Joe Rickabaugh, Genetics Plus
Welcome to Joe's Beef House and Drive-in. Pull right up to the window and place your order for beef. We will custom-make your order as you would like it.
You say you want french fries? Oops -- you're in the wrong place. That's not how this beef place works.
This isn't about the beef that's ready for your plate, it's a business for the people who are growing that beef at the very beginning. This is a new enterprise that helps beef producers obtain the right kind of heifers to go into their cattle herds. Of course, it's not called Joe's Beef House and it's not a drive-in, but it is a company where the customer can choose what he or she wants.
I'm talking about a new business called Genetics Plus. It's an innovative effort to provide high quality heifers virtually made to order for farmers and ranchers.
The manager of Genetics Plus is Joe Rickabaugh.
Joe says, "We can offer predictability and consistency to the cattle industry by providing genetically superior replacement heifers."
Joe knows the cattle industry inside and out. He came from a farm near Greeley. No, not Greeley, Colorado: Greeley, Kansas. Greeley is in Anderson County in east central Kansas. It's a town of 345 people. Now, that's rural.
Those rural roots led Joe to a career in the livestock industry. He graduated from K-State and was a manager with the Kansas Livestock Association. In May 1995, Joe joined Genetics Plus.
Joe explains that Genetics Plus is a new company that focuses on providing high quality, known genetic females to both commercial and seedstock operators. The key is genetics.
The genetic make-up of a beef heifer can largely determine whether she will be a high quality or low quality producer. Using modern methods, producers have a lot of data about which genetic lines produce various characteristics of the cattle. Genetics Plus strives to provide heifers with the genetic characteristics that producers want.
For example, if you are a rancher who wants to improve his herd, it might take several years of searching and upgrading your cowherd to get the improvements you want using conventional methods. But now you can contact Genetics Plus and specify the type of heifers you are looking for. In a matter of months, you can achieve what would have taken two or three years to develop.
Joe says, "It's just like ordering a car. What type do you want, and what options do you want inside it? Give me a set of criteria and we'll manage the heifers to meet your specifications." The next step is that you need a whole fleet of them that produce the same.
So, if a rancher wanted a set of Angus heifers that had calves easily and yielded high meat quality, he could have them.
Joe says, "I like 8 or 9 months lead time to get the best possible set of females." He receives orders from producers and then finds the right kind of cattle to fit.
The heifers are scientifically fed at a feedlot, artificially bred to superior bulls, and timed to deliver their calves within a short time span. The heifers are even pregnancy-checked using an ultrasound device. The result is that producers are able to gain quality, convenience, and uniformity very quickly, and the consumer ultimately gets a better, more reliable product.
The company is new, but already it has sent cattle all over the midwest. Contacts have been received from the Carolinas to Alaska. If you would like more information, contact Joe Rickabaugh at 913-862-2232. That number again is 913-862-2232.
You say you want french fries? No, this isn't that type of beef business, but it is a place where beef cattle producers can order the types and numbers of high quality, genetically-proven heifers that can help them make rapid progress. We appreciate Joe Rickabaugh and the forward-thinking, innovative efforts like this which are making a difference in the beef industry.
And wait till you hear about the founder of this company. We'll hear about him on our next program.
Galen and Lori Fink
"And how would you like your steak today? Rare, medium, or well done?"
That's a commonly asked question, in lots of restaurants across the country. Today we'll visit one of these restaurants, and meet some people who not only co-own the restaurant, they are involved in improving that beef at its source. They are true entrepreneurs of the beef industry.
Meet Galen and Lori Fink. They are the owners of Fink Beef Genetics and other enterprises involved with the cattle industry -- including a successful restaurant.
Galen and Lori both came from farms themselves, Galen near Fort Scott and Lori near Lawrence. Both graduated from K-State, where Galen then joined the beef research unit and worked his way up to herdsman. Lori became secretary of the Kansas Angus Association, and they started to build up an Angus cow herd of their own. In 1990, Galen went full-time with his own beef business.
The Fink's headquarters is near Manhattan, just east of the small unincorporated town of Keats. Keats is a town of perhaps 100 people. Now, that's rural.
And that rural location is the site of a pioneering approach to the beef cattle business.
The Finks improve their cattle herd using very scientific methods. They start with artificial insemination of the cows from the best possible bulls, and then use a technology called "embryo transfer" or ET. See, ET wasn't just a movie...
This type of ET comes into play after a superior heifer has been artificially bred to a superior sire. That high value embryo is removed without surgery and implanted into a carrier cow, who bears the calf normally. Then the owner doesn't have to wait for that superior cow to have the calf, it can be rebred almost immediately and the cycle repeats itself.
The result is more and better cattle produced much more quickly. Instead of 25 cows having 25 calves, you could have 25 cows producing 250 to 300 calves in a year. And you thought triplets were something...
When the Finks implemented their embryo transfer program, they decided to work with commercial cooperator herds of other cattle producers to carry the calves.
And listen to this: Fink Genetics was one of the first two cattle operations in the country to implement the program this way, and now 90 percent of the ET work in the nation is done following this model.
That's part of why I call them pioneers. They were also among the first in the country to use embryo transfer to produce large numbers of full brother bulls as commercial sires. This technology results in more uniformity and predictability for cattlemen and consumers.
The Fink family is involved with other enterprises as well: something called "term-a-bulls" which use highly selective crossbreeding to maximize meat production and quality with less fat; Integrated Genetic Management, Inc., which offers artificial insemination from high quality, proven bulls and other services; Genetics Plus, which is the heifer replacement service we heard about on this program last week; and Fink Marketing, which is a service to those who have bought and used bulls from the Fink cowherd. Special sales, auctions, and informational seminars are available to those who have been customers of the Finks.
And there's one other enterprise as well. In the fall of 1993, the Finks and others opened a new restaurant in Manhattan called the Little Apple Brewing Company. It includes a microbrewery, as the name suggests, which recently won a gold medal in national competition. The menu features -- what else -- delicious, Certified Angus Beef, plus other entrees and a large salad bar.
Why a restaurant? Galen Fink says, "There was something about the restaurant business that always intrigued me." Lori says with a smile, "He likes to eat!"
But here's the point: Many analysts talk about the need for a beef supply system that is improved "from conception to consumption." Galen and Lori Fink are literally making it come true.
So, how would you like your steak? Rare, medium, or well done? However you like it, you can be thankful for the pioneering efforts of Galen and Lori Fink. They are making a difference through their entrepreneurial and forward-thinking efforts in the beef industry. Such innovation is all too "rare," and in this case, it certainly is "well done."
Westmoreland - David Tuley
Let's say you're driving across rural Kansas on a late summer night. As you come down into a valley, a scene appears by the side of the road. It's a lifesize covered wagon, being pulled by a team of oxen...
What's going on here? Are you dreaming? In the Twilight Zone? Maybe went through a time warp?
No, it's none of the above. It probably means you are driving into Westmoreland, Kansas, and the scene you just witnessed is a sculpture along the old Oregon Trail. It's all part of the remarkable heritage of the Westmoreland community.
Recently there has been a new look at the resources in Westmoreland. A key leader in this new initiative is David Tuley.
David and his wife are owners of Main Street Nursery in Westmoreland. David is also doing graduate work in geography at K-State.
He's originally from Virginia, and his wife is from Long Island -- that's Long Island in New York, by the way; not Long Island, Kansas, the western Kansas town with a population of 170 people.
So David and his wife are both easterners. But as they continued their education, they were attracted to Kansas State University. They came to school in Manhattan. When they were looking for a place to live, their travels took them to the town of Westmoreland.
Westmoreland is the county seat of Pottawatomie County east of Manhattan. It's a town of 639 people. Now, that's rural.
But David and his wife found a pretty Victorian house in Westmoreland, and they bought it. David says, "It was five miles further than we wanted to drive, but it was worth it."
So David and his wife found a pretty Victorian house in Westmoreland. They both had been involved in horticulture in earlier years, so while waiting for residency status at Kansas State they opened a garden center. Robyn is now working on a degree in Horticultural Therapy. David is working on his master's in geography. A false facade was constructed in the front of a vacant lot along Main Street which functions as the entrance to the nursery, with the greenhouses behind it. They sell plants and do landscape work.
He also got involved in the community. He now serves on the City Council. In the fall of 1996, he offered a course on community development through the Westmoreland Community Education Program. The course consisted of a series of lectures about community preservation and promotion given by scholars from around the region from both public and private sectors.
Each Wednesday night, the group meets at Bonnie's Cafe for supper and a speaker.
Now why does David Tuley care? What is it that a couple of transplanted easterners would find attractive about a small town like Westmoreland?
David says, "Where I grew up, we rarely talked to the neighbors. Westmoreland is a nice town. You can spend all day talking to people."
He says, "I enjoy the feeling of safety and familiarity that is offered by a small town."
He says, "Here we find a sense of place, a sense of community, and a feeling of history."
And that feeling of history leads us back to where we began.
A unique feature of the town of Westmoreland is its proximity to the old Oregon Trail. More than a century ago, thousands of settlers crossed the frontier along this route, on their way to the northwest. Today, Westmoreland honors those brave pioneers who were finding their way west.
A local craftsman named Ernest White created a life-size sculpture of a covered wagon and team of oxen, to represent those brave pioneers. That sculpture rests in a roadside park along the highway into Westmoreland.
So, if you're driving across Kansas late one night and you suddenly see a covered wagon with a team of oxen, relax: you're not in a time warp, you're seeing a sculpture at Westmoreland. This sculpture honors those brave pioneers of yesteryear who were willing to take on a new adventure.
This pioneer spirit still exists today. It's found in people like David Tuley and the participants in the Westmoreland Community Education Program, who are willing to take on a new adventure of their own. These pioneers aren't out traveling to find a new community, they are finding ways to make a difference in their current community, and make it better. We salute these modern pioneers of Westmoreland.
Yuasa-Exide -- Jack Cutright
Now here's a story you can get a charge out of...and I do mean a charge. In fact, I mean an electric charge.
We're talking about batteries, the kind that literally produce an electric charge. Today, we'll meet one of the leading producers of batteries in the country, and it's located here in the heart of Kansas.
Meet Jack Cutright. Jack is plant manager for the Yuasa-Exide Battery Corporation in Hays, Kansas. Hays is a town of 17,729 people. Jack is originally from Chicago, a city of 2.8 million people. That would make Hays' population about 6/10 of one percent of the population of Chicago. Now, that's rural.
But Jack left Chicago to go to college, and then worked for the Gates Rubber Company in Illinois and Missouri. In 1993, he became manager of Yuasa-Exide in Hays.
Yuasa-Exide is a leading producer of batteries, in various types and sizes. The Hays plant produces batteries that range in size from a little six volt you can hold in your hand to the big 85 pound batteries that provide backup power for telephone systems. Aren't you glad you don't have to put those 85 pounders in your kid's toys at Christmastime?...
It is interesting to learn about the battery market. I learned there's a great deal of growth in the UPS business. No, that doesn't mean a bunch more little brown vans running around. In this case, UPS stands for "Uninterrupted Power Source." It refers to systems where batteries are used for backup power so if the electricity goes down, the system has continuous service. Telephone service is an example.
Jack Cutright said that such UPS business is a growing market for batteries. The demand for batteries for UPS systems is projected to grow about 12 percent a year.
That demonstrates how valuable batteries really are.
Jack says, "If the power goes out at a Wal-Mart and the cash register still works, it's probably because of a Yuasa battery. Batteries are used in everything from alarms to wheelchairs."
The plant in Hays is a big factor in making these batteries available. Would you believe that this plant in Hays, Kansas produces 3.5 million batteries a year? That's a lot of flashlights.
And would you believe this plant in Hays is shipping batteries to 35 different countries?
Jack is rightfully proud of his plant in Hays. He says, "We employ nearly 450 people in Hays. Yuasa-Exide has invested 17 million dollars in the plant in the last 5 years."
And talk about economic development: a university study shows the economic impact of the plant on the region is about 33 million dollars.
Yuasa-Exide is an international company, and a leader in the industry. It was the first battery company in the U.S. to have all its plants ISO registered. ISO refers to International Standards Organization, which certifies that certain global standards of manufacturing are met.
So why be in Hays? Jack Cutright says, "We're centrally located in the U.S. Our exports go out both the east and west coasts. And we're close to the major supply of our raw materials, namely plastics and lead. Plus, labor performance is very competitive here."
Jack explains that there are four Yuasa plants making these same types of batteries around the world. They are located in Taiwan, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Hays, Kansas. And he says with pride, "Our productivity is highest of any of them."
Now that's a story you can get a charge out of. Indeed, these batteries produce an electric charge for a host of different uses. But I get a charge out of finding that a plant in rural Kansas is having such international success. We salute Jack Cutright and the people of Yuasa-Exide in Hays, who are making a difference with their hard work and leadership.
Wayne Youngers - Youngers & Sons
Let me tell you about the robot that I saw. I watched a robot at work!
No, it wasn't some computerized butler like you see in the movies, this was the real thing: a robotic machine, working in an industrial plant.
And where do you suppose I found this robot? No, not in the Silicone Valley of California, I found this robot right here in rural Kansas.
This is the story of Youngers and Sons Manufacturing Company. It's a homegrown, high-tech machining business, and it's today's Kansas Profile.
Meet Wayne Youngers. Wayne is the president of Youngers and Sons, which is based in Viola, Kansas. Viola is in Sedgwick County, about 15 miles southwest of Wichita. Viola is a town of 200 people. Now, that's rural.
The Youngers and Sons facility isn't right in the central business district of Viola, you understand, but it is nearby. I don't know if that's called 'greater Viola' or 'suburban Viola,' but this we do know: it's built at the Younger's old family home.
Wayne explains that he and his six brothers grew up at this site with his parents. In 1973, Wayne's dad formed a company to produce a patented product for the recreation industry. The original facility was a 24 by 24 foot metal building on the Youngers farm. Over time, other welding and machining projects were secured and the company began to grow.
When his dad had health problems, Wayne and his brothers started operating the business, and they became owners in 1981.
But listen to this. Until 1981, the company had operated with up to five people in the shop. In 1984, the company bought its first piece of computerized equipment. Today, the company has several million dollars worth of computerized equipment and more than 60 employees.
The growth has been remarkable. A person might assume that this is due to the expansion in the aviation industry in Wichita, but that is not the case. Youngers and Sons is a supplier of machine parts, but not to the aerospace industry.
Wayne Youngers says, "We took a marketing direction to be non-aerospace. We believe we're the supplier of choice for machine parts and assemblies for non-aerospace original equipment manufacturers in the midwest."
Wayne's customers serve a variety of industries, such as construction, agriculture, oil & gas, agriculture, and mining. In fact, Wayne estimates that perhaps 30 percent of their products end up in items that are exported overseas.
And what about this robot? Wayne Youngers says, "We are believers in using the newest technology and applying it to the marketplace." The robot I saw was an automated component that was part of a computer-controlled, precision manufacturing process.
And when I say precision, I mean it. They are working with equipment which can achieve tolerances within 20 millionths. That's so small I can hardly say it.
Wayne is a progressive businessman. Among other things, he serves on the business advisory board of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute within the College of Engineering at K-State. He's also involved with the National Tooling and Machining Association.
And why have a high-tech business in such a rural setting? Wayne Youngers says, "We like our rural area. We have employees with a very good work ethic, and our customers in the midwest have the same ethics we do."
It's time to say goodbye to the robot I saw. No, it's not some talking robot from Star Wars, this is an industrial robot producing real products in a rural setting. We're thankful for people like Wayne Youngers, whose entrepreneurship, hard work, and use of technology are making a difference in rural Kansas.
Kansas Manufacturers Inc. - Perry Bemis
Today let's talk about an MVP. No, I'm not referring to the most valuable player of a big bowl game, I'm talking about a different type of MVP: in this case, that stands for Most Viable Patent.
Most Viable Patent is an award that was presented by an innovative business association in Kansas. That association is the topic of today's Kansas Profile.
Meet Perry Bemis. Perry is president of Kansas Manufacturers, Inc., called KMI for short, in Wichita, Kansas. KMI does product development and marketing for a network of manufacturers in the Wichita area.
Perry explains how KMI came to be. in 1992, a group of 18 Wichita-area manufacturers formed the Kansas Manufacturers Association. These companies were dealing with a tax issue at the time, and they found they were more effective at dealing with it by banding together.
That suggested there might be other benefits in joint efforts. They all needed machinists, for example, so they organized a joint apprenticeship program.
The goal of the association was to pool manufacturing capabilities and help these manufacturers supplement subcontract work for the aerospace industry.
The organization was supported by the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and the Wichita / Sedgwick County Partnership for Growth. KMA later got funding from the federal Technology Reinvestment Program and was awarded a collective manufacturing contract for a foreign firm.
In May 1995, Perry Bemis came on the scene. Perry is a Hays native who had business experience and who had run a business incubator. He found that background would come in handy.
Perry says, "We want each member company to do what they really do well." So the organization was reorganized into Kansas Manufacturers Inc.
KMI is to do product development and marketing for its members, which constitute a flexible manufacturing network. What is a flexible manufacturing network? No, it's not companies which produce something that bends. It's a group of companies that can work together and adjust and respond to market needs.
In January 1996, KMI launched its nationwide search for an MVP: Most Viable Patent. Inventors were invited to send in their patented ideas of commercial or industrial products, and KMI would pick the best ones to be developed. Of course, there were several conditions for the contest: products had to be patented, have a working prototype, be ready to be brought to market quickly, and be competitive in the marketplace.
Inquiries about the award were received from 31 states and two foreign countries.
In April 1996, KMI presented the MVP award to a company named Philo Technology. The company invented a device for the printing industry which improves print quality by eliminating dust and foreign matter from printing presses.
This company was located at that time in the south central Kansas town of Mulvane, population 4,831 people. Now, that's rural.
A second award went to a Wichita company for production of an innovative auto alignment system. Called Precision Plus, this product is a uniquely designed, highly accurate auto alignment system which sells for a fraction of the cost of conventional systems.
These products will be joint ventures, marketed by KMI. In the competitive world of business, it's sometimes difficult for companies to see how they might work together. KMI represents an innovative way of making cooperation work in the business sector.
It's time to say goodbye to this MVP. Yes, we've been talking about the most viable patent, but maybe we could also call it most valuable player after all. Because sometimes the most valuable player is the one who does whatever it takes for the team to win. Such team effort in the manufacturing sector is what makes KMI a winner. We're thankful for entrepreneurs like Perry Bemis and the people of KMI, who are making a difference in their community.
One of the first leaders of KMI is a successful businessman who is operating in a rural setting. We'll hear about him on our next program.
Peace Treaty Pageant - Medicine Lodge
Take a look across the valley. Look, there's a wagon train. See the wagons being pulled by teams of horses. Oh no, they're being attacked by Indians. What's that sound? It's a trumpet. Look, here comes the U.S. Cavalry to save the day.
It sounds like the end of an old western, doesn't it? Well, imagine seeing such a spectacle live and in person. In 1997, you'll be able to find such a performance in rural Kansas.
Meet Kaye Kuhn. Kaye is director of the Peace Treaty Pageant office in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. Medicine Lodge is the county seat of Barber County in southcentral Kansas, site of this remarkable program.
The wagon train scene I described is just one part of this pageant. It is performed every three years to commemorate the signing of a peace treaty between the U.S. and five plains Indian tribes years ago.
In 1867, leaders of the five tribes met with U.S. government representatives to sign the treaty where the Medicine River and Elm Creek come together. In 1927, the people at Medicine Lodge decided to re-enact the event. This reenactment has grown over the years.
Now there is a full three days of activity. The historic pageant includes 14 different live scenes showing the discovery, exploration, and settlement of the west, starting with Coronado. Perhaps 2,000 reenactors are involved in the performance, along with more than 30 horsedrawn vehicles. It's performed in a large natural amphitheater where actual Indians camped for the signing 130 years ago.
The historic treaty contains the actual names of the Indians who signed it, which are quite colorful. They include Sitting Bear, Black Eagle, and my personal favorite: Dog Fat. Wonder what he did to his mother to get that name...
The pageant is like a family event for Kaye Kuhn. She was born and raised at Medicine Lodge. Kaye says that when she was four years old, she rode in her grandfather's covered wagon at the pageant. I guess she comes by her interest naturally.
Kaye has been on the Board of the pageant for 20 years now. One of the big changes she has seen is in the improved communication with the Indians.
Kaye says, "There is much more appreciation for the Indian's side of the story now. These Native Americans are proud of what they've done, and they want to tell their story."
The Indians are full participants in the parade and pageant. They set up a village in the city park, do educational programs for schoolchildren, and honor their heritage each evening with authentic Indian dances and ceremonies.
Much more goes on during pageant weekend as well. There are arts and crafts shows and melodramas each night depicting such things as a bank robbery, Carry Nation, and can-can girls...Given the choice, I believe I'd rather see the can-can girls.
Another feature in 1997 is the ninth annual state championship ranch rodeo. A ranch rodeo is different from the professional rodeo circuit. At a ranch rodeo, the teams are actual working cowboys from ranches in the state who compete in doing tasks from modern ranch work today.
The hard work on all these programs has led to the Peace Treaty Pageant being designated one of the top 100 events of 1997 in North America by the American Bus Association. The pageant will draw huge crowds to the town of Medicine Lodge, which has a population of 2,324 people. Now, that's rural.
How can a town that size handle crowds of 20,000 people? Kaye Kuhn says, "This is a community event. A lot of people who grew up here come back to help. Everybody in this town is involved in helping out in some way, even stuffing programs or whatever."
As I mentioned, the pageant is held every three years -- and 1997 is the year. The pageant will be this fall, on September 26, 27, and 28. If you would like tickets or more information, contact the Peace Treaty Pageant at 316-886-9815. That number again is 316-886-9815.
Rural Kansas faces a lot of challenges today, and there's no Cavalry that will come riding over the hill to rescue us. But rural Kansas can help itself with events like the Peace Treaty Pageant, where we celebrate our heritage, make a positive difference, and help our community prosper while telling our story.
And just as in 1867, Barber County is again a place where leaders are gathering -- not to sign a treaty, but to help their communities. We'll hear about that on our next program.
Leadership Barber County
Today let's talk about teams. No, not the winning basketball team or the team that won the Super Bowl. Today, we're talking about a team approach that is helping to build leaders in rural Kansas.
This is the story of Leadership Barber County. That's the name of an organization which is an innovative effort to develop leaders in a rural and historic county in Kansas.
Barber County is in south central Kansas, on the Oklahoma border. Citizens in Barber County have seen the need for a leadership program for some time. In 1993, a group got organized to make it happen.
Glenn Newdigger and Connie Hoch are the extension agents who helped found Leadership Barber County. Glenn says, "This is the way Extension is supposed to work. We give advice, but the people really do it."
That's the team approach. A 12 member steering committee was organized of people in the county. The group agreed to form Leadership Barber County and did a lot of preparation. In January 1994, the program was launched.
Glen Newdigger says, "They're a year ahead of where I thought they'd be." Again, the team approach worked. Members of the board divided up the work and helped each other get results.
The objective of the program is to ensure the continued vitality of the county by providing for a planned and continuing source of motivated community leaders. Each year up to 15 leaders are selected for the program. They participate in nine educational sessions from October to March.
Topics of the sessions include the history of the county, the art of leadership, problem solving, economic development, education, health care, city / county government, and state government. Sessions include speakers and tours of local businesses, schools, and county facilities, culminating with a graduation dinner. The state session includes a trip to Topeka where the group meets with legislators and learns about the policy process firsthand.
The program works so well for adult leaders that Extension agreed to try a similar program for younger people. That program is called YES!, which stands for Youth Empowerment Seminar! I guess that's the opposite of Just Say No. In this case, it provides a positive alternative to which young people can say YES.
Did I mention this was a team approach? Sure enough, a school provided a bus to transport the students. Private sponsors helped cover the costs, and a church donated space for the meetings. Again, there is a series of speakers and educational sessions.
The program is free to the eighth graders -- all they need is a health form and a signed code of conduct. The adult program requires the individual or his or her employer to pay $200 in tuition. Participants must also agree to attend every session.
The outcome of all this is a more informed and motivated group of citizens in the county. The students are more informed and invested in their community. The adult program includes both men and women from various occupations from all around the county.
Glenn Newdigger says the cities which have been represented in the program include Medicine Lodge, population 2,324; Kiowa, population 1,143; Sharon, population 231; Hazelton, population 123; and Isabel, population 91. Now, that's rural.
How will these rural areas survive in the future? I think part of the answer is in the team approach -- working with others to help the entire region succeed.
So, whether or not your team won the Super Bowl, you can be thankful for this team of people who are making a difference by building leaders in their community. We salute Glenn Newdigger and Connie Hoch and other members of the leadership team in Barber County.
Tomato Factory - John & Louise Van Dyke
Today's program might be called "In search of the perfect tomato." You know the type of tomato I mean: red, juicy, ripened on the vine, and full of flavor.
For a lot of years, gardeners have sought to produce that perfect tomato. But isn't it a little early in the season to be talking about garden fresh tomatoes? Well, it's possible to find these top quality tomatoes being grown year-round, right here in rural Kansas.
Meet John and Louise Van Dyke. They are the owners and operators of the Tomato Factory, a state-of-the-art commercial hydroponic tomato production facility in northwest Kansas -- the largest in the state.
Specifically, the Tomato Factory is located in Plainville in Rooks County. Plainville is a town of 2,171 people. That's rural -- but stay tuned.
This rural town is the site of a remarkable high-tech tomato production facility, which uses the best of international technology.
John Van Dyke explains that he and his wife have a love for horticulture. Louise grew up on a farm near Plainville, and John is a third generation banker there. But they always loved gardening as a hobby. In the 1980s, they raised florals and other outdoor crops.
As they wanted to produce better tomatoes, one thing led to another. The Tomato Factory company was formed in 1989 using leased greenhouse space. In 1991, they built their own first greenhouse. Now they are doing cooperative marketing with other local greenhouse operators.
The Tomato Factory started with John & Louise and a production area of 7,200 square feet. Now the company employs as many as 17 people and by the summer of 1997 will, with other cooperators, have production area of more than 100,000 square feet.
Even more impressive is the intelligent way that the square footage is used -- all this in the quest to produce the perfect tomato.
John Van Dyke says, "The ability to control every facet of the environment enables you to produce the ideal tomato." As a result, the tomato plants are kept in special greenhouses where they are carefully monitored for the temperature and nutrition they receive. The temperature of the root zone is regulated and biological controls are used to get rid of pests while staying pesticide free.
When I said the company uses the best of international technology, I meant it. First, John and Louise start with the finest European varieties of tomatoes, from seed companies in Holland that have been breeding plants for three- to four-hundred years. The plants are raised in an inert substrate called rockwool from Denmark. Special bees are imported from Europe to naturally pollinate the tomato plants. The proportion heads in the greenhouse come from France, the drip irrigation system comes from Israel, and the monitoring system comes from Germany.
With all this European influence, maybe it's appropriate that the Tomato Factory is just 8 miles from the Kansas town of Zurich -- population 149 people. Now, that's rural.
So why have all this international technology here in Plainville? John Van Dyke says, "The city helped us get started here. And we're situated just right for the weather." Plainville has more sunlight and less external humidity than locations east or west of there, which requires less adjustment inside the greenhouses.
And these plants are ideal. I experienced something in visiting this facility that I have never experienced before in my life: I'm more than six feet tall, and I found myself standing up and looking up at a tomato plant.
These plants are giants. Most of all, they are maintained to produce the optimum quality. Tomato Factory staff clip and sucker the plants and pick, grade, and pack the tomatoes by hand. Each tomato is branded and bar coded.
Unlike foreign imports which are stored and gas-ripened, these tomatoes are ripened on the vine and shipped within a day or two, if not within hours, of being picked. This emphasis on freshness and quality is what has led Dillons and other chains to buy tomatoes from here.
John Van Dyke says, "We don't stop at anything to get the highest quality, period."
It's all a quest "in search of the perfect tomato." We commend the Van Dykes for their emphasis on quality and their international, high-tech production, which is making a difference in the rural economy -- and making for better eating too.
Dick Koerperich - Koerperich Book Bindery
Today let's go to Los Angeles. We're going to visit the International Theological Seminary there. The seminary is preparing to send its doctoral student's dissertations to be bound into books.
And where would you suppose this seminary in LA is sending these documents to be bound? Would you believe, to a business operating in the plains of rural Kansas?
Yes, it's true. These documents are going from LA all the way out to Kansas to be bound at the Koerperich Book Bindery. And this bindery isn't found in Kansas City or Wichita -- it is in a truly rural setting.
Meet Richard Koerperich. Dick Koerperich is the founder and owner of the Koerperich Book Bindery in Selden, Kansas. Selden -- that's spelled S-E-L-D-E-N -- is in Sheridan County in northwest Kansas. All together, Sheridan County has fewer than 3,000 people. It's 95th in the state in population size. Selden itself is a town of 224 people. Now, that's rural.
What in the world is a book bindery doing in a town that small -- and how is it attracting business from California?
Dick Koerperich says, "This is my hometown. My grand-dad homesteaded on a place east of here."
In the 1960s, Dick Koerperich went to work for an uncle in New Mexico. This uncle ran a book bindery.
Dick says, "I saw the new Thunderbird he was driving and the things he was doing with his money. I began to wonder if I could do this for myself back home in Kansas." He adds with a laugh, "I've been back here 28 years, and I still haven't made it big."
Well, we'll see about that. Dick began by binding books with hand tools by himself in his garage out on the farm. Over time, the business grew. It attracted customers like the seminary in California and elsewhere.
Today, that business which began in the garage has fifteen employees, including Dick's two sons, and produces more than 100 thousand books a year. This includes all types of books, including medical journal and textbooks. By recent count, there are only 37 certified bookbinders in the United States, and one of those is in Selden, Kansas.
Now what exactly is it that a book bindery does? Well, it binds the covers and pages of books together. Depending on the book, the process may include sewing, gluing, stamping, pressing, trimming, cleaning, and packing.
Dick Koerperich says, "There are 41 steps that go into making a book." His company implements those steps, both for new books and those that are rebound. Hmm. Rebound sounds like something a basketball player would do, but you know what I mean.
Not only can the company bind the books, the company can do special custom designs. Lettering is done with gold stamping. Dick can get plates and engravings made to put virtually anything on a book.
The high quality of the work has attracted customers from coast to coast and beyond. Dick Koerperich says, "We've shipped books to every state in the Union and overseas."
Some customers are amazed to find this remarkable business in such a rural setting. Dick says, "One day a salesman from a big, national printing company stopped in here. I told him, 'Well, I'm surprised to find you here.' He said, 'That's exactly what I was going to say to you!'"
Dick says, "I'm so happy that my sons have come into the business. I love the small town. I enjoy rural living. You just can't beat it."
It's time to take our leave from the International Theological Seminary in Los Angeles, but not before taking note that they are sending their dissertations out to be bound at Koerperich Book Bindery in Selden, Kansas. We're thankful for rural entrepreneurs and craftsmen like Dick Koerperich, whose skills and hard work are making a difference in rural Kansas.
Today let's take a look at an athlete. Looks impressive, doesn't he? He's muscular, yet so trim....not an ounce of fat on him. And he can really run. He's even made the cover of a national magazine.
Yes, he's an impressive athlete. And he's happy too. How do I know? Because he's wagging his tail...
Well, now you know I'm not talking about some athlete from last summer's Olympics. No, this is no human athlete, but an athlete of a different kind: a dog -- in particular, a greyhound.
You may not think of a dog as an athlete, but a greyhound really is the athlete of the canine world. Like this one: he's a racing greyhound, as muscular, trim, and speedy as any in the breed. He's been featured on the cover of a national magazine.
But today's story isn't about just one greyhound, it's the story of a family that breeds and trains these champion racing dogs. It happens at what is probably one of the largest greyhound stud business in the world, and it's found in rural Kansas.
Meet David, Deb, and Mike Strickland. They own and operate this remarkable greyhound breeding business.
David is from a farm in Nebraska and his wife Deb grew up in a greyhound racing family in Arizona. They started raising greyhounds of their own and in 1988, moved to Kansas and expanded their greyhound business. Their stud dog business is called Strickland Sires.
As operations expanded, son Mike joined the business. Daughter Julie is a student at K-State.
The Stricklands' facility is on a farm along Highway 15 a few miles south of Abilene. Abilene is a town of 6,400 people. Now, that's rural.
Abilene is well known as the home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, but it's also the home of the Greyhound Hall of Fame. The hall of fame has several displays highlighting the greyhound industry.
Today the racetracks in Kansas are having a tough time, but the greyhound breeding business is going well.
This is a scientific business. The Stricklands track all of their dogs on computer. Now technology enables breeders to freeze semen and artificially inseminate superior females. The Stricklands are on the cutting edge of this development; they do perhaps 80 or 90 percent of all the inseminations done this way in the country.
In 1996, Strickland Sires bred about 700 greyhound brood females, more than anyone in the world. And this is no puppy mill: these dogs are champion athletes, and they're treated like it. Most of the dogs live in climate controlled conditions and they receive the best possible feed. In fact, the racing age dogs get feed rations that are weighed individually to within an eighth of a pound. Gee, my wife and I don't feed our kid that carefully...
The outcome of this top-notch care and scientific breeding is good results. The dog I described at the beginning was All-World and a two-time All-American. He had a record winning streak of 18 consecutive races. He won several races with prizes of $100,000 or more. Not bad, for less than a minute's work.
Dogs bred by the Stricklands can be found at racetracks from New England to Florida. People send their stud dogs and their females to the Stricklands from all over the country, and even from as far away as Ireland and Australia. When you consider their race earnings and breeding potential, some of these dogs could be worth possibly a million dollars.
And talk about being featured on the cover of a national magazine. The Stricklands have had six dogs make the cover of The Greyhound Review, and one of those photos included Deb Strickland too.
Deb says, "For animal lovers, working with these dogs is rewarding. They're very affectionate, trainable, and smart."
Well, it's time to say goodbye to this athlete. He's quite impressive, but don't look for him soon on the cover of a Wheaties box. He'd more likely show up on a bag of high protein dog food! This athlete is a greyhound. We're thankful for entrepreneurs like the Stricklands who are making a difference by growing and training these athletes at a world-leading breeder operation in rural Kansas.
Today let's do some heavy lifting. I like that phrase. Heavy lifting sounds like we're working out in a weightroom, lifting weights, pumping iron, and helping our muscles grow. But relax, you won't need a sweat suit. That's not the kind of heavy lifting I'm talking about today. We're talking about the real kind of heavy lifting that machines do every day on farms and factories across America.
Today we'll meet a company which manufactures the products that make such heavy lifting possible. It's a multimillion dollar company which sells its products internationally, and it's found in rural Kansas.
This is the story of Cross Manufacturing. Cross Manufacturing produces hydraulic components for agricultural and light industrial applications. In other words, they manufacture the valves, cylinders, pumps and adapters that operate the hydraulic systems of tractors and loaders. These hydraulic systems enable the operators to lift some truly heavy loads.
Bob Besser is general manager of the Cross Manufacturing plants at Pratt and Lewis, Kansas. He explains the company was founded by Mr. James Cross 48 years ago.
Mr. Cross was from a farm near Lewis, Kansas. He came back there from military service after World War II, where he had seen what hydraulic power systems could do. He thought about how those systems could be used in civilian life, and he built some hydraulic systems of his own.
They worked so well that a neighbor wanted one, and then another, and another. It grew into a manufacturing business, and eventually Cross Manufacturing did a milk run across western Kansas delivering parts for hydraulic systems.
Today Mr. Cross is nearly 80 years old, and his son is president of the company. Cross Manufacturing has sales of more than 20 million dollars.
Yet the company still has a manufacturing plant in its original town of Lewis, Kansas. Lewis is a southwest Kansas town of 426 people. Now, that's rural.
Cross Manufacturing has plants in Pratt and Hays as well. This company is selling products across the country and as far away as Australia and South Africa.
So why remain in rural Kansas? Bob Besser, the manager at Pratt and Lewis, believes there are advantages. Bob says, "The quality of people is better than we'd get in a metropolitan area." He says, "The work ethic is better, based on what people in the cities tell me."
But how can they get enough people to work in a town that small? Bob Besser says they advertise for 50 miles around Lewis, and they get workers who commute in from towns as far away as St. John, Dodge City, and Greensburg.
Bob likes the quality and cleanliness of the rural communities. He says, "I have five kids, and I appreciate the quality and safety of their schools. We have relatives in Tucson, and their kids have to go through metal detectors each day at school. I'm glad we don't have to worry about that."
For years, people in rural Kansas have bemoaned the fact that our kids go to college and move away, to California or some other faraway location. But maybe this outmigration trend is turning. Bob Besser said his company recently hired an administrative manager who got fed up with California and moved to rural Kansas. It's nice to see the flow go our way for a change.
We've been talking about heavy lifting. It takes a lot of heavy lifting to make America go. And I'm talking about the real thing here, not some Jane Fonda workout. They're not just building muscles, they're building the economy. On farms and in factories across the country, there are products to be moved and work to be done. These loads are far too heavy to be lifted by hand, but they can be moved easily through the use of hydraulic power. We're thankful for the innovation of Mr. Cross and the hard work of Bob Besser and the people of Cross Manufacturing. They are making a difference by producing the products to do the heavy lifting that makes our economy grow.
Smoky Hills Public TV - Dave Wilson
Today let's go visit a television headquarters. No, we're not going to New York City to see Dan Rather. The television system we will visit serves a potential audience of hundreds of thousands of people, but you won't have to fight traffic to get to the station. In fact, you won't even take a paved street.
This is the remarkable story of Smoky Hills Public Television, which provides wonderful, modern-day television service to much of Kansas from a rural, small-town setting.
Meet Dave Wilson. Dave is the CEO and General Manager of Smoky Hills Public Television.
Smoky Hills Public Television provides educational, public TV programming over much of central and western Kansas. In addition to its own broadcast area, Smoky Hills public television serves 120 cable systems.
Dave Wilson is a thirty-year veteran of public broadcasting. He went to school in Ohio and the University of Michigan, and he's been manager of Smoky Hills for four years.
Dave explains that the original public TV station, KOOD, went on the air in 1982. It has been expanded over the years. In the late 1980s, a second large transmitter was added with the addition of station KSWK at Lakin. Today, the station has the two transmitters and 8 translators which enable it to reach 52 counties, 32,000 square miles, and a potential audience of 300,000 people.
That starts to sound like Dan Rather again, but listen to this. Smoky Hills public television isn't based in a large metropolitan area, or even in a mid-size city like Hays or Salina. Smoky Hills is based in the Russell County town of Bunker Hill, population approximately 120 people. Now, that's rural.
Do you know of any other Kansas towns with a population of 120 that have millions of dollars of fancy equipment operating in the basement of a remodeled old building downtown? I don't either.
Bunker Hill is a typical, good small town, where the people are nice and the streets aren't blacktopped. Across the street from the local cafe is the old grocery store that was remodeled to become the home of Smoky Hills public television.
Why is a town so tiny the home to such a far-flung TV operation?
Dave Wilson explains that Bunker Hill is centrally located between Salina, Great Bend, and Hays, which were the larger towns served by the station's original broadcast area.
He says, "People take a lot of pride in the station. It provides an essential service that people can't get elsewhere. We do lots of local programs, more than most commercial stations."
The theme of the station's programming is "Entertainment, education, and excitement." Smoky Hills is true to that theme. Dave takes the educational component particularly seriously.
He says, "We offer eight hours of quality kids programming. We have a full-time person to work with day care facilities and pre-schools on instructional television programs." Certain classes are offered through Smoky Hills, and media services are made available to schools. There are special features to serve the hearing- and visually-impaired.
Currently, Smoky Hills has a grant to do an Internet test bed project with the Ellsworth schools so that their students can have access to the Internet.
Smoky Hills also has a mobile unit. Dave Wilson says, "It doesn't make any difference where the building is." They can go wherever the news is. They've done remote broadcasts from such locations as beef empire days in Garden City to the state gubernatorial debates to the state barbershop quartet convention. Some of the film features which they have produced have been distributed nationwide.
So after four years, what does Dave Wilson think of Kansas now? He says, "This is a very pretty part of the country. I like rural living. The people are nice, and it's not so big that we have to fight the traffic and the crime."
Well, it's time to say goodbye to this television headquarters. We'll think of the station fondly as we drive on down the unpaved street. No, it's not Dan Rather in New York City -- and frankly, I'm glad it's not. We salute Dave Wilson and the people of Smoky Hills public television in Bunker Hill, Kansas, for the way they are making a difference through educational programming for rural America.
Hodgeman County Dairy - Dennis Bradford
Got milk? No, you don't need to check your refrigerator. "Got milk?" is a promotional slogan for the dairy industry. Perhaps you've seen "got milk?" in print or on the commercials on TV.
Today we're going to ask that question in a different sense. We'll ask western Kansas: got milk?
The reason I ask is that people in western Kansas have been seeking to develop more milk production there. One year ago on this program, we described the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance - called wKREDA - which was seeking to expand the dairy industry. We've also featured the Kansas Dairy Council and Kansas Dairy Association, which promote dairy as well. Now it's time for a progress report.
Western Kansas is an extremely productive beef and grain region, but in the past, it has not been a place which has produced much milk. Today, if we ask "got milk?," western Kansas could answer "yes."
That is due to some pioneering entrepreneurs, who are building dairy production in western Kansas. For some people, it is proof that the American dream still works.
Meet Dennis Bradford. Dennis is the co-owner and general manager of the Hodgeman County Dairy near Jetmore, Kansas. Jetmore is a southwest Kansas town of 892 people. Now, that's rural.
Dennis was born and raised in Hodgeman County. He was active in FFA, being selected as Star Farmer of Kansas. Dennis farmed full-time right out of school, working at a feedlot and helping out an older farmer. Eventually that farmer retired and Dennis was able to work into his operation.
Dennis says, "The first time I borrowed money it was for 20 bucket calves. We built up the business to the point that we were custom-feeding and growing up to 8,000 yearlings."
Of course, these were all beef cattle. But when the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance held a meeting about expanding dairy production, it rang a bell with Dennis Bradford.
Dennis says, "We had some milk cows on the farm growing up, but I never thought I'd have anything to do with them again. Then when wKREDA had a meeting about large scale dairying, I decided to look into it."
After a lot of work and research, the Bradfords converted their beef feedlot into a dairy operation. They already had pens and feeding equipment, but they had to build a milk barn. The dairy started operating in June of 1996.
Now, this isn't like the old milk cow that your grandpa had in the back yard. This is a large scale, scientific, and sophisticated operation. The enterprise is milking 1,700 cows today and could go to 2,800 cows by the fall of 1997. It will employ 27 people and generate much economic benefit to the region.
The dairy has sparked interest from all over. Visitors have come from as far away as California, Florida, and New York.
Dennis says, "It blows people's mind when they see the technology and quality that is involved here. Modern technology can detect one eyedropper-ful of contaminated milk in an Olympic-sized swimming pool."
Computers are used to track milk production, feed costs, and certain data on each cow. Conditions are monitored extremely closely, to assure that the milk meets the highest standards of quality and safety.
All this is pretty exciting for co-owner Dennis Bradford, who started as a hired hand in the feedlot. He says, "There's still opportunity in this country. You're only limited to what your dreams are."
Got milk? Yes, western Kansas has milk. But it also has something more than that. It has entrepreneurs and risk-takers like Dennis Bradford, who are willing to make a difference by investing their time and hard work into making these new dairy enterprises grow.
So, please pass the milk -- and pass along our thanks for these entrepreneurs of the western Kansas dairy industry.
Back in the 1960s, there was a movie entitled "Seven Days in May." I thought of that title - Seven Days in May - when I heard the story of a man we'll meet today, who went through a whirlwind of change during seven eventful days one spring. In those seven days, he went from high school graduation into the military and then suddenly back to the farm. That's a lot of change, in seven days. But more important than those seven days was what he built during the years after his return: a multi-million dollar business in rural Kansas.
This is the remarkable story of Don Landoll. It was Don who experienced these remarkable seven days. Don grew up on a farm near Hanover in north central Kansas. Hanover is a town of 654 people. Now, that's rural.
Don enjoyed mechanical things and working with metal. When he was a sophomore in high school, his dad got him a welder. In his senior year, Don decided to join the U. S. Air Force.
Don says, "On Tuesday, I graduated from high school. On Sunday, I reported to the Air Force. On Monday I failed my physical, and on Tuesday I was back on the farm." Wow, talk about a lot of change in seven days.
But life goes on. Don went to work for a local farm equipment dealership which not only sold and repaired equipment, it also built some. It was Don Landoll's first taste of commercial manufacturing.
In the fall of 1963, Don was approached by a fellow employee at the dealership about the possibility of buying the welding shop in the nearby town of Marysville. It was a fateful day.
Don says, "I remember sitting in the car talking to this man and on the radio came the news that President Kennedy had been shot." Yes, it happened to be that very day.
Don and his partner-to-be thought about the welding shop, but Don didn't really have the money to buy into it. The other man, who was 30 years older, thought Don had so much potential that he self-financed Don's share of the business.
December 16, 1963 was their first day of business. It was Don, his partner, and one hired man. They had a typical welding, radiator, and blacksmithing shop. But Don says, "From the beginning, we had the idea that we would want to build and manufacture some things of our own."
They started building camper frames for another company, and then that company went bankrupt. Don says, "I learned a lot from that process."
In the summer of 1967, Don's partner wanted to go back to work at the railroad where he had worked before. Again, his partner self-financed the purchase by Don.
Don says, "I knew I needed to be making a product of my own." The first product he manufactured was a slip-in stock rack for pickup trucks. Then he got into heavier metal fabrication when he started constructing tool bars for anhydrous ammonia tanks.
In 1968, he built a chisel plow with the help of a local farmer. It was the first tillage product he had built.
These products were good, but they were very seasonal. Farmers needed to buy them at certain times of the year, but not other times. So Don looked for a product that would be in demand year-round. In 1969, he built his first trailer for carrying ag and tillage equipment.
The business continued to grow and diversify. It became known as the Landoll Corporation. Today, it is a multi-million dollar company employing more than 500 people.
In 1986, the Landoll Corporation was named by the Small Business Administration as the National Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year. In 1990, Don Landoll was elected by his peers as the President of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association.
Yes, Don Landoll experienced a whirlwind of change in seven days. He went from school to the military and back. But that gave Don a new beginning, from which he is making a difference through building a business based on the common sense, hard work, and values of rural Kansas.
There is more to this remarkable story of entrepreneurship -- and we'll hear about that on our next program.
The man from California had a problem. He was at the Kansas City International Airport meeting with Trans World Airlines, and he had a problem. TWA was not happy with the quality of the airport freight transport trailers which the man's company was providing them.
So he had an unhappy customer, and that was a problem. The man decided to take a drive and think about a solution.
He drove north of KCI, and happened to come to a farm equipment dealership. He drove onto the lot, and some yellow-painted farm equipment caught his eye. He noticed the high quality of the workmanship on that equipment, and he got an idea. He contacted the maker of that equipment and asked him if he could produce airport freight transport trailers with that same high quality.
The answer, ultimately, was yes. The problem was solved. And where do you suppose the maker of this high quality equipment was found? That's right, in rural Kansas.
This is the remarkable story of the Landoll Corporation and its founder and chairman, Don Landoll. Don started out in a three man welding shop in Marysville, Kansas. He began building some farm equipment in his welding shop, and then he started to build the business.
Don says, "There are certain principles I believe real strongly in. One is the benefit of diversification. Another is the importance of generating opportunities and then recognizing them." And then there's the phrase on his business card: Quality is always a bargain.
Those principles would serve Don well. He diversified his farm business with the construction of trailers, beginning in 1969. The high quality of the work attracted more interest. In 1974, he was contacted by the Case company to build products for their company stores.
The company continued to grow. One day in 1980, Don got a call from the man from California who had the problem with the airport freight transport trailers. It had been Don Landoll's equipment that the man had spotted in the lot north of KCI. Don took on the challenge of producing the airline equipment, and it went well.
Don Landoll continues to diversify. His company is now building forklifts as well as special heavy-duty trailers which are used to haul buses and salvage cars. Landoll Corporation has 85 percent of the market for these towing trailers nationwide.
Here's another example of diversification. In 1983, Don had been contacted about building de-icers for the military. De-icers are those machines at the airports that drive out and spray stuff on the airplane wings to get rid of the ice so the planes will fly. Now, there's a place where I definitely want high quality.
The Landoll Corporation successfully bid and got a contract to build 392 de-icers for the military. The contract was worth 42.8 million dollars. Their work was so successful that the Landoll Corporation was recognized by SBA as the National Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year.
Today the Landoll Corporation produces lots of de-icers. In fact, the list of the Landoll customers is almost beyond belief. It includes Northwest, United, and Delta Airlines. And that's not all: there's Lufthansa, KLM, British Caledonia, Scandinavian airlines, Turkish airlines, and the Royal Air Force in England. Two de-icers have even been sent to Russia.
And where in the world do you suppose every one of these was built? At Landoll Corporation in Marysville, Kansas, population 3,275 people. Now, that's rural.
It is wonderful to see such an international business based in rural Kansas. The Landoll Corporation has grown to become a multi-million dollar business employing more than 500 people from 48 different zip codes. That's a lot of rural development.
And we're thankful for the Landoll family. Don's daughter, by the way, is a student at K-State, and the family is quite active in the community.
The man from California had a problem. His customer needed a high quality product. And his problem was solved, thanks to the high quality work done by the Landoll Corporation of Marysville, Kansas. We salute Don Landoll and the people of his company for their hard work and commitment to quality that is making a difference in rural Kansas -- and is solving problems for people around the world.
Today let's go to Mexico to an international meeting of environmentalists. There are lots of issues to be discussed, with people from all over. But what's this on the program? It's a rancher from rural Kansas, talking about how agriculture is benefiting the environment.
What gives here? That rancher sounds about as out of place as a K-Stater at a KU convention. All too often, farmers and environmentalists seem to be on opposite sides.
Today, we'll meet a young Kansas rancher who is helping inform environmentalists about the positive contributions of agriculture.
Meet Mark Smith. Mark is a young cattleman in western Kansas. And when I say western, I mean it. Mark lives in Greeley County, which is in the mountain time zone. Greeley County altogether has a total population of 1,834 people, the fewest of any county in the state.
Half of those people live in the county seat where Mark and his family live: the town of Tribune, population 917 people. Now, that's rural.
By the way, also in Greeley County is the town of Horace, population 173. Together, the name of the town and county would be Horace, Greeley. I love the names of Kansas towns.
This rural county is home to some excellent agriculture. Mark Smith's ancestors homesteaded in this region. The family ranching business has grown, and today Mark, a K-State graduate, is one of eleven family members involved in Smith Cattle, Inc.
So how in the world did this young rancher get on the program of an international meeting of environmentalists?
Mark Smith explains that in 1991 the National Cattlemen's Association initiated an award called the Environmental Stewardship Awards Program. Awards go to cattlemen who use innovative conservation and other practices to improve the environment as well as cattle business performance.
In 1993, Smith Cattle won the award. They also were recognized by Farm Journal as the national Farm Steward of the Year. The Smith's record of water conservation and wildlife support is outstanding.
What's that? The environmentalists? Oh yeah. These awards meant that the Smiths were featured in full page ads in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. It also meant speaking opportunities to such groups as environmental educators, urban classrooms, and the Sierra Club.
But as I said, all too often urban environmentalists may regard farmers as the enemy. Mark Smith says, "When I spoke in Mexico, one man came up to me and said he came to the program just to see me get nailed to the wall. The audience seemed so cold at the beginning. But as I told our story, I could feel them warm up."
Mark says, "Farmers and ranchers learn early on that if we don't take care of that land, it won't take care of us." He explained what he and other farm families have been doing for the environment.
For example, careful management of the Smith's land has significantly increased wildlife diversity. Deer, wild turkey, pheasant, hawks, and eagles have joined the jackrabbits and antelopes on the ranches. Sounds like home on the range, doesn't it, where the deer and the antelope play?
The Smiths converted an old windmill into a nesting area for hawks. They've planted thousands of trees for windbreaks and wildlife shelter belts.
On their cropland, the Smiths use low energy precision application of irrigation water which can cut water use by 20 percent. Runoff water from feedlots is collected and applied directly to adjacent fields.
Instead of using pesticides, the Smiths use predatory insects to control flies in the feedlots. These wasps are not harmful to people or cattle, but help keep down pests naturally.
All these things told first-hand by a young farmer help give environmentalists a new appreciation of agriculture. Mark credits the KARL program - Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership - with helping him take an active role in educating the public about agriculture. And he says, "The response has been tremendous."
It's time to say goodbye to this meeting of environmentalists in Mexico, where a young Kansas rancher is making a difference by telling the story of how modern agriculture can benefit the environment. We're thankful for Mark Smith's stewardship and especially his leadership.
Windmill Inn - Tim and Deb Sanders
In the summer of 1934, my father worked on a farm south of Chapman, Kansas. He farmed during the day and stayed upstairs in the family's farmhouse at night. He told me about a big windmill that stood near the house, which provided water for the livestock and the people. It was a neat memory.
Recently my father visited that farmhouse again, but it wasn't to farm and it wasn't just for nostalgia. Today that old farmhouse has been restored into a beautiful bed and breakfast which also offers elegant dining. It's still a working farm, and the windmill still stands. In fact, the name of this wonderful place is the Windmill Inn.
Meet Deb and Tim Sanders. Deb and Tim are the owners and residents of the Windmill Inn, which is today's Kansas Profile.
Deb Sanders is the granddaughter of the farmer for whom my father worked 60 years ago. Her mother married and moved to Wichita, where Deb was born and raised. She went to K-State and met Tim Sanders, who came from a farm near Hutchinson.
Deb and Tim married after graduation, and Tim went into a corporate career that took them from St. Louis to Chicago to the San Francisco area. Tim worked in corporate sales management and Deb had a custom decorative art glass business. But in his heart, Tim missed the farm. Tim and Deb were living in California when she came back to Kansas for a visit in 1989.
Deb says, "When my mom and I walked into the old farmhouse to see my grandfather, it was crystal clear to me that this house should be a bed and breakfast."
When she went back to the west coast, she told Tim about it. Deb and Tim took a trip to Arizona, where they spent a whole day brainstorming about what they could do in Kansas. That night they called Deb's mom in Kansas, and got sad news: Deb's grandfather had passed away at 6 o'clock that morning.
The news was sad, but the timing turned out to be providential. One thing led to another, and in the end, Deb and Tim Sanders left California to move back to her grandparents farm.
The first step was to remodel, expand, and restore the old farmhouse. It is a beautiful old building, with the original oak woodwork and a wonderful wraparound porch. Dad says it's a little fancier than the days when he stayed there...
And it is beautiful. Deb and Tim brought with them some samples of brilliant stained and beveled glass from their business in California, and remarkably, they fit the windows in the old farmhouse.
And where exactly is this place? It's located on a blacktop road 9 miles due south of Chapman. Chapman is a town of 1,282 people. Now, that's rural.
Today Tim does the farming and helps Deb with her three main businesses: the bed & breakfast, dining at the Inn, and catering at other locations. Deb says she has done a lot of catering in the Manhattan area and at the Eisenhower center in Abilene.
She says, "I love to cook." She does it with elegance and style. The menu includes locally purchased meats, including ostrich, and breads and desserts baked fresh in their kitchen. In fact, Deb is a two-time winner of the Taste Bud award for gourmet cooking from a group in Salina.
And if you need further evidence, take a look at the guest book at the Windmill Inn. You will find names from California to New Hampshire. In fact, on the page opposite where I signed were names of a group visiting from Sproxton, England. It's exciting to find this international interest in rural Kansas.
If you are interested in the Windmill Inn, you can call them at 913-263-8755. The number again is 913-263-8755.
Yes, my dad recently revisited the old farmstead where he worked in the summer of 1934. The farm is still going, the windmill is still there, and what a delight to see what the farmhouse has become. We're thankful for Tim and Deb Sanders, whose creativity and entrepreneurship are making a difference in rural Kansas.
And Dad says, the hospitality is as great there as it ever was.
"Three strikes and you're out." We all know that's a rule in baseball. These days that phrase refers to our sentencing of criminals as well.
Recently, however, I heard that phrase used in a different way, by a businessperson in central Kansas. He was talking about the decision his family made to relocate from a major city to a rural area -- specifically, to Lincoln County, Kansas. Today we'll meet some of the remarkable people of Lincoln County.
First, meet Shawn Huse. Shawn is the businessman who used the phrase about three strikes and you're out. Shawn explains that he and his wife Jana had been living and working in Denver with their young family. Even though they weren't in a bad neighborhood, the problems of crime and violence began to hit close to home.
Strike one was when a former babysitter of theirs was shot and killed in a crime incident in Denver. Strike two came 2 months later, when a child was hit by a stray bullet at the city zoo. And strike three was when yet another child was shot by gangbangers on a city street.
Shawn Huse says, "Three strikes and you're out." Three violent incidents in a short span of time convinced them that the urban area was unsafe for their children. So, they started looking to relocate.
Jana Huse, who is an accountant, was contacted by a headhunting firm about an accounting position which happened to be in Lincoln County, Kansas. They eventually made the move to Lincoln County, where Jana took the accounting position and Shawn runs a home construction and remodeling business.
Talk about a contrast. Denver is a city of nearly half a million people. Lincoln County altogether has a population of only 3,454 people. Shawn and Jana live at the Lincoln County town of Sylvan Grove, population 274 people. Now, that's rural.
But the rural nature of the community was an attraction, after the crime and congestion of the big city.
What Shawn and Jana found in Lincoln County was a great deal of community spirit. Shawn got involved with the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.
There he found a group of committed, hard-working volunteers like Mary Byarlay, wife of retired banker Hal Byarlay....People like Marilyn Helmer, who founded a gift shop called "Village Lines, Little Kansas" which features Kansas artists. Marilyn has initiated bus tours to highlight the tourism attractions of the region.
Lincoln County is also home to other remarkable people such as Bob Crangle, the Harvard Law graduate who is now county attorney, and Charlene Jones, the former county commissioner who lives up by Barnard. That area is so rural that she lives 20 miles from a loaf of bread in any direction. Charlene has been active with the Kansas Center for Rural Initiatives and other activities.
Lincoln County is the Post Rock Capital of Kansas, so the Lincoln County chamber promotes various opportunities in this region known for its distinctive limestone signposts and fenceposts.
And with a name like Lincoln, the county realized they could build on that historic heritage. Each year around President's Day, the town of Lincoln holds a reenactment weekend. Festivities include a civil war reenactment, an Abraham Lincoln lookalike contest, displays of art and history, and a buffalo feed. I don't think that means the people feed a buffalo, I think it's the other way around...
All these activities demonstrate the initiative and creativity which are important to a rural county. It takes a lot of volunteers to make a rural county go. That's why you find that Bill Wineinger, the local Farm Service Agency director, is also working on the Lincoln County home page for the Internet, and the local grain elevator manager is also a local minister and the owner of a computer business. And now, the new president of the county chamber of commerce is Shawn Huse.
Three strikes and you're out, says Shawn Huse. No, it's not baseball, it's about the quality of life which we choose for our families. Shawn Huse and the community leaders of Lincoln County are making a difference, and that hits a home run for rural Kansas.
Yost Farm Supply
Imagine a sophisticated farmer in Australia or South America or northern Europe. What if it was possible for that farmer to sit at his computer and at the touch of a button, learn instantly about the supply of farm equipment at an implement dealership halfway around the globe in Kansas?
Sounds kind of far out, doesn't it? The truth is, it's already happening, right now. I recently encountered an innovative farm equipment dealership that is currently marketing its products through the Internet on the World Wide Web. This innovative company is found in rural Kansas.
Meet Dave Yost. Dave is president of Yost Farm Supply in St. Francis, Kansas. St. Francis is in Cheyenne County in the northwest corner of the state, bordering Nebraska on the north and Colorado to the west.
St. Francis itself is a town of 1,442 people. Now, that's rural.
But maybe the distance between rural and urban, foreign and domestic, can be bridged using this modern technology. If you're connected by your computer, it doesn't matter if the person on the other end is across the street or across the ocean.
People may not expect to find this type of technology in a farm equipment dealership, but this is a remarkable business.
Dave Yost explains that he grew up on the high plains, and his family bought the farm implement business in St. Francis in 1967. In 1968, the company took on the sales contract for Versatile tractors, which are the big four wheel drive tractors used on large farming operations. That was the beginning of their growth.
Just to put those tractors in perspective, for those of us driving around a 12 horsepower riding lawnmower, some of these tractors have as many as 425 horsepower.
Over they years, their company expanded. In 1982, they bought the local Ford Mercury car dealership. In 1991, they purchased another 17,000 square foot building, and in 1996 bought a farm supply business which does sales and service of equipment and parts. New Holland is their main line of equipment now.
Today this company, which started with the family and one or two other workers, employs 55 people and has sold tractors as far away as Australia and New Zealand from St. Francis, Kansas. It's remarkable.
So how did this new technology come into play? Dave Yost says, "I've always been interested in computers. We have tons of terminals sitting around," for keeping track of parts and so forth. A local computer guy developed a website for the business, and in February 1997, Yost Farm Supply went on line with their listings of new and used equipment for sale. I found their website on the home page of the High Plains Journal.
Dave Yost says, "Because of the time difference, it's easier for us to communicate with our customer in New South Wales, Australia through the Internet than any other way."
Dave says, "I envision a time when a farmer might come in from harvest late at night, say 10 or 11, and e-mail his dealer about a repair part he needs. Then someone at the dealership would check the e-mail about four the next morning, and get the part delivered to arrive before the farmer is back at the field the next morning."
That's incredible service. Come to think of it, it might save some wives getting cussed at for bringing the wrong part home too...
Service and innovation have apparently made this business go. Yost farm supply has sold tractors as far away as North Dakota, California and Texas, as well as overseas. E-mail inquiries have come from as far away as Egypt and South Africa.
This technology means you can communicate with the world but still stay in a rural setting. Dave Yost says, "We have the best school system in North America. It's hard to beat the quality of life. Here, everyone cares."
It's time to say goodbye to our sophisticated farmer surfing the net for farm equipment. I'm just thankful for rural entrepreneurs like Dave Yost who are using this technology to make a difference in the rural -- and global -- economy.
Ranch Aid Inc. - George & Maribelle Aicher
Remember Farm Aid? That's what they called those concerts put on by Willie Nelson to raise money for farmers during tough times.
Today we'll hear about Ranch Aid. No, that doesn't mean a concert for struggling ranchers. This is about a company named Ranch Aid, Incorporated, that got its name before Willie Nelson ever put on a bandanna for the needy.
Ranch Aid Inc. and its predecessor company have a deep history in Kansas. That story is today's Kansas Profile.
Meet George Aicher. George is President and Manager of Ranch Aid Inc. in Eureka, Kansas. Eureka is the county seat of Greenwood County in southeast Kansas, due east of Wichita. Eureka is a town of 2,884 people. Now, that's rural.
I mentioned that this company has a deep history in Kansas. To prove that point, let's go to Eureka more than a century ago. There a pioneering entrepreneur opened a flour mill in 1886. The business grew and the man's son took over the business in 1920. His granddaughter Maribelle would go on to attend K-State where she met George Aicher.
George and Maribelle were married, and after George's service in World War II, they came back to the midwest where George had been working. Maribelle's father had been encouraging George to join him in the family grain and feed business at Eureka, and so George entered the business as a partner in 1947.
Now if you're counting, you know that means that George has been in the business for 50 years. What a remarkable achievement.
In 1975, George and Maribelle bought sole title to the company and changed its name to Ranch Aid Inc. The business serves the livestock and farming industry of southeast Kansas.
Today, Ranch Aid is an independent, home-owned manufacturer of livestock feeds. It also offers seed, fertilizer, ag chemicals, and other farm-related supplies. But the feed business is the bread and butter of the company.
Ranch Aid offers an extensive line of commercial and custom formulated livestock feeds. Feeds are scientifically formulated with various minerals and other products to fight cattle diseases and improve gains.
This company began as a flour mill, later a feed mill serving one county, and today it is a multi-million dollar business serving more than 18 counties in three states. It is also responding to changes in agriculture: now Ranch Aid mixes feed for such critters as ostrich, emu and game birds in addition to cows and calves.
George Aicher also has deep ties to K-State. His father was superintendent of K-State's branch experiment station at Hays for 31 years, and one of George's uncles was Mike Ahearn, the K-State football coach and athletic director for whom Ahearn Fieldhouse is named. Mike Ahearn, by the way, was K-State's winningest football coach until some guy named Snyder came along....
George Aicher says he counts 12 people in his family who graduated from K-State. That makes for a lot of people singing the Alma Mater -- and speaking of the Alma Mater, it turns out that it was written by George's great-uncle Humphrey W. Jones in 1888. I can't imagine a more purple pedigree than that.
George has been an active leader in the community and the industry. In 1986, George Aicher was elected president of the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. He helped support the idea of the racehorse track at the fairgrounds in Eureka. It's called Eureka Downs, and George tells us that the county fair association there has now signed an agreement with the Kansas Quarterhorse Association to lease the track year-round for their training programs. That's a good educational purpose that fits the region, and it will be good for the local economy.
So, do you remember Farm Aid? Well, Ranch Aid is different. It's no Willie Nelson concert, but rather a multi-million dollar, home-grown business which is scientifically formulating feeds for the needs of modern agriculture. We salute George and Maribelle Aicher for their lifetime of service which is making a difference to Kansas agriculture.
And with that, as Willie Nelson would say, I guess we're on the road again.
Doerr Metal Products Inc. - Bill & Nancy Langford
Today let's go to Guatemala in Latin America. There is a product coming in to the dock from overseas. It's a metal screen that goes in the bottom of a water well.
And where do you suppose this product is coming from? Yes, you guessed it, this product is coming from a manufacturing company in the heart of rural Kansas.
This is the story of Doerr Metal Products Incorporated of Larned, Kansas, which produces these water well screens that are selling internationally.
Meet Bill Langford. Bill is President of Doerr Metal Products Inc. Doerr, by the way, is spelled D-O-E-R-R -- like do-er with an extra R. And sure enough, the company was begun by a family of doers.
The company was founded by a local businessman in Larned named A. A. Doerr. His family ran several enterprises, including a hardware store, sheet metal fabrication business, Chrysler and International Harvester dealerships, and even a funeral home. Boy, that way they'd get you coming and going...
Anyway, their metal products business was producing stock tanks. Their work caught the eye of Bill Langford.
Bill is an engineer from southern California originally. He worked 17 years in the aerospace industry and then in commercial manufacturing. One management position took him to Hastings, Nebraska where he eventually bought a sheet metal fabricating company. In 1996, he bought Doerr Metal Products as well.
Bill explains that the company produces galvanized steel stock tanks for watering livestock and metal screens to go in the bottom of irrigation wells. The stock tanks primarily serve the livestock industry of the midwest. The water well screens go into irrigation and industrial wells, and have sold as far away as Guatemala and El Salvador.
How in the world did such international customers find a product manufactured in Larned, Kansas? Larned is in Pawnee County in south central Kansas. It's a town of 4,474 people. Now, that's rural.
Yet this business in such a rural community is able to serve international customers. Bill Langford says, "There are international trade shows where various water-related products are shown, and that's where our products were found."
Doerr Metal Products also does custom metal work as a job shop for other manufacturers.
Bill Langford says that he believes in the increased use of computers. In fact, one of his hobbies is to adapt the shop equipment so that it can be controlled by computers.
Today this company employs 25 people and has sales of nearly 2 million dollars.
His advice for other entrepreneurs or managers is basically to pay your dues. He says, "Getting experience really helps. Small manufacturing companies require a knowledge of a lot of different things. And each state and federal agency seems to have its own set of requirements. Taken individually, they're okay, but the cumulative effect of all of them is a load on a business."
Bill's wife Nancy serves as controller for both the companies in Nebraska and in Kansas. She's a native of southern California too.
So I asked him, "How is the quality of life here in the midwest, compared to glamorous southern California?" He said, "Far better."
Bill says, "I can visit the big city if I want to, but out here I don't have to fight the traffic to get around. I really like the lifestyle here."
It's time to say goodbye to Guatemala, which is importing these water well screens from a remarkable, small town business in Kansas. We're thankful for businesspeople like A.A. Doerr and Bill Langford, whose entrepreneurship and hard work are making a difference in the Kansas economy.
Today let's visit the Chairman of the Board. Sounds intimidating, doesn't it? Makes me think of a great big office with a big wooden desk in it.
Well, today we'll meet the Chairman of the Board of a multi-billion dollar organization, but don't go looking for him in some stuffy office someplace. You just might find this Chairman of the Board working in a buffalograss pasture in rural western Kansas.
This is the remarkable story of Otis Molz. Otis is a farmer and rancher in western Kansas. He's also someone with an international vision, who believes deeply in farmer cooperatives. That belief has led him to leadership positions with some of the world's largest cooperatives and co-op financing organizations.
Our story begins in Deerfield, Kansas. Deerfield is in Kearny County in southwest Kansas, west of Garden City. Otis Molz' ancestors homesteaded on farms near Deerfield, and that's where he grew up on the family farm.
Otis went on to farm there himself. He got a degree in agribusiness management from Park College. Today, he and his wife Mary Lee own and operate a 4,000 acre, 300 cow farm and livestock operation.
Early in his career, Otis got involved with his local farmer cooperative. The co-op is a member-owned company which provides various farm, feed, and fuel supplies. By cooperatively purchasing and marketing its products, the co-op can provide benefits to its members.
Otis says, "I saw that if we're going to accomplish anything for the rank and file farmer, we're going to have to do it together."
That belief helped get him elected to the Board of Directors of his local co-op, and later to the Board of Farmland Industries, the cooperative agribusiness based in Kansas City. It also led to his election to the Board of CoBank.
CoBank may be the biggest bank you've never heard of. It is a huge bank, with assets of more than 18 billion dollars. But it's not a bank where people make deposits. Instead, it is a specialized, cooperatively-owned bank which makes loans to agricultural cooperatives, rural utilities, and other businesses serving rural America.
In 1992, CoBank elected a new Chairman of the Board. The man who was elected was Otis Molz.
As I said, CoBank has assets of more than 18 billion -- that's with a B as in big bucks. Yet the Chairman of the Board of CoBank isn't in some stuffy New York City office, he's on his farm near Deerfield, Kansas; population 710 people. Now, that's rural.
This rural grounding gives Otis a common-sense approach to management. He's proud of CoBank's performance in providing services and cutting costs.
I mentioned that he has an international vision. Otis says, "The products we produce in Kansas, like wheat, are in surplus. We need to export those products."
His work to promote international trade has paid off. Farmland Industries' international trade volume in 1996 was greater than Farmland's total business in 1990.
Otis says some of his most rewarding times have come in working with cooperatives in developing countries. For example, he helped to strengthen ag co-ops in El Salvador when that country was embroiled in civil war.
Otis says, "Recently we went back to that country. I was pleased to find one of the men who had been a guerrilla fighter was now happily working with his family in raising cabbage, lettuce, and strawberries. A few years ago, he would have been carrying a submachinegun."
But even with all these international travels, Otis Molz is happy when he gets back to his ranch in western Kansas. He says, "There's something about seeing calves born and watching them play. And out here on the buffalograss, sometimes the only thing you can hear is meadowlarks."
It's time to say goodbye to this Chairman of the Board. His office is big, alright -- as big as all outdoors. We're thankful for people like Otis Molz, whose leadership and vision are making a difference for rural Kansas and for cooperatives around the world.
Central Fiber Corporation - Don Meeker
"Now, make sure you get plenty of fiber. It's good for you."
Have you ever gotten that advice from your doctor -- or, more importantly, from your mother?
It's good advice. We know that plenty of fiber in your diet is good for you.
Today, we'll visit a company which uses fiber in a totally different sense, but the result is the same: it's good for us. In this case, it's good for our environment.
This is the story of Central Fiber Corporation of Wellsville, Kansas. The word Fiber in the name doesn't refer to the dietary fiber you get in your breakfast cereal, but rather the recycled paper fibers they use to make a variety of manufactured, industrial products.
Central Fiber Corporation is a diversified manufacturer of fiber products made from recycled materials, primarily old newspapers. The president and CEO of Central Fiber is Don Meeker.
Don explains that his company gets old newspapers and magazines from such places as Kansas City, Wichita, and Howie's Recycling in Manhattan, as well as from people who bring them directly to the plant. The natural fibers from these papers are recycled into products such as cellulose insulation, industrial products like asphalt roof coatings, and mulch products. The mulch products, by the way, have been tested at K-State. These are the products which can be sprayed on a hillside after highway construction to prevent erosion and help grass grow.
Recycling old newspapers is good for the environment, because it conserves space in the landfills. This is a good time to think about that, because April is National Recycling Month as well as the time of Earth Day.
Central Fiber's products benefit the user as well as the environment. The insulation can cut energy bills by half. Cellulose fibers provide a healthy alternative to asbestos in buildings.
Industrial fibers must meet a high quality standard. Raw materials are sorted before being passed through a metal detector so sensitive that the foil on a gum wrapper will shut down the conveyor until the foreign material is removed. That quality has paid off. Central Fiber has shipped its products internationally, including as far away as Thailand.
The company has recently developed new products that are also good for the environment. One is a fiber solution called Topcoat which is sprayed on top of landfills and dries quickly to help fight erosion, litter, and fire hazards. This thin but effective coating can extend the life of a landfill by 20 percent.
Central Fiber was started in 1980 by a man named John Pollock, and incorporated in 1986. Don Meeker bought the company in 1992. Don is a native of northeast Kansas who practiced corporate law before moving into management. He says he is a "recovering lawyer." You gotta love a lawyer with a sense of humor. Don was President of another company before becoming President and CEO of Central Fiber.
In 1990, Central Fiber bought a similar company in Ohio, but the company headquarters remains in Wellsville, Kansas. Wellsville is in Franklin County in east central Kansas. It's a town of 1,838 people. Now, that's rural.
Why have a company that is doing business internationally in a town that size? Don Meeker says, "Our work force and management team is outstanding. The work ethic is really good, and people who grew up on farms learn to fix anything."
Their location is a great one. They are in a small town, away from big city congestion, but they are right on I-35 just 40 miles out of Kansas City.
And listen to this: the company had 20 employees when it incorporated in 1986, and today it has 50 employees. And talk about being good for the environment: in 1996, Central Fiber used about 35,000 tons or 70 million pounds of old newspapers and magazines.
"Now, make sure you get plenty of fiber. It's good for you." Yes, that's good advice. It's good for your diet -- but it's also good to see a rural Kansas company making a positive difference by recycling newspaper fibers into useful products through the free enterprise system. We're thankful for entrepreneurs like Don Meeker and the people of Central Fiber in Wellsville.
So, get plenty of fiber. It's good advice from your mother -- and in the case of this rural Kansas company, it's also good for Mother Nature.
Gardiner Angus Ranch - Henry Gardiner
"ET phone home." Remember that line? It was a famous saying from that movie about the nice little extra-terrestrial creature that ends up on earth. He wanted to get back to his home planet, and he kept saying "ET phone home."
Today, we're going to talk about ET, but not about anything extra-terrestrial. This is a true story. It's science, but not fiction. In this case, ET stands for embryo transfer.
Embryo transfer is an advanced technology which is being used for beef cattle improvement. Today, we'll visit one of the leading beef cattle ranches in the country where this ET is being used, and we'll find it in rural Kansas.
Meet Henry Gardiner. Henry and his family are the owners and operators of Gardiner Angus Ranch, one of the best in the business. They're using modern technology to improve cattle production. The ranch is located near Ashland, Kansas.
Ashland is in southwest Kansas. It's the county seat of Clark County, which borders Oklahoma. Clark County has a total population of 2,409 people, which makes it the 98th smallest population of Kansas' 105 counties. The county seat of Clark County is Ashland, population 984 people. Now, that's rural.
Henry Gardiner has deep roots in this county. His grandparents came to this area in covered wagons in 1885. They lived in a dugout for nine years on their 160 acres of homestead land. That's real Kansas history.
Their son Ralph, Henry's dad, began putting together the current Gardiner Ranch in the 1920s. Henry studied animal science at K-State, as did his sons. Today, the ranch consists of more than 21,000 acres. It's operated by Henry and Nan Gardiner and their sons Greg, Mark, and Garth and their wives.
So where does ET come in? Well, the Gardiners breed their cows using this procedure called embryo transfer, where a superior cow is artificially inseminated with semen from a superior bull, and then the embryos are transferred to another cow to expedite the process.
The result is that it makes beef better faster. Good managers can select those animals with the proven genetics to produce better, tastier, healthier beef -- and then get more of them sooner.
The only down-side I can see of this artificial breeding is for the bull who gets left out! He may not like being replaced by technology. But the results have made Gardiner Angus Ranch a leader in the business.
The ranch breeds more than 1,300 head of Angus females for fall calves each year, using ET or artificial insemination. And the technology doesn't stop there. Performance data are recorded and computerized on all calves born on the ranch.
All this data and hard work has enabled the Gardiners to produce cattle which are very attractive to the marketplace.
An annual production sale is held at the ranch each April. The sale catalog contains a wealth of data on the performance and genetics of each animal. At the April 1997 sale, 583 animals sold for a total value of more than a million dollars. There were buyers present from 28 different states from Maine to California.
Henry Gardiner was awarded the Beef Improvement Federation Commercial Producer of the Year in 1981 and in 1987 received the Seedstock Producer of the Year. He is the only person to ever win both awards.
Yet Henry says the highlight of his career has been to have his family involved in the business. All three sons came back to the ranch after graduating from K-State, and now there are 5 Gardiner grand-children to look after.
ET phone home. Remember that line? Just as ET in the movies wanted to get home, so the sons of Henry Gardiner have returned home also. They are using a different kind of ET - embryo transfer - as part of the scientific management which is making a difference by creating one of America's leading cattle herds.
And there's an interesting sidelight to this story. One of the Gardiner sons made a stop in the country music industry in Nashville, and we'll hear about that on our next program.
Garth Gardiner - Field of Dreams
Remember the movie "Field of Dreams"? That was the show about a mythical baseball field in a cornfield in Iowa where a young man's dreams came true.
Today, let's think of Field of Dreams in a different sense. Maybe that field could be a Kansas wheat field, and the dreams consist of that wheat producer's hopes for his family.
Sure enough, Field of Dreams is the title of such a song co-written and performed by a young rancher from rural Kansas. His name is Garth Gardiner.
Garth is a talented singer, so after graduating from K-State, he went to Nashville to try the country music industry. And Garth is not one of these make-believe, big-city cowboys, he really knows about life on a ranch. He comes from the Gardiner Angus Ranch, which is located near Ashland in southwest Kansas and reaches down by the town of Englewood, population 94 people. Now, that's rural.
Those rural roots led Garth Gardiner to co-write this song about Kansas and wheat. It was recorded at Emerald Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Here is Garth Garrett Gardiner.
(Field of Dreams - 3:39)
That's Garth Gardiner of Ashland, Kansas. After spending time in Nashville, Garth is now back on the family ranch with his new bride. We send best wishes to the Gardiner family, which is making a difference by finding its field of dreams in rural Kansas.
Hand-dug well - Greensburg
Well, well, well. Today we're going to talk about rural tourism. What are the opportunities for a rural state like Kansas to attract tourists?
I believe rural Kansas has more attractions than many realize -- and I also believe we need to make the most of what we have. So where can we find an example of an interesting local attraction?
Well, well, well. Sure enough, I'm talking about the world's largest hand-dug well. It's located in rural Kansas.
Meet Vickie Burke. Vickie provided me information about the world's largest hand-dug well, which is located in her hometown of Greensburg, Kansas.
Greensburg is in southwest Kansas between Dodge City and Wichita. It's the county seat of Kiowa County. Kiowa County altogether has a population of 3,605 people. That would rank the county 82nd in population among the 105 Kansas counties. Greensburg itself has a population of 1,747 people. Now, that's rural.
How does a town that size do anything with tourism? It needs to evaluate itself and make the most of its unique strengths or comparative advantages.
For example, here's an attraction which has brought in more than 3 million visitors. It's the world's largest hand-dug well. It really is an engineering marvel.
The story begins in the 1880's when the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads were laying tracks across the plains of Kansas. Their locomotives were powered by steam so they needed plenty of water. Of course, the growing population of people needed water too.
So in 1887, the city granted a franchise for a water works system, starting with a big well.
Construction of the well is described as "a masterpiece of pioneer engineering." The well was dug by crews of twelve to fifteen farmers, cowboys, and other local men. Other crews quarried and hauled the native stone used for the casing of the well.
Imagine digging by hand a hole that is more than a hundred feet deep and more than 30 feet wide. It really is remarkable.
As the dirt was removed from the hole, it was cribbed with wood to prevent caving in, and braced with planks. When the digging crews reached water, they built a wooden ring called a boot, constructed of heavy oak bridge timbers. The timbers were mortised and dovetailed together in such a way that no nails were used. That meant no nails to turn into rust down in the water.
Walls of native stone were built on top of the wooden boot, and the weight forced the boot down through water and sand until it rested on solid footing. Then the masonry was built to the top.
When the well was completed in 1888, it was 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. Until 1932, it served as the city's water supply.
When the city got a new water supply, what was to be done with the old well? City leaders decided to cover it and open it as a tourist attraction in 1939. There are stairs inside where a visitor can walk down 105 steps to the bottom.
Now, a naysayer might ask, "What's so exciting about an old well?" Let me tell you a true story.
Sometime ago I was passing through Greensburg, so I made a stop at the big well. As I went down the stairs inside the well, there was a young couple doing the same. So I struck up a conversation and politely asked where they were from.
The answer was Florida. Here was a young couple from Florida visiting a big well in rural Kansas.
I said, "If you don't mind my asking, since you're from Florida with all its fancy attractions, what are you doing here?" They said, "Oh yeah, we're from Florida where they have Disneyworld and all that stuff. We want to get away from the crowds and see real people and real things."
Well, well, well. There are opportunities for rural Kansas to make the most of the attractions we have. We salute Vickie Burke and the people of Greensburg for their efforts to make a difference through rural, grass-roots tourism.
Nancy Baalman - Fick Fossil & History Museum
Today let's tune in to the Discovery Channel. Oh look, they're describing an exciting new paleontological discovery. And where in the world do you suppose this broadcast was filmed?
Well, you're wrong unless you guessed Gove County, Kansas. This is the story of some unique paleontological finds and the remarkable people who help display them in rural Kansas.
First, a basic question: what the heck is paleontology? It is the study of fossils, the preserved remains of prehistoric life.
Another question: what in the world was the Discovery Channel doing in Gove County and how does the town of Oakley figure into this? Oakley is a northwest Kansas town of 2,106 people. Now, that's rural.
To get some answers, let's meet Nancy Baalman, director of the Fick Fossil and History Museum in Oakley.
Nancy explains that a giant inland sea covered much of western Kansas during the Cretaceous period, some 65 to 120 million years ago.
The fossilized remains of former sea creatures are found in certain parts of rural Kansas, including the Oakley area. Ernest and Vi Fick, founders of the Fick Fossil and History Museum, were ranchers who collected fossils. Vi Fick used many of these fossils in her artwork. Vi painted fossil shells, teeth, and vertebra, and then used the painted fossils to create still life and landscape pictures. The artwork is referred to as folk art. Vi had no formal training, other than an 8th grade art class in a country school.
In 1972, Ernest and Vi Fick donated their entire collection to the town of Oakley with the proviso that the community build a museum to house the collection. The town did so, and the Fick Fossil and History Museum was born.
Today it is perhaps the only museum in the world with this unique combination of fossils and folk art. The collection has grown with numerous donations from the community and around the world. It displays more than 11,000 shark teeth. That's better than Jaws... Also in the collection is a complete Xiphactinus, which was a predatory fish 13 and a half feet long. Wow, talk about the one that got away...
This remarkable museum never charges admission. It is a donation museum, supported entirely by city funds, gifts, donations, grants, and memorials.
And what about the Discovery Channel? Well, the most recent addition to the fossil collection is so remarkable that a film company came from England to film it for broadcast on the Discovery Channel next spring.
The creature they filmed is a Mosasaur, a water lizard that is perhaps 85 million years old. One of its unusual features is that it has a scleral ring around the eye socket.
A scleral ring is a ring of soft bone which covers the eye. It works much like the shutter on a camera, which adjusts to let in different amounts of light. In the case of the Mosasaur, the scleral ring would automatically adjust to protect the lizard's eyeball from water pressure as it dove into the depths of the sea. This is so unusual it has attracted international attention, and the Mosasaur fossil is one of the largest and oldest in any public collection.
The mosasaur fossil was found on the Bird Ranch in Gove County, Kansas.
Folks at the Fick museum are very pleased to receive this specimen. Nancy Baalman says, "Pieces like this usually end up in larger museums or private collections. The Bird family wanted it to be of benefit to the area schools and the community, so they chose to donate it to the museum."
Nancy herself, a Rural Sociology graduate of K-State, understands that community spirit. Rural communities work because, as Nancy says, "People come together out here to help one another and their community. Everyone worked together on this project. Without that support and dedication, nothing like this could have been possible."
It's time to turn off the Discovery Channel, but we'll remember the Fick Fossil and History Museum in Oakley and people like Ernest & Vi Fick and the Gary, Glen and Roy Bird family and Nancy Baalman. They are making a difference through their commitment to preserving and sharing these prehistoric treasures of rural Kansas.
The Kansas Song - Peter Robinson
When was the last time you heard a song which included the names of Kansas towns Oswego, Wakeeney, Ulysses, and Hoxie?
If the answer is "never," you might be typical. Major record companies haven't exactly been clamoring for songs about Kansas towns. But there is a song that includes those towns, and it's today's Kansas Profile.
Meet Peter Robinson. Peter is a native of Shawnee Mission, Kansas who went to college at Princeton. He worked for Bob Dole and Congressman Larry Winn on Capitol Hill.
But Peter says, "I've always loved music." So he went back to his first love, and today is a professional musician. He leads the Peter Robinson Trio, which performs at the prestigious Hotel Sofitel in Washington DC. He's performed at the Ritz Carlton and other places around Washington. Peter, his wife Mary, and their two children live in nearby Maryland.
In 1980, a prominent Kansan named Rick Harman asked Peter to compose a song for Kansas Day, which he did. The song includes the names of not one, not two, but thirteen towns all over Kansas, even including the southwest Kansas town of Wright which has a population of approximately 350 people. Now, that's rural.
So, listen to the song and see if you hear the name of your hometown. Here is Peter Robinson singing The Kansas Song.
(The Kansas Song 3:06)
That was The Kansas Song, as written and performed by Peter Robinson. If you would like to have this song on CD, contact Peter at 301-229-3149. That number again is 301-229-3149.
So, now you've heard a song including the names of Kansas towns Oswego, Wakeeney, Hoxie, and more. Peter Robinson's loyalty to his home state is making a difference by causing him to use his talents to write and sing a song about Kansas.
When was the last time you had the good fortune to take a cut in pay?...
Yes, I said the "good fortune to take a cut in pay." Sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it? A cut in pay isn't good fortune, it's bad fortune.
Well, stay tuned. Today, we'll meet a man who made a career choice which happened to include a cut in pay -- yet that choice led to a highly successful career in rural Kansas.
Meet Fred Steffens. Fred is the man who took a risk and made this challenging career choice -- and he also made the most of it.
Fred Steffens is originally from a farm in Missouri. His dad moved to Colorado, and Fred went to business college in Denver. He always had a knack for books and numbers, and even won several state bookkeeping championships as a student.
After graduation, he worked as an accountant for a gas and electric utility in Colorado. That company was later bought out.
At one point, Fred Steffens was working for $160 per month. But he was approached with an offer: he could come to Kansas to work for a new business there, but he would have to take a cut in pay, to $140 per month.
Of course, no one likes a pay cut, but Fred saw some opportunities with this new startup company. So, he made the move to the Kansas Pipeline and Gas Company in Phillipsburg, Kansas.
Fred was a hard worker. In fact, he personally uncovered and addressed an example of corruption in a field office. His business skills and integrity were to lead him to a highly successful career.
At first, the Kansas Pipeline and Gas Company was a collection of gas distribution systems serving a few small towns in northwest Kansas: such places as Stockton, Plainville, Phillipsburg, Norton, and Glade -- which has a current population of 72 people. Now, that's rural.
From that rural beginning, the company built a pipeline and distribution system through the high plains region. Today, it has become the major utility known as KN Energy.
Fred Steffens began as a bookkeeper for KN, but he went on to become Vice President, Controller, Secretary, and a member of the Board of Directors of the company.
In 1939, when Fred Steffens began, there were 55 employees with the company. By the time he retired in 1971, there were 1500 employees, and the stock had gone from $3 a share to more than $30. In fact, the company did so well that the stock split six times.
Fred was also deeply involved in the community of Phillipsburg. He was instrumental in saving the local roofing materials plant and in building a hospital in the town.
Fred and his wife retired to Florida for several years and then returned to Colorado, but he still considers Phillipsburg, Kansas his home.
His willingness to give to his community, even after retiring and moving away, is the key to our story. But there is also a sad note.
Fred and his wife had two sons who grew up in Phillipsburg. One died at age 15, in a tragic car accident after a high school football game. The other son attended K-State and had a successful career, worked for Senator Dole, and had his own business in Denver when he died suddenly of an aneurysm in September 1995 at age 54.
In honor of their sons, Fred and his wife have made major donations to the Huck Boyd Foundation, their church, and to students in Phillipsburg. Six scholarships were given in 1996 and 15 in 1997.
Cy Moyer, the banker in Phillipsburg, says, "Fred Steffens is one of those people who has always remembered his community and can always be counted on to help." His has been a lifetime of service. In fact, on June 17, 1997, Fred Steffens turned 86 years old.
When was the last time you had the good fortune to take a cut in pay? No, a cut in pay is not good fortune, but Fred Steffens was willing to experience such a cut as part of a new opportunity. He made the most of that opportunity, and now he is paying back his community in many ways. We salute Fred Steffens, whose willingness to give has made a big difference in his community and the region.
Today let's visit a safari in the heart of Africa. A big-game hunter is tracking a cape buffalo. That can be a dangerous animal, so the hunter wants the finest of bullets in his rifle. And where do you suppose the bullets in this rifle came from?
Believe it or not, the bullets in this rifle in Africa came from halfway around the globe in rural Kansas.
This is the remarkable story of the world-renowned products of the Swift Bullet Company. The owner of the company is Lee Reed.
Lee grew up in Gove County in northwest Kansas. Lee always enjoyed the outdoors, and did some hunting of his own. He was working for a farmer who had been to Africa a couple of times, and one day the professional hunter from Africa came to visit this farmer.
They talked about hunting and its risks and challenges, one of which is getting good ammunition. Lee Reed's interest was piqued.
Eventually, he and his wife started making bullets in their basement. He started to study bullet-making very carefully, and developing a business out of it. He formed his own business called the Swift Bullet Company.
Lee looked for a high value specialty area to work in. He decided to produce these top quality bullets which are used for big game hunting, and he made innovative improvements in the design of these bullets..
Lee Reed says, "In Africa, everything is bred to survive, and they can kill you." In other words, there is very little margin for error if you are hunting a lion or buffalo. You want to make sure your bullets work. That's why professional hunters in Africa require their customers to use safari-grade bullets such as those made by Swift Bullet Company, rather than the factory-made kind.
Lee Reed's company uses top quality materials and special design features in producing its bullets. For example, a cross member in the bullet keeps it from expanding too much when fired. The jacket of the bullet is tapered, and lead is bonded onto the jacket through a special proprietary process. Due to these innovations, Swift Bullets will achieve 90 to 95 percent weight retention, as opposed to 60 percent by their competition.
The result is that Swift Bullets have been called "the overwhelming favorite among professional hunters and guides around the world."
Lee has a letter of appreciation from a doctor in Ohio who had gone on safari in 1992. The doctor and his party were tracking a buffalo, when the animal surprised them in the brush. The buffalo charged, and the doctor's first shot hit the buffalo when it was five yards away. The letter ends, "I have great respect for Swift A frame bullets, having held together, being fired at close range, from such a large caliber."
Wow. If my life was on the line, I guess I'd want top quality bullets too. And that's why Swift premium hunting bullets are renowned world wide. Their biggest customer is the Remington company, which is obviously a familiar name to hunters. Now Swift Bullet is also selling to customers in such places as Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Africa.
And all this time the company has remained based in Lee Reed's hometown of Quinter, Kansas, population 935 people. Now, that's rural.
It's incredible to find this international business which serves the big-game industry operating in such a rural setting.
So I asked Lee Reed, why stay in rural Kansas? He said, "We are in a central location to ship to either the east or west coast. We have better quality workers than we could find in a city. We can produce less expensively than in a big city. And small towns need jobs too. We care about the community."
Small towns are good for families too. Lee says that he and his wife Connie have 4 children: all girls except for 3 boys...Think about that one a minute. You've got to like a parent with a sense of humor. Lee likes raising a family in the country.
It's time to say goodbye our safari in Africa. These hunters are hunting for big game, but what I'm hunting for are entrepreneurs operating successfully in rural Kansas. I'm pleased to have tracked down Lee Reed and the people of Swift Bullet Company, who are making a difference through their innovation, commitment to quality, and entrepreneurship.
Cannonball Stage Line - Pratt
Today I want to tell you about a project in stages. No, I don't mean I'm going to tell you about it one part at a time, I want to literally tell you about it in stages -- as in, inside a stagecoach.
Climb into this stagecoach, and I'll tell you the true story of a creative and historic initiative in rural Kansas.
Meet Jeanette Siemens. Jeanette is executive director of the Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce in Pratt, Kansas. Pratt is in south central Kansas, due west of Wichita. Pratt is also the site of an upcoming celebration of a historic stagecoach line.
Jeanette explains that Anita Cheatum was the chair of the PRIDE program in Kingman. A couple of years ago, Anita attended a regional tourism meeting and mentioned some little-known Kansas history about a stagecoach line which had operated through the region many years ago. That led to more research about the history, which proved to be fascinating.
In the late 1800s, there was a colorful character in south central Kansas by the name of D. R. Green. In 1876, Mr. Green opened a small livery stable in Kingman, Kansas. He had been a champion stagecoach driver, and he soon founded a stage line to trasnport people through the region. He insisted on speed, and his stage line expanded rapidly.
The stage line was named the Cannon Ball, inspired by the old song Wabash Cannon Ball which is about a powerful locomotive....Gee, all these years I thought that song was about K-State sports...
Mr. Green's stage line grew into 70 vehicles and 1,000 horses covering 1,500 miles of Kansas prairie. Mr. Green was even elected to the state legislature, where he earned the nickname Cannon Ball Green.
Cannon Ball Green was a flamboyant character. He was said to own more diamonds than anyone west of the Mississippi. He was described by the Kiowa County newspaper as the "greatest overland stage plunger the world has ever known." Wow, how would you like to tell that to your grand-kids?
Well, the coming of the railroad meant the end of the stagecoach era and hard times for Cannon Ball Green. But, his legacy is an interesting part of the region's history.
Through Anita Cheatum and others, a group of modern-day legislators including state representative Dennis McKinney and Senator Ben Vidricksen became interested in this history. They successfully got legislation through the Kansas Legislature to designate a part of the original stagecoach route the Cannonball Stage Line Highway. That route today is Highway 54 from Kingman to Greensburg. By the way, you get one guess where the town of Greensburg got its name -- sure enough, from Cannon Ball Green.
On Labor Day, September 1, 1997, the region will celebrate the designation of the Cannonball Stage Line Highway. The events really start on Saturday, August 30 when there will be actual stagecoaches traveling on the old stage line. One stagecoach will start from Kingman and the other will come from Greensburg. Their destination will be the town located in the middle: the town of Pratt.
Jeanette Siemens says much credit goes to Ray Koerner of Greensburg and other volunteers who have worked so hard to bring this about. That includes folks from the smaller towns along the Cannonball Stage Line Highway: the towns of Haviland, population 625, Cunningham, population 534, and Cullison, population 119. Now, that's rural.
Jeanette says there will be opportunities to purchase rides on the stage line on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. There will be a lunch stop and activities around the campfire that Saturday night. The stagecoaches will arrive in Pratt on Sunday night. Then on Monday at 10 a.m. at Pratt Community College, there will be an entrance parade with the stagecoaches and other horsedrawn vehicles. There will be a full day of activities, with historical reenactments, demonstrations, food, and entertainment. Admission is free. At 1 p.m. there will be an official ceremony to celebrate this new historical designation.
I've told you about this project in stages -- not in parts, but in the actual stagecoaches who will again travel this route as they did more than a century ago. We salute Jeanette Siemens and the many volunteers of this project, and the memory of Cannon Ball Green, for making a difference in their communities. They've helped take rural Kansas to a whole new stage.
Loren Medley - KEPCo - Microenterprise
Today I have a knock-knock joke for you: Knock-knock. Who's there? Mike. Mike who? Mike Roenterprise...In other words, micro-enterprise.
Okay, I'll admit, it's not the funniest knock-knock joke you've ever heard. Can you tell I've been playing with my five-year-old? But I do want you to meet this character called microenterprise. It's micro, but mighty -- and it just might become a powerful force in the economic development of rural America.
Meet Loren Medley. He's going to tell us about the concept of microenterprise. Loren is business development coordinator for the Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., called KEPCo. KEPCo is a cooperatively-owned utility based in Topeka which generates and transmits electric power to rural electric cooperatives in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas. Loren's role is to help those cooperatives and communities in the state improve their economic development. He is a leader in the field of microenterprise.
What exactly is a microenterprise? No, it's not a business selling microscopes. It simply means a very small business as found in various forms.
SBA might say a microenterprise is a business with 5 or fewer employees. Loren Medley says, "This may be a person who is self-employed or not, working full or part-time, as a home-based business or in a storefront."
Often these are startup businesses, and they have specialized needs for credit. They need money for the business, but not in large volumes that may attract a bank. And they may not have a credit history, which also makes it difficult for a bank to service them.
Microenterprises are very common in rural areas, where small business predominates. In urban areas, these microenterprises may be small businesses started by women or welfare recipients who have difficulty getting credit.
So there appears to be a niche for microloans which can help microenterprises. Loren Medley is helping address that need.
In 1992, Loren learned about a microenterprise program in Nebraska called REAP. That acronym stands for Rural Enterprise Assistance Project. It's a program which includes microlending -- loans of $500 or more - to small business operators who agree to receive business training. Loren sat in on training for the Nebraska REAP program, and became enthused about the possibilities for Kansas. REAP agreed to help start two pilot programs in Kansas using the REAP loan fund, which Loren assisted.
Now Loren is exploring a second model for microenterprise. This one is called Working Capital. It also provides loan funds in amounts from $500 to $10,000 and business training for microenterprise operators.
The loan funds are provided through something called peer lending. It works by organizing a borrowing group of 5 to 10 individuals and providing basic business skill training. If credit is needed, the individual business completes a loan application and it is presented to the other members of the borrowing group. They determine if the use of the loan money is appropriate and can be repaid. As peers of the borrower, they can relate to the borrower and can assist where needed. They also know that if the borrower defaults, the loss must be made up by the other members and borrowers, so there are incentives to help the borrower succeed.
Microenterprise development has a lot of potential. Loren Medley says, "I see a whole new segment of the economy that could move into vacant areas of our towns and cities. They would build pride and rejuvenate these communities." He knows about these communities firsthand. Loren grew up on a farm near the central Kansas town of Woodbine, population 191 people. Now, that's rural. Loren graduated from K-State and worked for the Kansas Department of Commerce before taking his current position with KEPCo.
The potential impact of microenterprise program is surprising. Loren Medley quotes a university study of the members of the current working capital microenterprise program in other states. If the working capital program was fully implemented in Kansas, it would generate 20,000 new businesses, $240 million in new sales, $130 million in new profits, and thousands of new jobs.
If you would like more information, contact Loren Medley at KEPCo at 785-271-4846. That number again is 785-271-4846.
Knock-knock. Who's there? Mike...Microenterprise. You might want to get to know Mike, and see how he can help build business in rural and urban America, one small business at a time. We commend Loren Medley for his interest in this innovative initiative which can make a difference in rural Kansas.
But there's more. We'll look at an actual example: one of those first pilot microenterprise projects in Kansas, on our next program.
Calvin Meyer - Free State Entrepreneurial Assoc.
Imagine you are at an auction. The item that just sold was an antique fishing lure. The winning bid came from a man in Corpus Christi, Texas. But this auction isn't being held in Texas, or at one of the big auction houses in New York. The auction is being held in a small town in Kansas, yet the winning bid came from the man in Texas who learned about the fishing lure via the Internet. It seems incredible to me, but it's true -- and it's happening in rural Kansas.
This is the remarkable story of auctioneer and entrepreneur Calvin Meyer. It's also the second and final program in our series on microenterprises. Microenterprises are small businesses which are typically begun by entrepreneurs -- and auctioneer Calvin Meyer is definitely an entrepreneur.
Calvin says that when he was a kid growing up in eastern Kansas, his family went to lots of antique auctions. Antiqueing was what they loved to do. So, he got into the habit at a young age.
He says, "When I got my bedroom filled up with stuff, I decided I ought to do something with it." So he opened an antique shop in the town of Fort Scott. At the time, he was 14 years old.
When I was 14 years old, I'd probably have been doing well to have a lemonade stand...But Calvin Meyer found he had the knack, and in 1993 he was named the state high school entrepreneur of the year. When he was a senior in high school, he sold the antique business and in 1994, opened his own auction business.
Today, just three years later, he conducts more than 40 sales a year, and he was named by the Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing as Entrepreneur of the Year -- the youngest person ever to win the award. He's doing innovative things like advertising his antiques on the Internet, which has brought in bids from as far away as Texas and Chicago, as I described at the beginning.
Calvin Meyer is doing all this from his auction business in his hometown of Mound City, Kansas. Mound City is the county seat of Linn County, which borders Missouri in far eastern Kansas. Mound City itself has a population of 806 people. Now, that's rural.
Calvin Meyer's innovative and expanding auction business is a good example of a rural microenterprise. The concept of encouraging economic development through microenterprises is growing.
In 1994, a microenterprise assistance project in Nebraska was brought into Kansas, through the work of Loren Medley of the Kansas Electric Power Cooperative. Loren worked with Dennis Arnold, the Linn County Economic Development director, to set up a pilot project in Linn County.
The group got organized as the Free State Entrepreneurial Association, taking its name from Kansas history. The man who was elected as its first president was Calvin Meyer.
Calvin says, "We like to provide service to homebased, cottage industries -- not the Sam Waltons. We offer speakers, networking with other entrepreneurs, and help with marketing."
These associations can offer small microloans to microenterprises too. Calvin says, "We have about $4,000 in pending loans, and we've never had one go bad."
Current members of the entrepreneurial association have businesses which include a greenhouse operation, a lawnmowing business, accounting, a law practice, and a clothing and costumes business.
That last one involves a woman who was doing commercial sewing in a factory which closed. She decided to set up a sewing business in her home, and started making period costumes like a person would wear at a historical reenactment. Business has boomed. Now her daughter is involved, and the business has doubled from one room of her house to two.
Individually, these businesses are not large -- they are, after all, microenterprises. In a big city, a job or two here or there would hardly be noticed. But in a small community, a few jobs can really help.
Calvin Meyer says, "We're giving it the best we can. Each member of the association helps make it a success."
It's time to say goodbye to this auction -- and this remarkable auctioneer. I'm impressed by the way he sells, but even more by the way he gives -- in leadership and service to the Free State Entrepreneurial Association. Calvin Meyer and the other members of the association are making a difference through entrepreneurship in rural Kansas.
Do you know why people in rural Kansas lock their car doors? No, it's not for security. The reason is simple: to keep people from putting zucchini in their car...
If that joke makes sense to you, then maybe you're like me: we have a neighbor who is a good gardener, and every summer he grows extra zucchini that he gives away.
Today our topic isn't zucchini, but it's kind of close: Tomatoes. And that's just the beginning of this story of a progressive produce company in rural Kansas.
Meet Diana Endicott. Diana and her husband Gary own a hydroponic and organic tomato business as well as a beef cow herd in southeast Kansas.
The Endicotts live near Bronson in Bourbon County. Actually, Diana says they are between the towns of Bronson and Xenia. Bronson is a town of 331 people. Xenia is an unincorporated town of approximately 75 people. Now, that's rural.
Diana says, "If anybody finds us, they're lost."
But how the Endicotts found their way back to Kansas is an interesting story. Gary's family was originally from southeast Kansas. Gary and Diana got their masters degrees in horticulture at Oklahoma State University. While Diana taught horticulture in Texas, her husband, Gary, set up a landscaping company in Dallas. As the business grew, Diana quit teaching and joined her husband in the landscaping business.
Business grew, but so did the congestion. Diana says, "Traffic there was so terrible, we lived 15 miles away from the business but it took an hour to drive there."
In 1994, they made the big step: moving back to his home area in southeast Kansas. And while they were at it, they established a new business as well: hydroponic tomatoes and organic "All-Natural Beef".
The word hydroponic doesn't mean they are grown in water, it means that the plants get their food in a liquid solution. The Endicotts have developed a system where the plants are grown in organic peat moss. The plants are hand-pollinated. Biological controls are used to keep down bugs.
Diana says there are a number of advantages of their tomatoes. They have a sweeter taste and a shelf life that is 2 or 3 times that of a conventional tomato.
These tomatoes are also vine-ripened to full color. Diana says, "Most tomatoes are picked green so they can be stored. Ours are picked one day and delivered the next." The Endicott's trademark name is "Healthy Harvest produce."
Markets for their products continue to grow. Diana says, "We have tripled production and are still nowhere near meeting the market."
Diana and Gary have built three greenhouses and are building three more. They market the tomatoes through local Hen House Markets and upscale restaurants in Kansas City. In the summer of 1995, Diana worked to get neighbors certified to produce in-season vegetables which she and Gary would market as well. They are now marketing additional hydroponic tomatoes grown under the same standards by other Kansas families in Moline and Edgerton, Kansas.
Diana says, "I'm a believer in marketing. I'm really strong on doing in-store demos."
The Endicotts Family 400 have 480 acres of certified organic in Bronson and 400 acres of field crops and forages, plus a registered Angus beef herd. Crops are rotated and cattle manure is used to build soil fertility. Conventional in Fort Scott, Kansas.
Their operation is one of the first to get the label all-natural beef. The beef program continues to grow and is profiled in the November 6 Beef issues of Farm Talk. The Endicott's are currently working with other Kansas all natural beef producers in forming a coop.
A significant part of their labor force is kids who work on neighboring dairy farms. Diana says, "We have some graduating high school seniors who work for us. One of our rules is we require them to go to college."
One of the most rewarding experiences has been the positive change in health and activity of Gary's grandmother, 87 years of age. Diana says "she is more active than ever and greatly enjoys helping out in the hot house tomotoe business, especially farmers market when they have extra.
And Diana has just received another recognition: She's been selected as a member of the Kansas Agricultural and Rural Leadership program.
All in all, Diana is thankful they made the move from Dallas to Kansas. She says, "In Dallas, people moved so often that it was hard. Rural areas have more of a spirit of neighborliness."
People in Dallas no doubt lock their car doors for security, and people in Kansas do too. But sometimes folks in rural areas have to lock their doors just to protect themselves from free zucchini! Of course, the produce business is much more than that. We salute Diana Endicott for making the move back to a rural area, and for her entrepreneurial spirit that is making a difference in rural Kansas.
By the way, would you like some free zucchini?
Bernie Hansen - Flint Hills Foods
Remember Grandma's pot roast? Coming home on Sunday, to the savory smell of a beef roast that's been slow-cooking in the oven? Yum, it makes me want to head to Grandma's house right now.
What if I told you that you could experience the delicious flavor of home-cooked pot roast in just seven minutes, by using your microwave oven? If that sounds too good to be true, then you haven't encountered the entrepreneurial spirit of Bernie Hansen.
This is the story of Flint Hills Foods, an innovative company that is adding value to Kansas beef in rural Kansas. The co-owner of Flint Hills Foods is Bernie Hansen.
Bernie is from Peabody, Kansas originally. He graduated from K-State in agriculture and took a job as a meat salesman. He later joined Flint Hills Foods, which was a small custom meat processing company.
One night in 1972 Bernie came back late from a sales route, and he found trouble at the plant. The manager had left that day, the company was in debt, and the owners were there preparing to close the company down.
Bernie says, "By one o'clock that morning, I went home having convinced the owners that I could manage the plant and negotiated an opportunity to buy into the ownership." Sounds to me like he did a sales job that night too...
But times were tough. By the time things shook out, they were down to four employees and only four customer accounts. That really is tough.
But Bernie Hansen led the recovery. He restored the plant to profitability in a few months, and soon was pursuing innovative possibilities for meat processing. Eventually he bought out his co-owners and diversified by buying other companies, such as Alma Cheese and Nehring Farms beef jerky.
Today, that company which was down to four employees now employs nearly 100 people, and sales now exceed 10 million dollars. And the company headquarters remains where it was founded in the Wabaunsee County town of Alma, population 872 people. Now, that's rural.
How did a multi-million dollar company come to be located in a town that size? The answer is, it grew there. It grew through innovative leadership and a lot of hard work.
To me, the product that best symbolizes the innovative nature of this Kansas value-added company is their new, pre-cooked, microwaveable pot roast. As I said at the beginning, that old-time, home-cooked flavor of a pot roast is hard to find in our current, hurry-up times.
But Bernie Hansen found a way to develop a new product which combines convenience with the old time flavor. Meats are specially selected, trimmed, seasoned, and cooked for 12 hours, and then packaged to go in a microwave.
Bernie says, "We want to make it good, make it fast, and make it convenient." This technology means that a cook could prepare a pot roast dinner, complete with side dishes, in 15 minutes. Wow, I've hardly got my tie off from work by then.
Having such convenience, as well as the quality, is a godsend for today's busy families. And the feedback on the product has been terrific. The pre-cooked pot roast is expected to be available in more than 2,000 stores by the end of 1997.
Response has been so good, in fact, that Bernie and his family have now entered into a joint venture with Koch Industries to go national with a line of microwaveable, pre-cooked meat meals. They are called Minute Main Courses. The slogan, appropriately enough, is "Now you DO have the time."
Bernie Hansen is excited about the possibilities. He's also pleased that the growing production will take place at his plants in Alma and Wamego. He says, "That was one of the conditions I presented to Koch Industries, and they thought that was great 'cause they like the work ethic in rural areas. Koch will enable us to make this a national product line and help the beef industry."
Remember Grandma's pot roast? Well, now you can enjoy that home-cooked flavor, but have it on the table in a matter of minutes. It's a real benefit for modern consumers and for Kansas beef producers. We salute Bernie Hansen and Flint Hills Foods for making a difference by the innovative development of products like this to meet the modern consumer's needs. It'll even be handier for Grandma.
Huck Boyd Center Dedication
September 21, 1997 will be a day that dreams come true. That's the day that a brand new, multi-million dollar community center will be opened in Phillipsburg, Kansas. It's the McDill "Huck" Boyd Community Center, and this is a special edition of Kansas Profile.
First, some background. Who the heck is Huck?
Huck Boyd was a western Kansas newspaper publisher and political leader. He attended K-State, and returned to a career with the family newspaper. He got involved with his community and worked his way up to serve as Republican National Committeeman representing Kansas for 20 years.
He published a weekly newspaper in the western Kansas town of Phillipsburg, population 2,711 people. Now, that's rural. Yet his voice was heard and heeded nationally in the halls of Congress and the White House.
Perhaps his most well-known achievement was saving the railroad. In the late 1970s, the Rock Island Railroad proposed to abandon 400 miles of railroad track across the central U.S., including Phillips County. Against all odds, Huck Boyd led the fight to maintain rail service. Today, through his efforts, there is a private sector shortline railroad operating on what would have been abandoned track, and providing a vital service to the farmers, businesses, and communities of the region.
One man told me, "Every time I see a train go by, I give thanks for Huck Boyd."
Huck passed away in 1987. But his friends and family wanted to honor his legacy of service to rural America, so they established the Huck Boyd Foundation. The foundation sponsors three projects: one is the Huck Boyd Institute, in partnership with K-State. That's the office I work for, which among other things produces the Kansas Profile program.
A second project is the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media. That's in the school of Journalism at K-State and is oriented toward Huck's life work in community journalism.
The third project is one that came from the grassroots of Huck's hometown. Folks in Phillipsburg said, "What this town needs is a community center, where we can gather for arts or educational events."
So the Huck Boyd Foundation Board of Directors set out to design a community center for the Phillips County region, and build it without government money. But such a building is expensive to build. One private foundation donated a large matching grant which had to be entirely matched by private donations before a certain deadline, or the grant was lost. At one point, it looked like an impossible task.
But through lots of effort, on September 21, the Huck Boyd Foundation will dedicate the new community center. This 21,000 square foot building will include a 500 seat auditorium with a stage for fine arts performances and large meetings and a teleconference facility which can use technology to help link Phillips County worldwide, and help with education, health care, and other vital issues.
The building will include a replica of Huck's old newspaper office, and one other remarkable feature. A local model railroad collector named Bill Clarke has donated his railroad memorabilia to the foundation, and it will be displayed in a special part of the building. For example, it includes more than 650 feet of model railroad track and 270 Lionel cars, some of which visitors will be able to see in operation. This remarkable collection is valued at as much as $400,000. It's fun to watch, and appropriate to find identified with the man who saved the railroad.
It's not easy to raise funds in rural Kansas, but now this fabulous facility will be available for performances and meetings to serve the region.
September 21, 1997 will be a day that dreams come true. A new community center will open in Phillipsburg, as the Huck Boyd Foundation Board of Directors had envisioned. We salute the members of the Board, including Huck's remarkable widow Marie, Cy Moyer, Bill Kaumans, Doyle Rahjes, Lowell Hahn, Bud Broun, Darel Olliff, Polly Bales, Pat Roberts, Tom Sullivan, and the late Don Hewitt. The Board and assistant Paula Schilowsky and a host of community volunteers have done the hard work and investment to make this center possible. In the legacy of Huck Boyd, they are truly making a difference in their community, and proving that dreams can come true in rural Kansas.
Stacy Kueser - Collegiate Colors
Today let's talk about true colors. No, I don't mean when a person shows their true feelings, I mean true colors as in coloring -- like your kids do with crayons in a coloring book.
This is the story of a woman who shows her true colors as an entrepreneur in Kansas. She's what we might call a family entrepreneur.
That last term might sound a little funny. It seems we don't usually hear the words "family" and "entrepreneur" used together. An entrepreneur is an innovator and a daring risk-taker -- which are words we don't usually associate with our warm, fuzzy feelings of family. So we don't usually hear the term family entrepreneur.
But today we'll meet someone who is indeed an innovator and a risk-taker, yet the source of many of her ideas and motivations is her family.
This family entrepreneur is Stacy Kueser, and she's today's Kansas Profile.
Stacy is originally from Topeka. She graduated from K-State with a degree in Finance and went to work for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Her husband is a K-State grad as well. He is originally from the eastern Kansas town of Louisburg, population 2,499 people. Now, that's rural.
Stacy and her husband started a family, and when daughter number 2 was born, Stacy decided to stay home with the kids. As I said earlier, family was the motivating factor. A third daughter was born after that.
In the fall of 1996, Stacy was in Manhattan buying K-State souvenirs. She could find clothes and trinkets, but she couldn't find many K-State things that her children could do things with. She thought to herself, "Somebody should make a K-State coloring book."
Here again, she was thinking of her family when the idea began. And she thought that a lot of other families would be interested in collegiate coloring books too.
But Stacy was very busy, as we all are these days, so she left the idea on the back-burner in her mind. Then came a tragic turn of events.
The date was January 2, 1997. The telephone rang, with shocking news. Stacy learned that her niece had been killed in an automobile accident. To compound the tragedy, the niece was 8 ½ months pregnant.
That is so sad. Yet here again, it was the family factor which stimulated Stacy to action. She said, "I realized that life is short, and we should make the most of the time we have." So she took her idea of collegiate coloring books off the back-burner and decided to try publishing them herself.
She set up her own company called Collegiate Colors, Incorporated and developed a K-State coloring book. An artist named Steve Hamaker created drawings for her, depicting various campus scenes featuring Willie the Wildcat. Steve is a K-Stater himself. He's a native of Sterling and a 1993 graduate in graphic design.
Any K-Stater would enjoy these pictures, showing everything from K-State ice cream at the dairy science facility to Wildcat football victories.
This coloring book is appropriately titled Color Me Purple. It's available in selected bookstores at several communities across Kansas, plus at KSU Stadium during football games, the K-State Union, and Vista restaurants. It sells for approximately $5 plus tax, so it would be an inexpensive Christmas gift or game-day souvenir for kids or grandkids.
Collegiate Colors is now developing a coloring book for the University of Kansas. Other university books are on the drawing board -- no pun intended.
Stacy says, "This book can serve as a wonderful catalyst for K-State alumni to share fond memories of college with their children, grandchildren or young friends." How appropriate that Stacy is thinking of family.
If you are interested in purchasing a coloring book, you can contact Collegiate Colors at 913-663-3077. That number again is 913-663-3077.
Stacy Kueser is showing her true colors as a family entrepreneur. Her family has been a major factor in the career changes and projects which she has launched. We salute Stacy Kueser and Collegiate Colors, for the family spirit which is making a difference through entrepreneurship.
Now, pass the crayons...
Sunflower Ordnance Works
From Rockets to Roses: That's the journey we're going to hear about today. It's the story of a place in Kansas that's being transformed from something which produced the weapons of war to something which celebrates the beauty of nature.
It's hard to imagine a greater contrast, which is part of the remarkable story that is today's Kansas Profile.
Meet Alan Stevens. Alan is a K-State Extension specialist in Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture. He's also Director of the K-State Research & Extension Center being developed at Olathe, and the one who will lead us on this journey from Rockets to Roses.
First, some history. In the late 1930s, the U.S. was gearing up for what would become World War II. The U.S. War Department built factories around the country to support the war effort. During the war, lots of people -- especially young women -- did their patriotic duty by working in these war plants.
One of these plants was the Sunflower Ordnance Works, located west of Kansas City. This plant produced rockets that were used by our servicemen in World War II. The plant was on a 10,000 acre tract of ground.
One reason so much land was needed was so there would be a buffer zone between the plant and where the people lived, in case there was an accident and the whole plant went kablooie. I must admit that thought wasn't very comforting, as I recently took a tour inside the plant grounds.
The ordnance works is now closed, and the government is slowly cleaning up the abandoned buildings still standing there. But what is to be done with this old facility?
Someone came up with a win-win solution. The Department of Defense needed a use for the property, at the same time that K-State Research & Extension was needing land for horticultural research in eastern Kansas. So the two got together, and agreed that part of the land in the buffer zone could be used for this research.
Alan Stevens sees it as a great opportunity for K-State, because here was a large, untouched parcel of ground so close to the urban area of Kansas City. The land in the buffer zone hadn't been farmed for 60 years, so there's no residues. Alan Stevens says, "Finding a site that's not been cultivated or developed this close to an urban center is next to impossible." And to top it off, it's a site with natural beauty.
So the plans have been launched. The research center will include 150 acres of forest along Spoon Creek, and 110 acres of cropland. But these crops won't be wheat and soybeans, they will be vegetables and fruit, flowers and turfgrass. These are the crops that are important for urban gardeners and landscapers.
For example, during the past three years K-State has done research on the grounds with test plots of pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes, sweet corn, watermelon, and canteloupe. 1997 is the first year that test plots of flowers have been planted there.
While work goes on in the fields, plans are moving forward to build a visitors center and make this accessible to the public. The Sunflower ammunition plant is just southwest of the Johnson County town of De Soto, population 2,475 people. Now, that's rural. But it is very accessible to the urban population.
In fact, the road which will go into the research center is a direct extension of the existing 135th street in Kansas City. That means the directions to the place will be very simple for folks in Kansas City: Go south to 135th street, hang a right, and when the road ends, you're there.
This will be a fabulous resource. Alan Stevens says the horticultural industry has been very supportive. This is also a positive, peaceful way to utilize a piece of property which had previously been used for purposes of war.
From rockets to roses: that's the journey we've learned about today. We commend Alan Stevens and the leaders of the horticulture industry who are making a difference by supporting this effort.
And there's more to this story: You see, 50 years ago my mother was one of those young women who went to work at Sunflower Ordnance Works. This fall she returned to that site, and we'll hear about that on our next program.
Sunflower Ordinance Works - Part 2
Today let's visit Sunflower Village. Now, what is Sunflower Village? It sounds like some retirement home, or maybe a store selling Kansas souvenirs.
But it is neither of those. Sunflower Village is a community that doesn't exist anymore. That was the name of the temporary town that was built to house workers at the Sunflower Ordnance Works during World War II. The ordnance works was built just west of Kansas City to manufacture rockets for the U.S. Army during the second world war. With Veteran's Day approaching, it's appropriate to remember those days.
My mother was one of the many young women who worked at Sunflower Ordnance Works and lived at Sunflower Village. Her connection with Sunflower is today's Kansas Profile.
My mother, Glenna Germann Wilson, was born and raised on a farm in the Blue Valley near Manhattan. She graduated from normal school at Alta Vista, a town of 464 people. Now, that's rural.
She became a schoolteacher, but it was the time of World War II. When school was out in the summer time, she decided her patriotic duty was to go to work in the war plants in support of our boys overseas -- one of which turned out to be my dad, who was in the Navy. But that's another story.
Mom reported to work at the Sunflower Ordnance Works one summer morning, and found there was exciting news: It happened to be June 6, 1944 -- D-Day. So Mom happened to begin work at the war plant on the very day that the Allied invasion of Europe was launched.
She has many recollections of those days. She says that security was very tight, of course, and they had to wear these ugly fireproof clothes.
She says her job was to be an inhibitor. Now I've never seen that on a job description before, but she says that's what her job was. The plant was producing rocket powder, and her job was to place a plastic device on the powder which would inhibit, or control, the flight path of the rocket. The people who did that were called inhibitors.
"So what did you do in the war, Mommy?" "Well, I was an inhibitor..." Hmm, somehow it doesn't sound like a great war movie....
Anyway, Mom worked there two summers and went on to K-State after the war. Today, she is a farm wife, writer, and grandmother on the farm near Manhattan. She also has the title of Master Gardener. In other words, she took the horticulture training program offered by K-State Research & Extension.
That's where our story goes full circle. In the fall of 1997, my mom returned to the Sunflower Ordnance Works which has long-since closed. Sunflower Village is gone. But what is being built there is a new horticultural research center, which will be of great interest to Master Gardeners all over the state.
The research center is being built on the land surrounding the old Sunflower Ordnance Works. It will include 110 acres of test plots of garden crops and flowers, plus a forested area that will be managed for forestry and recreation. There will be interpretive trails to study ecology and riparian zones that will serve as a filter to stop soil erosion and keep water clean.
Field plots of flowers and other plants are already being grown at the facility, including some fascinating research projects. For example, you can find a new plant being tested there which was originally discovered in the Amazon. You can see special Japanese flowers which have been bred to not shed pollen, and many other examples.
K-State is doing this research for the ultimate benefit of consumers. Plans call for construction of a $2.5 million visitors center which would include research and teaching laboratories, classrooms, a greenhouse complex, and a demonstration wildflower garden.
This is all of great interest to the Master Gardeners of Kansas, including my mother. What a coincidence that the war plant where she worked would now be the site of this fabulous horticulture research facility. It will be a Sunflower Village in a whole different sense.
November 11 is Veterans Day. It's time to salute the men and women who served in uniform, like my dad, and also the many who served on the home front, like my mom. We're grateful for all those who scrimped and sacrificed and served in order to make a difference.
Max Ary - Kansas Cosmosphere
When was the last time you stood nose-to-nose with a 30 ton SR-71 spy plane? Not lately, I'll bet, but that's understandable: There are only twelve of these spy planes on display in the entire world. But would you believe that you can find one of those right here in the middle of Kansas?
Well, you can, and that's just one of the remarkable facts about today's Kansas Profile.
Meet Max Ary. Max will be glad to show you this spy plane. That plane is the first thing you see when you enter the lobby of the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, where Max is President and CEO. Max can also tell you the history of how this fabulous facility came to be.
In 1962, Patricia Carey of Hutchinson created the Hutchinson Planetarium on the Kansas State Fairgrounds. As you know, a planetarium is a building in which images of the stars are projected on the inside of a dome. This planetarium proved so popular that it was moved to a new facility on the grounds of Hutchinson Community College. Interest in the planetarium continued to grow, and a vision developed for something grander.
In 1980, the planetarium was expanded into what is now called the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. It is one of the premier space museums in the nation. For example, it has the nation's largest collection of American and Russian space suits. It has the largest space exhibition area outside the Smithsonian Institution. It is home to the most significant collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Russia.
In March 1997, the Cosmosphere completed a 13 million dollar expansion and renovation. Today it has the state's newest and largest planetarium and a 44-foot tall IMAX dome in which to see surround-sound films. The museum has 105,000 square feet with an incredible array of exhibits. For example, you can see the original Apollo 13 command module -- no, not the one in the movie, the actual space module that went into outer space and barely made it back to earth safely.
And of course, you can see the spy plane that I mentioned at the beginning. This spy plane is an actual SR-71 Blackbird -- the fastest plane ever made. It's permanently mounted in the lobby, next to a Northrop T-38 Talon and a full-scale replica of the space shuttle. There are rare and authentic German V2 rockets and a full-scale Apollo-Soyuz space docking exhibit, plus Mercury and Gemini spacecraft and on and on.
Back in 1976, when Patricia Carey and the Board were planning a major expansion, they consulted with a man who was a recognized expert on American space artifacts and director of Fort Worth's Noble Planetarium. His name was Max Ary.
Max went on to become President and CEO of the Cosmosphere. For him, it was an opportunity to come back to Kansas. In fact, Max is a native of the southwestern Kansas town of Greensburg, population 1,747 people. Now, that's rural.
Yet from these rural roots has come a nationally recognized expert in the history of manned space flight. Talk about national recognition: Pictures of the Apollo 13 space module and the SR-71 spy plane arriving in Hutchinson have appeared in the New York Times. In 1996, the Cosmosphere had visitors from all 50 states and 60 foreign countries.
Patricia Carey and Max Ary want the Cosmosphere to be educational as well as entertaining. New classrooms were added in the expansion. During the last academic year, more than 40,000 schoolchildren and their teachers from nearly 70 percent of the school districts in Kansas and several surrounding states visited the facility. There's also the Future Astronaut Training Program, which offers middle-school students a summer camp opportunity to live the life of an astronaut in training -- including a mission in the Falcon II Shuttle simulator. Wow, that's better than driver's ed...
It's time to say goodbye to this SR-71 spy plane, and the remarkable space exhibits which surround it. We salute Patricia Carey and Max Ary, for their hard work and vision which have truly made a difference.
And there's more to this story. In 1988, the Cosmosphere launched -- no pun intended -- a fascinating, related business -- and we'll hear about that on our next program.
Today let's go to Hollywood. We're on the set of a movie theater, where director Ron Howard is directing the movie Apollo 13. He wants to change the script but be sure that every detail is true to life, so he places a call to the technical experts who are building the space-age equipment for the movie set. And where do you suppose that call goes?
No, it doesn't go to some studio in southern California nor to the Johnson Space Center in Texas, nor even to NASA or the Smithsonian in Washington DC. That call goes to the experts at a company called Space Works, which is located in the middle of Kansas.
What in the world is Ron Howard doing calling Kansas to get what he needs for an outer space movie in Hollywood? The answer to that question is today's Kansas Profile.
On our last program, we met Max Ary, who is President and CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Today is the second and final part of our series on the Cosmosphere, which now includes this related business called Space Works.
The Cosmosphere itself is one of the premier space museums in America. It has a collection of space-oriented exhibits which has been valued at 250 million dollars. Now, that's incredible.
Of course, developing and restoring space artifacts for the museum required a unique type of expertise and skill. As the museum hired individuals with those types of skills, it found that there was increasing demand from various sources for replication and restoration of space-related items. So in 1988, the Cosmosphere formed a private, wholly-owned subsidiary called Space Works to specialize in that type of unique restoration work.
Some time ago, Max Ary took us on a tour of Space Works, which is also located in Hutchinson. Bill Kelly is the general manager of Space Works. Bill is also a native Kansan. He was born in Wichita, and his wife's family is from the western Kansas town of Tribune, population 917 people. Now, that's rural. These Kansans are building an incredible business right here in our state.
The sole purpose of Space Works is the first-class restoration and replication of space artifacts. Listen to this: The company is the only permanently headquartered facility of its kind in the world. Of course, other museums call on Space Works to assist on projects.
Just listen to a partial listing of Space Works clients: The National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC; NASA and the Johnson Space Center in Houston; the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Teleport USA in Los Angeles; Omega Watch Company in Switzerland; the Olympic Cultural Center in Seoul, Korea; the Young Astronaut Council of Japan; Glovkosmos in Moscow, and SETOMIP in Toulouse, France. And that's not all.
Now, film production companies in Hollywood are asking Space Works to build true-to-life space equipment for their shows and movies. The movie Apollo 13 was an example. Approximately 80 percent of the space hardware seen in the movie Apollo 13 was constructed right here at Space Works. Max Ary says that Ron Howard really wanted to make the movie realistic, and there were lots of overnight shipments from Space Works to Hollywood with new equipment needed when there were last-minute script changes.
Some of the other clients of Space Works include Mary Tyler Moore Productions of California, Warner Brothers, HBO, Universal Studies, and Disneyland in Paris, France. Can you believe it?
I think it's incredible to find this internationally-recognized, space-age expertise is located right here in our backyard in Kansas.
It's time to say goodbye to Hollywood. But now we know that when director Ron Howard wanted to call for authentic space-age equipment for his movies, he placed a call to Kansas. We salute Max Ary, Bill Kelly, and Cosmosphere founder Patricia Carey for making a difference through their hard work and entrepreneurship. And with that, we'll see you in the movies.
Kansas Connection for Christmas
Christmas is right around the corner. Unlike my highly efficient wife, I didn't start my Christmas shopping last June. So what special gifts can I find fast?
How about some handmade soaps or body lotion with emu oil? Maybe some tasty cookies, sauces, jellies, meats, or chocolate treats? Possibly a gift basket? Or something unique like original hand-made clown collectibles or ceramic kaleidoscopes or even a computer mousepad with a special photo on it?
Sounds like a lot of good ideas, but how would I find them all? Well, what if I told you that all of the things I listed could be found in one catalog? It's true, and there's something else that all these products have in common: every single one was produced by a company in Kansas.
Welcome to our special Christmas edition of Kansas Profile. Today we'll learn about a new catalog of Kansas gifts and a new organization of Kansas value-added companies.
The name of the catalog is Kansas Connection. It provides a sampling of the many high quality crafts and foods produced by Kansas companies.
The catalog is a joint project of the From the Land of Kansas program and the Kansas Marketing Association. The Land of Kansas program is coordinated through the Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing's Agriculture Products Development Division. Lee Masenthin is the Land of Kansas coordinator.
The other partner, the Kansas Marketing Association, is a new and entirely private-sector funded organization. Shirley Voran told us about the KMA. She explained that it was formed in February 1997, and is composed of nearly 50 small Kansas companies that are doing value-added processing. Shirley knows first-hand what this is about -- she and her husband have the Kansas Wheat House in Cimarron. She and the other members of KMA want to market the state and showcase Kansas products.
KMA is a non-profit organization. It is funded entirely by membership dues and donations.
Now KMA has joined forces with the From the Land of Kansas program to produce this catalog of quality Kansas products. They include the diverse set of products which I described at the beginning. There are attractive color photos of each product and a brief description. There's an order form and even a toll-free 1-800 number where you can call to place orders. Get out your pencil, I'll give you the 800 number in a minute.
Toward the end of the catalog is a list of all the companies, showing their name, address, and phone number. I had a blast looking over this list. Of course, there are companies on the list from Topeka, Wichita, and the Kansas City area. But most of the companies are from rural locations across the state.
This list includes Kansas communities from A to Z; that is, from Arkansas City -- population 12,480 -- to Zenda, population 95. Communities represented by companies in the catalog include Plains, population 955; Madison, population 876; Galva, population 677; Goessel, population 541; Clifton, population 555; Greenleaf, population 330; Courtland, population 327; Viola, population 192; Whiting, population 189; Paxico, population 177; Barnes, population 167; and Elsmore, population 86 people. Now, that's rural.
The State of Kansas has a lot of good programs, but do you know any program that promotes towns as rural as this one? Shirley Voran of KMA says, "We need to add value, not only to our products and services, but to each other and ourselves and to the next generation."
What's that? The 800 number? Oh yeah. To order or get information about the Kansas Connection catalog, call toll-free 1-800-422-0712. That number again is 1-800-422-0712.
In fact, I think I need to call it right now. Christmas is right around the corner, and unlike my wife, I didn't start Christmas shopping last June. I'm thankful that there's a single catalog which includes such high quality products from such diverse locations in rural Kansas.
We salute Shirley Voran and the Kansas Marketing Association, and Lee Masenthin and the From the Land of Kansas program. We commend them for the way they are making a difference by promoting Kansas products.
Wishing you a most blessed holiday season.