Fries—the healthy varieties.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION
Carrying on the vision of a Kansas City legend, Wendy Guillies is the first woman named to lead the world’s foremost center for the study and promotion of entrepreneurship. Kauffman, she once said, was the only place that could pull her away from a career in healthcare marketing: “I couldn’t think of anything better than applying my communications skills to an organization trying to help more entrepreneurs start and grow companies.”
COLLEGE: B.A., Journalism, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
BEST ADVICE: “Two things: 1) Hire people smarter than you and/or who excel in areas where you don’t; and 2) Don’t get too full of yourself.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The foundation has worked with a lot of great organizations that have accomplished amazing things, but at the end of the day, it’s all about people. Leading this talented team and recruiting new people has been more fulfilling than anything I’ve done.”
HOBBY/PASSION: “Let’s go with Nebraska Huskers football. I’m a huge fan.”
FOOD I WON’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Spaghetti and meatballs. About anything else Italian.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “See above, ha-ha. Italy was there for a long time, and I was finally able to go this past spring. I’d go again!”
PRESIDENT, PARK UNIVERSITY
Greg Gunderson worked outside the ivory tower early in his career, for big names like ConAgra, Cray, Inc. and Arthur Anderson. There, he gained a depth of organizational understanding—colored by a respect for the bottom line—that he brought to Park University earlier this year, after serving as chief financial officer at Webster University in St. Louis since 2011, and before that, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned his Ph.D.
BEST ADVICE: “View your career as a utility belt containing many skills, as you become an executive the specialist skills that got you to the top will be less valuable than the generalist skills you will then need.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “President Truman. He recognized he had obligations to his office and that doing what one believes is right outweighs what is simply popular.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Watching a graduate student who worked for me move into the career and opportunity that was only possible by the transformative power of education and mentoring coupled with natural talent.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Restore a 1970s Cadillac Eldorado convertible.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I make writing pens on a wood lathe.”
No bank in this region has grown quite the way UMB has in recent years, and the man now driving that financial Ferrari comes from a banking-family background in his native Iowa. Mike Hagedorn joined UMB as CFO in early 2005, after stints in Minnesota and Iowa, and since early 2014, has been CEO of the bank and vice chairman of its holding company. Since his arrival, UMB’s assets have nearly tripled, from $6.63 billion to $18.1 billion.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, Finance and Accounting, Iowa State University; executive-education training at Harvard Business School, the Wharton School
BEST ADVICE: “Find a career and/or business where you love what you do. Life is too short to do something you are good at but don’t really love, but it is also too long to do something you don’t really love.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “John Berg, retired CEO of Wells Fargo’s North Central Banking Group. Not a household name, but had a big impact on the leader I am today. He had a grace about him and the way he carried himself that made people trust him and want to do their very best.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Adopting our two daughters from Russia.”
CEO, NORTHPOINT DEVELOPMENT
Industrial. Multifamily. Senior living. Self-storage. NorthPoint Development, just four years after Nathaniel Hagedorn bought out partner Charles Garney at Briarcliff Realty and rebranded, has established itself as a premier commercial realty developer not just for projects in this region, but across the nation—more than $1 billion worth and NorthPoint owns or manages more than 28 million square feet of space and more than 2,000 apartments.
EASTERN ROOTS: Hagedorn is a St. Louis native who moved to Kansas City to study medicine, but veered into commercial real estate development.
BRANCHING OUT: The company launched studioNorth Architecture in 2015, and it has already designed 15 million square feet of industrial space.
SPEC KINGS: NorthPoint has driven a regional boom in building of warehouses and distribution facilities on a spec basis—without a committed tenant—and has put up 11 buildings at Logistics Park Kansas City.
BIG VISION: NorthPoint’s buildings are also pushing the envelope on industrial size, with a recent project topping 925,000 square feet.
PRESIDENT/CEO, KANSAS CITY UNIVERSITY
The man who runs the Midwest’s largest medical school says that educating physicians is his top professional achievement. A noted lecturer and medical/scientific writer, Marc Hahn has enjoyed a varied career that includes academia, private practice and even the U.S. Army Medical Corps, where he served as anesthesiologist for United States presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
COLLEGE: B.S., Syracuse University; D.O., Des Moines University
BEST ADVICE: “Know your job and do it! Know your organization’s mission and live it. Know your organization’s strategic plan and work towards it. Know the people that support you and thank them. Support your boss as if your job depended upon it, because it does.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army, Retired, for his highly effective team approach and collaboration skills, which are truly applicable to all types of organizations.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Spending time with family and friends is something I am passionate about, above all else.”
PRESIDENT, HALL FAMILY FOUNDATION
He’s not a member of Hallmark’s namesake family, but since 1976 he has been managing their generous support of charities, organizations and institutions in and around Kansas City. Hall also shares his foundation expertise on the boards of directors of University of Kansas Cancer Advisory Board, Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation and National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation, among others.
COLLEGE: B.B.A., M.B.A., Southern Methodist University
BEST ADVICE: “Your greatest asset is your reputation.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Don Hall, for his ability to successfully balance family, work and community.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Choosing to return to Kansas City and join Hallmark.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Wife, three sons, six grandchildren.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Family and golf.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Diet Dr. Pepper.”
DON HALL, JR.
If bloodlines are an indication, Don Hall Jr. will be running the show at Hallmark for quite a spell: His grandfather, Hallmark founder J.C. Hall, ran things for 56 years, and Don Hall Sr. followed for 36. The current CEO is just 14 years into his run, most notably marked by the company’s pivot to address on-line competition, and most significantly with the decision last year to split the $3.8 billion enterprise into three operating units.
COLLEGE: Degrees in Economics and Literature, Claremont McKenna College; M.B.A., University of Kansas
EMPLOYMENT MUSCLE: Hallmark remains among the biggest individual employers in the Kansas City region, with roughly 2,700 people here, 9,500 full-time at subsidiaries worldwide, and 17,800 part-timers.
CREATIVE SPARK: Kansas City’s increasing reputation for high-quality creative-sector services is often attributed to the presence of Hallmark, which still boasts roughly 500 artists, designers, stylists, writers, editors, Web designers, and photographers developing products here.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Hall is joined in the leadership ranks by his brother, David, who holds the title of president.
FOUNDING PASTOR, CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION
Fewer than three dozen communities in Kansas have populations of more than 10,000 and every Sunday, another one comes together: That’s the size of the congregation Adam Hamilton has built since founding Church of the Resurrection in 1990. Soon, it will have a massive new sanctuary on the biggest of its four campuses—an impressive growth curve for a church that started with one pastor, his wife and their two children.
COLLEGE: B.A., Pastoral Ministry, Oral Roberts University; MDiv., Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
FOCUSED GOALS: Hamilton says the church embraces three main goals: to see people’s lives changed and enriched as they become Christians, to inspire and equip members to positively impact the world around them, and to help strengthen other congregations “by giving away our best ideas.”
STRATEGIC THINKING: The new sanctuary will comprise 44 sections of 80 seats each, which Hamilton calls “44 small congregations that all meet in the same room for worship each week.” To connect more than 3,500 at a single service, 10 ushers, greeters and communion servers are assigned to each section.
VICE CHAIRMAN, ENTERPRISE BANK & TRUST
Over the course of three decades in banking, Linda Hanson has lived by four attributes: commitment, fierce loyalty, determination and the capacity for encouragement. That’s the underlying theory, but here’s the reality: Since she joined Enterprise in 2001 and was charged with building a presence here, Enterprise has grown from one location with $90 million in assets to 11 locations and nearly $1 billion in asset value.
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics and Business Administration, Central University of Iowa; graduate business courses, University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “Find a career you’re passionate about. It leads to a happy life when you pursue things you love.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Tony Hsieh of Zappos. For incredible passion and empowering his people. He also is a guy who is giving back by revitalizing neighborhoods.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I would hope it would be earning a reputation for helping businesses grow and achieve their financial dreams.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I don’t have one, I have 100, but if I was to choose one, it would be to attend the Olympics.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Running and traveling.”
PRESIDENT, VANTRUST REAL ESTATE
VanTrust is the descendant of Caymus Real Estate, which Harrison founded in 2010 after ten years as vice president and general manager of Opus Northwest’s Kansas City office. With more than 25 years of Midwest-market experience, Harrison has particular expertise in the packaging and delivery of build-to-suit and speculative development projects, real estate development consulting and value creation.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, Rockhurst University
SIGNIFICANT LOCAL PROJECTS: AMC Theatre Support Center, Freightquote Headquarters, Plaza Vista Office Tower, Hotel Sorella, 51 Main, Meadowbrook Golf & Country Club, The Village at Mission Farms.
AFFILIATIONS: Former Board Member, Ohio Economic Development Association; Past-President, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Development Board.
PRESIDENT/CEO (RETIRED), KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN
This National Railroad Hall of Famer started as a Missouri Pacific Railroad brakeman/switchman and later became president of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. In 1995, Mick Haverty was named KC Southern’s CEO. Among his many achievements was expansion into Mexico, made possible by the North American Free Trade Agreement. Today, he is committed to the development and prosperity of Kansas City.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Louisiana-Lafayette; M.B.A., University of Chicago
BEST ADVICE: “Hard work, determination, persistence and focus on achieving success by doing things the right and honest way.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire all CEOs who clearly understand their obligation to shareholder/owners, customers, employees and communities that they serve.” BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Coming from a blue-collar railroad family in Atchison, Kansas and in 1989, at the age of 44, being named president of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Touring the Holy Land with my wife, Marlys.”
PRESIDENT, BARTLETT & CO.
Bartlett & Co. is among the nation’s biggest private companies, and another pillar of agribusiness shoring up the regional economy, and James Hebenstreit has been a key in administration. He became president in 1992, CEO in 2005, and chairman in 2013. Among the company’s key business lines are grain merchandising and storage, flour and feed milling, and cattle feeding. The company has operations in 11 states and Mexico.
FAMILY TIES: Hebenstreit represents a third generation of the extended Bartlett family to direct the company; it was founded in 1907 by Paul Bartlett, grandfather of Hebenstreit’s wife, Marilyn.
POWER HITTER: Hebenstreit’s influence outside the company extends to Commerce Bank, the biggest in the region, where he’s been on the board of directors since 1987. He worked at the bank earlier in his career.
ANCHORS AWEIGH: In addition to his philanthropic contributions in the region, Hebenstreit volunteers time to serve as a Trustee of U.S. Navy Postgraduate School Foundation in Monterey, Calif. He served in the Navy for three years.
EXECUTIVE VP/COO, KCP&L
Heidtbrink’s days are dedicated to keeping the lights on in Kansas City—literally. With three decades of industry experience behind him since starting out as a field engineer, his management portfolio today includes power generation, transmission, delivery operations, customer service and supply chain. He believes in approaching it all with a sense of humor, faith, a concern for people and a strong work ethic.
COLLEGE: B.S.E.E., Kansas State University; A.M.P., Harvard Business School
BEST ADVICE: “Focus on what’s best for the organization, not on what’s best for yourself. It’s a longer path up, but the path goes further.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Our CEO Terry Bassham. Hey, he’s my current boss so clearly that’s the right answer! And he is seriously the most genuine CEO I have ever met.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Our current acquisition of Westar. It’s been an amazing team effort and assuming we get it closed next year, I genuinely believe it will have the kind of positive impact on our region that will matter for years to come.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Riding my motorcycle across the U.S.A.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Raising cattle and hay. And my grandkids!”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Meat.”
CEO, SPORTING CLUB
This sports exec has been instrumental in kicking soccer into high gear for Kansas City. Robb Heineman, a principal owner of the Sporting Kansas City team known for his connection with its fans, is in the forefront of a movement that is setting new standards for fan engagement, with a specific focus on technology that helps strengthen the bond between fans and teams by fostering interaction on a whole new level.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Notre Dame
BEST ADVICE: “Do everything you can to find great mentors. Having someone that’s been through ‘it’ is an invaluable learning resource.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Cliff Illig has taught me so much, and along with my Sporting partners, provided so many opportunities for me and my family.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being involved in the world-class team of fans, players, associates, coaches and owners in transforming Sporting Kansas City.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “U.S. playing in the World Cup Final.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Winning trophies.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, GARNEY CONSTRUCTION
Mike Heitmann arrived at Garney straight out of college and went to work on projects all over the country, focusing largely on piping system challenges for power, pulp and paper and food and beverage companies. He became a vice president in 2001 and won his current role in 2011. He leads strategic planning, growth and employee development strategies that help 1,100 employee-owners achieve annual revenues exceeding $600 mil.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “To be an effective leader, be humble, listen, admit mistakes, and check your ego at the door.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Herb Kelleher. His personality and colorful style created a fun culture at Southwest that makes it an enjoyable place to work for his employees.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being a part of the development of Garney into the leading water and wastewater contractor in the U.S.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I don’t have a bucket list. I have everything I need.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Imo’s Pizza.”
Shirley Helzberg gets it: A higher quality of life attracts a higher-quality work force to a city, and the arts are a vital part of that dynamic. That’s why she sat on the board of the Kansas City Symphony for 18 years, and has served on the boards for Starlight Theatre and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, among others. She still has a hand in real-estate development, too, particularly in the Crossroads district.
COLLEGE: M.O., Cottey College; Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance
BEST ADVICE: “Work hard, study and research your position, be informed and always continue to learn.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Don Hall Sr. (formerly of Hallmark); he evaluates all of the resources and then makes a fair and just decision, and Julian Zugazagoitia (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), who works tirelessly and has high expectations for others.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: Strengthening the artistic and fiscal needs of the symphony, resulting in one of the finest orchestras in the country, attracting and retaining great musicians, Michael Stern and (Executive Director) Frank Byrne.”
You have to look hard to find someone who has crammed more experiences into a career than Harry Herington, a former police officer, lawyer and now CEO of a public company that’s a national leader in development of Web sites for federal, state and local governments. An avid biker, Herington makes it a point to ride to each of nearly 30 NIC branches around the country each year, and leverages those into fund-raisers for law-enforcement charities.
COLLEGE: B.S., Wichita State University; J.D., University of Kansas School of Law
BEST ADVICE: “A good leader must be able to make the best decision that incurs the least amount of harm and mitigates as much risk as possible. Avoiding those decisions or delegating them is unacceptable.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire leaders who take their passion and make a difference in their community—and that certainly isn’t reserved to your typical or well-known CEOs.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My passion is giving back to society. I tell my employees and family that the differences you make within your community is what will be your ultimate legacy. My primary focus is supporting the families of fallen officers.”
BOARD MEMBER/FORMER CEO, WADDELL & REED
For nearly 80 years, Waddell & Reed has provided guidance to investors nationwide. For more than half of that stretch, Hank Herrmann was part of the team. No, more than a part: As CEO, he was coach and general manager for 11 years before retiring in August, and remains on the board. On his watch, annual operating revenues soared from $622 million to $1.5 billion.
COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, New York University
BEST ADVICE: “Work hard, be responsible.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Gordon Moore, Intel. Successful company, great leader and a good person.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Chairman, CEO of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Fatherhood.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “The outdoors in all respects.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Ham and Swiss on rye.”
CEO, HERZOG CONTRACTING
His father, William Herzog, started the company with vision and risk, putting his life savings on the line. Stan Herzog was right there at the beginning, too, back in 1969—working as a foreman on asphalt paving projects. He worked his way up the organization as it grew from paving specialist to heavy highway construction and building railroads, and its revenues of $628 million make it among St. Joseph’s biggest companies. Today, he’s the principal owner.
COLLEGE: Studied at Northwest Missouri State University, University of Missouri-Columbia
DEPTH OF EXPERIENCE: Herzog has extensive experience in highway/heavy construction, environmental, railroad work, rail mass transit construction, commuter and light rail operations and the railroad services division.
DOWNTOWN TIES: Herzog Contracting was a main contractor for the Downtown Kansas City streetcar starter line that opened last May.
PRINCIPLED PRINCIPAL: Campaign finance records show that Herzog was one of the largest contributors to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during a recall battle in 2012, even though Walker had previously killed a Milwaukee-to-Madison high-speed rail proposal valued at up to $810 million.
FORMER CEO, SPRINT
Two years after stepping down as CEO at Sprint, Dan Hesse is still jazzed about the future of wireless communications, and his understanding of where the technology is moving us—from wearables to biometrics trackers, from driverless vehicles to refrigerator alerts when the milk runs low—are keeping him in demand as a speaker and as a board member for tech-related companies. He continues to be involved with local causes.
COLLEGE: B.A., Notre Dame; M.B.A., Cornell; M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (Brooks Thesis Prize winner)
LONGTIME LEADER: He was previously chairman and CEO of Embarq; chairman, President and CEO of Terabeam Corp.; and during his 23 years with AT&T, president and CEO of AT&T Wireless Services for three years. He’s also a past board member for VF Corp. and Nokia.
STAYING BUSY: In January, he joined the board of PNC Financial Services, and in August, the board for Akamai Technologies, in addition to his service with the board for Adknowledge here in Kansas City.
RECOGNITION: Lifetime Achievement Award, Corporate Responsibility magazine.
KANSAS CITY MANAGING PARTNER, STINSON LEONARD STREET
There are lawyers, and there are administrators. Draw a Venn diagram of the two spheres, and you’ll find Mark Hinderks at the intersection. He manages the Kansas City office of Stinson Leonard Street, which, until early 2014, was Stinson Morrison Hecker. Since then, Hinderks has been helping manage the merger of one of the region’s biggest firms with the former Leonard, Street and Deinhard firm in Minneapolis.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science and Economics (cum laude), J.D., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Be honest with yourself and your constituents, and don’t let fear of failure control your thinking.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Elon Musk. He has no apparent fear of competition or new ideas.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “That which hopefully comes next.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Continuing to earn the love of my wife and children.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Mediocre golf.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Tacos. Any kind of tacos.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, DICKINSON FINANCIAL CORPORATION
This Ingram’s “Forty Under 40” alum (2006) led a successful turnaround of his organization after winning his current position in 2009. In that role, Holewinski serves as chairman and CEO for the Dickinson-owned Armed Forces Bank and Academy Bank. He is a Director of Truman Medical Center, a member of the Kansas City Civic Council Board of Directors and Chairman of the Kansas City Tomorrow Steering Committee.
COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, St. Louis University; M.B.A., St. Louis University School of Business; J.D., St. Louis University Law School
BEST ADVICE: “Work hard at building relationships. Kansas City is a small town when it comes to doing business and every person you meet is a potential customer, business partner or referral source.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Steve Jobs. He had a tremendous knack for creating products that people didn’t even know they wanted or needed. He saw a 24/7 connecting device and business commerce application when everyone else saw a phone.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The successful sale of Bank Midwest in a challenging market for banks. No associate at the bank lost their job as a result.”
MAYOR/CEO, UNIFIED GOVT. OF WYANDOTTE COUNTY AND KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
The 28th Mayor of Kansas City, Kan., takes pride in helping to create a business environment that has laid the foundation for $3 billion in economic development in his first term. As the son of a pastor and a school teacher—and being a third-generation clergyman himself at Trinity Community Church—Holland is strong on faith and educational values as well as a deep commitment to community.
COLLEGE: B.S., B.A., Southern Methodist University; Master of Divinity, Iliff School of Theology; Doctor of Ministry, Saint Paul School of Theology
BEST ADVICE: “Lead with integrity. Success and failure are mercurial; they come and go. But your integrity will always be with you.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bill Gates. Through his philanthropy, he has used his great success and great wealth to benefit others, especially our public education system.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Complete my tour of Major League stadiums. Six left.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Living a faithful life is my passion. Hanging out with my wife and four children is my hobby.”
PRESIDENT/CEO/CHAIRMAN, DST SYSTEMS
As DST puts it, Hooley has more than 20 years experience managing domestic and international business lines in financial services, healthcare, and customer communications. Previously, he led DST joint ventures with State Street Corporation, where he was a senior vice president. His knowledge of the company, along with his well-established relationships with DST customers, associates, and partners are considered valuable assets.
COLLEGE: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
COMPANY FACT: DST reported year-end earnings of $358.2 million for 2015.GLOBAL REACH: DST has offices in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States.
HISTORICAL TIDBIT: “DST” stands for “Data-Sys-Tance.”
FUN FACT: Appears on the “Wall of Fame” at his high school.
CHAIRMAN, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs mean a lot to Kansas City and Hunt takes fan loyalty seriously. He put together a staff that achieved the best single-season turnaround in franchise history and went on to give fans their first postseason victory in more than 20 years. He has also led the enhancement of gameday with a $375 million stadium renovation, world-class amenities, stadium Wi-Fi and an app that connects fans and the team like never before.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Business Administration, Southern Methodist University
BEST ADVICE: “Hire talented people of high integrity and give them the resources and support they need to be successful.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My father, Lamar. He was the definition of a servant leader.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I try not to focus on past achievements. I prefer to keep working toward our future goals.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Winning the trophy that bears my father’s name and bringing another Lombardi trophy to Kansas City.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Spending time with my family.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Barbecue.”
CO-FOUNDER, PERUVIAN CONNECTION
Back in the 1970s, Hurlbut was researching anthropology
in Peru when she fell in love…with Peruvian textile traditions. A dreamer and builder who loves to watch an idea unfold, and encouraged by reactions to a Peruvian sweater she brought home, she went into partnership with her mother, Biddy. Today the mother-daughter entrepreneurial duo offers products in catalogues, online and at Peruvian Connection retail stores.
COLLEGE: B.A., Archaeology, Yale University; M.A., Anthropology, University of Illinois
BEST ADVICE: “Always focus on today with the most positive energy you can summon. Tomorrow things will look different anyway, so no sense in borrowing trouble from the future.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jeff Hermanson of Larimer Group in Denver. He’s figured out how to maintain a passion for his business while actually balancing it with a life full of amazing adventures.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Assembling and keeping an amazing team together in pursuit of a brand that has evolved over 40 years.”
VP/GM, TURNER CONSTRUCTION (KC/DENVER OFFICES)
Although still somewhat new to Kansas City, Iammarino brought with him Midwestern values that have helped him feel right at home in the local business community. Applying his expertise in leading collaborative, integrated teams, he oversees nearly $500 million in annual construction business for his company’s Denver and Kansas City offices. He began his career with Turner Construction as a field engineer in 1984.
COLLEGE: B.S., Bowling Green State University
BEST ADVICE: “Get your hands into the business and do not delegate, but share the leadership roles with those who can lead.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Steve Jobs. His disruptive innovation has shaped the way we interact and communicate with the world.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Co-authoring The Commercial Real Estate Revolution: Nine Transforming Keys to Lowering Costs, Cutting Waste, and Driving Change in a Broken Industry.”
CO-FOUNDER/VICE CHAIRMAN, CERNER
He’s done a lot for Cerner, but helping it communicate has been one of the biggest. Illig recognized early the importance of being able to communicate and share information internally. Under his leadership, Cerner set a standard for the use of enterprise-wide technology to achieve seamless communication and information sharing. He has also been instrumental in client service methodologies, as well as sales and marketing strategies
COLLEGE: Accounting and Business Administration, University of Kansas
OTHER INTERESTS: Co-owner of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team.
PHILANTHROPY: With Neal and Jeanne Patterson, founded the not-for-profit First Hand Foundation to provide funding for children who need medical care assistance.
AFFILIATIONS: Executive Committee of the Heart of America Council of Boy Scouts of America, Stowers Institute Board of Directors.
RECOGNITION: Distinguished Eagle Scout and recipient of the Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen Award. Cerner is the all-time leader of Ingram’s Corporate Report 100. Ranked among KC’s 100 fastest growing company 22 out of 31 years.
CHANCELLOR, METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
That we know of, Mark James is the only member of the Ingram’s 250 to have actually been shot at—he was in law enforcement in a previous life. So running a community college, while not without its challenges in this public-funding era, was considerably less stressful in that regard. James became chancellor of MCC in 2010 after a long career in public safety, and will retire at the end of the current school year.
COLLEGE: B.S., Criminal Justice & Administration, University of Central Missouri; Strategic Intelligence, National Defense Intelligence University; completed coursework for Ph.D. in Business Administration; L.L.D., UCM.
BEST ADVICE: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Treat others as you would like to be treated. You will never have all or perfect information; get enough information then follow your gut and strive to do the right thing. Lastly, just know that being a leader means you have to have the courage to make a decision that people will not like.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bill Dunn Sr. (retired) of J.E. Dunn Construction is a highly intelligent, hard-working man who started at the bottom and learned every aspect of his company’s business before leading it into the company it is today.”
MAYOR, CITY OF KANSAS CITY, MO.
A year into his second term, Sly James is what you might call Kansas City’s first 4-E Mayor. He operates on a platform that lasers in on education, employment efficiency and enforcement. He served in the Army after graduating from Bishop Hogan High, finished college and earned his law degree (both cum laude), and went to work for what is now Husch Blackwell. James launched his own firm in 2002 and won his first mayoral term in 2011.
COLLEGE: B.A., English, Rockhurst University; J.D., (cum laude), University of Minnesota Law School
BEST ADVICE: “You can’t go wrong by doing right.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “We are fortunate to have many great CEOs who are constantly engaged in ways to help make our city better. There are too many to pick just one “
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Becoming mayor of the city I love.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I want to spend a month in Florence, Italy.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Reading and music.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “I couldn’t live without hot dogs.”
2ND DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, U.S. HOUSE
This month’s presidential vote may have been in question until Nov. 9, but the 2nd District race in Kansas was a slam-dunk for Lynn Jenkins. As she readies for a fifth term, she’ll bring to bear the same values that have endeared her to district voters: supporting fiscally responsible government, promoting job creation and economic growth, working to improve transparency in Congress and backing a strong national defense.
COLLEGE: A.A., Kansas State University; B.S., Accounting, Weber State University
VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS: Jenkins has earned a reputation as a staunch advocate for reining in deficit spending: “We all know we have a debt problem in this country and spending must be reduced to get the economy back on track,” she says. “We cannot keep putting off the bill for future generations to pay for it—it is not right or fair.”
HOUSE DUTIES: Jenkins is vice chair of the House Republican Conference, and sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
VISIONS OF HOME: “When I think of Kansas,” Jenkins says, “I still picture the dairy farm I grew up on outside of Holton.”
DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS CANCER CENTER
The Stowers Institute primed the region’s life-sciences pump, but few have worked the handle on it quite like Roy Jensen at University of Kansas Cancer Center. Since its 2011 merger with the Kansas City Cancer Center, Jensen has driven the process to attain National Cancer Center designation in 2012, and is now pressing toward Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, advancing care and research in the region.
COLLEGE: Associate’s, Neosho County Community College; B.S., Pittsburg State University; M.D., Vanderbilt University
BEST ADVICE: “Find a job that you would gladly do for free and then find someone dumb enough to pay you to do it.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Don Hall—built a great company and a great city.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Marrying my wife.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Curing/preventing cancer”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Buttermilk pie.”
DIRECTOR-COMMUNITY BANKING, U.S. BANK
For 35 years, Nebraska native Mark Jorgenson has been a pillar of philanthropic and civic engagement in his adopted home, as well as financial services in this region. Most of his day job has been with U.S. Bank, including 12 years as market president. This year, he took on a new, national role as director of community banking, overseeing more than 1,100 banks not in metro areas, but he insisted on staying in Kansas City in that role.
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics and Business Administration; M.B.A. (emphasis in Finance), Washington University in St. Louis
BEST ADVICE: “Be relentlessly curious, don’t be afraid to respectfully challenge, and bring solutions to challenges as they arise.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Greg Graves, Burns & McDonnell. He cares about his fellow B&M associates, but has very high expectations of their performance; further, he brings passion to many civic and charitable endeavors .”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Building a winning team in Kansas City.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Passion: family; hobby, golf.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Beef.”
CROSBY KEMPER III
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY
In the end, books won out over ledgers for the career affections of Crosby Kemper III: The former CEO of UMB Bank stepped out of that role after four years, and later agreed to become interim director of the Kansas City Public Library. The “interim” is long gone for Kemper, who has helped transform the library to make it more inviting, and engaging, to readers of all perspectives.
DIFFERENT PATH: After spending a few years at UMB after college, Kemper headed to China, where he taught English for a year.
FUND-RAISING MUSCLE: The iconic look of the Downtown library—with its façade of classic books on a shelf—stemmed from a $52 million fund-raising campaign that Kemper helped orchestrate, keeping the main library in the central business district.
CONSERVATIVE CREDENTIALS: Along with Rex Sinquefeld of St. Louis, Kemper is co-founder of the Show-Me Institute, the state’s premier conservative think tank and advocate for free-market public policies.
VICE CHAIRMAN, COMMERCE BANK
Most families in this region can’t even trace their roots back seven generations. Jonathan Kemper can, and he can trace their careers, too: His great-grandfather was the patriarch for two lines of banks here. He’s vice chairman of Commerce Bancshares, the holding company, and chairman of Commerce Bank’s Kansas City Region, where he started working in 1982, and he’s a highly engaged and respected civic booster.
COLLEGE: B.A., Harvard; M.B.A., Harvard Graduate School of Business
CIVIC ANCHOR: Kemper is also co-trustee of the William T. Kemper Foundation, serves as president of the Kansas City Public Library board of trustees (his cousin, Crosby Kemper III, is director of the library) and is heavily involved with board work for the Chamber of Commerce, the Citizens Association, the Kansas City Design Center, the Downtown Council, and many other causes previously. He also sits on the Smithsonian’s executive committee and national board.
SOLID FOUNDATION: Commerce Bank has consistently been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the best-run banks in the U.S. (as high as No. 3 in 2009.)
CHAIRMAN/CEO, UMB FINANCIAL CORP.
The legendary Crosby Kemper, Jr. left Kansas City a number of gifts, through his work at UMB and through his philanthropy. Not the least among them were three sons who succeeded him as chief executive, including Mariner Kemper, the current chairman. Based in Denver, he continues to exert a powerful pull on regional banking here, and his personal ownership of UMB stock is roughly 6.7 percent of all shares outstanding.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, University of Puget Sound
BEST ADVICE: “Do not confuse confidence for arrogance. Humility is important.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I learn more from others’ mistakes and poor examples than I do from those that I admire.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Successfully managing a financial institution through the most significant crisis of our time.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Running, horseback riding, quail hunting.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Fine cheese.”
PRESIDENT, PB&J RESTAURANTS
Pondering his career’s high points, Paul Khoury stops to think: “This is our 30th year in business,” he muses. “Wow: I cannot believe we made it this long.” In a business sector where even the strongest who survive rarely make it a decade, Khoury’s PB&J is thriving with eight restaurants from Denver to Kansas City, and the company is thriving: This year, it made our Corporate Report 100 for the fastest-growing companies in the region.
COLLEGE: B.S./B.A. in Hotel/Restaurant Management, University of Denver
BEST ADVICE: “Find out what your competition is doing better than you, then go back and make yours better than the competition.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Phil Hickey, CEO of Capital Grill. He is always coaching, always training his people.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Having fun with my grandchildren.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “World-class chocolate ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.”
CEO, SECURITY BENEFIT CORP.
Eleven people chipped in a dollar apiece to start a life insurance cooperative in Topeka 125 years ago, and today, Mike Kiley has achieved industry-leading results as its leader, helping millions of Americans reach retirement goals. His career has taken him to AXA, Guardian Life, Travelers Portfolio Group, Morgan Stanley Funds Distributors and Van Kampen Investments, where he was president and CEO before moving to Guggenheim Partners and his current role at Security Benefit.
COLLEGE: B.A., Holy Cross College
BEST ADVICE: “Start by recognizing that success is a journey, not a destination. To prepare for that journey, build on your core strengths, while accumulating additional skills along the way. Always have a healthy respect for what you don’t know, and very importantly, become an aggressive listener.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “It is tough to name just one. But if I had to pick one chief executive I’ve admired most in my lifetime, I would have to leave the realm of the business world and go with President Ronald Reagan.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “My most gratifying and enduring achievement would be the opportunity to build and lead successful teams.”
German native Albrecht Kissel has led BIV’s North American operations since 2011, coinciding with the region’s increasing global prominence at the midpoint of America’s animal-health corridor. The company has roughly 500 employees in St. Joseph, where it recently opened a $79 million global distribution facility. Its most recently reported annual earnings topped $582 million in 2014, making it one of the biggest private companies in St. Joseph.
COLLEGE: University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany; graduate degree, EBS University of Business and Law, Wiesbaden, Germany
MAMMOTH INFLUENCE: BIV is a 140-year-old global power player in animal health, with more than $22 billion in annual revenues and nearly 48,000 employees worldwide.
SCIENTIFIC ROOTS: Kissel is from a family of healthcare professionals, including physicians and pharmacy-related professions.
HORSE SENSE: Kissel, a devotee of equestrian sports, worked for two years with the Olympic equestrian committee in Germany, organizing participation of the national team at the Summer Games in Barcelona in 1992.
REGION ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN.
This former member of the Missouri House oversees GSA operations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Klumb calls the repurposing of the Bannister Federal Complex his top achievement, noting his team’s relocation of thousands of employees, recycling of millions in equipment, and crucial relationships with regional and federal leaders. He is also a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force Air National Guard Judge Advocate General Corps.
COLLEGE: B.A., William Jewell College; J.D., University of Missouri School of Law; M.S., London School of Economics
BEST ADVICE: “Ask questions of yourself and others, then earnestly and honestly listen to the answers.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Right now it’s COO Sheryl Sandberg [Facebook]. She’s shining a much-needed light on biases in the workforce.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Our family will hike the Grand Canyon together, North Rim to South Rim.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “The truthful answer is my wife. I’m passionate about who she is, what she does; her accomplishments and her aspirations.”
FOUNDER/CEO, KORNITZER CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
John Kornitzer has one of the most-recognized names in wealth management in this region, and in addition to founding Kornitzer Capital Management, he launched the firm’s mutual-fund group, Buffalo Funds. Kornitzer Capital is a Mission-based investment powerhouse, serving more than 5,000 accounts with a combined $7.21 billion in assets under management. He also manages equity and fixed-income portfolios for the firm.
PREVIOUS STOPS: His background includes more than a decade on Wall Street (with Merrill Lynch and Butcher & Singer), and Kornitzer managed assets for Employers Reinsurance Corp., rising to vice president of investments.
LOCAL INFLUENCE, GLOBAL REACH: One of the region’s biggest fee-based advisory services, Kornitzer Capital also serves clients around the world.
BOARD SERVICE: Kornitzer also sits on the board for the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.
CEO-ELECT, BURNS & MCDONNELL
In construction and engineering terms, “topping out” is the placement of the final support beam in a structure. Ray Kowalik’s personal topping out came in January, when he was introduced as the next CEO at Burns & McDonnell. He joined the company in 1987 as a structural engineer, took on project management duties in 1994, became Energy Group general manager in 2004, then president three years later.
COLLEGE: B.S., M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia
BEST ADVICE: “Always reach outside of your role. Start learning how your position connects with others and develop an understanding of the bigger picture.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEOs: “Greg Graves (Burns & McDonnell) and Terry Bassham (Great Plains Energy). Graves for his vision; Bassham for his ability to connect with people.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “My biggest personal achievement is my daughter, Sabrina. I might be able to claim her as my biggest professional achievement as well, because she is studying engineering at the University of Missouri.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “It would be hard for me to live without a really great filet. Some good, fresh fish is a close second.
CHAIRMAN, KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION
One reason Kansas City has the reputation it does for outsized philanthropy is because of the work Jan Kreamer turned in as president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which saw its asset base grow from $14 million to $1 billion during her tenure. Before her retirement a decade ago, she positioned it to be where it remains today, among the most respected foundations of its kind nationwide.
COLLEGE: B.S., History, Economics, Iowa State University
BEST ADVICE: “Take time to be involved in a meaningful way in your community. The good you do not only will benefit your community but also will help you realize the importance of being part of something bigger than just yourself.”
MOST-ADMIRED LEADER: “Adele Hall. Her ability to mobilize people around big ideas in a gracious and humble manner and then motivating them to execute in a way that tangible results are achieved. Her ability to build bridges among groups of people is unparalleled. Working for and with her was an enormous privilege.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Working with Julia Irene Kauffman and her board to make the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts a reality for children of our community to enjoy the arts for generations to come.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, LANSING TRADE GROUP
When he joined Lansing Trade in 1995, the grain merchandiser and handler had $100 million in revenues. It took 73 years to get that big. Bill Krueger needed just a year to reach its board of managers, and in less than a decade, revenues grew six-fold—about 600 million good reasons for his rise to president in 2003 and CEO in 2005. With 2015 revenues of $5.6 billion, it’s one of the five largest private companies in the region.
COLLEGE: B.A., Agricultural Business, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; M.B.A., Keller Graduate School of Management, DeVry University
PREVIOUS EMPLOYERS: The Scoular Co., ConAgra.
POSITIONS HELD AT LANSING: Manger of Kansas City office, vice president of trading (emphasis: wheat merchandising), chief operating officer (2002), president (2003).
REVENUE GROWTH WHILE CEO: 700 percent.
PRESIDENT, BOULEVARD BREWING
When he joined Boulevard, Krum had already been associated with it since its first keg in 1989. He has since seen capacity expand to 100 times its original business plan. In 2009, while CFO, he and some colleagues discovered that about 10-million Boulevard bottles were sitting in landfills. Figuring a company with that kind of output should help process the empties, they founded Ripple Glass, a regional glass recycling solution.
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, Haverford College
BEST ADVICE: “Pay attention to the little things.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffet—brilliant, self-aware, humorous, humble.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Learning how to talk less and listen more.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Immortality.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Experiencing new places and cultures.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “My wife’s pot roast.”
PLANT MANAGER, GM FAIRFAX ASSEMBLY PLANT
Since 2011, Fairfax has been in the capable hands of this 30-year company veteran whose resume includes multiple plants and valuable international experience. William Kulhanek’s shop builds the Buick Lacrosse and the Chevrolet Malibu, continuing a tradition of GM excellence that has produced more than 12 million vehicles at the Fairfax Assembly Plant since 1945 and currently operates at a rate of one vehicle every 58 seconds.
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Detroit; M.B.A., Wilmington University
BEST ADVICE: “Act with integrity. Put the customer at the center of everything you do. Take accountability for your actions. Develop relationships. Have the will power to deliver results. Be prepared when opportunities present themselves.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Mary Barra of GM, because of her emphasis on safety for the customer and team member and because she is an innovative, visionary and collaborative leader.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Development of team members.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “My passion is my family and living a healthy lifestyle.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, KBP FOODS
Recognized by Ingram’s as both a top private company and for fast growth, KBP operates hundreds of restaurants in 14 states. Michael Kulp is credited with growing revenues from below $10 million to above $450 million. Among his interests are groups like First Downs for Down Syndrome and an employee-funded 501c3 called KBP Cares for employees with unforeseen medical emergencies, or victims of natural disasters or crime.
COLLEGE: Business Management and Marketing, Colorado Mesa University
BEST ADVICE: “Find great mentors. Never shy away from seeking the advice of experts in any given circumstance, and never fear failing.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “All whose businesses succeed and live beyond them, who created as much success for others as they did for themselves.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The creation of programs and a culture that have allowed dozens of families to become a part of our ownership structure. Creating opportunity that was once only a dream.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Coach athletics full time.”
CEO, HCA MIDWEST HEALTH
This CEO with a sailing bucket-list wish is at the helm of Kansas City’s leading healthcare provider, with seven hospitals, three freestanding surgery centers, seven urgent cares and employing more than 9,600 people. Mel Legarde leads with a focus on compassion, concern for patients and their families and by keeping mindful of the fact that, “above all else we are dedicated to the care and improvement of human life.”
COLLEGE: B.A., Master’s in Public Health, Tulane University
BEST ADVICE: “Great leaders take risks and have humility along the way.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He is innovative and creative, fulfilling a need people have and making the solution extraordinary from a customer experience and engagement perspective.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “One of the most meaningful parts of my day is hearing from our patients—it’s a remarkable and humbling experience to learn from them and know how we’ve impacted their lives.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I want to captain a sailing experience around Cape Horn in South America. Being able to sail around with the winds and tides changing is incredible—and a challenge.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, MOSAIC LIFE CARE
They do things big back in his native Texas, and Mark Laney has brought big, transformational change to Mosaic Life Care—a lot more than just a rebranding after Heartland Health hired him in 2009. The former president of the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association has made the health system a market leader in pushing care out into the marketplace with easy-to-access sites, changing the way services are delivered in this market.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of North Texas; M.S., Medical Management, University of Texas-Dallas; M.D., University of Texas Medical Branch
BEST ADVICE: “Make yourself indispensible.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jack Welch (General Electric)—relentless pursuit of excellence.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Changing the culture of Mosaic.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Hike the Appalachian Trail.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Travel, reading.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Fajitas!”
CEO, JE DUNN CONSTRUCTION CO.
The first CEO not to have “Dunn” on his office nameplate at the region’s largest construction company, Gordon Lansford succeeded third-generation executive Terry Dunn in 2014. Before that, this CPA was chief financial officer for 15 high-growth years as JE Dunn steadily moved up the national rankings of largest general contractors. An employee-owned company, it’s a civic pillar and philanthropic giant in this region.
COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting and Business, Baker University
INDUSTRY INFLUENCE: JE Dunn was ranked No. 26 nationally in the most recent Engineering News-Record rankings of U.S. general contractors.
BOARD FIXTURE: Outside the office, Lansford has been a one-man whirlwind of service, donating his business sense and leadership on behalf of Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Hands & Hearts board, the finance committee for Boys & Girls Clubs of Kansas City, the Baker University board of trustees, and the boards for the Kansas City Sports Commission and Newhouse Women’s Shelter.
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, TRANSYSTEMS
Brian Larson is credited with growing TranSystems from a firm of 15 transportation colleagues to one of nearly 1,000 professionals spanning the entire range of business and technical disciplines applied to transportation; that growth is attributed to both organic efforts and acquisition. Larson’s own technical background covers capital programming, planning, design and construction management for transportation systems.
COLLEGE: B.G.S., Philosophy, B.S.C.E., Civil Engineering, M.S., Engineering Manage-ment, University of Kansas
AFFILIATIONS: Larson currently serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Kansas School of Engineering and has previously served as chairman or director on a number of boards within industry, academia, and financial institutions.
PHILANTHROPY: TranSystems is a sponsor of Racing for Kids, a charity that uses the popularity of motorsports to focus public attention and funding on the healthcare needs of children.
VICE PRESIDENT-SUPPLY CHAIN, HONEYWELL
Rick Lavelock is VP for supply chain at Honeywell, which operates the National Nuclear Security Administration’s $687 million campus on 185 acres in south Kansas City. He was key in relocating it from its aging Bannister Road location (wrapping up in 2014), a staggeringly complex task and source of career pride:“The project saved 3,000 quality jobs for Kansas City,” he says, “and more than $100 million annually for taxpayers.”
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia; E.M.B.A., Rockhurst University
BEST ADVICE: “Nothing would ever be attempted if at first, all objections must be overcome. Many leaders have great ideas, but achievement is derived by those who can execute and persist through adversity.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I want to have a 70th wedding anniversary (halfway there)!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I’m still an engineer at heart, so wanting to make everything I see operate more efficiently is my passion (and curse). Note: this behavior introduces risk to achieving the goal above.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chocolate.”
OWNER, CABLE DAHMER AUTO GROUP
He got into car sales the hard way—Carlos Ledezma needed wheels, and the Chevrolet dealership back in Texas in the 1980s offered use of a demonstration model to salesmen who met their goals. After moving to the Kansas City area in 1994, he signed on with Cable Dahmer and worked his way up, becoming a partner and steadily increasing his ownership share until it was his, along with three other dealerships.
HIGH VOLUME: Cable Dahmer operations produce hundreds of new and used vehicle sales each month, placing it among the region’s top-producing dealerships for General Motors products.
THE GM LINE: With four locations, Cable Dahmer offers Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac products. Soon their Kia dealership will open in Lee’s Summit.
HE’S NO. 1: Sales of more than $305 million in 2015 make Ledezma’s company the region’s largest minority-owned business.
A STABLE BASE: “One of the things I really enjoy about Kansas City is its foundation,” Ledezma has said. “There’s a diversity in business—that’s what keeps our own business very, very stable.”
If you don’t see the intersection of farming and technology, Ron LeMay could clue you in: With his work at FarmLink, he’s helping drive the use of bigger, better data and analytics and precision agriculture tools to feed a world that must double its agricultural output over the next quarter-century. The former CEO of Sprint PCS is also managing director and co-founder of OpenAir Equity Partners, a venture-capital firm.
COLLEGE: B.B.A., Southern Arkansas University; J.D., University of Arkansas
BEST ADVICE: “Do not fear failure. Experiment, innovate. Be optimistic, attack problems and opportunities with positive energy. Pick great people and help them develop to exceed their life’s goals. You will be more successful and the world a better place.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Cassie LeMay, my wife. She is the CEO of our family and embodies the great wisdom, leadership, values and energy common to great CEOs. I am proud to be on her team.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Having the opportunity to help develop people and prepare them for success.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Mexican.”
CEO, SECURITY BANK OF KANSAS CITY
FDIC-willing, a new bank will break into the list of the region’s largest soon, but it won’t be new to the market: A network of seven banks that shared a marketing presence has filed to become one, under the flag of Security Bank of Kansas City. Jim Lewis will be the CEO of the combined entity, which will incorporate Industrial State Bank, Valley View Bank, The Mission Bank, First Bank of Missouri, Bank of Lee’s Summit and Citizens State Bank of Paola.
POST-MERGER MIGHT: When the merger is complete, Security will have 44 branches and 47 ATMs throughout the greater metropolitan area, and will rank roughly eighth in asset size, at about $3.2 billion, and employ 700 people.
SHARED INTERESTS: Leading up to the merger, the banks had worked together under the BancAbility brand banner, which allowed account holders at any one bank to conduct transactions at any other member site. Once the merger is completed, the BancAbility concept will fade away.
CHAIRMAN, LOCKTON COMPANIES
Chairing the world’s largest privately held independent insurance broker—$1 billion large, in fact—is a family trust for Lockton—brother of the firm’s late founder, Jack Lockton. This Lockton has guided the corporation through expansion that includes more than 60 offices on five continents. Committed to serving the public good, as well, Lockton Companies gives upwards of $3 million to non-profits annually.
COLLEGE: B.A., Kansas State University
BEST ADVICE: “For years, I thought the key to leading was competence; later in life I learned that people follow leaders when they are sure that the leader cares about them and has their best interest at heart. Also—tell the truth, it is the easiest thing to remember.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I favor the Good to Great CEOs who are not transformational but foster great culture and lead from behind.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The 6,000 Lockton associates who have a better career than if we did not exist.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Hang gliding.”
VICE CHAIRMAN, LOCKTON, INC.
With a mix of empathy, emotional intelligence, and competitiveness in his working style, this member of the Lockton family says that, like many Lockton associates, he is hard-wired to put clients and fellow associates first. An excellent perspective for a man who has ultimate responsibility for delivering all aspects of customer service to clients of the world’s largest privately held independent insurance broker.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Economics, University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Don’t worry about the speed bumps you will encounter, the temporary difficulties and setbacks. If you do the right thing long enough for your clients and your company, you will ultimately succeed.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “While I don’t know him personally, it is easy to admire Bob Page at The University of Kansas Hospital. I have seen his passion, his commitment to patients, and how he engages people. He is a great role model.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Hasn’t happened yet. Let me answer this in 20 years.” PASSION/HOBBY: “Being outdoors: On a horse, a motorcycle, skis, on the golf course, or racing a car.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Dark chocolate M&Ms.”
Greg Maday could have been the template used to draft the term “serial entrepreneur”—being at it for more than 20 years. Chairman, CEO and and owner at SpecChem, which makes specialty concrete chemicals, he’s also co-founder and principal at DBB, another construction-materials company, founding partner in Rock Island Capital private-equity and GEM Holdings asset-management, and part owner of Sporting Kansas City.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration-Finance, University of Missouri, Columbia; Postgraduate studies, Harvard Business School
BEST ADVICE: “The decisions you make today determine the opportunities you will have tomorrow. Work very hard. It’s not a ‘right’ to succeed. Success is a result of preparation and preparation is derived from hard work.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Mike Brown of Euronet Worldwide, comes to top of mind. Mike started two companies from scratch and took them public before age 35. All the while, he has stayed focused on his family, faith and giving back to his community. Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig are absolute geniuses with what they have accomplished, and we are fortunate to have them in our community.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, CROSSFIRST BANK
Success has come to Mike Maddox in waves: First, on the basketball court, as a 6-foot-7 forward lettering at KU for four seasons, including two title-game appearances. Next, as a private practice lawyer. Then came the move into banking. He’s winning on that court, too: Leawood-based CrossFirst Bank, founded in 2008, is the fastest-growing in the Kansas City region, recently crossing the threshold of $1 billion in assets.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business, J.D., University of Kansas
PREVIOUS STOPS: Maddox spent six years as a lawyer, first with the Stevens & Brand law firm in Lawrence, then as a partner at Skepnek & Maddox. He pivoted to banking in 2000 to become a community banking president for INTRUST Bank.
FULLY ENGAGED: Maddox has volunteered time for a long roster of community and civic causes, including the boards of the Kansas City Chapter of Young Presidents Organization, the KU School of Business, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. He’s also been a member of the Kansas Bankers Association’s legislative affairs committee, the board for KU Athletic Corp., and a board of regents task force on admissions.
PRESIDENT/CEO, COMPASS MINERALS
Malecha arrived as CEO in 2013, after working for a Canadian agribusiness where he was COO with global responsibility for grain merchandising, transportation, crop inputs, operations, commodity risk management, and international merger and acquisition activity. That expertise came in handy recently with the acquisition of a leading Brazil-based manufacturer and distributor of specialty plant nutrients.
COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, University of St. Thomas
THEY GET AROUND: Compass has more than 19 facilities across the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
THEY’VE BEEN AROUND: The company has roots dating back to the early 19th century.
DIGGING DEEP: Compass operates the world’s largest salt mine.
PRESIDENT, CREATIVE PLANNING
He might be the best-educated executive in Kansas City: quadruple majors in economics, business, political science and psychology, and he’s been tagged multiple times by Barron’s as the nation’s No. 1 wealth-management adviser. Small wonder. Under the guidance of Peter Mallouk, Creative Planning has soared from roughly 4,700 accounts and $1 billion in assets under management in 2008 to more than $21 billion today.
BEST ADVICE: “Find a career that interests you and a company you can respect and get excited about working for, then make yourself indispensable by finding out the ways you can contribute that will have the highest impact and exceeding expectations.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I have never really looked at CEOs as role models or emulated any of them. For me it’s more about finding people who impact change and are kind. I tend to most admire those that have had a business and social impact. The Hall and Kauffman families fit the bill there.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I hope it hasn’t happened yet!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Travel with family with an emphasis on new environments and new experiences.”
OWNER, OLATHE FORD LINCOLN
Still in the Air Force when he started working for Olathe Ford Lincoln in 1972, Sam Mansker today shares ownership (with Mark McEver) of a dealership that is an 11-time winner of Ford’s prestigious President’s Award, and a 22-time member of Ford’s top 100 dealerships. Among the causes it backs are Olathe Medical Center Hospice House, Project Graduation for the Olathe and Gardner Edgerton School Districts and Toys for Tots.
GO TEAMS: In addition to their many other charitable endeavors, Olathe Ford Lincoln sponsors a number of local youth sports teams.
FACE OF THE BUSINESS: Mansker has been at Olathe Ford Lincoln for 44 years.
ENJOYS: His grandchildren’s sports, band concerts, plays and more.
FUN FORD FACT: Henry Ford built his first vehicle, the Quadricycle, in 1896.
PARTNER, HUMPHREY, FARRINGTON & MCCLAIN
Since 1986, this nationally known personal injury attorney has achieved total awarded verdicts and negotiated settlements of more than $1 billion. Among his successes are verdicts totaling $100 million won for several microwave popcorn factory workers who suffered debilitating lung diseases after chemical exposure. McClain has also acted on behalf of college and professional athletes in concussion-related injury cases.
COLLEGE: B.A. (magna cum laude), Graceland College; J.D., University of Mich-igan Law School
TOP WINNER: Thirteen of McClain’s cash-award verdicts have been recognized as top verdicts either nationally or in Missouri.
PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION: 2013 Top Plaintiff Verdict, 2010 Top Plaintiff Verdict, 2005 Missouri Lawyer of the Year (Missouri Lawyers Weekly) and “Best Lawyers in America” (U.S. News and World Report), among others.
COMMUNITY HONORS: These include, Distinguished Non-Alumnus Award (University of Missouri School of Law), Lung Advocate Award (American Lung Association), Citizen of the Year (Truman Heartland Foundation).
CEO/CO-FOUNDER, MCCOWNGORDON CONSTRUCTION
McCown focuses his 40-plus years of construction experience on developing the firm’s annual goals and objectives and helping to guide the organization toward achieving its core values, mission and strategies. Also, by providing leadership and guidance to each project, he is contributing to redefining the role of construction management with an emphasis on relationships and total project leadership.
COLLEGE: B.S., Civil Engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology; M.B.A. University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “Focus on relationships with your clients, associates and partners in your work ; it is through these relationships that success is driven.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Winston Churchill. Maybe not truly a CEO but a tremendous leader who stood in the face of overwhelming circumstances, called upon friends for help, encouraged and empowered people to never lose faith and focus and persisted to see Britain and Europe free from tyranny.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The opportunity to help lead the organization, build the culture and instill the values into the company’s DNA. I am proud that we are able to give opportunities to numerous associates to grow both personally and professionally.”
FOUNDER, BOULEVARD BREWING
After nearly 25 years of laboring to turn a small start-up beer-making operation into one of the nation’s largest craft brewers, John McDonald sold Boulevard to Belgian brewing giant Duvel Moortgat in 2013. But it wasn’t just the 12th-largest craft brewer at that point: McDonald’s little “brewery that could” ranked in the Top 20 of all breweries nationwide, and he put Kansas City on the map of a beer renaissance in America.
SELF-MADE MAN: McDonald’s claim to craft-brewing fame began in 1989, when he delivered the first keg of Boulevard’s beer, out of the back of his pick-up truck, to Ponak’s, just a few blocks away on Southwest Boulevard.
PLANE TALK: Before founding Boulevard, McDonald was a cabinet-maker.
SECOND ACT: Boulevard helped rejuvenate business along the Southwest Boulevard Corridor, and now McDonald is hoping to do the same with the East Bottoms through a venture called Bottoms Up Collective, with a goal of making it a dining and entertainment destination.
RETIRED CEO, DST, EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION
After retiring from DST Systems, where he had been president and CEO since 1973, McDonnell went to the Kauffman Foundation in 2012, leaving in 2014 after a tenure in which he focused on reinforcing the foundation’s commitment to Kansas City while continuing to deliver impact in the areas of education and entrepreneurship. In retirement, he remains an active advocate for Kansas City.
REVITALIZER: Under McDonnell’s leadership, DST kept most of its KC employees right in the heart of the city, revitalizing and restoring buildings and whole neighborhoods that otherwise would have been abandoned.
SCULPTURE-INSPIRER: Without Limits—a 25-foot tall sculpture installation by artist Tom Corbin—pays tribute to McDonnell’s role in downtown revitalization through DST and beyond.
LOCAL HERO: The list of causes, institutions and organizations to which McDonnell has given time, talent and treasure is a long one, as is the list of the many honors and awards he has received over the years. He has been called, “a key force in shaping the face of Kansas City.”
CHAIR-ELECT, SHOOK, HARDY & BACON
On Jan. 1, Madeleine McDonough—a clinical pharmacist-turned-lawyer—will succeed John Murphy as chair at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, which has more lawyers in Kansas City than any other firm. Her practice concentrations dovetail with some of the business sectors that are driving an evolving economy in Kansas City: pharmaceutical, medical devices, agribusiness, food safety, life sciences and biotechnology.
COLLEGE: J.D., University of Kansas School of Law
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I think Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has done well both in business and in corporate social responsibility efforts. He invests in employees in meaningful ways, including offering comprehensive health coverage and equity stock ownership for Starbucks employees.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Attending arguments and opinion days at the Supreme Court. I also love documentaries, music, reading, cooking, and art of all kinds. I love driving (relaxing and meditative), and Kansas City is great for that—almost no traffic!”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Vegetable soup. I make a different kind almost every week while I listen to the podcast of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, or This American Life.”
PARTNER, MEARA WELCH BROWNE
For four decades, John Meara has been a fixture on the regional financial-services scene, one dominated today by large national and global firms with often transient leadership. Not Meara: He spent eight years with larger firms and founded his own. It’s one of the five biggest locally based accounting/consulting firms in the region. He’s a CPA specializing in business valuation, and is a certified fraud examiner and financial-forensics specialist.
COLLEGE: B.S., Accountancy, University of Illinois; Law school classes at UMKC
BEST ADVICE: “Invest in yourself, get all the education you can, take vacations and make time for family and friends.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Founding and leading my firm for 40 years.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Seeing my 12 kids grow up, get married and succeed in life.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I love the water and boating with friends and family.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “A great big steak!”
While he maintains a low public profile, Michael Merriman casts quite the economic shadow. His family-controlled business is the lead company in one of the largest independent, privately held insurance groups in the United States. It boasts $6.1 billion in assets, 640,000 insurance policies under administration and more than $31 billion of life insurance in force.
COLLEGE: B.B.A., Southern Methodist University
STUNNING GROWTH: Americo’s total assets have grown 8,980% since 1988. Insurance in force has grown 39% over the past 10 years.
RECOGNITION: Includes a Distinguished Alumni award from his alma mater, Southern Methodist University.
PHILANTHROPY: Among the organizations that have acknowledged Merriman and his generosity are the Boy Scouts of America Heart of America Council and Children’s Mercy Hospital.
CHAIRMAN, REAL ESTATE, LEWIS RICE
Sales, purchases, leasing, financing, joint ventures, development, redevelopment, government approvals, development incentives—Charlie Miller’s job gives him hands-on perspective on a wide range of real estate projects. In dealing with the issues they present, he draws on experience obtained from working with attorneys, developers, lenders, investment bankers, city officials, and other professionals throughout the country.
COLLEGE: A.B., University of Missouri; J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia,
BEST ADVICE: “Work hard, have broad interests and use all of your vacation days.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Tom McDonnell. In addition to his many accomplishments at DST, he was significantly instrumental in the rejuvenation of downtown Kansas City. He advocated for the regional importance of a vibrant downtown, and facilitated many projects for the city and others.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Earning the confidence of my clients.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Save someone’s life.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Anything recreational that I can do outside.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chocolate.”
JOHN MITCHELL, JR.
CEO, TREAT AMERICA FOOD SERVICES/COMPANY KITCHEN
John Mitchell tried commercial lending after law school, but soon joined his father at Treat America in 1994 as one of just seven employees at a food-services company with annual revenues below $2 million. That move was a win-win: Under Mitchell’s direction, Treat America became one of the region’s 100 largest private companies, taking in more than $111 million in 2015.
COLLEGE: B.A., English, Philosophy, University of Kansas; J.D., KU School of Law
FAMILY AFFAIR: Mitchell succeeded his father, who founded the company in 1987.
GROWTH FACTORS: Mitchell has cited the company’s entrepreneurial culture as a key to success—more than 10 percent of the associates there have direct or individual P&L accountability, and many are paid on a pure commission basis to encourage a customer-satisfaction mind set.
NEW IMAGE: Earlier this year, Treat America announced a rebranding as Company Kitchen, incorporating that into its corporate cafeterias (CK Café), its micro markets (CK Markets), and vending, coffee and catering operations.
PHILANTHROPIC-MINDED: The company supports dozens of causes each year.
Jonathan Mize arrives at work each morning carrying something few other executives can fully appreciate: The weight of four preceding generations of his family’s ownership with Blish-Mize. The wholesale hardware distributor covers a 13-state market, serving more than 800 hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards, some of whom have been customers for more than a century.
COLLEGE: University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Start at the bottom of the ladder, and work your way up. Ask questions, share your thoughts and ideas. Work hard, be valuable.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com. The vision of just starting to sell books online, to becoming a full line distributor with more than 180 distribution centers in the U.S. alone, to offering over 200 million products to consumers.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Going to Paris and Italy with my wife.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “KU basketball, exercising, and playing basketball.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Pizza.”
SENIOR VP/GENERAL MANAGER, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
From day one on the job in 2006, Dayton Moore’s goal was bringing a world championship back to Kansas City, a goal he achieved in 2015 against the New York Mets. His tenure as manager is one of the most successful in team history. In his first 10 seasons with the Royals, the team racked up 12 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, 20 All-Star Game selections, two Louisville Silver Sluggers and a Cy Young Award winner.
COLLEGE: George Mason University, Physical Education
PERSONAL: Moore was born in Wichita, Kan., and grew up a Royals fan.
RECOGNITION: Kansan of the Year (Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas), Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame, Executive of the Year (Kansas City Sports Commission).
PHILANTHROPY: Started the “C” You In the Major Leagues Foundation to support youth baseball, education, families in crisis and faith-based programs and organizations.
PREVIOUSLY: Assistant general manager, Atlanta Braves.
CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY
“I never thought I’d be chancellor of a university,” Leo Morton confides, “but it’s the best job I’ve ever had.” Since 2008, this former executive in telecom, energy and manufacturing has labored to redefine UMKC as a center of academic excellence for 15,000 students. “It’s a job that will never be finished,” he says, but I want to advance it to the point where UMKC has a really powerful impact on our community, especially with regard to urban youth outcomes.”
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Tuskeege University; M.A., Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BEST ADVICE: “It simply isn’t possible to plan out your entire career. You need to be prepared to change direction, and open to opportunities (you’ve) never considered.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “There’s no one, big thing. As a servant leader, I see my role as clearing a path for my teammates to allow them to shine.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Doing a great job here. It’s a job that will never be finished, but I want to advance it to the point where UMKC has a really powerful impact on our community”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I have a passion for learning. I think that’s why I’m a gadget freak.”
Kansas City’s place in the center of an animal-health corridor with global reach is assured in part by the presence of Durvet, which makes products for pets, horses and livestock, farming management—and even a few consumer products for two-legged customers. After working his way up through the marketing side, Todd Muenstermann took the reins last year, when it notched $171 million in sales.
COLLEGE: B.S.B.A., Central Missouri
BEST ADVICE: “Three things: 1) Never stop learning. 2) Treat people the way you want to be treated. 3) You become the 5 people that you spend the most time with, so choose your friends and business associates wisely.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire CEO’s like Joel Manby of Herschend Family Entertainment and Dave Ramsey for their caring leadership style.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Becoming President of Durvet.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “A vacation with my wife and daughters to some beautiful, remote place where there’s no cell service, no internet and no shopping malls!”
PARTNER, AAVIN PRIVATE EQUITY
Kevin Mullane started his journey into private equity investment more than three decades ago at MorAmerica Capital Corp., one of the oldest and most successful SBICs (small business investment company). In 1985 he co-founded InvestAmerica, providing late-stage expansion and buyout financing to small, profitable middle market companies. Mullane joined AAVIN in 2015. Currently, he heads up AAVIN’s Kansas City office.
COLLEGE: B.S.B.A., M.B.A., Rockhurst University
AFFILIATIONS: Has served on the board of governors of the NASBIC and has been president of the Midwest RASBIC.
REGIONAL LOYALTY: While it has investment experience throughout the country, AAVIN prides itself on staying true to its Midwestern roots by focusing on small, regionally-based opportunities.
INVESTMENT DIVERSITY: The companies in AAVIN’s portfolio represent the healthcare, retail trade, manufacturing and professional services industries.
FINANCIAL STRENGTH: AAVIN currently manages $87 million in capital with which it makes investments generally ranging in size from $1 million to $5 million.
CHAIR, SHOOK, HARDY & BACON
For the past 15 years, Kansas City’s largest law firm has been guided by the steady hand of John Murphy, who is winding down three terms as chairman at the end of 2016. His laser-focus on providing unmatched legal services made Shook, Hardy & Bacon the International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers’ first-ever pick—and multiple-year honoree—as Global Products Liability Law Firm of the Year.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, University of Connecticut; J.D., Washington & Lee University School of Law
BEST ADVICE: “Be passionate in whatever you do. If you don’t believe in what you are trying to accomplish, no one else will either.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I hesitate to pick out any one CEO. I have learned something from every executive I have ever encountered.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Leading Shook, Hardy & Bacon through 15 years that included a major recession and significant, permanent changes in the legal industry.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Spectator sports. As I have gotten older, I have to watch the sports I used to play.”
OWNER, NEIGHBORS CONSTRUCTION
It’s been boom-time for residential builders in the region since the construction downturn ended circa 2012, and nobody has felt the demand for multifamily housing like Roger Neighbors and his clan at Neighbors Construction. The company has been riding a revenue rocket in recent years, and has put up some of the region’s most desirable high-end apartment units in high-demand locations.
FAMILY AFFAIR: The company was founded by Neighbors’ father, Pat, and Roger Neighbors started there in 1975. He took over after his dad’s retirement in 1989 and is joined at work by his wife, Nancy, and a third generation in their sons Aaron and Ryan.
GROWTH FACTOR: Construction isn’t generally thought of as a tech-dependent sector, but Neighbors has invested in it to bolster efficiencies in design work, estimating and business operations.
PASSION/HOBBY: Neighbors is partial to weekends at the Lake of the Ozarks, or about any setting that features high-performance boat racing.
PRESIDENT/CEO, D.H. PACE
Rex Newcomer has spent 37 years at family-owned D.H. Pace, more than half of that time as its chief executive. The Olathe-based maker of overhead doors-—perhaps best known for that “Overhead Door” red ribbion adorning a fleet of service vehicles, makes many other construction-sector products, and it is one of the 100 largest privately-owned companies in the region, with $314 million in 2015 revenues.
COLLEGE: University of Kansas
FAMILY AFFAIR: Rex is joined by three other members of the family in leadership or management roles, and two more are currently or are former board members, and a fourth generation of the family is coming on board.
EMPLOYMENT MUSCLE: The company increased its work force by more than 10 per-cent in 2015, adding 172 employees to finish the year at 1,457.
GROWING REACH: Acquisitions and new-market initiatives have put D.H. Pace on track to be a national company—it has offices from Las Vegas to Orlando, Fla.
EXECUTIVE VP/COO, CERNER
Under the leadership of this “techie at heart,” a $4.9 billion cumulative investment in R&D has resulted in the highest programming code quality in Cerner history. Nill has been placed in many complex situations that required strong problem solving, planning, communication, coordination and focus. He was instrumental in making managed services a cornerstone of Cerner’s business.
COLLEGE: B.S., Rockhurst University
BEST ADVICE: “Worry more about the job you currently have rather than the job you are trying to get. I’ve witnessed many leaders fail as they spent too much time trying to prove they could do the next big job while they let their current responsibilities slip.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Clearly, I am very fortunate to work for one of the finest— Neal Patterson. He has not only taught me the need to be bold and innovative, but he has also taught me that none of this matters unless you deliver. He challenges all of us to be complete in our thoughts and to improve every day.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “A flight with the Blue Angels.”
CHAIRMAN/CEO, U.S. ENGINEERING
Tyler Nottberg leads the 21st century version of a business founded in 1855 Germany. It has been in Kansas City for more than 125 years. This fifth-generation mechanical contractor works with a focus on how potential outcomes will impact individual lives, a perspective that has led, outside the company, to endeavors like helping to found a group of business leaders investing in high-performing Kansas and Missouri schools.
COLLEGE: B.A., Middlebury College; M.A., Keasbey Scholar, Oxford University
BEST ADVICE: “Always take the time to understand the perspectives other people have, whether it’s your family members, your friends or your colleagues. Nobody has perfect knowledge, so never assume that you always have the full story.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “While I never got to work with my father when he was CEO, many people have told me how he led the company and how he functioned as a leader in the Kansas City community. They always point out that he demonstrated integrity. In my opinion, that’s the most important quality that any leader needs to possess because ultimately, your word is your bond to others.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Getting a hole-in-one.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, CHILDREN’S MERCY HOSPITAL
Believing in the goal that Children’s Mercy could become one of the best children’s hospitals in the world because of its mission, people, and unique supportive community has been key to O’Donnell’s success. With more than 30 years of executive and association experience in children’s health, he has had great impact in his field. His broad resume includes advocacy for children’s health initiatives in Washington D.C.
COLLEGE: B.A., California Lutheran College; Ph.D., University of Iowa
BEST ADVICE: “Be passionate about your career. Listen more than you speak. Always embrace diversity and equity.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “The late Paul Henson, who founded United Tele-communications, later renamed Sprint. He was one of the first Children’s Mercy trustees I met twenty-four years ago. He had a wonderful ability to bridge old school kindness in management and a vision for a highly technical world.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Serving as a champion for the inclusion of psycho-social care with the technical wonders of medicine.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Becoming a grandparent.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Salmon.”
CORPORATE PRESIDENT, HNTB
As part of HNTB’s corporate leadership, Tom O’Grady oversees operations, project delivery, human resources, IT and business process functions for an award-winning company delivering close to $1 billion in infrastructure solutions to clients. He has held roles throughout the organization and worked extensively with multiple state departments of transportation, toll authorities, transit agencies, airports, counties and municipalities.
COLLEGE: B.S., M.S., Vanderbilt University
BEST ADVICE: “Do your current job very well. Always look for opportunities to help your boss with things that are important to them. Say yes to new opportunities and be confident you will get rewarded down the line. When in doubt, communicate.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire CEOs who lead organizations where they need to go with a focus on a vision, client/customer focus, openness and a focus on their people.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Sustaining and growing a strong 11-state division through the recession and very slow recovery.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Visit all seven continents. Three down and four to go.”
PARTNER, BERKOWITZ OLIVER
This attorney learned to climb mountains in his youth, which probably came in handy when scaling the steep incline that is law school. David Oliver is an award-winning trial lawyer handling business disputes in state and federal courts. His numerous civic activities include the boards of Alliance for Childhood Education, Kansas City Rep., Johnson County Arts Council and Spencer Art Museum at the University of Kansas.
COLLEGE: B.A., History, Haverford College; J.D., Boston University School of Law
BEST ADVICE: “Get involved; it will be good for your career and will make your life much more interesting.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffett—smart businessman, smart philanthropist, humble and down to earth, personal frugality despite immense wealth, likes to play the ukulele.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping our clients solve their problems quickly, efficiently, and reasonably.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Remaining curious.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN
You could say Ottensmeyer changed trains a few times on his way to Kansas City Southern. In college, he sold homes for his father’s real estate business, then he went into corporate banking, got to know a client called Santa Fe Pacific Corp., and before long found himself in the railroad business for a while. Turning down a relocation, he went into pharmaceuticals before making his way to Kansas City Southern as CFO in 2006.
COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, Indiana University
COMPANY: Founded in 1887 as Kansas City Suburban Belt Railway.
TRACK TO THE TOP: Joined Kansas City Southern in 2006 as executive vice president and CFO. Named executive vice president of sales & marketing in 2008 and then president in 2015.
PREVIOUS STOPS: Ottensmeyer has been CFO of Intranasal Therapeutics, and vice president finance and treasurer for Dade-Behring Holdings, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation and BNSF Railway.
PRESIDENT/CEO, THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL
We worried—a lot—about how a Cubs fan like Bob Page would get through the baseball playoffs, but it turns out he had all that under control. Positive outcomes, and all that. He’s been pursuing those, and getting them, in the lead chair at the region’s biggest hospital, building on the success of a turn-around that began after separating it from university control by establishing a public health authority, standing on its own, in 1998.
COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, Illinois Wesleyan; M.B.A., Saint Louis University
BEST ADVICE: “Focus on doing your best at the job you have today. Don’t focus on the job you may have tomorrow.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Integrating our clinical enterprise.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Watching the Cubs win the World Series!”
PASSION/HOBBY: “The Cubs.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Red meat.”
FOUNDER/CEO, PARRIS COMMUNICATIONS
She has served an impressive list of clients, with surnames like Clinton and Obama. But Roshann Parris knows there’s more to success than influence. “John Wooden wisely said ‘you can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who can never say thank you,’” she says. “So by that definition, I’m on a mission to make every day a perfect day. There’s a great little secret to giving back: it feeds your heart and soul.”
COLLEGE: B.A. (with honors), Indiana University; M.B.A., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Treat every client, every colleague and every interaction as though it’s the most important one you’ll have that day. Seek out the best of the best—colleagues, business partners, civic and community mentors who infuse you with energy, and let the energy you create together drive your collective success.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.org and COO of Facebook, inspires me to do more, give more, push more, care more, achieve more. She believes in the power of working on ‘stuff that matters.’”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Helping elect the first woman President of the United States.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Warm chocolate layer cake with a heaping spoon of vanilla ice cream. A swoosh of chocolate sauce never hurts.”
He grew up on the family farm and went on to co-found a company that boasts billions in revenues and was ranked one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” by Forbes. Neal Patterson is credited with a unique ability to anticipate and articulate how information technology will transform healthcare. This noted co-founder also helped in establishing the First Hand Foundation for children with critical healthcare needs.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, M.B.A., Oklahoma State University
BEST ADVICE: “Make your boss a hero. Don’t just think about your job; think about theirs, too. Once you are done with your work, do theirs. And manage your career by creating your replacement. Being irreplaceable in your current role is probably the #1 reason high performing associates are not promoted.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I am going with Ewing Kauffman. He built his business from the ground up. He had a genius for many things: business, people and the community. We were lucky to have him in KC.”
When the men who founded Garmin were building their team, this math whiz and lifelong aviation enthusiast was one of their first calls. Having worked in earth-based and satellite-based navigation systems, he had just the skill set they needed. Pemble now runs a company that brought in $2.8 billion in 2015 revenue. Starting as a software engineer, he went on to various leadership positions, became COO in 2007 and CEO in 2013.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Mathematics and Computer Science, MidAmerica Nazarene University
SHIFTING STRATEGIES: Built from ground up by Min Kao and Gary Burrell on GPS technologies, the company pivoted to add wearable tech to its lineup and chart a new course.
GARMIN 2015 R&D INVESTMENT: $427 million.
NEW GARMIN PRODUCTS IN 2015: 125.
HIGHLY MOBILE CUSTOMERS: According to Garmin, users of their products cycled 2.5 billion miles and took 2.56 trillion steps in 2015.
COO, THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL
In a sense, she’s in the family business: Tammy Peterman’s father was a small-town doctor in Kansas, and watching him sparked her interest in healthcare. And how: She’s now the chief operating officer, chief nursing officer and executive vice president at The University of Kansas Hospital, the biggest in the region—and one that’s getting bigger, with new additions at the main campus and satellite facilities under way.
COLLEGE: B.S., B.S.N., M.S., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “‘Bloom where you are planted.’ Take advantage of every opportunity. Get involved, stay engaged and learn from everyone around you.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bob Page and Greg Graves: passion for work and community, compassion for others, driven, disciplined, visionary, fun.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Three consecutive Magnet designations, a recognition for nursing excellence.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Really too many to list, but most importantly, making memories every day.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Time with family and friends.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Ice cream.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, STORMONT VAIL HEALTH
Peterson is a leader who believes in listening to all stakeholders and building positive relationships with everyone from staff, to physicians, to board members. Peterson also shares his nearly four decades of professional experience with several civic and professional organizations and has been awarded the Kansas Hospital Association’s highest honor for distinguished service and outstanding contributions to Kansas healthcare.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Nebraska-Lincoln; B.S., M.H.S., Wichita State University
BEST ADVICE: “Build your network of peers and colleagues. Your career will be judged based on the professional relationships you develop.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Gerald Gering who gave me my first administrative position.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Recognizing that the culture of the organization must be aligned with and supportive of any strategic initiatives to be successful.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Travel to other countries to explore their healthcare systems and apply these learnings to the U.S. healthcare transformation.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Weekends on the lake and golf.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Nebraska corn-fed tenderloin steak.”
Jim Polsinelli was only five years removed from the UMKC School of Law when he and two other lawyers started their own firm. Nearly 45 years and a lot of nameplate iterations later, it’s Polsinelli, PC, the fastest-growing firm in the Kansas City region. It’s among the fastest-growing law firms in the country, breaking into the AmLaw 100 list of the nation’s biggest firms in 2013.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia; J.D., UMKC School of Law
EDUCATION BOOSTER: Polsinelli is a lifelong advocate for causes related to education at every level—from board service at his alma mater, Rockhurst High, for a decade, to the board at Rockhurst University for nearly a decade and then the board of trustees at UMKC, part of a long list of civic service.
BROAD EXPERIENCE: He’s had clients from a wide variety of business sectors, including manufacturing, retail food operations, distribution and trucking, financial services and real estate and more.
PRESIDENT/CEO, ECCO SELECT
Jeanette Prenger worked for some of the biggest corporate names in Kansas City early in her career—Waddell & Reed, TWA, DST and then Sprint—before she decided it was time to venture out on her own. From the launch of ECCO Select in 1995, she has built a company with more than $30 million in revenues, specializing in IT consulting, project management, supplemental staffing and other work-force assistance.
CONSISTENCY: ECCO Select, a nine-time honoree in Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 list of the region’s fast-growing companies, experienced average revenue growth in double digits virtually every year since hitting that mark in 2001.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Prenger is aided by her husband, Kevin, the vice president for IT and special products, and their son Darren, who’s chief revenue officer.
TWIN RECOGNITION: By virtue of her Hispanic background, Prenger also has her company on the list of the region’s largest minority-owned businesses, at No. 6. It stood at No. 7 on the list of women-owned businesses this year.
PRESIDENT, RAINEN COMPANIES
Mike Rainen is someone who seems to have a sixth sense about emerging opportunities. He built, then sold, the region’s largest office-furnishings company. After the S&L crisis, he made discounted acquisitions of properties that would become the foundation of his company’s real-estate holdings today. Among other interests, he develops and manages multi-family apartments, condominium conversions, and industrial properties.
COLLEGE: B.A., Finance, University of Texas
WORK ETHIC: “I’m a strong believer in hard work and passion,” Rainen has said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” “He called and asked me to lunch, ironically on my wedding day back in 1981,” said Ingram’s Publisher Joe Sweeney, “which led to a job offer and a few terrific years of growing Rainen Business Interiors. Mike Rainen is among the brightest and hardest-working guys I’ve ever known, said Sweeney. “He wins at virtually everything he does—he’s a great role-model and mentor.”
BOARD WORK: Rainen is on the advisory board for the Kansas City office of U.S. Bank, and is a trustee of the Basal Cell Nevus Carcinoma Syndrome Life Support Network.
FOUNDER, BATS GLOBAL MARKETS
A true entrepreneur in the Kansas City tradition, Joe Ratterman took over shortly after Bats was founded in 2005, and helped turn it into the world’s second-largest equities trading platform. As chairman, he helped take it public and oversaw its sale to CBOE Holdings this fall. Since turning over the day-to-day duties last year, he’s had more time to focus on a passion for helping the homeless with a non-profit he co-founded, Hope in the Streets.
ALMA MATER: B.S., Math & Computer Science, University of Central Missouri
ADVICE TO YOUNG EXECS: “Love what you are doing, and truly enjoy who you are doing it with. If you maniacally focus just on the money and success, even if you find it, you probably won’t be truly happy in the end.”
PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The leadership team we assembled at Bats, that took us from a start-up to a multi-billion dollar global leader.”
HOBBY/PASSION: “I’m a serial passion/hobby nut, having gone through a few phases in my life: rock-climbing, semi-professional water skiing, professional photographer, and most recently a professional pilot.”
FOOD I WON’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Chocolate-chip cookies and Mississippi Mudslide ice cream.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, GREATER KC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
This former president/CEO at Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and two-term mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, assumed his current post with a lot of experience in regional improvements. His accomplishments include helping his community win the competition to bring Google high-speed fiber to Kansas City. Reardon has been named a Kansas Mayor of the Year.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, Rockhurst University; J.D., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “As you develop in your professional career find ways to truly engage in the betterment of the community.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I most admire those who get engaged in civic betterment. I believe communities need strong business leaders to push for ways to improve the quality of life. The Greater KC Chamber is fortunate to have among its ranks many CEOs with those qualities.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “My 8 years as mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS and all the projects and developments I was able to help bring to reality.”
CHAIRMAN EMERITUS, REECENICHOLS
This Vietnam veteran and retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve colonel credits much of his professional success to what he calls, “dogged determination.” His tenacity and drive helped him become one of the most recognizable names in Kansas City real estate. From the days of J.D. Reece Realtors, to the merger that created ReeceNichols, to Reece Commercial Real Estate, nobody knows the regional market better than Reece.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Oregon
BEST ADVICE: “Everything rises and falls on leadership. Set the example, work hard, know your stuff, have fun, pay attention to family, call your mom.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffett—honesty, integrity, trust, smarts, humor, success, and leadership.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Working together with a great team of people to build a successful company.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Touring wildlife parks in Africa.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Living the cowboy life in the Kansas flint hills.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “My wife, Patty, makes a great chili.”
CHAIRMAN/PRESIDENT/CEO, BANK OF BLUE VALLEY
This one-time safe deposit clerk and teller built a bank with total assets of $650,000,000, total loans of $450,000,000, and total deposits of $500,000,000. It’s a bank with a primary focus on small business. Regnier feels strongly that America’s future is closely tied to small-business success. A dedicated philanthropist, he serves on many boards and committees and has received numerous professional and civic awards.
COLLEGE: B.A., Kansas State University; MBA, University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “Stay focused and engaged. Do more than you are asked or expected to do.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Greg Graves of Burns & McDonnell. He is smart, funny, balanced, philanthropic, a great leader and he has contributed to growth through his leadership of a great company.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Starting of the Bank of Blue Valley as a de novo bank [a newly chartered bank, not acquired through purchase]. I am not sure that could be done again in today’s banking environment.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “River cruise through Eastern Europe.”
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS DIRECTOR, FORD MOTOR CO.
The fact that Ford Motor Co. employs roughly 7,000 people at its Claycomo plant isn’t just a testament to its faith in the work-force attributes of employees in this region. It’s a tribute to the work Tony Reinhart turned in, working with state officials to help secure incentives in exchange for Ford’s $1.1 billion commitment to overhaul the plant. He joined Ford in the mid-1990s and is regional director of government and community relations.
BOARD DUTIES: In addition to a number of other civic causes he’s aligned with, Reinhart wrapped up a term as president of the Clay County Economic Development Council last year. He also offices in Chicago and is the President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
EMPLOYMENT MUSCLE: Ford’s work force has exploded in recent years, rising from roughly 4,000 during the production years with the Escape crossover SUV, and surging after the plant makeover to product the Transit van line.
RIGHTFUL BOAST: The company has previously recognized the Claycomo plant as the No. 1 volume Ford plant in the world.
PRESIDENT/CEO, JOHN KNOX VILLAGE
Medicare physicians aside, is anyone in Kansas City riding out the Silver Tsunami of Baby-Boomer retirements quite the way Dan Rexroth is? He’s president and CEO of John Knox Village, once billed as the world’s senior-living complex, and one that’s still expanding under his guidance. He came here from Chicago in 1990, and has been at the helm of JKV since 2001, as well as a member of key industry boards.
COLLEGE: B.A., Olivet Nazarene University; B.S., Clinical Psychology, and Ed.D., Ball State University
BEST ADVICE: “Never think too highly of yourself.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I admire middle managers more than I do any CEO. Those in the middle of the organization have the tricky assignment of managing up, sideways, and down. That is three times as challenging as being a CEO.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping people’s last days be their best days.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Fill many people’s buckets before I kick the bucket.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Bicycle riding and mission trips.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, HUNT MIDWEST ENTERPRISES
Hired in 1991 to identify and implement expansion opportunities for Hunt Midwest, Reynolds’ success in identifying residential development led to a quick rise through the ranks and, ultimately, a CEO’s chair. A believer in giving back to the community, she holds board positions at Central Bank of the Midwest, Starlight Theatre Association, Kansas City Area Development Council, and the UMKC Board of Trustees.
COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, Indiana University
BEST ADVICE: “Find a mentor or leader to emulate. Work hard, and put yourself in a position to be successful.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Alan Mulally, retired CEO of Ford. He reinvented Ford and made their iconic models ‘best in class.’”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Expanding Hunt Midwest’s development expertise in various real estate niches.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Sailing the islands of the world.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Bread.”
FRANK ROSS, JR.
BUSINESS DEPARTMENT CHAIRMAN, POLSINELLI
Award-winning attorney Ross grew his department from 30 attorneys in 1998 to a professional staff of 375 today, serving distinguished business clients nationwide. Ross has billions of dollars in transactions on his resume, is sought after for corporate advice and has a reputation for building strong client relationships and investing completely in their needs. He also helps causes including American Red Cross and March of Dimes.
COLLEGE: B.S., Kansas State University; J.D., Washburn University School of Law; Master’s, Georgetown University Law Center
BEST ADVICE: “Business is a long journey, not a sprint, and the fast and easy way cannot be an option. In the end, you succeed if your colleagues see the success of the business coming first before their personal success.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bob Page at The University of Kansas Hospital for his consistent message that the interests of the patient/customer always come first and the leadership to get his employees to buy into that culture.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “My involvement with our firm’s role as outside general counsel to The University of Kansas Hospital during its very successful transformation over the last 18 years.”
This entrepreneur started his career deploying SAP enterprise systems with Accenture. He went on to found two startups, Rush Tracking Systems and EyeVerify; he sold the former in 2009 and the latter earlier this year for a reported $100 million. Rush believes that to succeed, one must “engage the village,” citing his history of bringing several investors into each of his startup ventures. “You can’t succeed alone,” he says.
COLLEGE: B.S., Kansas State University
BEST ADVICE: “Know from where you get your identity; and relationships will determine the scale of your success.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I have to pick two: Elon Musk and Jack Ma. Both are mission-led leaders who have committed their lives to their vision of genuinely helping mankind.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being true to myself throughout good times and bad.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Traveling to outer space.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Coffee.”
Kansas City’s rise to STEM prominence has tracked right along with Tom Sack’s career. He joined what was Midwest Research Institute in 1985, and rose steadily through the research and administrative ranks until becoming president and CEO of MRIGlobal in 2013. MRIGlobal specializes in contract research for government and industry, and Sack is responsible for all aspects of leading, managing and operating it.
COLLEGE: B.S., Chemistry, Rockhurst College; Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
BEST ADVICE: “Listen and learn: Find mentors and/or peers with whom you can share and discuss experiences. The best advice often comes from someone who has ‘been there’ and successfully navigated similar situations.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Howard Schultz of Starbucks, because he has a vision and a passion that he has successfully maintained through the start, growth, and evolution of Starbucks.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Becoming CEO of MRIGlobal, after living its mission for nearly 35 years.”
CEO/CIO, WADDELL & REED FINANCIAL
For a man with a lot of responsibility, Sanders states his top professional achievement simply, “Earning the trust and confidence of others to lead our organization.” He began his career in 1988 as an equity research analyst, joining Waddell & Reed as vice president and portfolio manager in 1998. He became CEO this year. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and member of both the CFA Institute and Kansas City CFA Society.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Michigan; MBA, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
BEST ADVICE: “Be patient and flexible when it comes to your career—accept that you can’t plan out every step and learn to adapt. Also, understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Howard Schultz of Starbucks. He is a powerful brand builder who redefined an established market, with a strong track record of innovation and execution skills.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Golf trip to Ireland.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Golf and traveling with my family.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Pizza: pepperoni, bacon, black olives.”
SENIOR PRINCIPAL, POPULOUS
Santee’s work in major league ballparks, collegiate arenas and stadiums, spring training and minor league ballparks is credited with helping to bring urban life back to American cities. Considered a thought leader in stadium design, he was named Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, their highest honor given to an architect. Among his project experience, the renovation of Kansas City’s own Kauffman Stadium.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Environmental Design, Bachelor of Architecture, Univ-ersity of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Don’t be afraid to bend the rules; ask questions and be patient with your career.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Steve Jobs, because he never settled for mediocrity; he strongly believed in innovation and ideas.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Honored as a Fellow by the American Institute of Architects.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Fly fishing in Patagonia.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, NORTH KANSAS CITY HOSPITAL
Combining a nurse’s informed perspective with an attorney’s keen insight, Schmitt leads the largest hospital in Kansas City’s Northland with 550 physicians representing 49 medical specialties. And this former nurse does it with dedication and determination to provide purposeful leadership that benefits the patients of North Kansas City Hospital by supporting physicians, employees and the community.”
COLLEGE: B.S.N., University of Missouri–Columbia; J.D., Yale University,
BEST ADVICE: “Follow your interests and passions.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Dr. Bridgette McCandless, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. She has a clear focus on the mission of improving the health of the community. I admire her intellect, compassion and ability to further that mission by bringing together diverse organizations, people and interests.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being president & CEO of North Kansas City Hospital.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Spend a month in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Music—rock to Broadway to symphony concerts and beyond.”
FOUNDING MEMBER, FRANKE SCHULTZ & MULLEN
With a record that includes lead trial counsel in over 140 jury trials, Schultz is a noted specialist for companies and institutions whose reputation and future are dependent on a successful resolution of litigation. His expertise has been recognized with election to the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel and the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel.
COLLEGE: Accountancy, Law, University of Missouri-Columbia
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “John Franke (Franke Schultz & Mullen). He took a chance with me in 1992 to start our own law firm.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being asked by another lawyer if I would defend him in a case—the highest compliment a lawyer can receive.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Playing a round of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland with my father.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Trying to create the perfect beef jerky in my smoker.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Waldo Pizza.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, NPC INTERNATIONAL
Jim Schwartz has the job every hungry 10-year-old dreams of, because pizza, burgers and other goodies are the focus of his day, every day, at NPC, the descendant of Gene Bicknell’s National Pizza Co. monolith. The company’s 31,000 employees staff 1,240 Pizza Hut units—more than any other company in the world—in 27 states, and nearly 200 Wendy’s units in five states.
COLLEGE: B.S., Business and Accounting, University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Commitment and passion trumps intelligence.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “David Novak, former CEO of YUM! Brands, for his focus on people and recognition.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Building a team that’s highly talented and long-tenured.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Figuring out life’s next chapter.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Mountain sports (skiing, biking, hiking, fishing).
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Pizza from Pizza Hut and Wendy’s single hamburger and frosty—of course!”
PRESIDENT, ST. FRANCIS HEALTH
Setchel’s career in acute care hospital operations brought him to St. Francis in 2012 as COO. He was named president in 2015. In addition to his professional duties, he serves on the GO Topeka Board of Directors and volunteers at the Haiti Lifeline Ministries orphanage in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti. Asked what he hopes others see in him, he cites “perseverance and integrity.”
COLLEGE: B.S., College of William & Mary; M.H.A., Virginia Commonwealth University
BEST ADVICE: “You are not your job. Don’t lose yourself, or your family, to your career.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “President Jimmy Carter. Not the best president we have ever had, but arguably the best person ever to serve in that office. He has dedicated his life and legacy to serving others.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Leading St. Francis Health through the sale of the organization (in progress).”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Take my wife to Ireland.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, REACH HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION
This self-described “builder and a grower of organizations, networks and people” advances her foundation’s strategic funding and public policy interests to create access to quality healthcare for the poor and underserved. Sharpe has also served with Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, Healthy Kansans 2020 Steering Committee and the Attorney General’s Crime Victims’ Rights and Human Trafficking Grants Review Boards.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Human Development and Family Studies, M.S. in Counselor Education, Kansas State University
BEST ADVICE: “Volunteer for an organization about whose mission you are passionate, run in the KC Marathon, start a new tradition by taking friends to Celebration at the Station, join a young leaders group like one sponsored by United Way of GKC, use your social media channels to promote your favorite cause.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bob Regnier is the perfect combination of business and civic leader, using his resources and influence to make our region a better place.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Building REACH from the ground up into a transparent, impactful and high-functioning philanthropy that increases health insurance coverage and access to care for low-income and vulnerable people in our community.”
CEO, MLP HOLDINGS
This past baseball season was an exciting one for Sherman, part-owner and vice chairman of the American League Champion Cleveland Indians. He is an entrepreneur who started and developed two successful businesses in Kansas City: LPG Services Group, which merged with Dynegy in 1996, and Inergy L.P., which went public in 2001. As a philanthropist, he has focused largely on creating education opportunities for the underserved.
PHILANTHROPY: Sherman and his wife, Marny, are founders of the Sherman Family Foundation which focuses on supporting education in the Kansas City region.
BOARDS: Among his activities are the board of directors of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Foundation and Teach for America Kansas City. He is also a trustee of the Kauffman Foundation and UMKC.
RECOGNITION: The honors he has received include, an honorary doctorate from UMKC, Bloch School of Business Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame, Bloch School of Management’s Regional Entrepreneur of the Year, and a National MS Society Hope Award.
CEO, TRUMAN MEDICAL CENTER
Charlie Shields spent 20 years in Jefferson City—12 in the House, eight in the Senate—developing a reputation as someone who could work across the aisle and bring people together. Those are skills that mesh nicely with a business sector as roiled as healthcare is today. He’s been leading Truman Medical Centers since 2014, after serving as COO at the Lakewood campus.
COLLEGE: B.A., Marketing, M.B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia
HEALTHCARE CAREER: Before joining the Truman Medical Center team, Shields was an executive for St. Joseph-based Heartland Health, known today as Mosaic Life Care.
FINANCIAL HEAVYWEIGHT: The two-hospital system accounts for nearly $850 million in annual revenues.
COMMUNITY INFLUENCE: The Hospital Hill and Lakewood medical centers admit roughly 22,000 patients a year, but Truman also runs TMC Behavioral Health, the Jackson County Health Department and primary care practices. It’s also the teaching hospital for UMKC’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy.
PRESIDENT/CEO, EPR PROPERTIES
Silvers is the man for his job largely because he knows it from so many angles. He served as vice president, secretary and general counsel from 1998 to 2006 and then as chief development officer from 2001 to 2006 when he became chief operating officer. He was appointed to his current role in 2015. Prior to joining EPR, he practiced with the law firm of Stinson Leonard Street, specializing in real estate law.
COLLEGE: B.S., Tennessee Technological University; J.D., University of Kansas
MENTOR: “My father. He taught me to treat everyone with dignity; that I might be around people who are smarter but don’t let anyone outwork me.”
FAVORITE TEACHER: “A line worker at a General Motors metal stamping facility. My job was to automate the plant, so he had reason not to like me. But he understood the plant and helped me be successful in the project. Most important, he reminded me that there are many smart people out there who didn’t go to college and who earn dignity and deserve our respect.”
MANAGING PARTNER, HUSCH BLACKWELL
Another son of St. Louis who ended up on the other side of the state, Jeff Simon is an award-winning commercial litigator who in 2014 became Kansas City office managing partner for Husch Blackwell, co-headquartered here and in his hometown. He’s also a one-man civic whirlwind, with causes and organizations that promote a better quality of life here.
COLLEGE: B.A., English, J.D., University of Missouri
BEST ADVICE: “Care about people, don’t forget your mission, and prove yourself to be someone that others can count on.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Pope Francis. He understands his organization’s core mission, has the integrity to live that mission daily, and the courage to honestly confront obstacles within his organization which frustrate that mission, and cares about others more than himself.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Anytime a client turns to me for help, because I know that doesn’t happen without trust and confidence.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Re-trace my father’s footsteps as a mortarman in the Battle of the Bulge.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, ASSOCIATED WHOLESALE GROCERS
Here we have a CEO who has been in his industry since he was a teenager working in a family-owned business. Over the years, he worked in various retail roles, including store owner/operator. Smith spent 17 years in various wholesale positions prior to joining AWG in 2003 as director of real estate, which was followed by several promotions over the years. He assumed his current role at the end of 2015.
COMPANY HISTORY: Founded in 1924 and incorporated in 1926, AWG is the nation’s oldest grocery cooperative.
FINANCIAL FACT: AWG achieved record total sales of $8.94 billion in 2015. Sales have more than doubled since 2000.
THEY GET AROUND: Associated Wholesale Grocers and its Valu Merchandisers subsidiary supply stores in 30 states.
CHAIRMAN, MCDOWELL RICE SMITH & BUCHANAN
A document designating Pete Smith as opposing counsel is the source of many a litigator’s headache, because they know that no matter what else they do on that case, there’s a good chance they’ll be outworked. That’s the approach this straight-shooting lawyer has taken over nearly half a century in practice, earning a reputation as a tenacious advocate for his clients’ causes.
COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting (magna cum laude), University of Kansas; J.D. (magna cum laude), University of Missouri-Kansas City
BEST ADVICE: “Get up early, work hard, and go to bed tired.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Neal Patterson (Cerner), because he brings imagination to the table.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being named ‘Dean of the Trial Bar’ by the bar association.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Finding out that I am the ‘one’ Highlander.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Hamburgers.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, DAIRY FARMERS OF AMERICA
He’s been a high school teacher and a private-practice lawyer—maybe not the path one might expect for a dairy executive, but one that has put Rick Smith at the helm of what is without dispute the region’s largest privately-owned company, Dairy Farmers of America. In recent years, the cooperative’s revenues have reached as high as $18 billion, easily outdistancing the next-closest organizations.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Attorney, Bond, Schoeneck & King law firm, Syracuse, N.Y.; vice president and general counsel (1982-1988) and CEO (1988-2005), Dairylea Cooperative, Syracuse.
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS: Orchestrated merger of Dairylea and DFA in 2014.
INDUSTRY ROLES: Chairman of the Global Dairy Platform; director on the boards of National Milk Producers Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
CO-CHAIR, KC RISING
Prior to retiring, Smith enjoyed an accomplished career with HNTB Corporation, a top engineering firm with annual sales exceeding $1 billion. His roles at the company ranged from project engineer to president/CEO of HNTB Infrastructure. Among the many projects on his resume: Christopher Bond Bridge and Kansas Turnpike. Today, he co-chairs an organization dedicated to advancing prosperity in the Kansas City region.
COLLEGE: B.S., University of Illinois; M.S., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Be committed but flexible in career paths and opportunities. The best way to advance in your career is to adequately develop your successors.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Russ Welsh has not only led Polsinelli through amazing growth and the very beneficial development of their new HQ building, but he also has shown great civic and philanthropic leadership.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Leadership of an amazing group of committed professionals in the culture of HNTB.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My three grandchildren (and their parents).”
SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, STATE OF KANSAS
Prior to his 2015 appointment by Governor Sam Brownback to the role of Commerce Secretary, Soave was chairman and CEO of Capistrano Global Advisory Services (CGA). In his career, he has helped numerous entrepreneurs and businesses to expand and grow. In appointing him, Brownback said, “He brings both enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and solid business experience that will benefit all Kansans.”
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, International Studies, American University; J.D., Michigan State University-Detroit College of Law; Masters, International Law, University of San Diego.
PREVIOUSLY: Adjunct professor of international economics and finance at the Walsh College of Business in Troy, Michigan.
ONE FOR THE GIPPER: White House intern during the Reagan Administration.
PRESIDENT, JOHNSON COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Believing a leader needs to be responsible, driven, tireless, and willing to take on challenges, this Fulbright Award winner prides himself on giving his all. Sopcich has done that in various positions at JCCC since 1992. As president, his achievements include a new approach to building the college’s $140 million operating budget and a successful fundraising campaign for its new Hospitality and Culinary Academy.
COLLEGE: B.A., M.B.A., University of Notre Dame; Ph.D., University of Kansas
BEST ADVICE: “Purchase a necktie.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company. His turnaround of Ford was a great example of what a passionate and determined CEO can do in the face of extreme adversity.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Giving my all to serve the Johnson County community.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Living in Santiago, Chile for a period of time with my wife, Stacy.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Family, running, and Notre Dame football.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “An egg and sausage breakfast sandwich at Town Topic.”
MANAGING PARTNER, KPMG KANSAS CITY
Feeling fortunate to have lived and worked in many places during his 30 years at KPMG, Sprong has led several multi-country engagements, identifying opportunities and building client teams based on specific needs. He is a member of KPMG’s Women’s Advisory Board, focused on recruitment, retention and advancement of women and serves with organizations including the NE Kansas/NW Missouri Girls Scouts of America board.
COLLEGE: B.S., William Jewell College
BEST ADVICE: “Raise your hand and be willing to accept opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Learning experiences (some call them failures) are critical to your growth.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Don Hall. He is extremely genuine, has the utmost ethics and integrity, always puts others first and is committed to making greater Kansas City and others more successful.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Helping others advance their careers and/or successes. There is not an achievement which tops watching others succeed and knowing you had a small part in helping them.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Bow hunting and golf.”
ANNE ST. PETER
FOUNDING PARTNER, GLOBAL PRAIRIE
Anne St. Peter was an inside-the-Beltway consulting firm executive in her early 30s, and just a few years later, was managing the biggest public relations firm operating in Kansas City. In 2008, this civic-cause whirlwind took the entrepreneurial plunge, co-founding Global Prairie and combining legacy advertising tools with digital marketing strategies, big-data crunching, and more at seven U.S. offices and two in Europe.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, Wellesley College
BEST ADVICE: “Make time to be engaged and involved in your local community. Not only will the community benefit but you will as well.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Henry Bloch and Ewing Kauffman: Both examples of Kansas City entrepreneurs who not only built extraordinary businesses, but also recognized the importance of giving back to our community.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Launching Global Prairie as a Benefit Corporation (B Corp) and being able to donate at least 10 percent of our annual profits to our Global Prairie Foundation to do good in the world through our business.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Architecture and design.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, UNITED WAY OF GREATER KANSAS CITY
Citing the ability to empathize with others as essential to being an effective leader, this thirty-year United Way veteran uses his own early-life experience in receiving community services to explain the need for assistance. Stewart has sat on the boards of organizations that include Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission. In the military, he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal.
COLLEGE: B.A., Howard University; Master’s, Pennsylvania State University
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks. At the center of his success is a focus on treating people—employees, customers and coffee bean farmers—with fairness and respect.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I have been a United Way CEO for more than twenty years and have been given the opportunity to serve in that role in several communities.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Travel to each one of the continents with my wife Monica and authentically experience the cultures that reside there.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “I very much enjoy fly fishing.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Since coming to Kansas City, I have become a huge fan of barbeque.”
PARTNER, STUEVE SIEGEL HANSON
Working in a firm specializing in litigation of complex commercial cases, Stueve has been recognized by peers as one of the top commercial trial lawyers in the country. He has prosecuted claims in federal and state courts nationwide in the areas of antitrust, intellectual property, securities fraud and other commercial torts against some of the largest businesses in the world, as well as class actions against large global firms.
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, Benedictine College; J.D. (Order of the Coif), Univ-ersity of Kansas School of Law
BEST ADVICE: “Be a humble leader, establish a culture of collaboration, and always give credit for your success to the members of your team.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Pope Francis—as the leader of the world’s oldest and largest organization he has changed the culture of the Catholic Church through his humble leadership and then from day one, leading by his own example.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Starting a business litigation law firm from scratch using a unique economic model based on the results achieved for our clients rather than the traditional hourly billing model that has been used by law firms for decades.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, ASH GROVE CEMENT
With a fourth generation steering Ash Grove Cement Co.—the largest domestic producer in the U.S.—there’s a good chance that anything built with cement within the past 135 years has a Sunderland family connection. Gen-Four has Charlie Sunderland as president and CEO of Ash Grove. No. 21 on the Ingram’s 100 list of biggest privately held companies last year.
COLLEGE: B.A., Psychology, Trinity University
BEST ADVICE: “Commit your energy to something bigger than yourself. To paraphrase John Ruskin, the highest reward for your work is not what you get for it, it is what you become by it.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “There is an important balance between being respectful and having high expectations. I admire the respectful nature of former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s leadership while also setting high standards for his players.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “A reputation for reliability—personally and as a company. Reliability and consistency are crucial to our success and longevity, and an important part of our company culture.”
NORTH AMERICAN PRESIDENT, TVH
From a partnership that began in 1969, repairing farm equipment and forklifts, TVH has grown in to the rarest of business creatures: A global company that remains family-owned. The co-founding Thermote family assigned young Els Thermote to the U.S. operations, TVH Americas, in 2003, and since then, she’s promoted robust growth and turned the company into a leader in materials-handling equipment and supplies.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Business Marketing, Hantal (Kortrijk, Belgium)
BEST ADVICE: “Follow your passion with a purpose.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jeff Bezos. Customer-centric approach and long-term vision.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Moving from Belgium to Kansas through an acquisition, and in over 10 years building a great culture and growing the business 8-fold, together with a strong, engaged team.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Visit 100 countries in the world (at 58 so far).”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Health and wellness, traveling with my beautiful family.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Kale.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, AMERICAN CENTURY INVESTMENTS
This local boy’s career has taken him from Fidelity Investments, to Bank of America, Boston Financial Data Services, First Data Corporation, Morgan Stanley and in 2005, American Century Investments, where he is proud to lead a company with an innovative ownership structure that has directed $1.2 billion in annual dividends toward the work of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research since the year 2000.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Massachusetts; M.B.A., Boston College
BEST ADVICE: “To maintain any kind of edge, you must understand all aspects of your chosen industry; the learning never stops. If you fall behind, miss the changing preferences of your clients, or what your business rivals are doing to build their market share, you can easily lose your competitive position.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Walt Disney. He’s someone who had great vision and grit, and created one of the most admired companies in the world. And he got his professional start right here in K.C.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Returning to my hometown of Kansas City (I’m a Shawnee Mission South grad) to lead American Century Investments.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Outdoor pursuits with my family.”
KC PRESIDENT, CBIZ EMPLOYEE SERVICES
Arriving at CBIZ in 2009, Thomas held several positions prior to being named president of its Kansas City operation in September. Among her achievements is helping to create the CBIZ national onsite clinic consulting practice; earlier in her career, she participated in the implementation of such an onsite center at Cerner. In addition, Thomas is vice president of the board of directors at Turner House Children’s Clinic.
COLLEGE: B.S., Physical Therapy, University of Missouri
BEST ADVICE: “Surround yourself with those that you most admire and invest the time in having business mentors both outside and within your organization; those mentors can and should change periodically.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Jerry Grisko of CBIZ. He demonstrates great leadership characteristics but also instills the importance of integrity, commitment and family in all of our business interactions. He continues to support a leadership development program for women throughout our business, which is appreciated and needed in a predominately male-dominated industry.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Cooking and baking with my family.”
PARTNER, BRYAN CAVE
Bob Thompson comes from a farming heritage—the acreage near Nevada has been in the family for more than a century. While he likes to get his hands dirty now and then, he makes his living in more fertile territory: Managing complex commercial litigation for Bryan Cave. He’ is co-leader of the food and agribusiness industry group, and a member of the commercial litigation and class and derivative actions client service groups.
COLLEGE: B.S., J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
BEST ADVICE: “If you are the first to arrive and the last to leave, you are almost automatically in the top 50 percent. Work hard, learn your industry, and spend less than you make.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Trying to keep up with my partners. I have been so privileged to have as colleagues some of the best lawyers and citizens around. I am just trying to do my part to take care of our business.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I have a long list of fun and challenging things I’ve aspired to.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Production agriculture and specifically the cattle industry.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, COUNTRY CLUB BANK
Paul Thompson ponders his own success thinking of his father, the late, legendary Byron Thompson. “He was passionate, engaged, energetic, entrepreneurial, tough-minded, but at the same time he cared greatly about the people in our organization and took the time to know them personally,” says Thompson. That’s the foundation for his own approach to one of the region’s biggest banks, with 365 employees and $1.33 billion in assets.
COLLEGE: B.S.B.A., Creighton University; M.B.A., Rockhurst University; Graduate School of Banking, University of Colorado
BEST ADVICE: “Have an inquisitive mind and a passion for what you do. Encourage others and enjoy team successes. Most importantly, demonstrate leadership by providing your own best and honest efforts every day and then assist others you work with to do the same.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The influence I have had in recruiting some tremendously talented people into our organization which, ultimately, has helped our organization to continue to grow and become even more successful.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I would love to play golf at Augusta National Golf Club.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Barbecue!”
GENERAL MANAGER/SENIOR VP, SPRINT CENTER
Under Tinnen’s leadership, Sprint Center—anchor to $6 billion in downtown investment—has exceeded attendance and financial projections every year since its opening and is consistently ranked among the nation’s busiest arenas. The accolades she has received include, Executive of the Year by the Kansas City Sports Commission, Woman of the Year from The Central Exchange and Pollstar Magazine Facility Executive of the Year.
ALMA MATER: Oak Park High School, Kansas City, Missouri
BEST ADVICE: ”Be humble and hungry. When you’re willing to go above and beyond to get results with humility and awareness of the importance of teamwork, excellence is inevitable.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: ”Ronnie Burt at Visit KC. In addition to being smart, a fantastic motivator and superb team player, he is deliberately strategic in his efforts to understand the bigger picture, address details and courageously embrace change.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “I believe in living life to the fullest each and every day because tomorrow is not promised.”
Mike Valentine ran his own tech solutions company, Maryville Technologies, then went to Cerner for more than a decade, rising to COO, before heading up New York-based Netsmart. One of his first moves was bringing the company to Kansas City, tapping into the culture and talent that have made it an emerging tech hotbed. Netsmart focuses on tech solutions for the mental-health sector, a huge component of care in the U.S.
COLLEGE: B.S., Industrial Engineering, Kansas State University
FAST GROWTH: On his watch, Netsmart has doubled in both client count and revenues, and is both one of the largest private companies in the region, and one of the 100 fastest-growing.
HIRING FRENZY: Netsmart has grown from 185 local employees during its first year here to more than 500 today.
HOBBIES: Hunting, fishing, outdoor activities, spending time on his farm.
Caring matters most to this CEO, which suits a business that touches lives the way residential real estate does. Vaughan started out in 1976, won a Rookie of the Year Award in 1977 and made management a year later. In 2002 she became executive VP at ReeceNichols and then CEO in 2013. Asked about hobbies, she points to what she does every day, “If a hobby is what you do because you enjoy it, then it’s my hobby as well.”
BEST ADVICE: “Always do the right thing, even when it’s the harder thing to do. You will gain the respect and trust of others, that’s leadership.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “My former CEO, Jerry Reece. His leadership skills earned him a strong following. He believed in his people and gave them opportunities to learn and grow.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “The many years I’ve been part of the ReeceNichols family, the different positions I’ve held, and now having the opportunity to lead as president and CEO. These are my biggest professional achievements.”
PRESIDENT/CEO, BANK OF KANSAS CITY
Viazzoli brought impressive credentials to Kansas City in 1998, including roles in Los Angeles, New York, Zurich and Chicago. He joined Bank of Kansas City in 2011 and is now responsible for banking services delivery for its commercial, wealth management and consumer business units and a food and commodities banking group. His community involvement includes, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and University of Kansas Medical Center.
COLLEGE: Bachelor’s, Economics, University of California-Davis; M.B.A., University of Chicago-Booth School of Business
BEST ADVICE: “Have a passion for whatever career path you take. Find the right role in the right organization and all the other pieces of your life will fall into place. Learn when to lead, when to manage and when to act. Culture trumps all.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I don’t know if I have gotten there yet. I have had some key moments during my career but I have plenty more years to hit the event.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Growing old with my wife and traveling to see our children wherever they end up.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My family is the only way I want to spend my free time.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Kansas City BBQ.”
FORMER OWNER, RUSSELL STOVER CANDIES
In 1960, Russell Stover was purchased by Ward’s father, Louis, for $7.5 million. In 2014, after the company had gone international and become the largest producer of fine boxed chocolates in the United States, the Ward family sold it for $1.5 billion. Long a high-profile Kansas City family, Ward and his siblings have shared the family’s good fortune as did their father, particularly with the University of Kansas.
COLLEGE: Business, University of Kansas
PHILANTHROPY: Among the Ward family’s gifts to the University of Kansas was $12 million for the renovation of Allen Fieldhouse.
COMPANY HISTORY: Clara and Russell Stover first started experimenting with candy-making in their kitchen.
HOLLYWOOD HISTORY: When Forrest Gump delivers his famous, “box of chocolates” line, he is holding a box of Russell Stover.
PERSONAL MEMORY: As a child, Ward had a birthday party at a company candy plant. He ate too much candy and got sick.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MARC
David Warm understands that the challenges facing Kansas City go way beyond a state line down the middle. There are 16 counties, dozens of cities, and 2.8 million people who want basic services—now, of course—that won’t be there without some element of regional cooperation. That’s a large part of what MARC does, aligning local government interests in hopes of prudent planning and delivering more efficient services.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science and Economics, University of California-Santa Barbara; M.P.A., University of California-Riverside
PREVIOUS STOPS: Before joining MARC in 1990, Warm had executive roles in Liberty, as city administrator, and with KCMO.
FULL SCHEDULE: Among the civic groups and initiatives he’s involved with, Warm is on the advisory board for K-State’s Olathe campus, serves with boards of nonprofits in healthcare, education and community development, and the board for the Hall Family Foundation.
CHAIRMAN, HUSCH BLACKWELL
Courtroom wins and losses are easy to measure: Maurice Watson’s job as chairman of Husch Blackwell is more challenging than that: He’s responsible for developing the firm’s strategic direction, then seeing to it that the firm’s policies and culture align with the vision. The Harvard-educated Watson is also a member of Husch’s legal team that serves clients in healthcare, life sciences and education.
COLLEGE: A.B., Liberal Studies, Harvard College; J.D., Harvard Law School
BEST ADVICE: “Pursue your passion which may or may not be something you are already great at. More important than the work you do, have meaning and purpose for yourself personally and then commit to the work, heart and soul. Finally, find a role model whom you can emulate, style and substance. And, if possible, recruit that person as a sponsor but make sure that you contribute as much to the relationship as you take from it!”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress.”
CEO, YRC WORLDWIDE
After 29 years rising through the ranks to the role of president and CEO at YRC’s Yellow Transportation subsidiary, Welch spent about three years at the helm of another company before returning to lead the entire $5 billion YRC Worldwide organization beyond some struggles and forward to today. He also sits on the boards of SkyWest, Inc., a regional airline and Erickson Air Crane, manufacturer and operator of heavy-lift helicopters.
COLLEGE: B.S., West Texas A&M University
BEST ADVICE: “There is still value in working hard and trying to do the right things. Balance of life is important, but in today’s world hard and smart work still matters.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Bill Gates built a fabulous company, but now his focus is squarely on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and helping others.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Becoming president & CEO of Yellow Transportation at the age of 45.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “The time I have spent with Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Lake living and ranching.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Steak.”
With entrepreneurial spirit and personal drive, Russ Welsh has led Polsinelli in expansion to such cities as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. This former U.S. Justice Department trial attorney also works with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Kansas City, the Civic Council and other organizations.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; J.D., Georgetown University
BEST ADVICE: “Create business expertise in your field and a civic foundation that you can build upon. If you want to succeed, you have to work harder and often longer than the next guy or gal. Don’t take your foot off the pedal.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Elon Musk. He dares to dream and then takes appropriate risks to transform industries.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Leading Polsinelli from 90 lawyers in 3 offices in 1998 to 800 lawyers in 20 offices today.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Travel. My wife and I are fortunate to have been to 100 countries.”
MANAGING PARTNER, SPENCER FANE
An Ingram’s “Forty Under 40” alum, Pat Whalen has been recognized as a top intellectual property lawyer, a trailblazer in cybersecurity and data privacy and among the best in the world at Internet and e-commerce law. He is also author and/or co-author of numerous articles and books, first-chair veteran of dozens of jury trials, seven-figure verdict winner and a member of several civic and professional organizations.
COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; J.D., University of Texas School of Law-Austin; M.B.A., University of Texas-San Antonio
BEST ADVICE: “Seek first and always to serve those you would lead.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “CEO-turned-professor, Clayton Christensen. He leads with tremendous personal integrity, always keeping his priorities and values straight.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Earning the confidence of clients and colleagues at Spencer Fane.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “Taking my wife on an extended tour of Europe.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “My passion is my wife and children.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Seafood.”
COUNTY EXECUTIVE, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI
As a younger man, working as a laborer, Frank White helped in the building of Kauffman Stadium, where he would go on to earn eight Gold Gloves and five All-Star Game selections as a second baseman for the Kansas City Royals. He was key to the Royals’ 1985 World Series win and was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1995. He has said, “I intend to succeed in our efforts to continue to make this county one we can all be proud of.”
APPOINTMENT: White was appointed County Executive in 2016, following the resignation of his predecessor, Mike Sanders. In November, he was elected to complete the last two years of the term his predecessor vacated.
QUOTE: “My experience tells me that teamwork is contagious.”
PREVIOUS: Managed the AA Wichita Wranglers from 2004-2006.
OTHER RECOGNITION: American League Championship Series MVP, 1980. Two-time Royals Player of the Year.
PRESIDENT/CEO, GREATER KANSAS CITY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Debbie Wilkerson heads one of the true crown jewels of Kansas City, an organization that thrives on the region’s uncommon philanthropic spirit, channels that energy into new and innovative programs, and in turn inspires others to find ways to give, too. She took the top spot in 2012, directing a foundation with $2.4 billion in assets—the bloom from a $213.19 seed planted by a few civic leaders who passed the hat to start a charity in 1978.
COLLEGE: B.A., Psychology, University of Kansas; J.D., KU School of Law
PREVIOUS STOP: Before joining the foundation, Wilkerson spent five years as an estate-planning associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon.
DOLLAR POWER: The foundation issued a grand total of $378.9 million in grants and donor services last year. Since inception, the grants total tops $3 billion.
LEVERAGE: The foundation is home to more than 3,500 charitable funds established by individuals, families and businesses, and has a significant focus on bringing in small donors, as well as the philanthropic wealthy.
PRESIDENT/CEO, BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF KANSAS CITY
The first woman to steer the ship at the region’s largest health insurer took on those duties during tumultuous times (thanks, ACA!) but Danette Wilson has kept BlueKC on course as the market leader, with revenues topping $1 billion. Virtually her entire career has been at BlueKC; she signed on just three years out of college, starting on the marketing side, and made a steady rise through the ranks before assuming command in early 2015.
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, University of Nebraska
BEST ADVICE: “From legendary Husker coach Tom Osborne’s Beyond the Final Score: ‘When adversity strikes—and it will—I think we have three choices. The first is to quit. The second is to blame someone else. The third is to learn from the experience.’ Quitting and blaming others do nothing to help us accomplish our goals. We always have an opportunity to learn from the difficult experiences that we encounter.”
BUCKET LIST NO. 1: “To be wearing Husker red in the stands, with my husband and son, when Nebraska wins its next national championship game!”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Mexican food from one of Kansas City’s many great restaurants.”
3RD DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, U.S. HOUSE
It wasn’t quite the cakewalk his first three congressional elections produced, but Kevin Yoder is nonetheless going back to Congress for Kansas, following a 51-41 percent victory over Democrat Jay Sidie. This trip to D.C. is likely to entail more responsibilities with an additional term of experience, but it’s hard to top a seat on the all-important House Appropriations Committee, which controls the nation’s purse strings.
COLLEGE: B.A./B.S., English & Political Science, University of Kansas
POLITICAL ROOTS: Yoder’s first large-scale venture into politics was a presidential campaign he won—for student body president at KU.
ROAD TO D.C.: After practicing law at a pair of Johnson County firms, he won three terms in the Kansas House, serving on the Appropriations Committee there, too, then won his first race for Congress in 2010.
PRO-BUSINESS RECOGNITION: Yoder is a past winner of the Guardian of Small Business award from the National Federation of Independent Business.
This retired Naval Reserve commander is an award-winning lawyer, but still counts his 23 years of combined active and reserve military service as his top life experience. A former lawyer for the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s office, Karl Zobrist is noted for representing electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, industrial and investment companies interested in energy and public utility matters.
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science and History, Augustana College; J.D., University of Iowa Law School
BEST ADVICE: “Take the time to know the details of what you are doing, whether selling a product, managing a project, or handling a legal case. Be kind and considerate to those who support your efforts.”
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Promoting investment in energy and telecommunications infrastructure both as a regulator and as a private attorney over the past 20 years.”
PASSION/HOBBY: “Playing the piano; the Kansas City Royals.”
ONE FOOD YOU WOULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “Oysters.”
DIRECTOR/CEO, NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART
Kansas City’s iconic art museum had just four directors in its first 77 years before Julian Zugazagoitia became its CEO in 2010 on the strength of his international scholarship, museum-direction experience and reputation as a consultant. He’s currently preparing for the opening of the Bloch Galleries in the spring, and “we will also be announcing some marvelous acquisitions in the near future.”
COLLEGE: Diplomé de l’Ecole du Louvre, Art History, and Ph.D. in Philosophy, Aesthetics, from the Sorbonne, Paris IV. Dissertation: The Total Work of Art as Horizon of Modernity
BEST ADVICE: “Never forget that success is not an individual gain. You must create teams that bring out the best in each of the participants.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Reynold Levy, former president of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and now president of the Robin Hood Foundation. I admire him for his work in the corporate world, as president of the AT&T Foundation, and also for his tenure at the Lincoln Center, where he led a $1.2 billion transformation of the campus.”
Congratulations to our Inaugural Class of Ingram’s 250
The editors at Ingram’s Magazine would like to congratulate this year’s inaugural class of Ingram’s 250. This project is among the most challenging we’ve ever tackled, and we hope our readers find the profiles of this year’s honorees to be engaging, inspirational and as useful as we do. We never realized how much we would learn and benefit from researching candidates and crafting their profiles. Some of the Ingram’s 250 honorees may be less visible than others, but they’re no less influential and powerful in their organizations and industry sectors they serve. Congratulations to each of our honorees and thank you for contributing to help build a greater Kansas City.
Submit Your Nominations
An interesting exercise for our readers and your associates may be to create your own list of the most powerful and influential business leaders in the greater Kansas City region. Your choices may often be the same as our own, however, we would be interested to know whom we may have missed and what makes your candidate qualified to be included in our 2017 class. Please email DBoone@Ingrams.com.