Author Archives: Carrie Rengers

Inventors ask: How do we get in the paper?

WICHITA — I was chatting on the phone with my mother as I drove up to Office This earlier this week to speak to the Inventors’ Association of South Central Kansas.

“Oh, with all the inventing you’ve done, you’ll have plenty to talk about,” she said.

That was sarcasm, of course. The only idea I’ve had for an invention is a towel warmer, which I was quickly informed has already been invented. Just as well. I don’t think I would have gotten around to it.

Before the meeting started, I had to sign something saying I wouldn’t share any of the ideas I heard. There are some good ones. In fact, the room was filled with some impressive, interesting people.

The inventors wanted to learn how to get their news into the paper. It’s pretty easy, I explained.

Here’s how it works — for anyone:

Though you’re welcome to send one, there’s no need for a fancy press release.

If you have news you want to share, you can call, e-mail or use old-fashioned mail. I prefer a quick e-mail that briefly states the news and clearly shows me a working phone number I can call for more information.

It’s that simple. Send away!




The top reasons a business person should play Cards for the Cure this week

WICHITA — The last charity poker tournament I played in scored me hockey loot, and now — thanks to The Eagle’s sponsorship of Cards for the Cure — I have a shot ay playing in a major poker tournament that could then land me in the World Series of Poker.

OK, that’s the slimmest of slim odds — I would not bet on me — but the benefit for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Friday and Saturday is sure to be fun.

Founder Spike Anderson, a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, shares his top reasons for business people to participate:

– You can wear pink in public without being ridiculed

– It’s your chance to bluff the competition

– You can go “all in” without putting in a full day’s work

– Nearly everyone knows someone impacted by breast cancer

– It’s your chance to “raise the ante” against your boss

– We’ll post your best poker face on Facebook

To which I would add my No. 1 excuse when I want to do something fun for “work”: Networking!

However, if anyone posts pictures of my poker faces — or of me crying in defeat moments after play starts — there’s going to be trouble.




We’ve been Thunder struck

WICHITA — A lawyer, a writer and an ad exec walk into an arena …

No, it’s not the start of a joke. It’s the start of a new passion for the Wichita Thunder that a few friends and I now have.

I was playing in the very fun Valley Center Charity Poker Tournament earlier this month when I knocked out Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno, which scored me four Thunder tickets, two T-shirts and bragging rights at least until next year’s tournament. (I also outlasted a certain business editor from across the street, but that’s another story.)

Bonnie Bing, refusing to do the Chicken Dance.

I got a small picture of just how crazy Lomurno’s job is when I discovered my four tickets weren’t on the same night. He accommodated me by personally trading in two of the tickets for the same night, sold me a fifth ticket and got them all in the same area, which turned out to be killer third-row seats for Friday’s game. While acting as my personal ticket agent, Lomurno clearly was juggling a number of other things amid a rather chaotic office. That included rushing a new player to Kansas City to work out a visa issue and rushing him back so he could step on the ice that night in order to be eligible for the playoffs later.

Although I’m a Michigan girl who once had an ice rink in her own back yard, I’ve never been into hockey. It was a hoot, though. The fights, the music, the beer. My husband enjoyed the game itself, too. At one point, he turned to me and said, “Honey, can you beat him at cards again?”

Actually, we’ll be happy to buy our own tickets. I think the Thunder could be an even bigger draw than it is if more nonhockey fans such as myself gave it a shot.

Even Bonnie Bing enjoyed it, although she refused to do the Chicken Dance.



Third Wichita company vies to Get on the Shelf with Walmart

WICHITA — A third Wichita company is seeking a little attention — if not a win — in the Walmart Get on the Shelf competition.

Dinia Regular has entered her bath-and-body company, Treasured Body, in the competition that could land her products on Walmart shelves.

“We are almost . . . 99 percent natural,” Regular says.

She makes the products and their specialized, tropical scents.

“It’s not like you will find it just anywhere.”

Wichita’s Homecooked Shortcuts and have also entered the competition.


Stranded in Wichita on a Monday night? Not so bad after all

WICHITA — An executive with a large corporation, who also happens to be a family friend, got stranded in Wichita Monday night after his plane from Dallas couldn’t make it here due to weather.

He’s someone who’s quite the world traveler (he’s already flown 80 times this year) so it was interesting to get his perspective on Wichita and a few of the businesses here. First, he was impressed with the DoubleTree by the airport and its amenities for top-tier travelers. It’s not hard to believe that the DoubleTree is nice, but it’s a little surprising to imagine it’s so nice that a well-traveled person would remark on it.

Then it was off to Old Town, where our visitor particularly enjoyed all the neon in Old Town Square. Mort’s, where it was cheap martini night, was absolutely packed, making Wichita seem like quite the happening place.

Finally, Sabor Latin Grille was a tasty end to the evening. It was half-price night on bottles of wine, so we sprung for the Keenan cabernet, which we got for $45 instead of the usual $90. The waitress was gleeful, but not because of what it meant for her tip.

“The last person who ordered that was Harrison Ford!” she said.

It gave us a chance to explain to our visitor that the actor is just one of many notables who pop into the Air Capital for training or to buy planes.

Instead of the paella that Harrison ordered, we shared the parilla platter, which is a meaty staple of Argentinian cuisine. Not, perhaps, a dish that one might expect to be having in Wichita, Kansas, on a Monday night.

As we parted ways with our guest, it was obvious he’d truly enjoyed his night on the town in Wichita. He’s already planning a return trip.



That’s our girl

WICHITA — Usually when managers gather employees for news, it’s to share official word from the top of an organization, such as a CEO or general manager.

That wasn’t the case at Hawker Beechcraft Thursday.

The company and union planned a 2 p.m. joint announcement to tell employees that Plant 1 will remain open rather than close as previously announced.

Instead, intrepid aviation reporter Molly McMillin broke the news just before 8 a.m. that hundreds of jobs would be saved.

That sped up the timetable of talking to employees. The kicker, though, is managers didn’t yet have the official company letter to read to employees about the change.

So what did they read instead?

Molly’s story, of course.




Problem customers? Now that’s a laugh

UPDATED — There were a number of fun and outright comical moments during Tuesday’s Junior Achievement 2012 Wichita Business Hall of Fame dinner.

Host Susan Peters called a few Junior Achievement students to the stage to help introduce honorees. That included Kiara Harris, a fifth grade Benton Elementary student, who had a frank talk about business with Peters.

While Kiara looks forward to being a businesswoman one day, she does not look forward to dealing with people.

“People can really get annoyed sometimes,” Kiara said of customers, suppliers and others.

“Mr. Moore,” she asked honoree Bill Moore, former Westar president and CEO, “did you have any bad days in business?”

Kiara got a good laugh. So did Moore when he later took the stage and replied, “I have never had a problem with a customer in my whole life.”

Mayor Unruh, I presume

Spotted at lunch at the new private Lakeside Club today: Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh.

While some still are greeting him as Commissioner Unruh, others have jumped straight to calling him Mayor.

Last month, Unruh announced he was considering a bid for the office, which term limits prevent Mayor Carl Brewer from seeking again.

From the looks of it, Unruh didn’t mind the early title change.



That #$!$@# media!

The biggest laughs my husband (and Eagle colleague) and I had over Thanksgiving were every time my father, who was a guest in our home, went off about “the media.”

We were like, “Ah, dad, you know you’re talking about us, right?”

Then, a friend who I consider to be very bright had me to dinner the other night and also blamed “the media” for making things seem worse than they are these days.

Seriously? It seems like there are new layoffs nationally and locally to report every day. Companies are either canceling plans or putting them on hold. Some are going bankrupt or are closing.

This is the media’s fault? I think that’s called blaming the messenger.

How bad things are is relative, of course. And there’s certainly a case to be made that bad news leads to more concern and cost-cutting and that, in turn, leads to more bad news.

But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t report what’s happening. That’s called news.

Sorry, Dad.

Telling on myself

So this morning I was working on a blog item that I never did post about how frustrating it is to work with certain PR people, especially when a lot of them are probably making a lot more than I am but working at about a first-grade level. It came off rather shrill so I decided to rework it before posting later.

In the meantime, I had a question related to Boeing. So who did I call? The Spirit PR person. Doh!

What got me thinking about PR is the apparent lack of PR help the big three auto executives got on their recent trip to Washington. True public relations experts step in with guidance before there’s a PR nightmare on their hands.

Perhaps someone should have thought ahead of time that maybe flying in on private jets to ask for financial assistance wasn’t the smartest move. Or perhaps if someone had prepared the execs with an intelligent justification for why they need the planes, the ensuing PR disaster could have been averted.

I was having this discussion with my husband last night, and he said, “What’s their justification? They have to run their companies into the ground? They can’t spend another minute in the air because they’ve got more money to lose?”

He’s probably right. In some cases, no amount of PR helps. Especially when reporters don’t call the right company in the first place.

Workin’ on it

Dan Loving and I had lunch today with Bryan Derreberry and Barby Jobe from the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. We congratulated them on having such a great annual dinner this year. Doris Kearns Goodwin was an undeniable hit.

So how do they top her next year (or even come close to having as good of a program)? Bryan said he’s already at work on that. He was also nice enough to ask for suggestions. So here goes.

How about a journalist? Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw or maybe my personal favorite, Maureen Dowd.

Journalists have front-row seats and backstage passes — literally and figuratively — to all kinds of news most of us only get in black and white or soundbites. They can offer behind-the-scenes stories and perspectives on events and world leaders.

With the right pick — hopefully someone more engaging than professorial — the chamber could get a speaker who appeals to Republicans and Democrats alike.

And for this journalist, that will be worth reporting.

River? What river?

I had the opportunity to go to lunch with Jeff Fluhr last week. He’s the new president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.

Naturally, we chatted about downtown. Fluhr sees the Arkansas River as a key component to downtown revitalization. That’s what the mayor says, too. In fact, everyone seems to bring up the river, but not many people seem to be doing much about it.

Take the Hyatt Regency Wichita. The city owns it, right? Why, then, was there extensive remodeling of the main restaurant and bar at the Hyatt, but still no incorporation of the river?

I’m sure it would have cost more, but this could have been the perfect opportunity to reposition the restaurant to overlook the river, preferably through huge picture windows. And an accompanying outdoor patio would have been a must. Done correctly, the restaurant and bar could lure Wichitans — not just travelers — to stop in.

Then again, even a river view might not attract me with prices like $22 for two less-than-generous pours of wine, which I was recently charged there.

Still, I think the remodeling was a lost opportunity.

I hope Jeff can work with the city to ensure we take advantage of the next one.