Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2011

Small-business owners talk economy at Basehor Chamber panel

May 26, 2011

Basehor Chamber of Commerce members got a look at the varied faces of Basehor small-business ownership Thursday at the chamber's monthly meeting.

The owners of companies specializing in truck hauling, promotional items and trophies and engraving participated in a panel during the meeting at Community National Bank, looking back at how they first got into their respective businesses and how things have changed since.

Roger Brandt, a lifelong resident of the Basehor area, said his company, Brandt Trucking, started back in 1993, when he and his wife branched out from their farming operations and bought their first truck.

Today, the Brandts have a fleet of eight vehicles that hauls rock, sand, mulch, dirt and other materials for business and residential projects all around the Kansas City area.

Brandt said the business operates largely at the mercy of the weather and, especially during the last few years as construction projects have slowed, the economy.

“This economy's really knocked the stilts out from underneath of us,” Brandt said. “It's been the slowest it's been since I started.”

But he said that a focus on punctuality and customer satisfaction had encouraged word-of-mouth advertising, which has helped the company scrounge together enough business to keep the trucks, and their drivers, busy.

“We've been blessed in many ways,” Brandt said.

Chamber member Crystal Swann Blackdeer said the company had been helpful with delivering rocks for a landscaping project when she didn't know exactly what or how many rocks she would need.

The next business owner, Valarie Grant, said she first got into the business of selling promotional items in 1999 when she lived in Texas. She brought her business, Creative Promotions, to the area about seven years ago after getting married.

She said she's had a great time getting to know people around Basehor through her business, which sells all kinds of items adorned with companies' and organizations' names and logos, ranging from pens and pencils to drink coozies and golf tees.

“You name it, I have sold it,” Grant said.

The final business owner to speak, James Smith, joked that it was his son's fault that he entered the business of selling trophies and engraving services.

“He was really good at coming in second place in tournaments,” Smith said.

As a result, he brought home a lot of trophies, and Smith said he realized that they were nothing he couldn't make himself with the right parts and tools.

So in 2004, he formed his business, Basehor Awards and Trophies. He said he sells trophies for events big and small, as well as offering engraving on a variety of items. Partly because of friendly customer service, he said, the business has grown steadily each year since the beginning.

“If you come in and sit down, I'm going to talk to you as if it was me sitting over there being talked to,” Smith said.

Also speaking was Holly Gripka, a pharmacist at The Medicine Store in Basehor. She said customers there were thankful to be able to fill prescriptions in town rather than traveling to Bonner Springs or Tonganoxie to get medicine.

GOLF TOURNAMENT APPROACHING

Chamber vice president Deb Taylor gave a reminder that the chamber's annual golf tournament fundraiser is coming Friday, June 10, at Falcon Lakes Golf Course.

Taylor said the event, which formerly was a fundraiser just for the chamber's budget, now also helped fund two college scholarships for area students.

“It keeps us operating, but it also gets a couple of people some help to go to college,” Taylor said.

She said non-golfers were welcome to come after the tournament to attend the dinner and mixer at 5:30 p.m., as well.

An entrance form, with more information, is available at the chamber's website, basehorchamber.org.

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