Bud Gates announces three new Easygates franchises nationally

WICHITA — Three new Easygates lease-to-own franchises have opened nationally this month.

Bud Gates, who is chairman and CEO of the company, announced the new Easyhome stores for Roanoke, Va., Aurora, Ill., and Essex, Md.

“The owners of these franchises are experienced and successful business men,” Gates said in a release. “We are pleased to
partner with them. They will bring their commitment to customer service and overall business savvy to their stores, and
be a major plus to our U.S. franchise community, offering our unique services to even more customers in Virginia, Illinois and Maryland.”

This makes 44 Easyhome stores nationally. Gates is the master franchisor for Easyhome in 36 states. He operates some of the stores and franchisees have others.

Gates started Easygates in 2007. Previously, he was chairman and CEO at Rent-A-Center and THORN Americas.

Ghost signs disappear from former Cox Produce building but will reappear

WICHITA — Almost two decades after purchasing the former Cox Produce building in Old Town, Marcey and Gary Gregory are finally giving the building the facelift they feel it deserves.

“We really love that building, and we just felt like she needed a little TLC,” says Marcey Gregory, the mayor of Goddard.

The building is home to First Gear, among other businesses. The Gregorys sold the business earlier this year, and new owner Greg Reed had a new First Gear sign painted on the building. Marcey Gregory says she and her husband liked how the new sign looked and felt confident enough in the painter, Kerry Unrein Painting & Signs, to repaint the ghost signs still legible on the building.

Ghost signs are older, faded signs still visible on buildings or ones from the past that become newly exposed on buildings. The Gregorys have had the ghost signs, such as ones advertising fresh fruit and produce, painted over on their building. Now they’re going to have the same parts of the building freshly painted with new letters.

“It’s going to say the same thing,” Marcey Gregory says. “It’s improving the look of it.”

Though there are many city codes that protect historic properties such as this 1907 building, there are no codes that address ghost signs.

“Yes, they are historic, but it’s up to the property owner if they maintain them, how they maintain them or if they want to get rid of them,” says Kathy Morgan, a senior planner with the city.

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Jared Sprole’s Arcady Capital to lease space from Bud Gates at the Polo Club Office Park

WICHITA — When Bud Gates last week told Have You Heard? he was moving his Easygates office to the Polo Club Office Park near 13th and Rock Road, he said he would have enough room to lease to a tenant as well.

It turns out that Jared Sprole and his Arcady Capital will be taking that space.

Currently, the private equity group is in a small office at the Remington Place Executive Park on 21st Street between Webb and Greenwich.

“We’ve really grown out of that space,” Sprole says of his more than 2-year-old company.

He says he’ll use 910 square feet of Gates’ new space, which will allow the company office and conference space and room to grow.

Arcady also has an Overland Park office where Sprole’s partner, Ron Stier, works.

Sprole says he thinks the new Wichita office will be enough room for the company for the next two or three years.

“This fits the bill.”

Two east-side business offices to move

WICHITA — A couple of businessmen are moving their east-side offices, but not far.

Bud Gates is moving his Easygates office from the Tallgrass Executive Park at 22nd and Rock Road to the Polo Club Office Park near 13th and Rock Road.

“We just ran out of space,” Gates says. “We’ve got people in closets over here.”

He says he had been looking to lease another space. In the process, he came across a Tallgrass building to buy.

The Easygates office currently is about 2,900 square feet and is moving to about 4,600 square feet next month. Gates says the new office will offer a lot more storage room in addition to more office space.

Gates is the master franchisor for Easyhome lease-to-own stores in 36 states. He says there are 38 stores under his umbrella – 17 stores that he operates and 21 that are franchises.

“We’re just kind of clicking along,” Gates says. “We probably would like to grow 10 stores per year.”

He says he’ll lease about 900 square feet of his new building to a tenant.

“I can’t reveal that one yet.”

Further east, Paul Jackson is moving his Vantage Point Properties within the Waterfront.

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Creative Rhino to move from New York to Wichita

rhinoWICHITA — Ryan Gates is just the sort of young talent that Wichita civic leaders are always talking about trying to keep here.

Now, after being gone 15 years, the film and television producer is returning home.

He’s bringing Creative Rhino, a video and film production company that also offers online and new media viral marketing, with him.

“I never had the whole, ‘I’m never coming back!’ ” Gates says.

He did, though, have “that young, idyllic dream of New York City.”

Creative Rhino originally was based in San Francisco, then New York state.

For the last two years, Gates and his wife, Kathryn Van Steenhuyse, have taken their work on the road.

“We’re what you call digital nomads,” Gates says. “As long as we have an Internet connection, good cell phone reception and a major airport, we can operate from anywhere.”

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Bud Gates to bring Easyhomes to Wichita


WICHITA — For the first time, Bud Gates of Easygates is bringing two of his Easyhome stores to Wichita.

He has eight others elsewhere, including stores in the Kansas City area and Salina.

The stores sell, lease or lease to own home furnishings, electronics and appliances.

The two here will be in the former KenMar shopping center at 13th and Oliver, which is now called Providence Square, and on Pawnee near Broadway in front of Wal-Mart.

The stores will be about 5,000 square feet each.

The one down south will be in a new building, which Larry Cook of Cook Construction is building. Construction has just begun.

The other store, which Coast to Coast Builders is preparing space for, should be ready within a few weeks.

“We’re very excited to be going in there because of the work they are doing and the development they are doing around that center,” says Chris Prater, president of sales and finance for Easygates.

He says the redevelopment of that center is part of what attracted Easyhome.

Prater says there are no other plans for more Easyhomes here yet, but he says, “We will most likely do some more here.”

BG Bolton’s closes; Jose Pepper’s to open


Businessman Bud Gates’ “baby” is no more.

“This is the lousiest feeling on one of the best days I’ve ever had,” Gates says of closing his namesake BG Bolton’s Sports Grill today.

He sold the business to Kansas City-based Jose Pepper’s, a chain of nine Mexican restaurants.

“There’s so much to be happy about,” Gates says. “But it was my baby. It does have my initials and the town I grew up in.”

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