In 1974 Joan and Bruce Millon established Top Notch Heating Cooling and Plumbing. Kim married into the family in 1993 and began working for the family business. Starting out as a dispatcher and customer service representative, she eventually earned her Master Mechanical License.
Over the years, Kim continued to help the business grow and expand its services. In 2020, Kim became the sole owner. Under her guidance, the company has grown from a 3 million dollar to a 4.9-million-dollar company.
From the very beginning, Eck & Eck has always maintained a family atmosphere.
In 1966, Paul and Bettie Eck, along with two of Paul’s brothers started the business in their garage. Within a year they were able to lease a larger building and by 1970 they were building their first building. Bettie became the majority holder in 2000 and continued to work side by side with Paul up until his passing last year.
Bettie says that Paul was the very heart of the company, and her goal is to continue to keep the business going and growing.
Kristin had always had a passion for medicine and became a Nurse Practitioner in June 2014. She also dreamed of owning and operating her own healthcare facility; however, she was limited to practicing under a physician’s guidance. In June 2022, Governor Kelly signed Senate Substitute for House Bill 2279. This bill allowed Nurse practitioners to have full autonomy and practice independently. With its passage, Kristin was able to make her dream a reality and KG Medical was born!
Taking a chance on a small town, she has established a successful and functioning clinic that benefits her community and its underserved population. Kristin wants to continue to expand healthcare services and medical resources for those who are in need.
When Lu was a teenager, her mother owned a clothing store of her own. This store gave rise to Lu’s love of fashion and allowed her to hone her creative skills, sparking her idea of starting her own company in the future. While her husband was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Lu began creating and selling her jewelry through house parties. Artistic Works by Lu has evolved from a home-based operation to two physical locations — one in Leavenworth and the other in Springfield, Missouri, managed by her sister.
Lu has mentored several employees during her career and has enjoyed watching them progress on their own individual journeys. She has also had the opportunity to share her entrepreneurial path with a variety of women’s groups, including organizations for military spouses. Since she was a military spouse when her business began, she can better relate to the hurdles they have to overcome.
Lu wants to continue building solid relationships with her current clientele while also expanding her business venture.
Ashley started her own practice after graduating from dental school. She bought a small existing one to combine with her new practice. The most challenging obstacles were figuring out how to pay for it all and choosing a team to work with because she wanted to expand right away.
A few team members recognized Ashley’s potential as well as a local couple who had carried out a comparable task 40 years earlier, served as her inspiration. All Smiles Dental Care, LC is the only practice to provide their level of dental services in Ottawa County and several surrounding counties. Ashley’s aspirations include continuing to create innovation and opportunity for others.
Kathy married into a sixth-generation farm family. Growth and change of Lawrence made it difficult to maintain the traditional farm and Kathy and her husband, Brian, realized that it was no longer a workable way of life. They made the hard choice to transition to a different business model. For 17 years, they harvested sod and developed relationships with commercial clients who wanted a wider selection of landscaping products.
When the recession hit in 2008, Kathy and Brian were once again faced with a hard decision and this time they knew what it would take to make the family farm successful. In 2013 Kathy, became the sole owner of Pine Landscape Center, and continues to provide rock, sod, soil, and mulch to the Lawrence community and surrounding areas.
In 2023, Julian started running his own construction business: One Core Construction, which is a full-service general contracting firm. From a young age Julian’s father taught him that success is measured on how much you are willing to do as well as owning your craft and perfecting it. Slowly navigating his way up, Julian worked for many big construction companies and absorbed all the knowledge possible so he could one day own his own business.
Today Julian Flores has more than twenty years of experience in all levels of residential and commercial building construction. He started with a dream of owning his own company and realized with hard work and dedication he could do it. The goal for 1 Core Construction is to build new affordable houses for families.
KML Steel is a fabrication shop with over 45 years of combined experience in the industry between Eddie and his wife Kristy.
Eddie began in the industry almost 30 years ago working for his father who taught him everything about the business. When his father retired, Eddie used his entire savings to buy his dad’s equipment and began KML Steel.
As a steel supplier, Eddie realized having the proper coatings and applying them quickly is a delicate balance. Today, the business has been in operation for six years and Eddie continues to build his business. Projects he has completed include spiral staircases, handrails, stairs, and landings.
Eddie’s goal is to expand his operation. Eddie loves what he does as he can see and physically touch what he produces. It means the world to him to see his impact on society.
Doug is an internationally recognized African American photographer and cinematographer. He is currently based in Manhattan, covering the Midwest.
Doug became a photographer because he believed that visual storytelling could impact and foster relationships. His work documents justice issues and marginalized communities in America.
Doug has work in the permanent collection at the Ulrich Museum, and the Mariana Kistler Beach Museum of Art. He is also a regular contributor on social media; @everydayblackamerica, @everydayprojects, and @everydayruralamerica.
Doug’s editorial clients include Bloomberg News, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, Politico, The New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine to name a few. His work has also been featured on the Nasdaq billboard in Times Square. Doug has also been featured on several news networks.
Laura and Jesus were able to purchase Daylight Donuts in 2020 as they learned the owners wanted to retire. Once they purchased the business, they changed the name to Sunrise Donuts. Daylight Donuts had been in the community for over 25 years, so Laura and Jesus were grateful to have been able to keep it going. One month after the purchase, the pandemic happened, and they had to close their doors to in-person customers and operated through the drive-through.
This is the only donut shop in town within a 30-mile radius, so they draw customers from nearby communities. It’s a place where people gather in the mornings, especially “the regulars.” Today, they are in the process of adding a delivery service and have added burritos to their menu.
In 2021 Jesus Estella received an under 30 entrepreneur businessperson award.
Cortez Transportation Company was established in August of 2004. Cortez Transportation Company provides the highest level of professional and reliable chauffeured service. The company maintains good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and is a member of the National Limousine Association. Carlos is able to provide clients with affordable luxury transportation services. He has the only local company providing these services using his own locally owned fleet of vehicles manufactured specially for the industry. Some of his vehicles include sedans, SUVs, executive vans, stretch limousines, limo buses, limo coaches, executive shuttles and executive coaches.
As you can imagine, Cortez Transportation is available for all types of events to include Corporate Services, Airport Transportation, Weddings, Concerts, Proms and other Special Occasions.
The company plans to continue growing by diversifying its fleet offerings. Whatever your passenger transportation needs are, they have you covered.
First Global Manufacturing, started out as full-service manufacturing firm, with core competencies in small tooling and aircraft parts manufacturing. Due to Covid, in 2020 the company pivoted into the supply field and partnered with larger medical supply companies. Keith has access to more than 260 medical supply products, inventory stored in his warehouses in LA and Toronto. First Global specializes in sourcing many of the critical, hard to find PPE items. Their goal is to supply needed medical supplies to firms that have contracts with the federal and State Government, large US Companies and Hospitals Groups.
It should be noted that First Global is an 8(a) and Small Disabled Veteran Owned Business certified with the Small Business Administration. Through these certifications he is hoping to enter into the federal marketplace.
Julie Cortes is an advocate for women in business. Since 2003, she has helped educate and motivate women entrepreneurs running their own freelance businesses. She is a founding leader at The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City, offering continuing education, social events, networking and promotional opportunities for hundreds upon hundreds of women for over twenty years.
Julie created a college-level, business-development course, Freelancing 101, for the Kansas City Art Institute where she teaches as an adjunct professor to both commercial and fine-art students, the majority of whom are women and is a sought-after speaker who brings messages of encouragement, and motivation to the stage.
Bob Dale worked in radio for most of his professional career and still does today; However, in 2010 Bob volunteered to serve on the Grant County Economic Development Board of Directors and in 2013 he decided to take the job on full time.
At that time, one of his priorities was to engage with the Hispanic business community, that made up the majority of the population in Ulysses. Over time he was able to create trust and build relationships with many of the Hispanic business owners. Through his organization, he was able to award several grants in the last 3 years to Hispanic owned businesses. He also worked with several new startups and personally met with loan officers with the clients to introduce them and make sure a translator was present, as many did not speak English. With Bob’s guidance, he helped the Hispanic businesses navigate things like zoning, codes, permits, banking and much more. Probably one of the most impactful things the organization did was host a quarterly meeting with a panel of Hispanic Business Owners and around 70 economic development professionals. Everyone came away feeling like they had learned a lot about one another and the ability to find ways to connect resources.
Tre’s Squeeze started during the pandemic in 2021 at the local farmers market in Manhattan. Tremaine was the only youth there. He sold lemonade from 9 -1 every week on Saturday. Tre worked with his parents, who are also entrepreneurs, to obtain his business license. He sought guidance from K-State’s food lab, ensuring his lemonade met nutrition and safety standards for wholesale distribution. Additionally, Tre pitched his business to the Hy-Vee General Manager aiming to secure shelf space in their store. Tre has participated in pitch competitions and crowd funding campaigns to help him secure over $10,000 in startup capital.
Tre Squeeze has been featured in national publications and has received several recognitions from local and statewide organizations. Tre is set to release a book this fall, detailing his entrepreneurial journey and providing guidance for young people to start their own business. He is currently selling his lemonade in three Hy-Vee Stores in Manhattan and one in Kansas City, Missouri. He is working to have his lemonade available nationwide.
C2FO was founded during the Great Recession as a way to get working capital to businesses through early payment of approved invoices. These funds are growing harder to grasp through traditional means, particularly for minority-owned businesses.
C2FO’s on-demand working capital platform provides fast, flexible and equitable access to capital typically locked up between buyers and suppliers.
In 2021, C2FO launched its Opportunity Marketplaces, a reduced-rate Early pay program for underserved businesses. In these marketplaces, qualifying suppliers can choose to accelerate approved invoices at a preferential rate. C2FO advocates on behalf of minority- and women-owned businesses to the world’s largest companies about the importance of providing this advantage to strengthen and diversity their supply chains and support the global economy. Together with their partners they provided $4.7 billion funding in 2022.
In 2020, C2FO began donating earnings generated on June 19 to nonprofit organizations that champion Black entrepreneurs and businesses in commemoration of Juneteenth. Since 2020, C2FO has donated over $374,400 to nonprofit organizations with a focus on diverse businesses. This commitment led to the 2023 establishment of the C2FO Business Empowerment Grant Program and the company’s Juneteenth Grant, which seeks to amplify the growth and success of underrepresented businesses.
Andrea and her husband purchased some the farm from her mother and started with fruits, vegetables and row crops – some of which she regularly donates to community organizations. To increase revenues, they decided to open the farm to the public for a fall festival, which was a hit. Since then, they have added activities, events, hired new staff and have become a year-round agritourism destination in Kansas. She expects to have over 75 part-time employees for the 2023 season.
Future goals include providing farm-to-table dinners and expanding their entertainment options. They want to become a “must stop” place in Kansas for travelers.
Andrea currently serves as the President of the Downtown Farmers Market of Manhattan and the Treasurer of the International Agritourism Organization. Her family has been named Riley County Farm Family of the Year not just once, but twice. The farm has also been voted as one of the top 10 farm and ranch experiences to visit in Kansas.