Biz 100

Biz 100 2017

Anyone can denounce the status quo. Biz 100 honorees have the power to change it. Welcome to Biz 417’s second annual listing of the most powerful and influential business leaders in 417-land.

By Ettie Berneking, Adrienne Donica, Rose Marthis, Claire Porter and Savannah Waszczuk

Nov 2017

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New This Year
Power Plays
Photo by Brandon Alms
Creator and Founder, Solely Jolie; Program Director, The Fairbanks;  Board Chair and Founder, Drew Lewis Foundation; Program Director, The Northwest Project; Instructor of Kinesiology, Missouri State University
Drury University, B.A. in exercise physiology • Adelphi University, M.A. in exercise physiology
Amy Blansit is more than an entrepreneur. She’s a community leader, philanthropist and advocate who plays an integral role at each organization she has her hand in whether it’s at The Fairbanks community center at her nonprofit—the Drew Lewis Foundation—or in her classroom at Missouri State University. It’s due to her endless energy, determination and community focus that Blansit, who is working on her doctorate in health sciences, is our Person of the Year. Read Blansit's full Person of the Year profile here.
Photo by Brandon Alms
Brad Erwin
President, Paragon Architecture
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. in architectural studies, M.Arch
A Chicago native and loyal Cubs fan, Brad Erwin moved to Springfield in 2003. His love for Wrigley Field sparked an interest in baseball stadium design. In 2001, he visited every MLB stadium and designed some stadium replicas for Ballparks of America in Branson.
New in 2017: Erwin’s firm has grown in many aspects within the past year. Paragon has added employees, worked on new types of projects and expanded its geographic reach to the entire state of Missouri and beyond.
John Oke-Thomas
President and CEO, Oke-Thomas + AssociateS Inc.
Drury College (now Drury University), B.Arch
John Oke-Thomas has been leading architectural and construction management firm Oke-Thomas + Associates for more than 20 years. He is a founding member and past president of Minorities in Business, and the U.S. Small Business Association named him the 2011 Minority Business Person of the Year. He is the father to four children and has been married to his wife, Helen, for 25 years.
Did you know? Oke-Thomas made a trip to the White House in 2012 as part of a Midwest delegation invited to speak on economic issues. 
Tim Rosenbury
Managing Partner, Butler, Rosenbury & Partners
Mississippi State University, B.Arch
Tim Rosenbury has been part of the Springfield business community for 33 years, watching the city grow, getting involved and honing his leadership skills. “My role as a leader is to lead people to accomplish things they didn’t believe they could,” he says.
New in 2017: Rosenbury is leading cultural change within his own company and at the Springfield Art Museum, Guaranty Bank and Springfield Public Schools. (He’s on the boards of all three organizations.) “I hope I’ve played a part in the steady progress toward excellence for each of these organizations,” Rosenbury says.
My role as a leader is to lead people to accomplish things they didnʼt believe they could.” —Tim Rosenbury, Managing Partner of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners
Arts & Entertainment
Photo by Tonya Forbes
Beth Domann
Executive Director, Springfield Little Theatre
Stephens College, B.F.A. in theatre with an emphasis in directing
Beth Domann, a self-described introvert, grew up in Springfield theatre, first appearing on the Landers Theatre stage in 1978. She considers the building to be the heartbeat of Springfield Little Theatre. “It is our job and in our mission statement to take care of this beautiful building,” Domann says. “We are the only arts organization in Springfield that owns our own building, so it’s a very big responsibility.”
Did you know? When Domann is not working to produce Springfield Little Theatre’s eight-show season, she spends some of her spare time building magic illusions with one of her friends.
We are the only arts organization in Springfield that owns our own building, so it’s a very big responsibility.—Beth Domann, Executive director of Springfield Little Theatre
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
Jack Herschend
Co-Founder and Co-Owner, Herschend Enterprises
Northwestern University, B.S. in business
Jack Herschend loves the environment as much as he loves creating theme parks around it—Silver Dollar City isn’t nestled in the Ozark woodlands for nothing. In 1992, he began a program to reforest the Ozark hills, and his Gift of Green project has donated and planted more than 250,000 trees since beginning. His efforts were recognized in 1999 with an award from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
New in 2017: In August, 417-land was buzzing when SDC announced a new roller coaster. The Time Traveler, opening in 2018, features three inversions, a 95-foot-tall loop and tops out at 50.3 mph.
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
Peter Herschend
Co-founder and Co-owner, Herschend Enterprises 
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business
Much like his brother, Jack, Peter Herschend is dedicated to local families. He was a long-time board member of the Missouri State Board of Education, and he was the first individual to raise $1 million for the National MS Society. For most of his life, Herschend has served and continues to serve as the master of marketing and public relations for Herschend Enterprises.
Did you know? Herschend Enterprises is the largest family-owned attractions corporation in the United States. The company’s portfolio includes 26 locations that attract more than 13 million people each year.
Mary Kellogg-Joslyn
Co-owner, Titanic Museum Attraction Executive Vice President, Cedar Bay Entertainment LLC
Monmouth High School
Mary Kellogg-Joslyn has taken it upon herself to share the majesty of the historic ocean liner Titanic at Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson and in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Kellogg-Joslyn, who pursued a journalism degree at Northwestern University, worked for CBS as an executive director of marketing and programming and for The Walt Disney Co. as a senior executive vice president of television and production. During her TV tenure, she helped bring Live with Regis and (Kathie Lee) Kelly and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to the screen, oversaw more than 100 other TV shows and won Emmy awards.
Brad Thomas
President, Silver Dollar City Attractions
Missouri State University, B.S. in human resources and marketing, MBA
Being the president of one of Branson’s most popular attractions might seem like all fun and games, but in his 26 years with Silver Dollar City, Brad Thomas has had his fair share of honest and tough conversations. He says these talks lead to even better problem solving—but if he needs to decompress, you can find him screaming it out on a roller coaster. Thomas ensures SDC’s organization is people-focused on employees and guests alike. Look for Thomas’ themed sign honoring his 25th year as a Silver Dollar City Citizen on the side of the Mill Restaurant overlooking the funnel cakes.
#NailedIt “#OutlawRun #OldTimeChristmas.” —Brad Thomas, President of Silver Dollar City Attractions
Bob Beine
Owner and President, Beine Automotive Group
William Jewell College, B.S. in business and marketing
Growing up the stepson of a Ford dealer in Kansas, Bob Beine always knew he would be in the automotive business. What he didn’t know was that he would build his business in Missouri after selling cars in college and then become the president of several local dealerships. “Don’t be afraid to be successful,” he says.
Did you know? Beine turned his anxiety about the future of the car business into action. He was elected to Ford’s Dealer Connection program, which allowed him to work with Allen Mulally, who was president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. at the time.
J. Howard Fisk
Owner, J. Howard Fisk Limousines Inc.
Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), B.S. in business administration, B.S. in marketing and design
The name Fisk has become instantly recognizable in local transportation. J. Howard Fisk, a lifelong 417-lander, has spent more than four decades leading his company and serving on boards of numerous community organizations. He is proudly involved in Sons of the American Revolution and celebrates the life of William Freeman, the only patriot buried in the Springfield National Cemetery.
New in 2017: Fisk’s son Barrett is becoming an owner of the family business after years in the home construction industry. 
Greg Henslee
CEO, O’Reilly Automotive Inc.
Glendale High School
More than 30 years ago, Greg Henslee was a parts specialist behind the counter at the original O’Reilly Auto Parts store. He quickly worked his way up the ladder before becoming CEO in 2005—the first person outside of the O’Reilly family to do so. Henslee attributes the company’s growth to culture, and he makes sure that culture prevails when acquiring other auto parts companies. “I strongly believe that culture almost always trumps strategy,” he says.
New in 2017: Henslee handed over his duties as company president to two new co-presidents, Greg Johnson and Jeff Shaw, in February.
Photo by Kristina Bridges Templeton Courtesy of Ozarks Technical Community College
Rick Hughlett
Owner, Rick's Automotive
Parkview High School
In 1980, Rick Hughlett and his wife, Karen, opened an auto repair business to provide honest and fair auto service. Now, Rick’s Automotive is a bustling employee-focused business. Hughlett invests in his team fully because he says they are the future of the business. And after 37 years in the biz, Hughlett is planning for that future by setting up a succession plan so he can move into more of a consulting role. If you’re looking for Hughlett, try looking up. When the skies are clear, the commercial hot air balloon pilot can often be found floating the evening away.
Photo by Brandon Alms
Robert Low
President and Owner, Prime Inc.
Skyline High School
Back in 1969, Prime Inc. consisted of one dump truck driven by a 19-year-old Robert Low. The next 10 years brought quick growth, and by 1979 Low had profited $1 million. His success halted in the early ’80s, when Prime went bankrupt. Low restructured his business model and placed high value on personal responsibility and teamwork—values also key to Low’s basketball games with associates. 
New in 2017: Prime and Low are focused on improving infrastructure. Earlier this year, the company finished remodeling and expanding its Salt Lake City terminal, and construction continues on various parts of the Springfield headquarters.
David O’Reilly
Chairman, O’Reilly Auto Parts
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business and economics
A third-generation employee, David O’Reilly joined his family’s automotive company when it was still in its formative years. Working long hours while being an active family man was a challenge, he says, but he learned some of his most valuable lessons about business then. “There is no substitute for managing the smallest details of your business or your associates,” he says. “If you manage all of the little things, the big things take care of themselves.”
Did you know? “For four years, I have been eating based on a Paleo diet,” OʼReilly says. “This has been a life-changer for me.”
Tony Stubblefield  
Vice President and Managing Partner, Reliable Toyota/Lexus & BMW/Audi Springfield
McCluer North High School
Tony Stubblefield started selling cars on lots in St. Louis before working his way up to his current position. He’s seen countless makes and models and still is passionate about his industry. “I enjoy the challenge and opportunities of the automobile business, and I enjoy making money, developing people and turning problems into opportunities,” he says. 
New in 2017: Stubblefield saw the completion of a multiyear facilities project while his dealerships adapted to the new realities of being a part of Berkshire Hathaway Automotive group.
Lynn H. Thompson  
President, Thompson Buick GMC Cadillac
Glendale High School
Lynn H. Thompson lives and breathes family business. He is one of eight family members currently working for the company that has now seen four generations of Thompsons within its walls. How does he pass on the love of the car business to all his relatives and stay successful? He trusts his gut. “You can read hundreds of books on business, but never underestimate your own thoughts and feelings on what you need to do to be successful,” he says. 
Did you know? Thompson became certified in mediation in 1992 and has since performed roughly 75 mediations across the country.
Mark Walker
Chairman and CEO, TransLand
Drury University, B.A. in business administration and economics
It’s only fitting that the chairman and CEO of TransLand, a trucking company carrying goods across the nation, is well traveled himself. Before taking over the business founded by his parents, Mark Walker worked in Silicon Valley for SBC Communications and later led United Way Silicon Valley, roles he credits for his leadership skills and business acumen. Walker enjoys unwinding with a glass of wine on his patio while watching the sunset beside his wife, Mary. Rumor (and probably a few video cameras) has it that in 1995, Walker rocked a black sequined dress to perform a musical number to raise money for Ozarks Public Television.
#NailedIt “Changing careers after 23 years to become CEO of United Way Silicon Valley. By far, the best personal growth experience ever.”—Mark Walker, Chairman and CEO of TransLand
President, Penmac Staffing
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in home economics
Paula Adams has worn many hats in her 22 years at Penmac Staffing, but it was one of her latest accomplishments as the company's president that stole the local media spotlight this June. Under the leadership of Adams, Penmac's Education Staffing division secured a contract to provide substitutes for Springfield Public Schools. This contract greatly expanded Penmac's footprint. Read Paula Adams' full Power Play here
John Griesemer
Chief Operating Officer, Springfield Underground
Purdue University, B.S. in industrial management and civil engineering
John Griesemer is the third generation of the Griesemer family to work for Springfield Underground. Today, companies as diverse as The Kraft Heinz Co. and Bluebird Network LLC utilize Springfield Underground’s uniquely controlled environment for below-ground storage and processing facilities. Griesemer oversees operations for the company and its subsidiaries such as Cold Zone, which specializes in operating spaces that maintain stable temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees.
Did you know? Griesemer has served on the board of directors for Guaranty Bank and Mercy Springfield.
Louis Griesemer
President and CEO, Springfield Underground
Washington University in St. Louis, B.S. in applied mathematics and computer science
After finishing college, Louis Griesemer started a summer job at Griesemer Stone, established by his father in 1946 and now known as Springfield Underground. Four decades later, the company manages millions of square feet of underground real estate, and Griesemer serves as president and CEO. He is a board member of the Show-Me Institute, a think tank promoting free markets and individual liberty.
Did you know? Griesemer has been an active participant in the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. He chaired the board of directors in 2007 and, in 2014, received a national safety award.
Debra Shantz Hart
Owner/Member, Housing Plus LLC, HP Construction LLC, Sustainable Housing Solutions LLC
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in economics University of Missouri–Columbia, J.D.
In Debra Shantz Hart’s 20 years practicing law, she represented clients in real estate development and real estate finance, so it was only natural for the avid gardener and mother of two to start a second career in commercial real estate. After 13 years vice president and general counsel for John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc., Hart opened Housing Plus LLC with Becky Selle. If you want to know what the buzz is all about, just ask Hart—when she’s not keeping her finger on the pulse of Springfield’s developments, she spends her time beekeeping. 
“Pursuing a tax credit development in 2008 in the face of the Great Recession in a highly competitive political process as a first-time developer and having our project funded by the Missouri Housing Development Commission was definitely a #NailedIt moment.” —Debra Shantz Hart, Owner and Member of Housing Plus LLC
Photo by Patrick McWhirt
CEO, The Vecino Group
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in political science and Russian area studies
As the CEO of a development company in the growing city of Springfield, Matt Miller has plenty of opportunities to expand his business. By choice, though, the Mizzou alum has been on board with The Vecino Group's mission from day one: It would serve a greater purpose. The company accomplished some of that this year. "We broke ground on deals across the country that should make the world a better place," Miller says. Read Matt Miller's full Power Play here
Matt E. Miller
Owner, Miller Commerce LLC
Kickapoo High School
Since launching Miller Commerce LLC in 2002, Matt E. Miller, who studied finance at Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), has been busy. Today, he owns and co-owns a portfolio of 20 properties that include lofts, apartments, mixed-used buildings and senior living communities. 
Did you know? Miller took a year off after the Great Recession and an unexpected split from a business partner. “I was just exhausted, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next with the business,” he says. “Rebuilding the infrastructure and the momentum has taken time and energy, but I’m so much happier and more fulfilled.”
Stephanie Stenger Montgomery
CEO, Springfield Land LP
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business administration University of Southern California, J.D.
Stephanie Stenger Montgomery is a powerhouse attorney who garnered recognition for her work in Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s 13th Annual Women’s Justice Awards. She stays busy running real estate development company Springfield Land LP, which develops residential neighborhoods. Stenger Montgomery also helps build communities through local organizations. She was a founding board member and former president of Isabel’s House and former president of Junior League of Springfield, MO. Stenger Montgomery also serves on the boards for the Moxie Cinema, Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Care to Learn.  
Patrick Murney
Owner and Broker, Murney Associates, Realtors®
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in business
Patrick Murney has spent more than two decades in real estate, amassing more than $1 billion in total sales. “My motivation has always been to give my very best in everything I do,” he says. “I’m very competitive, so my drive comes from wanting to be the best.” Likewise, his company is consistently recognized by REAL Trends as one of the best performing brokerages in the country.
New in 2017: “Many of our agents had record setting years,” Murney says. “We’re also very proud of our tech team winning the Biz 417 Best Enterprise Technology Award this year.”
My motivation has always been to give my very best in everything I do. I’m very competitive, so my drive comes from wanting to be the best. ­ —Patrick Murney, Owner and Broker of Murney Associates, Realtors®
Matt O’Reilly
Team Captain, Green Circle Projects
Drury University, B.A. in business and philosophy
It’s easy to list Matt O’Reilly’s successes. He founded Dynamic Earth while still in college and was a founding board member of the Ozarks Green Building Coalition and founder of Farmers Market of the Ozarks. The list goes on. So what does the young entrepreneur say is the toughest challenge he’s faced? The BC Bike Race, a seven-day mountain bike race through the mountains of British Columbia.
New in 2017: The fifth and final building at Farmers Park is on track to open by year’s end. The building is the future home of Guaranty Bank’s headquarters and co-working space CAST Executive.
Tom Rankin
Managing Director, SVN/Rankin Co. LLC Owner, Rankin Development LLC
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance
A longtime 417-land resident, Tom Rankin founded Rankin Company, a general commercial real estate brokerage, in 1990. In 2006, the company became affiliated with national brokerage firm SVN and has been consistently among the top 10 most productive SVN offices. Throughout his career, Rankin has developed more than 650,000 square feet of built-to-suit industrial projects.
New in 2017: The first phase of the 98-acre Springfield Plaza retail project finished this fall. Rankin says phase II—adding 60,000 square feet of retail space—will hopefully begin in spring 2018.
Brian McDonough
Vice President and General Manager, KY3 and the Ozarks CW
Wichita State University, B.A. in business administration
So much has changed for Brian McDonough since he started in media fresh out of college as a radio account executive. He now leads the highly rated KY3 and The Ozarks CW networks and their digital platforms. Although those responsibilities require big-picture thinking, he often refers to a favorite quote from author Larry Winget that hangs in his office: “Everything you think, everything you say and everything you do matters. The little stuff matters the most.”
New in 2017: McDonough had the unlucky role of laying off 37 employees at KY3 and The Ozarks CW late this summer, when the newsrooms for the two stations were consolidated.
Founder and Chairman, Noble Communications
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.F.A. in commercial art
When it comes to Springfield's advertising scene, Robert B. Noble's name has been in the spotlight for more than four decades. The founder and chairman of Noble, CultureWaves and The Food Channel played a huge part in putting southwest Missouri on the map in the marketing world. But this year he sold his non-food traditional agency business and moved his focus exclusively to food. Read Robert B. Noble's full Power Play here.
Scott Opfer
President, Opfer Communications Inc.
Winona State University, B.A. in mass communications
A longtime sports lover who jokes an X-ray would reveal a football-shaped heart, Scott Opfer took Opfer Communications Inc. from a side job in his basement to a company boasting more than $1 billion in client product sales. But even with the responsibilities that come with running the firm, Opfer prioritizes family time. “After surviving a stroke at age 40, you tend to appreciate the people and things that really matter in your life,” he says.
New in 2017: “We are expanding our global reach and horizons in food marketing and medical technologies content,” Opfer says. “Stay tuned!”
Rob Baird
CEO, Conco Cos.
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in philosophy, M.A. in philosophy
In addition to overseeing the largest concrete producer in southwest Missouri, Rob Baird, who completed all but his dissertation for a doctorate in philosophy at Georgetown University, is a major supporter of the arts. Baird was a key player in the development of The Creamery Arts Center and received a 1997 Ozzie Award from the Springfield Regional Arts Council.
Did you know? Conco Cos. bought Phenix Marble Co. in June 2016. Marble from the quarry has been used in the Missouri State Capitol and the New York Stock Exchange, among others.
Bill Killian
President, Killian Construction Co.
Glendale High School
Years after attending Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) and the University of Missouri–Columbia, Bill Killian became president then sole owner of the family construction company in 1993. Today, the company boasts nearly $200 million in yearly revenue and is an Engineering News-Record Top 400 firm. Past projects include Chateau on the Lake, the Branson Landing and hotels and casinos nationwide.
Did you know? For Killian, it’s all about making connections. “I love to put deals together and to network within the business community,” he says. “I guess you could say I’m a deal junkie.”
I love to put deals together and to network within the business community. I guess you could say I’m a deal junkie.—Bill Killian, President of Killian Construction Co.
Larry Snyder
CEO, Larry Snyder & Co.
Missouri Southern State University, B.S. in business marketing and management
Larry Snyder’s line of work seems like an obvious choice, as he’s proudly continuing a family tradition of construction that began with his father, uncles and cousins. Snyder has steered his business through two major economic downturns and a move from Joplin to Branson.
New in 2017: Magers Crossing, a retail development that Larry Snyder & Co. is involved in, is expected to be complete in the fall. Other projects in progress include the addition to O’Reilly Auto Parts’ headquarters and the construction of Birch Pointe Health and Rehabilitation in Springfield.
Stephanie M. Bryant
Dean, Missouri State University College of Business
Louisiana State University, B.S. in accounting, Ph.D. in accounting
Stephanie M. Bryant was once a CPA, but pursuing a doctorate changed her professional trajectory, and she began teaching before becoming an administrator. In October, MSUʼs Glass Hall had its grand reopening after a five-year renovation led by Bryant. “The project has taught me the importance of perseverance, patience, project management and collaboration,” she says. “And I would do it all over again.”
New in 2017: In August, Bryant announced she’s leaving MSU after six years. On January 2, she starts as the executive vice president and chief accreditation officer for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
Tim Cloyd
President, Drury University
Emory & Henry College, B.A. in philosophy and political science • University of Massachusetts Amherst, M.A. in political science, Ph.D. in political science
The classroom is a familiar place for Tim Cloyd. The current president of Drury University grew up with Methodist missionaries and teachers as parents and spent time in Africa and in New Mexico on a Navajo reservation where his parents ran a boarding school. Cloyd served as president of Hendrix College before taking the helm at Drury, where he is focused on three priorities: defining a unique academic experience, starting a campus master-planning process and planning a multiyear growth campaign. To Cloyd, the impact of his leadership decisions goes far beyond the bottom line. “The ROI is not measured by profit but by lives transformed,” he says.
Photo courtesy of OTC
Hal Higdon
Chancellor, Ozarks Technical Community College
University of Alabama, B.S. in business University of Southern Mississippi, M.Ed. in educational administration, Ph.D. in higher education
Hal Higdon has had many meaningful moments throughout his career, but starting his first position in higher education in Alabama was particularly significant. “I knew from the first day I was home,” he says. He is passionate about the impact that can be made in the region through higher education, particularly by community colleges and says “providing an opportunity for every person to access an affordable and high-quality education that can change the course of their life” is what drives him.
New in 2017: “As of this year, I am now the longest serving public college or university president in the state of Missouri, and I’m only 55,” Higdon says. 
#NailedIt “When we opened new centers in various parts of the Ozarks. They have each been more successful than I thought they would be due to demand and the work of our people.” —Hal Higdon, Chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College
John Jungmann
Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools
Missouri Southern State University, B.S. in education Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), M.S. in educational administration, Ed.S. in education University of Arkansas, Ed.D. in educational leadership
John Jungmann oversees the education of more than 25,000 students whose lives he hopes are positively impacted for years to come. “Public education can be an equalizer for students who lack resources and support,” he says. “I am driven to ensure our system provides opportunities for all students to find their voice and future success.” 
Did you know? Jungmann, a golf lover, was named the Missouri Superintendent of the Year for the 2016–2017 school year.
Allen Kunkel
Associate Vice President of Economic Development and Director of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Missouri State University CEO, Springfield Innovation Inc.
Iowa State University, B.S. in community and regional planning • University of Missouri–Columbia, MPA
Allen Kunkel wouldn’t have been put in charge of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center—let alone be in Springfield at all—if it weren’t for Jim Anderson. When Kunkel took an economic development position with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Anderson encouraged Kunkel to engage fellow community leaders, leading him to his role at Missouri State University. At MSU, Kunkel, a hip-hop music fan, contributes to the development of IDEA Commons, JVIC and The eFactory.
#FailedIt “I threw my hat in the ring for school board last year. Although it really bothered me that I failed to win the election, it was a tremendous learning experience, and it helped me in many ways.” —Allen Kunkel, Associate Vice President of Economic Development for Missouri State University
Clif Smart
President, Missouri State University
Tulane University, B.A. in political science University of Arkansas, J.D.
A former lawyer and two-time finalist for the Missouri Supreme Court, Clif Smart unexpectedly became Missouri State University’s interim president following the resignation of its president and provost. He was named president 16 months later.
New in 2017: Smart took on new leadership responsibilities within the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s visioning task force, Missouri Department of Higher Education’s performance funding work group and the Hawthorne Foundation Board.
Photo courtesy of Guaranty Bank
Shaun Burke
President and CEO, Guaranty Bank
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance • University of Colorado, Graduate School of Banking
Shaun Burke has more than 30 years of banking experience, joining Guaranty Bank in 2004 as president and CEO and becoming the president and CEO of its holding company, Guaranty Federal Bancshares Inc., in 2005. He’s seen significant changes in the industry during his years, and he’s ready and waiting for more. “Embrace change—it’s going to happen with or without you,” he says.
New in 2017: In June, Burke was named chairman-elect for the Missouri Banker’s Association, and Guaranty is on track to move to its new headquarters at Farmers Park.
Robert C. Fulp
Chairman and CEO, Springfield First Community Bank
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance and accounting
For as much as Springfield First Community Bank has grown in recent years, Robert C. Fulp is quick to emphasize the role his team played. “We surpassed $500 million during 2016, and we are well on our way to $1 billion in assets within the near future,” Fulp says. “As one of the fastest growing banks in the state, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility to continue to achieve our high-level results. I am blessed to have such an amazing team.”
Did you know? Fulp was one of 12 people, five of whom have Springfield ties, to receive the Missourian Award in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Bob Hammerschmidt
Bob Hammerschmidt
President–Springfield Region, Commerce Bank
Arkansas Tech University, B.S. in business administration University of Colorado, American Bankers Association School of Bank Marketing University of Wisconsin–Madison, ABA Graduate School of Bank Marketing Southern Methodist University, Southwestern Graduate School of Banking
Originally planning to join his family’s lumber business, Bob Hammerschmidt switched directions in college and mostly hasn’t looked back. “The toughest conversations are always about change,” he says. “You have to cultivate the attitude within your company and your family that change is a constant.”
New in 2017: Jordan Valley Community Health Center, where Hammerschmidt serves as chair of the board, received a national award for innovation.
Jim Lewis
Managing Shareholder, KPM CPAs PC
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in accounting
Jim Lewis worked his way up from an intern in 1981 at what is now KPM to become the top dog. Of course, his role sometimes requires Lewis to tell staff members they aren’t meeting expectations. “I lose sleep in advance of these conversations, but then I realize that about 30 years ago, our managing partner had one of these conversations with me,” Lewis says. “It kicked me into another gear. Best thing that could have happened to me.”
New in 2017: Lewis joined the board of the Lost & Found Grief Center. “It just seemed like something I needed to do,” he says.
Russ Marquart
President and CEO, Central Bank of the Ozarks
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance and investments • ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking
When it comes to community involvement, Russ Marquart is a star. This includes more than his role at Central Bank of the Ozarks, the local bank where he started working in 1987. He is currently a board member for the Springfield Community Partnership of the Ozarks and Mercy Health Systems, to name a couple, and he’s been involved with Rotary Club of Springfield, Convoy of Hope and United Way of the Ozarks, among other organizations.
New in 2017: Marquart became a board member of the Missouri Bankers Association.
Doug Neff
Southwest Missouri Region CEO and Chairman, Commerce Bank
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business administration and finance • University of Wisconsin–Madison, Graduate School of Banking
As the son of a community banker, Doug Neff has always been familiar with the industry, but 12 years into his career he relocated from Kansas City to Wichita and had to learn how to succeed on all-new turf. Looking back, he calls that his defining moment. “Getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to grow your personal skill set,” Neff says.
Did you know? “I’m quite regimented about getting to the gym and rarely miss the 5 a.m. opening of Dan Kinney Center,” Neff says.
Joseph W. Turner
President and CEO, Great Southern Bank
Drake University, B.S. in business administration • University of Missouri–Columbia, J.D.
Although he earned a law degree, Joe Turner only spent a couple of years in the courtroom. “On April 20, 1991—my wedding day—my father and I were eating lunch, and he asked, ‘Why don’t you come to work at Great Southern?’” Turner says. Turner made the move, and since then he’s worked his way to president and CEO. “My advice is to hire associates who are better and smarter at their job than you and give those individuals the resources necessary to do their jobs,” he says.
New in 2017: Great Southern completed its acquisition of 12 former Fifth Third Bank locations in St. Louis and opened a new loan production office in the Chicago area.
John E. Wanamaker
Managing Partner, BKD LLP
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in accounting
When he’s not crunching numbers, John E. Wanamaker could be considered part-time author. He was one of six people to define and write The BKD Experience: Unmatched Client Service, which is used to train BKD associates across the country. In addition to shaping his company, Wanamaker is a force in shaping the local business community as the 2017 chairman of the board for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, co-chair of the chamber’s visioning committee and past president of the Downtown Council of Champions.
New in 2017: Wanamaker challenged himself this year by participating in the Over the Edge fundraiser benefiting The Child Advocacy Center.
Photo courtesy of Askinosie Chocolate
Shawn Askinosie
Founder and CEO, Askinosie Chocolate
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in political science, J.D.
Making a living can mean making a difference, and after serving as a criminal defense attorney for 20 years, Shawn Askinosie aimed to do just that when he founded Askinosie Chocolate, which received the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business Award. “I believe that little by little, business will end up solving many of the social problems we face on this planet,” he says. 
New in 2017: Askinosie can now add author to his resume. Co-authored by his daughter and Askinosie Chief Marketing Officer, Lawren, the new book is called Meaningful Work: The Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul and hits retailers on November 14.
Photo courtesy of Mark Farbin Photography
Susie Farbin
Co-owner, MaMa Jean’s Natural Market
Reavis High School
Success started early for Susie Farbin when, at 11 years old, she appeared in Time magazine as one of the youngest members of the National Organization for Women. Today, Farbin’s natural food market company is the largest 100-percent women-owned business in southwest Missouri. Since opening in 2002 with 12 employees, the four locations now employ more than 200 people.
New in 2017: The MaMa Jean’s team expanded its Republic Road location, and they’re working on launching online shopping. “I have been accused of never being satisfied with the stores, and that has actually been a good thing,” Farbin says.
“Over the past 15 years, we have #NailedIt with our choice in business partners. We have been so fortunate to work with fantastic members of our community who have accelerated our success.” —Susie Farbin, Co-owner of MaMa Jean's Natural market
Lyle Q. Foster
CEO, Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar
Macalester College, B.A. in political science, urban studies and sociology • Brown University, M.A. in sociology • Yale University, M.A. in religion
Lyle Q. Foster is a lifelong learner and doctoral student at the University of Missouri–Columbia. Outside of the classroom, Foster drives community development on Historic C-Street. “I am driven by a passion to not accept things the way they are when things need to be improved,” he says. “But rather than stand on the sidelines and critique, I hope to be a catalyst to make a difference. I am particularly moved by issues of social justice and equality.”
New in 2017: Big Momma’s celebrated 10 years in business in May.
I am driven by a passion to not accept things the way they are when things need to be improved. But rather than stand on the sidelines and critique, I hope to be a catalyst to make a difference. ­ —Lyle Q. Foster, CEO of Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar
Sam F. Hamra
Chairman and Founder, Hamra Enterprises
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S./B.A. in business administration, LL.B.
More than 100 Wendy’s, Panera Bread and Noodles & Company restaurants across the country didn’t just stumble their way into Sam F. Hamra’s ownership at Hamra Enterprises. He has a four-step process for growing his company and reaching success: create goals you want to achieve; put together a plan to accomplish your goals; hire the most talented, capable, honest and trustworthy people to help you; and then work your hardest to achieve your goals.
New in 2017: Thanks in part to Hamra, who donated land, The Kitchen Inc. broke ground on its new campus earlier this year.
#FailedIt “Building two Chuck E. Cheese restaurants without doing a better job of research on the concept, which resulted in closing both.” —Sam F. Hamra, Chairman and Founder of Hamra Enterprises
Sally Hargis
Vice President/Chairman of the Board, Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co.
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in home economics journalism
Along with her father, Edwin “Cookie” Rice, Sally Hargis leads a team of accomplished go-getters in their quest to spread their third-generation family business throughout the Midwest. Hargis credits her team for a recent big move: taking ownership of the northwest Arkansas Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper franchise territories. After a hard day’s work managing her team, Hargis likes to kick back with her beverage of choice—a Diet Coke, of course.
New in 2017: The cola company is currently revamping its headquarters in north Springfield.
Kurt Hellweg
Chairman of the Board, American Dehydrated Foods Inc., International Dehydrated Foods Inc., IsoNova Technologies LLC and Food Ingredients Technology Co. LLC
University of Nebraska, B.S. in engineering
Over three decades, Kurt Hellweg has worked as a senior vice president, president, COO, CEO and now as chairman of the board—all at a company he was initially reluctant to join. “I was on a pretty fast track for a great career in the [U.S.] Navy and wasn’t sure if I could handle the role of the emasculated son-in-law,” he says of father-in-law William Darr’s offer to join the company. “Turns out I had it all wrong!” 
New in 2017: After stepping down as CEO of ADF in December 2016, Hellweg has passed his  day-to-day tasks to current CEO Andrew Herr.
Diana Hicks
Co-owner, Mama Jean’s Natural Market
Richland High School
Diana Hicks, who attended Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), has seen the MaMa Jean’s family of markets grow tremendously since beginning in 2002. The employees—or Jeaners, as they’re called—have developed alongside the company, which is a particular point of pride for Hicks. “We’ve had the fortunate opportunity to watch young kids grow into healthy, productive assets of our company,” she says.
New in 2017: “Both Susie and I have large gardens in our yards that are dedicated to growing produce to be used in MaMa Jean’s kitchens or sold as ‘local’ produce in our stores,” Hicks says. 
#FailedIt “Forgetting to change what page I'm managing in Facebook and posting as MaMa Jean's when I think I'm posting as myself.” —Diana Hicks, Co-owner of MaMa Jean's Natural Market
President, Andy’s Frozen Custard
Andy's Frozen Custard? Good. More (and more, and more) Andy's Frozen Custard? Great! That's the obvious mindset of all custard addicts as well as Andy's Frozen Custard President Andy Kuntz, who in February 2016 announced a plan to have 75 stores by the end of 2017. With the year coming to a close, we called Andy's HQ at press time to figure out how close the company was to achieving this goal. Read Andy Kuntz's full Power Play here.
Photo by Vivian Wheeler
Jeff Schrag
Founder, Mother’s Brewing Company
Owner, The Daily Events
Kansas State University, B.S. in journalism and social sciences
With a resume including newspapers, property management, formalwear and a brewery, Jeff Schrag has learned his fair share of business lessons, one of which is to not give away your product for free. “Believe in the value of your product because if you don’t, no one else will either,” he says.
New in 2017: “It is easy to get complacent when things are going okay,” Schrag says. “It is trickier to have the courage to change, to engage new ideas, to re-think old patterns because you often worry that you will not bring your current customers with you. We have taken our quality and flavors to the next level, and I am very proud of the entire team.”
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sweet
Paul Sundy
Co-founder and Co-owner, Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Ozarks Technical Community College, A.A. • Evangel University, B.B.A. in management
Burgers and beers aren’t Paul Sundy’s only area of expertise. He's well-versed in growing his franchise, too, which includes locations in Lee's Summit and Arkansas in addition to six corporate locations in Missouri, and coming in 2018, a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip.* Developing this larger scale infrastructure that’s primed for expansion is what Sundy says he is most proud of accomplishing in the past year. “We’ve never been more successful than we are right now,” he says.
Did you know? Despite advising other businesspeople to always answer the phone, a practice he also observes, Sundy relishes time away from his phone, “especially when I’m camping and canoeing with my wife and kids,” he says.
*Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the corporate structure of Big Whiskey's American Restaurant & Bar. The company has eight restaurants currently open, two of which are franchise locations.
Erick Taylor
President and CEO, Pyramid Foods
Crowder College, A.A. in business
Like many local teens, Erick Taylor got his start bagging groceries at Ramey’s Supermarket at 16 years old. Now Taylor, who attended Missouri State University, leads the parent company of Price Cutter and of several other chains throughout the Midwest. In 2006, Taylor converted the company to 100-percent employee ownership, and he’s proud to say that some company leaders began their careers as cashiers, stockers and baggers just like Taylor.
New in 2017: Pyramid opened Ruby’s Market in east Springfield. The upscale grocery, named after Taylor’s grandmother Ruby, carries products from more than 50 local vendors.
Health Care
Photo by CoxHealth
Jim Anderson
Vice President, CoxHealth
Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU), B.S. in education
Few people have served 417-land or Missouri like Jim Anderson. The former teacher and school administrator began his 26-year tenure as president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce in 1988. Under his leadership, the organization was nationally recognized as the 2012 Chamber of the Year. Anderson has received numerous awards for his service and leadership including accepting the prestigious Springfieldian and Missourian awards in the same year.
New in 2017: Anderson said so long to his full-time position at CoxHealth earlier this year, though he still helps out on a part-time basis.
CEO, Citizens Memorial Hospital
Executive Director, Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation
U.S. Air Force, A.A. in medical technology Barnes Hospital, A.A. in radiology Ohio State University, M.A. in health care financial management
In October 2016, there was a whole lot of buzz in 417-land's health care scene: Citizens Memorial Hospital/Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation (CMH) and CoxHealth announced a letter of intent to combine their organizations. The two hospitals proposed a partnership that sounded ideal for both parties and 417-land—in a press release, Donald J. Babb, chief executive officer and executive director of CMH, said the partnership would further CMH's ability to make a difference in local communities. Read Donald J. Babb's full Power Play here.
#NailedIt “One career highlight was partnering with Central Care Cancer Center to establish a much-needed cancer center in Bolivar. Our new facility was completed in 2008, and it was named after my wife because of her struggles with beating cancer.” —Donald J. Babb, CEO of Citizens Memorial Hospital and Executive Director of Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation
President and CEO, CoxHealth
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in political science Washington University in St. Louis, masters in healthcare administration
In October 2016, there was a whole lot of buzz in 417-land's health care scene: Citizens Memorial Hospital/Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation (CMH) and CoxHealth announced a letter of intent to combine their organizations. The two hospitals proposed a partnership that sounded ideal for both parties and 417-land—in a press release, Donald J. Babb, chief executive officer and executive director of CMH, said the partnership would further CMH's ability to make a difference in local communities. Read Steve Edwards' full Power Play here.
Photo courtesy of Integrity Healthcare
Greg Horton
CEO, Integrity Home Care + Hospice
Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri), B.S. in business administration with an emphasis in accounting
After leaving his position as partner at accounting firm Whitlock, Selim & Keehn LLP, Greg Horton started Integrity Home Care + Hospice. The challenges from that first year in business “served as a stark reminder that entrepreneurialism is not for the faint of heart,” he says. Today, the home health company and Integrity Pharmacy, which Horton co-owns, employ more than 2,000 people. “Helping other people achieve their dreams in the process of achieving yours will provide more meaning to your life than all the money in the world,” he says.
New in 2017: Horton joined the board of the Developmental Center of the Ozarks.
Photo courtesy of Mercy
Jon Swope
Regional President, Mercy Central Communities; Interim President, Mercy Springfield 
Maryville University, B.S. in business administration • Webster University, master of healthcare administration
As president of Mercy Central Communities, Jon Swope oversees the health system’s facilities in Kansas, Arkansas and across 417-land. “Even with the challenges we face, being a part of Mercy is exciting,” Swope says. “And when I look at the next generation of leaders coming up the ranks, I can’t wait to see what they will do to revolutionize care.”
New in 2017: Despite recent turmoil at Mercy Springfield, the Chesterfield-based health system was named one of the top five large health systems in the country for the second year in a row.
Timothy A. Connell
Partner, Connell Insurance Inc.
Reeds Spring High School
After attending Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), Tim Connell started his career in insurance in 1984 and joined Connell Insurance Inc., which his brother started, three years later. The company pays as much attention to its staff as it does to its clients. Partner Randall Gammill pitched one recently implemented perk: an enrichment bonus for all employees that pays for personal or professional development opportunities. In return, employees complete 24 hours of community service, which can be done on company time, to a cause of their choosing. That’s a win-win in our book.
Did you know? Connell loves to get out on any body of water. “Kayaking on the water creates a situation of solitude that is rare to find,” he says.
Trevor Crist
CEO, Nixon & Lindstrom Insurance 
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in communications
In his career, Trevor Crist has made a lot of calls. But his very first cold call was arguably the most important. It was to Nixon & Lindstrom owner Luke Nixon. “I reached out based upon an interest in getting into the insurance industry and a mutual fraternity affiliation,” Crist says. “He said that he wouldn’t hire me but that he’d buy me lunch, and the rest is history.” That lunch clearly worked in Crist’s favor, but Nixon making himself available was the impression that stuck. Crist sees value in continuing the tradition of mentorship and paying it forward as gratitude to those who have helped him along the way, he says. 
#NailedIt “While looking for a unique way to give back to my childhood elementary school, I chose to underwrite a technology center. Upon completion, I was invited to tour the finished product and was greeted by former teachers and an all-school assembly.” —Trevor Crist, CEO of Nixon & Lindstrom Insurance
Gordon Kinne
President, Med-Pay Inc.
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in political science
Less than a decade after starting his career, Gordon Kinne struck out on his own and established third party administrator Med-Pay Inc. When he’s not growing his business, hunting or flying over 417-land, there’s a good chance Kinne is giving back. “With each hour or dollar I have spent, I have been personally and professionally rewarded by many large returns either with new friends, clients or both and the satisfaction of helping make our community a better place to live and work,” he says.
New in 2017: Kinne has been enjoying his new role as a grandfather. “One thing I didn’t know was the joy that holding, seeing and looking at pictures of our grandson could bring,” Kinne says.
#NailedIt “The honor of being elected as the committeeman to the Republican National Committee for Missouri.” —Gordon Kinne, President of Med-Pay Inc.
Photo courtesy of Ollis Akers Arney
CEO, Ollis/Akers/Arney
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance, minor in insurance
It seems there's always something happening at Ollis/Akers/Arney Insurance & Business Advisors. In fact, CEO and Chairman Richard Ollis says the company recently added 20 new employee owners to the team. And while this growth is something any company CEO should be proud of, the successes certainly don't stop there when Ollis is concerned. He's making things happen outside of his company's office as a Springfield City Council member, a position he's held since being appointed in May. Read Richard Ollis' full Power Play here.
David Agee
Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.A. in finance • University of Missouri–Columbia, J.D.
David Agee is a master of time management. His day-to-day is centered on corporate and commercial law for an array of local, national and international clients. To relax, Agee sticks to the basics: spending time with his wife, Suzi—occasionally with a drink in hand. “Vodka martini, straight up, lemon twist, extra dry,” he says. “Everyone who knows me well can order for me.”
New in 2017: Agee has been involved in several big deals, including negotiating a complex, multi-year services agreement worth roughly $2.5 billion and a sale that required federal regulatory approvals in three geographic regions in the United States.
Photo courtesy of Husch Blackwell
Virginia Fry
Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance, MBA • University of Missouri– Kansas City, J.D.
According to Virginia Fry, it’s easy to find similarities between her fast-paced law career and her upbringing on a dairy farm. “I don’t miss the ‘24/7’ required of farming,” she says. “Although I am not sure there is much difference between that and practicing law.” Fry worked her way from the farm in Wright County to her current position as a litigator specializing in health care in federal and state courts.
New in 2017: In March, Fry made big news after she and 417-lander Carrie Tergin were elected chair and vice chair, respectively, of the MSU Board of Governors. It’s the first time in school history that both positions are filled by women. 
Crista Hogan
Executive Director, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and Springfield Metropolitan Bar  Foundation 
George Washington University, B.B.A. in business economics and public policy • Tulsa University, J.D.
Although Crista Hogan is now a titan in Springfield’s legal community, there was once a time when she thought she wasn’t going to be a lawyer at all. At 21, Hogan was halfway through law school and was so burned out she wanted to take a break. She told her father, and he responded, “No. You can’t quit.” It was one of the seldom times Hogan’s father told her no, but she listened. After graduating 18 months later, Hogan started her career as an attorney and had her own private practice before taking the leadership position at Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association
“My first charity fundraising event was a Frisbee tournament benefiting the American Cancer Society. I was in charge, and we did everything according to their template, by the book. No one came. Not a single person. Epically #FailedIt.” —Crista hogan, Executive Director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar association and Springfield Metropolitan Bar Foundation
Photo courtesy of Spencer Fane LLP
Gary A. Powell
Partner, Spencer Fane LLP
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in history, J.D. • New York University, LL.M. in taxation
Gary A. Powell has practiced law in Springfield for more than 35 years and is a leader in both the local business community and the service realm. Despite lending a hand to many causes, he finds time to add to his collection of comic books, which includes more than 1,500 volumes and growing—and to enjoy a good cigar.
New in 2017: “Over the last year, I have concentrated on something that I emphasize over and over with my business clients: succession planning,” says Powell, who brought his stepson, Clayton Campbell, into the firm this year.
Randell Wallace
Partner in Charge–Springfield Office, Lathrop Gage LLP
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business administration and political science • 
Vanderbilt University, J.D.
Randell Wallace is a jack-of-all-trades. Wallace, the son of a weekend country-Western musician, has lent his counsel to the real estate and food industries, among other sectors. “I’m driven to show others what I already know: Springfield is a thriving, innovative community and a great place to start a family or business,” Wallace says.
New in 2017: “I’ve been focused on our rebranding, recruiting the best lateral candidates and adopting new technologies to make our office more modern to better serve our clients,” Wallace says.
Bobby Allison
Flunky, Custom Protein Corp.
One of Springfield’s most notable philanthropists is known for attending black-tie events in overalls. Bobby Allison has donated millions of dollars to various organizations and causes in 417-land, including Missouri State University, Mercy Hospital Springfield and area parks, which earned him a statewide award from the Missouri Park & Recreation Association in 2015. Allison oversees sales and purchases for Custom Protein Corp. (formerly Southwest By-Products).
New in 2017: Allison has kept on giving; in July, he donated more than $1 million to the Springfield Dream Center for the Betty & Bobby Allison Activity Center. The activity center is now the home of Elevate Academy, a basketball training camp for kids
Brad Boswell
CEO, Independent Stave Co.
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in industrial engineering
There was no question Brad Boswell would be joining the family business; he started cooper training at just 9 years old. More than 100 years in operation, Independent Stave Co. has remained a family business for four generations, with Boswell now as the man in charge. Boswell was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2008. He enjoys skiing, running, playing basketball and spending time with his wife, Martha, and their three children.
New in 2017: “Independent Stave Co. acquired a cooperage in Burgundy, France, which will allow us to further utilize our existing distribution network while gaining share in the global French oak barrel market,” Boswell says.
John Gentry
President and Chairman of the Board, Positronic Industries
Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. in chemical engineering
With six U.S. and several other international patents under his belt, John Gentry has propelled Positronic Industries to its current position as an industry leader. The innovator is also involved in several community organizations. He is active with Every Child Promise, UMB Bank’s Springfield Advisory Board and the Missouri Association of Manufacturers and the OTC’s Board of Trustees.
New in 2017: Positronic expanded its global reach by investing in a Singapore-based precision molding company. Gentry said in a press release the partnership will help his company execute its aggressive growth plan.
Dwayne A. Holden
President and co-owner, Custom Metalcraft Inc.
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business
Dwayne A. Holden doesn’t shy away from a challenge, and in his line of work, there can be a lot of them. He thrives on developing new products for the wide range of industries—such as food, beverage, chemical and energy—that Custom Metalcraft serves. Holden advises other people in the business community: “Never give up, as there will be a way to solve the challenge.” And when he needs some liquid inspiration, Holden turns to a good glass of wine.
Did you know? Holden’s go-to business book is The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
David Moore
President and CEO, Paul Mueller Co.
Middlebury College, B.A. in physics
In 2011, David Moore assumed the role of president at Paul Mueller Co., the business his grandfather started in 1940. Since Moore took over, the stainless steel equipment manufacturer has seen many milestones, such as celebrating the company’s 75th year in business and implementing open-book management under the Great Game of Business. 
New in 2017: This summer, construction started on a new Paul Mueller facility in The Netherlands, where the company currently operates four locations. “Working together in one location, our co-workers can better develop common goals and address customer needs,” Moore said in a press release.
Photo by Brandon Alms
Jack Stack
CEO, SRC Holdings Corp.
Elmhurst College, B.S. in business
When Jack Stack and his partners bought International Harvester in 1983, the business was a far cry from where it stands today. “In our journey to buy the company, we learned the difference between just making a product and what it took to build a company,” he says. Many people have looked to one of Stack’s books, The Great Game of Business, about open-book management, for advice. So what’s his go-to book? Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
New in 2017: Stack graced the pages of Forbes after SRC was named to the magazine’s Small Giants list of the best small companies in America.
Photo by Brandon Alms
Creator and Founder, Solely Jolie; Program Director, The Fairbanks;  Board Chair and Founder, Drew Lewis Foundation; Program Director, The Northwest Project; Instructor of Kinesiology, Missouri State University
Drury University, B.A. in exercise physiology • Adelphi University, M.A. in exercise physiology
Amy Blansit is more than an entrepreneur. She’s a community leader, philanthropist and advocate who plays an integral role at each organization she has her hand in whether it’s at The Fairbanks community center at her nonprofit—the Drew Lewis Foundation—or in her classroom at Missouri State University. It’s due to her endless energy, determination and community focus that Blansit, who is working on her doctorate in health sciences, is our Person of the Year. Read Blansit's full Person of the Year profile here.
Hal Donaldson
President, Convoy of Hope
San Jose State University, B.A. in journalism • Bethany University, B.A. in biblical studies
As co-founder and president of Convoy of Hope, Hal Donaldson has helped nearly $1 billion (retail value) worth of food and supplies get to nearly 80 million people in need around the globe. But many years ago, he was on the receiving end of things. “Our father was killed by a drunken driver when I was 12,” Donaldson says. “Our mother was in the car and was seriously injured. Our family survived because of the kindness of others.”
New in 2017: Donaldson’s his first book, entitled Your Next 24 Hours: One Day of Kindness Can Change Everything and written with Kirk Noonan, was released in February. 
#FailedIt “In the early years of Convoy of Hope, my brothers and I tried to do too much ourselves. It actually limited growth and effectiveness. Many more people received help when we began to dedicate ourselves to training and mobilizing others.” —Hal Donaldson, President and Co-founder of Convoy of Hope Inc.
Brian Fogle
President and CEO, Community Foundation of the Ozarks
University of Mississippi, B.A. in business administration, MBA
After spending almost 30 years in banking, Brian Fogle joined Community Foundation of the Ozarks in 2008. He’s had numerous triumphs with his team there, including The Northwest Project, Growth for the Rural Ozarks and Give Ozarks Day. “It is a privilege to work with such a passionate and capable staff here,” he says. And something he’s personally passionate about? Music. “I’ve seen Elvis Presley, Kiss and Echo and the Bunnymen," he says. “How many can say that?”
Did you know? Old habits die hard. After working as a bank teller in college, Fogle still categorizes and lines up his bills like he was taught.
Julie Higgins
Founder and Executive Director, I Pour Life
Evangel University, B.A. in business education
After graduating in 1985, Julie Higgins moved to Dallas  for a job, and while she was there she auditioned to be a Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader. She made it to the final round but didn’t get a position. You would think that would be the defining moment of her career, but that came years later in 2009. “I met a refugee woman named Rosa who asked if I would bring her son back so he wouldn’t have to grow up as a refugee,” she says. “I knew at that moment my life would never be the same, and my new pursuit would be to provide opportunities for families to stay together and people to thrive.” 
“There are so many #FailedIt moments with my foreign language ability in central America and Ethiopia I could literally write a book.” —Julie Higgins, Founder and Executive Director of i Pour Life
Francine Pratt, Prosper Springfield Director, Community Partnership of the Ozarks
University of Phoenix, B.S. in Business Management.
Before she joined the nonprofit world, Francine Pratt worked for the state of California and held professional positions that came with corporate apartments, first-class flights, bonuses and other perks. But when the opportunity for a nonprofit career popped up, the University of Phoenix grad didn't even blink an eye at giving it all up—or taking a 50-percent salary reduction. Since then Pratt has moved to Springfield and held several notable roles in the community. Read Francine Pratt's full Power Play here.
Linda Ramey-Greiwe
Executive Director, Care To Learn
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in home economics journalism • Webster University, MBA 
Three decades into her professional career, Linda Ramey-Greiwe’s path took a 180-degree turn to nonprofit organizations from the publishing industry. The first 20 years of her career with Gannett Co. saw her working in seven markets and landing in Springfield to become publisher of the Springfield News-Leader. Her last nine years in the industry lined up with the Great Recession, and she was laying people off every six months. The last layoff she conducted was herself, allowing her to move to Care to Learn.
#FailedIt “I was introducing Stephanie Bryant as the new Dean of the College of Business at Missouri State University to the Springfield Rotary Southeast Club. I introduced her as the new Dean of the College of Business at the University of Missouri. The room gasped.” —Linda Ramey-Greiwe, Executive director of Care to Learn
Greg Burris
City Manager, City of Springfield
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in computer information processing, MBA
Springfield City Manager Greg Burris is directly responsible for more than 2,000 employees, a $340 million annual budget and more than $1.3 billion in assets. With an extensive background in leadership and management, he has been selected for numerous awards by local and international organizations. For Burris, though, it’s all about balance—when it comes time to decompress, he can be found playing the guitar or polishing off a piece of French silk pie.
New in 2017: “I learned six new guitar chords in 2017,” Burris says. “I can actually play four of them.”
Jan Fisk
Chief Financial Officer, J. Howard Fisk Limousines Inc.
Lebanon High School 
Jan Fisk’s career path has largely matched her husband’s, J. Howard Fisk. She brought her own experience from working in commercial construction, architecture, and hospitality when she started full time at their transportation company in 1980 after attending Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU). Jan has dedicated herself to improving Springfield by serving on several boards, fundraising projects and city government. She has been on Springfield City Council since 2012, is currently the mayor pro tem and works with Sister Cities as well as on committees for Plans and Policies, Community Involvement and Tourism Funding. 
Springfield Mayor
Southwest Missouri State University and University of Missouri-Columbia
In April 2017, Ken McClure won Springfield's ultra-competitive mayoral race against opponent Kristi Fulnecky. Mayor McClure, who is a Mizzou and Missouri State University alum, brings decades of government experience with him in the new role. This includes positions as chief of staff to former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission. Read Ken McClure's full Power Play here.
Scott Miller
General Manager, City Utilities of Springfield
University of Texas-Austin, B.S. in mechanical engineering • Wright State University, MBA in finance
With 30 years of experience in the utility industry under his belt, Scott Miller is a trusted leader at the helm of City Utilities of Springfield. Miller lends his expertise to the Board of the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C.; he also serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the Energy Authority in Jacksonville, Florida. 
Did you know? “I love fishing our local lakes,” Miller says. “Even on a day when it is a tough bite, I will still probably see a bald eagle, deer, turkeys or maybe be the only person in sight. How does it get better than that?”
Matt Morrow
President and CEO, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Southwest Baptist University, B.S. in communication, MBA
Matt Morrow knows business and spends his days advocating for local economic development. It’s no surprise that he feels strongly about the power of local business: He waxes poetic on Springfield’s “robust, nimble and responsive education system,” as well as the local culture of collaboration. 
New in 2017: Morrow is proud of the Chamber’s visioning committee, organized in February. “This visioning committee is now working toward a clear, concise and actionable plan of initiatives that will represent the aligned vision and shared priorities of our community,” he says.
This visioning committee is now working toward a clear, concise and actionable plan of initiatives that will represent the aligned vision and shared priorities of our community. ­ —Matt Morrow, President and CEO of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Mary Ann Rojas
Director of Workforce Development, City of Springfield 
Midwestern State University, B.A.A.S. in management 
Mary Ann Rojas learned one of her hardest lessons about the workforce when she had to close her business and lay off her employees, who happened to be her children. “I felt I had failed them, and that was a heavy burden,” she says. But that failure paved the way for her to become the first woman and person of color to hold an executive leadership role for the City of Springfield. She has spent the past four years working to expand access to employment and to improve the structure of the workforce development system in 417-land. 
#FailedIt “I left a very good position to move back home in 2009 to care for family and started and failed a business.” —Mary Ann Rojas, Director of Workforce Development for the City of Springfield
Emily Church
CEO, Owner and Founder, Everything Kitchens LLC
While other retailers are concerned about Amazon changing the e-commerce landscape, Emily Church is embracing it. She’s no stranger to online retail, starting when she was just 19 years old, rather than attending college after being home-schooled. Now the company has two locations in Springfield: one for online order fulfillment and one for local shoppers. The warehouse location also houses a kitchen the team is using to develop their educational focus and hands-on tutorials for recipes and kitchen tools.
#NailedIt “The first time we cracked $20 million in sales.”  #FailedIt “As we grew, I really struggled with adding another layer of management. And the breakdown in communication that ensued.” —Emily Church, CEO, owner and founder of Everything Kitchens LLC
Randy Little
Owner, PFI Western Store
Owner, RL Associates
Owner, SKI Air LLC
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in agricultural economics
What started as a livestock feed and farm supply company has become a multimillion dollar clothing and leather goods retailer under the guidance of Randy Little. He became sole owner of PFI in the ’80s and hasn’t looked back. “There is always more out there, more to do, more mountains to climb,” Little says.
New in 2017: Although others prefer the lake or the golf course, there’s no place like the cattle farm for Little. “The serenity of going out in the field to see something you’ve nurtured grow, whether animals or crops, is extremely satisfying,” he says.
CEO and Founder, Bass Pro Shops
Drury College (now Drury University), Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in business
Another year has passed, and another list of lofty business moves have been made by Bass Pro Shops CEO and Founder Johnny Morris, a Drury College (now Drury University) alum. Big-time golfer Tiger Woods traveled to Branson in April 2017 and joined Morris in making an announcement: The first public golf course Woods is desinging in America will be a part of Big Cedar Lodge. Read Johnny Morris' full Power Play here.
Photo courtesy of Stephens Photography
Thomas H. Douglas
President and CEO, JMARK Business Solutions
Bolivar High School
Thomas H. Douglas is at the helm of one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America. JMARK, an eight-time recipient of the Inc. Magazine distinction, supports more than 15,000 devices across hundreds of networks. “Our industry drives change,” Douglas says. “Change is hard for business and obviously for people.”
New in 2017: “We restructured our financial statements so that we could scale more effectively, make better decisions and identify our strengths and weaknesses,” Douglas says. “It was a major adjustment for myself and the leadership of JMARK.”
Doug Pitt
General Manager, TSI Technology Solutions 
Owner and Developer, Pitt Development Group LLC
Founder, Care To Learn
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in communications
Doug Pitt is a master of multitasking. Pitt has donated his time as an executive consultant for Enactus and a board member for WorldServe International. He is also the first ever Goodwill Ambassador for the United Republic of Tanzania. Still, Pitt finds time to own a successful development group and manage TSI Technology Solutions. His trick to keep it all together? “Technology!” he says.
New in 2017: “Care to Learn funded our 750,000th need since our start,” Pitt says. In its eighth year, there are now 32 chapters in Missouri.
Executive Chairman, Jack Henry & Associates
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, B.A. in business administration Queens University, MBA
It was 40 years ago when Jack Prim first began a career in the financial industry as a sales representative for Burroughs Corp. Fast forward to today, and Prim is the executive chairman at Jack Henry & Associates Inc., which has acquired two companies in this past two years and was named to America's Best Employers List by Forbes in May 2017. Read Jack Prim's full Power Play here.
#NailedIt “The first time I qualified for the Boston Marathon.”  #Failed It “The multiple times I attempted and failed to qualify for the Boston Marathon.” —Jack Prim, Executive chairman of Jack Henry and Associates Inc.
Gordon A. Elliott
President and CEO, Elliott Lodging Ltd.
Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU), B.S. in accounting
Gordon A. Elliott has experienced a great deal of ups and downs throughout his decades-long career, including founding public accounting firm Elliott, Robinson & Company LLP and hotel management company Elliott Lodging Ltd. But nothing has altered his life more than suffering a major heart attack in China. “I realized that I had to make every minute count,” he says.
New in 2017: Elliott Lodging is hard at work building a Best Western Vib to be located in east Springfield. “The Vib prototype has turned my passion to design, and I have joined Best Western’s Design Advisory Committee,” Elliott says.
Billy McQueary
Co-owner, Hotel Vandivort
William Jewell College, B.S. in computer science
There are few things that excite Billy McQueary more than the trajectory of Springfield and its downtown, where his family’s business of four generations was located. Those memories are what stoked his passion for downtown. “Every year there seem to be a few more pieces of the puzzle to take downtown Springfield to that next level,” he says. Outside of work, the avid sports-lover enjoys coaching and cheering on his three kids as they play soccer, basketball, baseball and more.
New in 2017: Hotel Vandivort was named the Boutique Hotel of the Year in 2016. The national award is given annually by the Boutique Lifestyle & Lodging Association.
John McQueary
Co-owner, Hotel Vandivort
Missouri University of Science & Technology, B.S. in computer engineering
John McQueary worked as a programmer for McQueary Brothers Drug Co. until his family’s business was acquired in 2008. After a few years writing software with his brother, Billy, the pair sought a change of pace. Enter, Hotel Vandivort. “It was hard to stick firm with the vision and not sacrifice vital elements for the sake of budget, but ultimately we felt it was a concept worth the risk,” he says.
New in 2017: “I spearheaded the Springfield Flag Movement,” McQueary says. “It has been exciting to see so many people have a new way to show pride for Springfield.” 
#NailedIt “Seeing the Hotel Vandivort lobby and The Order fill up for the first time with locals.” —John McQueary, Co-owner of Hotel Vandivort
Tim O’Reilly
CEO, O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC
Westminster College, B.A. in economics with an emphasis in English and political science • University of Missouri–Kansas City, J.D.
Tim O’Reilly, a practicing lawyer for O’Reilly & Preston LLC Attorneys at Law, took a chance and with his brother, Ryan, invested in Hawthorn Park Hotel, reopening it as Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Springfield and Houlihan’s. Not long after, O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC was born and has grown to include 15 hotels in multiple states, some still under construction, and five restaurants. 
New in 2017: In June, O’Reilly Hospitality Management moved into its new corporate headquarters in east Springfield.
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