Category Archives: Kansas City

Envision closes Kansas City plant, lays off 30 employees while restructuring

WICHITA — Envision has closed a Kansas City manufacturing plant and laid off 21 people there and nine in Wichita, but new president and CEO Michael Monteferrante says he’s instituting a restructuring that will position the nonprofit to flourish.

“Obviously, it’s a very difficult and painful situation to lay off employees, especially blind (employees),” he says. “Sometimes it takes a very tough decision.”

Monteferrante says the government’s sequestration “has caused a reduction of revenue of about 36 percent at Envision, which is a tough situation because 92 percent of our revenue is generated through the United States military.”

Although Envision has done what Monteferrante calls a “magnificent job” in expanding services for the blind and visually impaired, he says, “What we’ve done is we’ve remained very one dimensional on our revenue stream, which is making bags for the military.”

Envision manufactures a variety of plastic bags.

“We have to focus on diversification,” Monteferrante says. “We’re not going to be so dependent on the government.”

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Mattress Hub expands in Kansas City again

WICHITA — Wichita-based Mattress Hub is continuing its rapid expansion in the Kansas City area.

“We’re opening a store in Shawnee this weekend,” Ryan Baty says.

He and Mark Barrientos founded the company in 2008. With the new Shawnee store and one that will follow in Olathe in the first week of 2013, the chain will have 23 stores in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

The first two Kansas City-area stores were in Overland Park. Baty says he’s working on a fifth in Johnson County but doesn’t have a lease signed so he doesn’t want to say where yet.

“Kansas City’s a big mattress retail market,” Baty says. “It’s dominated by Nebraska Furniture Mart and Mattress Firm.”

Still, he’s projecting to do about a dozen stores there in the next two or three years.

“We feel like there’s room to come in and grab some market share,” Baty says. “We just feel like there’s room for a different customer experience in Kansas City.”

Baty says the company had double-digit growth in 2012, and he’s predicting big growth in 2013 as well. It won’t be outside the company’s three-state area, though.

“We have a pretty narrow focus right now on where we’re trying to maximize our growth,” Baty says. “We have some opportunities we’re going to try to capitalize on.”

Panera Bread isn’t coming to Andover yet

WICHITA — Andover residents often wish for more restaurants in their backyard, and Panera Bread is tops on that list for some.

Is there a chance it’ll happen?

“I suspect it’ll be as soon as they have a daytime population,” says Panera franchisee Randy Simon.

Simon says a Panera needs to see 800 people a day “in order to be economical at all.”

“If you go into areas that don’t have much daytime population, it is very difficult to try to survive.”

The problem with Andover, Simon says, is so many residents drive to Wichita for work.

“We do 85 percent of our business between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Simon says.

Andover residents shouldn’t give up hope, though.

“I continue to talk to people out there,” Simon says.

Simon is working with his Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers partners — his brother, Bill, and Scott Redler — on two new Kansas City area restaurants.

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Mitchell Theatres acquires Belton Cinema 8 in Belton, Mo., for its seventh theater group

WICHITA — Mitchell Theatres has acquired its seventh chain of theaters in the region, which means it now has 52 screens.

The Mitchell family’s acquisition of Belton Cinema 8 in Belton, Mo., marks its first foray into the Kansas City area, but it’s not likely to be its last.

“There could be more opportunities up there,” says Brian Mitchell.

He operates the business with his siblings, Brent Mitchell, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas.

The Mitchell family is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton five years ago, and Brian Mitchell says lessons from farming are proving beneficial in the theater business.

“It’s kind of the farm concept,” he says of managing expenses by buying carefully and doing remodeling and other work themselves.

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IMA Financial Group sues former president of its Kansas City and Topeka offices and Lockton Inc. over breach of contract

WICHITA — IMA Financial Group has filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court against Douglas Anderson, former president of IMA’s Kansas City and Topeka offices, and his new company, Lockton Inc.

Anderson didn’t return a call for comment, but the lawsuit states he worked for Lockton years ago then went to another company and then to IMA in late 2006.

According to the lawsuit, in late 2009, Anderson signed a confidentiality agreement that included a two-year nonsolicitation clause.

“About one year after entering into the Agreement, Anderson began to orchestrate a scheme to resign from IMA, join Lockton, and solicit IMA’s clients to Lockton,” the suit says.

The suit further says that since Anderson left in January, at least two IMA clients canceled relationships with the company to follow Anderson to Lockton.

Earlier this month, Have You Heard? reported that the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association is ending its 18-year relationship with IMA.

It’s not clear if that is one of the relationships the suit refers to.

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Former With A Twist owners opening a fine-dining restaurant in Kansas City area

WICHITA — When Susan Thorne-Thomsen and Amy Martin closed their With A Twist gourmet food store at Bradley Fair in 2003, Thorne-Thomsen said she and her husband were moving to the Kansas City area to open a fine-dining restaurant.

Then, as Thorne-Thomsen puts it, life intervened. She and Carl Thorne-Thomsen had three children in quick succession, which kept them busy. They also decided they might need more fine-dining experience before opening their own place.

Now, they’re ready.

The two are opening Story, an upscale-but-casual contemporary American cuisine restaurant, at the Village shopping center at 71st Street and Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kan. That’s about 10 minutes from the County Club Plaza in Kansas City.

There are a couple of meanings behind the name.

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Freddy’s Frozen Custard to expand to Kansas City area

WICHITA — The owners of Freddy’s Frozen Custard are making their first foray into in the Kansas City area.

President Bill Simon says there will be a company-owned Freddy’s in Overland Park near 135th and Metcalf by spring.

It will be the first of about eight stores the company plans to bring to the greater Kansas City area.

“We’ve been wanting to get . . . to the Kansas City area for a long time,” Simon says.

The 3,500-square-foot, free-standing Overland Park Freddy’s will be similar to the one in Wichita in front of the Warren Theatre at 13th and Greenwich.

On Thursday, the new Freddy’s in Derby will open in a strip center in front of Target at Derby Marketplace at 71st South and Rock Road.

This Freddy’s, which is the sixth company store, will be 2,500 square feet and have a drive-through.

And the 30th Freddy’s franchise store will open in Hays on Monday, which brings the total number of Freddy’s stores to 36.