Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Business Feature

22 from 2022: Business people who made a difference


For the fourth year, CITYVIEW’s Business Journal recognizes the contributions of outstanding business leaders who have made a difference in their communities.

The business world is ever-changing — as are the challenges faced by those whose success is inextricably linked to the ebb and flow of the economy, evolving technology, a changing work force and countless other factors that can make or break fortunes and livelihoods.

Over the last three years, business leaders have demonstrated resilience, creativity and, perhaps most importantly, adaptability, as they have risen to the challenges of post-pandemic reality. The best have not only lifted themselves up, but have helped those around them as well. For their contributions, leadership and inspiration, we honor these Business People Who Have Made A Difference.

“There are very few things more enjoyable in life than honoring people who have made a significant difference to so many people,” said Shane Godman, publisher of CITYVIEW. “We were fortunate to have such well-deserving honorees who have impacted the central Iowa business community in ways beyond traditional measurements.”

Readers submitted nominations, and an advisory panel narrowed down the selected to those individuals it believes have made the biggest difference in the area. For those readers who are sticklers and counting, the contingency we present has fallen short of the 22 we had our sights set upon as some of our nominees were unable to get back to us by press time.

Those honorees who did will be recognized and presented their awards at a reception on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 5-7 p.m. at Sherwood Forest Events Center.

Jay W. Brewer

Past President, Grimes Volunteer Support Services

“In 2022, we completed 11.5 years of service to the elderly and folks with disabilities in the Grimes community,” said Jay Brewer about last year’s accomplishments. “One of the reasons for forming GVSS was to help folks in the community remain in their homes longer than they would have been able to without assistance. We have continually seen many examples of this taking place.” 

During that time, Brewer said GVSS volunteers have driven more than 300,000 miles, donated 48,000 hours of service, provided 25,513 trips, and provided almost 3,800 yard and snow services for the community — all free of charge.

Of his best business decision, Brewer said, “When we organized in 2010, we decided early on to be very active and involved in the Grimes Chamber and Economic Development organization. We became so involved that I was selected as the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year in 2010, served as their board chair in 2014, and, in 2018, I was selected as their Ambassador of the Year. We have gained a lot of volunteers and visibility because of our involvement with their organization.”

His advice to others: “Take into account the needs of the community and its citizens. Then, see how your organization might be able to be of assistance to them.”

Shirley McAdon

Adel City Councilmember

“Partnering with the City of Adel, the Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary Club of Adel to improve Pedal Plaza, soon to be renamed Rotary Plaza, along the Raccoon River Valley Trail was a big project to bring to fruition in 2022,” said McAdon about last year’s accomplishments. “As a member of all three organizations, I found working together to write grants and work out the many details was daunting but satisfying to see all of the planning pay off. This project will enhance our community with another amenity to benefit our residents, our businesses and our visitors.

“I also served as the facilitator for the activities celebrating Adel’s 175th Birthday in 2022,” she continued. “From the repeat of the historic panorama picture downtown, to the ceremony marking Founders’ Day, to the Historic Downtown Adel Walk, to the Oakdale Cemetery Walk of historic figures, to the Sweet Corn Festival Adel History Trivia Contest, to the burying of the Time Capsule, it was a pleasure to work with all those who are helping to make 2022 a memorable year for Adel.”

McAdon says the best business decision she’s made “is to take into account how the positions I take at the Adel City Council table affect our residents and businesses. It’s very important to me to do my homework and study the issues to be able to make an informed decision on every policy or project. I listen to staff, the consultants, our businesses and our residents to try to gauge the impact the decision might have. The next step is to hear the views of the other councilmembers and arrive at a consensus, all of us using our best judgement to set policy or take action on a project. This collaborative process can be time-consuming but well worth the effort.”

Her advice to others: “Even the small things you do to further the business community or improve the quality of life in your community can make a difference. Making connections with others can develop into partnerships to get things done.”

Lu Anne Gafford

Underwriting Director, Life 107.1

“I have been involved with Royal Family Kids for seven years now. It is a camp for kids in the foster care system,” Gafford said of her biggest accomplishment. “During the school year, kids are mentored by camp volunteers. I have mentored a different individual the past three years during the school year, and this past school year has been my most rewarding. My girl is 8 years old and helps me to see life through her eyes — and also be able to love on her and share new experiences with her that bring joy to her life.”  

When it comes to her best business decision, she said she learned to say no. “Learn to say no when asked to be involved with an organization. Evaluate if it is aligning with your values in your life at the current time.”

Her advice to others: “Love people and be kind and friendly to everyone. We don’t know what burdens others carry, and sometimes just a simple hello or smile can help brighten their day.”

Steve Albrecht

Chairman and CEO, City State Bank, Norwalk

  Albrecht cites “Promoting David Albrecht as the new president of City State Bank” as his biggest accomplishment of 2022 and “hiring an outstanding team of bankers at City State Bank” as his greatest business decision. “I work with the very best.”

His advice to others: “Work smart, play hard, have fun at work, take care of your friends and family, be faithful to your God and family.”

Val Veiock

Owner, Bing’s

“We won CITYVIEW’s Best Local Gift Shop and Best Valley Junction Store, which energizes us because it represents all the love we feel from customers all year round,” Veiock said of her biggest accomplishment in 2022. “We sell items that represent our values and beliefs and donate to local charities that we know are doing important work, and it means a lot to us that we can give back to our community.” She adds, her best business decision has been her choice of merchandise. “I love pushing the envelope by selling sassy and snarky merchandise that you can’t find anywhere else. Instead of being afraid of what people might think or how they will react, I always go for it. The store is a genuine representation of me.” 

Her advice to others: “It is easy to get caught up in the everyday tasks of running a business, but it is really important to have fun and enjoy what you are doing along the way.”

Tom Boesen

President and Owner, Boesen the Florist

“We made it another year,” Boesen says of his biggest accomplishment in 2022. “Next year will be our 100th anniversary. We are 100 years old in 2023,” he said, adding “the company was started by my grandparents.” Of his best business decision, he said, “We stayed with the basics: take care of customers. Treat people like you want to be treated. We just keep doing what we do. The proof is in the pudding.”

His advice to others: “You don’t make it 100 years if you don’t treat customers fairly and provide a good product at a good price.”

Tiffany Luing

Economic Development Coordinator, City of Bondurant

“My biggest accomplishment in 2022 would be my transition into the role as the Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Bondurant,” said Luing. “I was working as the Executive Director of the Bondurant Chamber and Bondurant Development Inc. when the position became open. I have worked with all three organizations and various community organizations throughout the year to raise funds, awareness, and increase economic development potential for our community and nonprofit organizations benefiting our community.”

Luing says her best personal business decision “was taking on the position as the Bondurant Chamber Executive Director. Through this position, I found my passion for helping businesses grow and succeed  — and found a place in our wonderful community. I also realized my own potential in a career field I had not considered. Through building relationships, I was able to assist our community in what I believe is a positive direction, leading to my current role as the Economic Development Coordinator.”

Her advice to others: “Do not limit yourself to a profession simply because of your education or your perception of your abilities. Despite having an undergraduate degree in criminology and psychology and pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, I found my calling in economic development. Do what you feel is right, and everything will fall in place.”

Michael Krantz

Former President and CEO, Adventureland Resort; Principal Director, K and M Advising

Krantz says his biggest 2022 accomplishment was “completing the sale of my family business and having the first real summer to spend with my family. After 37 years of living in Des Moines, I just got my first Saylorville Lake outing this summer.” He said his best business decision was “not trying to do it all myself — having great faith in a great team and great relationships.” 

His advice to others: “Saying ‘that’s just the way it’s always been’ is merely fear of change clouded by laziness.” 

John Forbes

Pharmacy Manager, Medicap Pharmacy in Urbandale

“My biggest accomplishment in 2022 would be working with my colleagues in the Iowa House to pass legislation that allows our state insurance commissioner to better regulate the Pharmacy Benefit Managers in our state,” said Forbes. “They are the middle men who regulate prescription drug benefits for citizens in our state. Much of the increase in drug costs is associated with this unregulated industry. The legislation starts the process to bring more transparency in how prescription medications are priced in the marketplace.” He said his best business decision “was to move my pharmacy business to a new location in 2014. That move allowed me and my staff to expand pharmacy services to citizens in the community of Urbandale.”

His advice to others: “The best advice I can give to others is to always be yourself and show respect and compassion to all of those who you encounter in your lifetime.”

Claudia Schabel

President and CEO, Schabel Solutions Inc.

“We are proud of and grateful for the partnerships and programs we’ve developed with the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce, Iowa Hospital Association and Iowa SHRM,” said Schabel of her biggest accomplishment of 2022. “We are also very proud of all of our 2022 clients who continue to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) every day to achieve their respective workforce, workplace and marketplace goals.”

She added that her best business decision was “investing in the development and rollout of our own DEI training series content in eLearning format. Done well, DEI training, via live in-person/virtual and/or eLearning formats, is a necessary early step in an organization’s DEI journey — setting a baseline of understanding for the achievement of long-term organizational workforce, workplace and marketplace goals. Our offerings are designed to be completed as a series or as stand-alone courses. We prompt vibrant discussion in our live in-person/virtual training and present compelling scenarios in eLearning opportunities that can be accessed at scale.”

Her advice to others: “DEI is not about ‘copying and pasting’ DEI practices from other organizations. A thoughtful and cohesive DEI strategy is very different from having a ‘collection of tactics’ to use on an ad hoc basis. Take stock. Do you have the vision and resources to succeed in our multicultural marketplace? Develop authentic and sustainable DEI practices to compete and win in our multicultural marketplace.  

Brian Buethe

President and CEO, Grimes Chamber & Economic Development

“Grimes Chamber & Economic Development, working with dozens of organizational partners, sponsors and literally hundreds of volunteers, successfully navigated the relocation of Grimes Governors Days Community Celebration to a new location in 2022,” Buethe said of his greatest accomplishment in 2022.

“Hiring good employees and recruiting dedicated board members” has been his best business decision, he said. “As a membership-based organization representing over 300 diverse companies in the Grimes area, it is important to have intelligent, motivated, caring and kind representatives. Since its inception, GCED has had nothing but good staff, which in turn provides value to the members of the organization, but also to our community at large. If we have good leadership and good staff, even the most difficult challenges become a bit easier.”

His advice to others: “Be a good listener, make lists and do your best to surround yourself with people who are proactive and positive in nature (at work and at home).”

Brenda Easter

President and CEO, Indianola Chamber of Commerce

“As the biggest champion of the Indianola Community, in 2022 I saw the results of my work to create positive change that started years before become a reality,” Easer said of her biggest accomplishment in 2022. “Through bold leadership and collaborative partnerships, our community tackled two major challenges when the Warren County Justice Center and renovation of the Indianola Downtown Square projects were completed. The economic impact and long-term results of both projects will benefit the Indianola community for years to come.”

  Easter cites the establishment of CTE-Hope as her best business decision. “When I lost my son, Zac Easter, to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), I started CTE-Hope, a nonprofit organization focused on spreading awareness about the dangers of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) or concussions, as well as supporting research to prevent CTE and providing support to those who are suffering from early symptoms of CTE. Recent studies indicate 42% of children with just one mTBI have long-term mental and cognitive health issues. Ensuring families have the right information to heal a traumatized brain is essential. While tragic, this has been the best business decision I could have ever made. Spreading awareness about the dangers of mTBI is the only gift I can give Zac, as well as millions of other individuals and families.”

Her advice to others: “Live your life with purpose, never forget that you are the only person who can define who you are, and be happy.”

Barb Wiedenman

Owner, Broker Associate, President of Wiedenman Family Foundation

Barb Wiedenman & Associates, Brokered by Spire Real Estate

“The Wiedenman Family Foundation was established in 2021,” said Wiedenman of her biggest accomplishment. “The Foundation was formed to undertake projects that will enhance the lives of children and families in Ankeny and our surrounding communities. By bringing together resources and vision, we hope to create long-lasting changes that will have a positive impact on the people who call Ankeny home. Our mission is to help families through fundraising, special events and community engagement. From this mission, the first annual Champagne and Dreams event was held in April 2022. This event raises funds to grant a dream to a local child. Thanks to donations from our generous community, we were able to do that our very first year.”

Of her best business decision, Wiedenman said, “Being in the real estate business for 20 years, I feel the best business decision I made is to engage and be very active in my community. Clients come to you because of who you are, and establishing relationships, networking and taking care of the client is essential. Find your passion in your kids’ activities, your church, a networking group, etc. Real estate is a relationship business, and I have worked very hard to establish great relationships while giving back to my community. No matter how you feel — get up, dress up, show up and never give up.”

Her advice to others: “Give back, smile and always be positive. Helping one person at a time makes dreams come true. Helping people buy and sell homes allows me to help in one way; now with the Wiedenman Family Foundation, we are able to help more people in other ways.” 

Susan Patterson Plank

Executive Director, Iowa Newspaper Association

“Working together with the Iowa Newspaper Association’s lobby team and legislators, we were successful in 2022 in making important changes to Iowa’s public records law as it relates to the fees state and local government officials can charge for copies of their records. The bill passed addressed a frequent criticism of Iowa’s public records law — the cost for copies of documents. The real winners are not just newspapers and other media outlets, but all Iowans who depend on government openness and access to public records,” Patterson Plank said of 2022 accomplishments.

“I’ve had many opportunities in the course of my career. Over that time, saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities and projects has sometimes been risky, but repeatedly that has yielded personal and professional rewards.”

Her advice to others: “Compassion leadership goes a long way in building a strong and committed team, and a strong and committed team leads to results.”

Reynolds Cramer

CEO, Fareway Stores, Inc.

“Fareway’s growth and focus on how to best serve area residents” was the company’s biggest accomplishment, said Cramer. “Fareway continues to expand its footprint throughout the Midwest, with 132 store locations in a now seven-state region. Over the past year, we opened Fareway Meat Markets in Des Moines (Beaverdale), Minnesota (Luverne) and Kansas (Olathe). We started construction on additional West Des Moines and Clive locations, our third Kansas City metro meat market, and we continue to grow our rural community footprint with Ogden opening later this year. Additionally, we have announced upcoming projects in Bondurant, LeClaire, Ankeny, Waukee, Granger, Brandon (South Dakota), with more to come.”

Cramer said, about the best business decision made, “We are proud to serve communities of all sizes across our footprint. We have standard-sized, full-service grocery stores, exclusive meat markets, and smaller models able to service a variety of rural communities. Additionally, we can reach customers across the U.S. with our online store.

His advice to others: “Focus on the customers, employees and the communities you serve. At Fareway, ‘Lead with Love’ is part of our mission aimed at supporting our local communities through charitable giving and other initiatives. It is a valued philosophy that has been inspired by our outstanding employees.”

Angela Jackson

Senior Vice President Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Athene USA, and Owner of The Great Frame Up

Looking back over 2022, “Partnering with others to make a positive impact” was her biggest accomplishment, says Jackson.

Her advice to others: “Lift up others!” ♦

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