Michael Monteferrante named Envision CEO

WICHITA — The fixer is back.

Michael Monteferrante, the turnaround specialist who first came to Wichita in 2003 as CEO of Optima Bus, is returning as the new president and CEO of Envision.

“It’s a nonprofit, and we didn’t know if someone with as entrepreneurial spirit as Michael has would want to make the leap to the nonprofit world,” says Sam Williams, chairman of Envision’s board.

“This opportunity I’m looking at completely different than I have at previous opportunities of employment,” Monteferrante says. “I can’t be more excited than to take all the things I’ve learned over the years and apply it to a company that helps people.”

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.

“I’ve always been extremely passionate about the mission of Envision,” Monteferrante says.

He still remembers his first tour of the Envision plant on Water Street years ago.

“I could not tell who was blind and who wasn’t, and I just said, ‘Wow. I want to be a part of this. This is one of the most inspirational plant tours I’ve had.’”

Monteferrante sees bigger things for Envision, though.

“While it has grown – it’s grown tremendously over the years – I believe that the boundaries of growth for the mission of Envision … are endless,” he says. “I’ve always felt that the mission at Envision could be more than a Wichita-based, Kansas-based situation.”

Read More »

Overland Charters and Custom Lawn Service to have new corporate headquarters at K-96 and Hillside

UPDATED — After years of sacrificing by working out of a mobile office, Kelly Fankhauser is ready to build a new headquarters for his OverlandCharters.com and Custom Lawn Service businesses.

“We’re building a heck of a nice building,” he says.

Fankhauser bought two acres at K-96 and Hillside across the interstate from the Kansas Humane Society five years ago. While saving to build the headquarters, he’s been running his businesses out of temporary space there.

His new 14,000-square-foot building will have a two-story office and four service bays.

Fankhauser expects it will take five months to build.

“We are going to continue to grow quite a bit after completion,” he says. “This is a pretty high-dollar location for this type of business.”

OverlandCharters.com, which opened in 1997, charters motor coaches. Custom Lawn Service, which started in 1977, does lawn fertilization, weed control and tree and shrub care.

Fankhauser likes being along K-96 for the visibility.

“I guess the main reason why I roughed it without a shop facility is I just didn’t want to be off the beaten track where nobody knew where I was.”

MillyRose Photography & Design is now a home-based business

WICHITA — The new Salon Lush that’s opening at Occidental Plaza at Second and Main streets is taking the former MillyRose Photography & Design space.

Taci Fast still has her photography business, but she’s decided to base it out of her home.

Fast is traveling, so she filled us in on what’s going on via e-mail.

“Since my focus is predominately fine art lifestyle photography, I found the studio model was not fitting my needs,” she says. Almost all “of my shoots are location based, and with a website serving as my storefront, the studio is just not necessary for a successful business.”

Fast liked opening for Final Friday, but she did that only every two or three months.

With less overhead, Fast says she’ll be able to be more generous with causes like Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas, the Kansas Humane Society and her own charity, Angel Kisses, which gives free portraits to families who are facing critical illnesses.

Fast says photography is competitive and has changed substantially because of the digital revolution.

“I think the secret is to just keep evolving to stay relevant and reinvent yourself every couple of years!”

South-side hair stylist vies for world record

WICHITA — Patrick Lomantini has been cutting hair only two years, but he’s already working on a record.

A Guinness World Record, in fact.

Lomantini is planning to cut hair for 72 hours straight starting at 9 a.m. on Aug. 19.

He’ll work out of his Lomantini The Salon at 1812 S. Seneca near d’Sozo.

“I’ve got a lot of friends and probably (will) drink a lot of Red Bull,” Lomantini says of his strategy.

He got the idea for the record and contacted Guinness in New York.

Lomantini says he was told that to set a record, a feat must be measurable, breakable and verifiable.

“Nobody else has done it, so I’m setting the record,” he says of cutting hair.

The haircuts will all be free.

Read More »

Michael Monteferrante to become CEO of Texas-based Future Food

mmf2WICHITA — Seven years after coming to Wichita to lead Optima Bus, Michael Monteferrante is leaving to work for the same company that used to own Optima.

American Capital has hired Monteferrante to be CEO of Future Food in Carrollton, Texas.

“It’s pretty interesting,” Monteferrante says of his career path. “From subway cars to locomotives to buses to real estate to food.”

Monteferrante was with Optima until American Capital sold it in 2006. He then joined Occidental Management as CEO.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” says Occidental chairman Gary Oborny.

He expected this to happen, though.

“Just because of his . . . business experience it would be difficult to keep him in Wichita very long,” Oborny says. “Not a lot of companies can compete with those larger national companies when they come calling. You can’t match what they offer.”

Future Foods has two major brands: Santa Barbara Bay, which includes spreads and dips, and Salads of the Sea, which has things like “krab” dip.

Read More »