The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (2024)

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 2023

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The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (1)Dan Abitz
President/Chair, GBA

Dan Abitz’s GBA provides architecture, engineering and construction for even the most complex building projects. “In 2022, we established a holding company,” he says. “Since then, we have been navigating through the details of what that means for our eight affiliated companies.” With all that conversation, it’s no wonder he prioritizes communication skills for leadership hires. “This proficiency,” he said, “requires excellent listening skills and the ability to clearly articulate thoughts and ideas.”

2022 REVENUES: $195.41 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Kansas State University; MBA, Rockhurst University
RECESSION ODDS?: “By all appearances, the feds are effectively creating a soft landing. While it is important to acknowledge variations across different markets, we do anticipate a slowdown.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “We have successfully transformed our airport into a first-class facility in which we can take immense pride! There is no comparison between what we have today vs. what we had before.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Warren Buffet … He possesses a remarkable talent for not only attracting but also retaining exceptional leaders. His leadership style is characterized by an absence of micromanagement and a steadfast long-term view of his investment strategy.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “One of my favorite business books is The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni. As leaders, we can do everything right, but to be truly successful, we must create a healthy organization.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (2)Rob Adams
Partner, Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Like the legal version of a lockdown cornerback, Rob Adams specializes in defense, and last year produced another All-Pro-level outcome: While other cases nationally were producing billions in judgments against Monsanto over its Roundup herbicide, Adams led a Jackson County court trial that ended with jurors absolving Bayer for liability in the case of a man who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; J.D., University of Missouri School of Law
FIRM LEADERSHIP: In addition to his role on Shook’s executive committee, serves as co-chair of its practice group for general-liability litigation.
PRACTICE SPECIALTIES: His clients largely hail from the worlds of automotive, insurance and reinsurance, pharmaceutical, medical devices, and design and construction, and he provides litigation services in cases of product liability, mass tort, appellate and international matters, intellectual property, and automotive actions, among others.
OFF THE CLOCK: Among the organizations that have benefited from Adams’ charitable or civic commitments are the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City, the President’s Council, and the Greenway Fields Homes Association.
TROPHY CASE: Adams’ work has produced 30 state, national, media, and legal assn awards for excellence.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (3)Raghu Adiga
President/CEO, Liberty Hospital

A year into his current role, Raghu Adiga has become quite the champion for the community his 1,947-member staff serves. Confident that Kansas City’s Northland growth rivals that of Johnson County in Kansas, he says, “We need to focus on bringing more businesses, entertainment options, and public transportation in a coordinated manner. With our sport teams, new airport, desirable culture, and workforce, we could be the Midwest destination for travel and residence.”

COLLEGE: Bangalore Medical College, Bangalore, Karnataka State, India
2022 REVENUES: $984.33 million
KEY ACCOMPLISHMENT: “Keeping the focus on continuous improvement as demonstrated in patient experience, employee retention and recruitment in the middle of significant headwinds in healthcare.”
RECESSION ODDS: “I am an optimist. I think the odds are fairly low.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Very proud to call it ‘our hometown airport.’ Looking forward to more Airlines and more destinations for direct flights.”
MORNING READ:New York Times digital edition.”
IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP SKILL: “Ability to communicate effectively, with conviction and empathy.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Assist everyone to recognize the brevity of human life and redirect the focus to what’s important for each person!”
HIRING PLANS: “Hold for the time being, but expect to add more towards the end of our fiscal year as I anticipate expanding our services with a business partnership we are working towards.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (4)Mauli Agrawal
Chancellor, UMKC

The trustees of UMKC knew what they were getting when they tabbed Mauli Agrawal as chancellor in 2018: A highly respected academician and proven researcher of orthopedic and cardiovascular biomaterials and implants. More than that, his bioengineering research group in Texas led to three startups—a dynamic seen as vital to strengthening the university’s mission and bolstering the regional economy here.

COLLEGE: B.A., Technology, Indian Institute of Technology; M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University; Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Duke University
CAREER TURN: Before setting his sights on higher-education administration, Agrawal was an engineer for an automotive company in his native India.
HIGH ACHIEVER: Reflecting his commitment to discoveries that can be commercialized, Agrawal has authored 29 patents, and he has been published more than 300 times in scientific journals.
IN GOOD COMPANY: Agrawal is a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
PRIORITIES: Immediately upon assuming office, Agrawal announced that UMKC needed to dramatically increase enrollment in engineering courses. He has also unveiled new scholarships, launched a pair of institutes focused on data science and health equity, and most recently, set out the vision for a $100 million expansion of the health sciences district on Hospital Hill.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (5)Matt All
President/CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

At 1,600 people and hiring, Matt All marvels at his team’s ability to continue transforming their 80-year-old company while still excelling in the day-to-day work. “We’re proud of who we’ve been over the decades, but we know health care is changing,” he says. “We need to change with it. Doing both at the same time is challenging, but our employees always make it work.”

2022 REVENUES: $2.3 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, Univ. of Kansas; J.D., Yale Law School
RECESSION ODDS: “Fairly low, but they’re not zero. There’s still plenty of energy in the economy. Recessions in health care behave a little differently, though. If there is a recession, we might see some of the groups we cover shrink and some members forgo elective procedures, but people will still need care. And we’ll still be here to make sure they get it.”
NEXT BIG THING: “The obvious answers involve sports. The Royals will probably choose a location for their new stadium and the Jayhawks will have broken ground on their new football complex. But I’m still holding out for that bullet train to Lawrence, Topeka, and Wichita.”
THE NEW KCI: “I flew out of the new KCI on its very first day, and I was almost moved to tears. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes when your job involves travel. It’s comfortable, beautiful, and so much easier to use. It’s going to be an enormous asset for the region for decades to come.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (6)Damon Anderson
Founder/CEO/Owner, Tallgrass Freight Co.

How good are things for Damon Anderson and his team at Tallgrass Freight? With a bump of nearly 16 percent in the top line last year, the trucking services firm hauled its way into Ingram’s 100, our annual update on the 100 biggest private companies in the region, based on revenues. That made Tallgrass one of a comparative handful of companies that rank in the top 100 for both scale and rate of growth.

2022 REVENUES: $165.75 million
COLLEGE: Kansas City, Kansas Community College
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Anderson spent the bulk of his career in sales, making it a personal goal to beat his sales targets and raise them in subsequent cycles. He took the entrepreneurial leap because he believed he could deliver client services faster and better than his previous employers. He was right: he went from startup at his Leavenworth farmhouse—which didn’t even have air conditioning—to managing one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies in just six years.
ON A TEAR: Things have “cooled” for Anderson on the growth side to a mere average annual rate of 97.32 percent in the past three years. That earned Tallgrass a No. 20 ranking on this year’s Corporate Report 100, following three consecutive Top 10 finishes.
WHAT THEY DO: The company’s brokers arrange truck shipping—full load and less than truckload—along with rail, expedited, and temperature-controlled transit options.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (7)Don Armacost, Jr.
Chairman, Peterson Manufacturing

Years after Don Armacost Sr.’s death in 2000, his role as chairman of Peterson Manufacturing remained open while Don Jr. took the reins of the family-owned Grandview maker of vehicle lighting assemblies and related components. After turning over the day-to-day leadership to his brother, David, Don Jr. now occupies the seat formerly held by the man who hired him as a 14-year-old to sweep out the warehouse floor.

2022 REVENUES: $243 million
TURNOVER TITAN: With not quite 700 people at the Grandview facility and about 770 across its multiple divisions, Peterson Manufacturing boasts a 1.5 percent employee turnover rate. That works out to about one position to fill each month, company-wide. More than a few of those employees represent second and third-generation family members.
LIGHTS AND MORE: In addition to vehicle lighting assemblies and harnesses, the company has divisions that perform precision manufacturing for power distribution, marine vehicle parts, injection molding, and custom tooling for clients around the world.
THE WHEEL DEAL: The Armacost brothers founded a car museum to help occupy their father’s time in his later years. Today, the Armacost Museum features vehicles ranging from a 1910 International to a Ferrari Testarossa, and it’s a popular venue for non-profit fundraising events like annual galas and black-tie affairs.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (8)Adam Aron
President/CEO, AMC Entertainment

After global lockdowns threatened to swamp the S.S. AMC in 2000, Adam Aron and his team at the world’s biggest movie theater chain are now steering around the strike by writers and actors in Hollywood. But the lessons of 2020-21 left an indelible impression on his respect for working capital: “The dumbest thing we could ever do in this industry,” he told investors in an earnings call this summer, “is to run out of cash.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Harvard University; MBA (with distinction), Harvard Business School
2022 REVENUES: $3.91 billion
KINGS OF CAROM: Aron’s time in the front office of the Philadelphia 76ers apparently enhanced his understanding of rebounds. After COVID savaged AMC’s revenues, from $5.48 billion in 2019 to $1.42 a year later, the company’s fortunes headed straight north. Last year, revenues were more than triple the pandemic low.
THANKS x 1,870: That’s the number of retail investors squarely behind Aron’s leadership who sent him a digital thank-you tweet in July, expressing their feelings about AMC’s stock performance. The self-proclaimed Apes have reaped considerable rewards by getting ahead of price movements in the company’s share values.
ABOUT AMC: Founded in Kansas City in 1920 and now based in Leawood, AMC today boasts roughly 950 theaters (combined screens: more than 10,500) staffed by nearly 37,000 employees around the world.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (9)Jeff Auslander
CEO, Dynamic Logistix

Just four years ago, Jeff Auslander was leading the fight as Dynamic Logistix pushed its way into the ranks of the region’s 100 largest private companies. That meant getting past $100 million in overall revenues. Last year? His team increased year-over-year revenues by nearly that amount, up 64.62 percent from 2021. Fueled by that growth, the company relocated to an expanded headquarters last year, nearly 45,000 square feet in all.

2022 REVENUES: $249.7 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Journalism, University of Kansas; MBA, Baker Univ.
GROWTH LESSONS: “When you’re a little $5 million or $15 million company, you’re doing everything,” Auslander says. “Then you go from that to $50 million or $60 million, you don’t lose that mentality of scrapping for everything, but you’ve got to figure out a way to let go of some things and get really good people, promote good people up and take on more responsibilities and watch them mature.”
FINDING ITS NICHE: Success, he says, flowed from “building a good product that’s disruptive in answering so many questions in a market that can’t find answers for where the pain points are.” Many of DL’s clients are Fortune 5001-35,000 companies. “They don’t have a 15-person department running transportation; they have one or two guys, no automation, and their reporting is all email and Excel. We knew we could provide them with a product with a web-based hub where they could run all their freight through it and get beautiful reporting live with the previous day’s shipping. But we had to get the product right.”
HOW IT WORKS: The company serves shippers with tech tools that help manage shipments en route.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (10)Mario Azar
Chairman/CEO, Black & Veatch

In the ranks of corporate leadership, he’s the ultimate power player—literally. For more than 30 years, Mario Azar has worked in the energy silo of engineering, dealing with power generation and transmission, oil and gas production, and distribution systems. Last year, he succeeded Steven Edwards in the driver’s seat at Black & Veatch, one of the Kansas City region’s iconic names in engineering.

COLLEGE: B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
BOOM TIME: After years of flat-lined or even slightly receding revenues, Black & Veatch blew the lid off during Azar’s first year at the helm: At $4.25 billion, the top line popped 28.79 percent over 2021.
JOB MAGNET: B&V has nearly 8,450 employees around the world, with almost 2,600 of them working from the mother ship in Overland Park.
A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: Azar addressed the increasing importance of sustainability in power engineering with an in-house interview. He noted that Black & Veatch is investing heavily in the development of storage and transportation systems for hydrogen, which could become an inexhaustible source of clean energy.
EARLY INSPIRATION: In his native Syria, Azar saw his mother break tradition by starting her own business as a beautician, an experience he drew on in formulating his own brand of entrepreneurship. “I couldn’t think of a better role model,” he says.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (11)David Ball
President/CEO, Balls Food Stores

Talk about a 2023 highlight. “This year, we are celebrating 100 years as a locally owned, family grocer serving the greater KC area,” says David Ball. “We are so blessed with our amazing 3,000-strong Family Teammates.” He’s the third generation of Ball leadership that started with Sidney and Mollie Ball in 1923, heading up a chain known in the Kansas City area for flying the flags of grocery brands like Price Chopper, Hen House, Sun Fresh and Tippin’s Pies.

KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Being the first city to be green—truly green.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It’s very nice. I don’t travel a lot, but I love the new airport.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “A very important mentor throughout my life was my father, Fred Ball. I also believe life’s a village to draw experiences from, so I would say I continue to learn from our teammates.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “It’s all about relationships. My grandparents always told me that we are not in the grocery business; we are in the people development business.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Through Ball Charities, our mission is to enrich and enhance the lives of children and families, to create a world in which every person is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently at 3,000-plus, he says, the wise move in his sector is to resist standing still. “Change is constant. You either grow, or you decline. It’s a lot more fun to grow. We are always growing!”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (12)Kevin Barth
Chairman/CEO, Commerce Bank of Kansas City

A bank with a 155-year history must be comforting to other long-lived businesses. Over the past the year, Kevin Barth says Commerce has added a significant number of new commercial clients. “Some of these companies have been in business for over 80 years, he said. “Many were attracted to our reputation for helping businesses access the payments system and our reputation for safety and soundness.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration/Economics, Graceland College; M.B.A., Rockhurst University
2022 REVENUES: $1.5 billion
RECESSION ODDS: “I am cautiously optimistic, but we must remember that the cost of taming inflation is to slow down economic activity by raising interest rates.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I’m very excited about the prospects of a Downtown ballpark and its potential to sustain and even strengthen the already positive momentum we’ve generated downtown.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The front door to KC has a new, modern, energetic look for people visiting here.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I had several key mentors. Mike Braude, a former banker as well as a former President of the Kansas City Board of Trade, made some of the most influential contributions to my career. Surround yourself with the best people you can and make sure they feel appreciated.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITY: “Emotional intelligence.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Assisting children who are aging out of the foster care system.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (13)Marion Battaglia
President, Soave Automotive Group

In the world of luxury vehicle sales, Marion Battaglia and team are surfing the crest of some positive waves. The bounce back from a dreadful 2020, he says, produced “a huge uptick in purchasing of the higher-priced vehicles we offer, vehicles that were $150,000-plus.” With the vehicle shortage created by pandemic supply-chain disruption, “the values of not just some of the new cars in short supply rose, but also the used-car vales skyrocketed as much as 30 percent.

2022 REVENUES: $540.2 million
CURRENT TRENDS: “What we’ve seen in 2023 was stabilization and even a downward trend in used-car values, but there is still a high level of interest in the upper end. Those are still selling.”
BUYER MOTIVATIONS: “Several things. Many of us lost people to COVID, so maybe there’s an element of ‘I’m going to enjoy life, I’ve worked my whole life, I’m going to reward myself with something fun. Frankly, in our end of the biz, we’re not just selling transportation, we’re really selling more of a lifestyle product.”
THE LINEUP: Soave is the parent for Aristocrat Motors, featuring such upper-end brands as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW and Jaguar, among others.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (14)Brad Batz
President/CEO, Fike Corp.

When you think of a family-owned business, the image that comes to mind is not likely to be a global company in the industrial safety sector, based in the suburb of Blue Springs. Well, think again. Brad Batz is leading a nearly 80-year-old enterprise founded by his grandfather, Les Fike Sr. It produces safety systems that manage risk from fires, pressurized and fire-suppression systems, combustible dust explosions and other potential threats from systemic failure.

2022 REVENUES: $298.3 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Business Admin., Univ. of Florida; MSc, Lean Operations/Manufacturing, Cardiff Univ.
QUOTABLE: “We were born on invention, engineering and manufacturing,” says Batz. “Oftentimes, we’d run across something and ask, can we make that?”
STRATEGIC THINKER: After taking the leadership baton from his uncle, Les Fike Jr. (in 2014 as president and 2017 as CEO), Batz crafted an aggressive restructuring to improve efficiency across the enterprise and transition to a market-served organization.
ON THE FRONT LINES: In leading a global company with roughly 1,000 employees, Brad Batz has had a front-row seat to the supply-chain ills that have plagued the world’s economy in recent years. But his executive mandate also includes the manufacturing process and quality control, HR and IT functions.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (15)Kim Beatty
Chancellor, Metropolitan Community College

Kimberly Beatty oversees Kansas City’s first public institution of higher learning. It’s been through a few names over more than 100 years, but its goal has always been providing educational opportunity for the community it serves. Today, with MCC’s Advanced Technical Skills Institute on Troost having been voted Kansas City’s 2023 favorite vocational school, Beatty Is justifiably proud of, as she put it, “Creating greater equitable access to higher education.”

COLLEGE: B.A., M.A, English; Ed.D., Higher Education, Morgan State University
RECESSION ODDS: “I don’t have the appropriate financial acumen to respond to this, but things seem to be moving in the right direction.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Continuing to build upon the great assets we have in the city to make a destination where people can work, live, and play.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Fabulous! It has to be one of THE BEST airports in the country.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Dr. Christine McPhail. She often provided me with sound wisdom regarding my career. Essentially, don’t sweat the small stuff. While this seems simple, it’s easy to get upset over things that take too much energy and focus away from the real work.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “There are many, but I’m going to provide a response that may seem a little weird—Queen Elizabeth. She, in my opinion, was the ultimate example of leading with grace.”
EMPLOYEES: “825 full-time; 1,100 part-time. Hopefully, we will grow because we will have more students!”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (16)Smitty Belcher
CEO, P1 group

P1 handled a lot of facility systems for customers over the past year, but Smitty Belcher says the big highlight happened right at headquarters. “P1 had to transition to a new Enterprise Resource Planning accounting system while still hitting all targets on closing our financials in a timely fashion,” he says. “As anyone can attest, disruptions to accounting can cause a ripple of challenges. It wasn’t easy, but our team worked together to make it happen.”

2022 REVENUES: $393 million
COLLEGE: B.S., MBA, University of Toledo
RECESSION: “Regionally, we have seen a strong construction market recently, and I expect the construction market to stay strong through the next two years. However, there is a possibility of a slight recession.”
NEXT BIG THING: “One of the biggest things on the minds of Kansas Citians is the relocation of the Royals baseball stadium. The location choice will affect a lot of people and associated businesses.”
MENTOR: “I had a trade foreman teach me that how you treat people and the culture you establish is far more important than individual skill. He taught me to treat everyone I work with as an equal and don’t underestimate the value of a company culture that makes people WANT to come to work every day.”
MORNING READ: “I don’t typically start my morning off reading. Weather permitting, I enjoy sitting out back to gather my thoughts and think about what I am thankful for and what I have to look forward to that day.”
LEADERSHIP: “Empathy. A leader with high EQ—emotional intelligence—goes far in all aspects of business.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (17)Caroline Belmont
Global Innovation Chief, BIV

Her title is a long one, which befits someone with a very big set of duties: Caroline Belmont is head of U.S. Global Innovation and U.S. Regulatory Affairs for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, the global pharmaceutical giant with a major operations plant in St. Joseph. She entered the profession in 1990 and has done two stints with BIV, the current one dating back to 2003. The company is a key player in the regional Animal Health Corridor.

COLLEGE: B.S., Agricultural Biochemistry & Nutrition, Newcastle University
ROLE MODEL: Belmont was one of 12 women featured earlier this year in a book called Hidden Lives of Women in STEM. “I shared my story so that my experiences will act as a roadmap for other women to pursue and stay in STEM careers,” she says.
WORK-RELATED PASSION: “One of my most favorite activities each year is speaking to and learning from veterinary students who participated in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Veterinary Scholars Program,” Belmont writes. “This year, more than 550 students presented their summer’s work in poster sessions. These students will soon be on the front lines of monitoring and protecting animals and humans from tomorrow’s emerging diseases, and it is so exciting and rewarding to experience the dedication and passion they bring to their work!”
ABOUT BIV: It’s not just an animal health operation; this German powerhouse, founded in 1885 and family-owned, has more than 53,000 employees in 130 markets and is a major player in human pharmaceutical R&D.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (18)Brad Bergman
Chairman/CEO, MTC Holding Corp.

What, exactly, can Brad Bergman not do? Over the course of a 30-year career, he’s done plenty. He currently leads a holding company with eight affiliated enterprises managing trust-related activities; he has worked as a commercial banker, he’s been a law firm partner, and he’s even taken a turn teaching law classes. He knows his way around a vineyard, too (more on that in a moment). MTC’s holdings collectively advise clients from the educational, health-care, and historical-preservation spheres.

COLLEGE: B.S., Illinois State; J.D., Washburn University School of Law
CHEERS!: Bergman’s other passion? He’s a vintner. Since 2018, Bergman and fellow Kansas Citian Doug Frost have operated Echolands Winery in Washington State’s Walla Walla Valley. Those vines produce Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Grenache varietals.
OFF THE CLOCK: In addition to being a member of the Kansas City Estate Planning Society, Bergman sits on the board of the Johnson County Community College Foundation (he previously served as chairman) and on the board of trustees for the National World War I Museum. For his contributions to JCCC, the former Carlsen Center on campus was renamed The Midwest Trust Center.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL HOBBYIST: Long before wine-making became a prime interest, Bergman had a propensity for collecting … cast-iron soldiers.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (19)Bill Berkley
President/CEO, Tension Corp.

See if this ever happens again: One family with three members to be recognized as Kansas Citian of the Year by the area’s Chamber of Commerce? Bill Berkley completed the family trifecta last fall, following in the footsteps of his father, Bert (who won in 1971), and cousin, Dick (also a former mayor of Kansas City, 1994). Since 1988, he’s led family-owned Tension Corp.’s growth into a global manufacturing concern. Bill represents the fourth generation of a company founded here in 1886.

2022 REVENUES: $303.5 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Colorado College; MBA, Tuck School of Bus, Dartmouth
SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT: “Continued growth and expansion of our products and services in our envelope and print, and packaging and automation divisions.”
RECESSION ODDS: “The odds of a recession have been meaningfully reduced, though it is still a challenging economic environment.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Deeper commitment and expansion of Early Childhood Education in the region.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “A great gateway to Kansas City, making a wonderful first and last impression of our region, and a pleasure to travel in and out of.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently at 950, with plans to “stay at roughly the same level.”
GLOBAL FOOTPRINT: With nearly 30 U.S. locations and production facilities in both China and Taiwan, Tension is one of the world’s largest producers of envelopes, printed products, equipment and services. Its facilities crank out envelopes by the billions each year.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (20)Marty Bicknell
President/CEO, Mariner Wealth Advisors

The distinction between assets under management and assets under advisem*nt is slightly more than semantic; what really matters is the punch Marty Bicknell’s team packs in wealth management, and thanks to a continuing series of acquisitions, that punch now tops $110 billion. And it’s going to get stronger: Bicknell has already declared that, by 2027, the ranks of advisers he has on staff will swell from 1,450 to 5,000. Doing the math suggests an AUM/AUA of close to $350 million by then.

COLLEGE: B.S., Political Science, Pittsburg State University
FAMILY TRADITION: The Bicknell family is no stranger to entrepreneurship; Marty’s dad, Gene, founded a Pittsburg-based company that would go on to become the nation’s largest Pizza Hut franchisee.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE: Bicknell’s Ironclad Law of Success incorporates three commandments: “Clients first; no exception. Associates second. Shareholders last.”
HIGH PRAISE: For seven straight years, starting in 2016, Barron’s magazine has included Mariner among the nation’s top five wealth-management firms.
ON A TEAR: Fewer than a dozen Kansas City-area firms have a total AUM of $8 billion; in just one acquisition alone last year, Bicknell added that much to Mariner’s total by snapping up Heber Fuger Wendin Investment Advisors of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. After making nine acquisitions in 2022,Mariner already has added more than $523 billion to its AUM with additional pickups this year.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (21)Brent Blake
President, Acendas Travel

Sitting at the helm of a corporate travel company gives Brent Blake a unique perspective on the economy. “Business travel is a leading indicator of the economy as it reflects how companies view their future,” he said. “Our future bookings are strong, and thus we do not anticipate a ‘recession’ in 2024.” That makes him especially glad his group managed a dramatic post-COVID return of business while re-building their 80-strong work force and company culture.

COLLEGE: B.S., Marketing and Administration, Oral Roberts Univ.
2022 REVENUES: $239.1 million
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “A new baseball stadium that can vitalize another portion of downtown and enhance our image as a major league city.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The new airport is outstanding. It has lots of people space, great lighting, excellent food/beverage options, and an efficient security process. Big time success.”
MENTOR ADVICE: “I’ve had several mentors in my business career. Early on, I observed both great and poor managers and was able to see the huge difference it had on their companies. I chose to follow the great ones. I saw two themes in them: 1) Truly care for people and 2) Lead by example.”
MORNING READ: “The Morning, a daily email from The New York Times.”
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN LEADERS: “Humility.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Helping disenfranchised children. If we could improve their life’s start, we could have a better world.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (22)Kenneth Block
Managing Principal, Block Real Estate Services

Kenneth Block and his team have made a lot happen over the past year and a half. They’ve completed some significant real estate projects, including Residences at Galleria at 112th & Nall, The Clearing at 128 multifamily project, CityPlace Corporate Centre IV for the expansion of WellSky, and the relocation of IMA Life Insurance. In addition, they’ve promoted a significant number of the company’s high achievers.

RECESSION ODDS: “For the last year and a half, there has been evidence that a recession is on the horizon. The Federal Reserve is implementing numerous techniques to ‘stick’ a soft landing and avoid a prolonged recession. However, enormous spending at the Federal Government level continues to cause record-breaking recession, and as they attempt to lower inflation, the recession risk rises and becomes more likely. I feel we have at least a 60 percent chance of recession in 2024, but we also have a continuing risk of high inflation.”
NEXT BIG THING?: “Of course, the relocation of the Kansas City Royals baseball stadium. That decision will determine the future of KC in terms of how we and others view our city, and in particular, how we view a baseball stadium as part of a creative downtown urban setting. Equally exciting, is the opening of KC Current stadium in Spring 2024, becoming the first dedicated women’s soccer stadium in the country. And, of course, the development potential around both stadiums is extremely exciting.”
MENTORS: “Allen J. Block was my main mentor in the early stages of my career. But I’ve had so many others that have been long-time investors, business associates, and friends, all of which have provided me with knowledge, hands-on experience, and life experiences, all of which gave me skills to be a better leader.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (23)Mike Boehm
Mayor, City of Lenexa

Before he leaves office after this final term, Mike Boehm can beam about record growth in Lenexa. “Year-to-date for 2023, through Aug. 31, the city has issued building permits in excess of $500 million with investments distributed across the city and representing all industry segments,” he says. That includes both housing and commercial properties. “This is an all-time record for the city with four months of permitting remaining in 2023,” says Boehm, who’s day job is with Commerce Bank.

COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, University of Kansas
NEXT BIG THING: “Isn’t a single infrastructure project but an event—the 2026 World Cup. It will take significant regional investment and cooperation to showcase Greater Kansas City—the Midwest, really—to the world both in terms of visitors on the ground and the international television audience. Kathy Nelson and her team have worked a remarkable plan to win the opportunity; it’s all of our responsibilities to ensure a positive experience for the city and our visitors that lasts beyond 2026.”
MENTORS: “Former Kansas State Rep. Steve Cloud introduced me to the world of politics in 1985 and provided me with a high-level appreciation for our democracy and the rewards of getting involved and making a difference. Former Lenexa Mayor Joan Bowman refined those experiences with a focus on local government and service. Both showed me the importance of surrounding yourself with intelligent people, compensating them fairly, and trusting them to be both a part of the goal-setting process and then allowing them to execute the plan.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (24)Tony Bowen
CFO, H&R Block

Tony Bowen is not your grandfather’s idea of a chief financial officer. In interviews with Forbes and Fortune over the past year, he has offered insight into how that role is changing—perhaps not everywhere yet, but certainly within this global financial services firm. More than just crunching numbers or signing off on some others’ crunching of numbers, Bowen preaches the need to engage employees in driving innovation, cutting costs, and strengthening the culture.

2022 REVENUES: $3.47 billion
COLLEGE: BS/BA, Finance/Money & Banking, University of Missouri
UP THE LADDER: Bowen worked for the investment bond firm Geo. K. Baum & Co. then spent four years as a portfolio analyst for American Century Investments before joining H&R Block as a treasury analyst in 2004. It wasn’t long before he was moving into roles of increasing responsibility: VP of finance for the U.S. Tax Services division, VP and general manager of the DIY Tax business (a $200 million-plus in revenue), and managing digital tax-preparation products. He was named CFO in 2012.
RETURN TO GROWTH: After breaking the $3 billion revenue mark in 2014, H&R Block hit a stagnant period that became worse with the pandemic’s onset, dipping to $2.4 billion. Since then, however, Bowen and the leadership team have righted things to the tune of 31 percent growth over the 2020 low.
OFF THE CLOCK: A chartered financial analyst, Bowen served on the board of the GKC Chamber since 2016.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (25)David Brain
CEO, Enfinite Capital

A computer. Two phones. Rented cubicles. That was all David Brain had on hand for the fishing expedition that eventually boated a whale: EPR Properties, an entertainment REIT that surpassed $5 billion in market cap. He resigned as CEO there in 2015, looking for something new, and might have found a bigger whale with Enfinite Capital, which helps industrial, commercial, and technology clients worldwide secure renewable-energy systems.

COLLEGE: B.A. in Economics, MBA, Tulane University
QUOTABLE: “The Myth of Entrepreneurship is that it is working for yourself or being your own boss,” Brain said when he was inducted into the UMKC Business Hall of Fame. “The reality is that you work for your customers, and they are the boss. To be successful, you need to focus on meeting a need or solving a problem. By doing that and creating value, you create entrepreneurial opportunity.”
KEEPING IT SIMPLE: Brain has said that EPR’s success could be attributed to two factors:One, the ability to identify a market need. Two, pairing that with simple problem-solving.
ON VENTURE CAPITAL IN KC: “It’s a little difficult, I have to confess, because of the highly conservative nature of the business community, but it’s getting better. It used to be that no one talked about early-stage investment, but it’s now more popular, and there is more tracking of it. It’s … not the best, and we still have a little way to go, but it has become more of the landscape. I’m pretty excited about it.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (26)Mark Brandmeyer
CEO, Brandmeyer Enterprises / KC Monarchs

If you weren’t paying attention, you probably thought winning baseball was something Kansas City lacked. Those who were dialed in with Mark Brandmeyer’s Kansas City Monarchs did, in fact, see championship-level play as the minor-league team won the American Association title this month. Brandmeyer led the group that bought the former T-Bones franchise in 2019, adding to his duties with Brandmeyer Enterprises, a holding company with multiple interests.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business, University of Kansas
BRAND LEVERAGE: Changing the team’s name to the Monarchs was a savvy strategic move that connected today’s franchise with Kansas City lore: The original Monarchs of a century ago were the longest-running franchise in the history of the Negro League. The team won the inaugural Negro League World Series and, over its 37-year run, featured future major-league stars like Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Ernie Banks.
OTHER DUTIES: Brandmeyer has various holdings in health-care investment, property investment/management, and prefabricated construction services.
OFF THE CLOCK: A father of nine, Brandmeyer has deep ties to organized youth sports; for nearly 15 years, he’s been a director of the Mokan Basketball Club, which draws elite high school players who can hone their skills and potentially attract attention from collegiate recruiters.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (27)Rob Bratcher
President, Commerce Bank of Kansas City

Rob Bratcher has no problem citing the 2023 bright spot. “I think our team did an amazing job guiding our clients through the liquidity crisis that impacted the banking industry in late spring,” he says. “The team took a very proactive approach to helping customers understand how to safely maximize deposit yields while providing great insights into the strength and stability of Commerce. By being proactive, we not only retained our relationships, our team also added several new customers.”

RECESSION ODDS: “There continues to be strong demand for hiring in several industries in our region, so until we see a broader pullback in hiring, it’s hard to see a major recession in the coming months. I do think it’s still possible we will see a pullback and perhaps a moderate recession, but likely not until the second half of 2024.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I think we now have a front door that reflects the quality of our city. And it’s still one of the most convenient airports in the country!”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Empathy.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “I have been fortunate to have several mentors, but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would be my mother. I spent several summers going to work with her and observing how she led her C-Stores. One of the key attributes she taught me was never to ask someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself. She also often reminded me that you have nothing to lead without a team, so treat everyone with kindness and respect.”
MORNING READ: “The WSJ app and Bloomberg App for business news. Al Jazeera App for global news.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (28)Pamela Breuckmann
President/CEO, Ferrell Capital

In aviation terms, Pamela Breuckmann would be Jim Ferrell’s wingman—wingwoman?—as a financial services ace. She’s running the show for Ferrell Capital, which was created to manage the financial, business, and personal affairs of the family that owns Ferrellgas Partners. That includes asset management and investment services for the family’s broad suite of investments in real estate, banking, wealth management, and private equity, among other functions.

COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration and Accounting, University of Kansas; M.A., Accounting and Information Systems, University of Kansas
THE ROAD TO FERRELL: Breuckmann entered the financial services world as an auditor with Deloitte & Touche in 1998, then was accounting director for three years at Kansas City Life Insurance before taking on executive roles with specialty finance organizations. She came to Ferrell in 2007.
RECOGNITION: Breuckmann was one of Ingram’s Women Executives-Kansas City honorees in 2016.
SHARING THE WEALTH: It’s been 25 years since the parent company introduced its Employee Stock Ownership Plan, making it one of the 20 largest companies in the country to be owned at least in part by those who work for it.
BACK ON TRACK: After 10 quarters of consecutive revenue declines, Ferrellgas Partners saw things level out in 2018 and resumed the climb past $2 billion in revenues, not far from the historic peak of $2.4 billion in 2011.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (29)Christopher Brink
CEO, Favorite Healthcare Staffing

Last year, Christopher Brink took the final leadership step in a journey that began as a controller with Favorite Healthcare Staffing back in 2000. From there, he steadily rose to become CFO, COO, and President before assuming the mantle of CEO. He’s been an integral part of the ride that has seen the company’s influence in the health-care staffing space mushroom while the staff there has grown to nearly 4,200.

2022 REVENUES: $1.64 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting, University of Texas-El Paso
DESTINED TO LEAD: Brink tested the waters of leadership even before his career began—he was elected student body president while at UTEP.
INDUSTRY HONORS: Favorite currently ranks No. 10 among the nation’s biggest health-care staffing firms and the eighth-largest for travel nurses.
WHAT IT DOES: Health-care professionals and health systems look to the company for services with temporary and permanent employment options, local or travel contract assignments, and direct-hire job opportunities. Nursing roles account for much of that, but there are also placement services for advanced practice, allied health, and non-clinical professionals.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (30)Katie Briscoe
CEO, MMGY Global

Grass isn’t growing under Katie Briscoe’s feet, but MMGY certainly is. “Following an acquisition hiatus in 2020-2021, we turned our M&A machine back on, completing four successful acquisitions in the last 10 months,” she reports. “Three of those have been international deals.” Looks like smooth sailing for this travel-focused marketing group.

2022 REVENUES: $214.15 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Journalism/Mass Communication, Univ. of Kansas
RECESSION ODDS: “I’m certainly not an economist, but our business focuses on the travel economy, and the dynamics of that consumer demand continues to be strong.“
ON THE NEW KCI: “I am at our airport nearly every week for business travel, and the thoughtfulness that went into the design of the new terminal is incredible. I can’t think of a better welcome mat than our new airport for inbound travelers.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “MMGY Global’s former CEO, now Executive Chairman, Clayton Reid—he taught me that the most powerful thing you can do as a leader is to give your power away to others.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Kathy Nelson, CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:Grit, by Angela Duckworth.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Intellectual curiosity.”
EMPLOYEES: Now at “600,” she says, “our global business will have another record-breaking year in ‘23.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (31)Rob Broomfield
CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska & Central Illinois

Rob Broomfield doesn’t think Kansas City needs a “next big thing.” He’d prefer to see a series of smaller wins being strung together into major victories. “I think the work Tim Cowden and his team at the KCADC are doing to attract and retain industry to the area is one great example. For the region to continue to prosper, we need new investment that brings new revenue and more jobs.

MENTORS: “I like to think of my leadership style as a combination of the styles of many leaders I worked for and with as my career progressed. I took a little bit from each of them, modified it to fit the situation and my personality, and made it my own. I think the most important trait a leader can exhibit is flexibility. Every situation or encounter is unique, and you have to be flexible in your approach to be the most effective.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Since I was born and raised in Nebraska, I have to say Warren Buffett. His leadership at Berkshire Hathaway over the past 50+ years is nothing short of remarkable. I love his pragmatic approach and his ability to clearly and simply define what makes a business successful over time. He bets on great leaders in industries that he understands. His track record shows he’s been right a whole lot more than he’s been wrong when he picks companies to invest it.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Common sense and critical thinking skills. I’m not looking for them to have every answer; I’m interested in their ability to think through and problem solve.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (32)Michael Brown
Chairman/CEO/President, Euronet Worldwide

Last December, Mike Brown’s team rolled out a new brand strategy and visual identity. Mind you, this is in the middle of a year that produced record revenues of $3.36 billion—an impressive 12 percent increase over 2021. If a new public image can drive continued growth at Euronet, consider where this global financial services giant could be headed. Brown was a co-founder of the digital process payments firm in 1994 and became chief executive two years later.

COLLEGE: B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia; 79 and a M.S. in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1997.
ALWAYS INNOVATING: From the first ATMs in the former Soviet-bloc nations to digital wallets today, Euronet has been an innovator in the digital payments space. Case in point: Last year’s rollout of Skylight, a platform that monitors financial transactions to identify illicit consumer behavior.
ENTREPRENEUR AT HEART: Brown’s history with startups dates to Innovative Software in 1979 (later merged with Informix). In 1986, he took that company to No. 1 in the Corporate Report 100, Ingram’s annual list of the region’s fastest-growing companies. He later launched Visual Tools, another venture that quickly drew interest as an acquisition target (by Sybase Software in 1996).
STOCK SWING: After hitting a 52-week low of $74.01 last October, Euronet stock (NYSE: EEFT) surged to $120.90 at its peak before settling in at around $86 a share in early September.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (33)Kevin Bryant
EVP/COO, Evergy

You think July 14 was a bad day at your house? If you were among the 186,000 people who lost power in the monster windstorm that hit this region, your experience was just a tiny piece of Kevin Bryant’s day. As executive vice president and chief operating officer for Evergy, he’s responsible for all utility operations, including generation operations, and generation services, transmission operations, transmission and delivery services, distribution operations and customer operations.

COLLEGE: B.A./B.S, Finance and Real Estate, University of Missouri-Columbia. MBA, emphasis in finance and marketing, Stanford University Graduate School of Business. On the for-profit side, he’s also an independent director on the board of Winnebago Industries.
UP THE RANKS: Bryant signed on with Evergy’s predecessor, Kansas City Power & Light, in 2003, and his leadership history includes roles as vice president of strategic planning, president of the KLT division, vice president of investor relations, and treasurer. He joined the C-suite as executive vice president of finance and strategy and CFO in 2015.
OFF THE CLOCK: You can also find Bryant engaging with the community through his service on the board of directors for the UMKC Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (34)Owen Buckley
President, LANE4 Development

At a critical junction in the life-cycle of commercial real estate, Owen Buckley says his organization is mostly holding down the fort and taking care of their clients, customers, and properties. With a portfolio like LANE4’s, that’s an impressive to-do list. “Real estate is a cyclical business,” he says. “Acquisitions, leasing, and new developments are at a low. Things will change, and more opportunities will present themselves again. Perhaps sooner than we think.”

COLLEGE: B.A., M.A., University of Kansas
RECESSION ODDS: “So many variables. Anybody’s guess.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Fighting crime. It’s not specific to Kansas City; it’s everywhere. But what if the Kansas City region can fight crime better than our peer cities?”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Wonderful and essential asset for the city.Very optimistic about what it will do to spur more activity in our region.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Trust and loyalty lead to a true team rowing in the same direction.”
CURRENT EMPLOYEE HEADCOUNT: The firm has 25, he says, and will hold for the near term.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (35)Mike Bukaty
Chairman/CEO, Bukaty Companies

Mike Bukaty has been at the helm of his enterprise for more than 30 years and continues to lead it into growth. Just this past year, Bukaty Companies acquired a new property and casualty business, doubling the size of its P&C activity. Asked about a dream charity, he told us he’s already addressed that question: “Bukaty Companies sponsors a number of local charities whose missions support health initiatives, affordable housing and education.”

COLLEGE: University of Kansas
KC’s NEXT BIG THING?: “A new Chiefs stadium.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The airport is a great addition to the city and creates a positive first impression for visitors.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I had a number of mentors who taught me the importance of integrity,tenacity and humility.”
MORNING READ: “Local business news.”
IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP SKILL: “Adaptability.”
STAFFING PLANS: Currently with 160 on the team, Bukaty says, “we expect to add employees.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (36)DeAngela Burns-Wallace
President/CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

DeAngela Burns-Wallace is excited about the future, citing the Kauffman Foundation’s key investments such as KC Scholars, Great Jobs KC, Real World Learning, and ProX. “All of which,” says the new chief executive there, “give community members the access to a brighter financial future.” She is also looking back fondly: “We are proud of the learning and impact of Kauffman Scholars as it sunsets after a 20-year investment in Kansas City’s future leaders.”

NEXT BIG THING: “We need to continue to tend to the infrastructure needs that will support growth in our region. Aside from that, we need to focus on providing the real-world learning experiences that will give our next generation the opportunity and creativity they will need to usher KC into the future.”
SALUTING A MODEL: “Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary  of State, Colin Powell, and former chancellor of the University of Kansas, Bernadette Gray-Little—both strong, mission-oriented leaders who focused on impact and people.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “So many books. So little time. Creativity Rules by Tina Seelig is a long-time favorite, and recently I’ve enjoyed reading A Follow Up to Beginner’s Pluck: A Roadmap to Success in Highly Uncertain Times by Liz Forkin Bohannon, a graduate of the Kauffman FastTrac program.” 
LEADERSHIP: “Passion and determination for long-lasting, systems-level change. Involving being stewards of Ewing Kauffman’s legacy without ever losing sight of, or connection with, the people and communities we serve.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (37)Andrew Callahan
President/CEO, Hostess Brands

Andy Callahan saved his biggest achievement of the year for press deadline: Just this month, he reached an agreement for Hostess Brands to be acquired by J.B. Smucker for $5.6 billion. Clearly, a guy who spent years as a naval flight officer, knows how to hit a target. Since 2018, he’s led the continuing resurgence of the company that makes the iconic Hostess Cupcake, Twinkie, and Ding-Dong.

2022 REVENUES: $1.38 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy; MBA, Florida Institute of Technology; Executive Agribusiness Seminar, Harvard Business School
STOCK SWINGS: The folks who assign stock symbols at NASDAQ will, on occasion, let their sense of humor slip through—the platform’s symbol for Hostess is TWNK. Over the past year, shares have traded between $28.56 in November and a 52-week low of $21.81 in late January before surging in the last full week of August trading to hit $27.73, up 14.6 percent in a single day.
FEEDING THE MASSES: Callahan’s private-sector career has been all about food. He’s held leadership roles at Tyson Foods, Hillshire Brands, Sara Lee, and Kraft.
INDUSTRY ADVOCATE: He’s also on the board for the Consumer Brands Association, an advocacy group that unites packaged goods producers from sectors as diverse as pet products, canned soup, breweries, cheese makers, and many others.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (38)David Callanan
Co-Founder, AE Wealth / Advisors Excel

Go ahead and call David Callanan a double-dipper, but you can’t argue with the results: AE Wealth is one of the region’s biggest wealth-management firms, and Advisors Excel, a marketing firm that helps roughly 700 wealth advisers nationwide by providing tools they need to succeed.

COLLEGE: B.A., Management and Marketing, Washburn University
DOMINANCE: According to SEC data, AE Wealth had $19.24 billion in assets under management earlier this year, making it one of the Top 10 among this region’s largest wealth-management firms.
COAST-TO-COAST: The firm services more than 160,000 client accounts across the nation, nearly 2,300 of which fall into the high-net-worth category.
GIVING SPIRIT: Under Callanan’s watch, corporate philanthropy has been a priority. Last year, Advisors Excel gave more than $925,000 to organizations that address hunger and poverty, enhance education, and improve financial literacy. Employees backed that up with more than 5,500 hours of volunteer time in their communities.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (39)David Campbell
President/CEO, Evergy

It’s in darker moments that an energy executive sees people shine. Dave Campbell points to a massive July storm that caused widespread tree and power-line damage and deprived more than 200,000 Evergy customers of power. “I am immensely proud of the Evergy team for their tireless efforts to restore power to all of our customers,” he says. “We are also grateful to neighboring utilities who sent more than 1,500 line workers to help in the restoration efforts.”

2022 REVENUES: $5.86 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Yale; J.D., Harvard Law School; Masters, International Relations, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar)
ON THE NEW KCI: “I travel frequently, so I was a heavy user of the old KCI and I am now a frequent flyer out of the new KCI. While we all have fond memories of the old airport, the new airport is a massive and necessary upgrade—a great way to welcome travelers to KC. And we are very excited to team with three other KC companies to form the 816 Consortium and build a new solar array at KCI, further enhancing the world-class KCI facility. Working with the city, the target is to bring the first phase of the solar array online in 2026.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “Two mentors played critical roles for me early in my career. One relentlessly drilled the importance of doing high-quality work. If you consistently deliver high-quality work, your reputation builds and doors open—everyone wants a strong contributor on their team. A second mentor taught by going out of his way to support me in my career development and enable opportunities.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (40)Scott Campbell
CEO, TUKHS-St. Francis

There’s little question that finances made Topeka’s St. Francis Health System the sick man of Kansas hospitals in 2017, but a partnership between the Kansas City region’s biggest hospital and the for-profit Ardent Health proved to be just what the doctor ordered. Entrusted to take that infusion of support and run with it is Scott Campbell, who was named CEO of the 328-bed hospital in May of 2022 and took over the next month.

2022 REVENUES: $1.19 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Virginia Commonwealth University;M.A., Healthcare Administration, Medical College of Virginia-VCU
PREVIOUS STOPS: Campbell’s path through 30 years in health-care has taken him to stops in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina.
A RARE COMBO: With some exceptions on the high end of the scale, hospitals in Kansas tend to be either for-profit or community-owned. The renewal at St. Francis was executed in a partnership between The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent. It seems to be working; 2022 revenues were up a healthy 12.7 percent at the hospital. That figure has more than doubled over the past decade.
ACQUISITION MODE: Earlier this year, the hospital acquired Optimum Health Family Practice, bringing to 31 the number of primary-care providers employed by the Topeka campus.
RELIGIOUS ROOTS: The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, which formerly owned the hospital, established the Topeka location in 1909.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (41)Faruk Capan
CEO, Eversana Intouch

Faruk Capan demonstrated a commitment to his passion by launching a digital marketing platform for the pharmaceutical industry nearly 25 years ago—and put it on display again by taking on a leadership role following its 2021 acquisition for a reported $950 million. Along the way, he created one of the region’s biggest entrepreneurial successes and turned his company into a job-creation engine.

COLLEGE: Marmara University, Istanbul; MBA, University of Central Missouri
INNOVATOR AT HEART: In addition to daily oversight of Eversana Intouch as CEO, Capan serves as chief innovation officer for the parent company, which is based in Milwaukee.
HIGH PRAISE: Both he and the firm came out of the PM360 Trailblazer Awards with major industry props: Eversana Intouch was recognized as Agency of the Year last fall, and Capan himself was named Advertising Agency CEO of the Year.
STILL GROWING: In the year following the union of the two firms, the hits just kept on rolling: “In the middle of being integrated into a big cog of the wheel and becoming part of the commercial team, we still grew almost $65 million, which is our highest number ever in growth size,” Capan told PM360. “Of course, we also won 50-plus awards, and our people grew by about 200, so those are all great, positive signs that have made us even more excited for the future.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (42)Mitzi Cardenas
Executive Chief Administrative Officer, University Health

Cardenas is especially proud of her organization’s post-COVID resilience. “Despite the financial roadblocks that threatened us,” she said, “we continued to grow with new services and facilities that give our patients, staff, and visitors the space and surroundings needed to have the very best care and experience.” She’s excited about the work, saying “the UMKC Health Sciences District is positioned for incredible growth and is perfectly situated to expand its role as a regional health-care hub.”

COLLEGE: B.B.A., University of Texas-Arlington; M.S., Troy State University
RECESSION ODDS: “I don’t see a recession, but I also don’t think the road ahead will be necessarily smooth. Unfortunately, I think some of the issues with staffing are here to stay for a while, and that obviously will make for a bumpy ride moving forward.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “A key mentor was Lana Jane Lewis-Brent, President and CEO of Sunshine Junior Stores, a large convenience store and supermarket chain serving the southeastern part of the country out of Panama City, Fla. I worked under her early in my career, and she taught me how to think and act like an executive leader with a female voice. This was back in the late ‘90s when female leaders, particularly in this industry, were almost unheard of. She was my first role model when it came to the whole concept of ‘leaning in.’”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “The ability to lead as well as to follow. Humility is key.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “I would focus on bringing young women into healthcare leadership roles.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (43)Melissa Cather
President, ProActive Solutions

Not many women-owned enterprises in this region surpass $100 million in revenue, but if Melissa Cather and her team at one of the region’s biggest tech providers have a 2023 top-line bump that’s anywhere close to last year’s, they’ll not only crack that threshold, they’ll be in line to claim No. 1 on Ingram’s Women-Owned Businesses list. She’s a 20-year veteran in leadership roles delivering hardware, software, and related technology services.

COLLEGE: B.A., General Studies, Wichita State University
AT WORK: Cather, the majority owner of ProActive, oversees management and control of the company’s finances, key partnerships, contracting, marketing, sales support, and public relations.
ABOUT PROACTIVE: The firm is about as close as you’ll get to a one-stop-shop for a broad range of IT services, including data-center transformation, infrastructure, cloud solutions, and functions like asset management, financial services, and staffing.
SUPPORTING THE CAUSE: She’s also a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, which provides members with educational programming, peer support groups, professional mentoring, and national opportunities, among other perks.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (44)Tim Chadwick
Chief Executive Officer, MMC Corp

Talk about milestone performances: Last year, Tim Chadwick saw his MMC Corp team absolutely shatter past growth trends, with revenues surging more than one-third and blasting through the $1 billion threshold. Most recently, he has announced that he’ll be exiting the leadership stage for an Overland Park company with four national construction services brands (two of them based in Kansas City).

2022 REVENUES: $1.18 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Construction Science, Kansas State University
ON GROWTH: “This is an achievement we look forward to sharing not only with our employee-owners nationwide but with the communities and markets we serve,” Chadwick said of the revenue growth. “It’s exciting to know we’re able to make such a significant economic impact in the Kansas City area and other regions as our company continues to grow its revenue and talent pool.”
SHARING THE WEALTH: That performance means a great deal to nearly 1,700 MMC workers (more than 600 in the Kansas City area), many of whom are participants in the Employee Stock Ownership Plan that was formed more than 20 years ago.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Chadwick will retire in April, turning the baton over to Jason Evelyn, who has been with the parent or subsidiary MW Builders for nearly three decades.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (45)Ramin Cherafat
CEO, McCownGordon

Watching his people take on challenges and opportunities and grow together has been tremendously rewarding for Ramin Cherafat. “We took great strides in the past year in advancing our strategic plan and positioning our company for the next decade of growth,” he said. “Our team has worked together to develop our Strategic Plan, and now, over the past two years, we’ve taken significant steps forward to execute our plan, which should provide transformational opportunities for years to come.”

2022 REVENUES: $671.8 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Construction Science, Kansas State University; MBA, UMKC
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Job growth across our region, ability to attract new businesses to our region, from a business standpoint. ‘What are we really good at?’ We need to define this and utilize our strengths to attract and grow our economic base.
KEEPING IT GOING: As a city, Cherafat says, “we have great momentum—Super Bowl, World Cup, NFL Draft, great stuff—but we also need to develop and implement long-term economic growth strategies for our region by growing, attracting, and retaining great companies for the long term.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES: “The great work that has been done for the National Cancer Center designation for Kansas City has been incredible. These types of hard and challenging endeavors will help progress our region forward for decades, serve the people of our community, and provide outstanding opportunities.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (46)Bill Clarkson Jr.
President, Clarkson Construction Co.

Bill Clarkson has seen his share of iconic infrastructure projects in a career that goes back four decades. But those may pale in comparison to the project that wrapped up this year north of the river: Clarkson Construction was a key element of the partnership that built the $1.5 billion single-terminal remake of Kansas City International Airport, considered by many to be Kansas City’s front door to the world. Its main duties involved demolition, grading, and road re-routing.

FOUNDATIONAL: Bill Jr. is a fifth-generation leader for a company that traces its roots to his second great-grandfather, G.G. Clarkson. The company’s multi-million dollar fleet of modern-day vehicles is far removed from the mule-and-manpower days of its infancy.
KC FOOTPRINT: The company has been involved in the construction of major Downtown bridges, including the Kit Bond, the Paseo, and the Chouteau Trafficway, along with the Johnson County Gateway project, the Grandview Triangle and the Kansas Speedway/Village West/Children’s Mercy Park transformation of western Wyandotte County.
THE SCORECARD: The company has completed more than 800 projects, with 27 of them currently in the works. Over its history, it has set down more than 3,300 lane miles of pavement and constructed at least 825 bridges.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (47)Jeff Cloud
President/CEO, IBT Industrial Solutions

Working at IBT must be rewarding—the boss puts the spotlight on his people. “Thanks to the best team in industrial distribution,” says Cloud, “IBT Industrial Solutions has generated its largest revenue number in our 74-year history, with no intention of slowing down.” This third-generation leader also swings that spotlight close to home. “I have had many help shape my leadership style, but no one more than my father. He taught me the importance of treating people the right way.”

COLLEGE: General Studies, University of Kansas; AOS, Culinary Arts, New England Culinary Institute
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I believe an above-ground commuter train system running along I-35 and I-70 would be a game-changer in navigating the city.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I think they nailed it. I’m excited to see our daily flight count begin to rise, increasing more direct flight options and hopefully justifying additional expansion.”
MORNING READ: “I like to get caught up on the news. I have learned to get my information from a variety of sources, which helps me make sure I keep an open perspective on what is being reported versus reality.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Being open-minded. The world is changing at such a rapid pace that we all need to be able to pivot when situations change, which is inevitable.”
EMPLOYEES: “Approximately 450 and growing. We are budgeting to add additional headcount. Hiring continues to be a struggle, with the uneven balance of people retiring vs. entering the work force.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (48)Peter Clune
CEO, Lockton

A little over three years ago, Peter Clune took the day-to-day leadership baton at the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage—and didn’t miss a step with the pace of growth there. Corporate revenues were just shy of $1.89 billion during his first year as CEO; in the most recent fiscal year, the company surged across the $3 billion threshold for the first time, continuing an unbroken streak of every-year-is-a-record year for Lockton.

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, University of Missouri-Columbia
THE ROAD TO LOCKTON: Straight out of Mizzou, Clune went to work for two years at the Robert E. Miller Group, another Kansas City-based brokerage and benefits consultancy. He moved on to Zurich Insurance before landing at Lockton in 2006.
ENTREPREURIAL CULTURE: From an “office” set up in Jack Lockton’s home in 1966, the company has become a dominant fixture in the workplace benefits space. It now boasts a second global headquarters presence in London and has more than 140 locations worldwide.
HIRING BOOM: During Clune’s short tenure, Lockton has gone from roughly 7,500 employees company-wide to more than 10,750.
ORGANIC & MORE: The firm made a significant move in South America last year and added roughly 250 employees to its headcount with the acquisition of THB Brazil, creating a brokerage powerhouse there.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (49)Scott Colangelo
Managing Partner, Prime Capital Investment Advisors

With $16.7 billion in assets under management at his firm, Scott Colangelo is at the helm of one of the 10 biggest ships in the region’s wealth-management flotilla. He’s also chairman of Prime Capital Investment Advisors and the architect of the firm’s Qualified Plan Advisors (QPA). Forward-thinking in the financial business, Scott is responsible for the strategy and growth of these companies.

COLLEGE: B.S., Finance (minor in Marketing), Kansas State University
GROWTH HISTORY: The original founders set up shop in 1984, and Colangelo joined with other leadership figures there to acquire ownership in 2017. That set the stage for four-fold growth in assets under management—even after adjusting for inflation.
ORGANIZATIONAL PERSPECTIVE: Colangelo was the driver in the 2004 creation of the Qualified Plan Advisors operation. While the mother ship focuses on individual investors and families,QPA works with organizations to design retirement plans that help them meet their benefits-plan goals.
CERTIFIABLE: He also holds FINRA Series 7, 63, and 66 registrations.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (50)David Colo
President/CEO, MGP Ingredients

David Colo had two things going for him when MGP Ingredients needed to fill the seat of a departing chief executive in early 2020: For one, more than 30 years in various leadership roles—general management, operations, and supply chain. For another, he knew the company intimately as a member of its board of directors for the previous five years. And as it turned out, the one thing going against him—the pandemic onset—turned out to be an opportunity in disguise.

COLLEGE: B.S., Agribusiness Economics, Southern Illinois University
2022 REVENUES: $782 million
BOOM TIME: The sudden demand for sanitizing products boosted MGP’s top line by nearly 10 percent in 2000, but even as the pandemic has receded, MGP has soared on the sales side, more than doubling its pre-pandemic revenues of $363 million in just three years.
INFLECTION POINT: Colo assumed the duties of COO in March 2020, just in time for American manufacturing to slam on the production brakes as COVID-19 hit. But Colo marshaled the troops to swiftly retool and begin producing alcohol-based supplies the nation was sorely lacking in its bid to fight an unknown virus.
THE ROAD TO ATCHISON: Previous career stops included duties with SunOpta in Toronto, Canada, Diamond Foods in San Francisco, ConAgra Foods, and Nestle-Purina Pet Care. He also worked as an independent industry consultant specializing in organizational optimization and planning and, for two years, was president of the American Dehydrated Onion and Garlic Association.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (51)Matt Condon
CEO, Bardavon Health Innovations

Bardavon has had great success getting others on board with its mission to redefine worker’s compensation management. “We surpassed over 11,000 providers across the country in our network,” Matt Condon said. “All connected on a single tech platform that has been proven to improve care and outcomes.” Because of the network, Bardavon has been able to impact health and wellness of more 65,000 American workers—getting them back to work and keeping them there safely and effectively.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Kinesiology, Iowa State University; JD/MBA, University of Toledo
RECESSION: “We anticipate continued economic uncertainty and a strained market to carry on through 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Another Super Bowl and another World Series!!”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The new airport has been everything we hoped it would be and more. So many people that I work with who have traveled into KCI immediately point out what an improved experience and impression it leaves them. Kudos to this region for leaning in and making that happen!”
MORNING READ: “I am fortunate to have a friend—who has persevered, been through some remarkable circ*mstances—send a group of us a daily reflection at 6 a.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I look forward to it every day, and it is incredible how it so often speaks to something I end up facing that day.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “A balance of technical skills and the ability to motivate/inspire. Leaders need followers—and the ability to compel others to follow you on a mission/vision is more than just tactical ability; it is an intangible quality that is both rare and yet immediately recognizable.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (52)Jon Cook
Global CEO, VMLY&R

Leading a marketing company with a worldwide footprint that includes Kansas City, New York, Detroit, London, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, and Sydney, you’d expect some big brands to cross, so we weren’t surprised when we asked about past-year highlights, and he said, “Coca Cola becoming one of our largest global accounts in just a year. We’ve been able to do an array of impactful work in a short period of time.”

2022 REVENUES: $249.9 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Journalism, University of Missouri
RECESSION ODDS: “High. In the marketing world, we have a unique view of consumer predictors. Canary in the coal mine, so to speak. We see those signs.”
KC’s NEXT THING: “An NBA and/or WNBA team.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Absolutely love it. It’s the perfect size and exceeds high expectations. I feel proud walking through the terminal. And the smell of barbeque wafting through the air is magic.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “Tons of people have supported me along the way and still do!”
MORNING LISTEN: “I’m all about sports radio and sports podcasts in the morning. It’s a relaxing way to ramp up for the day—although I can get pretty worked up about Chiefs news.”
LEADERSHIP HIRING TRAIT: “Humanity.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Hyper-local support of metro-area kids caught in abusive,food insecure, homeless or bankrupt family situations.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (53)Keith Copaken
Principal, Copaken Brooks

Six million square feet. That’s the better part of a square mile. And that’s the career impact that Keith Copaken has had on the Kansas City commercial-realty scene with office and retail space. And no, that doesn’t include parking lots. He’s part of a multigenerational family business that has left its fingerprints not only on the Downtown skyline but, most recently, on Lenexa’s stunning reimagination of its own Downtown.

COLLEGE: B.A. Economics, University of Pennsylvania;Master of City Planning and Real Estate, University of California-Berkeley
LANDMARK DEALS: Copaken has also been part of putting together the joint venture and third-party debt for the Plaza Colonnade and bringing Nordstrom to the retail roster at Oak Park Mall.
SIGNATURE STATEMENT: The firm has been a key part of the public-private partnership that led to City Center Lenexa, now about one-third of the way to its completed vision of 2 million square feet of mixed-use retail, office, and residential development.
DOING THE DEALS: In addition to Nordstrom, Copaken has worked with big-name retailers like Target, Dillard’s, Walmart, and JCPenney to establish their brick-and-mortar presence in the Kansas City region.
HIGH PRAISE: He was inducted into the Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame in 2015, and the firm was the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Small Business of the Year.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (54)John Cosentino
EVP, Cosentino Food Stores

Most every employer has felt the sting of a tight labor market the past few years, but for John Cosentino—anyone, really, in the grocery business—it causes just a bit more discomfort. That’s because any additional costs to recruit, train and retain labor will further pinch the bottom line in a sector that has among the lowest margins in American business, between 1 and 3 percent.

FAMILY ROOTED: Their grandfather’s fruit stand was the kernel that would flower into a grocery enterprise launched by his children. Now, more than two dozen members of the extended Cosentino family are employed by the this grocery enterprise, which in addition to John is led by other members of the second generation: Donnie, David, Victor and Jimmy Cosentino.
MULTIPLE FLAGS: In addition to the Cosentino’s Market brand, other operations in the fold are Price Chopper, Sun Fresh or Apple Market stores.
ALWAYS NEARBY: With 30 stores in the greater Kansas City area, the company generates sales metro-wide.
MORE THAN EATS: Consumer demand for more one-stop shopping over the years has spawned additional store services with Cosentino’s Pharmacy, and there’s even a catering division.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (55)Fred Coulson
Managing Partner, Five Elms Capital

Fred Coulson keeps it simple: The venture-capital group he founded in 2006 lasers in on early-stage companies with between $2 million and $20 million in revenues, brings between $5 million and $75 million in capital to the table, and takes a significant position within each,either as minority or majority owner. How’s that working out? Well, with nearly two dozen exits in either IPOs, sales to private-equity firms, or acquisitions by firms with names like KPMG, Groupon, and K1.

COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration, University of Kansas
BILLION-DOLLAR BOUND: From an initial investment fund of $21 million at the founding, Coulson has built an enterprise with $780 million in its fifth iteration—that’s more than double the $330 million in its fourth fund, rolled out in 2019.
QUOTABLE: “Our best-performing companies are obsessed with company culture—it’s crucial to their success,” Five Elms states. “We have a very simple playbook … great products + great people = great outcomes.”
IN THE STABLE: Five Elms currently lists investments in nearly three dozen companies, including fast-growing Smart Warehousing in the Kansas City area and other companies as far-flung as England, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and Italy.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (56)Tim Cowden
President/CEO, Kansas City Area Development Council

Cowden believes the KCADC’s recent successes are a reflection of this region’s vibrance. “In 2022,” he said, “KCADC and its partners from across attracted 10 new companies to the area, generating $5.5 billion in capital investment” that will yield more than 5,400 new jobs. That includes the Panasonic and Meta “megaprojects” in Kansas and Missouri. This year we’ve landed 13 new companies, generating $715 million in capital investment to create 2,300 jobs. And we still have a quarter left in the year.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Journalism, University of Oklahoma
RECESSION ODDS: “Every time the Fed raises the funds rate (interest rate), the chances for a recession increase proportionately. Sectors of the economy have already felt it—housing, tech, and some consumer goods. Others are continuing at a good clip—EV, FDI/reshoring manufacturing, which the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill inspired. If we do go into a recession, I agree with the consensus among economists I have read that it will be a shallow one with a strong and quick bounce back. These are the economic times that KC typically fares better than other regions—particularly on the coasts.”
NEXT BIG THING?: “I will let those who have more direct responsibility for regional ‘product improvement’ weigh in with specific ideas here. We will focus upon leveraging the new KCI for a new wave of economic development success as we now have a first and lasting impression that matches our exceptional region.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Eliminate suffering and violent crime.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (57)Kevin Crutchfield
President/CEO, Compass Minerals

It’s been quite a time over the past year at Compass Minerals. Kevin Crutchfield completed a transaction to acquire full ownership of Fortress North America, a next-generation, long-term fire-retardant business, and secured two definitive agreements with leaders in the advanced battery and vehicle electrification sectors to supply 80 percent of Compass’ planned phase-one production volume of battery-grade lithium carbonate.

2022 REVENUES: $1.24 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Mining Engineering, Virginia Tech
RECESSION: “I learned a long time ago in my career to avoid making economic predictions. Like Yogi Berra once said, “Predictions are difficult, especially those that involve the future.” While the high inflationary environment over the past couple of years has certainly been challenging to our business, like so many others, we are a supplier of essential minerals to help keep people safe, feed the world, and enrich lives. Fortunately, the need for our products remains relatively consistent, regardless of the economic climate.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “In my experience, successful leaders need to bring more than just technical or deep subject matter expertise. They need to value people, keenly understand the benefits of collaboration, and be able to operate as part of a team. They should also be strong communicators, whether that’s to provide strategic direction to their teams, inspire improvement, or develop external partnerships.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (58)Dave Cummings
Chairman, Tradebot Systems

Dave Cummings has some bad news, some good news, and some inspirational news for those who aspire to work in the combat zone that is high-speed equities trading. The bad: Tradebot Systems had no job openings to fill as of the start of this month. The good? It will soon be reviewing candidates for summer internships in 2024. The inspiration? Since its inception, “the company has made well over $1 billion in trading profits,” the firm says.

COLLEGE: B.S., Computer and Electrical Engineering, Purdue University
MULTI-TASKER: With Tradebot making long strides on its growth journey, Cummings saw another high-speed trading opportunity and started BATS Global Markets (for Better Alternative Trading System). He raised $152 million to get it up and running, and it eventually became the nation’s second-largest trading platform, surpassing NASDAQ in volume with more than a billion shares traded per day.
ECSTATIC EXIT: Cummings relinquished the leadership at BATS in 2007, and less than a decade later, the firm was acquired by Chicago-based Cboe for $3.2 billion.
THE NEED FOR SPEED: High-speed trading changed the game by executing stock sales within not just seconds but microseconds, narrowing the spread between the asking price on equities and the bid prices from buyers. Profit margins would be smaller than traditional trading, but the massive volumes more than offset the difference.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (59)Wiley Curran
Chairman, CPC Management

Wiley Curran is not about short-term gains. His company’s mission is to buy, build, and hold promising companies for the long-term. Just last month, it made another move by acquiring Ohio-based Trades Holding Co. the nation’s largest Mr. Rooter franchisee. Chalk up another 250 employees—and 215 trades professionals—in the CPC fold. Curran runs an enterprise with diverse holdings in manufacturing, aerospace, consumer products, chemicals, logistics and many other disciplines.

COLLEGE: B.A., Finance, Miami of Ohio; MBA/Accounting, Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist Univ.
FIVE KEY BATTLES: They can never be completely won, CPC says, but successful companies nonetheless wage a constant fight on five fronts; people/talent, operational systems, execution capabilities, customer intimacy and product leadership.
TARGETS: Limiting itself to one or two strategic acquisitions a year, CPC seeks deals where it can secure controlling interest in the $60-$120 million range, often with existing leadership given an opportunity to hold an equity stake, but going all-in on the purchase when necessary.
LESSON LEARNED: One that got away involved the pellet-fired grill system Traeger, which met with enormous consumer demand after the firm had exited on its early investment. That sharpened the focus on holding companies for long-term growth and gain.
TWO-TIME HONOREE: Curran is one of a comparative handful of high-achieving young executives from this region who have been recognized by Ingram’s in both 20 in Their Twenties (2013) and 40 Under Forty (2021).

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (60)Dennis Curtin
Owner, RE/MAX Regional Services

In 1975, young Dennis Curtin signed on as the very first franchisee for a Colorado-based real-estate group called RE/MAX. What he did with that is the stuff of residential realty legend: From expanding into half a dozen offices in the Kansas City area, he went on to create RE/MAX Mid-States Region, added RE/MAX Dixie Region to create a seven-state reach, then went overseas with 80 offices in Europe. All, he says, flows from a goal of “helping my clients find the home of their dreams.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Business Administration and Marketing, Rockhurst College
GOING BIG: Before Curtin sold his individual franchise operations back in 1990 to pursue the RE/MAX Region model, his operations accounted for more than 40 percent of the residential sale market share.
INFLUENCER: Curtin is a past president of the Metro Kansas City Board of Realtors, and formerly held the same title with state association, which had more than 20,000 members at the time.
RESPECT: He’s also been recognized by RE/MAX as regional director of the year (1982), Distinguished Service Award winner (1987), Legacy of Leadership winner (2005), and the Founders’ Award winner (2017). RE/MAX Regional Services the North American Region of the Year honoree in 2018.
WALKING THE WALK: Curtin doesn’t just help families fulfill their dreams; as an investor, he also is a prolific owner of homes across the nation.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (61)Tim Danker
President/CEO, SelectQuote

Since 2020, the year Tim Danker helped orchestrate SelectQuote’s initial public offering, the insurance-services tech firm has seen its top line surge by more than 67 percent. So naturally, Wall Street has rewarded that performance by hammering the stock price. Go figure. If this is indeed Kansas City’s next billion-dollar revenue generator, you won’t want to sleep on that stock price.

2022 REVENUES: $895 million
COLLEGE: B.A., business administration, University of Missouri; MBA, University of Kansas
ABOUT SELECTQUOTE: Danker has been CEO at the firm since 2017, overseeing its online exchanges for home, auto, Medicare, and life insurance services.
CAREER PATH: Before Danker made his way to SelectQuote as president of the auto and home segment in 2012, he was the co-founding CEO of Spring Venture Group, which became a national leader among direct-to-consumer property and casualty insurance brokerages. He prepped for those roles by working for two of the region’s biggest corporate names early in his career—Cerner and Spring.
GOOD CALL: Ingram’s knew then that achievement awaited when we recognized Danker in our Forty Under 40 Class of 2012.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (62)Tim Davis
Plant Manager, Goodyear Topeka

He oversees one of Topeka’s biggest workforces, with roughly 1,700 employees at the Goodyear tire plant, and does it with a passion for production: “The world of manufacturing is one of the most impactful industries, affecting each of our daily lives,” says plant manager Tim Davis. “Every product used has gone through the complex process of planning, design, product development, and turning raw materials into finished products for consumers around the globe at the lowest cost.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering Technology, University of Tennessee-Martin; MBA, General Management, Oklahoma City University
TOOL KIT: In holding leadership assignments for organizations from 400 to 2300 and operating on capital budgets of more than $500 million, Davis’ background entails oversight of engineering, operations, business development, lean manufacturing, labor relations, and best-practices implementation.
OFF THE CLOCK: Davis is a member of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce board and previously served on the governor’s Industrial Development Advisory Board and local ED agency Go Topeka.
GETTING BIGGER: Last fall, the parent company announced plans to invest $125 million into the Topeka facility and hire 40 new employees. The plant began production in north Topeka in 1945.
TALL ORDER: You won’t find Honda tires here; the plant produces medium radial truck tires, off-the-road and Hummer tires. The biggest one in its production line stands about 13 feet tall and weigh 13,000 pounds.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (63)Brian DeFrain
President, D&L Transport

The past year has been a tough one for many in the logistics sector, so just holding serve as an organization can be chalked up as a win. For Brian DeFrain, that means “no reductions in workforce. We’ve maintained our entire family of employees even during one of the steepest economic declines in logistics this year.” The bright side? “We’re primed for a great 2024,” says the leader of this Overland Park company.

2022 REVENUES: $323.4 million
COLLEGE: B.B.A., Finance, Baylor University; J.D., University of Missouri School of Law
RECESSION ODDS: “The logistics market is in a practical recession, which I see improving in 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Entertainment district around Arrowhead/Chiefs. Or an NBA team.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Love it. Love it. Love it. And our guests from out of town rave about it.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Former Jackson County Judge Jay Daugherty. He was very good at bringing opposing sides together for a deal. I use those lessons every day.”
MOST-ADMIRED: “Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out Burger. Why is company successful: Its approach to employees.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Value employees. Earn respect from employees.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Youth mental-health initiatives.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently 25 employees, with 200 exclusive contractors,and DeFrain says they will “hold staff at current levels” for the near term.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (64)John Dicus
Chairman/President, Capitol Federal Bank

John Dicus leads a Topeka-based banking juggernaut that has been part of the Midwestern business landscape since 1893. Today, Capitol Federal is a leader in residential lending in Kansas and Missouri, boasting more than $9 billion in assets, making it the state’s biggest homegrown bank. Most recently, the company completed a digital core conversion, which Dicus says is an important step forward.

2022 REVENUES: $212.63 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Business, MBA, University of Kansas
RECESSION ODDS: “5 to 1—recession being less likely.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING?: “New baseball stadium.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
IMPORTANT QUALITY FOR A LEADER: “Can they do the job?”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Not one specific need. Give to what is needed.”
CURRENT EMPLOYEE HEADCOUNT: 661
STAFFING PLANS: “Hold or reduce.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (65)Mark Dohnalek
President/CEO, Pivot International

Mark Dohnalek is excited about the recent Pivot performance in providing collaborative product development, design, and manufacturing services to companies worldwide. What’s the headline? “Being able to achieve a total tracking of highly volatile inflation by capturing those challenges and holding proper pricing/margin controls,” he said. He added, “Additionally, we set a record for new products designed that transitioned into manufacturing, which totaled 14 new launches.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Economic, Cornell University; MBA, Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University
RECESSION ODDS: “I would say we’ll modestly tip into a slight recession in late Q2 or early Q3, but come out of it after two quarters, which is the shortest to still be able to technically define it as a recession. All bets are off if the Fed keeps raising; if they do, risks climb higher for more severe and longer.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It’s outstanding. Could add a few other types of food, although I love BBQ. Could use one or two other options. However, very impressed. Without question, it was criminal how far behind we were, at least 15 years, and the cost of that was tremendous to the city fundamentally.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “I regard one individual as that person. The key trait is that business is typically broken down into a few key drivers—focus on those, and all other details will fall into place. That was the best advice I received. Far too often, typically in large organizations, measurements get too elaborate, and key tractions get lost in all the noise.”
MOST-ADMIRED: “I would say, years ago, when Lee Iacocca turned around Chrysler in the 1980s during tremendously difficult circ*mstances.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (66)Mark Donovan
President, Kansas City Chiefs

Mark Donovan’s day job centers on pro football operations, but he sure has some impressive overnight guests from the world of music. Just this summer, it was Taylor Swift in July, then Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks in August, with Beyonce on tap this month. All have been drawn to the stage at Arrowhead Stadium, where Donovan oversees the business side of the NFL champions. His management of the physical assets and the brand drives revenues for the team.

COLLEGE: B.S., Organizational Behavior and Management/Political Science, Brown University
MORE TO COME: Weekend musical acts are one thing, but Donovan is also tasked with prepping the crown jewel of Kansas City sports infrastructure for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Arrowhead will share host-city playing field duties with Children’s Mercy Park when teams from around the world show up to compete. The World Cup prep by itself is expected to cost $50 million.
CONSTANT UPKEEP: Gee, has it really been, what—13 years since the $375 million renovation at Arrowhead? It sure has, which means Donovan is hip-deep in the team’s efforts to chart the next iteration of life there. One consideration: How to leverage potential space that might be freed up if the next-door neighbors at Kauffman Stadium bolt for a Downtown venue.
CENTER STAGE: Donovan was key in securing and executing KC’s host-city efforts for the 2023 NFL Draft. The event drew a head-count of 312,000 visitors, with a $164.3 mil. economic impact for the region.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (67)Case Dorman
Owner, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue

Case Dorman cites Jack Fiorella—the “Jack” of “Jack Stack”—as a great mentor who “really instilled in me the need for a passion for excellence and the importance of continuous improvement.” Of course, he was more than that—Fiorella was Dorman’s father-in-law. We’re certain those lessons came into play as Dorman and company navigated recent times. Over the past year, Dorman says, he’s proud of “Finding our new normal post-Covid and continuing to add new business.”

RECESSION ODDS: “I think that we are already seeing an economic slowdown in retail.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The Royals building a Downtown stadium will be huge for the city.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The airport is a huge improvement. How could it not be?”
MORNING READ:Conversations with God.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Feeding and caring for the least fortunate in Kansas City. This is currently our giving mission, and we work through many great groups in town to support their efforts.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently 900, he says, and “we have growth plans for 2024 that include adding new team members.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (68)Dan Duffy
CEO, United Real Estate Group

One of the rare exceptions in business who gets it with growth fundamentals—really gets it—is Dan Duffy. Master your space, he has frequently said, then look around you and see what spaces are touching yours: Those are your opportunities. He’s lived out that philosophy by turning United into a holding company with divisions in single-family residential, country estates and rural properties, realty IT services, relocation services, and more.

2022 REVENUES: $563.66 million
COLLEGE: BBA, Indiana University; MBA, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
BOOM: Last year, United’s agents and team produced an astonishing $35 billion in sales. Consider that for a moment, especially in light of where residential home-buying has gone since the Fed started raising rates in early 2022.
HIGHER AND HIGHER: That performance pushed United up to No. 6 among the nation’s largest real estate brokerages.
STRATEGIC MOVE: Helping drive United’s numbers was last year’s acquisition of Platinum Realty, which, in a 15-year span, went from concept to becoming the region’s second-largest residential realty firm in terms of sales volume.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (69) Peggy Dunn
Mayor, City of Leawood

Mayor of Leawood since 1997—and counting down the days of that tenure—Peggy Dunn is proud to be celebrating Leawood’s 75th anniversary of incorporation. She wants everyone to know the celebration year isn’t over. “Although there have been a number of initiatives to commemorate this monumental event, there will be an entire weekend celebration beginning on Oct. 6 with the Leawood Chamber’s Taste of Leawood, followed by two days of family-friendly activities on Oct. 7-8.”

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City
RECESSION ODDS: “As an eternal optimist, I’ve become increasingly more of the opinion that there will not be a recession between now and the end of 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING?: “It’s time to stop talking about a new Downtown baseball stadium for the Royals and actually move forward. I can’t think of a better Next Big Thing!”
ON THE NEW KCI: “My entire family had the pleasure of flying out of KCI early this summer. It was just as awesome as I’d been told. Lunch at Meat Mitch before our flight departed was an added bonus. Absolutely loved all of the public art! Upon return, our airport pickup was smooth and without a hiccup!”
SALUTING MENTORS: “One lady with whom I had the pleasure of serving on a number of boards was Adele Hall. Her grace, humility, and wisdom were always inspirational and taught me a great deal.”
LEADERSHIP: “I think that being an attentive listener should comprise 90 percent of communicating.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (70)Terry Dunn
Founder, DD Ranch Leawood

Dunn starts his days investing in his faith life, beginning at 4:20 a.m. with prayer, followed by daily Mass. Then it’s on to looking after the businesses he has put his faith in as an investor (he foresees several of those investments growing very fast in 2024). His DD Ranch Leawood provides a business home for senior execs like himself who have retired from major companies and are actively engaged as investors, directors and entrepreneurs in corporate, civic and charitable initiatives.

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS: “Many of my entrepreneurial investments in smaller businesses are focused on managing risks and surviving in a difficult environment. Capital investment is difficult in 2023.”
RECESSION ODDS: “We will continue to see a correction in inflation in 2024. The risk of a major recession has been reduced. The potential for a recession has been reduced to 25 percent.”
NEXT BIG THING?: “We have to build our image to be a safe and secure community for all citizens of Greater KC. We have much to do. This issue is holding back our potential as a great place to live and work.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I am very proud to have KCI as the Front Door to our community.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I have had four great mentors in my life. Bill Dunn, construction management mentor. Bob Long, finance and corporate governance. Woody Overton, governmental affairs and politics. And Peggy Dunn, my wife and lifetime coach.”
LEADERSHIP MUST-HAVES: “Strong moral compass. Empathy, integrity, trust and persistence.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (71)Timothy Dunn
Chairman/Chief Investment Officer, JE Dunn Construction

The past year has been one of record growth and some large project wins nationwide but in true Dunn fashion, Tim Dunn focuses on the people who make it all happen. “It’s what we continue to foster around people and culture at JE Dunn,” he said, “that retains and attracts some of the most talented people in the industry.” Keeping that atmosphere alive is something Dunn is very proud to accomplish.

2022 REVENUES: $5.83 billion
COLLEGE: B.S.B.A, Accounting, University of Richmond; M.A., Entrepreneurial Real Estate, UMKC
RECESSION ODDS: “Probably around 50 percent on a recession, but appears that a soft landing is more likely, or a shallow recession.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The South Loop project park will be a game-changer for Downtown, and a great attraction to the live/work/play Central Business District and the Crossroads. There’s also Downtown baseball and the impact to the city.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Excellent. Very positive impression as a front door for our city.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I try to have several mentors and learn from them all. Being authentic, always curious/learning, be humble are some of the key lessons I continue to see as consistent traits from my mentors.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal or CNBC.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (72)Rachel Dwiggins
Managing Partner Kansas City, FORVIS

Rachel Dwiggins reports good news since the 2022 merger that created FORVIS. “At the end of our first year as FORVIS,” she said, “we experienced significant growth, a decrease in our turnover rate, and grew our head count across the firm by almost 600 people.” In addition to her significant professional accomplishments in her field, she is a leader in the company’s DEI efforts.

KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “We hosted a successful NFL Draft and have the World Cup to look forward to—maybe next is the Super Bowl?”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I’ve used it multiple times and think it is wonderful. We’ve been able to host more people from around our firm in Kansas City, and all have commented on how great the new airport is.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I have had too many mentors to name, and each one has taught me something different. I think it is important to learn from everyone who crosses your path in a meaningful way. Sometimes you learn ways to be better or think differently, and sometimes you learn what not to do.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “A positive attitude and the ability to see the bigger picture and pivot when necessary.”
EMPLOYEES: “We have close to 6,000 firmwide and about 300 here in Kansas City,” she says, adding: “We plan to grow our staff levels over the next year.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (73)Warren Erdman
Executive Advisor/Strategic Projects, CPKC

Even when the company was sold, there’s no letting loose of what Warren Erdman brings to a rail-shipping enterprise. The longtime government-relations executive with Kansas City Southern is one of a handful from those leadership ranks to carry over with the newly formed Canadian Pacific Kansas City, and for good reason: He has lived in the nexus of transportation, business, and public policy for decades.

COLLEGE: B.A., Westminster College
RESPECT: The plaudits come locally and nationally. Most recently, Erdman was named the 2022 Kansas City’s Idealist of the Year by City Year, and on a national scale, he’s been tabbed as one of the 10 most influential people in the railroad industry by Railway Age magazine.
OFF THE CLOCK: When he’s not advocating for his employer, you might find Erdman taking a seat with the executive committee and board of directors of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, or Kansas City’s Downtown Council.
CAREER PATH: With KC Southern, Erdman was the longtime executive vice president for administration and corporate affairs, meaning he had frequent flyer miles to Washington and would have been well-served with his own dedicated lane on Interstate 70 to Jefferson City.
BEFORE RIDING THE RAILS: Erdman previously was chief of staff for Sen. Kit Bond, and his Jeff City service included stints for Gov. John Ashcroft, before the U.S. Senate called Bond.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (74)Melinda Estes
President/CEO, Saint Luke’s Health System

One of the highlights of the past year for Melinda Estes happened outside Saint Luke’s walls. “Our launch and expansion of ‘Saint Luke’s Hospital In Your Home’ has been a game-changer,” she said. “We’re treating certain patients at home with a hybrid model of 24/7 virtual care and daily in-home visits. Calling it an exciting step forward, Estes added, “Our patients have been thrilled to be able to receive high-quality care in the comfort of their homes.”

2022 REVENUES: $9.14 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Sam Houston Univ; M.D., University of Texas Medical Branch; MBA, Case Western Reserve Univ.
MENTOR: “I had an early mentor—the CEO of the hospital where I was serving as a senior VP for clinical affairs and CMO—who shared two pieces of advice that I continue to pass along to others as valuable life lessons: ‘Hug the thing that scares you the most. Get close to it. Embrace it until it’s not so scary anymore.’ The second piece was, ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’ Both have served me well.”
LEADERSHIP: “First, good leaders come from good people. Period. That’s essential. Beyond that, I look for those who have embraced opportunities to learn, whether it’s being placed on the smallest committee in an organization or chairing a multifaceted, cross-functional strategic task force. They’re the ones who don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ opportunity but, instead, recognize that careers are made through a series of opportunities and roles that—when done well with integrity, skill, and kindness—will lead to more responsibility, more opportunities, and more success.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (75)Bill Ferguson
President/CEO, Central Bank of the Midwest

Bill Ferguson has found the sweet spot any banking executive would relish: Being small enough to brand yourself as a community bank, all the while enjoying the financial muscle you’d expect from one of Missouri’s biggest banking enterprises, Central Bancompany. His Central Bank of the Midwest is the third-largest locally based bank in this region, with $3.25 billion in assets, and recently, a signature achievement has been the inclusion in Newsweek’s Best Customer-Service Bank lineup.

COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Executive MBA, Entrepreneurship/Finance, UMKC
RECESSION ODDS: “I think we have more than a 50 percent-plus chance of a recession by the end of 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Continue to promote Downtown as a safe and vibrant environment in anticipation of the World Cup.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It is very impressive and easy to use. I am also proud of our region for making this happen. … KC really grew up with the opening on the new KCI.”
LEADERSHIP HIRING TRAITS: “A proven ability to collaborate up/down/and side to side.”
WHAT CHARITY WOULD YOU START?: “Better services for adults with Down syndrome.”
EMPLOYEES: 450 in the Kansas City area, more than 3,000 with parent Central Bancompany,and “at this time, we are planning to increase staffing levels,” Ferguson says.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (76)Wesley Fields
Office Managing Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Running the office for one of Kansas City’s biggest law firms is one thing. It’s another to man the wheel and still engage with matters of public finance, corporate transactions and general business issues. Wesley Fields draws on nearly 20 years of experience to juggle those duties, which include negotiating and document prep for joint ventures, mergers, consolidations, acquisitions and sales of assets. BCLP is one of the 10 largest firms in the region, based on numbers of lawyers on staff (63).

COLLEGE: B.S., Political Science and African-American Studies, Yale University; J.D., Univ. of Virginia
THE $5 BILLION MAN: He’s had a seat at the table in more than 100 business development and public infrastructure projects in the region, with an aggregate value topping $5 billion.
HE’S ALL BUSINESS: Fields’ breadth of experience in general business representation and counseling includes negotiating agreements involving shareholders, employment and consulting, non-competition and non-solicitation cases, stock-option plans, and other matters.
OUTSIDE THE OFFICE: He’s been lead counsel for the city’s Tax Increment Financing Commission for 15 years, and has an impressive history of civic and non-profit engagement, including service on behalf of the local board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Harvesters, the Community Food Network, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Friends of the Zoo.
HONORS: Fields was in Ingram’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2000—and he was Young Lawyer of the Year in 2006.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (77)Dave Flickinger
President, Kiewit Power Group

A lot has changed in power engineering since Dave Flickinger picked up his degree from Penn State 30 years ago. Not much of that change has come at the pace he’s living through today. “For Kiewit, clean energy is not a niche market—it’s a significant part of our business and a big part of the future of power and energy development and delivery,” he told Engineering News-Record. Over the past year, the company expected revenue in renewable power to exceed that of fossil fuels.”

2022 REVENUES: $2.28 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Civil Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
KIEWIT IN KC: The parent company, based in Omaha, is one of the nation’s biggest infrastructure designers and builders, with annual revenues of $11.2 billion. A not-insignificant chunk of that was generated by Flickinger’s Lenexa-based division specializing in power generation and delivery systems.
ALL ABOUT ENERGY: In addition to renewable energy and power delivery, Flickinger’s division specializes in energy storage, gas/hydrogen generation, nuclear power and retrofitting of coal-fired plants.
GROWTH KINGS: Since relocating its headquarters to City Center Lenexa, Kiewit has become an employment anchor for that city’s built-from-scratch Downtown. It recently introduced plans for a $120 million project that would include a fourth office building on the campus, housing 800 employees, covering nearly 178,000 square feet and opening in 2025.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (78)Michael Frazier
President/CEO, ReeceNichols

A year ago, in the face of cratering demand in home sales, Mike Frazier said it would be important for his army of affiliated agents to get back to fundamentals, having ridden the crest of a free-for-all market when mortgage interest rates were 3 percent—and lower. Was he ever right: Sales for the region’s No. 1 realty brand dropped $1.5 billion from 2021’s $6.7 billion. Helping to cushion that blow was a sharp bump in average sales prices.

2022 SALES: $5.2 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., William Jewell College
HANGING TOUGH: Despite a more challenging environment, ReeceNichols has seen its numbers of registered agents holding steady at just over 2,200, a range it settled on after a 10 percent decline between 2015 and 2016.
PRIZE CLIENT: One of the more notable ReeceNichols listings over the past year was the ranch-style house at 57th Street and State Line. The previous sellers, a couple by the last name of Mahomes, sold it in June for a reported $2.97 million (about $900,000 higher than its 2019 purchase price).
MIXED SIGNALS: Frazier and his team are living through a rare period in the housing cycle: Demand has fallen sharply, with transactions for the firm down 58 percent since their 2016 peak, while home prices rose by a nearly inverse rate, 55.44 percent over that same period. Cost/demand dynamics have entered the Twilight Zone.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (79)Dan Funk
CEO-Designate, Associated Wholesale Grocers

With David Smith’s planned exodus at the end of the year, Dan Funk will climb behind the wheel at AWG, which is coming off a record-setting year—revenues were up nearly 13 percent last year for the nation’s largest retailer-owned grocery cooperative and the region’s third-largest company. The company is a pillar of the regional agribusiness sector, supplying more than 1,100 member companies with more than 3,400 retail locations in 31 states.

COLLEGE: B.A., Marketing, University of North Dakota; Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management
NEXT BIG THING: “Continued focus on building KC as a growing and thriving business community. Several larger companies have moved, downsized, or, in some cases, sold or stopped doing business. The impact within the region is significant in attracting and retaining families, team members, and future talent to the region.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “At various stages of my career, leaders have invested their time and talent in me. As a young team member, the president of my business unit came to meet me in my cube, and we discussed a business opportunity. The fact he came to see me in my workspace and genuinely was seeking my input, advice and feedback was a leadership lesson I have not forgotten. That single visit and outreach by Mike Jackson led to a career-long mentorship, which I have always cherished.”
MOST-ADMIRED: “Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. She built an amazing team and company all while being approachable to the customers she served.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:Good to Great, by Jim Collins.”
LEADERSHIP: “Building strong working relationships grounded in integrity and trust are so important.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (80)Cameron Garrison
Managing Partner, Lathrop GPM

Garrison pulls double-duty at one of KC’s biggest law firms, and its oldest. As managing partner, he leads a team of roughly 200 lawyers, more than a third of whom earned Best Lawyers in America honors (eight of them as Lawyer of the Year in their practice groups). He’s also a legal gladiator in intellectual-property litigation, serving a national client base of consumer-product manufacturers, retail chains, marketing and media clients, engineering firms, life sciences companies, and others.

2022 REVENUES: $198.04 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Government and History, University of Virginia; J.D., Washington and Lee School of Law
RECOGNITION: What we said about double-duty? Missouri Lawyers Media sees it that way, as well; it named Garrison one of its Top Managing Partners for 2023. The award goes to the “best-known and hardest working” managing partners of law firms in the state.
CHANGE AGENT: When that day comes, Garrison will be able to look back and say he left the firm bigger than it was when he started. He had an instrumental role in Lathrop Gage’s 2020 merger with Gray Plant Mooty, which created today’s Lathrop GPM.
STEERING THE SHIP: Garrison leads day-to-day functions and is chairman of the firm’s Executive Committee, which determines and implements the firm’s strategic direction.
THE FIRM: The firm has 12 offices nationwide, with 325 attorneys, nearly one-third are based in KC.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (81)Bill Gautreaux
Managing Director, MLP Holdings

Bill Gautreaux’s career in the energy sector has been something of a work of art. His longtime affiliation with John Sherman, current majority owner of the Royals, produced monster success in the energy sector, first with LPG Services Group, then Inergy, LP. With the proceeds from sales of those companies, Sherman turned to pro baseball, while Gautreaux, still managing an energy-focused enterprise, has amassed one of the world’s top private art collections.

COLLEGE: B.A., History/Philosophy, William Jewell College; Oxford University
FOLLOWING HIS PASSIONS: Gautreaux brings the type of business savvy and resume that would make him a slam-dunk for selection on any non-profit or corporate board. With but 24 hours in a day, though, chooses carefully. He’s been on the board of trustees for his alma mater since 2009 and on the boards of both the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (since 2014) and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art (since 2015).
ON THE CIVIC SIDE: Other board services on his record include stints with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Kansas City Police Foundation, and the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City.
MASTER COLLECTOR: Along with his wife, Christy, Gautreaux has built an art collection impressive enough to put on public display; they have loaned various pieces to the Kemper and Nelson-Atkins, as well as the Venice Biennale.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (82)Bill George
CEO, WHC Worldwide

Bill George has long been a leading figure in regional ground transportation with his Kansas City Transportation Group, but the evolution of his taxi, coach and on-demand services has taken on global proportions with WHC. This past year, he says, WHC acquired its 30th operating city, and exceeded $100 million in revenues. He’s been in the business for 35 years, owning and selling various entities, before forming WHC Worldwide in 2018.

RECESSION OUTLOOK: “I am very concerned about the commercial office real estate market and what kind of drag it could be on the banks and overall economy.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “We need a metro-wide response to the lack of mental-health facilities and rising violent crime. It makes no difference how many wonderful attractions we have unless people feel safe to venture outside and enjoy them.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My father is my most important mentor. He has taught me so many leadership lessons over the years. The first one I remember was at age 6, when he picked up some trash on one of his car lots. He told me to never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I am a huge admirer of Richard Branson and the way he has created an enduring and trusted brand.”
BOOK:Freakonomics—It taught me skills on how to look differently at many accepted beliefs and norms.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (83)Brent Giles
CEO, Hawthorn Bank

Brent Giles anticipates that a highly competitive banking market in the Kansas City region is poised for consolidation. When it comes, you can expect that Hawthorn Bank will have the critical mass needed to make acquisitions, thanks to its parent’s $1.5 billion in assets overall—$365 million are attached to Kansas City area banks that he leads. Smaller banks may be in good overall health, he says, but are imperiled by a business model that’s broken.

2022 REVENUES: $82.3 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, MBA, University of Missouri
ON KC’s APPEAL: “KC is a very attractive place when looking at where to expand if you’re a smaller bank, community, or regional. A great city, a stable economy without huge ups and downs, great standard of living, attractive cost of living, plenty of things to do, growth in population, good income levels, and transportation at the intersection of two major highways.”
MARGINS: Even though 80 of the region’s 120 banks have less than 1 percent deposit market share, that can be a difference-maker, Giles says. “Getting a 1 percent market share can move the needle for some of these organizations,” he says. “It’s still significant to them, and there’s enough business to go around.”
ABOUT HAWTHORN: The parent company, Hawthorn Bancshares, is headquartered in Jefferson City. It has 21 locations company-wide, six of them in the KC market, including Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Independence Belton, Drexel, and Harrisonville.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (84)Lisa Ginter
CEO, CommunityAmerica Credit Union

Lisa Ginter is beaming about what her team of nearly 700 has been up to lately. “Over the past year, we returned a record-breaking $9.5 million to our members,” she said. In addition, CommunityAmerica also became a preferred lender for women- and minority-owned businesses and launched a new concept—Community Access Centers. Ginter reports they’ve secured two new locations for these centers “where we’ll provide access to innovative products and services that improve financial peace of mind.”

2022 REVENUE: $273.49 million
COLLEGE: B.S./B.A., Accounting, Rockhurst University
MENTOR: “My mom is, without a doubt, my most important mentor in life and leadership. She lived by the simple principle, ‘When you do right by others, they will do right by you.’ I lead with this principle in every aspect of my life. And it has been instrumental in the way I fulfill our mission at CommunityAmerica.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I use KCI frequently. I am so proud of the way our business community came together to support the need for this new airport. It has already proven to be a difference-maker in bringing more visibility—and revenue—to Kansas City. The new KCI is a wonderful reflection of the vibrant and progressive city we have become, showcasing the pride we have in so many of our local gems.”
BIG THING: “I don’t know if I can narrow it down.’ The new airport, the NFL Draft, the 2026 FIFA World Cup are all leading indicators that we have so many exciting opportunities ahead. Focusing on improvements to our transportation infrastructure and reducing crime will be important for us to tackle.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (85)Doug Girod
Chancellor, University of Kansas

Goodness: At this rate, every architectural, engineering and construction firm in North America is going to be jockeying for Doug Girod’s ear. Two major initiatives over the past year foretell major infrastructure for KU: The larger one is the $300 million makeover announced for the football team’s Memorial Stadium; perhaps the more long-term significance for the region is with the $100 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation to build a world-class cancer center on KU’s medical school campus in Kansas City.

COLLEGE: B.A., University of California-Davis; M.D., University of California-San Francisco, surgical residency, University of Washington
TRANSFORMATIONAL: The stadium design was unveiled in August as part of a larger Gateway District concept that will include a conference center and multi-use facilities to encourage year-round use and spark economic activity. “The Gateway District is a once-in-a-generation project to transform our campus and drive economic development throughout the region,” Girod said.
COMBATTING CANCER: With some funding already secured, the Sunderland gift brings to $143 million the total pledged for the cancer center in Wyandotte County. It will build on the successful designation of The KU Cancer Center as an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and will aggregate research efforts, treatment, and patient-care teams, in what officials say will dramatically elevate cancer care in the region.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (86)Greg Graves
Philanthropist, Graves Family Foundation

This retired Burns & McDonnell CEO hasn’t been letting the grass grow under his feet. He’s a frequent flyer on influential boards, including the University of Kansas Health System and UMB Financial. He and his wife, Deanna, continue their devotion to The Barstow School, which has celebrated the opening of both the Graves Family Faculty Lounge and the new Graves Family Baseball Stadium. Word on the street is that he and Deanna have a major new fundraising effort in the works.

COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines
RECESSION ODDS: “The American economy is incredibly resilient, and the glide path certainly looks ‘soft landing’ to me. All credit to the American worker, who always seems to rise to the occasion.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “A long overdue project that the city needed desperately. Glad it’s done … on to bigger things.”
MORNING READ: “One chapter from Create Amazing: Turning Your Employees into Owners keeps it fresh for me.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “To put the joy back in teaching.”
EMPLOYEES: Across the range of his board and personal interests with the health system, bank school and foundation, he expects all to be slightly up with near-term hiring.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (87)Don Greenwell
President, The Builders, A Chapter of the AGC

After more than 20 years in the president’s chair, Don Greenwell is heading into a well-deserved retirement at the end of 2023. His plans for the rest of the year are centered around helping his yet-to-be-named replacement learn the ropes of the organization and get acclimated to leading a 136-year-old construction trade association that serves hundreds of member companies employing more than 25,000 people in mid-America.

COLLEGE: B.A., Finance, University of Missouri-Columbia; J.D., UMKC School of Law
RECESSION ODDS: “With strong employment and lots of money in the economy, I think it is more likely that we will not have a recession in 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Sports as an image for our city! We have the world champion football team, as well as major sports venues under construction and in the planning stages. And, of course, we have the World Cup for 2026.”
THE NEW KCI: “I have used the new KCI, and it is wonderful. It is an amazing new front door for KC.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Relationship-building is the most essential skill I look for.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “The mission would be in line with my current role at our non-profit trade association. That is to help people find their professional/vocational passion and to build skills to be successful.”
EMPLOYEES: “27,” he says, and “the staffing level should remain about the same.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (88)Nathaniel Hagedorn
CEO, NorthPoint Development

From the Blue River Commerce Center in south Kansas City to the Intermodal Logistics Center in Forth Worth to the cross-state Lakeside Logistics Center in St. Peters, Nathaniel Hagedorn and his team are challenging the creativity of writers of business headlines to come up with another word besides “massive” for its warehouse developments. The Kansas City firm, barely more than a decade old, is a national heavyweight in logistics sector development.

BY THE NUMBERS: NorthPoint now manages assets worth $17 billion, has developed and managed 4,800 multifamily units, and currently sports an industrial portfolio of 148.5 million square feet.
LEARNING THE ROPES: For 10 years at Briarcliff Development Co., Hagedorn studied every facet of the commercial realty space, from design and construction to leasing and facility management. He also snagged 80 percent ownership there, then picked up the remaining interest from Northland business icon Charles Garney in 2011 and rechristened the company.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Most of us look to mutual funds to accrue wealth; Hagedorn has made NorthPoint the focus of high-net-worth investors who have helped fund much of the company’s expansion. Since 2008, he has raised north of $250 million in capital for various projects.
BRAND BARON: When we say Hagedorn has fashioned relationships with some of the biggest brands in America, we mean it: Names like Boeing, Walmart, Ford, FedEx, Pepsi, Adidas, GM, and GE—those are just a few of the clients NorthPoint has served over the years.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (89)Marc Hahn
President/CEO, Kansas City University

The big development this past year at one of Kansas City’s three medical colleges, says Marc Hahn, was the “opening of the new College of Dental Medicine on our Joplin campus. Our Joplin, Missouri, campus is focused on addressing rural health disparities in both medicine and dentistry. This strategic initiative builds upon our university mission of: “Improving the well-being of the communities we serve.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Syracuse University; D.O., Des Moines University
DENTAL MATTERS: “We know poor oral health leads to poor overall health, with worsening of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease,” Hahn says. “Large numbers of people do not have access to dental care in rural and urban parts of our region—Missouri having a shortage of 700 dentists!”
BIG THING: Preparation for being one of the North American host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament. Yes, we have an opportunity to show off our city, state, and region, but more importantly, we have an opportunity to invest in the future of the KC area. Building projects to support teams and fans, combined with enhanced public transportation, could leave us with great resources upon which to build.
MORNING READ:Axios, a balanced, online American news Web site that offers concise, matter-of-fact reporting in a short, bulleted format. I also read the email reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Chronicle of Higher Education and Becker’s Hospital Review.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (90)Don Hall, Jr.
Executive Chairman, Hallmark

Don Hall turned the day-to-day administration of Hallmark over back in 2018, but before his own retirement comes calling, he’s contributing to a culture that speaks to the next generation of hires at Kansas City’s iconic name in creative services: This past year, Forbes recognized the company as one of America’s Best Employers for New Graduates. The same publication paid further tribute by including Hallmark in its America’s Best Employers for Diversity.

COLLEGE: B.A., Economics/Literature, Claremont-McKenna University; MBA, University of Kansas
FAMILY AFFAIR: Hall and his brother David, who serves as executive vice chairman, are grandsonsof Joyce C. Hall, who founded the company in 1910.
MAKING THE CIRCUIT: Hall came on board the company in 1971 and learned the ropes by working in its manufacturing, customer service, product development, and sales operations.
EARNING IT: Nothing was gifted to him from the outset; he worked in various capacities for 19 years before joining the board of directors and was a 31-year veteran there before taking on the role of CEO in 2002, becoming the third generation of family leadership.
EMPLOYEES: Through its various enterprises, the company has more than 20,000 employees worldwide.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (91)Brad Hampton
CEO, Helzberg Diamonds

Brad Hampton is having fun. Then again, six years in the world of retail jewelry probably does offer something that you can’t find in telecom, where he worked for two decades before joining Helzberg Diamonds. “It’s a fun product. People come to jewelry stores for happy reasons,” he told JCK, a jewelry-retailer industry publication. “They’re celebrating important milestones in their lives, or they’re buying a gift for someone that means a lot to them, or they’re self-gifting, which is also a lot of fun.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Economics/Latin American Studies, University of New Mexico; M.A., LeTourneauUniversity. Additional certifications from Duke University and Georgetown University
BEFORE DIAMONDS: Hampton spent nearly 21 years with Sprint, moving through the ranks to become CFO, with P&L responsibility for the $25 billion post-paid business unit. He previously did a seven-year stint with aviation giant Lockheed Martin.
NATIONAL REACH: The jewelry chain, which was acquired by Warren Buffet in 1995, now has 170 stores nationwide. Seven of those are in Kansas City, generally within a short distance from Interstate 435. So, yes, they form a “ring” around the metro area.
OFF THE CLOCK: Hampton is a member of the board for Make-a-Wish Missouri & Kansas and president of the board for Center Place Restoration School in Independence. Previous board services were with Junior Achievement of Kansas City and The Love Fund for Children.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (92)Hayley Hanson
Partner, Husch Blackwell

Hayley Hanson is impressed by her firm’s ability to “grow in size in a shrinking legal market.” She said, “Strategic growth has been achieved by creating a culture where lateral attorneys want to be a part of and contribute to the vision of the firm.” Among the innovations she cites as contributing to that: the Link, allowing attorneys to work from anywhere across the country; the use of data analytics in assisting clients; and diversifying services to meet client needs.

ON RECESSION: “I do not believe the recession will end in the next 16 months. I believe it will take the economy longer to recover. However, I am optimistic that the recession will ease during that time.”
WHAT NEXT FOR KC: “I think the city is well-positioned to focus on increasing tourism. In addition to the airport, the Sobela Ocean Aquarium just opened at the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium. With our investment in infrastructure, the city is now able to bring national and world events for the first time. I would love to see another women’s sports team come to KC, like an expansion WNBA team.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Maurice Watson, the former Chairman of Husch Blackwell, has served as a mentor throughout my career. He has continuously taught me about leadership through his actions and advice. He taught me to be bold, take chances, surround yourself with the best talent, and turn the team into a family. The most important piece of advice he gave me, whether talking with clients or internally within the firm, is to be honest and ‘don’t talk past the money.’”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (93)Dave Harrison
President,VanTrust Real Estate

Looking back at the past year, Dave Harrison is proud of “continuing to grow our people during a unique time in our economy and industry.” And the momentum continues: “We view this time period as one of opportunity to gain market share and to add great people,” he said. Assessing the firm’s people plans with an existing team of 70, he offers an emphatic “Add.”

RECESSION ODDS: “Depending on the sector, I think the odds favor a soft, lower-case recession.”
KC’S NEXT BIG THING: “Securing Downtown baseball within the Central Business District and delivering affordable-housing solutions.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My first day in the real estate business, a senior broker, Mr. Campbell, was asked to give me advice. His advice was short: ‘Listen more than you talk’ and ‘The time to sell land is when someone wants to buy it.’”
MOST ADMIRED CEO: “Got to go with Mr. Larry Van Tuyl… for all kinds of reasons.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “I read leases, contracts and newspapers.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Ability to understand who their audience is, married with empathy.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Deliver homes to those families that need that uplift and chance to succeed.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (94)Bob Hayworth
Market President, Humana

Bob Hayworth has had the good fortune of being hired by the health insurance giant Humana—twice. The first time was more than 20 years ago when he accepted the job offer that brought him to Kansas City. After a long run at hometown powerhouse Lockton, Hayworth got the call again and the offer and rejoined Humana. There, he oversees an operation providing coverage for thousands of residents of Missouri and Kansas.

COLLEGE: East Carolina University
HAPPY PLACE: “My greatest joy,” he says, “comes from watching the many people I have had the pleasure to work with over the years soar to new heights and become tremendous leaders and incredible people—doing good things for the right reasons.”
TEAM APPROACH: Some execs learn about organizational dynamics as they rise up the corporate ladder. But for Hayworth, “The baseball diamond is where I learned about life and working together as a team.”
WHY INSURANCE?: Young Bob Hayworth had figured law school would be his path in life. But when a friend encouraged him to interview for a sales position with an insurance company, that path changed. “I interviewed and received a very promising offer with great income and perks, but more importantly, there was a chance to learn something new. I took it and have never looked back.”
PASS THE SAUCE: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this community and look forward to finishing my career here. Although the sun, surf, and sand will be calling my name in retirement, I am going to get my fill of Kansas City barbeque before I ride off into the coastal sunset.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (95)John Hazlin
President, Hill’s Pet Nutrition

In more than 25 years with Colgate-Palmolive, John Hazlin has seen the world. Well, a big chunk of it anyway: From New York to New Zealand, Malaysia to Ireland, Africa, Switzerland, and New York again, this well-traveled executive has provided plug-and-play leadership to one of the world’s largest consumer products companies. The latest stop brought him to the Kansas City region at the Hill’s Pet Nutrition operating unit, one of that city’s biggest employers.

COLLEGE: B.A., History, Duke University; MBA, Marketing/Finance/International Business, Stern School of Business, New York University
2022 REVENUES: $3.73 billion
RELOCATING: The company announced in January that it would move its global and U.S. headquarters to the Aspiria Campus in Overland Park, formerly home to Sprint, later this fall. The digs might be new, but the company won’t change its strategy of investing in its global science, technology, and manufacturing sites in the Topeka area.
CHANGING CONSUMERS: As American consumers have opted for smaller dogs in recent decades, the task for Hill’s and other pet food makers changed—animals with small stomachs do more grazing throughout the day, whereas the big dogs eat just once or twice. That meant reformulation and resizing the company’s feed lines, as with the $20 million upgrade to its Topeka plant not long ago.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (96)Mike Heitmann
President/CEO, Garney Construction

After 33 years with just one company, Mike Heitmann’s last rodeo is winding down: The water infrastructure builder has announced that he’s turning the reins over at the end of this month, and exiting the stage next spring. What he leaves behind is a national power. It has grown from just under $300 million since he took command in 2011 and last year stood at $1.5 billion in revenues and had a workforce 1,000 stronger than he found it.

COLLEGE: B.S., Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas
SUCCESSION: The company announced just this month that Heitmann’s successor would be David Burkhart, who also has been a career Garney employee.
MORE MOVES: Heitmann isn’t going out alone; Scott Parrish, the company’s president, is also retiring. The C-suite furniture is being rearranged with a pair of presidents—Matt Foster in pipeline operations and Matt Reaves for plant operations.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?: “My wife and I plan to travel. We have four daughters in all different parts of the country. I’m hoping I won’t miss many KU football and basketball games. I also enjoy restoring old homes, and have done several and have got another in the works—Sauer Castle. It’s a beautiful home and I’m excited about tackling it in my retirement.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (97)Jason Hendricks
President/CEO, Performance Contracting Group

Jason Hendricks’ stint in baseball’s major leagues further stoked the competitive fire he had playing for the Arizona Wildcats in college, and it carried over to the world of business for one of the region’s biggest construction services companies. His PCG team absolutely hit it out of the park last year, with a 17.72 percent increase in year-over-year revenues. The firm is a specialty contractor in industrial, commercial, and non-residential markets.

2022 REVENUES: $2.11 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, University of Arizona
QUOTABLE: What does leadership mean to Hendricks?“It’s my mission to inspire a teamwork structure that harnesses the strength of the total and provides our organization opportunities for growth, innovation, and success,” he says.
OFF THE CLOCK: Hendricks’ commitment to civic causes includes being a board member for CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties; he’s also a supporter of the Susan G. Komen foundation’s breast cancer advocacy.
CAREER PATH: Hendricks had a memorable 2020—a year many of us would like to forget—as he added CEO to the title of president, acquired just a year earlier. He started with the company in the Los Angeles office in 2003, rising through the ranks in branch operation, division, and corporate management roles.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (98)Brad Hewlett
Dealer Principal, Bob Allen Ford

Good times are rolling for Brad Hewlett and the team at Bob Allen Ford, where they’re in the process of building two new service facilities, and the dealership’s spin-off enterprise, City Rent a Truck, which has expanding operations to include Houston, Texas, and another location to be named in the coming weeks.

NEXT BIG THING FOR KC: “Full-Time sports team in T-Mobile Center.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The airport is great. The convenience of the old airport with all the new amenities.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My father, Bob Hewlett, taught me to work hard, stay positive and lead by example.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Anything that supports children. My wife Rebecca is on the board of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which supports childhood cancer.”
EMPLOYEES: “Employee headcount is a little over 200. We plan to hire over the next year. We are currently expanding our service organization. We are building a fleet center and a quick lane. We are adding 30 service bays. We will be hiring technicians and support staff.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (99)Adam Hill
President/CEO, The Scarbrough Group

Adam Hill is proud to be part of a logistics enterprise that values the people who make it a success. Looking at the recent past, he says, “Growing our business and employee headcount in the current market was significant. While many of our competitors locally, regionally, and nationally implemented layoffs, we stayed true to our team. While business may not be as bright as it was just 12 months ago, our dedication to our team remains unwavering.”

COLLEGE: B.A., William Jewell College; MBA, Fogelman College of Business & Economics, Univ of Memphis
RECESSION: “During the Pandemic (MAY20-SEP22) companies quickly learned that their supply chains were one of their most valuable possessions as they could not sell what they did not have. That realization, along with excess stimulus funds flowing into consumers’ hands, created an inventory storm surge. As with any storm surge, the water (inventory) must recede to ‘normal.’ What we’re witnessing today (and have been since OCT22) is a slowly receding inventory. We have seen the volumes dip year-over-year (I don’t think we could have taken too many more months of the surge), but we are seeing a start of a return to normal levels. While the storm surge has peaked and is now receding, I do think it will take until the second half of next year (JUL24) to get back to where we need to be, and some normal shipping patterns start to emerge again.”
NEXT BIG THING: “As KC has so much going for it right now, the focus should be turned to the World Cup and the international stage it will put Kansas City on.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (100)Michael Hoehn
President/CEO, ASI

As leader of a thriving automated conveyor systems company, Michael Hoehn spent the past year revamping a system at the heartbeat of his organization. ASI has implemented a new enterprise resource planning system and integrated it throughout the Kansas City parent’s operating companies. “It’s helped us re-imagine our business systems and processes from the ground up and kick off our future,” he said. It must be working: 2022 revenues were up more than 40 percent.

2022 REVENUES: $342.15 million
ON THE NEW KCI: “Fantastic. The front door to the city now reflects our world-class city.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My dad taught me from a young age that business is about people. People buy from people they trust, they stay or leave companies because of the people, and we work hard to win because it’s fun to do it with people you enjoy.”
ESSENTIAL LEADERSHIP SKILL: “The ability to see and connect the big picture vision all the way down to the daily tasks needed to execute on that vision.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (101)Karen Hogan
Vice President/General Manager, Turner Construction Co.

It’s “grow time” at Turner Construction. Says Karen Hogan: “Over the past year, we have almost doubled our Turner staff in Kansas City. We knew it was going to be imperative to our success as a company that we maintain our unique culture.” She added, “This was a challenge with such rapid growth, but we always kept that goal at the forefront with every hire and through onboarding and beyond. I’m proud to say that, while we are actively working on this goal daily, we have achieved it.”

2022 KC MARKET REVENUES: $517 million
RECESSION ODDS: “In KC, not very likely. We have a lot of great development and opportunities in the forecast.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “New Downtown baseball of course!”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The new KCI is a welcomed addition to Kansas City.What a great way to showcase all the things Kansas City has to offer to people upon arrival.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Humility and agility.”
EMPLOYEES: “225,” she says, and “over the coming year, we are actively hiring for all levels and departments.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (102)Paul Holewinski
President/CEO, Dickinson Financial Corp. / Academy Bank

Academy Bank is one of the region’s 20 largest in terms of assets, but it’s just one piece of the financial-services enterprise under the watch of Paul Holewinski. The other is Armed Forces Bank—also a regional leader—and both operate under the corporate umbrella of Dickinson Financial Group. Together, they pack a $3.7 billion punch with their combined assets. DFC is one of the few banking enterprises of that scale that remains family-owned.

COLLEGE: B.S. Finance, Saint Louis Univ; J.D., MBA, Saint Louis Univ/SLU School of Law; Colorado School of Banking
LENDING TRENDS: “For the last couple of months, we’ve seen a downturn in demand especially in commercial real estate,” Holewinski said earlier this year. “I think the reasons are fast-rising rates and a really unprecedented number of rate hikes. Up to 525 basis points, if I’m doing the math.”
CRE CONCERNS: “The commercial real-estate deals just aren’t penciling as they did a year ago. So, it takes more equity to get projects done. Maybe not as many willing buyers and sellers. I think that certainly has contributed to the downturn.”
CONSERVATIVE: “We’ve been insulated from peaks and valleys; things just don’t go up or down as much as they do on the coasts. So that has been an impact on how we approach our business. We don’t ramp up or down really too quickly, both in good times and bad. It keeps us more of an even keel. I think we tend to focus on operations and efficiencies, generally more than banks outside of KC.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (103)Carlos Holwell
Plant Manager, Ford Motor Co.

If you think you’ve got a full plate, just be grateful you’re not dealing with the month Carlos Holwell has been having. The go-to guy for Ford Motor Co. spent a fair chunk of September addressing the potential that more than 7,000 members will walk off the assembly line in an increasingly heated fight between the United Auto Workers and company leadership over contract negotiations.

COLLEGE: BBA, University of Central Missouri
TITANS OF TRUCKS: The Claycomo assembly plant is one of Ford’s most productive. Workers there produce the Ford 150-series pickup truck, the most popular vehicle in the country, as well as Ford Transit work vans in both gas-powered and electric configurations.
PAYROLL PULL: One reason other business figures are eyeing developments in the Ford union negotiations is because of the trickle-down impact of having 6,900 union workers with reduced incomes while they might be out, receiving only reduced strike benefits from the UAW.
MORE UPGRADES: Ford has invested well north of $1 billion in the Claycomo plant over the past decade, much of it related to moving production of the Escort crossover SUV to another location to accommodate the introduction of the Transit lines.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (104)Jason Hooper
President/CEO, KVC Health Systems

It might be hard to top the year Jason Hooper and his team of 2,400 have had at KVC: “We formed a joint venture with Children’s Mercy to build a best-in-class mental-wellness campus, welcomed St. Louis-based Great Circle’s 800 employees into the KVC family, and employee feedback about KVC’s culture made us a top 1 percent employer nationally on Indeed’s Work Wellbeing scale,” he beams. His enterprise addresses children’s mental-health issues at 60 locations.

2022 REVENUES: $157 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Psychology/Sociology, Baker University, M.S., Social Work, University of Kansas
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Advancing well-being for all children and families. This includes early childhood education, healthcare including mental health, food, housing, and more.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Love it! Proud to be a Kansas Citian.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My mom is a mentor to me in many ways. She taught me to work hard, tell the truth, and always do the right thing.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “One of my favorite reads is Let My People Go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “At KVC, we promote leaders from within as often as possible because those leaders embody our values. That’s how we shape culture.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (105)Sam Huenergardt
CEO, Adventhealth Mid-America Region

When Sam Huenergardt talks about a time of building for his organization, he means it. “In the last year, we broke ground on our new AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Cancer Institute, opening Summer 2024,” he said, “and our new hospital, AdventHealth Lenexa City Center, opening Spring 2025.” So, it’s no wonder he responded to our question about staffing plans with, “Add, and fast!”

ON AN UPCOMING RECESSION: “I thought it was likely we’d have entered a recession by now, but things seem to be stabilizing. Still a possibility that the business community is preparing for.”
WHAT NEXT FOR KC: “As a lifelong Royals fan, I’m in support of a downtown Royals Sports District! I’d also like to see us invest more in the technology innovation talent we have here in KC.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I love the new KCI. Highlights are the glass jetways, but that comes second to the new Delta Sky Club!”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Pete Weber, an old boss, showed me a very candid, transparent, and authentic leadership style. Speak the truth and be authentic!”
MORNING READING: “Wordle gets my mind awake.”
LEADERSHIP: “I want to know what is their motivation for being in leadership. That often is a great way to gain insight into the kind of leader they will be. I also want someone who is driven to take action.”
CURRENT EMPLOYEE HEADCOUNT: “Almost 4,000 in Kansas.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (106)Clark Hunt
Chairman/CEO, Kansas City Chiefs

His father set standards of excellence in NFL ownership. Clark Hunt is eclipsing even those. February’s thrilling Super Bowl LVII victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was the younger Hunt’s second Lombardi Trophy, so he has doubled up on Lamar’s 1970 title. It was also the Chiefs third trip to the big game in four years, one more than the club’s founder enjoyed. By any statistical measure, the team’s on-field success over the past decade outshines any other period in Chiefs history.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration/Finance, Southern Methodist University
QUOTABLE: After winning it all in 2020—half a century after his father’s team did it—but falling short in 2021 and 2022, Hunt offered this bit of humility in addressing the victory parade hordes: “I’m glad,” he said, “it didn’t take another 50 years.”
CHECK THE RECORD: The law of averages catches up with almost every sports franchise over the course of time, and the Chiefs, in fact, had a winning percentage of .522 before Hunt became CEO in 2010. Since then? They’re 64.8 percent, nearly two out of three in the win column. The Chiefs have increased their winning percentage to 75% over the last three seasons. Much of the credit goes to Hunt’s hiring acumen, especially bringing Andy Reid on as head coach.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (107)Marco Ilardi
Managing Partner, V2 Ventures

The fertile digital mind of Scott Lynn helped reshape the contours of digital marketing with the founding of Adknowledge in 2002. By 2010, with revenues soaring past $300 million, the firm attracted the attention of Marco Ilardi, who signed on as chief strategy officer and eventually became president. In 2017, a new entity called V2 Ventures was formed, and Ilardi was the natural choice for managing partner, a role he still holds today.

COLLEGE: B.S., Truman State University
STILL BRANCHING OUT: Ever the entrepreneur, Ilardi also co-founded Pushly, a push-notification platform that helps companies get more out of their digital presence by converting one-time visitors into subscribers.
OTHER HOLDINGS: Also part of the V2 portfolio is ReachMobi, a mobile app developer, and VuePlanner, which produces custom placement lists that help leverage the power of Google Ads and DV360 platforms.
CLASS OF 2011: Ilardi was in that 40 Under Forty cohort of Ingram’s annual salute to the region’s most influential young executives.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (108)Chris Isaacson
Executive VP/COO, Cboe

Don’t ask Chris Isaacson if he has good news unless you have a few minutes. We asked, and he had quite a list for the past year, including 50 years of Cboe, continued record trading volumes that fueled growth, and extremely strong YTD financial results following record results in 2022. And that’s just naming a few. “While our first 50 years were remarkable,” Chris said, “we look forward to our next 50 years as we continue to build trusted markets around the world.”

RECESSION ODDS: “We believe things will ultimately depend on the ability of the Fed to navigate a soft landing, if possible, and it’s likely that we’ll see a higher-for-longer interest rate environment given the Fed’s stated commitment to taming inflation.”
BIG THING: “Preparation and becoming a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be a great opportunity.”
MENTOR: “Joe Ratterman, former CEO and chairman of Bats Global Markets, current board director at Cboe Global Markets. I learned how to build high-performing teams and a world-class work culture.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal, at least daily.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Humility to be a servant leader.”
CHARITY MISSION: “To teach financial literacy to the masses to unlock generosity and potential in people.”
EMPLOYEES: “Approximately 1,600 globally; approximately 300 in KC,” he says, with plans to “add or hold at current levels, depending on geography, function, and business line.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (109)Bob Jacaway
CEO, Max Motors

In the vehicle-sales world, Bob Jacaway’s foot is mashing down the growth accelerator: Just this past year, St. Joseph-based Max Motors, with two recent acquisitions in Nevada, along with others in Richmond and Lee’s Summit. That will continue to fuel the growth that pushed the company well into the top tier of this year’s Corporate Report 100, Ingram’s ranking of the fastest-growing companies in the greater Kansas City region.

RECESSION ODDS: “As manufactures continue to manage production, the house marketing shifts, and interest rates rise—likely.”
MORNING READ:Automotive News and The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “We use personality profiles to help assist us with hiring of all personnel in leadership roles so that we place the right candidate in the position.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “We donate to many charities that fed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and support education.”
EMPLOYEES: Now at 335, he says, and “we will continue to expand our franchise, Max Motors Dealerships, and grow our staff. We believe in the value of education and on-the-job training for growth and retention. That’s why Max Motors also launched our Degrees@Work program. Max Motors Dealerships provides a no-cost, no-debt college degree for our employees and their families.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (110)Joe Jeffries
President/CEO, Ace Retail Holdings / Westlake Hardware

Across 16 states, Joe Jeffries’ hardware empire employs 4,800 team members, and their ranks will be growing. “In our offices, we will likely hold at current levels,” he says, but adds: “Our objective is to invest in our field teams, retail stores, and commercial divisions.” Jeffries feels good about the future, saying, “based on the recent reports from nationally recognized economists regarding the resilience of the US economy, I believe it’s unlikely. If inflation begins to tick up again, that might change.”

2022 REVENUES: $620.97 million
ON THE NEW KCI: “I use KCI most weeks and love the new facility; it’s very attractive, efficient, and represents the amazing KC region very well on the national stage.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “I pay attention to plenty, looking for insights regarding leadership and strategic decision-making. I must say that I am intrigued by Elon Musk and his ability to multitask across so many disciplines while driving the world forward across several industrial directions beyond most people’s comprehension. It’s fascinating to watch and read about.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “How about most recent? Two—Speed of Trust and The Heart of Leadership.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (111)Roy Jensen
Director, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

Having secured a $100 million gift from Kansas City’s Sunderland Foundation and $43 million in federal funding, Roy Jensen is happy to be on the way to the creation of a new, signature cancer center building on the University of Kansas Medical Center campus, a center he will oversee. He also hopes Kansas City will recognize that project as something to get behind, establishing this region as a world-class center for cancer care and research.

RECESSION ODDS: “Zero.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It is a facility that we all can be proud of. I no longer have to apologize to out-of-town speakers about our airport.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I have had multiple mentors throughout my career and I have learned a great deal from all of them. From David Page, my mentor in breast pathology, I learned that you can’t find your ideal job if you haven’t found your passion.”
MORNING READ: “My inbox.”
ESSENTIAL LEADERSHIP SKILL: “A commitment to excellence.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Easy question. Cure cancer.”
EMPLOYEE OUTLOOK: “Depends on who you count, but at a minimum about 225 staff for the clinical research and administrative components. Last I checked, cancer wasn’t planning on any cutbacks. Neither are we.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (112)Bill Johnson
General Manager, Kansas City Board of Public Utilities

With more than 100 years under its belt, the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities continues to deliver—power and water. As a four-decade veteran and now running the show for the primary public utility serving Wyandotte County, Bill Johnson is quite proud about the past year. He cites “our ability to continue to provide safe and reliable electric and water services to our community, despite the inflationary economic conditions and supply chain challenges we faced.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Business; MBA, Ottawa University
RECESSION ODDS: “I don’t envision that there will be a significant recession on the horizon for the time period mentioned above (2023-24). In looking at our current economic recovery efforts, I would imagine that the higher interest rates we now have should help to slow down any projections for a recession. On the flip side, the higher interest rates will probably cause slower-than-desired economic growth for this year.”
KC’s NEXT THING: “It would be great if we could approve a Downtown baseball stadium, especially if it would also spur other economic-development projects surrounding it. I also think linking other parts of the metro to a mass transit plan will help move people in multiple directions.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “My mentors have been individuals who have helped me understand when/where to demonstrate leadership and balance that with when to lend support to others. I have also learned quite a bit about how to bounce back from the setbacks we sometimes face and turn them into achievements that make a difference.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (113)Jani Johnson
CEO, Saint Luke’s Hospital

Nearly 40 years into a highly accomplished career in health care, Jani Johnson has earned the title “voice of experience,” and that voice champions collaboration. “I am always looking for collaborative leaders,” she said. “You must have good relationship skills, which is a part of emotional intelligence. You cannot be successful and navigate the challenges that come with a leadership position without those skills.” She uses those same skills in leading her team of 3,300 employees.

COLLEGE: B.S. Nursing, Methodist School of Nursing and Webster University; M.S., Nursing, UMKC
NEXT BIG THING: “KC has a real passion for sports with the momentum of the Chiefs and the World Cup coming in 2026. We need to build on that momentum to ensure we keep the Royals in KC long-term. Building a new Royals stadium is a prime opportunity to attract fans and boost the city’s economy, especially if it is in a centralized location where patrons can stay and support restaurants and other businesses.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “I’ve had many good mentors, but when I look back at who made a big impression early on, it was my dad. He was a role model for hard work and dependability. I learned how to have a strong work ethic from childhood, which enables you to cultivate other skills like motivation and perseverance. I started working young, and each of those experiences helped me get to where I am today.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I am very impressed. … It is very well done and easy to use. I love that the restaurants and shops are all centered around the KC community and culture. Everyone who said the new terminal would truly make a difference was absolutely right.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (114)Russ Johnson
President & CEO, LMH Health

Health care has been a tough and challenging business in recent years, so it’s no wonder Russ Johnson says, “I think our most significant achievement has to be related to the almost 2000 people who make up our work force and who have continued to remain a part of health care in our community through very difficult circ*mstances.” He added, “So many of these people could work almost anywhere in the country, and we are very proud to have them as part of our team.”

2022 REVENUES: $1.3 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Management/Economics, Univ. of Tulsa; M.A., Health-Care Administration, Washington Univ.
RECESSION ODDS: “Relatively low, and we’re beginning to see some signals to that effect. While unemployment remains low, we are seeing inflationary markers staying in check and reducing from the previous 18 months. Outside of major economic, weather-related, or military actions, I think we will see 2024 being a step towards a stable economy with more reasonable interest rates and inflation under control.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “Sam Wallace, who was then the CEO of St. Luke’s Methodist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sam taught me to keep my eyes on the forward horizon with the greater strategy and purpose in mind.”
NEXT BIG THING: “Maintain our commitment to public transportation connecting the plasma, Westport, Crown Center, and Downtown areas, including the farmers market, is vital to a vibrant city culture and economy. I would also add that the new Panasonic battery plant and other similar development projects should be seized upon to define Kansas City as a desirable technology hub.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (115)Dick Jones
Chairman/Founder, Fidelity Security Life Insurance

On leave from the Army in 1968, young Dick Jones signed the incorporation papers for his father’s business, creating Fidelity Security Life Insurance. It wouldn’t take long before the firm grew from that original service line, and 55 years later, FSL has paid out more than $9 billion in claims for the health care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and eyeglasses that benefit its massive client base of 13 million policyholders.

2022 REVENUES: $178 million
FAMILY AFFAIR: Fidelity and its corporate kin, Forrest T. Jones—which provides group insurance plans for school districts and associations—have seen second- and third-generation members of the family become engaged with the business, including Dick’s son Bryson, who serves as FSL’s president.
SERVICE LINES: The company offers supplemental health plans, life, and disability insurance, retirement annuities and risk management for self-funded employee benefit plans.
LOYALTY: Across its range of partnerships with 75 organizations, 16 have been affiliated with FSL for at least 20 years, and the average relationship length for all is 13.3 years.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (116)Jeffrey Jones
President/CEO, H&R Block

When he signed on with H&R Block in 2017, Jeffrey Jones was assuming the mantle of one of Kansas City’s iconic entrepreneurial success stories: H&R Block had grown from two-man accountancy in 1955 to a global leader in tax and financial services. But it still retains the philanthropic spirit of Henry & Richard Bloch; in its most recent display, the firm set a goal of 1 million volunteer hours by its staff and finding ways to support 500,000 small business owners and 500 communities.

2022 REVENUES: $3.46 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Communication, University of Dayton; Fork Union Military Academy
POWERHOUSE PAYROLL: With more than 2,000 employees in Kansas City, many of them based at the Downtown headquarters, the firm is a major employer locally but has far more around the globe—more than 72,000 at its annual peak.
CULTURE: H&R Block is an example of a mega-corporation that pivoted quickly during the pandemic in 2020, instituting new remote-work protocols and retaining key elements of that structure to give employees greater flexibility with their schedules while still allowing for vital in-person hours midweek.
REBOUND: The advent of online tax services, many of them free, put the company on the defensive for years. But new product lines and services have allowed Block to reassert its place in the financial services world. As revenues have increased, shareholders have benefited—just last month, the company authorized an increase of 10 percent in stock dividends.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (117)Laura Kelly
Governor, State of Kansas

How good was the past year for Laura Kelly? Consider this: Site Selection magazine ranked her state No. 1 in the nation for per-capita economic development investment. True, much of the impetus for that came from a single deal, but what a deal it was. She and her team worked with the Legislature last year to craft an incentive package that secured Panasonic Energy’s commitment to build a $4 billion plant that will produce batteries for electric vehicles.

COLLEGE: B.S., Psychology, Bradley University; M.S, Therapeutic Recreation, Indiana University
QUOTABLE: “Forget what you heard about Kansas being a ‘flyover state.’ We aren’t just moving forward; we’ve moved to the top,” she was able to boast after the Site-Selection honors were announced.
FUNDING FRENZY: With state revenues at historic heights, putting Kansas solidly back in the black, Kelly has been busy signing off on economic development grants that span the width of the state. Among them: $50 million in Building a Stronger Economy grants to address infrastructure and economic development needs where solutions were delayed or slowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic; $43.6 million to create 4,211 new child-care positions statewide; and $12 million (provided by the feds) to help 13 community mental health centers raise their certification levels as health centers.
GLOBAL REACH: Just this month, Kelly visited Asia to promote business in her state, including a trip to the South Korean company that invested $600 million to build the world’s largest pizza-manufacturing plant in Salina.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (118)Jonathan Kemper
Chairman Emeritus, Commerce Bank of Kansas City

Sure, you know Jonathan Kemper, The Banking Executive: It’s hard not to be noticed in that capacity when you’ve been affiliated with one of the biggest hometown financial institutions for 40 years. But do you know Jonathan Kemper, The Historian? On local, national, and international scales, Kemper is a highly regarded student of history, with an emphasis on historic buildings and their preservation. Since his 2018 retirement as CEO at Commerce in Kansas City, he has devoted more of his time to those pursuits.

COLLEGE: A.B., MBA, Harvard University
RARE ACHIEVEMENT: Earlier this year, he joined his alma mater’s I Tatti Council, a research enterprise that has included more than 1,000 appointees exploring Italian Renaissance art, history, literature, philosophy, history of science, and music.
HISTORY IN DEPTH: To fully grasp Kemper’s bona fides as a historian, check out the extensive interview conducted earlier this with the Jackson County Historical Society. Local topics include the history of Union Station and the controversial renaming of the Miller Nichols Fountain.
FULL CALENDAR: In addition to serving on the Commerce board of directors, he has seats on the boards of Tower Properties, the Kansas City Public Library (he’s a past president of that board), Pembroke Hill Country Day School, and the Hall Center for Humanities. Prior service benefited the Federal Reserve’s Federal Advisory Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Board of the Smithsonian Institute.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (119)Mariner Kemper
Chairman, UMB Financial Corp.

Mariner Kemper looks back at the past year with a familiar sense of accomplishment. “As we’ve done many times before,” he said, “I’m proud we are having another successful year during a challenging time.” As far as recession predictions are concerned, he said, “Whether we have a true recession or not, it’s likely to be a tough economic environment. To illustrate, if you jumped into Arctic waters, you wouldn’t feel a big difference between -10 and -20 degrees.”

2022 REVENUES: $1.47 billion, through 2022
COLLEGE: B.S., Political Science, University of Puget Sound
ON THE NEW KCI: “It’s a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility and a fantastic showcase asset for Kansas City.”
BANKING DNA: Kemper is part of a banking family that goes back at least six generations in the Kansas City region, and he’s the third son of R. Crosby Kemper Jr. to have served as chief executive.
POWERHOUSE: With $23.85 billion in deposit market share across Missouri, UMB is the largest bank headquartered in the Show-Me State for that vital metric. It also ranks No. 2 overall, behind only the national behemoth Bank of America.
EMPLOYEES: Across the organization and its 91locations, UMB employs 3,786 people, according to FDIC figures.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (120)Sandy Kemper
Chairman/CEO, C2FO

Someday, when the history of C2FO is laid bare for the world, one of Kansas City’s most successful entrepreneurial stories will be revealed to all—not just the financial services world folks or the accounting staff of its client companies. Kemper’s vision to launch this digital platform for sales of accounts receivable back in 2008 is a global heavyweight in that space.

COLLEGE: B.A., American History, Northwestern University
FINANCIAL DNA: Kemper’s career has been built around financial services. His father was the legendary Crosby Kemper Jr. of the iconic banking family in the two-state region. And Sandy himself served a stint as chief executive for the bank tied to his branch of the Kemper family, UMB.
SUCCESS METRICS: C2FO made its first transaction in 2010. Since then, it’s grown to process more than 50 million approved invoices per day. It took a decade to hit the $100 billion mark in funding advanced to customers, but just two more years to double that. And only 16 months to reach $300 billion.
FLYING HIGH: Financials are closely guarded at C2FO, but Money Inc. has already declared the firm a unicorn—a startup that has achieved at least $1 billion in valuation.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (121)Paul Kempinski
President/CEO, Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Paul Kempinski reports a major new effort in what might be called whole-child health care. “In June, Children’s Mercy announced a five-year initiative to address the pediatric mental-health crisis,” he said. “It is called Illuminate and includes four strategies, 14 projects, and a new $150 million investment that will impact more than 80,000 kids.”

2022 REVENUES: $3.54 billion
NEXT BIG THING: “I love the idea of a new Downtown baseball stadium. I’ve lived in cities where downtown parks were built. They had incredibly positive cultural and economic impacts.”
THE NEW KCI: “Our new, world-class airport reflects our sophisticated, collaborative spirit. The new airport is a great first impression of KC’s great resources and amenities, arts, culture, sports, and food scene.”
MENTORS: “I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors that have been professional guardian angels for me. I’ve also had a few ‘anti-mentors.’ Ironically, I learned quite a bit of subject matter knowledge from the ‘anti-mentors’ and also leadership behaviors that I’ve worked hard not to emulate.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “I read few business books cover to cover, but three that I have include: Good to Great, The Toyota Way, and The First 90 Days. They’ve all impacted me greatly during different phases of my leadership journey.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Emotional intelligence.”
EMPLOYEES: 8,319 in FY 2022.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (122)Robert Kenagy
President/CEO, Stormont Vail Health

He’s already overseeing the biggest health system based in Topeka—which includes the Kansas City area’s third-largest stand-alone hospital—but Robert Kenagy does not have Stormont Vail Health resting on any health-care laurels. The system has opened multiple satellite operations over the past year, even as its major medical center is treated nearly 21,000 admitted patients last year.

2022 REVENUES: $2.73 billion
COLLEGE: BBA, Wichita State; M.D., University of Kansas Medical Center, Master of Medical Management, Tulane University
ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE: With nearly 600 acute-care beds, Stormont Vail Hospital is a key employer in the region; its staff of 4,560 includes 275 physicians and more than 1,575 nurses.
LOOKING WEST: Kenagy’s team recently completed work at the $37.5 million Stormont Vail Health Manhattan Campus, less than an hour to Topeka’s west. The structure covers 75,000 square feet, has 95 exam rooms, three more for treatment and five for procedure. It also has a full imaging department, expanded office spaces, and parking for nearly 400. Earlier this year, and one county to the west of Manhattan, the health system completed its acquisition and rechristened the former Geary Community Hospital and Rural Health Clinic, now Stormont Vail Health–Flint Hills Campus.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (123)Scott Kincaid
President, The Kincaid Group

Buses helped build the company from the ground up, but 2022 saw a shift in priorities for the family-owned Kincaid Group, led by Scott Kincaid, whose father founded the enterprise. Last fall, the company sold off its DS Bus Lines and Midwest Bus Sales divisions to a Massachusetts transportation company. It retains core interests in vehicle sales, security systems, construction materials, and IT services, among others.

COLLEGE: B.S., Administration, University of Tulsa
IN HIGH GEAR: The company didn’t disclose 2022 revenues, but its top line was comfortably above $300 million in 2021.
BROAD REACH: With operating divisions in eight states throughout the Midwest, New Mexico, and Louisiana, the Shawnee-based group employs nearly 2,000 people.
PHILANTHROPIC REACH: In 2021, the firm launched its Kincaid Group Foundation with the goal of honoring its four key corporate pillars: Family, Safety, Service, and Respect. Each division’s profits provide funding, direct donations, and income from special events. That will build on more than $300,000 the company had previously raised for local non-profits in the spheres of youth programs, first responders, and veterans causes.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (124)Jim Klausman
President/CEO, Midwest Health

Over the past year, Jim Klausman said Midwest Health continued its mission to provide quality senior living with the completion of Wheatfield Village in Topeka, a $100 million mixed-use development that features a B&B Theater, Johnny’s Tavern, SPIN! Pizza, PT’s coffee, Springhill Suites, and apartments. “We are in the process of acquiring two new assisted living centers,” he adds, “which will take our total count to over 90 across six states.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, Washburn University
RECESSION ODDS: “We may miss a recession, but economic activity is slowing down, especially in the commercial real estate market.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The continued expansion of the Panasonic plant, and the natural growth that will bring to south Johnson County.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “This airport now rivals any of the best throughout the country.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My first real job was in sales at Sears Automotive. I learned from my boss, Bob Gassman, that to be successful, I had to be self-sufficient.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “For leadership hires, we look to the personality of the individual, and their ability to communicate and fit into our business culture.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently at 4,000, and “we continue to grow our organization and plan on adding to our staff.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (125)Mark Kleeman
President, Save Haven Security

Safe Haven Security launched in 1999, and by 2012, had crossed the $10 million revenue threshold. That’s a nice step up, but nothing compared to what would follow: It took just six more years to record a 10-fold increase, pushing past the $100 million mark. And as of last year, it had nearly quadrupled again. Mark Kleeman is the man with his foot on the pedal driving growth for the North Kansas City-based company.

2022 REVENUES: $386 million
NO. 1: Safe Haven Security is now the nation’s biggest authorized ADT dealer, with more than 100,000 system installations across 75 metro areas.
SECURITY & MORE: The company’s service line includes in voice- and climate-control systems, remote locks and arming devices, lighting and surveillance systems.
GROWTH FACTOR: Leveraging the power of connections, the company has implemented an agent referral program to reach professionals selling real estate, and it turned to a builder and developer to design its Homebuilder Program, creating another a line of repeat business.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (126)Greg Klein
President/CEO, Inland Truck Parts

As a key cog in the logistics sector, Gregg Klein obviously understands truck traffic and points out that Kansas City, at the heart of the country, has a lot of semi traffic on its interstate system. Concerned about the traffic problems other cities have, he suggests building regional bypass roads that “would minimize the impact on existing developed areas and allow future developers a clear vision of where the future of our road transportation footprint is heading.”

2022 REVENUES: $195.45 million
MILESTONE: “2022 marked our 40th year of ownership by our employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan,” Klein says. “Our employees are the cornerstone of our success, and their favorite slogan is ‘We act like we own the place, because we do.’”
RECESSION ODDS: “We believe there is a very high risk of a recession in the next 12-16 months.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The 470 Expressway in Denver and the 130 Toll Road bypassing Austin are great examples of toll roads alleviating traffic congestion. Anyone who has made the north-south trip through the DFW metro understands the congestion that a lack of a good bypass road alternative brings. Bypass roads could be located anywhere from 5-15 miles beyond portions of the current I-435 loop.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I think it is a great improvement over the old KCI terminal.The only complaint I have is they didn’t put in enough restroom capacity.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (127)Randy Klindt
Founding Partner/CEO, Conexon

When co-founding Conexon in 2015, Randy Klindt recognized the need to connect rural families—lots of them—with the most cost-efficient fiber-to-the-home broadband available. Quite the undertaking, but Conexon has defined itself as an industry standard for successful rural electric co-op fiber networks. From one home to the next. Klindt had led his team over some exceptional milestones with four-digit growth over four years.

2022 REVENUES: $173 million
KANSAS OUTREACH: Conexon partners with El Dorado, Kansas-based Butler Electric Cooperative in a $21 million project to bring fiber-to-the-home internet access to approximately 4,300 rural Kansans. The partnership marks Kansas’ first electric cooperative fiber broadband network and the first Kansas project for Conexon.
RECOGNITION: The company has been on a four-year run through Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 list of the region’s fastest-growing companies, including three Top 10 finishes the past three years.
BEFORE CONEXON: Through hands-on expertise, Klindt aided in the operations of Co-Mo Connect in Missouri and OzarksGo in Arkansas.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (128)Ann Konecny
CEO, Foley Equipment Co.

Ann Konecny brings an influential business pedigree to her leadership at Foley Equipment. This third-generation CEO is leading her company through the nationwide transition to heavy-duty electric vehicles for the construction sector through new partnerships. If that wasn’t enough, Konecny aims to support the next generation of workers who will use Foley equipment.

COLLEGE: B.A., Finance and Economics, Wichita State University
WORK-FORCE DEVELOPMENT: Foley is a Wichita native who retains deep ties to the community; her company and her alma mater’s WSU Tech launched the Foley Internship Program in January, providing students with hands-on experience at Foley Equipment locations.
BROAD REACH: The company has 18 locations in 15 cities, spanning the two-state area from Sedalia to Liberal in southwest Kansas.
FAMILY VALUES: Her grandfather founded the company in Wichita in 1940, and on her watch, it has grown to provide sales and rentals of new and used heavy equipment like backhoes and loaders, plus power generators and more.
LOCAL FOOTPRINT: Foley Equipment Co. also secured the right to serve as the exclusive authorized Shuttlewagon dealer serving Kansas and Missouri.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (129)Ray Kowalik
Chairman/CEO, Burns & MCDonnell

Ray Kowalik is about to take his place in an increasingly long line of influential departures among the region’s executive elites; he has announced plans to retire early next year from the firm he has led for nearly seven years. In that span, Burns & Mac has become a driving force in employment growth—it now has a global staff of 13,500—expanded its service lines, and leapfrogged to No. 1 status among engineering firms in this region in billings.

2022 REVENUES: $6.86 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia
ON DECK: With his retirement announcement, Leslie Duke will become the eighth chief executive in the history of the 125-year-old firm and the first woman to hold that title.
MORE THAN ENGINEERING: Kowalik took the ball and ran with it as the firm lengthened its reach by expanding its footprint in construction, architectural, environmental, and consulting services.
VANISHING BREED?: Kowalik is a fierce advocate for employee ownership, especially the stripe practiced by Burns & Mac. His story belies the conventional wisdom that people can’t end their career with the same company where it started—he’s been there since the ink was drying on his Mizzou diploma.
IN THE LEADERSHIP: Kowalik worked on the front lines for 14 years before he became an officer in 2001. Six years later, the firm made him president of the Energy Group and then added him to its board in 2009. He succeeded Greg Graves as chairman and CEO at the start of 2017.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (130)Lisa Krigsten
Managing Partner, Dentons

Lisa Krigsten is the one a lot of executives will summon when there’s a knock on the door delivering a federal or state legal action. After all, she knows much of the other team’s playbook. She’s a former federal prosecutor who represents management and boards during investigations and litigation, criminal or civil. She’s a partner in Dentons’ white collar and government-investigations practice, yet still finds time to manage the Kansas City office.

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; J.D., University of Iowa College of Law
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “While not a traditional business book, I often recommend ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow,’ by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a great exploration of decision-making in all aspects of life.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Literacy. Learning to read is life-changing.”
STAFFING: “We are on track to grow several of our practice areas next year.”
FIRM DOINGS: When Dentons aligned with the Chinese firm Dacheng in 2015, it created the world’s largest law firm, as measured by the numbers of lawyers. Turns out, the divorce papers were filed last month, with Dentons saying that Beijing’s increasingly challenging regulatory environment made the partnership unworkable. Dentons nevertheless remains a formidable firm on a global scale.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (131)Bill Krueger
COO, The Andersons

Back in the 1940s, a lovely couple named Anderson opened up a truck terminal and a grain terminal to help farmers move product more efficiently. Decades of fluttering calendar pages later, The Andersons is a multinational Fortune 500 company supporting the world of agriculture. Bill Krueger, a longtime grain man himself, reports from the Overland Park office a highlight of the past year as setting up operations in Romania.

COLLEGE: B.A., Agribusiness, University of Nebraska
RECESSION ODDS: “50/50.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Attractions to increase tourism, other than sports teams.”
MORNING READ: “Emails related to news that affects commodity markets.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Ability to interact with customers and fellow employees.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Providing solutions for underprivileged children.” Krueger also serves on the board of Children’s Mercy Hospital.
EMPLOYEES: “2,400,” he says, and “we will add staff in 2024.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (132)Craig Kuckelman
Managing Partner, Deloitte Tax LLP

Some people are afraid of AI, but Craig Kuckelman and crew have been meeting it head-on, scaling their AI capabilities. “We launched a Generative AI practice to help clients design their Generative AI strategies and leverage the disruptive new technology,” he says. “At the core of the practice is a Generative AI Market Incubator with a dedicated team of engineers focused on the rapid development of pilot programs; demos and proofs of concept; and a R&D team working alongside Deloitte alliance partners to train and tune Foundation Models.”

RECESSION ODDS: “According to Deloitte’s most recent private company outlook, companies earning $100-$200M were more concerned about the risk of recession than those earning higher revenue. Among all respondents, nearly half said their company valuation has declined. Among those companies whose valuation has declined, 83 percent said recession was a high risk to their organization, compared with 39 percent among those respondents whose company valuation has not declined.”
MORNING READ: “News apps on my smartphone; I like that I can get news from a lot of different sources and quickly get up to speed on what is happening in the world.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “The most effective leaders can understand and navigate the complexities of the professional world, coupled with a strong sense of personal awareness and an in-depth understanding of industry trends. Leaders should be well-informed, adaptable, and able to anticipate changes in today’s dynamic business environment.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (133)Michael Kulp
President/CEO, KBP Brands

When Michael Kulp jumped behind the wheel at what is now KBP Brands, it wasn’t long removed from its startup days, with $7 million in revenues. But it was poised for growth and goodness, did Kulp and Co. deliver: Its ever-growing collection of KFC, Taco Bell, and Arby’s fast-dining locations has pushed those revenues up nearly 10-fold over just the past decade.

2022 REVENUES: $1.45 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Marketing, University of Colorado-Mesa
ON THE QUEST FOR TALENT: “We learned early on that to attract top industry talent to our organization, we would have to provide significant growth opportunities for our people,” Kulp says. “Our unwavering focus on how we can continue to deliver development to our people personally, professionally, and financially has become part of every decision we make.”
INDUSTRY INFLUENCER: Kulp sits on the board for the National Advertising Cooperative, and he’s a party of one as the only U.S. representative on the Yum! Global Franchise Council. On top of that, he chairs the KFC National Operations Committee and is one of two U.S. representatives on the Brand Committee.
PASSION FOR A CAUSE: It might be harder to find a better corporate friend than KBP has been to the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City on Kulp’s watch. Beyond stepping up to provide food for various fund-raisers, Kulp is a member of the group’s board of directors.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (134)Brad Lager
Chairman/CEO, Herzog Enterprises

Despite current economic concerns, Brad Lager reports good news from the world of rail and heavy/highway contracting: “We have been blessed to see continued top-line and bottom-line growth, even though sectors of our business have seen a slowdown,” he says. “The team has done a great job of finding quality work and identifying customer challenges where we were able to provide value-added solutions that aided us collectively in advancing their mission.”

2022 REVENUES: $962 million
ON THE NEW KCI: “The new airport is absolutely incredible, and we often hear comments from both our employees who use it, as well as business travelers who are visiting.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I have been blessed to have a couple of very successful mentors who invested time and energy in me and my family. In both cases, they instilled the importance of doing the right thing, even when it is hard and even when no one is watching. If you live your life that way, lead your organization that way, and encourage those around you to do the same, good things will happen.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Alignment with our culture, a commitment to developing and growing the people around them, and ability to lead a team in a manner that makes everyone better—we as individuals, we as an organization, and we as partners with our customers.”
EMPLOYEES: “We have north of 2,600 members of our professional family,” Lager says. “Given current workloads, customer communications around future needs, and expected backlog, we are looking to grow.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (135)Gordon Lansford III
President/CEO, JE Dunn Construction Co.

Come year-end, JE Dunn will mark Gordon Lansford’s first decade of leadership at one of Kansas City’s corporate icons, and he’s certainly left a mark. It took the company 90 years to reach $2.6 billion in revenues; that figure has more than doubled since Terry Dunn turned the wheel over to his former CFO. And the builder has strengthened its national profile; it’s now the country’s eighth-largest general contractor.

2022 REVENUES: $5.83 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting/Business, Baker University
NEW ENERGY: The Kansas City region was abuzz this past year with talk of the new Panasonic Energy battery plant coming to De Soto in 2025, but JE Dunn was making some clean-energy headlines of its own. Early in the year, LG Chem of Seoul, South Korea, announced that it had hired Dunn to lead construction on its $3.2 billion EV battery manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tenn.
LOCAL IMPACT: The company also wrapped up work on the $75 million Sobela Ocean Aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo, and it has been chosen as project partner on the new $301 million Jackson County jail.
TIME TO CELEBRATE: Ernie Dunn must have been a busy fellow a century ago. Not only was he preparing to formally go into business as a contractor, he was welcoming a son to the fold. That would be second-generation leader Bill Dunn, who celebrated his 100th birthday this past summer, with a company-wide and civic tribute to a titan of business.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (136)Mark Larrabee
President/CEO, Arvest Bank KC

While Mark Larrabee believes the odds of a recession remain high as the trailing effects of interest-rate increases are realized, he thinks the likely severity of such an event has lessened. Recession speculation certainly hasn’t stopped Arvest from growing: For the fourth consecutive year, they’ve grown their assets in Kansas City by more than $200 million and now approach $1.8 billion in market assets.

COLLEGE: B.S./B.A., Finance, University of Kansas; MBA, Finance, Trulaske College of Business, University of Missouri
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The greatest opportunity we have is creating a quality education environment in our urban core school districts. KCPS is making strides here, but elevating academic achievement to even higher levels is essential to building a quality workforce, addressing economic inequalities and creating positive pathways of opportunity for all.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “KCI is amazing and finally provides Kansas City with a front door to be proud of!”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP MUST-HAVES: “I think it is important that leaders have intelligence, intellectual curiosity and appropriate experience. More importantly, are they cultural fits that can lead in alignment with our core values?”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (137)Jeff Laurendeau
Regional Director, Amazon

They’ve been building mega-warehouses so fast—and bringing folks so fast to staff them—that Jeff Laurendeau might be the king of hiring in this region. In a relatively short span of a decade or so, his employer has become one of the biggest employers in the Kansas City area. Fulfillment centers in Edgerton, Kansas City, Kan., and Lenexa have led the way to more than 6,000 jobs over that span.

COLLEGE: B.A., Criminal Justice, Norwich University
EXPANDED INFLUENCE: Laurendeau’s territory was recently expanded when he was assigned oversight of the company’s Southwest region.
BORDER JUMPING: Just recently, the Missouri side got in on the act when Amazon opened a 1-million-square-foot warehouse in Liberty dedicated to handling furniture and other bulky items.
BEFORE KC: Laurendeau is a former active-duty Army officer who also spent time in the Reserves.He learned more than a few things about logistics while in Iraq, where he was responsible for $10 million worth of equipment in a combat environment. In fact, as a scout platoon leader there, he planned and executed more than 100 combat missions in the most dangerous parts of Baghdad.
IN THE REAL WORLD: Laurendeau’s civilian duties have seen him take on roles at facilitiesin Middletown, Del., and Windsor, Conn.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (138)Sandra Lawrence
Independent Corporate Director

Sandra Lawrence had a long career run as a senior health-care executive, building an extensive roster of corporate contacts. She has leveraged her skills in business and that network to secure a number of prominent corporate board seats. Among them, Evergy, Brixmor, Delaware/Macquarie, Sera, and Recology. And she has been impressed by the acumen displayed among them. “Over the past year, their ability to listen and flex has been key to their continued, strong financial growth and staff retention.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Psychology Statistics, Vassar College; M.A., Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; MBA, Real Estate/Finance, Harvard University
NEXT BIG THING: “Since the appointment of Mayra Aguirre as its President and building on the foundation laid by Bill Hall, the Hall Family Foundation has been focused on addressing the components of poverty, the fundamental problem that underlies the many symptoms we’ve been trying to attack for decades.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I’m a frequent flier. It represents an economic engine, creating the infrastructure to route larger planes through KC with greater frequency, making us a preferred destination and transfer point, bringing more businesses and tourists, and contributing valuable revenue to the assets and services that make KC great.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “Diversity of professional and personal experiences, combined with a sharp intellect, is critical to a leader’s ability to innovate and grow an organization.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (139)Carlos Ledezma
CEO, Cable Dahmer Automotive Group

Carlos Ledezma is happy to share that Cable Dahmer has put 147 staff members through leadership training and will have another class ready by year’s end. The company, he says, wants “to help our people become better leaders of the people Cable Dahmer is responsible for.” In addition, Cable Dahmer has added a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep Ram store to its family of dealerships and surpassed the 9-million mark in meals provided through Harvesters.

2022 REVENUES: $806.48 million
RECESSION ODDS: “I believe this recession is the most-predicted recession in the history in our economy. The odds are very high for us to see this happen. If it does, we will be as prepared as possible. If not, we will maximize the opportunities that will be presented to us.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “With the 2026 World Cup coming to Kansas City, we should get our house in order to help present Kansas City as clean and safe as possible.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Only positives. We should be proud to be in KC.”
LEADERSHIP: “A quote was quoted many times: ‘We will be influenced by the books we read and the sum of the five people we are around.’ We read books and do a book a quarter with weekly reviews.”
ADMIRED: “There are so many people who have been successful in their own right. Recently we finished a book on hospitality by Danny Meyer. He developed leaders. He scaled. He is world-class in customer satisfaction.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (140)Brian Leitner
Managing Director, Mariner Wealth Advisors

Brian Leitner must have the move-tracking mental skills of a Russian chessmaster to follow all the moving pieces at Mariner, where he’s responsible for strategic growth of both Mariner Wealth Advisors and its Mariner Platform Solutions division. Just this past year, the firm made nine acquisitions, added more in 2023, and has seen assets under its control balloon past $114 billion.

COLLEGE: B.S., Business/Economics, State University of New York-Oneonta, M.S., Taxation, Fairleigh Dickinson University
THE PATH TO KC: Leitner came on board at Mariner in 2010, after a decade split between UBS and Ernst & Young. He spent a decade as chief practice management officer for the firm before assuming the wealth-solutions leadership in 2022.
RECOGNITION: Leitner didn’t take long to make a splash in local wealth-management circles, earning a spot the in Ingram’s 40 Under Forty’s Class of 2013.
ABOUT MARINER: Founded in 2006 by Marty Bicknell, Mariner has established a national reputation; Barron’s ranked it in the top five of its best independent advisory firms from 2016 to 2022.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (141)James Lewis
President/CEO, Security Bank of Kansas City

Only three other hometown banks control more deposit share than does Security Bank of Kansas City. That might entitle any chief executive to some bragging rights. But Jim Lewis is not just any chief executive. A pillar of humility with a deep commitment to community service, Lewis was recognized by the KCK Chamber last year as its Person of the Year—but didn’t claim a place in the video celebrating his achievement: It was up to colleagues and beneficiaries of his work to praise his contributions.

2022 REVENUES: $124.77 million
COMMITMENT: Lewis has been with the organization for going on 43 years, serving as president in some capacity for 33 of them—at Industrial State Bank and Security Bank prior to their 2016 merger.
TRIBUTE: The Person of the Year video quoted banking and non-profit leaders who knew Lewis well, and they lauded his efforts to step out of the C-suite and engage with the underprivileged in Wyandotte County. Among other efforts, Lewis had a long affiliation with a group that promoted literacy by inviting business figures to read to children.
AGGREGATOR: That 2016 merger involved seven banks that were part of the Valley View Financial Group; Lewis played an instrumental role in orchestrating a seven-into-one union under the Security Bank charter, immediately creating one of the biggest financial institutions in the region.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (142)Kevin Lewis
President/CEO, Henderson Engineers

When Kevin Lewis became just the fourth chief executive to lead this 53-year-old Lenexa company last year, he cited five sectors that the company will focus on through the continuing integration of its engineering and construction services: business, community, health, retail and venues. The company specializes in designing and building the systems that make buildings function—electrical, mechanical, plumbing, refrigeration, security, and more.

2022 REVENUES: $183.5 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Kansas State University; MBA, Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri-Kansas City
FAMILY TIES: “One of the things that have held from day one was that family feel, and that culture piece, and those things are going to ring true as we move forward,” he said upon taking the corporate lead.
UP THE RANKS: He signed on with Henderson in 2004, then took on increasing levels of responsibility, moving from project manager to project engineer, venue practice director, director of practices, and then chief sector officer before succeeding Rich Henderson as CEO last year.
EMPLOYEE-CENTERED: Henderson officially became an employee-owned company in 2021, joining the ranks of multiple companies in this region specializing in engineering or construction services.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (143)Matt Linski
President, Bank Of America Kansas City

When Matt Linski looks back over the past year, he’s proud to say that the national bank’s Kansas City operation has continued to revamp and invest in its financial centers to improve the outlook for customers. He’s also optimistic about the immediate future in terms of a recession: “We see a soft landing at this stage,” Linski says. “The consumer has been very strong and the jobs market remains solid.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting & Finance, Missouri State, Missouri
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Continued investment in the streetcar and finding ways to connect the Northland to Downtown.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “A home-run! I have been there 20-plus times and am thrilled.”
KEY MENTORS: “Mack Bowen and Rand Kohler both talked about being responsive, open and honest, and owning your mistakes. Both inspired me to build a network internally that has paid-off, and both said there is significant value in being intellectually curious.”
MORNING READ: “My workout app and whatever I choose to tackle in the early morning hours.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Children’s healthy habits.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (144)Ronald Lockton
Chairman, Lockton

Hard as it is to find a family-owned company that has assumed global proportions, rarer still is finding one that has increased revenues every year of its existence, going back nearly 60 years. But that corporate legacy defines Lockton, one of this region’s entrepreneurial home runs. Ron Lockton, son of the late founder, Jack Lockton, served as CEO before taking on the chair duties in 2020. He’s been with the company for 32 years during its journey from regional insurance brokerage and benefits consultant to worldwide powerhouse.

2022 REVENUES: $2.72 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, University of Kansas
SIMPLE FORMULA: What drives success at Lockton? Two factors working together, the company says: private ownership and long-term strategy. “As a family organization, we are not driven by the quarterly pressure from the financial markets,” it declares.
BOOM: The company reported 17 percent revenue growth in its most recent fiscal year, pushing it past a record-setting $3 billion.
THEY’RE EVERYWHERE: With more than 10,750 associates serving more than 300 corporate clients and operating from more than 140 locations worldwide, it’s not hard to find a Lockton office.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (145)Chris Long
Chairman/CEO/Portfolio Manager/Co-Owner,Palmer Square CapitaL / KC Current

Chris Long and company have seen success in recent times, and he’s quick to shift the spotlight onto faithful customers. “We couldn’t be more proud about how our strategies have performed and are so appreciative of our cherished client base,” he said, citing strong investment performance and client retention as hallmarks of the past year. Palmer Square manages over $27.3 billion in fixed income/credit investments for a wide array of institutional and high-net-worth investors. He and his wife, Angie, are also co-owners of the Kansas City Current.

COLLEGE: A.B., Economics (cum laude), Princeton University; MBA, Harvard Business School
RECESSION ODDS: “It’s so difficult to predict, but we don’t place a high probability on it. Our view that rates will stay higher for longer is, in part, based on our view that the macro picture looks resilient. The labor market is as strong as ever. The consumer remains in decent shape. In Europe, the macro picture has improved substantially and geopolitical risks have eased. So, growth will undoubtedly slow as high interest rates restrict investment, but we don’t envision a hard landing.”
NEXT BIG THING: “Last year, we talked about breaking ground on our new Downtown stadium for the Kansas City Current. Nearly one year later, the first purpose-built stadium in the world for a women’s pro sports team is almost complete. Next on the list is the exciting mixed-use development we’re doing adjacent to the stadium along with PortKC. This is a huge win for the city on so many fronts, and we can’t wait for all of it to come together.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (146)Greg Maday
Chairman/CEO, SpecChem

What’s the news from the concrete business? According to Greg Maday it’s—if you’ll pardon us here—solid. SpecChem is strong and growing. “We continue to add quality teammates,” Maday says. “Last year was no exception. Our associates are our No. 1 asset. Continuing to build upon our company culture is crucial. His thoughts on the odds of an upcoming recession? “Medium to high. I’m hoping for a ‘soft landing’ though. Inflation is real.”

KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Need to keep working on our public schools. With regards to a project,I love covering (Interstate) 670 and connecting the Crossroads with Downtown.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It’s like we live in a real city. Well done.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I had many mentors. I tried to take pieces from all of them. I learned 35 years ago that company culture matters. And if you are in charge of the company, then you are in charge of culture.”
MORNING LISTEN: “Morning Brew.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “People skills…understanding and teaching/motivating. Leadership-level hires must also fit with the company culture.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “We give our associates giving cards every year so they can donate to the charity of their choice. It’s an amazing range of causes that they support.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (147)Mike Maddox
President/CEO, CrossFirst Bank

Mike Maddox has never been afraid of going head-to-head with the big dogs; that attitude helped his team win an NCAA basketball title in 1988. Now, he’s taking on the biggest banks in the Kansas City region, and nothing has touched the growth rates of CrossFirst Bank since it opened its doors in 2007. It’s now the fifth-largest locally headquartered bank in local deposit market share at $2.2 billion and $4.8 billion overall.

2022 REVENUE: $210.82 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Business, J.D., University of Kansas/KU School of Law
TURNING HEADS: Earlier this year, CrossFirst was recognized by Gallup as one of seven companies globally to be named as a 2023 Don Clifton Strengths-Based Culture Award recipient. “This award recognizes organizations with strong workplace cultures that get the best out of their employees by focusing and developing their strengths and placing them at the center of how they work every day,” Maddox says. “This award is a direct reflection on our employees and the extraordinary work they do every day to embrace our strengths-based culture.”
KEEN FOR COMPETITION: It’s almost impossible to overstate how competitive the Kansas City banking market is; out of 120 total banks, only 18 can claim more than 1 percent of the deposit market share. CrossFirst stands at 3.5 percent—and climbing.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (148)Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs, Investor

Patrick Mahomes’ business savvy runs just as deep as his on-field skill. Still only 28 as of this month, and with a brand new contract that resets the NFL scale for quarterbacks, he’s already part of the ownership of the Royals, Sporting KC, and the Kansas City Current. He has a piece of the outfit bringing 30 of his beloved Whataburger franchises to this market, plus other corporate investments that suggest he’ll be tied to Kansas City long after his playing days are over,

COLLEGE: Texas Tech University
BY THE NUMBERS: The Chiefs’ preseason media guide needs more than eight full pages to chronicle Mahomes’ performance with the team; he’s already the franchise leader in eight passing categories, including career passer rating (105.7), number of 300-yard games (41) and single-season yardage (5,250). More to come …
ANY REGRETS, BUFFALO?: In recent years, the Buffalo Bills have emerged as one of the team’s biggest roadblocks to the Super Bowl (Cincinnati being the other). Lest we forget, though, the Chiefs traded the No. 27 overall pick and a third-round pick in 2017 and their 2018 first-round selection to move up in the draft and grab Mahomes as the 10th overall selection. On the other end of that trade? The self-same Buffalo Bills. Heh.
REALTY CHOPS, TOO: Mahomes and his wife, Brittany, recently put their home south of the Plaza on the market, several years after acquiring it for a reported $1.9 million. Web updates suggest it was immediately snapped up—for nearly $2.9 million. Everything this guy touches, it seems, turns to gold.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (149)Paul Malir
President/COO, TranSystems

For years leading up to 2020, TranSystems had been a model of corporate stability, with revenues hovering around $200 million year after year. Then came a major recapitalization with Sentinel Capital Partners, and … boom! Since then, Paul Malir and the team have been riding a growth rocket, going from 750 employees to more than 1,650 with at least five acquisitions and nearly doubling revenues in the process.

2022 REVENUES: $345.2 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Civil Engineering, Kansas State University; MBA, University of Kansas
GROWTH TRAJECTORY: “We are still full steam ahead,” Malir says. “Our owners are very interested in our very hot market. We own about 30 percent of the firm, and they, our owners, own about 70. TranSystems definitely wants to continue growth, and so do they. I would tell you that we are constantly looking for great fits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more deals before the end of the year.”
THE KC ENGINEERING HUB: “In the Kansas City area, it brings us amplified capabilities,” he said after the acquisition of a Baltimore-based firm earlier this year. “This group in particular, WBCM, brings us an enhanced building-structural group that we can combine with ours. We at TranSystems do a lot of bridgework, but it takes a different specialty to do building-structural, and so now the architectural force is even better in this area.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (150)Peter Mallouk
President/CEO, Creative Planning

With 2,250 employees and plans to add more, Peter Mallouk’s Creative Planning success story continues to be told. “I think our most significant achievement is our consistency,” he said. “Our team expands or improves our services over and over and over again.” Success has allowed him to start several charities, focused on breaking the cycle of poverty or improving the quality of life of individuals.

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; MBA, J.D., University of Kansas
RECESSION ODDS: “Well, if we all keep predicting one, it will eventually happen! I think we may have a mild recession in 2024, but nothing severe, but my prediction, along with all economic predictions, is worthless. The economy is too dynamic to be predictable.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “They did an incredible job with it. We have a lot of clients fly in from out of town and it has definitely changed everyone’s impression not just of the airport, but of the entire city.
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I hear a baseball team may be moving!”
KEY TO HIRING LEADERS: “A servant mentality. And no jerks.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (151)Matt Malott
President/CEO, Multivac

Since taking his leadership role at Multivac Group in 2018, Malott has led the U.S. headquarters in Kansas City to great heights in the packaging and production industry. In the past year, Multivac has seen the introduction of a bevy of innovations to its products, which improve productivity and sustainability for companies in the food-production sector.

COLLEGE: B.S., Marketing Management, Park University
JOB DUTIES: Malott oversees a corporate work force of 400, of which about 230 are based in the Northland headquarters and production facility.
BOOM: As of Multivac’s most recent revenue disclosure, Malott and his team’s sales had increased 33 percent year-over-year, surpassing $349 million.
ABOUT MULTIVAC: The German parent provides industrial packaging systems for companies around the world, food-production sites in particular. The Kansas City site is its only North American production facility, but the company has regional offices throughout the U.S. In March 2023, the company decided to pull all of its global subsidiaries under one banner—Multivac Group.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (152)Korb Maxwell
Partner, Polsinelli, PC

Korb Maxwell’s bosses at one of the region’s largest law firms, Polsinelli PC, can provide a two-word job evaluation for his work in real-estate transactions: “Killing it.” Maxwell’s expertise has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for his clients. He leads the Polsinelli Opportunity Zones practice group, which focuses on long-term investments through the placement of highly tax advantaged capital.

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Kansas; J.D., University of Texas.
IN THE ZONES: Maxwell’s history of work in the development-incentives space prompted him to take the lead in the firm’s creation of his practice area. The Opportunity Zones tax incentive was established to lure investor capital to historically overlooked communities across the U.S.
EARLY RISER: Maxwell was a 2015 selection for Ingram’s 40 Under Forty, spotlighting young executive talent in the Kansas City area.
RECOGNITION: Raise your hand if you’ve heard of this niche publication, but Maxwell also received a spot in the “Top 25 Opportunity Zone Influencers” by Opportunity Zone Magazine.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (153)John McCarthy
President, McCarthy Automobile Group

This is what four decades of labor in the auto-sales work can produce: 11 vehicle dealerships in a swath that runs from Lawrence to Sedalia, employment for more than 700 people (including multiple family members) and sales floors teeming with popular brands like Chevrolet, GMC, Hyundai, Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Jeep, with parts, maintenance and collision-damage services.

PHILANTHROPIC AT ITS CORE: The auto group has a deep history of philanthropy, providing funding for scholarships to more than five dozen organizations, from school districts and private schools to the Boys & Girls Clubs. It has also provided financial backing for health-care causes and medical research, student athletics, public safety, the arts and more.
LIKE FATHER …: McCarthy’s son, Ryan, has been with the group since 2000 and has joined Dad in the ownership.
THE BRANDS: The company’s dealerships include Chevrolet sites in Olathe, Lee’s Summit and Overland Park, Honda in Overland Park, Nissan in Lawrence and Olathe, Hyundai in Olathe and Blue Springs, Subaru in Lawrence, and Toyota in Sedalia.
GIVING BACK: The company has long been known for supporting local organizations, formalizing that commitment in 2017 when it established the McCarthy Family Foundation as the organization’s charitable arm, providing a more structured philanthropic strategy.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (154)Ken McClain
Partner, Humphrey, Farrington & McClain

Ken McClain has two reasons to be optimistic looking forward: For one, he thinks the economy will generally withstand the threat of recession. The other is the simple relief from a pandemic in retreat. “Being able to resume a normal schedule following Covid,” was huge for his Independence law firm, he says. “Trials and complex arbitrations are proceeding, and we have been able to resolve cases quicker because of the skills we learned during Covid utilizing remote access.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Graceland College; J.D., University of Michigan Law School
RECESSION ODDS: “Low, between 10-20 percent. Inflation continues to fall, so interest-rate increases will slow. Employment is high and wage growth is moderate.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING?: “Beautiful but very large, long concourses. Elderly travelers will have difficulty, pickup is a nightmare. For Kansas City based travelers, the old airport was much easier to use.”
KEY MENTOR: Norman Humphrey, Jr., my deceased partner. From him, I learned to be confident in my own ability and to put one foot in front of the other.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Tom McDonnell, former head of DST—a great civic and business leader.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK EVER READ:How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie.
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Self-evaluation. Knowing yourself well enough to improve yourself is critical for a leader to be effective.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (155)Madeleine McDonough
Chair, Shook, Hardy & Bacon

How does the top executive at the region’s biggest law firm remain plugged in with news that could impact a team of more than 500 lawyers nationwide? Presumably, with speed-reading, skills: Madeleine McDonough’s morning-read/listen list includes “The New York Times, Washington Post, National Law Journal’s “Morning Update,” Bloomberg News, the KCUR Early Bird,” and if I missed it the night before, I read a few folks on Substack, including Heather Cox Richardson,” she says, serving her second term as chair.

COLLEGE: B.S., UMKC School of Pharmacy, J.D., University of Kansas Law School, LLM, Global Health La, Georgetown University Law Center
ACHIEVEMENTS: “Although it is difficult to single out just one accomplishment, I am most proud of the overall results that our attorneys and professional staff have achieved for our clients, including pro bono clients, this past year,” she says. “From trial wins to resolving significant disputes to helping our clients navigate complex legal and business issues, Shook has had a banner year of favorable results.”
THE NEW KCI: “I have used KCI many times. I am a big fan. It has the features one would hope for in a major airport, including restaurants, cafes, shopping, and most importantly for me, accessible wi-fi and plenty of working charging stations.”
LEADERSHIP: “Ability to listen and, relatedly, and to build and lead collaborative teams—specifically, I am interested in whether candidates have a track record of people who join and follow them wherever they might go.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (156)Marc McEver
Dealer Principal, Olathe Ford

Marc McEver’s operation maintained its place as the local destination for all things Ford over the past year by opening its Ford Pro Elite Commercial Vehicle Service Center—the third of only 120 to be opened nationwide. Where else but the center of the U.S. to locate a vital commercial vehicle resource? Currently employing 340 people, McEver says the intent is to boost staffing by around 5 percent within the coming year.

2022 REVENUES: $785 million
RECESSION ODDS: “Very slim. I believe we will have a slowdown, but not what most people would consider a recession, like 2008-09.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Moving the Royals stadium is really big; I hope we can do that without killing Power & Light. The Plaza needs some help—not a complete overhaul, but a major clean-up. The Plaza is the top attraction for KC, and it needs to look like it.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “The airport is a huge success, and I congratulate KC for a job well done. I use it several times every month, and I still get excited every time I get off the plane!!! Love the stores and restaurants; it’s a treat when you’re delayed.”
MENTOR: “Don Maddux, previous owner of Olathe Ford Lincoln, was my mentor. I still miss him every day. His respect for our employees and customers was what I learned the most. He ALWAYS put them first!!!!”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (157)Ryan McMonagle
CEO, Custom Truck

“I am proud of our team’s strong performance during what is proving to be a turbulent economy,” said Ryan McMonagle, reflecting on recent times. Custom Truck has seen continued growth and strong performance during the first half of 2023, with revenue up 25% during the first half of 2023 compared to 2022. Just this spring, McMonagle stepped in to succeed Fred Ross of the founding family as chief executive for this publicly traded company.

2022 REVENUES: $1.57 billion
RECESSION ODDS: “We have been very intentional about the end markets that we serve: utilities, telecom, rail, and infrastructure. We continue to see strong underlying demand fundamentals in these end markets and, as such, are planning on growth in 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I think bringing the baseball stadium closer to Downtown will be a great opportunity to invest in the local neighborhood. And I can’t wait to see what happens on the riverfront, especially with Chris and Angie Long’s investment with the KC Current.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I am really impressed with KCI. I travel a lot for work, and KCI makes a great first impression on visitors to Kansas City. Some of the executive team we recently recruited to Kansas City said the same thing: that the new KCI leaves such a favorable impression compared to the old airport.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (158)Michael Merriman
President, Financial Holding Corp.

Michael Merriman tends to keep a low profile, but when your holdings become part of the speculation on a new home for the Kansas City Royals, the spotlight will shine. His FHC is the holding company for a wide range of properties and companies, many of them in the Downtown area, but his firm has been in the news of late with reports that it has assembled nearly 100 acres in North Kansas City for consideration as a site to replace Kauffman Stadium.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, Southern Methodist University
DOWNTOWN BOOST I: FHC previously partnered with Burns & McDonnell to develop what is now 1400KC, a $148 million office tower originally intended to be a new home for Waddell & Reed. When an overseas firm snapped up the Overland Park financial services giant, those plans fell through—until health insurer Blue KC stepped in to claim that spot for its new headquarters, starting in 2025.
DOWNTOWN BOOST II: One of FHC’s most prominent holdings, Americo Life, is partnering with Canadian Pacific Kansas City on a redevelopment that would add a pocket park and a 13-story residential tower at 13th and Broadway. It would have 255 apartments plus retail space facing Broadway. Merriman reportedly owns 18.95 percent of Americo.
FINANCIAL POWERHOUSE: Americo’s online profile shows a dozen subsidiary corporations focused on services like mortgage lending, consulting, investment advisory, and workplace benefits, among others.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (159)Trey Meyer
President, Midway Ford Truck Center

It’s always great to see a plan pay off, and Trey Meyer is enjoying that sight right now. “Having a record year after the challenges of COVID-19 felt great,” he said. “It underscored that we made the right decision to retain all of our people and stay the course with our business plans.” At present, Midway’s employee headcount is at 281. Asked about the future, he said, “We are in a growth phase, so if anything, I see us adding more people.”

RECESSION ODDS: “I’ve been reading about a looming recession for several years—eventually, the news will be correct! I have to admit, however, that there are seemingly unsustainable things going on with our economy and the world today. I think the smart move is to hope for the best and plan for the worst, keeping many pivot options open.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It works well, and it is right for the future of KC, but I sure do miss those short walks from the terminal!”
SALUTING MENTORS: “One unique influence was David Stanley. I saw him speak at an Ingram’s luncheon in the early ‘90s, and his message to ‘Leave the woodpile higher than you found it’ has always resonated with me.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (160)Bill Miller
Chairman/CEO, WellSky

More than two decades into his health-care IT career, Bill Miller signed on with a company called Mediware Information Systems in 2017 as an agent of change. Mission accomplished: He soon rebranded the company as WellSky, then oversaw a structural changes that have more than doubled revenues in six years. The company serves more than 20,000 clients worldwide, including hospital systems, blood banks, government agencies, human services organizations, home health providers and hospice agencies.

2022 REVENUES: $611 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics; M.A., Urban Planning/Public Policy, University of Kansas
GIVING BACK: Miller’s zeal for data to drive growth and innovation also has a philanthropic element. He’s on the board of the WellSky Foundation, which was formed in 2019 to address the social determinants of health. The foundation says those are far greater factors in a patient’s health than access to or quality of care.
CAREER PATH: Miller previously served as CEO of OptumInsight, and before that, as senior vice president of technologies at Cerner Corp., where he was tasked with oversight of the company’s global managed services and outsourcing.
ABOUT WELLSKY: It was founded in 1980 with a staff of just two, producing clinical software in blood and pharmacy-management solutions. After going public in 1991, it resumed its private-company status in 2012.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (161)Bruce Miller
Managing Partner,Populous

Buffalo Bills fans may grit their teeth and think only of a heated rivalry when they hear “Kansas City,” but guess where the team turned when it needed the design for its new stadium? That’s right: Populous, led by Bruce Miller. It’s one of the world’s leading designers of facilities for large-audience venues: stadiums, areas, public gathering spaces and more. It broke ground this summer on the Buffalo project.

2022 REVENUES: $223.78 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Architecture, University of Cincinnati
RESPECT: A year after he was designated to succeed Earl Santee as managing partner, Miller was named a 2020 Power Player by Sports Business Journal. Closer to home, Miller sits as chairman of the board for the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation and sits on its executive committee.
PORTFOLIO: Some of Miller’s most notable projects produced Target Field for the Minnesota Twins, pro soccer and baseball stadiums in Nashville, and a pair of MSL venues with Allianz Field in St. Paul and Exploria Stadium, home of Orlando Soccer Club.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (162)Jonathan Mize
President/CEO, Blish-Mize Co.

With more than a century-and-a-half of history under their belts, Jonathan Mize and his team at Blish-Mize can boast they still have customers that started with them more than a century ago. He has logged more than 30 years with the family business, which has gone from outfitting wagon trains in the 1800s to becoming a full-service hardware distributor providing more than 50,000 products to stores across 13 states today.

COLLEGE: University of Kansas
A FAMILY STORY: Blish-Mize was founded by three brothers-in-law in 1871: David Blish, Edward Mize, and Jack Silliman.
SCALED TO DELIVER: One of the biggest private enterprises in Atchison, Blish-Mize operates out of a 500,000 square-foot warehouse there. With a footprint that large, it uses radio frequency technology to track, prepare, ship and deliver its orders.
SUPPORT STRATEGY: Blish-Mize succeeds when its retailers succeeds, so it provides profit management and marketing tools for smaller-scale retailers competing in a world of big-box hardware centers. Those programs cover growth and profitability, product and assortment planning, pricing strategy, store design and presentation, advertising, computer technology for sales, and customer service.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (163)Todd Muenstermann
President, Durvet

Focused on animal nutrition at home, on the farm and on the ranch, Blue Springs-based Durvet has grown to more than a quarter billion in annual sales since opening for business in 1970. Looking at all that success, and with a 150,000 square-foot production facility driving more of it, Todd Muenstermann says he’s impressed by “the way we serve our members/customers at such a high level day in and day out because that’s what ultimately produces the growth we’re experiencing.”

2022 REVENUES: $273.3 million
COLLEGE: B.S./B.A., Marketing/Management, University of Central Missouri
RECESSION ODDS: “Likely.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Love it that the Animal Health Corridor and so many companies in our industry are here. Maybe something along those lines. Target other industries in a similar fashion?”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It’s impressive. There are a few minor things that could’ve been done better, in my opinion, but overall, I think it makes a good impression.”
MENTORS: “Many mentors … from my father to our former CEO, to our many board members over the years … and many important things. Do the work, treat people right, and operate with a servant’s heart.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK: “This is tough. There are so many great ones. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Seth Godin and Jocko Willink. So, Purple Cow and Extreme Ownership are two recent top picks.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (164)Allison Murdock
Managing Partner, Stinson

Clients and attorneys alike are driving the train at Stinson. According to Allison Murdock, “2023 has been a year of growth for Stinson. Client demand drove us to open a Tampa office with 10 attorneys. Similarly, we expanded services in New York and relocated to a larger office in the city’s financial district. We have also been successful in bringing in a number of laterals this year, adding capacity in antitrust, corporate finance, litigation, FinTech, and other practices.”

KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Many of us at Stinson are excited for the new KC Current Stadium to open at Berkley Riverfront Park. I love that Kansas City is building the first women’s professional sports stadium in the world. It’s an important addition to the greater Downtown area. And, like most Kansas Citians, I’m following the conversation about a new Royals stadium.”
THE NEW KCI: “I have had many opportunities to use it, and it makes for a wonderful first impression when our clients and attorneys from other offices come to KC. It’s such a bright, welcoming space, and I love that so many local businesses are represented. The neighborhood-inspired stalls are an especially nice touch.”
MENTORS: “I have had many invaluable mentors and sponsors throughout my career. Stinson did not have a formal mentoring program when I joined in 1988, but I looked to attorneys like our former managing partners Mark Foster and Mark Hinderks, who provided me with opportunities to work on complex legal matters with direct client interaction. They included me in business development opportunities, guided me as I developed my client relationships, and taught me the business of law.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (165)Tim Murphy
CEO, Murphy-Hoffman Co.

Awards and achievements have gone hand-in-hand for Murphy-Hoffman this year. Kenworth, the truck maker, named MHC its Premier Gold Dealer of the Year; it’s truck-leasing division was named PacLease’s North American Franchise of the Year; and it opened new facilities in Denver, Tulsa and El Paso. Those are just a few headlines generated by Tim Murphy’s crew—more than 3,700 employees at 125 locations in nearly 20 states.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business, Spring Hill College
SUPERIOR STATUS: Murphy-Hoffman is the largest privately owned heavy and medium-duty truck dealer in North America. Its network includes 70 truck dealerships selling new and used truck, a parts inventory that covers all makes, skilled technicians and, impressively, more than 1,850 service bays.
EXPERIENCE: Murphy’s three decades in the trucking industry produced a deep background in organizational oversight, and he’s served on multiple supplier councils for the industry, as well as a pair of terms chairing the North American Kenworth Dealer Council.
RESPECT: In 2021, Murphy was appointed to the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He’s also on the board of directors at UMB Bank, and held a board role with his alma mater for a decade.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (166)Kathy Nelson
President/CEO, KC Sports Commission & Foundation

Kathy Nelson and company are still basking in the warmth of the fantastic spotlight that shone on KC this year. “Hosting the 2023 NFL Draft was a highlight and honor for both the KC Sports Commission and Visit KC,” where she is also chief executive, she said. “We are still smiling about the success of the economic and community impact, plus the hundreds of millions of viewers both through television and online engagements that watched KC shine!”

COLLEGE: Truman State University
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Regional transportation.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I personally have used it multiple times; I’ve toured with potential event and convention owners and had staff, family, and friends use it. Every visit and every mention, I burst with pride. It truly showcases Kansas City’s heart.”
STAFFING PLANS: “At both the Sports Commission and Visit KC, we plan to add staffto keep up with our recovery and incredible growth model.”
BIG AGENDA: Both organizations she leads will play key roles in the run-up and execution of Kansas City’s host-city duties in the 2026 FIFA World Cup series. Host cities, officials project, can expect up to $620 million in incremental economic activity from playing on that stage.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (167)Rex Newcomer
President/CEO, DH Pace

With more than 55 facilities nationwide, over 3,000 employees, and plans to hire more, Rex Newcomer and team are out to improve the safety, security, and convenience of buildings in the communities they serve by installing, maintaining, and servicing all types of door, docking and security systems. Asked what impressed him over the past year, Rex said, “Serving customers at a relatively high level in spite of supply chain shortages and price inflation.”

2022 REVENUES: $940.22 million
RECESSION ODDS: “Under 50% within that time frame (end of 2024).”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Downtown baseball stadium.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Fantastic. A game changer for the region.”
MORNING LISTEN: “An episode from one of the podcasts I follow.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Patient persistence.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Educational scholarships for underprivileged children.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (168)Michael Norsworthy
CEO, Kellan Restaurant Management

The company is KRM, but if you’re into fast-casual dining, you probably know it better as 54th Street Grill. Michael Norsworthy has that enterprise back on a growth track, and while people aren’t partying like there’s no tomorrow, they’re certainly not in pandemic-panic mode. That was enough to push the company back onto the Ingram’s 100 list of the region’s biggest private companies this year.

2022 REVENUES: $185,000,000
THE CONCEPT: Norsworthy’s father, Tom, launched the company to fill a niche, appealing to both dining and bar customers—but without “bar” food. His goal was a made-from-scratch menu that trumped what national chain competitors could offer.
LOCATIONS: Focusing on Kansas City, Saint Louis, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, the company has extended is reach to 30 locations, with a recent expansion in to the Austin area and another in the works.
EMPLOYEES: About 5,000.
BEER TEMPERATURE: 29 Degrees.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (169)Tyler Nottberg
Chairman/CEO, U.S. Engineering

People are complimenting U.S. Engineering’s 2023 highlight throughout this issue. “I was proud to be the mechanical contractor for the new KCI terminal,” said Tyler Nottberg. “Whether it was our Field Team Members who put the mechanical systems in place, our Operations Team Members managing the work and interacting with all the other teams on the project, or our Office Team Members making sure paperwork got processed; everybody felt like they were a part of building something that our community can be proud to now have!”

2022 REVENUES: $356.6 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Middlebury College
RECESSION ODDS: “I got out of the prediction business years ago becauseI wasn’t any good at it. However, our team will be prepared to deal with whatever comes.”
KC’s NEXT THING: “As a host city for the 2026 World Cup, we have an enormous opportunity to showcase our city and region on a global stage. The teams now working on that effort are filled with exceptional leaders who are committed to making our city’s version of that experience a success well beyond the 25 days that the tournament is taking place. We will cement Kansas City’s status as one of the best destinations for events and business in the country.”
MENTOR: “Early in my career, I had the chance to work for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind). I was doing basic grunt work, but he always had time for me. He often talked about the fundamental importance of integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do, demonstrate compassion, exercise self-discipline, and be honest. All these things are easier said than done, but his actions and words set the bar for me.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (170)Joe Nueberger
President/CEO, Kornitzer Capital Management

John Kornitzer founded his Mission-based wealth-management company 35 years ago and led it to regional prominence as one of the 10 largest fee-based firms of its kind here. As of this year, the firm’s $7.3 billion in assets are under new management; Kornitzer brought on a longtime executive leader, Joe Neuberger, to take the torch and run with it. Roughly a third of the AUM are held by high-net-worth investors.

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
THE ROAD TO MISSION: Neuberger spent 28 years with U.S. Bank Global Fund Services in various leadership roles, including six years as president. In succeeding Kornitzer, who remains a portfolio manager, Neuberger has day-to-day management duties and oversees the firm’s long-term growth strategy.
MORE CHANGE: At the same time, Kent Gasaway relinquished oversight of the companion Buffalo Funds division, which is now headed by Laura Symon Browne, previously a senior executive with Vanguard.
CLIENT DIVERSITY: The firm says clients include foundations, pensions, trusts, family offices, endowment funds, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (171)Tom O’Grady
President, HNTB

Tom O’Grady’s HNTB is yet another engineering gem in a city teeming with them. HNTB creates transportation infrastructure nationwide, and with an office presence in 79 towns coast-to-coast, literally millions of Americans are driving, riding, and walking with great convenience via HNTB’s expertise. O’Grady has been with the company since 1992, starting out as a civil engineer in Dallas.

COLLEGE: B.S., M.S., Civil Engineering, Vanderbilt University
2022 REVENUES: $1.56 billion
COMING SOON: HNTB landed a big one this past summer by earning a share of the design duties for the University of Kansas’ Gateway District project in the heart of Lawrence. It includes a $300 million upgrades to Memorial Stadium and a remodeling of the Anderson Family Football Complex on campus.
LONGEVITY: HNTB has been in business for more than a century.
BREADTH OF SERVICE: HNTB helps clients address issues of financing, legislation, design, construction, community outreach and ongoing operations.
MOTIVATED OWNERS: Like many other large local companies in the design/build sphere, HNTB is an employee-owned company.
HOMETOWN RECOGNITION: HNTB secured a spot in the Top 25 of this year’s Ingram’s 100, our ranking of the largest private companies in the region.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (172)John Olander
COO, Burns & McDonnell

Will John Olander be able to catch his breath soon? It’s been a whirlwind of hiring and growth at the region’s biggest design/construction firm, with overall employment soaring to 13,500—doubling in just a few years. So “maintaining our substantial organic growth and successfully scaling our supporting structures” has been a job in itself. Next up? “We remain in a growth mode,” he says, “but with awareness of the external environment including interest rates, a major election cycle, and the potential for increasing global disruption.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Electrical Engineering, North Dakota State University; MBA, University of Kansas
RECESSION: “I believe the odds are relatively low, assuming we are not too aggressive driving toward a low inflation rate. I’m more concerned with individual industries where money supply is too tight or too costly.”
NEXT BIG THING: “I love the in-progress idea of moving Royals stadium toward a restaurant and hotel-centric destination. Continuing to connect our entertainment and visitor districts is great for the metro and I appreciate what our business and political leaders have accomplished toward that goal.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I love it, especially its modern security and amenities. I am willing to walk a bit more to have this as our front door for our visitors and to have a better experience during flight delays. I am also encouraged to see additional direct flight counts and destinations.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey. This book forced me to think about balance and helped push me to focus beyond just the things in front of me at a given time.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (173)Gayle Packer
President/CEO, Terracon

The engineers and other team members at Terracon have engineered themselves quite a bit of success. “We crossed $1 billion in revenue in 2022 and should surpass that growth again in 2023,” says Gayle Packer, perhaps one of the best-educated CEOs in this market. “We restructured part of the company to better position us for growth in early January and are already seeing tremendous results from that change.”

2022 REVENUES: $1.02 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, B.S., International Studies, M.S., Agricultural Economics, The Ohio State University; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School; LLM, Agricultural Law, University of Arkansas Law School.
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The public transportation infrastructure to support the World Cup and a possible new Downtown baseball stadium.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “A much better representation of Kansas City for our visitors and a more pleasant experience for those of us who are “frequent flyers.”
MENTOR: “I was fortunate to work directly for our previous CEO, David Gaboury, for 15 years. He taught me so much about courage and transparency in leadership. I’m forever grateful for his wise and strategic counsel.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. A primer on change management.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently at 6,300 across the enterprise, she has a one-word staffing plan: “Increase!”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (174)Bob Page
President/CEO, The University of Kansas Health System

Growth remains an uplifting fact of life for Bob Page’s operation. In recent times, they’ve added Olathe Health to the fold and enhanced facilities in Great Bend. He proudly points out that the system’s care collaborative continues to support better care and outcomes for patients across Kansas, especially in the rural and underserved areas. “We are an economic engine for the metro,” he added, “and a world-class academic medical center bringing patients in from the region, the nation, and the world.”

2022 REVENUES: $12.45 billion CoLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, Illinois Wesleyan
A MAIN ATTRACTION: “Again, this year, our patients came from every county in Kansas, all but three counties in Missouri, every state in the country, and 29 international locations,” he says.
NEXT BIG THING: “I will admit to being biased, but I believe the next big thing is to make Kansas City a national hub for medical research and advanced medical care. The new cancer facility we are building with the Medical Center is one example of how that will happen.”
LEADERSHIP: “The first is understanding what it means to be a leader and not just a manager of people. … The second is the skill/ability to put organizational/team success ahead of personal success.
EMPLOYEES: “With the addition of Olathe Health System, we are at about 17,000 staff and over 1,500 physicians.” Looking ahead, he says, “I believe form follows function. I also believe in a mantra our first CFO shared: ‘You can’t shrink your way to greatness.’

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (175)Roshann Parris
Founder/CEO, Parris Communications

Political insider, campaign adviser, and former key congressional staffer, Roshann Parris, started her firm in 1988, specializing in strategic corporate communications, media relations, public affairs, and crisis communications. Among her team’s highlights from the past year, she cited, “The Grand Opening of the new KCI single terminal culminated our team’s 5+ years on the project, and the $4 billion Panasonic Groundbreaking—the largest economic development project in Kansas history.”

WHAT NEXT: “At least two big things lie ahead: 1) The opportunity to not only Welcome the World in 2026 but to leverage the World Cup into sustainable regional impact, and 2) The chance to bring to life a new Royals ballpark district that further cements our status as one of America’s major league cities.”
THE NEW KCI: “KCI changes everything about our brand. It’s a source of incalculable pride. Our team flew out on Day One—a surprise trip to Chicago they thought was ‘a last meeting’ with KCI/Edgemoor.
MENTORS: “My mom, Stella Parris, and Adele Hall. Mom was raised by her very modest Greek immigrant parents and went to college. She was one of the smartest, most motivated, and most giving women I have ever known. She was my icon for how to juggle life’s balls. Worked full-time in our family drug store while raising us, chairing community organizations, and still never missing a Girl Scout meeting. Forever present when it mattered. Adele was the most and the best of everything. She possessed every human trait most of us hoped to have but a fraction of. Her kindness, compassion, boundless generosity, and intense belief in the goodness of people is an inspiration.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (176)Tim Paulson
CO-CEO, Emery Sapp & Sons

One of the Midwest’s largest 100 percent employee-owned companies, Emery Sapp is doing its owners proud. Tim Paulson reports trending for more than $1 billion in 2023 revenues. Last fall, Sapp won the largest private and public contracts in the history of the company—and the two largest projects in the Kansas City region. Those are the Project Kansas battery manufacturing project and the joint 69Express project.

MORE GROWTH MARKERS: “We also completed our largest-ever acquisition when Arizona-based Rummel Construction joined as a wholly-owned subsidiary,” Paulson says.
RECESSION: “We’re not seeing any recessionary impacts to the heavy civil construction sector in either the private or public markets. Specifically in the Midwest, I see a slight slowdown but, overall, a stable economy.”
NEXT BIG THING: “The next big thing has got to be a new Royals stadium. From tailgating to post-game entertainment in a ballpark village, that kind of project will continue to push downtown to new heights.”
THE NEW KCI: “I’ve used it now at least 10 times, and I think it’s one of the best terminal buildings in the nation. From the spacious gate waiting areas and the strong local eateries to the easy parking, it’s at the top of my airport travels. Plus, it still has that ‘new car smell’ that makes it so enjoyable to arrive at KCI!”
BUSINESS BOOK: “Without a doubt, it has to be The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen Covey. The book teaches that when leaders effectively communicate the company’s mission and direction, trust is established. And once you have trust, the business can operate at a faster pace.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (177)Lenora Payne
CEO, TGS

Once upon a time, all “IT” meant to most people was the number you called when your desktop computer misbehaved. Now, it’s the umbrella term for tech that handles vast networks of data, and Lenora Payne’s TGS team specializes in all of it. They provide IT backup for in-house computer needs, but offer consulting, cloud services, data-center design, office cabling, internet-based phone systems, and more.

ENTREPRENEURIAL DNA: “I never thought I’d be a tech CEO,” she wrote in an on-line post at upshot.com. “Then I looked back on what my mother achieved. My mother had only an eighth-grade education. She used to clean houses and she would outfit me in expensive, brand-name, hand-me-down clothes. One day she got the idea to resell these items and opened her own store. That business became her primary source of income. Eventually, we moved to a new house, and she kept the previous property for rental income. She had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I must have gotten some, too.”
SISTERLY ADVICE: “I tell local female entrepreneurs: If you’re starting a business, reach out to the Women’s Business Center. I didn’t know about P&Ls, operations agreements, or licensing, and they helped me find my feet. Were it not for Sherry Turner and her staff helping me all those years ago, I wouldn’t have realized as much success.”
CIVIC: “There is so much support in KC. I want to give back and do my part to expand opportunities.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (178)Cliff Pemble
President/CEO, Garmin

Only five other people were on the payroll when Cliff Pemble joined Garmin in 1989, and two of those were founders Min Kao and Gary Burrell. In the years since, including more than a decade in the role of CEO, Pemble has helped turn that starry-eyed startup into a global tech powerhouse with $4.86 billion in revenues—and more than 19,700 employees in 35 countries who are behind him on the corporate roster.

COLLEGE: B.S., Mathematics and Computer Science, MidAmerica Nazarene University
UP THE RANKS: In 2007, after 18 years with Garmin, Pemble became chief operating officer. In December 2012, he was named CEO. On his watch—there’s a pun in there, somewhere—the company has pivoted from its original focus on GPS systems for vehicles to become an industry leader in smartwatches, wearable tech, and other devices that operate with satellite connections.
TOUCHING LIVES: Since the first GPS products rolled out the door 34 years ago, Garmin has shipped more than 266 million products to customers worldwide.
QUOTABLE: Pemble was quite prescient—and humble—when he addressed the company’s innovation DNA at a KC Tech gathering a few years ago: “If you’re not following and changing with the markets, then you’ll probably quickly be obsolete. And our goal is to not be obsolete. … A lot of our great ideas have come from our people. Very few of the ideas that I have for products or markets get realized because CEOs’ ideas just aren’t that good.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (179)Stephen Penn
Managing Partner, KPMG

Stephen Penn is the personification of a trait that has long distinguished effective executive leadership in the KC region: engagement with outside organizations, whether civic or non-profit. To that end, he has amassed a long service record that includes the finance council for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas: Finance Council, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas (he’s a past chairman there), the Economic Club of Kansas City, the KCADC’s board, and United Way’s influential Alexis de Tocqueville Society.

KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Stabilizing and renewing the Country Club Plaza.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “My mentors all believed and taught me to have lots of mentors—it provides diverse perspective and avoids the echo chamber. I appreciate all of them: Brad Sprong, Dave Fowler, Jeff Dobbs, Charlie Peffer, Dana Foote, and especially Monsignor Tom Tank.”
MORNING READ: “Usually it’s my inbox …”
EMPLOYEES: “400,” he says. “We’re growing and always adding to our team.”
AUDIT PRO: That’s the field of his accounting path, which has taken him to Detroit, St. Louis and Kansas City, where he was named office managing partner in 2019.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (180)Laura McConnell Perin
CEO, Labconco

After more than 20 years in sales and managerial roles at this national supplier of sophisticated laboratory equipment, Laura Perin succeeded her late father in the role of chief executive. What she has learned about leadership over the course of that career, Perin told us, is the value of persistence and discipline. Those qualities paid off in 2022 with year-over-year revenue growth of an impressive 19.2 percent, making hers the region’s biggest woman-owned company.

2022 REVENUES: $134.3 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Biology, and B.A., dance, Denison University
BEFORE SALES: Perin, in an earlier phase of her career exercised, her passion for ballet, dancing professionally in Chicago.
AT LABCONCO: Her father had been the long-time chief executive at the company, and she joined its board in 2016.
LEARNING EARLY: Board service with the company was not her introduction to it; even as a child, she would accompany Dad to the office on weekend mornings, and the business was frequently a topic of family dinner conversations. “Every dinner,” she once told us, “was an executive MBA session in the McConnell household.”
HONORS: In addition to ranking at the top of Ingram’s list of the Top Women-Owned Businesses in the Kansas City region last year, she was one of our 50 Kansans You Should Know in 2021.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (181)Mike Perry
President/CEO, Hallmark Cards

Mike Perry began steering the ship for one of KC’s most iconic brands in June 2019, just in time to navigate COVID. And he looks at that experience with pride: “I think the most significant achievement lies in the resiliency of our people—emerging from a global pandemic and experiencing the macro-economic and other broader challenges that affect us all. This transformation wouldn’t be possible without our ability to lean on one another, to care for one another, and to embrace change.”

2022 REVENUES: $3.8 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, University of Missouri–Kansas City
ON THE NEW KCI: “I’ve had the chance to travel through the new airport a few times this year and continue to be impressed by how sleek, modern, and easy to navigate it is. I’ve especially enjoyed the art installations; they’re a nice reflection of the creativity that lives here in Kansas City and help give our visitors a warm welcome.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITIES: “To me, the most important part of being a leader is understanding the need for a strong culture to be effective—those behaviors and values that are foundational to fulfilling your purpose and vision—and knowing how to drive action from the right culture with your team. Hallmark and Crayola are purpose-driven brands, so we always start with the ‘why?’ as the inspiration for what we’re trying to do. But it’s just as critical to share and model the beliefs, values, and behaviors that it will take to get there.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (182)Tammy Peterman
KC President, The University of Kansas Health System

No question, says Tammy Peterman: One of her team’s major achievements over the past year was “the intentional, thoughtful, and inclusive process for integrating Olathe Health into The University of Kansas Health System.” Hundreds of employees had to work together, she says, “to make the right decisions, not the fast decisions. Our road forward is better because of the time we spent planning for and doing the work of integration” that produced a combined workforce of 17,000.

COLLEGE: B.S., M.S., M.S.N., University of Kansas
SUCCESS KEYS: “Our formula for success continues to work. While no health-care organization can take its eyes off of smart growth and sustainability, we have always said the way to achieve success in those areas is by having a competent and engaged team focusing on providing the very best care and outcomes for patients. Staying true to that formula made FY23 a success.”
THE NEW KCI: “It is an amazing first impression of the many offerings our metro area has to offer.”
MORNING READ: “Like most people, I look at email early every day. I also try to read a daily devotional.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “I would love to spend time helping students and young people learn about roles and opportunities in health care. Getting them interested in health-care careers early will help build a pipeline of interested individuals for the future. I think we need people from diverse backgrounds and from both urban and rural areas to learn about the many opportunities in the health-care field. I realize there are already organizations doing some of this work.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (183)Tim Petty
Market President/Kansas City-Oklahoma, U.S. Bank

When economic times are uncertain, bankers like Tim Petty and crew step up for the people they serve. And he’s quite happy with recent results, overseeing this regional market for one of the nation’s biggest banking systems. “In times of great change, it is so important to be in a position of strength,” he says. “Our clients have grown to expect that from us, and we have been able to help them navigate whatever comes their way.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting/Finance, Kansas State University
RECESSION ODDS: “We still anticipate some pull-back in mid-2024. Right now, we see that being milder than what was predicted a few months ago.”
NEXT BIG THING: “Improving our transportation systems to all key areas of the city will bring our city closer together and allow all people access to jobs that will be meaningful to their families’ success for years to come.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Mark Jorgenson hired me over 23 years ago. As an active person committed to the success of the region, Mark said to look for opportunities that align with your passion and that the family can enjoy too. That has been a great formula for success; it keeps the right focus on work/life balance and teaches young people the importance of giving back.”
MORNING READ: I always want to start out with quiet time in prayer or reading the Bible. It has the answers to everything. I have not had a challenge or topic that I could not rely on God giving me the right answer.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (184)Mike Poore
President/CEO, Mosaic Life Care

Mike Poore’s health-care leadership career has taken him all over the country, so he speaks with experience when he talks about the KC region: “What’s not to like? It’s the heart of the Midwest, and the people here are hard-working,” he says. “And we’ve got the Chiefs!” He added, “I tell people who want to relocate here to just jump in. Dive in and get involved in the community—there are so many opportunities and great things happening here.”

2022 REVENUES: $1.5 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Health Services Administration, Auburn University; MBA, Business Administration and Management, University of South Alabama
EMPLOYEES: “We employ 4,100 caregivers in my organization and in many instances, those caregivers’ whole family works for our organization,” Poore says.
ABOUT MOSAIC: The largest employer in St. Joseph, the health system’s reach goes well beyond the city limits: It serves 35 counties in northwest Missouri, northeast Kansas, southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa.
FLAGSHIP CARE SITE: The 352-bed main medical center is one of the Kansas City region’s Top 10 in patient volume, with more than 15,000 patient discharges last year, and nearly 73,000 patient-days.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (185)Jeanette Prenger
Founder/President/CEO, ECCO Select

You hear a lot about tough times for business, but that’s just a rallying cry for Jeanette Prenger and her team. “The most significant achievement was having a record-breaking year in 2022, despite facing significant headwinds with rising costs, declining customer budgets, and early contract terminations,” she said. “We were able to leverage our diversified service portfolio to continue our growth momentum all while ensuring that our associate base remained invigorated as we continued to navigate the volatile economic environment.”

2022 REVENUES: $72.2 million
COLLEGE: B.S., Management Information Systems, Park University
RECESSION ODDS: “The IT staffing industry has been in a recessionary environment for at least the last 12 months. The industry has experienced a decline in customer demand of nearly 3 percent, year over year, with some publicly traded companies claiming that they have experienced more than double-digit sales losses during that same time period. We are prepared to endure a similar environment for the next 12 to 15 months.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I’d love to see investments to provide children of families with limited means an early-education experience.”
THE NEW KCI: “Extremely impressive. It has provided visitors to our city a great first impression. It’s aesthetically beautiful, easy to navigate and with many amenities that this airport provides, time there is a more pleasant experience. There is an issue when too many planes are arriving and the pickup lanes are congested.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (186)Kent Price
President, Price Brothers

Take them at their word: “No project is too large or too small for the team at Price Brothers,” the developer declares on its Web page. Walking the walk, this Overland Park firm continues to transform southern Johnson County with its massive, $1 billion BluHawk, one of the biggest projects in this region’s history. This past year saw groundbreaking of a $750 million multi-sports complex, the crown jewel of that project.

SECOND CENTURY: The firm was founded in 1922, and is now in its third generation of family leadership. Over that span, Price Brothers has executed ground-up and redevelopments of multi-family, commercial and mixed-use projects, land development, single tenant and large-scale residential, commercial and mixed-use developments.
TRANSFORMATIONAL: The 300-acre BluHawk, at 159th and U.S. 69, is anchored by the 450,000-square-foot AdventHealth Sports Complex, adjacent to the health system’s South Overland Park hospital. The project includes residential developments, numerous dining options, services such as spas and beauty stores, retail stores, office space, a hotel and other amenities.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (187)Rosana Privitera Biondo
President, Mark One Electric

Maybe it was growing up with three brothers, maybe it was the influence of her father’s family-owned business, maybe it was building a career as a woman-owned enterprise in a sector long dominated by men: Whatever the factors, they all came together to produce a tough-as-nails leader in Rosie Privitera Biondo, who has drawn on that background to make Mark One among the biggest WBE companies in the metro region.

ABOUT MARK ONE: Rosie’s father, Red Privitera, founded the company in 1974. It provides electrical services and components to general contractors, developers, facility managers, and business owners across the Midwest. She became president in 1994, and runs the company by brothers Joe, Carl and Tony.
ENGAGED-PLUS: Her leadership of the company is informed by an understanding that if you don’t help set the civic agenda, the agenda could become a challenge. At various times, she’s held board roles for local organizations like the KCADC, the Economic Development Corp. of KC and many others.
NATIONAL REACH: She has also served on the board for the Women Construction Owners & Executives—and has even testified in Congress on matters involving women in construction.
THE KC FOOTPRINT: Mark One’s body of work reads like a Who’s Who of KC construction projects: Ameristar Casino, the Kansas Speedway, Ford’s Claycomo assembly plant, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Nebraska Furniture Mart, the IRS regional offices, JE Dunn’s headquarters, KCI, Ingram’s and more.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (188)Julie Quirin
SVP/COO, Saint Luke’s Health System

Julie Quirin reports that Saint Luke’s has taken an innovative approach to enable high-quality care today and well into the future. That includes team-based care models for nursing, optimizing opportunities to incorporate virtual care and technology, so nurses have even more time for direct bedside care, and programs such as the Nursing Assistant Training Program where, she said, “those interested in careers in health care can get paid, on-the-job training to become a nursing assistant at Saint Luke’s.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Business/Corporate Communications, Buena Vista Univ; M.A., Organizational Communication, Univ. of Kansas
RECESSION ODDS: “As a healthcare leader, I’m always prepared for the reality that it could happen. I tend to take an optimistic mindset toward this topic, however, and if we do experience a recession over the next 15 months, my prediction would be that we’ll come out of it quickly.”
THE NEW KCI: “I have used KCI personally and professionally already many times, and to me it offers an inviting, convenient, and enhanced experience both flying out and returning home. I believe it represents what the Kansas City area offers as a place of opportunity, growth, and lifestyle that appeal to a wide range of interests, and it provides an attractive first impression of our community for people arriving for the first time.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I have been extremely fortunate to learn from the experience, wisdom, and kindness of educators, health-care experts, business leaders, and others I admire—including many within Saint Luke’s.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (189)Mike Rainen
President, Rainen Companies

As business people nationwide watched the ground shift under them in recent times, Mike Rainen has been proudly watching his people’s “ability to respond to the challenges of the disruptive office market and creatively adapt as a team.” He has a clarion call focused on what can easily be called the heart of Kansas City: “Locals should step up and redirect the vitality and safety of the Plaza,” he said. “It is a national, historic gem that has been managed by out-of-towners to their own detriment and recent loan default. Now, Kansas Citians need to return it to its old luster.”

RECESSION ODDS: “I am expecting a move downward in the stock market by the end of ’23 because fundamentals are showing weakness. The office market is going to trigger large defaults and will cause balance sheet disruptions in banks and insurance companies. This could trigger a LOT of ugly.”
THE NEW KCI: “Clean, functional design that grandly glows at night. It will serve KC well for decades.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “At the beginning of my career, Miller Nichols suggested I join the Greater KC Chamber. I got involved, and it paid off significantly.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Enthusiasm—it is the most contagious disease there is.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Curing basal cell skin cancer. That is where our energy has been for 25 years.”
EMPLOYEES: “Approximately 220, overall,” Rainen says. “We plan to hold at current levels.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (190)Joe Reardon
President/CEO, Greater Kansas CityChamber of Commerce

The product of a dynastic family in Wyandotte County politics, Joe Reardon—himself the former mayor of the Unified Government in Kansas City, Kan., moved into the intersection of public policy and business advocacy by taking the reins of the chamber in 2016. In that capacity, he serves the interests of more than 2,250 companies, with a combined 300,000 employees, in a 15-county region spanning the state line.

COLLEGE: B.S., Political Science, Rockhurst University; J.D., University of Kansas School of Law
MAYORAL RECORD: His watch at the UG produced a continuation of the transformative change that began under his predecessor, Carol Marinovich. Reardon helped his constituents become Google Fiber’s first ultra-high speed customers in the country; what is now Children’s Mercy Park (home to Sporting Kansas City) was completed, the $300 million Hollywood Casino came to Village West, and General Motors invested $600 million in plant upgrades.
FAMILY TRADITION: No stranger to how the sausage is made, Reardon hails from a family of public servants. His father, Jack, served as mayor of the city before its unification with Wyandotte County. His uncle, Bill, served in the Kansas Legislature for more than 30 years, representing a district in KCK.
PATH TO POLITICS: Reardon started his law career with one of that city’s largest firms, McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (191)Randy Reed
President, Reed Automotive

With four vehicle dealerships between the Missouri River and St. Joseph, and two more on the other side of the state line in Merriam, Randy Reed hits a business trifecta of sorts: Family owned, locally owned and veteran-owned. From those qualities, the group says, purpose, mission, and values, “which guide us in honoring God while serving our customers and team members.”

COLLEGE: B.S., U.S. Air Force Academy; MBA, Troy University
GROWTH KEYS: Auto dealers were in for a pretty bumpy ride starting in 2020—wasn’t almost everyone?—but Reed was able to keep things on stable footing, elevating staff morale while reducing turnover. Pay adjustments in an inflationary stretch gave employees fewer reasons to look elsewhere, and Reed moved aggressively to hire talented folks when the opportunity presented itself.
ON STAFF RETENTION: “We always make the priority for leadership, creating and maintaining a positive and healthy culture on our teams. We have been building new facilities for our dealerships to have the most functional and Team Member-friendly places to work.”
STATED PURPOSE: “Serve our customers by providing the region’s best dealership experience.”
WHEEL APPEAL: The dealerships combine to offer new model Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, Hyundai, Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram selections, plus used vehicles, parts, service and financing.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (192)Steve Reintjes, Sr.
President/CEO, North Kansas City Hospital / Meritas Health

Not only did Steve Reintjes’ organization successfully navigate COVID, they came out of it with bragging rights. “I consider our most significant achievement to be sustaining our Magnet® designation, which came after a rigorous review by the American Nurses Credentialing Center,” he says. “For us to achieve this through the struggles of the pandemic is amazing. We initially earned this designation in 2018, and this second, which is highly sought-after and rarely awarded, confirms our team’s commitment to our patients, community, and mission.”

2022 REVENUES: $2.55 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Georgetown University; M.A., Philosophy, M.D., KU School of Medicine
RECESSION ODDS: “I don’t believe a recession is on the horizon as economic growth has remained stable over the past year, despite the severe work-force shortage and inflation. Our health system, like many in the industry, is still recovering from the challenges of the pandemic. We have had to innovate on many levels to sustain and enhance our patient care while balancing economic uncertainties.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I have used it many times since it opened. The new KCI airport is modern and beautiful. In addition to representing Kansas City’s culture and architecture, it’s an impressive gateway to our area, and I hope it brings many exciting advancements and new opportunities to our city.”
VALUABLE MENTOR ADVICE: “My mentor helped me understand how to best interact with those I encounter. I was taught to start with kindness and end with clarity in every interaction, meeting, presentation, etc. Kindness draws people in to listen and learn, while clarity helps them understand and retain the message.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (193)Ora Reynolds
President/CEO, Hunt Midwest

Hunt Midwest has been having a winning 2023. It has signed 3.5 million square feet of industrial leases with quality tenants in multiple buildings. At the top of that list is a 1.5 million-square-foot facility for Ace Hardware at the new KCI 29 Logistics Park. “We believe the Ace project proves the superior logistical attributes of Kansas City and KCI 29,” says Ora Reynolds, “and it will be the largest build-to-suit distribution center in Kansas City by building footprint.”

ON THE NEW KCI: “I was lucky enough to land at the new terminal on the very first day it opened, and it included everything that we all advocated for during the lengthy process from initial vision to takeoff. The new terminal not only brings the airport up to modern standards, but it is our new ‘front door’ that makes an incredible impression on all the decision-makers, visitors, and locals traveling to and from Kansas City.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Former Hunt Midwest President & CEO Lee Derrough has been a mentor, sponsor, and friend for decades. He believed that people could do anything unless they proved otherwise, which is why I am here in this position 33 years later. Passion and perseverance will take you a long way!”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “The best leaders don’t have to have all the answers, but they do need to know how to ask the right questions. They need to be intelligent, collaborative, ethical, adaptable, and know how to build relationships.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (194)Greg Righter
President/CEO, Berkel & Co., Contractors

Not quite 25 years ago, Greg Righter was a young civil engineer two years out of graduate school. He left his job as a field engineer for a Georgia firm to take a similar role with Berkel & Co. contractors, a heavy construction services company, but he didn’t tread water in that role. Two years later, he became a project manager and then assistant regional manager before joining the senior leadership as vice president of operations. He took the day-to-day role of chief executive in 2017.

COLLEGE: B.S., Pre-Engineering, Furman University; B.S., Civil Engineering, Clemson University; M.S., Geotechnical Engineering, Georgia Tech
REVENUES: The company didn’t release 2022 financial updates, but it recorded $175 million in revenue the previous year.
EARLY ADOPTER: The company was founded in 1959 by Charles Berkel, who established the employee-ownership model there in 1976, not long after Congress passed the law that established a formal legal framework for ESOPs. It would take much of the construction sector decades to follow that lead.
OMNIPRESENT: The company has a work portfolio that goes well beyond infrastructure projects like deep foundations, power plants, and heavy construction. It includes notable sites across America—sports stadiums and other large entertainment complexes, the Pentagon and World Trade Center site, hospitality venues like resorts and casinos, high-rise buildings, and more.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (195)Jim Rine
President/CEO, UMB Bank

Jim Rine is celebrating a great view from the CEO’s chair, having watched his organization successfully navigate the most rapid rise in interest rates during the past 25 years and still emerging as strong as ever. Asked about the likelihood of a recession on the immediate horizon, Jim said the odds “are at least 50 percent, but we expect a soft landing. Even with the current headwinds, a large portion of our customers are performing well, and business leader sentiment is better than it was at the beginning of the year.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, Missouri State University
KC’S NEXT BIG THING: “Continuing to invest in growing Downtown from an experience and accessibility perspective to drive overall economic growth. Specifically, relocating the Royals stadium and staying focused on the ongoing progression of Kansas City’s public transportation initiative.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I think it’s phenomenal, but what I love most are the rave reviews Kansas City visitors are providing. This new facility will positively position our city for new and meaningful economic opportunities and will help KC continue to elevate as a destination of choice.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITY: “Self-awareness.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (196)Kimberly Rock
Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Kansas City

Motivating team members has been a big challenge for companies post-COVID, which is why Kimberly Rock takes great pride in the new EY Way of Working (EY WOW). “Our teams have intentional, ongoing conversations about their needs and our clients’ needs, then decide when it makes sense to come together or when it might be better to work remotely,” she says. The program reimburses $800 a year in commuting, dependent care and pet care-related costs. “We’ve seen a great response to EY WOW, including a 150 percent increase in people coming into offices across the U.S.

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, John Carroll University
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “We should work to attract and retain our headquarter companies here in Kansas City. This is an amazing place to do business, work, play and raise a family. I believe Kansas City is a hidden gem. KCI as well as all of the attention the city is receiving as a result of the success of our sports teams, the NFL Draft, NCAA tournament, and hosting the upcoming World Cup in 2026 are highlighting the many reasons that Kansas City is the place to be right now.”
THE NEW KCI: “I have flown in and out of KCI many times, including the first week it opened. I am so excited that we finally have an airport that truly reflects the spirit of our community—artwork from local artists, the food, and the open-air concept. It is also impressive that the airport opened on time and under budget.”
MENTORS: “I am always learning from my fellow partners and teammates who are positively impacting our community as well as serving our clients and each other. My personal leadership style continues to iterate as a result.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (197)Dennis Rodenbaugh
President/CEO, Dairy Farmers of America

The leadership skills were evident all the way back at Washburn University, when Kansas native Dennis Rodenbaugh was tabbed as student-government president. They were realized again last summer, when he became CEO of the region’s biggest private company (2022 revenues: $24.5 billion). Rodenbaugh previously led the dairy cooperative’s operations and global ingredient solutions division, overseeing U.S. milk marketing and global marketing operations.

COLLEGE: BBA, Finance/Economics, Washburn University
BROAD EXPERIENCE: Rodenbaugh joined DFA in 2007 and held previous leadership roles with its Western Fluid Division and as COO for the Mideast, Mountain and Western regions.
INDUSTRY INFLUENCER: He’s vice chairman for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and serves on the executive board of directors for the National Milk Producers Federation. He also sits on the board of directors for Global Dairy Platform, which comprises dairy companies, associations, scientific bodies and others to promote dairy’s role in the diet and responsible food production.
BEFORE DFA: Prior to joining DFA, Dennis worked at, managed and owned diverse forms of businesses, ranging from communications brokerage and investment banking to agricultural businesses, including ownership and a managing partner role of a couple larger-scale dairy farms.
QUOTE: “Our farmer-ownership, alongside our infrastructure, offers the opportunity and motivation for us to position dairy as the sustainable source of nutrition to feed a global population.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (198)Fred Ross
Chairman, Custom Truck One Source

He turned the reins of the family-founded enterprise over earlier this year, but if you think Fred Ross is simply going to head for a beach somewhere—oh, wait: looks like he is. But not that way. He’s the driving force behind Oasis at Lakeport, a $300 million resort and entertainment district on the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s going in on property acquired by another of Ross’ interests, Big Thunder Marine.

2022 REVENUES: $1.57 billion
HUMBLE START: In 1996, Fred Ross and his siblings launched what would become the nation’s largest single-source provider of heavy-duty commercial trucks and equipment. It’s vehicles are the stuff of productivity for electric utilities, telecom, heavy contractors, rail and other infrastructure-related markets.
BRAND STRENGTH: Most people would tell you they’d never head of a company called Nesco—no, it doesn’t make chocolate—but in 2021, it laid out a cool $1.45 billion to acquire then-private Custom Truck. In a bow to the band the Ross family had created, it adopted the Custom Truck One Source Brand and even changed its New York Stock Exchange listing to CTOS.
CTOS VEHICLE FLEET SIZE: More than 10,200, available at 35 locations nationwide.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (199)Chris Rosson
President/CEO, United Way of Greater Kansas City

Chris Rosson is still beaming about his team’s accomplishments over the past year. “We reinvented our business model, launched a new community-investment approach, and completely transformed our brand,” he says. He then described a charity he’d start if he had to: “I would start one that is hyper-local with global reach and has the power to bring the corporate, civic, and charitable sectors together to advance the common good—oh wait … that’s United Way!”

COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration & Economics, William Jewell College; Philosophy & Polit-ical Science tutorials, Oxford University (England); M.A., International Economics & International Relations, Johns Hopkins University
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Early childhood education for all.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “A world-class airport for a world-class city.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “I’ve long been inspired by Paulo Coelho’s words, ‘The world changes by your example, not your opinion.’”
MORNING READ: “I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s new book, Demon Copperhead, and it’s fantastic!”
LEADERSHIP-HIRE QUALITIES: “Resilience, creativity, and adaptability.”
EMPLOYEES: “About 100,” he says, and they will “hold at current levels.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (200)Andy Sareyan
President/CEO, Andrews McMeel Universal

With a stellar publishing career that includes 19 years at Time, Inc., Andy Sareyan has spent the past decade at the helm of a creative powerhouse. AMU works with an robust roster of creative talent that helps enrich readers’ lives through “truth, humor, and hope.” It found much of the latter over the past year, he tells us, by “staying even-keeled, being resilient, and bouncing back from a lot of unexpected change.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Middlebury College; MBA, Stanford University
KC’s NEXT BIG THING?: “An NBA team would be awesome,” Sareyan says.
RECESSION ODDS: “Lots of people were saying 100% in 2023. Could still happen, but highly unlikely. I’ll go with 100 percent odds at some point, but it feels like fool’s errand to put a time stamp on.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Love it! And I was a real skeptic that it would make a difference. Dumb call, Andy.”
HIDDEN VALUE: “No one person (as a key mentor), but many excellent teachers over the years. Speaking of learning, I’m finally realizing the value of an MBA 35 years later.”
MORNING READ: “Calvin and Hobbes.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “It’s a tie between curiosity and drive.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Clean safe drinking water for all.”
EMPLOYEES: Now at 205, he says, AMU will over the coming year will “most likely hold.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (201)Philip Sarnecki
CEO/Managing Partner, RPS Financial Group

A highlight of the past year, says Philip Sarnecki, is that his financial-services firm was listed among Ingram’s Best Companies to Work For. As someone who most definitely keeps a finger on the nation’s economic pulse, he has an interesting take on where the nation’s economy currently sits: “I think we’ve been in a mild recession for probably 18 months,” he says.

COLLEGE: B.A., Finance, University of Illinois
ON THE NEW KCI: “I’ve been there to pick someone up but haven’t used it yet.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “John Wright: You can’t lead others until you learn to lead yourself first.”
MORNING READ: “It should be my Bible, but more often than not, I scroll through texts and emails first.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Self-awareness.”
EMPLOYEES: “With all of our companies, over 800 now,” he says, summing up the near-term hiring plan in a single word: “Add.”
LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: Sarnecki has both feet firmly planted in financial services, but has had at least one toe dipped in the entertainment world since 2010. He’s been executive producer on a dozen films, most recently the 2021 release “Powered by Light.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (202)Edward Schatz, Jr.
Founder/CEO, HeartLand, LLC

Ed Schatz literally grew up in the “Green Industry,” learning the trade from the ground up by working alongside his father in Florida. By the time he graduated from college, he had formed a vision for what was possible on a larger scale and in 1994 he set out to build a thriving commercial landscape business, first in Florida and then across the Southeast. Those experiences ultimately led to founding a brand-new business strategy, one firmly rooted in Kansas City—HeartLand, LLC—and he made his first acquisition here in 2016. Since then, HeartLand has grown rapidly to become an industry leader, partnering with top regional commercial landscape companies across the United States and delivering grounds maintenance and winter services to more than 15,000 properties and a diverse client base.. HeartLand is one of KC’s fastest-growing firms.

COLLEGE: B.S., Finance and Real Estate, Florida State University
2022 REVENUES: $434 million
TURNKEY SOLUTIONS: HeartLand’s service capabilities offer comprehensive and customized outdoor service solutions for commercial clients with complex requirements.
GROWTH STORY: HeartLand currently comprises 20 subsidiary companies operating in 23 states, from the Mountain West to the Atlantic Coast. Through a recently launched managed-services business, HeartLand now has the capacity to serve commercial client properties across nearly the entire continental United States, and is on track for year-over-year growth of 22 percent in 2023.
MORE THAN MOWERS: HeartLand leverages the latest in business intelligence solutions for real-time visibility across the platform, empowering personnel with timely and actionable information to optimize decision-making and operational efficiency. The company is also in the early phases of trialing electric and robotic equipment.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (203)Jeff Schmid
President/CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Leading a dispersed team of 2,000 for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Jeff Schmid has just taken the baton from longtime CEO Esther George. The 10th District he oversees has offices in Kansas City, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Omaha, but on a national plane, Schmid is part of the federal effort to help stave off a recession over the coming year. He brings more than 40 years of banking and banking supervision experience to the job.

COLLEGE: BBA, Finance/Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Banking Leadership, Southwestern Graduate School of Banking, Southern Methodist University
THE ROAD TO KC: A native Nebraskan, Schmid has career stops that include serving as president of American National Bank in Omaha from 1989 to 2007, growing the bank from $500 million to $1.5 billion in assets over that period.
ACADEMIC APPEAL: Schmid has also dipped his toe into higher education administration; before taking the Kansas City appointment, he spent the previous two years as president and CEO of his alma mater’s banking school at SMU.
BOARD SERVICE: He’s logged board services for Operation Hope, the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, and the Avenue Scholars Foundation.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (204)Neal Sharma
President, Dentsu DTC

The startup digital marketing agency Neal Shama helped found is now part of the Merkle customer-experience brand under the larger Dentsu Aegis umbrella, but he still has his hand in the company. He’s keeping plenty busy elsewhere, as well. He can be found on the fiduciary boards of Evergy and MRIGlobal, on civic boards such as KC World Cup Host Committee, Truman Library, KC Rising, and YPO, and startup boards for companies in which he has invested.

RECESSION ODDS: “The Fed’s interest rate moves seem clearly intended to inflict some sort of economic destruction in their effort to tame inflation, both real and perceived. As such, I think a recession is inevitable. That said, I anticipate that the recession will be mild and short-lived, as I believe the Fed will shift to rate-cutting in 2024, consumers will continue to spend (albeit in new areas), and American businesses will continue to thrive, especially in export markets as the dollar weakens from its historic highs.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The 2026 World Cup will be the largest event humanity has ever held, with 48 teams competing in 16 cities in North America to over a billion viewers worldwide—and Kansas City literally and figuratively in the middle of it all. The scale of this event promises to have an impact on Kansas City not only in 2026 but for years afterward. It is my hope and focus that Kansas City is able to showcase on a global stage our vibrant economy, rich culture, and most importantly, the welcoming character of our people.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (205)John Sherman
Majority Owner, Kansas City Royals

John Sherman might still surprise us by concluding that an upgrade of Kauffman Stadium is the best long-term option for the Royals, but there are plenty of indications that a Downtown site, or a North Kansas City alternative, is in the cards. Four years after assembling the leadership group that laid down a cool $1 billion to buy the team, Sherman is trying to chart a course for financial success—and just maybe, success on the field will follow.

COLLEGE: Ottawa University
A SPORTING DNA: Sherman, in his youth, was no stranger to on-field competition; he played for his alma mater, the Ottawa University Braves. But on the football team, where he was quarterback.
ENERGETIC PAST: Sherman made his fortune in the energy sector with a pair of companies he launched and eventually sold to much bigger players. The first was LPG Services, which was acquired by Dynergy; the second was Inergy LP, which was acquired by Crestwood Equity Partners, which itself was acquired just this year in a $7.1 billion deal. No word on whether Sherman’s role with that company’s board produced a windfall that might finance a remade pitching staff at The K …

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (206)Charlie Shields
President/CEO, University Health

Charlie Shields is proud of his organization’s survival skills. “Surviving financially post-COVID has been extremely difficult for most safety-net health systems,” he said, pointing out the difficulties of dealing with staff and supply issues without the margins of most for-profit hospitals. He added, “Our leaders buckled down, brainstormed, and did the hard work to cut expenses so we were not one of the health systems making headlines.”

2022 REVENUES: $1.23 billion
COLLEGE: B.A., Marketing, MBA, University of Missouri
RECESSION ODDS: “I think a slowdown will continue as businesses continue to deal with staffing issues, but see a soft landing rather than a recession.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Should be the Health Sciences District. Health care is already 20 percent of GDP; let’s make it a regional priority.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Used it. Loved it. It’s extremely well thought-out.I especially appreciate the local flavor (no pun intended).”
MENTOR SALUTE: “Lowell Kruse, former CEO of what was then Heartland Health in Saint Joseph, Mo. He taught me to think in 5- to 10-year time frames, and to never forget the positive impact a health-care system can have on the community.”
IMPORTANT SKILL FOR LEADERS: “The ability to work together as a team.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (207)Greg Silvers
Chairman/President/CEO, EPR Properties

Greg Silvers completed the leadership trifecta at EPR Properties last year, adding the role of board chair to his executive duties as the publicly held company completed its rebound from the pandemic hangover. Social distancing became a revenue killer in 2020 for a company whose holdings are primarily tied to large-audience venues, inflicting a 37-percent decline in COVID Year One.

COLLEGE: B.S., from Tennessee Technological University; J.D., University of Kansas School of Law
2022 REVENUES: $658 million, up nearly 24 percent from the previous year.
SHARES RECOVER, TOO: The company’s 52-week share price range topped out at $47.71, handsomely rewarding anyone who got on board in 2020 when it dropped below $25 a share.
LEGAL EAGLE: Silvers is a KU law school graduate who worked at what is now Stinson, LLP, before coming on board a year after the company was formed as Entertainment Properties Trust.
ABOUT EPR: It’s all about the experience with this real estate investment trust: EPR has $6.5 billion invested in 363 locations across North America, including casino resorts, museums, amusem*nt parks, zoos, aquariums and marinas, golf complexes, entertainment districts, concert venues, fitness centers and many others that draw people together.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (208)Chase Simmons
Chairman/CEO, Polsinelli, PC

One can only wonder how much scale this home-grown law firm led by Chase Simmons can attain as it asserts its place among the nation’s legal hierarchy. Back to back years of double-digit revenue growth have pushed the top line to $800 million, and the firm continues its march up the rankings of the AmLaw 100, American Lawyers’ annual ranking of the nation’s biggest practices.

COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, Southern Methodist University; J.D., University of Georgia Law School (cum laude)
HERE AND THERE: The firm, founded with a team of three lawyers in 1973, now has more than 900 in 22 offices across the U.S. More than 220 of them are based at the mother ship in Kansas City, the second-largest cohort among firms operating here.
POST-PANDEMIC LANDSCAPE: “In the face of uncertainty never seen in our lifetimes, we doubled down on our values and culture. Those associates that were with us at that time saw it and have expressed how much they appreciated it. It’s a factor now when speaking with young attorneys. A firm can SAY anything, but what did they DO when things got hard? As the labor market tightened, this has been a differentiator for us.”
ON MANAGING TALENT: “We have combined that with Polsinelli Path, which is a career planning and mentoring program that we believe is unique among law firms of our size,” Simmons says.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (209)Jeff Simon
Office Managing Partner, Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell specialized in business law, and in nearly a decade under the leadership of Jeff Simon, the Kansas City office has helped fuel overall growth of the firm. But Simon doesn’t see his duties stopping with billable hours: He’s a powerful advocate for responsible social change to lift up the truly disadvantaged. He’s also he’s a longtime supporter of law enforcement, having previously served as president of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners.

COLLEGE: B.A., English, J.D., University of Missouri
SCALING: Acquisitions and organic growth within its six defined practice groupings have taken the firm’s lawyer count to more than 800, of whom about 135 report to Simon in Kansas City. The Plaza-area location is one of more than 20 offices the firm maintains across the nation.
FOCUS: The firm is organized around six business frameworks—energy/natural resources, financial services, food/agribusiness, healthcare/life sciences/pharmaceuticals, real estate/development/construction, and technology/manufacturing/transportation—and groups all aspects of its work within that structure, combining litigators with transactional staff to align their client-focused missions.
EARLY RISER: Simon is a St. Louis native who was in the Class of 2003 for Ingram’s 40 Under Forty awards, spotlighting rising executive talent.
COURTROOM: An accomplished trial attorney, Simon has a client roster that includes Fortune 500 firms.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (210)Brad Skinner
President/CEO, Milbank Manufacturing Co.

Family owned, nearly 100 years old and led by Brad Skinner since 2016, Milbank Manufacturing in Kansas City’s East Bottoms is, appropriately, a power player in the power industry. It designs, engineers and manufactures electrical meter sockets, controls, commercial enclosures and related products. He’s the second Skinner to lead the company; his father, Duane, also served as president and CEO.

COLLEGE: Park University
WELL-ROUNDED: Skinner started with the company in 1983, and his journey there has taken him through sales strategy development and deployment, operational and organizational planning, and negotiating private-label ventures with original equipment manufacturers. He also drove expansion into renewable-energy arena products.
QUOTABLE: “There’s a lot of good people out in our factories, and I was fortunate that they educated me about Milbank and our culture” at the outset of his career, he says.
EXTENDING THE REACH: Skinner also helped the company establish operations outside the U.S.; it now has facilities or offices in three dozen countries.
BIG FOOTPRINT: Milbank remains a family-owned company, with three American manufacturing facilities and multiple warehouses that serve a robust list of more than 4,000 distributors.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (211)Brian Sloan
CEO, Wachter, INC.

According to Brian Sloan, if there’s a recession in sight, it isn’t making itself known in his technology deployment/network communications/electrical world. Things are going great: “I am very proud of our YoY growth of 12 percent, coming off last year’s record year,” he said. “As well as our ability to maintain our current customer base while adding well over 150 new clients.” He went on to add, “We could grow even more today, if we could find more of the right people!” Wachter’s headcount is currently 2,008.

2022 REVENUES: $333.4 million
RECESSION ODDS: “If I had to say, maybe 25 percent?”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Downtown baseball stadium, for sure. I think this would do wonders for our city. Any time you have the opportunity to add 1-2 million visitors to Downtown, we have to take advantage of it.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “Used it many times. I love the new airport terminal. It is beautiful, intuitive to use, and I love how you can search online to check short-term parking availability.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Brad Botteron, the owner of Wachter, spent the last five years of his Wachter career mentoring me one-on-one. He taught me to make every aspect of our business ‘world class.’ He taught me to be impatient with short-term goals and patient with long-term goals.”
MORNING READ: “Company numbers, email, news, financial news.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (212)David Smith
President/CEO, Associated Wholesale Grocers

Like so many of his generation, David Smith is taking the final lap in a career that took him to the top of this region’s third-largest private enterprise. He’ll leave behind an enterprise considerably larger than he inherited in 2015, serving more than 3,400 separate supermarkets in a 31-state region. Most recently, he notes, AWG opened America’s first fully automated multi-temperature zone distribution and logistics facility, which will transform the labor-intensive history of filling the shelves.

2022 REVENUES: $12.2 billion
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “From our perspective, the priority is quality of life in the Greater Kansas City area. Quality of life requires good income and jobs, great housing conditions, health, education, environmental quality, personal and business security, and civic engagement, where citizens believe the government is definitely on their side. While this may not be glowingly aspirational, like having the best international airport in the Midwest or having the best stadium, it is at the heart of what we all need and expect. We would like to see more access to healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods, meaningful safety and security reforms, investments in neighborhood renaissance, and educational system improvements.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It’s a very nice airport and as nice as any in the U.S. As a local, I miss the efficiency of the old airport and being able to walk far less to get to and from the gates and parking. However, I understand and appreciate the compromise to have a great facility for visitors and those traveling through KCI.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (213)Pete Smith
Chairman, McDowell Rice Smith & Buchanan

In an economic climate where many are talking about belt-tightening, long-time legal eagle Pete Smith is proud to say McDowell Rice has added both staff and attorneys over the past year. Recognized as one of Missouri’s Top 20 Law Firms by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, McDowell Rice has been serving clients for more than 75 years. He’s not just a business-law expert, but has a start-up history of his own with a legal-services company he founded and sold.

COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting, University of Kansas; J.D., UMKC School of Law
RECESSION ODDS: “I do not think it is going to happen unless the Fed continues to raise interest rates. Rapidly rising and high rates kill business.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I have flown in and out. It is great and what we have needed for a long time.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “It was Claude Rice who died a few years ago at age 99. I went to work for him at age 18. The most important thing I learned from him was to begin by ‘thinking.’ Start every project with a blank piece of paper and your imagination.”
MORNING READ: “Francisco’s “money speech” from Atlas Shrugged.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Decisiveness.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Direct, no-overhead assistance to people who are so poor that their children don’t have enough to eat.”
EMPLOYEES: The firm currently has a staff of 50, and Smith optimistically declares that it plans to add more.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (214)Kevin Sparks
President/CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas

When Congress announced a formal end to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in April, states were required to provide continuous coverage to Medicaid enrollees, and given 14 months to “redetermine” beneficiaries’ eligibility. “We saw this as an opportunity to lean in,” said Kevin Sparks, “and assist the state of Kansas in reaching out to and educating the nearly 100,000 Kansans accessing health care via KanCare” during the crisis. Through those efforts, he and his team help thousands of Kansans live healthier lives.

COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science/History, Univ. of Kansas; M.S., Defense and Strategic Studies, Missouri State Univ.
RECESSION: “We are focused on ensuring that all Kansans have access to quality health care providers in Kansas, including the economically disadvantaged, the medically underserved, and those without the benefit of employer-funded health care coverage. We have to be prepared for all economic realities.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I was one that was nostalgic for the three terminal ‘roundhouse’ system. But that was BEFORE I used the new KCI!! Wow, what a huge improvement and a bright spot for the greater KC community.”
NEXT THING: “Continue to invest in transportation and affordable housing. Approximately 80 percent of health outcomes can be attributed to factors that happen outside of a doctor’s office. For UnitedHealthcare, addressing these factors is critical as they play a significant impact in the health and well-being of our communities.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Tom Bowser, former President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Tom is famous for his leadership colloquialisms and one that stuck with me, ‘No matter how far you have succeeded in your career, remember we all put our pants on one leg at a time.’

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (215)Jeff Spencer
Sr. VP, Holmes Murphy & Associates

Jeff Spencer is the go-to guy in this market for Holmes Murphy clients seeking employee benefits help. And he has been watching his teammates truly earn their own benefits in recent times. Consistency and determination have been the order of the day, Spencer says, and he has seen the Holmes Murphy crew “consistently executing on our vision to internally perpetuate ownership of the company to our next generation.”

COLLEGE: University of Kansas
RECESSION ODDS: “Less than 50 percent.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I think it’s a wonderful front door to our visitors and very user-friendly to us as citizens of KC.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “Steve Flood, who convinced me to come to Holmes Murphy 20 years ago.He told me to hire smart people, trust them, and get out of their way.”
MORNING READ:The Wall Street Journal.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Fearlessness.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Helping veterans who have served our country.”
EMPLOYEES: Currently with 90 employees in Kansas City, Spencer says, “we will add to our team next year.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (216)Tom Spencer
Senior VP-Business Development, Zinnia

The past year introduced a new brand for the former SE2, but the mission continues for Tom Spencer and his team, producing tech tools and third-party administration services for the insurance industry. It’s an offshoot of Security Benefit Corp., where Spencer was a longtime sales executive. He was instrumental in getting the current organization off the ground, taking it from a small group of employees to more than 2,000 associates.

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia
BIG IMPACT: On average every 12 months, Zinnia says it helps launch 10-15 new products and thousands of apps, generating more than $15 billion in new premiums.
THE ROAD TO ZINNIA: Spencer has worked with or served as consultant to some big names in the sector, including DST, GE Insurance Solutions, UnitedHealthcare and TIAA.
HOBBIES: Travel, hiking, fly-fishing and golf.
REGIONAL IMPACT: The company’s growth, and that of its parent, is a significant piece of the long- term strategy set by economic-development officials in Topeka and Shawnee County to boost the fintech presence there.
LONG REACH: Nearly two dozen client companies of SE2 administer more than 2 million insurance policies, and have more than $100 million in assets.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (217)Brad Sprong
National Tax Leader, KPMG Private Enterprise

Brad Sprong starts his day with Tax Notes Today and The Wall Street Journal before getting to work on client needs. Having a passion for regional growth, he says, “The next big thing should be a pro-business government environment across our community.” He added that he knows several businesses that have struggled trying to expand in the greater metro area due to non-supportive government.

COLLEGE: B.S., Accounting, William Jewell
KEY ACHIEVEMENT: “Successful re-entry back to the office. It has helped our people grow, improved mental health, and improved our clients’ experience with us.”
RECESSION ODDS: “Medium plus. The transportation industry is slowing and this is generally a precursor of what is to follow.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “KCI is terrific, great achievement and impact to our community.We finally have an airport vs. an eyesore as the gateway in and out of our community.”
KEY MENTOR ADVICE: “Dave Fowler taught me to think about the impact of my words and actions. He is still working on me! My parents taught me to understand others may be dealing with things personally that may cause them to react to things differently than I would anticipate/hope for. Thus, don’t judge people so quickly, as you don’t know what they are dealing with—compassion in all situations is important.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (218)Anne St. Peter
Co-Founder, Global Prairie

Simply put, says Anne St. Peter: “I am proud of our team for embracing both change and growth.” And rightly so. “Global Prairie purchased a digital marketing firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, in January 2023,” she added. “With this deal, we deepened our digital marketing strength, added data scientists, engineers, and digital marketers, and continue to increase our global reach and impact as a firm.” And not just any firm, but as part of a small but influential segment known as Benefit Corporations.

RECESSION ODDS: “As an optimistic entrepreneur, I am going to predict that the U.S. will escape a recession.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I am so very grateful for our new airport and the wonderful first impression it gives visitors to our region.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “When I first moved to KC in 1998, I was blessed to meet Henry Bloch, Bob Regnier, Adele Hall, Bob Fisher, Irv Hockaday, Beth Smith, Myra Christopher, Leo Morton, Betsy Solberg, and Tom McDonnell. These leaders taught me, by example, the importance of using our businesses as a force for good in KC and showing up as a business leader—giving both our time and our money to strengthen Kansas City.”
MORNING READ: “Our son, William, is a Junior at Notre Dame, and ND distributes a gospel reflection every morning to the ND community. Great way to start my day. Close second—Ingram’s!”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (219)Robert Steer
President/CEO, Seaboard Corp.

The ranks of publicly held mega-corporations in the Kansas City region have been thinned by upheavals in telecom and electronic health records—remember Sprint and Cerner?—but Robert Steer can tell you: people are always going to eat. Based in Merriam, with a comparative handful of employees here, Seaboard casts a global shadow, with more than 5,400 employees in five states (12,000, including affiliates) and operations in pork and poultry processing, energy and milling.

COLLEGE: Kansas State University
2022 REVENUES: $11.24 billion, a Seaboard record, up nearly 22 percent year-over-year.
A FORTUNE FAVORITE: That revenue figure was good enough to earn Seaboard a No. 364 ranking on last year’s Fortune 500.
GROUNDBREAKING: Steer is the first person in the history of the company, now 105 years old, who is not a member of the Bresky family, which owns the majority of the company’s shares. He’s been with the company for nearly four decades, previously serving as chief financial officer.
HOT STUFF: One of the company’s seven operating divisions is Mount Dora Farms, which processes jalapeno peppers at its plant in Comayagua, Honduras.
ELITE SHARES: With a 52-week high that topped $4,000, Seaboard boasts what’s easily the highest share price for a publicly traded stock from firms in the Kansas City region.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (220)Philip Straub
Managing Director-Aviation, Garmin

His boss, Cliff Pemble, was one of the first hires at what is now Garmin, but Philip Straub wasn’t very far behind: He signed on with the company just four years after it launched. Its GPS-enabled technologies proved immediately popular for road vehicles; Straub helped deliver an impact on the aviation side. He’s in charge of all global aviation business activities: engineering, marketing, sales, flight operations and customer support.

COLLEGE: B.S., Electrical Engineering (magna cum laude), University of Missouri
BOOM: Along with the outdoor and marine segments, the aviation segment under Straub generated record revenues last year—$793 million—as the company’s top line surged to $4.86 billion.
TAKING FLIGHT: He came to Garmin after working as a pilot and flight instructor at Executive Beechcraft and Baker’s Aircraft Center, and holds a transport pilot certificate for multi-engine aircraft. He’s also a certified flight instructor for single-engine and multi-engine craft, as well as instrument-controlled flight.
GROWING GARMIN: The success of his operating units has helped Garmin expand both locally and globally; most recently, it expanded its Olathe headquarters campus to accommodate a work force of more than 5,000.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (221)Erin Stucky
President/CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of KC

What’s new, Blue? Continued success, it seems. “Blue KC was honored to be ranked #1 in Member Satisfaction among Commercial Health Plans in the Heartland Region,” says Erin Stucky. That’s based on the results of the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study. “While industry averages have declined in many regions since 2022,” she added, “Blue KC’s score increased by 17 points, highlighting our continued focus on prioritizing our members.”

KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I would like to see the Kansas City region work toward destigmatizing behavioral-health conversations and care. … We need to promote behavioral health awareness, coverage, and solutions, and Blue KC recognizes this and is working to address it.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I love it! The artwork is stunning and the food options are fantastic. I also love that it features art and food from local artists and establishments.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “I don’t think it will come as any surprise when I say Danette Wilson, retired Blue KC President and CEO, was my long-time mentor. I learned so much from working closely with her for more than 20 years. One of the many lessons I learned from Danette and use daily is the importance of building and maintaining relationships.“
MORNING READ: “I scan the local and national news headlines each morning.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (222)Patrick Stueve
Partner, Stueve Siegel Hanson

Let this number sink in for a minute: $2.5 billion. That’s the aggregate value Patrick Stueve has secured through jury verdicts, arbitration awards and settlements in his career. Often working in high-stakes cases—the legal vernacular is “Bet-the-Company” litigation—he’s a nationally known figure in commercial litigation, serving entrepreneurs, private companies and publicly traded Fortune 500 corporations.

COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, Benedictine College; J.D., University of Kansas School of Law
SPECIALTIES: In addition to high-stakes cases, his expertise covers matters involving antitrust and disputes in the food and agribusiness spheres.
DIFFERENTIATOR: Rather than serve clients through the traditional law-firm model of billable hours, Stueve operates on a contingency-fee basis as he pursues clients’ interests in federal and state courts, often staring down legal teams from some of the world’s biggest companies.
RECENT SUCCESSES: A year ago, he secured a $55 million settlement against a dairy-industry robotics manufacturer, then followed that up as part of a legal team in a similar case for more than double that amount: $121 million, on behalf of 400 dairy farmers.
TEAM APPROACH: Stueve credits his football-playing days at Bishop Miege and Benedictine—as a running back, he was team captain for each—with teaching him how to organize teams around individual strengths.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (223)Greg Swetnam
Principal, Kessinger/Hunter

Asked to point to a big accomplishment of the past year, office brokerage specialist Greg Swetnam says industrial was the 2022 champ: “I would have to say the recent sale of ground at the Astra Enterprise Park—formerly known as the Sunflower Ammunition Plant—in De Soto, Kan., was probably one of the most notable transactions within KH, the City of De Soto, Johnson County, and the State of Kansas.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Agriculture, University of Missouri
RECESSION ODDS: “I think it is still a real possibility, given all the spending by the feds and the out-of-sync costs of materials, labor, interest rates, and energy, there seems to be a huge disconnect and disparity around what things formerly cost including how business was conducted as compared to today. Depending on how all this plays out, we could have mild recession sometime in 2024, but from what you read a soft landing could also be in store.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “It looks like a new baseball stadium may be in the cards!”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It is a fantastic ‘first impression’ of our city.”
MENTORS: “First of all, I had a ton of folks that helped me in learning leadership, morals, and how to conduct myself in business and my personal life. From my former Scoutmaster to my head football coach, I learned a lot by living and growing up in a small town (Richmond, Mo.). My work ethic is totally attributed to my dad.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (224)Jonathan Thomas
President/CEO, American Century Investments

The biggest changes at American Century? That’s an easy one for Jonathan Thomas: “The rapid success in exchange-traded funds we’ve achieved over the last five years to become a Top Four active ETF issuer, new advancements in our personal advisory offerings that include digital advice and one-to-one sessions this year, and, this September, our expansion into private markets with the addition of our new Private Investing team.”

COLLEGE: B.A., University of Massachusetts; MBA, Boston College
NEW LINES: “We’ve also seen tremendous growth in Avantis Investors, our approach that combines a philosophy based on financial science with expert implementation aimed at increasing expected returns and managing risks,” Thomas says. “Bottom line, ongoing transformation and innovation are keys to our success, and I’m incredibly proud of our talented teammates who deliver these daily for clients.”
A CHARITY YOU’D START: “We are actually already structured to fund the mission of one of the most prestigious non-profit medical research organizations in the world—the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. This amazing relationship makes us an incredibly unique firm, in fact I like to call us a ‘universe of one.’”
GIVING: “Our founders, Jim Stowers Jr. and his wife, Virginia, did something nearly no one ever does—they gave away their wealth while they were still alive to fund biomedical research dedicated to defeating life-threatening diseases. They also ensured funding for this crucial research going forward. Delivering investment results to clients enables American Century to distribute over 40 percent of our dividends to the Stowers Institute.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (225)Polly Thomas
President, CBIZ Employee Benefits

Recession? What recession? Polly Thomas is looking ahead and anticipating growth for her staff of more than 600 in Kansas City, and north of 6,000 across the organization. “Increase staff,” she succinctly says, assessing the hiring posture there. And for anyone signing on in a leadership capacity, she’ll be looking for to key qualities: “Creativity and problem-solving ability,” are at the top of her list for traits in new hires.

COLLEGE: B.S., Physical Therapy, University of Missouri-Columbia
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “What should pursue in the Kansas City region? Further expansion of public transport and Downtown baseball!”
ON THE NEW KCI: “It turned out better than expected and is a great first impression for our City. Love the local imprint of vendors and restaurants throughout.”
KEY MENTOR: “I have been fortunate to have many mentors during my career. Picking just one is a challenge, but Julie Wilson had an enormous impact on me personally and professionally.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Anne St. Peter locally. Her leadership style and vision is unparalleled. Her leadership and example of achieving BCorp status is truly extraordinary.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK YOU EVER READ:Radical Candor, by Kim Scott.”
A CHARITY YOU’D START: “Eliminate disparities in food security and health care.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (226)Gregg Thompson
Command Deputy, Fort Leavenworth

Commanding officers routinely rotate through Fort Leavenworth every year or two, but the region’s biggest military base—with a powerful influence not just on Leavenworth County, but the metro area—has a steadying influence in Gregg Thompson. As the right-hand man for the top leadership, he brings a veteran’s perspective to those duties as a 30-year Army veteran with postings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Korea, Germany, and Hawaii.

COLLEGE: B.S., Economics, University of Nebraska; M.A., National-Louis University, Chicago; M.S., Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College
ECONOMIC IMPACT: With nearly 5,400 active-duty personnel and global visitors to the Command and Staff General College, the fort accounts for a huge portion of passengers coming through Kansas City International Airport.
JOB DUTIES: Assisting the Combined Arms Center’s commanding general with the administration of programs to advance institutional leader development at all levels. He also helps manage three major subordinate organizations, five direct reporting units, and 12 supporting agencies located at Fort Leavenworth and the Presidio of Monterey in California.
TRIBUTES: Thompson has some impressive medals of his own, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (227)Paul Thompson
Chairman/CEO, Country Club Bank

Shoring up the human capital department was a particularly significant achievement of the past year, says Paul Thompson. “We have seen some key retirements during the past couple of years. It’s hard to fill the shoes of people who have such long-term institutional knowledge and who exemplify our culture and our values to both customers and associates.” And so, a succession plan was developed to bring in a third generation of Thompsons who have earned positions of leadership, along with other highly qualified people committed to the KC community and the bank’s values.

COLLEGE: B.S., Finance, Creighton University; MBA, Rockhurst University
BOOM: “During the nearly 40 years since my late father, Byron Thompson, purchased Country Club Bank, the bank has grown from $45 million to $2.2 billion.”
MORE THAN A BANK: “In addition to the bank itself, Country Club Trust Company administers nearly $3 billion in assets, and we’ve added a mergers and acquisitions division and a capital markets group.”
RECESSION: “Between now and the end of 2024, less than 50 percent; however, that’s still higher than I would have predicted a year ago for a recession by the end of 2023. The continuing higher interest-rate environment impacts the underlying value of assets, particularly real estate. Because of that higher rate environment, some investments that might have been made are now not as probable, and that will have a negative ripple effect throughout the economy, which could cause a recession by the end of 2024.”
NEXT BIG THING: “The World Cup. KC will have the biggest beam of light we’ve ever had shining on us.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (228)David Toland
Lt. Gov./Kansas Secretary of Commerce

Politician or executive? We’re going with the latter, where David Toland is concerned. After all, how many business figures do you know who knocked out $4 billion in deals last year? Toland has helped push the Sunflower State into the discussion for other precision-manufacturing firms and suppliers pondering expansion or relocation by playing a lead role in the public-sector team that landed Kansas the Panasonic Energy EV battery plant.

COLLEGE: B.A., Political Science, M.A., Public Administration, the University of Kansas
CALL OF DUTY: Gov. Laura Kelly wasted no time in summoning Toland to Topeka after her election in 2018. Three days before her 2019 inauguration, she announced Toland was her pick to run point guard for the state’s economic development efforts.
THERE AND BACK AGAIN: Toland left his native Allen County, where he was a seventh-generation resident, to refine his administrative skills in Washington. He came back home to lead Thrive Allen County, the local economic development entity.
GETTING IT DONE: Toland has overseen a wholesale reconstruction of in-state, domestic, and international business recruitment teams. He also launched the state’s Office of Broadband Development, re-established a Community Development division and the Kansas Main Street Program, and began the state’s first new economic-development strategic planning process since 1986.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (229)Tucker Trotter
CEO, Dimensional Innovations

Dimensional Innovations creates experiences and atmospheres you pretty much have to see to believe in an incredible variety of venues—including a certain new airport you’ve probably heard about. Tucker Trotter is ready to go even further. “We’ve set up a holding company model that offers shared services for all of our companies to utilize, making each company more lean and efficient,” he says. “This has allowed us to make acquisitions and drive growth this year and in the future.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Industrial Design, University of Kansas
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Watch for Atlas 9 coming to the Homefield development; this will be one of the hottest attractions to open in KC ever, coming mid-year 2025. We also need to settle the Royals stadium site debate and get it underway; that will be huge for our city and region.”
THE NEW KCI: “DI played a role in the history exhibits, flight simulator, and digital signage. We couldn’t be more proud that we helped play a role in creating such an amazing first impression of our city.”
SALUTING MENTORS: “It is really a group of business leaders I meet with for a half day once a month. The amount I have learned from all of them has fundamentally changed me as a husband, father, and CEO.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Doug Girod, chancellor of the University of Kansas.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:Go Big or Go Home, by Tucker Trotter and Diana Kander.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (230)Kristin Tyson
Managing Director, Private and Relationship Banking, CrossFirst Bank

One thing Kristin Tyson never forgets is that banking is, at heart, a service industry. “I consider our most significant achievement over the past year to be the care, education, and support that our bankers delivered to our clients during these challenging economic times,” she said. “Our team has shown unwavering dedication in supporting our clients and adapting to their changing needs.”

2022 REVENUES: $210.8 million
COLLEGE: B.B.A., MBA, Finance, Washburn University
RECESSION ODDS: “The experts are predicting a real chance of a recession by the end of 2024. Higher borrowing costs cause businesses to delay investments and individuals to delay big-ticket purchases. We are working closely with our clients to help them prepare and manage their cash flow through a recession, should it occur.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The KC Current stadium and what it means to women in soccer and women in general! Before we tackle another big project, we need to focus on infrastructure. Our community’s and our new visitors’ safety and security are paramount. There is also a growing need to focus on housing and other resources for low-to-moderate income individuals.”
THE NEW KCI: “The new airport is exceptional, and it is already helping as we strive to attract visitors and big-ticket events to the city.It is an outstanding representation of our region, with local products and restaurants.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (231)Mike Valentine
President/CEO, Netsmart

Just over a decade ago, Mike Valentine pulled up stakes, trading in the COO’s hat at Cerner for the CEO’s duties at a New York company called Netsmart Technologies. He was a man with a plan, quickly relocating the headquarters to KC and putting the health-care IT firm on a growth arc, making it the country’s largest human services and integrated care technology provider. Its various platforms help providers deliver services and care to more than 25 million people nationwide.

COLLEGE: B.S., Industrial Engineering, Kansas State University
2022 REVENUES: $584.74 million
MASSIVE AUDIENCE: Operating in every U.S. state, Netsmart lists more than 24,000 corporate and non-profit clients with a combined user total of more than 500,000.
JOB GENERATOR: Last year, the Overland Park-based company surpassed 10,000 employees for the first time; roughly one-fourth of those are in the Kansas City area.
COLLEGE TIES: Netsmart has a solid track record of hiring engineering graduates from Valentine’s alma mater, one reason why the company was K-State’s Company of the Year in 2018.
THE FULL SUITE: From behavioral health to autism, from addiction therapy to developmental disabilities, Netsmart offers tech products that help providers improve care outcomes, and it has built a solid line of business in population health and analytics.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (232)Nicole Van Denabeele
President, Bank Midwest

Nicole Van Denabeele has leveraged her training as an accountant and CPA into a banking leadership role, directing Bank Midwest’s regional operations that make it ninth-largest in this market. NBH Bank, the parent company, has more than $8.3 billion in customer deposits, and Van Denabeele’s team is overseeing nearly $1.9 billion of that.

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting and Business Administration, M.A., Accounting and InformationSystems, University of Kansas
MULTIPLE HATS: In addition to being the organization’s president, Van Denabeele is also chief accounting officer for the parent corporation.
FROM LAW TO FINANCE: The former controller for this market’s biggest law firm, Polsinelli, PC, Van Denabeele is a seasoned executive in public company accounting and financial reporting. She previously was assistant controller for UMB Financial Corp. and spent six years in public accounting with Deloitte.
OFF THE CLOCK: Her board service commitments have benefitted the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the finance committee for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City. Before those roles, she had served as a board member for the Jo Bryant Memorial Foundation and Mighty to Serve, which promotes family participation in community service.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (233)Randy Vance
President/COO, Sunderland Foundation

Randy Vance and the Sunderland Foundation have been behind some big philanthropic moves in the relatively short span as the region’s third-largest foundation, but they rewrote the book this year with a $100 million lead gift to help The University of Kansas Cancer Center build a new, state-of-the-art destination cancer center. It was both the largest gift ever given by the foundation and the largest ever received by the health system and university.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, MBA, Finance, UMKC
FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE: With a mission to support the construction-related needs of other non-profits, the foundation has the right guy in place to sign off on its philanthropy: Vance was the last CEO of Ash Grove, one of the region’s biggest private companies before the sale to CRH.
MAJOR PLAYER: The foundation itself has been around since 1945 (thanks to the visionary leadership of Lester Sunderland) and is funded through the family’s ownership of Ash Grove Cement Co. When the company sold in 2017 to an Irish construction conglomerate for $3.5 billion, the philanthropic floodgates opened.
OTHER IMPACTS: Among other significant donations of late, the foundation has granted $5 million to Union Station, $2.5 million to the Liberty Memorial Association, $2 million each to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, the Folly Theater and Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum, $1 million to build the new visitor center at the Overland Park arboretum. Those are just a few from a very long list.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (234)Julia Vander Weele
Office Managing Partner, Spencer Fane

Julia Vander Weele, who oversees the Kansas City office for the Spencer Fane law firm, is a leadership team member who is also instrumental as a specialist in employee-benefits law. Among her accomplishments in that role: Helping employers and other benefit-plan sponsors create and maintain competitive benefits packages that attract and retain talent to help their businesses thrive. A highlight of the past year, she says, was “continued growth without sacrificing our culture.”

COLLEGE: B.A., J.D., University of Iowa
RECESSION ODDS: “I think it’s 50/50, but still hopeful for a ‘soft landing.’”
NEXT BIG THING: “The debate about the next site of the Royals stadium seems to be dominating the news. I am eager for the decision to be made so that we can move forward with the next stages of development.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I love it!”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “My mother has always been my inspiration. She taught me resilience and tenacity.”
MORNING READ: “Not sure if this counts as reading, but I do the daily Wordle every morning first thing, just to get my brain going.”
CHARITY MISSION: “I’ve always been partial to children’s charities, so likely early childhood education.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE PRIORITY: “Humility.”
STAFFING PLANS: “We anticipate continued, measured growth.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (235)Tom Wagers
President/CEO, North American Savings Bank

North American Savings Bank charged into its second century this year, and Tom Wagers is the man leading the celebration for this Grandview-based bank, which is also one of the bigger investor-owned companies in the Kansas City region. He’s a CPA by training, and has been with the bank for a decade. NASB is No. 11 among all banks, local or national, in deposit market share, at $1.6 billion.

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, East Tennessee State University
ON THE JOB: Wagers oversees mortgage and banking products and customer service, with the executive and senior leadership team. He’s overseeing a work force of more than 500 for an institution with nearly $2.5 billion in assets.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: For most banks, a 1 percent return on assets is considered a sign of healthy financial performance; NASB exceeds that threshold by half again, according to FDIC data.
BEFORE NASB: Wagers worked in banking leadership roles at Atlantic Coast Bank in Jacksonville, Fla., including nine years as CFO and a stint as interim CEO.
LENDING POWER: NASB offers traditional banking and mortgage products, including conventional, FHA, and VA loans, plus non-recourse and bank-statement loans for self-employed borrowers.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (236)Marc Warrington
SVP, Sun Life

From India to Ireland and back to Indonesia, Sun Life is a global monster in financial services—it has more than $1.3 trillion—yes, with a “t”—in assets under management, and the team is 50,000-strong. Leading up the squad in the Kansas City market is Marc Warrington, a career professional in the insurance and benefits space, who was retained in a leadership role after the 2016 acquisition of Assurant Employee Benefits.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business/Managerial Economics, Cornell University
ABOUT SUN LIFE: One of the largest public companies based in Canada, this financial-services giant focuses on helping clients with fiscal and physical health, the former by targeting financial security, the latter through living healthier lives.
MONETARY MIGHT: The Kansas City office is primarily engaged with the benefits side of the company’s insurance products, but the parent is also a wealth-management monolith.
DOWNTOWN FIXTURE: The sign above may have changed following the Assurant acquisition, but Sun Life is a significant Downtown employer, with 440 people attached to that office.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (237)Carl Wasinger
President/CEO, Smart Warehousing

As the name implies, Smart Warehousing sets out to give logistics executives a better way to store materials and push them through the nation’s supply chain. The company has been a darling of the VC crowd in recent years, but the truth is, this “overnight” success has been Carl Wasinger’s passion since 2001. It’s definitely in high gear now; last year’s revenue growth was up nearly 22 percent over the 2021 figures.

2022 REVENUES: $151.74 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Business/Information Management, Kansas State University
A LOGISTICS BASF: Remember the company that bragged it didn’t make things, it made things better? Smart Warehousing is like that: It doesn’t have products to ship or orders to fulfill; it provides high-tech space that other shippers and fulfillment centers can use to improve operational efficiency.
VC BACKING: Smart Warehousing is a portfolio company of Five Elms Capital, the Kansas City venture group that has recorded some stellar successes investing in early-stage companies and those poised for major growth.
THE SMART EDGE: Smart Warehousing’s value proposition: 1-2 day shipping across 100 percent of the U.S.—with an impressive inventory-accuracy rate of 99.8 percent.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (238)Rick Weller
CFO, Euronet Worldwide

More than 20 years ago, Rick Weller came on board to oversee financial operations for Euronet, the Leawood-based global financial-services leader in secure electronic financial transaction solutions. His 30-plus years of experience include leadership positions with companies ranging from start-up businesses to large, multinational operations.

COLLEGE: B.A., Accounting, University of Central Missouri
STARTUP AND SCALE: Weller, a CPA by training, has held operating and financial leadership positions with companies ranging from start-up businesses to large, multinational operations. On the small end, he was COO for Ionex, a local-exchange company, while at the other end, he was a vice president in the finance operations of the former Sprint Corp.
OFF THE CLOCK: Weller has most recently been engaged as a board member for Avila University.
EURONET’S NICHE: The company was founded in 1994, not long after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union itself—fertile ground for millions of people being exposed for the first time to the power of readily-accessible capital. It offers automated teller machines, point of sale services for businesses, credit and debit card services, currency exchange and other electronic financial services and payments software.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (239)Richard Wetzel
Co-founder, Centric

Talk about finding a niche: Since he partnered to launch Centric in 2010, Richard Wetzel has helped create a nine-figure power player in multi-family and hospitality projects. Key to that? “Utilizing a pre-fabricated cold-formed steel system that is more versatile than wood framing and cheaper than conventional steel or concrete,” he says. Other factors included development of a strong leadership team and articulating a vision for the future.

RECESSION ODDS: “Probably 30-40 percent. The Fed’s monetary policy is forcing a slowdown to keep inflation and employment in check, and it’s starting to work. Hopefully it will be a soft landing, and they can gradually start easing up on interest rates in the third and fourth quarter of 2024.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “BASEBALL! I don’t think one single project could have more impact on the economy of our region than a baseball stadium surrounded by active and vibrant development.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I’m very pleased with its functionality. I’m also excited that we were progressive in hiring a private developer to deliver what the market said we needed … a small-ish modern terminal with easy access and amenities. I’m a big fan.”
ADMIRED CEO: “Nationally, Jamie Dimon with JP Morgan Chase. He was the tip of the spear in the bubble burst of 2007-2009 and has continued to show energy and leadership through the pandemic (with its resultant inflation and rising interest rates) as well. Locally, I admire several CEO’s, but Lisa Ginter of CommunityAmerica, Tucker Trotter of Dimensional Innovations, and Gayle Packer of Terracon are standouts to me.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (240)Pat Whalen
Chair/Managing Partner, Spencer Fane

There’s been good news recently for Pat Whalen and colleagues. With the acquisition of California’s Pahl & McCay, Spencer Fane is now a coast-to-coast firm. Whalen also points to the retention and recruitment of top talent as a major accomplishment of the past year. That success probably has a lot to do with his approach to leadership-level hires, where he says he looks for “Humility, work ethic, and a commitment to ongoing improvement.”

2022 REVENUES: $229.03 million
COLLEGE: B.A., Economics, University of Kansas; J.D., University of Texas School of Law; MBA,University of Texas Graduate School of Business (San Antonio); CME, Harvard Business School
ON THE NEW KCI: “Incredible improvement.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Youth mental health.”
STAFFING PLANS: “Add.”
IN THE TROPHY CASE: Whalen has an impressive collection of national, regional and local awards for his legal acumen, including The National Law Journal recognition as one of the nation’s law-firm Leadership Trailblazers for both firm administration and his mastery of the cybersecurity and data privacy space.
OFF THE CLOCK: Whalen has a civic service record that includes board work for both the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Development Council, as well as support for the Heartland Civic Collaborative Committee and the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (241)Debbie Wilkerson
President/CEO, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation

Over the past year, Debbie Wilkerson’s organization helped donors grant more than $819 million from their charitable funds. She answered our question about what project Kansas City should take on next, now that KCI is up and running, in typically charitable-exec fashion: “Let’s make Kansas City a place where opportunities abound for all, especially those who haven’t been given a fair chance before.”

COLLEGE: B.A., Psychology, University of Kansas; J.D., KU School of Law
ON THE NEW KCI: “I am so proud of our new airport!”
SALUTING MENTORS: “I have had many mentors. They taught me to lift up others to help them succeed rather than worrying about my own success.”
MORNING READ: “Yesterday’s words on The New York Times Spelling Bee.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “A commitment to the Community Foundation. We promote leaders from within.”
IF YOU COULD START A CHARITY: “I wouldn’t. I see how many amazing organizations we already have in Kansas City. I’d put my efforts in to one of them.”
STAFFING: Currently about 100, and “we are at a good size right now.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (242)Bridgette Williams
CEO, Heavy Contractors Association

Seven years after Bridgette Williams joined this advocacy group for infrastructure specialists in the construction sector, she was tabbed as chief executive. In that capacity, she represents the interests of about 150 contractors and product and service suppliers who build and maintain the public and private infrastructure that underpins the economy—roads, highways, bridges, airports, reservoirs and major utility corridors.

COLLEGE: B.A., Communication, Pittsburg State; B.A., Liberal Arts, Ottawa University; MBA, Helzberg School of Management, Rockhurst University
QUOTABLE: “These are truly challenging times,” Williams says, “but also times of great opportunity for the leaders of our country and our local governments to plan and implement upgrades to our infrastructure that will save lives and ultimately help boost our economy for the future.”
LOCAL HEART: The association, founded in 1950, mainly comprises local family-owned businesses, working closely with city, county, state, and federal elected officials and civic leaders to build the infrastructure that is the foundation of the metro area.
WORDS TO LIVE BY: Her organization’s motto is “Making It Better…” exemplifying the vibrant spirit of members rising to meet the challenges of improvement for Kansas City and the states of Kansas and Missouri.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (243)Chad Williams
Chairman/CEO, QTS

Chad Williams set out to make an impact in the world of digital storage. Did he ever: The company he founded with a single, 35,000-square-foot site in 2005 is QTS, and today, it operates more than 9 million square feet of data-center space across the United States and Europe. Growth like that is what attracted eyeballs at the private-equity giant Blackstone, which paid $10 billion for QTS two years ago.

MASTER OF ALL THINGS: Williams has demonstrated a willingness to roll up his sleeves—he has led the strategic investment in product and asset acquisitions, site selection, design, development, and construction initiatives, among other efforts.
THE FRIENDS YOU KEEP: Williams is a member of the Potomac Officers Club—and no, that’s not a sailing thing. It’s a collaboration of corporate leaders whose companies are in the government contracting sector, largely with federal agencies in D.C.
BEFORE QTS: Williams brought CEO-level experience to his new venture after leading QGC, the Quality Group of Companies. That holding company’s interests included commercial real estate, design-build development, commercial interiors, and vehicle and technology leasing.
BOARD SERVICE: He’s on the board of the U.S. Dream Academy, which focuses on issues to improve the lives of children whose parents are incarcerated.

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (244)Jim Williams
1977-2023

Jim Williams was the rare individual who truly gave the world more than he took from it. When he started at Creative Planning in 2005, the wealth management firm managed $171 million in client assets. Less than a decade later, under his watch as then co-chief investment officer, that figure stood at $9 billion—a 52-fold increase, and a performance that easily earned him a place in our 40 Under Forty Class of 2014. In more recent years as chief investment officer, that figure ballooned past $245 billion and he became an easy pick the past three years as one of Kansas City’s most influential business executives in the Ingram’s 250.

Jim’s unexpected death on Sept. 23, just as this issue was preparing to go to press, was due to a previously unknown health issue. It represents a tragic loss for his family, his colleagues—anyone whose life intersected with his. Thousands benefited from his work, but true to his humble nature, Jim was the one who considered himself blessed. “I have been fortunate,” he told us in 2014, “to have had the opportunity to work personally with many of these clients, as well as perform a variety of roles for the company.” And at home, said the father of three, “we have been truly blessed with healthy kids and a wonderful life together.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (245)Simon Witdouck
SVP, TVH Americas

You company may have had a pretty good year in 2022. Chances are, it didn’t have a TVH-level year: Under Simon Witdouck’s watchful eye, this Belgian-based supplier of industrial-equipment parts racked up an impressive 47.73 gain its top line. From the Olathe headquarters and its massive distribution facility there, TVH Americas is responsible for Western Hemisphere operations.

2022 REVENUES: $619 million
COLLEGE: Master in Law, Ghent (Belgium) University; M.S., London School of Economics and Political Science; post-graduate studies, University of Leuven
KEY ACHIEVEMENT: “The resilience showed in times of adversity. We showed up as a team and worked through our difficulties to get back on top.”
RECESSION ODDS: “Medium to high.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “NBA franchise.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I use it very frequently, great building and great set-up. Overall, it is a smart and convenient design which no doubt will further propel growth in the region.”
BEST BUSINESS BOOK:Ride of a Lifetime, by Bob Iger.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAIT: “Cultural fit with the organization.”
DREAM CHARITY MISSION: “Focused on giving kids fair chances notwithstanding their backgrounds.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (246)Doug Wolff
CEO, Security Benefit Corp.

With a full year of leadership now on the books, Doug Wolff says Topeka-based Security Benefit’s signature achievement in that span has been “our ability to not only withstand but to thrive in a very difficult investing / economic environment. We’ve set quarterly sales records (beginning in the fourth quarter of 2022) and have had record or near-record earnings.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Finance/Actuarial Science, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
RECESSION ODDS: “I can’t predict whether we’ll see a recession, but I can tell you that our team will be prepared to help our clients weather whatever market conditions we encounter to help preserve their retirement savings. We like to say that we are in the business of helping financial professionals and our policyholders with preparing, not with predicting.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “The possibility of a new ballpark for the Royals is really exciting and should help Kansas City continue to thrive.”
MOST-ADMIRED CEO: “Steve Jobs. He certainly had his faults, but his company accomplished amazing things and helped change the world.”
BUSINESS BOOK:Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins.
LEADERSHIP: “Cultural fit and understanding. We have a great collaborative, hard-working, midwestern culture.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (247)Eric Wollerman
President, Honeywell FM&T

Eric Wollerman points proudly toward the patriotic work of his Federal Manufacturing & Technologies team, over the past year. “The Kansas City National Security Campus, managed by Honeywell FM&T, continues to play a key role producing non-nuclear components for our nation’s nuclear stockpile,” he said. “The efforts provide a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent to uphold the freedoms of our country and our ally relationships.”

COLLEGE: B.S., Industrial Engineering, M.S., Industrial & Systems Engineering, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
RECESSION: “Given we are a contractor for the U.S. government, we will defer to others for their opinions.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “Grand Opening of the KC Current Stadium next year.”
ON THE NEW KCI: “I was using it the first day it opened and many trips since then. Visitors, guests, and travelers are pleased with the long-awaited update.”
SALUTING A MENTOR: “One of my managers early on had a sign on her office door: ‘Learn together, See together, Act together.’ It continues to resonate with me today.”
MORNING READ: “All business, diving right into it.”
LEADERSHIP HIRE TRAITS: “Integrity, teamwork, and respect to serve our national security mission.”
CHARITY MISSION: “Coming from a household with two parents as teachers, education would be my focus. A greater impact STEMM focus organization that assists schools, teachers, and students K-12. We program a lot of dollars and volunteer hours within the community but still have a long way to go.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (248)Tamria Zertuche
President/CEO, Ferrellgas Partners

She’s now the answer to a longtime and frequent trivia question often posed in Kansas City: If Jim Ferrell ever retires, who will succeed him? That answer came on July 31, when the company elevated Tamria Zertuche from her role as chief operating officer. She’s been part of the team since 2004, following the acquisition of the popular Blue Rhino propane-exchange division. That allowed Ferrell to pare his calendar as executive chairman.

2022 REVENUES: $2.1 billion
COLLEGE: B.S., Computer Systems Management and Business Administration, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; MBA , Colorado State University
DOCTOR-IN-WAITING: She hasn’t reached the end of her educational path; Zertuche is completing her Ph.D. in Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change.
BEFORE FERRELL: Zertuche was senior director of IT at Blue Rhino, and after the acquisition, she worked her way up to senior VP of business operations and chief information officer (2019), the COO a year later. She was a unanimous board selection to succeed Ferrell.
PRAISE: “Anyone who knows Tamria and what she has done for us as our Chief Operating Officer will not be surprised at the board’s decision,” Jim Ferrell said. “She has transformed Ferrellgas into a technology-enabled logistics company while significantly improving financial performance.”

The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (249)Keith Zimmerman
President/CEO, HCA Midwest Health

For Keith Zimmerman, the equation is simple: Investment=Transformation. This past year, the region’s biggest hospital network invested in producing “new facilities, clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, physician clinics, hospital expansions, and advanced state-of-the-art technology,” he says. All told, more than $116 million in capital improvements in the last year, he says. “By doing so, we are creating healthier and stronger communities where our patients live and our colleagues serve,” Zimmerman says.

COLLEGE: B.A., Business Administration, University of Louisiana-Lafayette; MBA, Regis University
MORE INVESTMENT: “We are continually reinvesting in our people while building a critical pipeline of caregivers—investing $34.5 million to expand the Research College of Nursing to create an innovative Center for Clinical Advancement and strengthening partnerships with Kansas City University to train tomorrow’s physicians.”
KC’s NEXT BIG THING: “I know the new airport was an important aspect of Kansas City securing both the NFL Draft and the World Cup bid, and there are other improvements and projects planned. I think we have so many opportunities tied to the World Cup—not just the chance to highlight our city and region on a world stage, but to use this momentum and continue to improve infrastructure and build for future growth. This growth includes attracting and retaining new companies to create job opportunities in the region.”

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The 2023 Ingram’s 250: Kansas City’s Most Influential Business Leaders - Ingram's (2024)
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