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Success Stories

ReJuvv Spa storefront in Winfield, Kansas

Opportunities present themselves as consumers demand changes.

After 16 years in the day spa business, Tracie Gordon began noticing a pattern of change – patterns of opportunity that kept presenting themselves to her small business. Several times a day, she would hear clients say, “I wish I could change this – or do something about that”, often referring to skin conditions that would require more than her current day spa offered. After listening to clients and noticing the same needs, Tracie began investigating the process of transforming her day spa into a medical spa and the opportunity to help people on a different level.

To make the transformation, she recognized that she needed to restructure the business to find the best modalities for clients seeking services and do it in a way that would continue to grow her already successful business.

She reached out in 2013 to CowleyFirst, an economic development partner in the Winfield, Kansas area, and was referred... Read More

Curtis Whitten, CEO of VendTech Enterprise LLC

If there is a message you take away from a conversation with Mr. Curtis Whitten, President and CEO of VendTech Enterprise, LLC, it is to do your research and due diligence.

A native of Jacksonville (FL), Curtis Whitten began his journey to success as a highly recruited high school football player who excelled as a defensive back while playing at Wichita State University. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State, he attended the FBI Training Academy in Quantico (VA) and was one of the few African-American minority graduates of the academy at the time. He then pursued a career as an investigator with the U.S. Department of Justice through the Drug Enforcement Administration.

After two decades of security and investigative work in both the private and government sector, serving across corrections and justice departments throughout Kansas, Whitten took a leap of faith by starting his own business. “I always wanted to be an... Read More

Phil Brokenicky inside kitchen of New Horizons RV Corp model

It was an unlikely decision for Phil Brokenicky, a former commercial banker and CFO for a large distribution company, who at the age of 52 decided to buy and manage an established manufacturing company. Brokenicky recalls it was a ‘gut decision’.

After working for someone else his whole life, an inner voice called him to be his own boss.

At first Brokenicky thought of buying a bank or a car dealership, but a good friend suggested he contact Harold Johnson, who was looking to sell his company, New Horizons RV Corporation, an established ‘5th wheel’ recreational vehicle manufacturer located in Junction City (KS) that sells its products directly to the consumer.

Already in his 50’s, it was not easy for Brokenicky to give up the secure CFO job he had held for 10 years and assume a lot of debt to purchase a company he thought had some potential. After thinking about it for three weeks, he met with the owner, Harold Johnson, for four hours to work-out the details.... Read More

Brewer Josh Foley, Owner Monte Shadwick, SBA Wichita District Director Wayne Bell

Monte Shadwick , an experienced entrepreneur and community leader in Salina, Kansas, is thankful for the SBA loan guarantee that helped make his latest restaurant concept become a reality. Shadwick’s new restaurant downtown, Blue Skye Brewery, was opened on November 20, 2013, and offers a winning combination of craft brewed beer and wood oven pizza.

“Having owned a bar and grill before, I knew that downtown Salina would be a great fit for a beer and pizza restaurant”, said Shadwick. “The wood fire oven and big brew tanks give the restaurant a unique feel. It’s the first of its kind in the area.” he added.

The idea of starting Blue Skye Brewery was an evolutionary process that started a few years ago, when the entrepreneurship class he taught at Kansas Wesleyan University brainstormed on the question: What’s the next thing that Salina needs?

“I knew there was a market in Salina for a craft brew pub. The idea simply grew out of that class project.” said Shadwick... Read More