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Small Business Week Award Winners 2014


Bill and Jennah Purk, Purk & Associates,
Small Business Team of the Year


After 26 years, the accounting firm that Bill Purk and a colleague founded in 1983 had grown beyond Bill’s expectations. While the firm’s growth might sound ideal to most business owners, Bill and his wife, Jennah Purk, who was also a partner at the firm, saw many components that came along with growth as interruptions to what was important to them.

“We were two of 12 partners at our old firm,” says Jennah. “We spent a significant amount of time on administrative duties and in partner meetings. It was a distraction from our client service.”

Wanting to change the way they were doing business and depart from the usual accounting industry practices, the Purks left their longtime firm and founded Purk & Associates in May of 2009. Although 11 team members from their old firm were confident enough to join the Purks in their new venture, their initial goals were modest. “Our goals were to meet payroll and maintain our standard of living,” says Bill. “When we split, we thought our clients were coming, but you never know until it happens. We had about 97% come with us.”

With the majority of their clients in tow, the Purks were able to turn their focus to hiring practices. “The accounting industry largely mass-recruits and trains recent grads,” says Jennah. “This leads to high turnover in firms. We took a new approach with hiring by looking for experts – those with experience. We didn’t do any mass recruiting. We recruit for the individual.”

While finding the right individuals for their firm, the Purks made sure they were improving their employees’ quality of life and the environment in which they work.
“We wanted to focus on what’s important,” says Jennah. “We didn’t want to be worrying about imposing a dress code. Because we have an experienced team, many of whom were entrepreneurs, we don’t micromanage. They know how to dress and handle themselves.”

Having built and retained a team of experienced accountants and a strong company culture, the Purks were able to provide unparalleled expertise and proactive services to their clients.  

Another team achievement is that Purk & Associates is a referral-based business, which all team members, not just the owners, contribute to. “Everyone is involved with business development because of the service level they provide,” says Bill. “And our customers’ businesses keep growing, so their growth is a growth opportunity for us too.”

The Purks were offered another reassurance from their employees when their twins were born in March of 2011. With newborns at home, Bill and Jennah were out of work into April of 2011, but their team didn’t miss a beat. “The proof was in the pudding there,” says Jennah. “It allowed our team to shine. It gave us a great reassurance that we had been doing the right thing.”

Today Purk & Associates has grown to 26 people and from $1.9 million to $4 million in revenue.

The Purks believe they will continue to rise above the competition with CPAs that average more than 15 years of experience and technology built for their business. “We have set ourselves apart from the technology perspective,” says Jennah. “Technology came up under our industry. Firms had to integrate technology into their existing businesses. We put our technology in place and built our firm around that. We are hosted instead of relying on servers all around the office. We can work anywhere we have an Internet connection. There’s no delay. And we can provide cloud-based solutions to our customers too.”
What stands out most to Ann Marie Mayuga, a partner at AMM Communications LLC and the Purks’ nominator, is the firm’s commitment to the region. “As a group, the Purk team continually looks for ways and opportunities to give back,” says Mayuga. “From encouraging employees to be involved in the passions of their hearts to seeking out entrepreneurs to advise and consult, their passion is evident.”

As the Purks look to continue providing careers, not just jobs, as well as service that’s a step above, they view the Small Business Team of the Year award as an affirmation of their hard work and a renewal of spirit. “I have been practicing for 22 years, and Bill has been a lot longer,” says Jennah. “It’s easy for us to get hung up on the consulting and compliance aspects of our business. This award gave us the opportunity to look at our firm as a business. Being singled out is remarkable.”


 


Cory Elliott, CMT Roofing LLC
Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year

Although Cory Elliott had built a successful career in the health care industry over 18 years, eventually rising to president of the Missouri Healthcare Executives Group and becoming a well-known figure in the industry, she was ready for a change. In January 2012, she took a leap into entrepreneurship, founding CMT Roofing LLC, a full-service commercial roofing contractor. Quickly after its inception, CMT became a union contractor licensed in Missouri and Illinois as well as a certified minority-business enterprise and women-business enterprise.
Despite her years of leadership experience, Elliott wanted to continue to build her skills for her business. Upon launching her business, she joined the Grace Hill Women’s Business Center’s 10-week business development training. “Cory is dedicated to her success as a business owner and leader,” say Marcia Conaghan, program manager of Grace Hill Women’s Business Center and Elliott’s nominator for Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year. “After she completed her WBC training, she went on to graduate SBA’s Emerging Leaders program in fall of 2013.”
With entrepreneurial education under her belt, Elliott doubled CMT’s revenue over last year, and in year 2 she expects to reach $1.9 million in revenue.
Outside her business, Elliott is devoted to giving back to the community and serves as the board president of Let’s Start, which supports formerly incarcerated women.



Chesterfield Fence & Deck Co.
Family-Owned Small Business of the Year

Founded in 1968 by Norbert Wibbenmeyer and his son Dennis Wibbenmeyer, Chesterfield Fence & Deck Co. started as a fence installation and fence material sales company. While the company has grown to 82 employees, it has remained a family-owned and -operated business over the past 46 years. Today the company is run by Dennis’ two children, Shari Thiel, director of marketing, and Kevin Wibbenmeyer, vice president, along with Shari’s husband, Tom Thiel, president.
While Chesterfield Fence & Deck has expanded its services to provide residential, commercial and industrial fencing as well as custom decks, railings, patios, sunrooms, screen rooms and retaining walls, the company’s leaders and employees continue to strive toward its original mission: to provide best-in-class quality and service to its clients. “Chesterfield Fence & Deck also strives to keep its workforce safe by continuously improving the environment and quality of work life for all employees,” says Joy Ann Venverloh, president of Lexx Funding Inc. and the company’s nominator. “…They accomplish this through training and development programs such as their safety program, which includes weekly ‘tool box talks’ to educate employees on safety concepts as well as the overall importance of a safe workplace. Employees are rewarded with entry into a monthly drawing for a cash prize as a reward of being safe.”
Caring for quality, service and employee safety has earned Chesterfield Fence & Deck high rankings from Angie’s List and Remodeling magazine, and the company is the SBA’s 2014 Family-Owned Small Business of the Year.

 


 

Brynne & Bailye Stansberry, TwoAility
Young Entrepreneurs of the Year

At just 17 years old, twin sisters Brynne and Bailye Stansberry had their first taste of entrepreneurship. While in DECA, an organization for marketing students, they were asked to take part in an advertising competition. “Being who they are, they wanted to get a leg up on the competition,” says Brad Austin, vice president of People’s Bank in Cuba, Mo., and the Stansberrys nominator for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. “To do so, Brynne and Bailye decided to design their own product and built an advertising campaign around it rather than using an existing product.”
Combining their passion for product development with their interest in fashion, the duo created Boots by TwoAlity, a design for transparent boots with trendy interchangeable liners, for the competition. By age 19, they had a patent for their product, and while attending Columbia College in Columbia, Mo., they perfected the boot design and supply chain.
Since graduating, the Stansberrys have built a company with a pledge to be American-made with a commitment to quality and job creation in local economies. “After overcoming the obstacles of piecing together an American-made supply chain, Brynne and Bailye officially launched their product, Boots by TwoAlity, into the marketplace on May 10, 2013,” says Austin.
Since the company’s launch, the boots have been sold in 35 states and counting -- both online and in retail stores. “TwoAlity has numerous opportunities for continued growth and success,” says Austin. “Having only used half of their SBA loan to become profitable, the twins’ frugality, responsibility and realistic business decisions will aid them in building a company that will last for years to come.” n

 


 

 

Timothy Smith, Patriot Commercial Cleaning
Veteran Business Owner of the Year

In 2009 Timothy Smith came to the Veterans Business Resource Center (VBRC) with the hope of helping other veterans returning home from combat by building a business of his own and providing them with employment opportunities. Though Smith had begun putting together ideas for a small business, he needed help to solidify it. “After several discussions he decided to open a cleaning company with the express mission to help other veterans find solid employment as they transition from the military,” says Darcella Craven, executive director of the VBRC and Smith’s nominator for the Veteran Small Business Owner of the Year award. “Once Tim decided on the direction of his business and mission, he was unwavering in its execution and goal achievement.”
While Smith worked on his business plan, learned every in and out of the cleaning industry, and sought contracts, he worked full time at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a vocational rehabilitation specialist. “Last year Tim finally left his very secure Veterans Administration job to pursue his entrepreneurship dreams full time,” says Craven. “With the support of his wife and core employees, Tim has grown his business to 19 employees. All of his employees are veterans.”
In addition to helping veterans through his own business, Patriot Commercial Cleaning, Smith is involved with various community organizations that provide support to veterans. His volunteer work includes raising funds for ProNet International Gifts & Scholarships, speaking at the Veterans Business Resource Center and mentoring through The Mission Continues. n



C. Anne Williams, JobFinders Employment Service Co.
Women-Owned Small Business of the Year

In 1986 Anne Williams founded JobFinders Employment Co. with just two employees sourcing and recruiting employees. Over the 28 years she has been in business, Williams has built her company based on demand. “Through both strategic branching and acquisition into additional marketing, JobFinders’ revenues have catapulted over the past four years,” says David Keller, president of The Bank of Missouri and Williams’ nominator. “Anne has a proven ability to recognize opportunity in the temporary staffing industry.”
With this ability, Williams has grown JobFinders to three divisions with offices in Columbia, Jefferson City and Mexico, Mo. Today the company is a one-stop staffing source for the Midwest as well as a direct hire source for placement of professionals outside the region.
In 2013 Inc. Magazine recognized JobFinders as the No. 637 fastest-growing company in America in its Inc. 5000 list. “Growing top-line revenue over 700% in just four years would be an extraordinary task for anyone,” says Keller. “Anne is the driving force behind this growth and has successfully balanced the challenges of rapid growth with the need to generate adequate cash flow.”
In addition to her passion for growing her business, Williams has a passion for giving back. “She has actively served through both board appointments and by leading fundraising efforts for many worthy organizations,” Keller says.
With Williams’ strong commitment to growing her business and strengthening the business community, JobFinders has been named Women-Owned Small Business of the Year.



Tracy Lynn Bogler, Woody Bogler Trucking Co.
Rural Business of the Year

Founded by William Bogler in the 1920s with a horse drawn-wagon that carried clay to the railroad for transport to brick plants, Woody Bogler Trucking Co. is now in its third generation. The company has grown to have a fleet of more than 140 tractors and 226 trailers in the lower 48 states and had more than $30 million in revenue in 2013.
Since 2006 Tracy Bogler, who joined the company in 1994 to help his father run and grow the business, has been at its helm. His first years running the company were difficult. Woody Bogler Trucking, like other companies in trucking industry, was hit hard by the recession. Despite the challenges posed by the economy, Bogler was able to successfully steer the company, overcoming changes in the industry by building on existing relationships and the company’s well-diversified customer base. “Woody Bogler Trucking’s management has spent the recession making the operation more efficient,” says Peter Birkes, area president of Midwest Regional Bank and Bogler’s nominator.
By 2010 Bogler was increasing the company’s revenue again, reaching $25.4 million. Despite these positive increases, previous drops in revenue, tightened fuel terms and increases in fuel costs brought on a need for SBA financing. After securing a loan in September 2012, the company saw immediate benefits to its bottom line. “The company has grown by 12% in 2013 and marinated net margins of 4%,” says Birkes.
Woody Bogler Trucking is solidly on track for continued growth, providing many jobs to the economically depressed area of Gerald in mid-Missouri, and is the SBA’s 2014 Rural Business of the Year. n



Beau Aero Martin, GME Supply
Small Business Exporter of the Year

While working for his father’s cellular infrastructure company in Boonville in 2005, Beau Aero Martin began to notice an underserved segment of the market. There was a lack of suppliers of industrial safety equipment for telecommunication contractors across the country. In 2009, Martin decided to fill the still-empty niche by founding GME Supply, an outfitter of contractor equipment and industrial supplies that help workers stay safe. Focused on growing his business, Martin moved his company into several industries, including cell tower maintenance, tower and steel construction, oil and gas, wind generation, and construction.
With this growth, Martin was also able to grow his team. “In January of 2011, Beau had an office with two people in downtown Columbia,” says Donna Hamilton, executive director of Enterprise Development Corp. and Martin’s nominator. “When that space could no longer accommodate his expanding company, he purchased the company’s first owned building of 1,500 square feet in March 2012, employing six people. Stunningly, in another 12 months Beau led the company to aggressive expansion, and with the help of the SBA 504 loan program he acquired and renovated 28,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, where 18 people now work in sales, customer service, warehousing and a state-of-the-art showroom.”
Martin also looks to make a positive impact, creating The Columbia Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private foundation focused on giving back to children’s causes, education and the arts, and he and his company give back to many other organizations. “Beau believes he has an important duty to support the community which helped establish his business, calling it the ‘pay-it-forward’ concept,” says Hamilton. n

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