EQUITY BANK - DOSE OF LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW SERIES
Have you ever noticed that most business bankers seem to really understand just one thing, banking...and not much about business?
Makes sense, since most banks were built generations ago and now they’re often run by ‘caretakers’ not business builders.
The bankers at Equity Bank didn’t inherit a bank generations ago, they built one of their own. They know that building something takes expertise, vision and hard work.
In this special podcast series, Equity Bank celebrates the entrepreneurial and leadership values that create great organizations.
Thanks for listening to this special Entrepreneurial / Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership, brought to you by Equity Bank.
Jared Peterson began working at Vermillion in 2009 as a Sales Associate, specializing in sales of wire harness and custom cable for the aerospace and defense industries.
He quickly rose through the ranks and became Director of Manufacturing Operations in 2014. During that time, Jared worked closely with the former president and in 2017, the president retired, leaving Jared at the helm.
Jared went to Douglass High School and graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He is on the Executive Committee of the Wichita Manufacturers Association, where he is the publicity co-chair.
Vermillion specializes in custom-made cables and shielding built to meet a vast number of MIL-Spec requirements for applications in the Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as for General Aviation and OEM applications.
For over 50 years, Vermillion has provided the military and aerospace industry with high-quality harness assemblies.
Victor Lukic joined Great Plains Industries as president in November of 2012 following the unexpected death of Grant Nutter. Vic has extensive experience in companies which manufacture proprietary products. He has work in companies of varied sizes and in diverse industries from truck bodies to cabinets to pumps.
Vic has degrees in both Business Administration and Mechanical Engineering. Since arriving at GPI Vic has initiated lean programs, assembled an innovation team and led a re-branding effort. Vic really enjoys getting out and spending time with current and potential customers.
When Vic isn’t at work you may see him out running, attending the soccer games of son Jack or dance recitals of his daughter Victoria. Vic and his wife Julie enjoy traveling but mostly they love the local family life.
Founded in 1972 and privately-held, Great Plains Industries, Inc. is respected globally for its high-quality fuel transfer pumps, fuel meters, flow-meters and Industrial instrumentation for fluid transfer pump and liquid flow-meter markets around the world.
Great Plains Industries’ products are manufactured in the U.S.A. by more than 200 employees.
Great Plains Industries is headquartered in Wichita, Kan., with locations in Sydney and Mexico City.
Syndeo is a Kansas-based, independently owned human resources company.
The Syndeo family of companies is made up of Syndeo Outsourcing — a full-service human resources outsourcing (HRO) provider, Syndeo Payroll Solutions — a full-service payroll services provider, and Syndeo Staffing — a full-service recruiting and staffing services provider.
While all of these options are available to companies, these branches of Syndeo provide targeted solutions for every client.
Bill Maness. Entrepreneur. Dedicated. Loyal. Fiercely competitive. Demonstrative.
All very descriptive of this high performing bundle of energy, but don’t be fooled by his burly exterior.
Everyone who works at Syndeo knows he just a big ole softy.
Bill is committed to driving Syndeo’s growth into the future and looking forward to enjoying the ride getting there.
Bud Gates has served as Chairman and CEO of Easygates, LLC, from March 2007 to present. In addition, he serves as President and CEO of Gates Enterprises, Inc., 1985 to present.
Gates was owner and operator of Rent-A-Center and ColorTyme franchises from 1996 to 2006 and Pizza Hut franchises from 1985 to 2007. The company owned and operated Heroes Sports Bar and Grill in Wichita, Kansas from 1991 to present, and has owned and operated various other businesses in the past.
Mr. Gates served as Deputy Chief Executive of THORN Group, THORN EMI’s worldwide organization of rental companies which employed 20,000 people in 20 countries and he was a member of the THORN Executive Committee.
As Chairman and CEO of THORN Americas, Inc., 1992 to 1996, he was responsible for rental operations of THORN EMI plc in the Americas (including Rent-A-Center) and the Asia-Pacific region. He held the title of President of Rent-A-Center, Inc. in 1986 and added the title of CEO upon THORN EMI plc acquiring Rent-A-Center in 1987.
From 1979 to 1985, Mr. Gates was an executive of Pizza Hut, Inc., a Division of PepsiCo, Inc. He held various marketing roles within Pizza Hut, culminating in the role of Senior Vice President of Marketing.
Mr. Gates began his career with PepsiCo in its Wilson Sporting Good division in Chicago, IL in the Team Sports Group ultimately heading up the company’s athletic footwear business.
Mr. Gates received a B.S. cum laude with a major in mathematics and a minor in physics from the State University of New York (Albany). He received a Master of Education from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard University.
In 2002, he moved back to Wichita to work in his family’s business, Sasnak Management, where he is now the President. Sasnak owns and operates over 60 Carlos O’Kelly’s and Applebee’s across 10 states, along with two breakfast concepts in Wichita - The Good Egg and HomeGrown. Jon currently serves as co-chair of The Greater Wichita Partnership, and on the board of Intrust Bank and the CEO Forum.
Jon has served as the Chairman of Visioneering Wichita and has sat on the boards of the Wichita Children’s Home, United Way of the Plains, the YMCA, and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Jon and his wife, Lauren, have been married for 12 years and have five children: Emma, Olivia, David, Peter, and Austin.
Previously, Ms. Lovelady served as the Vice President of Prevention and Advocacy at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. Teresa has served on many taskforces, coalitions and committees including National Mental Health America, Visioneering Wichita, African-American Coalition, the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas, Wichita State University, Wichita Public Schools (several site councils and parent teacher organizations), Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS) statewide review of disparities in the child welfare system, and COMCARE in addressing needs of disadvantaged persons, particularly children.
Teresa has demonstrated leadership and excellence by being a team player willing to negotiate and mediate for “win/win” situations and serving as a positive role model within the community.
Ronnie graduated from Wichita State University in 1987 and worked for Baird, Kurtz & Dobson as a CPA for 5 years and as a controller for NPC, a local manufacturer, for 5 years.
Ronnie serves as a member of the Fairy Godmothers, a women’s community organization that provides scholarships for women at Wichita State University. She also currently serves as the treasurer for Kansas Global Trade Services and the assistant treasurer for the Ninnescah Sailing Association
Over the ensuing time frame, Ensignal has grown into sizeable regional Verizon Premium agent, with 94 locations in eight states.
The company’s primary market focus has always been in the rural markets of the west.
For strategic reasons, Ensignal has intentionally avoided putting store operations in Kansas. Current employee count is in the 350-365 range.
Dan believes success comes from having a strong and consistent focus on three key areas:
Knowledge is the most vital component of success. Knowledge of your industry, your product, your peer companies, and competitors is critical. Knowledge of acquisition targets, not only the company but the executives—their interests, their aspirations, their personalities…all these are critical. Knowledge of your employee’s abilities, where they need development, when they need confidence, when is the right time for them to “fail”. Failure is the best tool to teach leaders. Assist them in learning and understanding the difference between ego and ability.
Objectivity in decision making is the second component of success. Separating emotions, opinions and organizational politics away from decision making is difficult, but critical to maintaining successful organizations. Creating objectivity in decision making is difficult to do, and very difficult to maintain as organizations grow larger.
Ethics and Values is the final key. Knowledge can be gained through intensive learning and teaching. The ability to become objective in decision making can also be learned through example and consistency in decision making. Ethics and values, however, are deeper ingrained in personalities. Core beliefs of what is right versus wrong, fairness in dealing with delicate situations, and most importantly, the ability to acknowledge your own mistakes and shortfalls are the final piece to success. The inability of leaders to see, or even acknowledge their mistakes has led to many spectacular failures not only in business but when you look back at history, the same faults in world leaders have changed the course of the world.
Karyn Page is recognized at the local, state, and national level for her expertise on export promotion and export ecosystem development in both private and public sectors.
She consults small businesses and communities across multiple industries on trade strategy, advocacy, compliance, market entry, and identifying global opportunities.
Ms. Page currently serves as President and CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services, a full-service trade advisory firm, helping companies and cities leverage their capabilities and global reach.
Kansas Global was honored in 2017 with the Presidential Award for Export Service, recognizing four consecutive years of sustained commitment to export expansion that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs.
Ms. Page is a graduate of Georgetown University with a Global MBA and a graduate of Wichita State University with a BS in Business Administration, in international business and economics.
She is also a certified Global Business professional. As the current chair of Industry Trade Advisory Committee 9, a unique public-private partnership jointly managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of United States Trade Representative, she engages business leaders in formulating U.S. trade policy.
Ms. Page is also the chair of the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Freight Committee, 2016 - present. Ms. Page currently serves on the World Trade Council Board, Friends University - Global MBA Advisory Board, and the Wichita State University Management Department Advisory of the W. Frank Barton School of Business. She also serves on the Wichita Airport Advisory Board (2014-present) and is a member of the Greater Wichita Partnership’s Strategic Advisory Team on Economic Development, the State International Development Organization (SIDO), the Kansas International Trade Coordinating Committee, and Wichita Downtown Rotary.
In 2014, Ms. Page led the effort to create regional Export and Foreign Direct Investment plans including best-in-practice performance metrics. To date, through the plan’s hallmark export ecosystem, small businesses have achieved tens-of-millions of dollars in new exports and earned the region recognition as a top exporter in the nation.
Her agility to embrace change and harness the strengths of others allows her to execute on big ideas. She is a frequent guest speaker at universities, organizations, and conferences, and regularly works with media and elected officials on the nuances of international trade practice and policy.
She makes time to read to elementary students through Rotary’s Reading is Fundamental program.
Married to Mark Paolucci and mother to 20-year old daughter Kaitlynn, she enjoys time with family and friends – especially while in the kitchen or traveling.
Michelle Becker is the Founder & CEO of Profit Builders Inc. Founded in 1994, Profit Builders is an industry leader in Outsource Accounting specializing in a full platform of accounting services.
Profit Builders is proud to support leading Small to Mid-Size businesses across 40 states. Their areas of specialty include Restaurant, Health Care, Construction and Agriculture.
Profit Builders is known for working closing with business owners; becoming the eyes and ears for their clients so they can make effective & profitable decisions.
Michelle's career started at Pizza Hut Corporate where she worked in Real Estate Tax, Restaurant Accounting and finished her stint there as a Senior Budget Analyst. She worked part-time prior to starting PBI installing accounting systems in the Wichita area for Professional Software. Both of those opportunities have been very instrumental in building her entrepreneurial & leadership success story at Profit Builders.
Mr. Fee also serves as Director at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, Inc.
He has served as chairman for several organizations including the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, United Way, Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce.
He began his career with the family business upon graduating from KU in 1984.
Fee Insurance Group provides innovative solutions for individuals and businesses of all sizes regarding insurance, risk management, and benefits.
As a 3rd generation family-owned business committed to transitioning to the 4th generation, Fee Insurance Group understands the traditional values that are important to families and business.
Their culture is based on delivering a great customer experience with a personal touch in a high-tech world. They deeply know who they work for, and the delivery of value-based recommendations is what drives their success.
A native Kansan, Jeff first learned the excitement and perils of owning a business by growing up with a family farm business.
Jeff’s next experience came when he pursued a career in real estate and eventually opened Lange Real Estate.
In 1998, he and a partner entered the storage business. A few years later, he bought out his partner to become the sole owner of A Box 4 U, now RedGuard, a company that initially focused on providing temporary and mobile storage solutions that now has become the leading authority in blast-resistant buildings.
Jeff attributes his success to basic principles and values. Jeff demands that each team member and project be: Ethical, Passionate, Dedicated, and Professional. Jeff is a firm believer in teamwork, where each team member’s entrepreneurial spirit becomes a driving force for success.
For Jeff, it's all about leveraging each team member's strengths and talents to provide exceptional service.
Dr. Sheree Utash has served as president of Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) since 2015 and has overseen the transition of the college to the WSU Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology (WSU Tech).
Prior to that she served eight years at the college as vice president of academic affairs. With 6,500 students, WSU Tech is the largest technical college in Kansas and acts as managing partner for the National Center for Aviation Training.
Dr. Utash offers a unique blend of teaching, administrative and leadership experience in both higher ed and private industry. She has provided administrative oversight for the college's academic programs, with emphases in manufacturing, aviation, design, IT, specialized trades, health care and general education.
Dr. Utash has overseen faculty, grants management, adult literacy, academic planning and resource management. Her role involved the formation and leadership of the lead institution for the National Aviation Consortium, a $15 million grant project with direct working relationships with two-year colleges in five states. Additionally, Utash has managed and facilitated the college’s last self-study with its major accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, North-Central Association.
Utash earned her Ed.D Community College Leadership at National American University, a Master of Arts, Liberal Studies in Communication / Education / Sociology from Wichita State University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism / Marketing from Kansas State University.
Steve Werner is the CEO & Founder of Lawn Buddy, an on-demand lawn care service, that connects lawn care providers, "lawntrepreneurs", to homeowners, via a user-friendly app and website.
Werner says the technology has evolved into an operating system for lawn and snow-removal services, and it's starting to be used in other industries.
Werner describes his company and his leadership/entrepreneurship journey in this episode.
We explore how his time in the United States Marines has helped and hindered his progress.
This show is brought to you by our sponsor Equity Bank.
Scott Schwindaman has been president and CEO at Lubrication Engineers since 2007, having started as a laboratory technician in 1981 while he was still in college and working his way up through the ranks.
Today, he oversees a company that has more than 100 employees in the U.S. and a large network of independent consultants and distributors who sell LE products and services worldwide.
Since 1951, Lubrication Engineers has manufactured and distributed high-performance lubricants made of highly refined base oils and proprietary additives.
To complement its lubricants, LE offers a full line of lubrication reliability products and services. LE’s domestic facilities include a manufacturing facility, laboratory, warehouse and office in Wichita, Kan.; a sales and technical support office in Fort Worth, Texas; and warehouses in Knoxville, Tenn., and Las Vegas, Nev.
Throughout his time at the company, Scott’s hard work and initiative have propelled him from his original lab position to research assistant, R&D manager, quality control manager, assistant plant manager, plant operations manager, plant manager, and executive vice president.
He also serves as vice president of Alpha BioSystems, Inc., a small upstart company that manufactures all-natural, nontoxic products for improving soil health and yielding stronger crops and vegetation.
Scott recently finished his term as the 2017 chairman of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors. He founded and is a board member of the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. He is on the executive board of the Greater Wichita Partnership (GWP) and was instrumental in the formation of two Wichita business initiatives: the Entrepreneurial Task Force and the e2e Accelerator / Incubator. He is on the executive board of Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association (ILMA), serving as treasurer; and is a member of Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE).
Scott has a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Wichita State University and has completed master’s level business courses at WSU in addition to other executive business training.
He and his wife, Janet, have three grown children and seven grandchildren. Scott and his family raise, train and breed horses at their Cowskin Creek Clydesdale Farm in Goddard, Kan.
Clint Whitney is CEO and President of Superior Tool Service (STS) headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. STS began operations in 1987 and, today, serves more than 400 machine shops worldwide utilizing state-of-the-art CNC tool grinding machines to manufacture precision quality cutting tools.
Clint, from Clearwater, Kansas, began grinding tools for STS in 1998 and owns the company with his wife, Christie, and Buddy Harrison. All three work inside the company.
Clint has used his background of mechanic schooling and his apprenticeship of grinding as the catalyst to grow the company and seek out new services and products to offer.
Since his start of running the company in October 2014, they have added STS Supply, a distribution company, and STS Coatings, a PVD coating center, and STS Firearms, a firearm modification company.
With this expanded growth they have doubled the number of employees and sales. He believes using his passion for constant learning and pushing others out of their comfort zone, has contributed to their success. Visit SuperiorToolService.com for more information.
Julie Huber joined Equity Bank in January 2003 and currently oversees mergers and acquisition integration and major projects for the $4.0-billion bank in her role as Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
Julie began her banking career with Peoples Bank and Trust in McPherson, Kansas, and soon supervised retail, operations, compliance, training and security functions for Sunflower Bank over 8 years.
She has been a member of Equity Bank's senior leadership team since the bank's inception, serving roles in human resources, retail, finance, training, and compliance, as well as two years as Chief Risk Officer, 4 years as Chief Credit Officer, and the last two years in her current role.
Julie is an alumnus of McPherson College, with B.A. degrees in Business Administration and History and also earned an MBA from Baker University. She graduated from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking in 2006 and was honored by the Wichita Business Journal as a class member of “40 under 40” in 2008 and Women In Business in 2013.
Julie is a 2012 graduate of the Bank Leaders of Kansas (BLOK), sponsored by the Kansas Bankers Association.
Julie has previously served as President for the Andover Advantage Foundation in Andover, Kansas, and currently serves as a Board Trustee for McPherson College.
A restaurant operator to the core, Scott loves the sights, sounds and smells of a well-run restaurant.
Growing up in St. Louis, he got his start in the restaurant business at age 15 catering events for groups of two to 6000.
Paying his way through college by managing a steakhouse, he earned a degree in restaurant and hotel management. Redler moved to Minneapolis and then Washington, DC, to manage a 5-star restaurant.
Back in St. Louis, he launched his first restaurant as a sole proprietor—a quick-service Chinese food concept called Shanghai Charlie’s.
After selling that, he moved back to DC to serve as Executive Vice-President for the American Café. Scott eventually moved to Wichita, KS, accepting the position of Executive Vice President of a local restaurant group.
In 1997, Scott together with Bill Simon opened Timberline Steakhouse. In 2002,
Redler again partnered with Bill Simon and his brother Randy to launch Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.
Freddy's based in Kansas, has grown to more than 340 locations at last tally, and the entire chain generated $474.7 million in system-wide sales last year, creating $21.3 million in revenue for the home office—about $10 million of that as profit.
An experienced business owner and manager with an Executive MBA, B.J. has spent the last 18 years as the Director and ultimately President of a family-owned company.
Entrepreneurship runs in his blood. B.J. enjoys the challenges and has the skills to conduct business with the regulatory agencies overseeing the brewing industry.
He also brings extensive marketing and customer relations experience to Walnut River Brewing Co., as well as sales know-how.
He has been a successful fundraiser and, most importantly is passionate about business and beer.
B.J. has been honored in Wichita Business Journal’s 40 under 40, and his broad business horizon serves him well as Walnut River Brewing Co.’s Business Operator.
Knowing no one, living in a one-bedroom apartment and working at a fast-food restaurant, Rodney attended Wichita State, where he got involved in student life and a fraternity which eventually helped Rodney create a network and a place to call home. After graduating with Honors from WSU, Rodney chose to pursue the military instead of graduate school. Rodney did a short stint in the US Army and then returned to Wichita to begin a family and working on the IT industry.
Rodney has since moved on to own Cana Wine & Cocktails – craft cocktail and wine bar and Shift Auto Society – a country club for car guys, both in downtown Wichita, with plans set to acquire more commercial real estate in the near future in downtown. Rodney enjoys a challenge and continues to grow his side businesses while balancing out his day job helping customers leverage IT investments with business objectives.
Rodney went on to get his Masters of Management of Information Systems from Friends University and has been honored as a WBJ 40 under 40 and Wichita State Senior Honor Man.