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Liberal Business Recognized As “Business Of The Year”

KSCB News - March 16, 2016 11:47 am

The Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC) statewide network has announced the 2016 Existing, Emerging, and Exporting Businesses of the Year. Each of the eight Kansas SBDC regional centers have selected one emerging and one existing business for the award. One exporter will be recognized for the first time this year.

In total, 17 Kansas small businesses were recognized at a ceremony in Topeka on Tuesday, March 8. The businesses were selected from more than 2,000 businesses that received Kansas SBDC one-on-one business advising services in 2015.

"The selected businesses were careful consideration by our Kansas SBDC regional directors and consultants," said Greg Panichello, Kansas SBDC state director." Collectively, the KSBDC team believes these 17 small businesses are excellent examples of small business adaptation and success in challenging times."

Existing Businesses of the Year

DV Enterprises, LLC, Don & Vicky Brunkhardt, Liberal

Colby Glass & Sign Co., Inc., Rod Rodenbeck, Colby

Eric Fisher Academy, Inc., Eric and Mary Fisher, Wichita

B&P, Inc., Brett & Carly Fletcher, Holton

Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, Amber Haag, Emporia

The Gun Guys, Tim VanLeiden, Ottawa

CTe Learning, Steve Waddell, Olathe

Progressive Products, Inc., Todd Allison, Pittsburg

Emerging Businesses of the Year

Duck Salt, Matthew Deighton, Greensburg

Sake2me Sushi Rolls, LLC, Michael Huskey and Stacie Rupp, Hays

Sleeptopia, Kevin Kunz, Wichita

Brickhouse Antiques, Tom & Mary Norskov, Topeka

Chisholm Trail Outfitters, LLC, Craig Dodd, Hillsboro

Kids Calendar, Beth McKeon, Lawrence

Athletic Testing Solutions, David Kuluva and Eric Schroeder, Overland Park

Sleep Inn & Suites, Bill Michaud, Fort Scott

Exporting Business of the Year

Custom Storefronts, Inc., Jon Roberts, Olathe

Here is DV Enterprises LLC Success Story:

In the early 2000’s Vicky and Don Brunkhardt were looking for a change in careers. They wanted to be on their own, their own bosses, and they wanted to get back to something related to farming.

In 2004 they found themselves in the right place at the right time. They came upon an opportunity to purchase equipment from a recently closed landscaping business and a client list from a discontinued mowing business . With equipment and a customer list they opened DV Enterprises LLC in Liberal, Kansas, and were on their way.

To start their landscaping and mowing operation they had several challenges to overcome, not the least of which was the perception that lawn care companies are “side” or “hobby” jobs. As they successfully grew their customer base and worked on market perception this husband and wife team turned what was a 1 to 2 person operation into a business that had enough work to support a crew of 9 to 15 people in their first year.

Growing the business was second nature to both. Don’s Horticulture degree along with Vicky’s education degree and the various talents of their children made this team a natural. Just like the landscaping they tended, they were growing and growing with no end in sight.

In 2014 after ten years of rapid growth, both Don and Vicky experienced serious individual health scares. It was time to shift gears at DV. They would either need to sell the business, find a different way to manage the business, or close the doors.

To get help with these major decisions they contacted the Kansas SBDC at SCCC. Mike O’Kane, consultant at the Kansas SBDC at SCCC stepped in to assist. Regardless of what their next decision would be, they worked with Mike to assess their finances and the value of their business as it stood. They talked at length about management issues and how to ease the burden of daily operations off of Don and Vicky.

Vicky shared that the process was eye-opening for her and provided some great insight, namely:

“Our company was financially doing better than we ever thought.

DV is a strong company where we can say ‘No’ as some jobs just do not work well for our crew and align with our mission.

We do have something of value to sell. We have a good investment; one that is re-sellable when we are really ready to sell or dissolve our masterpiece!”

Don and Vicky have since hired their daughter Mindy full-time to assist with operations. They continue to grow, but are doing so in a way that helps them focus on their business and personal health.

When asked what advice they’d give to someone starting a business today, they shared,

“Get your education while young. It doesn’t have to be in the field of your business. Higher education just rounds out a person for success.

Evaluate yourself to see if you really are made of the stuff to be in business for yourself. And the best way I see that is through the KANSAS SBDC assistance. If I had started with the SBDC, I think we would have been ahead of the game eleven years later instead of wondering where we are going. Business "growing pains" are harder on a person when we are not expecting them. If we had the education of this phenomena, we could anticipate better or not possibly endanger the business as much when we are more knowledgeable.

A business plan is vital. Make one.

Keep evaluating your business yearly. Know more than just if you are in the red, but if you are making a profit.”

The Kansas SBDC will continue working the team at DV Enterprises to help them reach their next business goals – growth, value, and transition.

Secret to success: Have a business plan. Remember a family business takes a family to make it work.

 

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