See How Entrepreneurs Succeed in Junction City
13 Dec 2021
In Junction City, Kansas, entrepreneurs are an important aspect of our thriving economy. They help spur growth by taking risks on innovative ideas. Through their hard work and dedication, industries are dramatically moved forward. Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission (JC-GCEDC) is decidedly pro-business with available support and incentives to help these resourceful, passionate, and optimistic business owners succeed.
Junction City Entrepreneurial Success Stories
Honor Screenprinting & Embroidery started as an at-home business when owner, Shawn Robison, was preparing for retirement from the Army after 23 years of service. Inspiration to start his business came from a dinner conversation during his last deployment to Europe when discussions about custom apparel drew remarks about unsatisfactory quality, delivery, and customer service. Contributing to his final decision to move forward with his business was the promise of COVID vaccinations assisting economic recovery in 2020, and a market analysis of the Junction City area.
Within months of starting in October of 2020, business overwhelmed his basement business space. Mr. Robison made the leap to a brick and mortar storefront and opened to the public in February 2021.
Mr. Robison gives credit to his military service for his desire to serve his customers with honesty and transparency. “Being a Disabled Veteran Owned and Operated Business means that customers expect professionalism and integrity when working together,” he said. “A veteran’s service reputation often follows us to our business network and that respect often develops into great business relationships and friendships.”
“The JC-GCEDC team was insightful in regard to the current climate, vision, and aspirations of the communities and provided some mentorship and networking opportunities as I finalized my business plan and prepared for opening,” Mr. Robison said. “The JC-GCEDC and Honor have developed a great relationship with event participation, support, sponsorship, and advisory participation in the nearly one year since Honor has been in business.”
“Fort Riley was my first assignment in my Army career in 1998 and my last when I retired in December 2020,” Mr. Robison said. “The Junction City/Fort Riley/Manhattan communities were a welcomed change after years in larger cities. Being a part of this community as a business owner and resident gives great pride to me and my wife and business partner, Cindy, who operates as Honor's CFO and HR director. We hope to continue to grow the business and offer the community high quality items, timely service, and a business partner they can respect and count on. We hope to sponsor some events or sports teams in the future as Honor grows as a thank you to parents and leaders in the community for their support.”
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Brian Wyatt, owner and founder of Specialty Vehicle Source, a company specializing in custom emergency and fleet vehicle solutions, has an entrepreneurial journey comprised of inspiration, research, support, and serendipity.
“After spending many years working a normal day job, I started to feel like I wasn't getting anywhere and would never be in control of my future,” Mr. Wyatt said. “It was slow-paced and uneventful, and not challenging, rewarding, or fulfilling. I knew I had untapped potential and skills that were not being utilized. I had an extensive background in different areas of the automotive service industry and had always enjoyed certain parts of it. I enjoy building things, creating things, bringing a vision to life. I love to hoard and tinker with small electronics. I've always been slightly obsessed with emergency vehicles, specifically the lights and sirens. It just kind of makes sense that I would end up in this position, as long as I worked hard at it and stayed dedicated to keeping the dream alive.”
“In the beginning stages of bringing my concept to reality, I crossed paths with fellow businessman, entrepreneur, and dreamer, Todd Godfrey. We shared some similar interests regarding this type of business. I quickly found myself being pushed forward, being supported, and meeting a lot of people who were genuinely interested in my success and excited for me to join the family that is the small business community in Junction City. I got a feeling that I didn't get when visiting and seeking out help in other areas of the region. This area is full of people who deeply care about it and are willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to make it better.”
“After years of research and development, Specialty Vehicle Source was unofficially born on January 1, 2021, and became incorporated in March,” Mr. Wyatt said.
“I would not be sitting here writing this as a business owner, if it weren't for the mentoring, motivation, positive examples, connections, experience, and knowledge of the people I am now surrounded by in Junction City's small business community,” Mr. Wyatt continued. “Every single person who I have spent time with here has taken the time to at least talk to me and point me in the right direction. I ?still enjoy seeing and talking to other local business owners on a daily basis.”
“Todd pushed me to dream big and to trust the process. He was an open book when it came to his knowledge and experience about starting businesses from the ground up, including the failures and tough parts. All of his connections instantly became my connections. Mickey Fornaro-Dean [JC-GCEDC Economic Development Director] took me under her wing from the first time we met. I gained a lot of invaluable insight into starting and growing a successful business. I was able to learn lessons from the many examples of business owners that she has worked with. Even with an extremely busy schedule, I still felt like my success was one of her top priorities. It's a great feeling to know that I'm not in this alone, and that others are behind me willing to hold me up as needed.”
While the primary focus of Specialty Vehicle Source is emergency and fleet vehicle modifications by appointment, they also cater to the lighting needs of civilian off-road enthusiasts. They are the area's only authorized dealer of brands such as Whelen, Havis, Pro-gard, Setina, and Diode Dynamics. Specialty Vehicle Source is a proud member of the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Sheriffs’ Association, Kansas Peace Officers Association, and Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police.
“At Specialty Vehicle Source, we are a team of like-minded, detail-oriented, customer-satisfaction-driven people who enjoy what we do,” Mr. Wyatt said.
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For Steven L. Burch, broker and owner of NextHome Unlimited, entrepreneurship is the family trade. “Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My family owns many successful businesses right here in Junction City.”
He entered the real estate industry in 2009 as a Realtor affiliated with his grandmother’s business, Century 21 – Sheila M. Burdett Agency. Mr. Burch learned from Ms. Burdett’s extensive experience; so when the time came, he was ready to take the lead. In 2017, he solely purchased the company from his grandmother and then franchised with NextHome, Inc.
“We were the first NextHome franchise within the State of Kansas,” said Mr.Burch. “In this short amount of time, since 2017, we have sold well over $250 million in volume and more than 1,500 units — generating an enormous amount of property tax — with three brick and mortar offices. Year to date, we are looking at over ten times the growth compared to the year prior to me opening NextHome Unlimited.”
“Being a part of the small business community here in Junction City means a great deal to me, both personally and professionally,” said Mr. Burch. “Being born and raised here in this great community, I have deep roots and feelings for Junction City. I want to be able to give back to the community what it has given me throughout my life. As a business owner, I am an active member of our Chamber of Commerce, participate in local events, and do various volunteer projects to give back and show others that it is important to give back and promote our area.”
“There are many things that are great about being a business owner in Junction City; one of the largest benefits is Fort Riley. With the constant ebb and flow of service members and their families, there is always an opportunity to develop and maintain relationships with new community members. Like myself, there are also many people who were born and raised in Junction City and enjoy the ‘small town’ feel. Seeing those people spend their time and money supporting businesses locally is another great thing about doing business here.”
Since 2016, Mr. Burch has served on the local, as well as the State Association of Realtors. He completed a merger between the Manhattan Association of Realtors and the Junction City Board of Realtors in 2018 to create what is now the Flint Hills Association of Realtors. He was president of that organization in 2018/2019, and then served as the immediate past president.
“The Flint Hills Association of Realtors covers a jurisdiction of eight counties,” Mr. Burch said, “talk about regionalism! I am literally selling this community every single day, multiple times a day. I am extremely passionate about Geary County and the surrounding areas.”
“Currently, I serve as the Chair for the NextHome, Inc. Growth Committee where I help with the growth and development of all the NextHome brokers/owners across the nation,” Mr. Burch said.
“I'm crap at having a boss, so I am one. My main goal was, and still is, to build my agents up and help them become successful, which in turns help continue my success. My goal is to empower and inspire others to succeed.”
Explore here to find your next career at NextHome Unlimited.
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Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission
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