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Success Stories

While Kurt Schmidt was studying at the University of Kansas in the mid-1990’s he worked at Papa Keno’s, a pizza restaurant owned by a fellow Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School alumnus. He fell in love with making great pizza and the restaurant business. “People may think that making pizza is simple,” said Schmidt. “While the ingredients may seem basic, there is nothing easy about making a great tasting pizza,” Schmidt added.

Schmidt never forgot the days of working at Papa Keno’s or how to make a great New York style thin crust pizza. “I think I drove my wife nuts sometimes just talking about it,” laughed Schmidt. “I knew that someday I would start-up my own pizza place that offered the East Coast style thin crust slices I love.”

Dream Made Into a Reality

Schmidt’s dream of opening his own pizza place came true when a friend who worked for Weigand Real Estate showed Schmidt two available commercial properties in the Delano area of Wichita in early 2012.  ... Read More

Kimberly Coad was a dental assistant instructor for Salina Technical College’s dental assistant program for ten years. In 2007, she supplemented her income with a part time job for a company that provided dental services for military personnel. “I noticed the way the company that was managing their dental process was not very efficient. Some service stations had lines of people, while others were vacant,” said Coad.  There were other issues she noticed related to patient care and documentation, and thought to herself she could do it better.

Coad’s experience in the dental field and teaching, as well as her belief that all of our National Guard and active duty military Service Members deserve better care, led to her starting her own company.

Taking Action

In 2010, Coad founded Compass Medical Provider, LLC with a mission to effectively and efficiently provide on-demand medical, dental, audiology, and other services for the National Guard and those on active duty... Read More

Woman Business Owner, Susan Brinkman, pulled together a creative financing package to make her dream come true.

Susan Brinkman is the first certified woman business owner in Kansas to open a bar under that designation. Brinkman’s woman business enterprise (WBE) certification unlocked some matching loan dollars when it came to putting the financing package together for the Bourbon Cowboy, a 6,000 square foot, two-level country dance bar in the heart of Emporia, Kansas.

Brinkman’s venture in business ownership is only part of her professional life. She is the assistant director for the Center for Great Plains Studies, a part-time position at Emporia State University, as well as a board member of the Emporia School District USD 253. Brinkman’s desire to start the Bourbon Cowboy was not about the money, she’ll tell you. “It was about the people I could meet, the stories I’d hear, and to achieve something I didn’t know I could do,” said Brinkman.

Bartending and... Read More

Dr. David Kortje loves rock climbing. He climbed while in medical school, and continued to make trips to the mountains in Colorado with his family. A decade ago, he noticed the YMCA North in Wichita had a rock wall that was popular with families. The love of the sport caught-on with his son, Caleb, who was interested in climbing competitively. “My son and I started traveling and competing in rock climbing events. We visited climbing gyms in Colorado and in some larger metros, like Atlanta, and we thought it would be great to have a climbing gym in Wichita,” said Kortje.

The idea of opening a rock climbing gym with his son stayed on his mind. Then, Kortje tragically lost his son Caleb in 2012.

Kortje decided to use the gifts the family received after Caleb’s passing as seed money to build a climbing gym in 2013. He began to investigate the cost of building one as he put a business plan together. “I’m a physician, but was a little naïve when it came to creating a... Read More