Category Archives: Small business

Two area companies named Exporter of Year finalists

Bunting Magnetics of Newton and Global Parts in Augusta are among five finalists for the 2012 Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award, the Kansas Department of Commerce announced.

The three other finalists are Bergkamp of Salina, Pitsco of Pittsburg and Tank Connections of Parsons.

Winners will be announced June 12 at the annual Kansas Calvary Encampment.

Fifteen Kansas companies were evaluated in the selection of award finalists.

They were evaluated on a number of measures, including number or percentage increase in jobs because of international activities, use of international distributors and joint ventures established.

Budget Blinds boss on TV reality show next week

Budget Blinds of Hutchinson will celebrate the appearance of the company’s CEO on the TV show “Undercover Boss” with a viewing party.
Chad Hallock, who co-founded the California-based company with his brother and three friends, will appear on the CBS reality show at 7 p.m. April 13.
Linda Pinsker of Budget Blinds in Hutchinson said her business at 2409 Main is inviting customers and business colleagues to watch the episode at a party in the showroom.
For more information, contact Pnsker at 620-662-7500.

New stakeholders for newspapers

The state of New Hampshire has apparently decided to start underwriting newspaper ventures. The piece foretells other governmental ventures into our industry, where ad revenues continue to make shareholders nervous.

Many distinct sides to this equation: Can democracy prosper without detailed coverage of its inner workings? Does anyone care any more? Do news consumers want to be affirmed, rather than informed? Can the best interests of readers be preserved with government as an equity stakeholder in a journalistic organization?

Is it a good idea to have government as a stakeholder in journalism? Your thoughts?

Is customer service dead?

It happens more often than not anymore. You pick up the phone to call a business. Almost any business. There’s a flat monotone on the other end.

“Who? He’s not here.”

“Well, do you expect him back today.”

“I don’t know.”

“Can I leave a message?

“What is it?”

“Well, can I have his voice mail?”

“I suppose.”

We laugh sometimes at the Eagleland Businessplex about the opposite – the bright voice proclaiming that “It’s a great day at Willie’s Widget World.”

But with the death of customer service apparently at hand, those bright voices become less funny. And fewer.

I give it six months until “What do you want?” becomes the standard receptionist’s line in Wichita.

Saturn dealer Davies in Wall Street Journal

Scott Davies, owner of Saturn of Wichita, was one of three Saturn dealers featured by the Wall Street Journal in a story today.

A big part of the story is about dealers who are playing up Roger Penske’s plan to buy the brand, and General Motors gentle admonition to them not to so as to not take “the spotlight off the brand itself,” the article says.

You can read more about Davies and the story here.

Getting to know Small Business Awards finalists

sbawardsI hope you got a chance to see the features the business staff produced today on the seven finalists for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards.

The articles were a great look into some of the shining examples of the businesses that make our community so great.

The chamber has a couple of events coming up where you can hear first-hand the stories of these businesses. All seven finalists will be featured at Wednesday’s Sunrise Scrambler (7:30 a.m. at the Petroleum Club) and at the Awards Lunch on May 6.

As an added bonus, Wichita State men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall will be the keynote speaker at the lunch. If you would like to attend either event, give the chamber’s Angie Elliott a shout at 316-268-1129.

FireWire’s 25 seconds of fame

Winfield entrepreneur Todd Gentry’s FireWire got a plug on NBC’s Today show.

The flexible device used for grilling kabobs was featured as part of the Today contributor Lou Manfredini’s more than 3-minute-long spotlight on new products at the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago.

Gentry, CEO and founder of Inno Labs, FireWire’s maker, wasn’t in the video report.

But his company’s product got a 25 seconds of national exposure.


Super Bowl takes an economic hit

You know times are tough when ticket scalpers are having trouble getting what they call value for Super Bowl tickets.

The economic crisis has hit the Super Bowl, according to this article, with premium ticket prices down 20 percent, parties eliminated and scaled back.

What’s next? Scalper layoffs?

Watch ‘NewsHour’ segment from Wichita

As Carrie Rengers wrote last week and Bill Wilson mentioned on the blog yesterday, PBS’s “NewHour with Jim Lehrer” was in Wichita to do a story on burdens of health care on small businesses and their employees.

It was a well-done piece. A significant amount of the story focused on Tillie’s Flower Shop.

From owner Ken Denton:

For us, for example, the people that had the insurance here are people that really need it. And it’s the older group and it’s a group that utilizes it more than anyone else. And it drives the cost up. And the young people, who don’t necessarily need it, drop out.

If you missed the program, you can view it on the PBS Web site. Here’s a link to the video.

A third Jimmy John’s … I think

My plan was to craft a story for Saturday outlining the timeline for a third Jimmy John’s at 517 N. Hillside, near Wesley Medical Center.

However, after being stonewalled in Chicago, all I can tell you is that I THINK Bushwood Investments plans to open the third version of its popular sub shop. My colleague Denise Neil, knower of all things restaurant, tells me an April open date is what’s being bandied about.

Why so vague? A call to Bushwood’s corporate office Friday afternoon for details elicited a terse “We don’t give out that information,” followed by an admonition to submit all questions in writing.

I guess free publicity isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

Small businesses say they are doing well

Despite a prevailing view among small business that the economy is poor, a majority of professionals say their business is going well, according to a survey by Opinion Research Corp.

The survey found that 65 percent of small-business professionals rated their own business conditions as “good,” compared with 32 percent who rated them “poor.” But only 27 percent of small-business professionals rated the economy “good,” while 71 percent said the current economic conditions were “poor.” Half of respondents said they expect the economy to be good a year from now, BtoB reports.

Ty’s Diner on the market

One of the best hamburger joints in Wichita is for sale.

Ty’s Diner, 928 W. 2nd, could be sold in a matter of days, according to owner Richard Diamond. It went on the market in a weekend Eagle classified ad, inviting only serious inquiries.

There have been a bunch of those inquiries, Diamond said, judging by the number of messages on his cell phone. Diamond said he didn’t want to elaborate on the plans to sell the diner until a deal is done.

For those of you who don’t know, Ty’s is a great step back in time for those of us old enough to remember what a real old-style hamburger and fries were like.

And if my doctor, Art Windholz, is in the audience, move along, sir. Nothing to see here. This entire blog post is a figment of your imagination.