Biz 100 2016
Biz 100 is a celebration of the most influential business leaders in southwest Missouri. Their efforts earn them individual success and community enrichment for us all. Take a closer look at the people who make 417-land a powerful economic force.
By Stephanie Towne Benoit, Adrienne Donica, Rose Marthis, Claire Porter, Lillian Stone and Savannah Waszczuk
Biz 100 is a recognition and celebration of the most influential business leaders in southwest Missouri. Some on the list are household names. Others avoid the spotlight but cast equally long shadows. Their efforts earn them individual success and community enrichment for us all. Biz 100 offers an engaging, personal look at the people who make 417-land a powerful economic force.
Geoffrey H. Butler
Senior Partner and founder, Butler, Rosenbury & Partners
University of Kansas, bachelor of environmental design, B.Arch
In Geoffrey H. Butler’s 40-year career, he says his biggest challenge was managing the recession of 2008. Business for his thriving firm of almost 100 professionals dried up, with two-thirds of the work in national hotels and themed retail stopping nationally. But he held on and learned to be supportive of the community. “Not everything we do can translate into business, but everything we do can reflect on our business,” he says.
Photo by Brandon Alms
President, Paragon Architecture
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. in architectural studies, M.Arch
A Chicago native, Brad Erwin moved to Springfield in 2003 but stays true to his Windy City roots as one of the few Cubs fans in southwest Missouri. His love for Wrigley Field sparked an interest in baseball stadium design, and he was able to gain business from it. “In the summer of 2001, I visited every MLB stadium and just recently helped design replicas of a few of those parks at Ballparks of America in Branson,” he says.
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 20 years and has experience in the construction industry for more than 30. Outside the office, 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.
Managing Partner, Butler, Rosenbury & Partners
Mississippi State University, B.Arch
Tim Rosenbury has been part of the Springfield business community for 32 years, watching the city grow and serving on multiple boards. Like many others, he faced the challenge of declining business during the 2008 recession. But he says the most defining moment of his career was when he renovated his own home, allowing him to understand the financial commitment from his clients’ perspective. That’s also where he feels most relaxed in 417-land—at home with his wife, Genie.
Arts & Entertainment
Photo by Tonya Forbes
Executive Director, Springfield Little Theatre
Stephens College, B.F.A. in theatre with an emphasis in directing
Beth Domann describes herself as an introvert, but she finds her voice on the stage. She grew up in Springfield theatre, first appearing on the Landers Theatre stage in 1978. After college, she returned to Springfield in 1990 and became Springfield’s Funniest Person. Now, she’s responsible for producing Springfield Little Theatre’s eight-show season entirely performed and crewed by volunteers. How does she do that? “Hire really smart, passionate people and get out of their way,” she says.
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
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. After returning from military service in 1956, he began focusing on the business he and his brother started and the surrounding community. 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.
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
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, and that dedication goes beyond creating theme parks for family fun. He is the longest-running 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.
AUTOMOBILES & TRANSPORTATION
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. He also didn’t plan to split up a 19-year partnership and then have to figure out how to be successful without anyone to bounce new ideas off of. “Don’t be afraid to be successful,” he says. “It’s a wild, crazy, fun ride!”
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
J. Howard Fisk was just a kid from Lebanon when he moved to Springfield to attend college. Fast forward 40 years to the present, and Fisk leads a company of 75 part-time employees. But his service to the community goes way beyond providing rides. Fisk is on the board for and involved in 36 organizations and has served as chairman on dozens of committees for community and industry advancement.
President and 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 CEO who is not an O’Reilly family member. Henslee attributes the company’s quick growth to culture, and he makes sure the O’Reilly culture prevails when acquiring other auto parts companies. “I strongly believe that culture almost always trumps strategy,” he says.
Photo by Brandon Alms
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 $1.2 million per year in interest expenses drove Prime to bankruptcy. This fallout forced Low to restructure his business model, and he placed high value on personal responsibility and teamwork—values which are also key to Low’s basketball games with his associates.
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.”
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, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the centerpiece of the car business: people. He knows customer service is as important as getting the right people in the right places, and that one-on-one relationships are imperative even in today’s technology-filled world. “The people you meet today could hold the keys to your future,” he says.
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.
BUSINESS CONSULTING & EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
President, Penmac Staffing
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in home economics
Paula Adams first joined Penmac Staffing in 1995 and worked her way up through numerous roles in different departments. Now serving as president, she oversees more than 30 Penmac branches in seven states and has helped the company achieve record sales in recent years. Throughout her career, she’s found that surrounding herself with good people has been essential to success. “My No. 1 piece of advice is to have a good support system,” she says. “Find advisers you trust; hire people with both talent and good character.” Hear Paula's story at Biz 417's B-School Breakfast Series on December 8.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
Owner and Member, Davis Properties LLC
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business, MBA
Technically, Warren Davis retired after dedicating 31 years to his father’s business, Orval Davis Tire Company, in Bolivar. Retirement didn’t last long, though. Davis Properties LLC began in 1994 with the purchase of downtown Springfield’s McDaniel and Woodruff buildings. In the intervening years, the company has become one of the largest property owners in downtown Springfield. Today, Davis Properties LLC holds a portfolio with more than 3 million square feet across 40 entities.
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.
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, Griesemer serves as president and CEO of the company, which ceased mining operations in 2015 and shifted focus to managing millions of square feet of underground real estate created by decades of that activity. Griesemer is also active as a board member of the Show-Me Institute, a think tank dedicated to promoting free markets and individual liberty.
Photo by About Faces
President and CEO, Jared Enterprises
Drury University, B.A. in business, minor in global studies
As President and CEO of Jared Enterprises, Curtis Jared has been influential in charting the future of the real estate investment, development, management and brokerage firm, which along with its subsidiary companies has more than 2 million square feet of commercial and residential holdings. Outside of the office, Jared is an active member of James River Church and serves the community as a member of the OTC Foundation Board of Directors, Mercy Health Foundation Springfield Board of Directors and more.
Photo by About Faces
Jerry G. Jared
Chairman, Jared Enterprises
Parkview High School
A lot has changed for Jerry G. Jared since attending Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU) and joining Consumers Markets in 1968. He worked his way up to become chairman, president and CEO of the supermarket chain. When the business was sold in 1990, Jared retained some of the real estate in the transaction, thus launching CRW Properties, now Jared Enterprises. The company has accomplished much since its founding, including developing Cody’s Convenience Stores, which was sold to Kum & Go, and other major real estate projects.
Photo by Patrick McWhirt
CEO, The Vecino Group
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in political science and Russian area studies
Matt Miller began his development company, The Vecino Group, intending to build community-fostering projects that sparked urban renewal and were dedicated to the greater good. “In the beginning, we let our mission lead because we had more idealism than experience—but it’s become our brand,” he says. To this day, that bold mission is his driving force. “Nothing gets me more excited than thinking about the impact we can make together,” he says.
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), owns and co-owns a portfolio of 20 properties such as lofts, apartments, mixed-used buildings and more. The company is also working on developing and building properties for seniors, which Miller views as particularly exciting. “I find the opportunity to serve that entire industry, at all levels of care, to be extremely dynamic,” he says.
Owner and Agent, Murney Associates, Realtors
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in business
Patrick Murney has spent more than two decades in real estate and has amassed annual sales exceeding $60 million. Throughout his career, his total sales have surpassed $1 billion, a remarkable accomplishment. What’s even more notable is that the vast majority of that business has come from customer referrals and loyal repeat clients, a testament to his emphasis on building relationships with clients and the community.
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, 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 stage race through the mountains of British Columbia. “Nothing in business compares to the tenacity needed to do those types of races,” O’Reilly says. “It’s a good business exercise—to race—because it makes everything else seem doable.”
Managing Director, SVN/Rankin Co. LLC Owner, Rankin Development LLC
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance, minor in real estate
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 SVN, a national brokerage firm. Since then, SVN/Rankin Co. has been consistently among the top 10 most productive of SVN’s many offices nationwide. Throughout his career, Rankin has developed more than 650,000 square feet of built-to-suit industrial projects for major companies such as Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.
Photo by Tim Robbins of Darkroom Studios
Manager, Wilhoit Properties Inc., Commercial Real Estate Division
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in economics
Ken Schwab’s career took an unexpected turn when the would-be banker was terminated after not relocating for a promotion. “Eighteen months later I joined Wilhoit Properties, and now 35 years have flown by,” he says. In that time, he has amassed roughly $350 million in career sales and leasing transactions—and he is excited for the Springfield market’s continued maturation. “I sense the growth of 417-land that I have witnessed is only the start of bigger and better things to come,” he says.
COMMUNICATIONS & MEDIA
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 and encourages him to pay attention to small details: “Everything you think, everything you say and everything you do matters. The little stuff matters the most.”
Founder and Chairman, Noble Communications
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.F.A. in commercial art
Since launching Noble Communications in 1969, Robert Noble, a self-described serial entrepreneur, has grown the company into one of the country’s top independent advertising and marketing agencies. Noble is also president and CEO of Intuience LLC, which contains notable entities such as The Food Channel, a cutting-edge human-curated web app called Sparcwire, and a consumer qualitative insights company called CultureWaves. When he needs to unplug, he loves to relax at his 60-acre Rivercliff retreat property on the Finley River.
Founder and 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, which is a top producer of infomercials, Opfer can often be found spending time with his wife, Tracy, and five kids, all of whom are current or former college athletes.
CEO, Conco Cos.
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in philosophy, M.A. in philosophy
With two local quarries, Conco Cos. is the largest concrete producer in southwest Missouri. In addition to overseeing this rock-solid business, 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 represented Missouri at the National Endowment for the Arts Education Leaders Institute. In 1997, the Springfield Regional Arts Council awarded him an Ozzie Award for his involvement.
President, Killian Construction Co.
Glendale High School
To say that Bill Killian has an impressive portfolio is an understatement. Years after attending Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) and the University of Missouri–Columbia, he became president of the family construction company in 1993. Later that year, he bought the company, becoming the sole owner, and transformed Killian Construction Co. into a large-scale general contractor. 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.
President, Morelock-Ross Group
Since co-founding Morelock-Ross with Kenny Ross in 1982, Wayne Morelock, who attended Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), has helped drive the company’s major growth. The business launched with no initial investment, but the Morelock-Ross umbrella has grown to include 26 companies in a wide variety of specialties including residential and commercial construction, property management and the restaurant industry.
Vice President, Morelock-Ross Group
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.A. in general business
Kenny Ross partnered with Wayne Morelock to form Morelock-Ross Builders in 1982. Since then, they’ve combined their talents and battled economic downturns to build a solid foundation for the next generation. That’s good news for Ross, whose favorite pastime is spending time with his eight grandchildren. His secret to staying zen after over 30 years in business? “It might surprise some people that I have been doing yoga for over 25 years,” he says.
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. Needless to say, he knows how to be an effective manager. For tips on leadership, he recommends One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
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. “The second fork in the road was deciding to take an administrative path in the academic world, which led me to where I’m at today,” she says. In her current position, Bryant oversees the education of more than 5,000 students and is co-author of two textbooks and more than 30 academic articles. Her work experience isn’t just relegated to academia. Years ago, she worked for a pipefitting company. “As a result, I can drive a forklift and also know quite a bit about industrial supplies,” she says.
Photo courtesy of OTC
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 numerous meaningful moments throughout his career, but starting his first position in higher education at Faulkner State Community College 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. “Community college education is, in my opinion, the most important segment of higher education for our economy and our nation,” he says. “OTC is the jet fuel in the economic engine of southwest Missouri.”
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. Although his role requires him to be quite outgoing in certain settings, he relishes the opportunity to sneak away for an hour or two. “[I like to] find a golf course, turn on my Bluetooth speaker with some good tunes and try not to pick up my phone for a few holes,” he says.
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 rose to the challenge and was named president 16 months later. “[I’m excited] that we have so many engaged, intelligent students who are committed to causes like sustainability and social justice who want to make the world a better place and work hard to advance their goals,” he says.
FINANCE & BANKING
Ann Marie Baker
Greater Missouri Region President, UMB Bank
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business administration with an emphasis in banking and finance University of Wisconsin–Madison, Graduate School of Banking
As president of UMB Bank in the Greater Missouri Region, Ann Marie Baker’s days are filled with plenty of team leading and instructing. But she also pays extra-special attention to the words of her associates. “Listening—really listening—is highly underrated and underutilized,” Baker says. “Asking the right questions or meeting the right people is meaningless without absorbing what comes your way.” Also on her list of attributes? “I can spell backward as easily as I can spell forward,” she says.
Photo courtesy of Guaranty Bank
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. In fact, it’s what he’s most excited about, especially when the financial technology arena is concerned. “Embrace change—it’s going to happen with or without you,” he says.
Robert C. Fulp
Chairman and CEO, Springfield First Community Bank
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance and accounting
Robert C. Fulp is a community man through and through. “[I] can’t start my morning off without my workout and coffee from a local coffee shop,” he says. Then he heads to his role as chairman and CEO of Springfield First Community Bank, a locally owned full-service bank. When asked what he’s looking forward to, Fulp also looks local. “The future for Springfield is bright, and it excites me to see the next generation getting involved in our community and making a difference,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Bob Hammerschmidt
President, 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
Bob Hammerschmidt had planned to join his family’s lumber business, but while in college, he and his father agreed there were too many cooks in the kitchen. So he re-evaluated. “My intermediate accounting professor was on the board of a bank, and he got me an interview,” he says. “The rest is a 42-year history.” Outside of the office, he enjoys date nights with his wife. “Melinda and I have had date night nearly every weekend for 35 years,” he says.
Managing Shareholder, KPM CPAs & Advisors
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in accounting
Jim Lewis could be an inspiration to students everywhere. “I began working at [what is now] KPM in 1981 as an intern and today serve as the firm’s managing shareholder,” Lewis says. And when he looks ahead, it’s those following in his same footsteps that he talks about. “We have had several younger employees really step up these last few years, and it has been exciting,” Lewis says. “It feels like watching your own children take on new responsibilities.”
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. And this includes much more than his role as president and CEO of 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. In years past, he’s been involved with Rotary Club of Springfield, Convoy of Hope and United Way of the Ozarks, among other organizations.
Regional Chairman, Simmons Bank
MacMurray College, B.S. in economics Western Illinois University, M.A. in economics
Minus a two-and-a-half–year break, Gary Metzger has worked in the banking world since 1974. But it was this brief break that he says defined his career. “I purchased and operated several companies with several investors and partners,” Metzger says. This gave him first-hand experience with cash flow, budgeting, planning and staying focused. “I believe this experience has made me a better banker,” he says. When he’s not at Simmons, you’ll often find Metzger beside his wife, Susan, sipping a glass of wine at Table Rock Lake.
Southwest Missouri Region CEO and Chairman, Commerce Bank
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business administration and finance, minor in economics 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 was asked to relocate from Kansas City to Wichita, and he 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. Another life-changer? Enrolling at the University of Missouri after being a life-long Jayhawk.
Executive Vice President and Market Executive, Central Trust Company
ABA/Northwestern University Trust School ABA/Northwestern University Trust Graduate School
Many people count the days until they don’t have to work any longer, but Jami Peebles isn’t one of them. “It is an amazing career,” she says of her role at Central Trust Company where she oversees the southern region, manages a team of 28 and helps set the strategy for company as a whole. “Retirement will be very difficult for me.” But until that day comes, the Oklahoma native will continue leading her team with the same advice she would offer to others, including remembering to give out “Vitamin P” (praise). “Everyone needs it!” she 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, Joseph W. 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.
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-author. “I was a part of a six-person task force in 2004 that was charged with defining and putting to writing what the firm meant by ‘The BKD Experience of Unmatched Client Service,’” he says. Today the copyrighted book is in its third edition and is the basis of training for BKD associates in 34 offices across 15 states. “Being part of such a lasting legacy to our firm is something I am very proud of,” he says.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Photo courtesy of Askinosie Chocolate
Founder and CEO, Askinosie Chocolate
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in political science, J.D.
Making a living can equate to making a difference, and after serving as a successful criminal defense attorney for 20 years, Shawn Askinosie aimed to do just that when he founded Askinosie Chocolate. The company engages in direct trade and profit sharing with its farmers and provides meals for children in communities around the world. “I believe that little by little, business will end up solving many of the social problems we face on this planet,” he says. Social problems aren’t the only thing he has been known to tackle. In his college days at Sophia University in Japan, Askinosie was a professional wrestler named “Shooting Shawn Springfield.”
Senior vice President and Division Manager, Associated Wholesale Grocers
Iver C. Ranum High School
Associated Wholesale Grocers is the oldest grocery cooperative in the country, and at its Springfield branch, Tim Bellanti oversees the more than $1 billion in groceries the distribution center ships each year as the senior vice president and division manager. For Bellanti, who also worked with Dillons food stores, food doesn’t just lead to a paycheck; it’s also a passion project. In his spare time, Bellanti serves on the board of directors at Ozarks Food Harvest.
Photo courtesy of William Darr
William H. Darr
Founder and Executive Vice President-Strategy, American Dehydrated Foods Inc., International Dehydrated Foods Inc., and Food Ingredients Technology Company LLC
Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU), B.S. in agriculture
When William Darr founded American Dehydrated Foods in 1978, his childhood on a farm, his degree in agriculture and his experience working at Henningsen Foods gave him extensive knowledge of the food processing industry. Darr attributes that knowledge—and the expertise of his team—to carrying his company through tough times and discovering opportunities for expansion.
Photo courtesy of Mark Farbin Photography
Co-owner and CEO, MaMa Jean’s Natural Market and MJ’s Market & Deli
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, a growth rate that Farbin says is both a blessing and a challenge when resources are tight. Hear Susie's story at Biz 417's B-School Breakfast Series on December 8.
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, and a defining moment for him was attending Yale after establishing his career. “I embraced learning and growth differently than I had before,” he says. “I was exposed to leaders and thinkers who were at the top of their game, and I not only enjoyed it, but devoured it.” Outside of the classroom, Foster has built a business deeply connected with its neighbors and continues to be a driver of community development on Historic C-Street. He was once a member of the Grammy-winning group Sounds of Blackness. Hear Lyle's story at Biz 417's B-School Breakfast Series on December 8.
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—133 to be exact—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.
Vice President Corporate Strategy and Chairman of the Board, Ozarks Coca-Cola Bottling
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 incredible team for an upcoming 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.
CEO and Chairman of the Board, American Dehydrated Foods Inc., International Dehydrated Foods Inc., and Food Ingredients Technology Company LLC
Chairman of the Board, IsoNova Technologies LLC
Chairman of the Board, IsoNova Technologies LLC
University of Nebraska, B.S. in engineering
Kurt Hellweg oversees the multitude of projects and products the Darr family companies churn out each day, but he didn’t get to this spot overnight. Over 29 years, Hellweg has worked as senior vice president of sales, senior vice president of operations, president and COO—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!”
Co-Owner, Mama Jean’s Natural Market and MJ’s Market & Deli
Richland High School
Diana Hicks, who attended Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), has seen the MaMa Jean’s family of markets grow tremendously in its 14 years in business. The employees—or Jeaners, as they’re called—have developed alongside the company, which is a particular point of pride for Hicks. She has noted instances when her company has made a positive impact on the lives of her team members, like when one of her original staffers was able to buy a house. “We’ve had the fortunate opportunity to watch young kids grow into healthy, productive assets of our company,” she says.
President, Andy’s Frozen Custard
As the president—and namesake—of Andy’s Frozen Custard, Andy Kuntz has made it his mission to spread the brand’s creamy cool treats across the nation. Andy’s Frozen Custard is sold at 39 locations (with 12 more in progress) reaching 11 states. Kuntz and his parents, the company’s founders, rely on hiring a personable, dependable team and serving quality custard that’s never more than an hour hold. The company celebrates its 30th year in business this year, and Kuntz, who attended the University of Missouri–Columbia, keeps customers coming back for more by offering inventive new flavor combos alongside the classics (hello, pumpkin pie concrete).
Edwin “Cookie” Rice
CEO, Ozarks Coca-Cola Bottling
Drury College (now Drury University), B.S. in political science, economics and psychology
Very few plan to turn a teenage summer job into a career path to follow for the rest of their lives, but Edwin “Cookie” Rice did just that when he got his first job at 14 loading bottles into the soaker at his father’s Coca-Cola bottling plant. Now, 63 years later, Rice isn’t feeding the soaker, but rather overseeing the plant as it has grown by 60 percent with expansions into the nearby cities of Joplin and West Plains. The company is preparing to take ownership of the northwest Arkansas Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper franchise territories.
Photo by Vivian Wheeler
Founder, Mother’s Brewing Company
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. When Schrag decided to stop giving away free subscriptions to his newspaper to advertisers, those advertisers then bought their own subscriptions. “Don’t compete with yourself,” he says. “Believe in the value of your product because if you don’t, no one else will either.”
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sweet
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 five locations in Missouri plus restaurants opening in Kansas City and Bentonville, Arkansas. For his next move, Sundy is looking forward to expanding Big Whiskey’s nationally while maintaining his signature management and operations style. “It’s not about reinventing the wheel; it’s about making the wheel work for us,” he says. To make your dream a reality, Sundy says you have to stay humble. “Always answer your phone,” he says. “Be willing to do what others won’t. You’re never too good.”
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 also attended Missouri State University, is the president and CEO of Pyramid Foods, the parent company of Price Cutter and of nine other chains throughout the Midwest. Ten years ago, Taylor converted the company to 100-percent employee ownership to encourage employees to take pride in their work, and he’s proud to say that some associates in leadership positions at the company began their careers at Price Cutter as cashiers, stockers and baggers just like Taylor.
Photo by CoxHealth
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.
Donald J. Babb
CEO, Citizens Memorial Hospital
Executive Director, Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation
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 1981, Donald J. Babb was given the opportunity of a lifetime—that’s saying something for someone who lived in Morocco while serving in the U.S. Air Force. That year, he was asked to develop Citizens Memorial Hospital and continues to lead it today. Babb is an avid fan and sponsor of race car driving and even owns race cars. “I leave the professional driving to someone else,” says the 2008 inductee into the Ozarks Area Racers Association Hall of Fame.
President and CEO, CoxHealth
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in political science Washington University in St. Louis, masters in healthcare administration
As a 16-year-old, Steve Edwards worked as an orderly in the emergency department at Cox Medical Center (now Cox North). It was then that he discovered his passion for medicine and made it a goal to become CEO of a hospital. In 2011, Edwards surpassed that goal and became president and CEO of an entire health system. “Life is too short to be in a position, a company or an industry for which you find no passion,” he says. “If you cannot find passion in your work, have the courage to change." Hear Steve's story at Biz 417's B-School Breakfast Series on December 8.
Photo courtesy of Integrity Healthcare
Co-owner and CEO, Integrity Home Care + Hospice
Co-Owner, Integrity Pharmacy
Co-Owner, Integrity Pharmacy
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, his companies 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.
President and owner, Phoenix Home Care Inc.
Friends University, B.S. in psychology Wichita State University, M.Ed. in counseling
After attempts to buy out his partners in Integra Healthcare LLC failed, Phil Melugin founded Phoenix Home Care Inc. in 2011. Today, the company operates in four states, has more than 2,800 employees and earns $60 million in annual revenue. “Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone in our radically changing economy,” Melugin says. “Understand that necessity leads to inspiration and inspiration leads to the abiding belief necessary to succeed in today’s economy as an entrepreneur.”
Photo courtesy of Mercy
President, Mercy Central communities
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.” In his free time, Swope enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing and beekeeping.
Timothy A. Connell
Partner, Connell Insurance Inc.
Reeds Spring High School
After attending Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), Timothy A. Connell started his career in insurance in 1984 and joined Connell Insurance Inc., which his brother started, three years later. Today, the company is regarded as an industry leader and in recent years has developed a significant niche: social services for people with developmental disabilities. Connell also focuses on the people that make up his own staff. “Engage and embrace your staff like they are your best clients as well as the community, and they will engage and embrace you back,” he says.
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 to society. “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. “So get involved in volunteer work.”
Photo courtesy of Ollis Akers Arney
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance, minor in insurance
As CEO of Ollis/Akers/Arney, Richard Ollis, a fourth-generation risk and insurance advisor, leads what has become Springfield’s largest independent insurance agency. “It’s very exciting to be involved in growing communities and work with both individuals and companies that are growing and expanding,” he says. One of his most significant experiences occurred long before stepping into that role: joining the U.S. Navy at age 17. “I spent over three years at sea—it was a life-changing experience,” he says.
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 a diverse array of local, national and international clients. He recalls one contract negotiation that required around seven weeks of daily negotiations in Dallas—complete with 20-hour days and several overnighters. To keep it all together, Agee sticks to the basics: time spent 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.”
Photo courtesy of Husch Blackwell
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 at Husch Blackwell LLP, where she serves as a litigator specializing in healthcare in federal and state courts.
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. He feels excited about Springfield’s entrepreneurial spirit and creativity and is a leader in both the local business community and the service realm. Powell currently serves as the president of Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield and has held leadership positions with multiple area nonprofits and business organizations. He still, however, finds time to add to his collection of comic books and to enjoy a good cigar.
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 counsel to the real estate and food industries, among others. He even led a Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce trade mission to China. He chalks his success up to an embrace of change and innovation—and a solid partnership with the next generation. “Some of the hardest-working people I know are our young attorneys and staff, who probably fall into the definition of ‘millennials,’” Wallace says.
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 purchase for Custom Protein Corp. (formerly Southwest By-Products).
President and fourth generation cooper, 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 into business, 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. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, running, playing basketball and spending time with his wife, Martha, and their three children.
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 helped propel 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 recently joined the Ozarks Technical Community College Board of Trustees.
Karl G. Glassman
President and CEO, Leggett & Platt Inc.
California State University-Long Beach, B.S. in business with an emphasis in management and finance
It’s been quite the year for Karl G. Glassman, who started his role as CEO of Leggett & Platt Inc. in January of this year. Having joined the company in 1982, he has held numerous other positions at Leggett & Platt Inc. including chief operating officer, president of its Residential Furnishings segment and, since 2013, president of the manufacturing giant. Glassman also lends his expertise to the National Association of Manufacturers Board of Directors.
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 being able to develop 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.
Photo courtesy of BG Club Springfield
President and CEO, Hutchens Industries
As president and CEO of Hutchens Industries, Jeff Hutchens is carrying on the family business started by his grandfather C. Ted Hutchens in 1950. The company manufactures suspensions and other goods for the trailer industry at its two plants in Mansfield and Seymour. When he’s not working on his business, Hutchens spends his time helping the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield—an organization he’s been involved with for 33 years. In 2011, he was inducted into its hall of fame.
Senior Vice President-General Manager, Southern Missouri Containers Inc.
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in geology
Mark McNay joined Southern Missouri Containers Inc. just six years after the company was founded and has seen it grow throughout the years. Like many other people in the business community, McNay is involved in several organizations in his free time. He serves as chairman of the Mercy Health Foundation Springfield Board of Directors, as the treasurer of United Way of the Ozarks and as the international service director for the Rotary Club of Springfield–Southeast.
President and CEO, Paul Mueller Co.
Middlebury College, B.A. in physics University of Chicago, MBA
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. After adopting that model, the company has seen a stock price increase from $15 to $29 per share.
Photo by Brandon Alms
President and 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.
President and Co-founder, Convoy of Hope Inc.
San Jose State University, B.A. in journalism Bethany University, B.A. in biblical studies
As co-founder and president of Convoy of Hope Inc., Hal Donaldson is one of the driving forces who 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. Because our father didn’t have insurance, our family survived because of the kindness of others.”
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’m close to obsessive about music,” he says. “I’ve seen Elvis Presley, Kiss and Echo and the Bunnymen. How many can say that?”
Mary Beth O’Reilly
Founder and Chair, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks
DePaul Hospital School of Nursing, R.N. Drury College (now Drury University), B.S. in nursing
Mary Beth O’Reilly is familiar with hard work. “One of the biggest challenges was getting physicians’ offices to believe the concept of BCFO doing financial distributions,” O’Reilly says of the beginning days of her nonprofit. “Another was getting donors interested.” But she proved herself by growing the organization, and she happily offers advice to others looking for success in their own ventures. “Have a vision, have a plan, work hard and hire people better than yourself,” she says. “Those things will keep you from getting into trouble.”
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.
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. “As a kid, I used to try to trap muskrats in the winter,” says Miller. “One year I fell through the ice—I was by myself—struggled to get out of the water and then had to walk a couple miles to get home.” His success may have something to do with that lifelong grit.
President and CEO, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Southwest Baptist University, B.S. in communication, MBA
Matt Morrow knows business. As president and CEO of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, he 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 among job creators, educators and trainers. Morrow also values a work hard, play hard lifestyle: The self-described “rhythmically challenged Southern Baptist” once won a dance-off in Jamaica.
Owner, PFI Western Store
Owner, RL Associates
Owner, SKI Air LLC
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 multi-million 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. For the past eight years, the store has brought in the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough PFIWestern.com Invitational in partnership with Bass Pro Shops. Little has served on many boards, is a partner in The Starlite Theatre and is the man behind the PFI/PBR Party in the Parking Lot.
CEO and Founder, Bass Pro Shops
Drury College (now Drury University), Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in business
The man behind the largest outdoor retailer in the world is just a loyal Springfieldian like the rest of us. After a long day of fishing, constructing golf courses, running a business, coming up with the next resort or museum idea or connecting people to the great outdoors as a conservation advocate, Morris does what any 417-lander would do: kick back with an Andy’s chocolate malt.
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, a seven-time recipient of the Inc. Magazine distinction, supports more than 15,000 devices across hundreds of networks. In terms of leadership training, Douglas learned a lot during his time with the U.S. Navy after attending the University of Missouri. “While I was in the Navy, I worked for a lieutenant who taught me how not to lead,” he says. “From that day forward, I vowed to always put people first.”
General Manager, TSI Technology Solutions
Owner, Pitt Development Group LLC
Founder, Care To Learn
Owner, 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. “I often work odd hours and rely on mobility, so I am quick to embrace new things that help improve efficiency.”
Executive Chairman, Jack Henry & Associates
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, B.A. in business administration Queens University, MBA
Since joining the team at Jack Henry & Associates in 1995, Jack Prim has held multiple leadership roles including COO, president and CEO. He describes the most recent economic downturn as “the scariest economic event in [his] lifetime,” but takes pride in the fact that no Jack Henry employees were laid off as a result of the crisis. Another point of pride for Prim: qualifying for the Boston Marathon after several attempts and a lot of hard work.
TRAVEL & HOSPITALITY
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 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. “From the moment I woke up [in the hospital], I began to plan the rest of my life,” he says. “I realized that I had to make every minute count.”
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.
Co-owner, Hotel Vandivort
Missouri University of Science & Technology, B.S. in computer engineering
John McQueary worked as a programmer for McQueary Brothers Drug Company 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, leading them to a new venture: Hotel Vandivort. Although exciting, the project wasn’t all smooth sailing. “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.
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 14 hotels in multiple states, some of which are still under construction, and four restaurants. While he has achieved great success by any measure, he believes that success has many definitions. “Maybe your definition of success may change as you go through life, but I believe success comes from fulfillment,” he says.
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