Daily Archives: Aug. 1, 2012

Envision CEO is out after less than six months on the job


UPDATED — Less than six months after becoming Envision’s president and CEO, Frank Clepper is gone.

Former board member and interim CEO John Marstall says Clepper is “off pursuing some other personal activities.”

Marstall says he won’t discuss Clepper’s departure further because it’s a personnel matter.

“I really couldn’t respond.”

Clepper couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh, who is vice chairman of Envision’s board, says Clepper’s departure is a setback.

“Well, it presents a little bit of a challenge for us, and obviously these changes create some turmoil and uncertainty,” he says. “But we have a great mission, and we have a lot of committed leadership to our mission, and I believe we’ll survive. But it is a challenge.”

In addition to serving the blind and low-vision community through services and education, Envision is the second-largest employer of blind and low-vision people nationally. Envision Industries has a number of production and distribution divisions.

Marstall is an accountant who just came off the Envision board, where he served for 13 years, including three as chairman.

“The board is real committed to finding a long-term, permanent, highly qualified CEO, so I’ve agreed to serve until that person can get on board.”

A source close to the situation says Clepper recently began a corporate restructuring. Marstall says he doesn’t know anything about that.

“I’ve been here two days, and I’m trying to learn what has been transpiring,” he says.

Unruh was aware Clepper had a restructuring plan.

“We hadn’t seen it yet, so that wasn’t a factor. Frank just wanted to experience other opportunities.”

Marstall says Envision is a “very solid operation.”

“We are financially strong and solvent.”

In spring 2011, longtime Envision CEO Linda Merrill-Parman announced her retirement due to health reasons.

Unruh says the board took its time replacing Merrill-Parman, but it won’t now.

“I would like to move fairly quickly, so I think we need to get it in gear and get after it.”















Great Plains Ventures and J. Van Sickle & Co. ready to kick off new mixed-use development with 208-unit apartments

Jason Van Sickle, Susayn Brandes and Marque Peer are ready to break ground on the first phase of a new 60-acre development at Ventures Business Park.

WICHITA — Great Plains Ventures president Susayn Brandes likes to joke that her need for a soda and a tank of gas is spurring a new 60-acre development at K-96 and Oliver.

“I really just wanted a QuikTrip on Oliver so I could get a Diet Coke and some gas,” she says.

What she’s actually getting is a whole lot more.

Brandes and her brother, Greats Plains Ventures vice president of development Marque Peer, and developer Jason Van Sickle and his J. Van Sickle & Co. are partnering for a multiuse development on the northeast corner of the intersection that will include apartments, a hotel, office and retail. They first announced the project a year ago but now are about to break ground.

Great Plains Ventures is the holding company for three manufacturing firms, two of which are at Ventures Business Park on the northeast corner of K-96 and Oliver.

Brandes and Peer’s father, the late Charlie Peer, purchased what was then an 80-acre property more than three decades ago to give his company room to grow. Over the years, the company sold off some lots but decided against selling more.

“It just seemed to me that we wanted to be in more control of how this developed out,” Brandes says.

She met Van Sickle at a board meeting and talked to him about doing a study of the best uses for the property.

Van Sickle then presented her with a plan that started with apartments.

“Initially, I was kind of like, ‘Really?’” Brandes says. Then she says “it really started making sense to me.”

Construction is set to start Sept. 3 with an upscale 208-unit apartment complex.

“We wanted to create more 24-hour population density out there,” Van Sickle says.

Read More »