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Master Speaker Series | KC Roundtable

Master Speaker Series

The KC Round­table Mas­ter Speaker Series is the suc­cess­ful local entre­pre­neurs who speak at our round­table break­fast meetings.

Past Speak­ers

Gina Dan­ner

Gina Danner

Gina Dan­ner is CEO of Mail Print, Inc. In two decades, Gina has helped grow Mail Print from a small off­set shop with one press in 1988 to an indus­try leader. Man­ag­ing growth from a 2,000 to a 40,000 square foot facil­ity with two employ­ees to 57 with­out a down year despite economies show­cases Gina’s lead­er­ship, vision, mar­ket­ing savvy, and tenac­ity as an entre­pre­neur. She’s helped develop and deploy direct mar­ket­ing sys­tems and mar­ket­ing por­tals for hun­dreds of nation­wide and For­tune 500 com­pa­nies. Gina is the pres­i­dent elect for the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Women Busi­ness Lead­ers and a past board mem­ber for Oper­a­tion Break­through, the Entre­pre­neur­ial Exchange as well as a past entre­pre­neur­ial coach for the Kauff­man
Foun­da­tion. She’s a grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­sity of Missouri—Kansas City.

Read about Gina’s Story ->

Eric Cole

Eric Cole

Eric Cole oper­ates 34 Pan­era Bread Bakery-Cafes through­out Kansas and the Kansas City Metro area. He is also the owner and oper­a­tor of Freddy’s Frozen Cus­tard & Steak­burger fran­chise loca­tions through­out Cen­tral Mis­souri and the St. Louis Metro area.

Joe Polo

Joe Polo

Joe Polo is the owner of Orig­i­nal Juan Spe­cialty Foods. Orig­i­nal Juan spe­cial­izes in an array of fine food prod­ucts from dessert sauces to hot sauces to pasta and bbq sauces. They co-pack and pri­vate label for com­pa­nies rang­ing from local to inter­na­tional. Prod­uct devel­op­ment of bench­marks in the indus­try and brand aware­ness are per­sonal and com­pany goals which will ulti­mately lead to our brands becom­ing house­hold names.

Bar­nett Helzberg

This is a very spe­cial speaker who we are thank­ful to have speak at KC Round­table. He has a very unique and suc­cess­ful story which has earned him a spot among the elite of Kansas City entre­pre­neurs. This was a can’t miss breakfast.

Chris Isaac­son

Chris Isaacson

Chris Isaac­son is a found­ing employee and chief oper­at­ing offi­cer at BATS Global Mar­kets. He is also a senior vice pres­i­dent of the firm. Chris is respon­si­ble for ensur­ing BATS remains an inno­v­a­tive, world-class leader in tech­nol­ogy and his lead­er­ship has helped BATS grow quickly.

Read about Chris’s Story ->

John Gor­don Jr.

John Gordon

John Gor­don Jr. is the founder of Boys Grow. Boys Grow is a non-profit that is a two-year agri­cul­tural entre­pre­neur­ship pro­gram for inner-city kids. The idea is to teach Kansas City, Mis­souri, chil­dren, a few at a time, a set of life and busi­ness skills. You can read more about him from The Pitch arti­cle here: http://www.pitch.com/kansascity/boys-grow-john-gordon/Content?oid=2979292

Read about John’s Story ->

Matt Wat­son

Matt Watson

Matt Wat­son was the founder and CTO of Vin­So­lu­tions which was sold to AutoTrader.com in May 2011. He is now the founder and CEO of Stackify.

Read about Matt’s Story ->

Scott Carlile

Scott Carlile

Scott Carlile was the founder of Pro­gres­sive Med­ical, Inc. which he just recently sold.

Read about Scott’s Story ->

Harry S. Campbell

Harry has been a pres­i­dent for two For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, co-owner of an award-winning small busi­ness, CEO/board mem­ber of an Inter­net start-up and found­ing mem­ber of the industry-changing Wal-Mart/P&G Cus­tomer Team in North­west Arkansas. He has dri­ven excep­tional peo­ple and busi­ness results in orga­ni­za­tions of 25 to 3,500 employ­ees in a broad range of indus­tries — from con­sumer pack­aged goods to tele­com to sports mar­ket­ing to dig­i­tal media. Harry is known as an iden­ti­fier, devel­oper and moti­va­tor of excep­tional tal­ent at all lev­els of the organization.

Read about Harry’s Story ->

Jo Anne Gabert

Jo Anne Gabert

Jo — Anne Gabert is pres­i­dent of Bick­nell Fam­ily Hold­ing Co. LLC, which acquired her com­pany. She runs all the com­pa­nies in the $400 mil­lion port­fo­lio, includ­ing Adams-Gabbert (her acquired company).

Thad Lang­ford

Thad Langford

Thad Lang­ford has a his­tory of build­ing trans­for­ma­tive busi­nesses within both For­tune 500 com­pa­nies and early stage ven­tures. Most recently Thad served as the Pres­i­dent & Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer of Zave Net­works, an early stage tech­nol­ogy ven­ture ded­i­cated to cre­at­ing a ser­vice that closes the loop between online/mobile dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing and the sale of the prod­uct in brick and mor­tar retail stores. He rede­fined the go to mar­ket approach and grew the com­pany to posi­tion Zave as the lead­ing dig­i­tal incen­tive plat­form provider. This led to Zave’s acqui­si­tion by Google in 2011. Prior to his posi­tion at Zave, Thad led sev­eral dif­fer­ent busi­nesses dur­ing his eight year tenure at Sprint in the areas of wire­less data, wire­less whole­sale and local ser­vices. Among his accom­plish­ments, he rapidly grew Sprint’s wire­less whole­sale busi­ness unit which led the indus­try in the MVNO and M2M space. He also spear­headed busi­ness devel­op­ment efforts to forge part­ner­ships in the wire­less data space, cul­mi­nat­ing in industry-leading prod­ucts and ser­vices in music, imag­ing, mul­ti­me­dia, gam­ing, loca­tion and con­tent. In addi­tion, he man­aged Sprint’s Inno­va­tion pro­gram to iden­tify and com­mer­cial­ize dis­rup­tive products/services in areas such as mobile com­merce and founded Sprint Nex­tel Ven­tures to invest in game chang­ing start-up companies.

Dave Gale

Dave Gale

Dave Gale is pres­i­dent of Gale Com­mu­ni­ties, Inc. cur­rently man­ag­ing three major devel­op­ment projects in Lee’s Sum­mit, Mis­souri: New Longview, Win­ter­set Val­ley (the last of the Five Neigh­bor­hoods of Win­ter­set) and Arbor­walk. Since incep­tion these award win­ning projects have deliv­ered 1,310 single-family and 560 multi-family res­i­den­tial units, along with 200,000 square feet of com­mer­cial space plus an ele­men­tary school, church, numer­ous parks, etc. Each of these are large, mixed use projects; total cap­i­tal invest­ment is pro­jected at 1.6 bil­lion dol­lars. At build-out these neigh­bor­hoods will con­sist of over 5,500 res­i­den­tial units, a mil­lion and a half square feet of com­mer­cial space, parks, trails and lakes, sev­eral churches, schools, etc. Res­i­dent in Lee’s Sum­mit since 1996 he is an active com­mu­nity vol­un­teer hav­ing served on the boards of the Greater Kansas City Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, East­land Foun­da­tion, Real Estate Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, Lee’s Sum­mit Civic Round­table, Pre­mier Life, New Longview Foun­da­tion and was char­ter pres­i­dent of Lee’s Sum­mit Sun­rise Rotary. He is a past chair of the John­son County Art Coun­cil, John Knox Vil­lage and the Lee’s Sum­mit Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Coun­cil. He is Pres­i­dent of the Win­ter­set Park Com­mu­nity Asso­ci­a­tion, New Longview Com­mu­nity Asso­ci­a­tion and the Arbor­walk Com­mu­nity Association.

Sam Meers

Sam Meers

Sam Meers is a strong pro­po­nent of adver­tis­ing and dig­i­tal strat­egy to build brands, Sam has devel­oped his mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions beliefs through expe­ri­ence. Found­ing Meers Adver­tis­ing in 1993, he has wit­nessed the rapidly evolv­ing inte­gra­tion of tra­di­tional and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions first-hand. Some of the com­pa­nies with which the agency works include Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Fam­ily Physi­cians, mul­ti­ple Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, Children’s Mercy Hos­pi­tals and Clin­ics, Husch Black­well, Starlight The­ater, the Kauff­man Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, the Kansas City Film Fes­ti­val and The Whole Per­son. In 2011, Meers Adver­tis­ing was rec­og­nized by Inc. Mag­a­zine as the fastest grow­ing com­pany in Kansas City, Mis­souri. The com­pany was also rec­og­nized by the Kansas City Busi­ness Jour­nal as a tech­nol­ogy leader in mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and received the pub­li­ca­tions first Impact Award for inno­v­a­tive use of tech­nol­ogy. Also in 2011, the Down­town Coun­cil of Kansas City named Sam an Urban Hero for the work he and his com­pany have done to revi­tal­ize the Urban Core of Kansas City. Sam posts fre­quently to his blog, Smoke & Meers, on the ever chang­ing adver­tis­ing and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing scene. His agency has become known for help­ing clients achieve thought lead­er­ship posi­tions in both tra­di­tional and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Meers serves as Vice Pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Adver­tis­ing Fed­er­a­tion of Kansas City, is on the Kansas City Board of Gov­er­nors of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Adver­tis­ing Agen­cies, is a mem­ber of the Helzberg Entre­pre­neur­ial Men­tor­ing Pro­gram, and is a long-time sup­porter of Children’s Mercy Hos­pi­tals and Clinics.

Chris Lun­dine

Chris Lundine

Chris Lundine’s 17 years of sales & entre­pre­neur­ial expe­ri­ence have been an invalu­able tuition and edu­ca­tion that he draws upon while pro­vid­ing con­sul­ta­tion to his client base. Lundine’s career has been invested work­ing in sales plan­ning & devel­op­ment capac­i­ties with sev­eral orga­ni­za­tions. Whether hewas work­ing with Health­care orga­ni­za­tions, small star­tups or as an inde­pen­dent con­sul­tant, he brought struc­ture, vision, pas­sion & growth to the organization.

Bob Ramm

Bob Ramm

Bob Ramm who is the owner of Topsy’s Inter­na­tional Inc. Today Topsy’s Inter­na­tional Inc. is com­prised of 12 fran­chised pop­corn and ice cream shops in the Kansas City and out­ly­ing areas. The Topsy’s Shoppes in the Kansas City area achieve approx­i­mately two to three times the sales that a typ­i­cal pop­corn shop attains and Topsy’s ranks as one of the top two U.S. retail­ers in Christ­mas gift tin sales.

Tim Web­ster

Tim Webster

Tim Web­ster was the CEO of the pub­licly trad­ing com­pany Amer­i­can Ital­ian Pasta Com­pany and he is now the COO of Xikar. Tim Web­ster grew up in an entre­pre­neur­ial fam­ily with inter­ests in petro­leum dis­tri­b­u­tion, real estate devel­op­ment and the quirky pas­sions of his eccen­tric father.
He grad­u­ated from Drake Uni­ver­sity in 1983 with a degree in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. After almost 6 years in Pub­lic Account­ing as an audi­tor and con­sul­tant, he became the CFO of Amer­i­can Ital­ian Pasta Com­pany at the age of 28. Eigh­teen months later he was CEO. During his 17 years at the Com­pany, rev­enues grew from $6mm to $440mm and five state of the art facil­i­ties were built on green­field sites. Fol­low­ing the Atkins Diet impact on the car­bo­hy­drate com­plex and an inves­ti­ga­tion of the Company’s account­ing, Tim left AIPC in Decem­ber 2005. The Com­pany was sub­se­quently sold to Ral­corp for $1.2 Bil­lion. Since 2006, Tim has pro­vided growth con­sult­ing and invest­ment cap­i­tal to high poten­tial con­sumer prod­ucts com­pa­nies through his Growth Con­sult­ing and Invest­ments LLC. His clients/investments include Xikar, Inc., Three Dog Bak­ery, Inc., Orig­i­nal Juan Spe­cialty Foods, SCD Pro­bi­otics, Indigo Wild, and Pol­len­ware. Tim’s jour­ney has included dra­matic highs and lows. There are many lessons he has learned and was eager to share.…

Kurt Van Keppel

Kurt Van Keppel

Kurt Van Kep­pel is the founder and CEO of Xikar Inc. He has his prod­uct in over 3,000 stores and rev­enue in the mil­lions. The Kansas City Star wrote a nice piece on his com­pany: http://www.xikar.com/images/news/2007–02-27_XIKAR_KCSTARFeature.pdf.

Tyler Prochnow

Tyler Prochnow

Tyler Prochnow is Senior Part­ner and Co-Founder of Think Big Part­ners. In 1995, Tyler grad­u­ated from the Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver Col­lege of Law and began a suc­cess­ful law prac­tice with Pat­ton Boggs, LP in Den­ver. In 1997, he moved to Kansas City as an asso­ciate with the Lath­rop & Gage law firm. Spe­cial­iz­ing in mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing law, Mr. Prochnow has been called to tes­tify as an expert before con­gres­sional com­mit­tees, fed­eral agen­cies, state leg­is­la­tures and in pri­vate lit­i­ga­tion. Mr. Prochnow was also a fre­quent lec­turer to national groups on mar­ket­ing issues and a guest colum­nist for sev­eral trade pub­li­ca­tions. In 2003, on the night he was to be elected part­ner at Lath­rop & Gage, Prochnow left the prac­tice of law and founded Golden Peak Sports, a full ser­vice sports rep­re­sen­ta­tion agency that counted among its clients such notable ath­letes as Deion Sanders, Amy Van Dyken, Amare Stoudemire and Ed McCaf­frey. In 2005, Prochnow was awarded own­er­ship of the expan­sion fran­chise that came to be known as Kansas City Brigade of the Arena Foot­ball League. He served as owner and Pres­i­dent of the team until 2007. Today, Prochnow also serves as Pres­i­dent and CEO of Con­nex­sus, LLC, one of the nation’s pre­mier direct mar­ket­ing ser­vice com­pa­nies, pro­vid­ing tele­phony, data man­age­ment, data con­sult­ing, call cen­ter and e-commerce ser­vices for domes­tic and inter­na­tional mar­keters. He is also Pres­i­dent and Man­ag­ing Mem­ber of ACS Prop­er­ties, LLC where he man­ages the company’s var­ied busi­ness ven­tures, includ­ing its inter­est in Q Mas­ters BBQ, GradeGenie.com and mul­ti­ple real estate projects nationwide.

August Gra­sis

August Grasis

August Gra­sis was recently named the 2009 Ernst & Young Entre­pre­neur Of The Year® Award Win­ner in the Cen­tral Mid­west Tech­nol­ogy cat­e­gory, Augie Gra­sis is an estab­lished entre­pre­neur known for his savvy busi­ness approach and industry-changing ideas. Since found­ing Hand­mark in 2000, Gra­sis has played an impor­tant role in defin­ing the mobile con­tent indus­try and chang­ing the way peo­ple use their mobile phones. Cur­rently as Chair­man of the Board, Gra­sis remains deeply engaged in the day-to-day busi­ness lever­ag­ing his expe­ri­ence to advance the company’s posi­tion as a lead­ing devel­oper and dis­trib­u­tor of mobile appli­ca­tions and ser­vices, sup­port­ing some of the largest brands in the world. Prior to Hand­mark, Gra­sis founded Fore­sight Resources (later acquired by Autodesk) where he lead industry-first ini­tia­tives in the CAD and Home Design soft­ware business.

Michael Som­mers

Michael Sommers

After the sell of one com­pany, Michael Som­mers started another named Bal­an­ce­Point. Michael was instru­men­tal in the found­ing, busi­ness devel­op­ment, and growth of sev­eral highly suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies prior to Bal­an­ce­Point. These pre­vi­ous busi­ness expe­ri­ences pro­vided Michael with exten­sive and var­ied indus­try knowl­edge, which is cur­rently being applied to the ben­e­fit and suc­cess of Bal­an­ce­Point. Mr. Som­mers is respon­si­ble for Busi­ness Development/Service Deliv­ery, and Mar­ket­ing. He is ulti­mately account­able for vision, strat­egy, and exe­cu­tion in the marketplace.

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