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Success Stories

Mike Bergmeier, President of ShieldAg Equipment in Hutchinson, Kansas, would likely tell you that the challenges for small manufacturers in Kansas before the pandemic were many.  From supply chain issues to changing access to markets to skilled labor shortages, running a manufacturing business was no picnic.  It should come as little surprise that the pandemic greatly exacerbated those challenges while introducing new ones.  While many businesses and individuals have been able to pivot and embrace virtual meetings globally, the lack of broadband access in rural areas around the world, including in Kansas, makes virtual business meetings nearly impossible. What does a small business owner do in these unprecedented times to surmount the increasing challenges? They enlist their partners and fellow business owners to combine their creativity, innovation, resourcefulness, and determination to not only ensure their businesses survive but thrive in this new environment.

ShieldAg... Read More

They say necessity is the mother of invention. For one young entrepreneur in Wichita, becoming a new father after losing his job with only unemployment income spurred him to act.

Jordan Harris started a cleaning company in 2015 when he saved some money from his unemployment checks to buy a $45 vacuum from WalMart. After going door to door asking to clean buildings, a property owner in Andover said yes. “I actually knocked on doors and said that I needed to clean their building,” said Harris. “I put a lot of effort into the cleaning to impress my clients,” Harris continued.

Word about his quality work got around, and other commercial cleaning contracts started coming in. After years of hard work and investing in the business, Harris Dream Clean has grown its annual revenues past the $1 million mark.

Harris earned a degree in business administration from Wichita State University (WSU) in 2010 and worked as a manager overseeing a... Read More

Williams Towing, Inc. in Emporia, Kansas was founded on January 2, 2018 by Clint Drake when he bought the towing division of Williams Automotive. Drake had successfully managed the towing division for four years before making it his own.  

An Army Veteran and native of Emporia, Clint Drake came into the business with the experience he gained in the U.S. Army when he served in Iraq from 2010 – 2011 with the 108th Helicopter Attachment based in Kuwait.

In 2014, Clint Drake was hired to manage the towing division at Williams Automotive. He excelled at the job and within a year he was promoted to manage the garage shop that handled diesel repairs as well as the company’s newly acquired recycling business.

After acquiring the knowledge to manage the towing division well, Drake was asked by the owner of the company if he would be interested in buying the division and run it as a separate company. The owner arranged the financing with ESB Financial to sell it to Drake... Read More

While Kansas City and Memphis may be known for great barbeque, Melody McCray-Miller has grown her Wichita-inspired barbeque baked beans product distribution to over half of the country.

Millers, Inc.’s Bar-B-Que Baked Beans have captured a niche market in the refrigerated, deli isles of grocery stores in 28 states. Miller’s Inc. Co-Founder, Melody McCray-Miller is now poised to expand her market further within the U.S. and recently gained new fans in Canada.

In early 2019, Miller was seeking guidance on how to grow her business. When she heard that SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program was designed to help owners of established businesses create a three-year strategic growth action plan, she applied.

Humble Beginnings   

In the early 1990s, Melody and her late husband, Larry Miller, started Millers Bar-B-Que in a small carry-out establishment in the Ken-Mar Shopping Center. The business grew into a 150-seat restaurant on East 13th Street in Wichita. The... Read More