A contract accounting firm that was a huge leap of faith for its founder and a distributor of hydraulic and pneumatic products were the winners at today’s Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards Luncheon at the Drury Broadview.
Profit Builders, 7325 W. 33rd North, won the Tier One category among companies with fewer than 25 employees; and Hyspeco, 1729 S. Sabin, won the Tier Two category with 26 to 100 employees.
Profit Builders, founded by then-Pizza Hut accountant Michelle Becker 20 years ago, grew out of her wish to raise her infant son while maintaining a career. Over those two decades, Becker gained a partner, Sam Oglesby, and 22 employees to handle accounting, payroll, financial reporting and other back-office work for restaurants and small businesses across 25 states.
“We’re very honored,” Becker said. “We’ve got the best people in Wichita working side by side with me.”
She also thanked her son, Aaron, now in his 20s.
“I’d also like to thank my 1-year-old for giving me the courage to walk away from my full-time accounting job,” she said.
Hyspeco is a distributor of hydraulic and pneumatic products, fluid connectors and electromechanical components. It’s added kitting services, bar-coding, engineering, subassembly work, vendor-managed inventory programs, custom assemblies, field service, hydraulic and pneumatic testing, fabrication and a pump-build program. In 2007, it expanded its space to add a repair facility.
“We made a commitment to do this with our staff of people and it was fun,” Hyspeco executive vice president Ted Barney said after the award. “It’s the product of 80 good people all over most of Kansas, and some over Missouri. This award is for them.”
Chris Goebel, chairman and CEO of Wichita’s Star Lumber, was the luncheon speaker. He focused on the expectations and challenges of running a family business, with that family now numbering 130.
The Goebels have dozens of family members involved in Star Lumber, a “privilege and a choice” that the family insists not be taken lightly, Goebel said.
Instead, the family operates the business on the “as strong as its weakest link” prinicple, and demands certain conduct and work habits from relatives who want to remain in the family business.
“Your actions can or may be a direct reflection on the other 129,” he said. “We talk about inappropriate dress for males and females. We talk about unnatural hair colors, and we’ve had some of those. We talk about sharp metal objects protruding from body parts, and we have some of those.”
Managing family members is a hit-and-miss proposition, but Goebel’s happy with the success rate incorporating relatives into Star Lumber.
“I’m going to carry on up here like we do it right all the time,” Goebel said, “but that would not be a true assessment. If anybody ever tells you they’re right all the time when it comes to family business, I’d quit listening to them right there and then.”