Charlie’s PizzaTaco owners test cellphone battery chargers at each table

batterytwoWICHITA — The Shockers’ season may be over, but an incident that happened during one of the games has inspired an invention that is in the test phase and soon will go national.

A few weeks ago, Charlie’s PizzaTaco co-owner Tim Holmes says he observed a dilemma a customer was having in his restaurant near Central and Tyler.

“One day there was a young man watching the Wichita State game, and he was obviously fighting with his girlfriend via text message.”

Holmes says the customer’s phone was about to die, but he didn’t want to leave the restaurant. Nor did he want to further upset his girlfriend.

“He was kind of torn,” Holmes says. “So he asked me, ‘Do you have a charger that I could borrow?’”

Holmes thought it would a great idea to have a charger at every table so no customer ever has to choose between lingering over a meal and leaving in order to charge a phone.

His partner, David Hoffman, happens to own a company that manufactures cellphone batteries and sells accessories for phones to retailers nationally.

“We do about everything for a phone,” he says of Celltronix, which is part of Hoffco Brands in Golden, Colo.

Hoffman says his company is building a prototype and has some temporary devices at Charlie’s.

“I said, ‘Just put these out there, and get a reaction for me,’” Hoffman says.

“Basically what we’re doing right now is just testing the theory out,” Holmes says.

He says the device is a simple battery pack, which makes it portable.

“You don’t have to rewire your entire restaurant to do this project,” Holmes says.

There are three plugs in one charger for iPhones and Droids. The devices are attached to napkin holders.

The prototype batteries will be enclosed to prevent theft.

“Since I put them in, people just use the heck out of ’em,” Holmes says.

Read More »

PR News apologizes to Wichita State University and the Shockers

WICHITA — It was a day late, but PR News has apologized for suggesting through an e-mail to PR executives nationally that they can “score big” in the industry if they “Don’t be like Wichita State.”

“On behalf of PR News, I wish to apologize to Wichita State University and its many basketball fans and supporters across the country for the reference to the university in our March 26 email solicitation,” wrote Diane Schwartz, senior vice president and group publisher for PR News in what appears to be an e-mail blast to the same people who received the initial e-mail on Wednesday.

“The subject line was inappropriate and reflected poor judgment on our part. We have taken steps to ensure such statements made in our email solicitations will not happen again,” Schwartz wrote. “Thank you for understanding that mistakes happen, even to those who serve the PR trade. We are humbled by the incident and appreciate your continued support.”

Late Wednesday evening, Schwartz also sent a note to Barth Hague, WSU’s associate vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer. She said, in part, “I and my team have the utmost respect for your university — and the Shockers –and please understand that we own up to this mistake in judgment.”

The mass apology was sent Thursday morning.

“I find it acceptable,” Hague says. “I know that others who have been talking to me from outside of the organization thought it was weak.”

Read More »

PR News takes ‘cheap shot’ at the Shockers

scoreUPDATED — In a bid for more subscribers through a national e-mail blast on Wednesday, PR News touted its “expert opinions” on communications and crisis management, among other things, through what a Wichita State University spokesman calls a “cheap shot” at the Shockers.

The PR group now needs a little crisis management help of its own.

The e-mail, which was about how to “score big” in the business, has a subject line that says “Don’t be like Wichita State.”

“Really, that’s the approach you’re going to take to generate business?” asks WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser. “It’s just a marketing attempt gone awry. Is it the end of the world? No. But it’s unfortunate.”

His day began with a couple of e-mails from his counterparts at Wake Forest University and Princeton University alerting him to the slam against the school and its beloved Shockers.

“And, yes, I am unsubscribing from their distribution list,” one said after saying how much the slam annoyed him.

It’s a sentiment others locally and nationally are echoing.

“We think this approach is mean-spirited and beneath contempt,” wrote Barth Hague, WSU’s associate vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer, in an e-mail to PR News about playing on the Shockers’ “heartbreaking loss.”

Read More »

You don’t say

fan“I don’t sleep very well, so about 3 o’clock in the morning, I got up and googled fans.”

– Realtor and die-hard WSU fan Cindy Carnahan on the popular WSU fans (the kind you cool yourself with) she created

Shock Top & WuShock: like beer & pretzels

This sign at R&J Discount Liquor near College Hill is an example of how Shock Top and WuShock have joined to promote both their brands.

This sign at R&J Discount Liquor near College Hill is an example of how Shock Top and WuShock have joined to promote both their brands.

WICHITA – Shock Top and WuShock are like beer and pretzels: They’re not an official combination, but they go awfully well together.

When Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top wheat beer debuted in 2007, House of Schwan’s Pam Irish called it “the very unofficial beer of WSU Shockers.”

While it’s still not the school’s official beer – most colleges, of course, don’t have one – WuShock is now used in Shock Top promotions here and elsewhere.

“We are fortunate enough to be one of the ambassadors for Wichita State athletics,” Irish says of the wholesale company, where she’s special events director.

“It’s been the most rewarding partnership I’ve ever been involved with. They’re just great partners.”

Before the Shock Top name debuted, Anheuser-Busch had a specialty beer called Spring Heat Spiced Wheat that was so popular the company decided to rename it and keep it year round.

Shock Top was one of about five possibilities Anheuser-Busch sent to wholesalers to see what they thought. House of Schwan lobbied hard for Shock Top, and it won.

Read More »

You don’t say

“In an unrelated note, Gary Parrish today announced his candidacy for mayor of the city of Wichita.”

– Attorney Lyndon Vix’s Facebook post about the CBSSports.com commentator having WSU beat Creighton in the Final Four and then KU for the championship

Cybertron International to open Oklahoma IT office in first regional expansion

WICHITA — Kansas, Egypt and Oklahoma all have something new in common.

Each is home to Cybertron International, a Wichita-based computer manufacturer and IT service provider that’s now expanding into Edmond.

“This is our first regional expansion,” says Bill Ramsey, chief technology officer.

“We chose Edmond because it’s a pretty up-and-coming area in Oklahoma City,” Ramsey says. “It’s a fast reach to any part of that city.”

Ramsey says Cybertron is one of the largest computer manufacturers in Kansas and one of the top 15 in the country. Ramsey’s three partners, Ahmed Abdelaziz, Shadi Marcos and Emad Mekhail, met at Wichita State University and founded the company in 1997. It now has about 90 employees, 80 of whom are in Wichita.

Ramsey became a partner two years ago when the business acquired his company, the Bill Guy Technology Solutions. With the acquisition, Cybertron began offering IT services. That’s what the Edmond office will do.

“Oklahoma is our first stop, basically,” Ramsey says.

He says the company is wanting to develop a repeatable process for starting new offices.

“We have plans for future expansion,” Ramsey says. “This was the one that made the most sense initially.”

Read More »

You don’t say

“Joe, you’re talking on it.”

– A friend’s comment to WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser, who searched his pocket for his cellphone while he was talking on it

You don’t say

Wichita State’s #31, Ron Baker, scores career-high 31 points as Shockers go 31-0 on 3-1.”

Angie Elliott of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, sharing with colleagues what headline she dreams of seeing in The Wichita Eagle on Sunday

Outreach Inc. seeks site for new Wichita Meal Packaging Center

UPDATED — Outreach Inc. an Iowa-based nonprofit that organizes volunteers to pack meals for the hungry, is on a tight deadline to open its new Wichita Meal Packaging Center.

First, though, it has to find space for it.

“We’re getting to that point of having our location where it will be a fixed base where people can come,” says Rick McNary, vice president of strategic partnerships.

Outreach Inc. has been operating in Kansas for a year and a half without its own space.

“Wichita will serve as a hub for us to do our mobile meal packagings,” McNary says. “The Wichita base will be able to supply … the Midwest.”

McNary says he is seriously considering three Wichita sites but is open to others. The building needs to be at least 10,000 square feet and have ample parking. He says he’d like the space to be near Wichita State University or downtown.

“The challenge with downtown is finding a facility that would have the adequate parking because we’ll be bringing in thousands of volunteers.”

He anticipates 15,000 people will come to pack meals in the new center’s first year.

Read More »