Success Stories

Invena Corporation - Matt Wilson

Hidden in a small town in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Invena Corporation has kept a low-profile for nearly 20 years. Known as a “skunkworks” prototype development firm, Invena’s customers like the remote location and rural work ethic, far away from the prying eyes of competitors. It’s here, in Eureka, Kansas (population 2,633) that we find the 2017 SBA Kansas Exporter of the Year.

The family business was rooted in family and community. Eureka native Matt Wilson and his mother Carma quit their corporate jobs to care for the cancer-stricken patriarch of the family, Glen Wilson. With Matt’s engineering background and Carma’s accounting skills, they established Invena (a play on the word Inventors) in the guest bedroom to enable Carma to work from their home while Matt traveled as a design consultant. In time, Glen recovered, and the family focused their efforts on growing the company and their community. They soon discovered the symbiotic relationship between Invena and Eureka “... Read More

Bruce Carselowey raised hogs and other livestock in the 1980’s and 90’s while being employed at Boeing Military Airplane Company. At Boeing, Bruce worked in configuration management and wrote proposals for various engineering functions at the company. When wholesale hog prices bottomed out in 1998, the only way Bruce could make his livestock side-business worthwhile was to sell his hog product directly to consumers.  “I found a processor for my hogs in McPherson that could package and label my product for retail, and I began selling to customers at the downtown Wichita farmer’s market on Saturdays,” said Carselowey. The demand for his local, fresh meats was strong, and his customer base grew.

Pivot to Full Time Entrepreneur

In November 2004, Walnut Valley Packing, LLC was born when Bruce Carselowey and partner bought the El Dorado Meat Processors facility from a family that was processing about six cattle a week and six hogs every other week – a level far below the... Read More

Adrian and Kris Polansky speaking with Rick Rawlings of SCKEDD

Polansky Seed Expands, While Increasing Quality

Have you ever wondered how new oats, soybeans, or wheat seed for planting gets from the field into the clean bags at the store?  Well, the most complex part of the cleaning and sorting of quality (certified) seed is handled by companies like Polansky Seed, Inc. of Belleville, Kansas.

Polansky Seed, was originally founded in 1941 by Adrian Polansky's father, John, in a small wood granary on his homestead farm in Republic County (Kansas). John’s original operations included growing, cleaning, processing and bagging certified seed on the farm. Adrian acquired control of the business in 1972 and incorporated it in 2010.

Adrian continued to operate the business on the farm until 1991 when he purchased a seed facility in Belleville, Kansas, and moved the business operations to the new site. The new facility had a larger cleaning, processing and bulk storage facility than what he had on the homestead, which allowed... Read More

21 Century Bean Processing product

In 1997 a group of over 70 investors and bean growers in Northwest Kansas organized into an agricultural cooperative to improve their bottom line. What became Twenty First Century Bean Processing, LLC a few years later, now supplies over two-thirds of all the # 2 grade dry pintos, black-eyed peas, kidney, lentils, and northern white beans the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) distributes to food banks throughout the country.

“We have come a long way since the beginning,” said Ron Meyers, one of the original founders and current Director of Operations. “In 2001, the cooperative tried to tap into the retail sector by purchasing a bean packaging company in Amarillo, Texas.  The growers would truck their beans down there for sorting and packaging, however the market entry obstacles were more significant than anticipated,” recalled Meyers.       

Processing Closer to Home

The grower’s turning point came when they started selling their beans to the USDA’s... Read More