Tag Archives: Business

Success from Great Heights

August 9, 2018 by
Photography by contributed

Jamie Walker can actually say he takes corporate success to greater heights.

The 44-year-old, who serves as president and CEO of Omaha-based Jet Linx Aviation, often finds himself flying to far-off places. That’s not surprising, because he served as a vital component in growing the Midwest company to a national success. The company has 14 locations in the U.S. that provide private jet services.

Jamie says the company was founded by his father, Denny, in 1999 as a means to slice into the market of private airline services for people who don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of more public transportation. 

Jamie joined the company in 2002 with one major goal—bring the company to a national scale. Previously, Walker had worked in sales and marketing, and residential development in New York City.

In 2004, he launched Jet Linx Aviation’s Jet Card and Aircraft Management programs. Then in 2009, he established the company’s base partner program, a major win for fulfilling national expansion efforts.

Walker says the program was, and continues to be, a successful effort to establish Jet Linx Aviation hubs in large metro areas. The requirement includes a base partner, who serves as a local buy-in and owns a small portion of the business. Jet Linx Aviation remains the majority stakeholder and primary decision-maker.

Walker was successful in growing the company this way while mitigating financial risks to the company during the Great Recession. Then in 2014, he created the company’s first member-benefits program, Elevated Lifestyle.

“It’s really a challenge,” Walker says of the private flight market. “The company’s goal is to scale and retain a local effort [in Omaha].”

Since taking over leadership, Walker has grown the company from four aircrafts to a fleet of over 100. The company grew from 12 clients to over 1,300. At its start, Jet Linx Aviation had 20 employees. Now it boasts about 475 hard workers across the country.

When Walker is traveling, he’s usually speaking with clients interested in private jet services. In Omaha, he’s helping develop programs that benefit his everyday employees. Part of this includes the management and retention of a positive work culture. Whenever Walker is in Omaha, he makes sure to communicate with his staff to ensure they arrive to a positive atmostphere every day.

“One of the most important things we need to do is keep that culture in place,” Walker says.

In Omaha, Walker is involved with the Knights of Aksarben and YPO, and remains active on the advisory boards for JetSmarter and Stellar Labs. He previously served on the board for Jet Aviation and the local YPO Chapter.

“Jamie was chapter chair [in 2012],” says Lund Co. President Jason Lund of the YPO board. “He recruited me to be on the board. It was at a pivotal time in the local chapter, and I think he’s a very innovative, forward-thinking leader.”

Walker says the single most important thing he’s learned about nonstop travel is that family is more important than anything else.

“It definitely makes me appreciate Omaha much more when I do travel,” Walker says. “The best thing about traveling is coming home.”

Walker spends the majority of his free time with his wife and children. And that’s something he holds close to him, because then he never loses sight of what home really means.

“I love having Omaha as a home base,” Walker says. “To be in Omaha—to call it home—makes it much easier on the life-work balance.”


Visit jetlinx.com for more information.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Michael Sanchez’s Inspiration

August 5, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Why would a young, healthy finance graduate of California State University-San Marcos leave a prestigious and lucrative job in the world of Southern California banking to run a restaurant in Ralston?

For Michael Sanchez, a more appropriate question was, “How can I not do this?” 

In 2008, his grandmother Maria Sanchez, the woman he calls “my everything” and the namesake of the legendary Maria’s Mexican Restaurant, needed his help. Michael’s grandfather, Patrick, had died some years before. Maria was determined to carry on and manage a business they had started together in 1976. But when Maria turned 70, she knew the years were catching up with her. 

“Michael is like my husband because he’s really into the business side of the restaurant,” Maria says. Michael’s grandfather grew up in Colorado and was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base when he married Maria in 1959. While the couple lived overseas in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Patrick set up a Mexican food cart on base during the weekends. The food cart was a hit with fellow service families. It eventually inspired their restaurant. 

Maria practically raised Michael from the time he was a baby. “He’s a creator,” she says, acknowledging the grandson inherited her husband’s financial acumen. “I told him, ‘Come home, Michael. We’d love to have you.’”

“It took a lot of planning, mostly over the phone, to make the arrangements for me to come back [as majority owner and operator],” says Michael, 35. “Because she’s so passionate and wants the best for her business and her employees, I think she wanted to advance the business, but she just didn’t have the wherewithal.” 

Michael knew exactly how to advance the family business when he returned to Ralston. His vision coincided with the same thing customers had been telling his grandmother for years: Maria’s didn’t have enough space. 

A remodel and expansion job began immediately on the Burlington Street restaurant in the heart of Ralston. Michael added a party room and doubled the seating capacity. Ten years later, the growing popularity of Maria’s signature fried puffy tacos taxes the new floor plan. 

“Even now that we’ve expanded, it’s a long wait sometimes,” says Maria, in what may be the understatement of the year. Patrons congregate outside the restaurant before the doors open. 

After unleashing his inner entrepreneur, Michael embarked on a creative and professional tear. 

Over the past decade the Creighton Prep product has added a satellite Maria’s Mexican Restaurant inside the Ralston Arena, created the sensational Mula in Omaha’s hip Blackstone District, developed a new taco eatery in Benson, drawn up plans for a fast-casual dining experience, earned a graduate degree in business from Creighton University (completed in one year), and won a seat on the Ralston City Council. In addition, he helps raise two sons, ages 12 and 9.

Michael grew up at Maria’s (“My crib was in the back office of the restaurant,” he says) and can perform every job within his businesses. Although he prefers working outside the kitchen, his vast knowledge of Mexican food has paid dividends in his business ventures.

“Living in California and traveling often to Mexico opened my eyes to how many varieties of Mexican food there are,” he says. “Omaha-style Mexican is very similar to Maria’s, which has a heavy Texas influence. It’s all about sauces, cheese, and beans.”

The Tex-Mex influence comes naturally to Maria. “My mother was raised in Texas,” she says. “We use her recipes. We’ve used them from the beginning, when Patrick cooked.”

As he conceptualized a culinary creation of his own, Michael strived to bridge the gap between Americanized Mexican food and the traditional fare immigrant families dish up along Omaha’s South 24th Street—fare similar to the street food made-to-order from vendor carts on Mexican street corners.

He chose to establish Mula (Spanish for mule) at 40th and Farnam streets because he felt the community would travel there to sample his contemporary version of Mexican street food. The location struck gold. 

“When we moved here to the Blackstone District in 2014, there was nothing around, I mean nothing,” Michael says with a touch of awe. “Now it’s become the hottest part of the city.”

Relying on social media and word-of-mouth, Mula found its footing within a year and exceeded expectations. 

The décor reflects the Old World, with statues and icons of the Virgin Mary and colorful votive candles with images of saints lined across the back bar. Hundreds of bottles of tequila rest on rustic bookshelves, giving credence to Mula’s billing as a “Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria.”

Diners experience flavors outside the realm of taco seasoning, with fresh red cabbage, chile crema, a splash of citrus, and “a hint of vanilla” integrated into some of the offerings. Unlike many Mexican restaurants, portions at Mula don’t rival the size of houseboats, although the tortas, Mexican sandwiches stuffed with meat, can easily feed two. 

With Mula running smoothly, Michael turned to a simpler concept and a new restaurant debuting this summer: Taco Co. at 61st and Maple streets in Benson, a margarita garden that pays homage to his grandmother. 

“We serve nothing but margaritas and her fried puffy tacos,” he says, referring to the pita bread-like quality of the taco shell. “We also have finger food, salsa, and guac.”

Always one to stay up on trends in the business, Michael and his trusty culinary director, chef Kyle Lamb, have an idea for a line of fast-casual restaurants. “Counter service, not full service, is the largest growing segment,” he says matter-of-factly.

While Michael plans for the future, his beloved grandmother, whose smooth skin and bright smile belie her age, basks in the goodwill bestowed on her at the restaurant. As she welcomes third- and fourth-generation customers to Maria’s, she takes comfort knowing her family’s culinary legacy will continue for years to come. 


Visit mariasralston.com to learn more about Maria’s in Ralston, visit mulaomaha.com for Mula in Blackstone, and find Taco Co. on Facebook at @handmadetacos.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Entrepreneurs of the Great Recession

July 30, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Even the Great Depression couldn’t keep some entrepreneurs down. Enduring companies and brands including Sony Music, Westin Hotels, Allstate, Rubbermaid, Ray-Ban, and Tyson Foods all originated during the economic downturn in the early 20th century. Similarly, the period of economic recession that began a decade ago didn’t stop several local entrepreneurs from starting businesses during a time when numerous companies were floundering or failing.  

Kirt Jones was already a business owner when 2008 began. He had started Jones Construction in 2005 under a strong market climate, which may have helped him achieve financial stability, but, ironically, did not foster rapid growth. 

“[That] made it very hard to find lots to build houses on in good developments. Simultaneously, banks were not interested in working with a new company to provide construction lending,” he says. 

He started Castle Brook Builders in 2008 not knowing a market crash was around the corner.

“The change to Castle Brook Builders was for marketing purposes. We wanted to bring brand awareness to the company by developing name recognition to the Omaha area. We started before the market crash, but we accelerated growth during the downturn,” he says. “When the market did slow down, banks paid more attention to our strong financial position and land developers were willing to listen to my proposals on multiple lot purchases. I developed a successful business model from these long-term lot purchase agreements, providing higher profitability for Castle Brook Builders.”

The timing was advantageous but Jones says other factors also contributed to his success during a time when so many of his competitors struggled. 

“I have a financial background, so developing long-term strategies and partnerships allowed me to rise above the competition with stronger sales and profits. We invested some of this profit into creating and continuing our brand awareness,” he explains.

Having been through the economic downturn, he says he is ready now for anything that happens in the next 10 years and beyond. 

“Reputation is very important in the Omaha market. We have worked very hard to establish strong relationships and partnerships with other respectable homebuilders and land developers in the area. This will provide CBB a very strong competitive advantage far into the future,” he says. 

Chris Hughes’ IT job was eliminated in 2009 as a result of the economic downturn, and he needed to create another source of income after landing a job that brought in about one-third of the salary he once commanded.

“I was obviously looking for any other avenue, and I was making tote [bags] in my basement to sell on Etsy,” he says. “That started to take off for me, so this decision to launch Artifact was partly due to timing and largely due to necessity…I’m pretty risk-averse in general and the idea of entrepreneurship—it would not have been my first pick.” 

The well-crafted bags he sold on Etsy for extra cash became a big hit, and he officially launched Artifact Bags in 2010, when the economy was slowly starting to turn. It is thriving today. Looking back, Hughes says that, although he may have felt then like circumstances forced his hand a bit, waiting for the economy to turn around would have actually been a misstep.   

“I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to do what I’m doing. The market is more saturated with people who are doing similar products or business models to what I’m doing,” he says. “I was on the bleeding edge of it and there was a time, with e-commerce, where Google was at a point where I was able to really leverage my standing in Google search in a way that was more democratic and didn’t require as much capital as it would require now to pay for that space.” 

The frustration he encountered in trying to find a new job turned out to be somewhat motivational, he adds. 

“When you’re backed in a corner and you’re trying to tell people what you’re capable of, there comes a point when you give up and you demonstrate what you’re capable of, through entrepreneurship or just doing your own thing. And I think that it speaks more than just your own self-speculation about what you think you can do for some company,” he explains. “Everybody’s got an idea written down on a napkin somewhere, but execution is everything. I’ve met a lot of people along the way through the eight years of doing Artifact, and I hear tons of great ideas all the time, but they don’t mean anything. A great idea that is never executed is worse than an average one that someone works their butt off to try to get out there in the world.” 


For more information, visit artifactbags.com and castlebrookbuildersomaha.com.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Chris Hughes

Ethical Legacy Thinkers and the GDPR

July 26, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The General Data Protection Regulation is a new European Union and European Economic Area privacy regulation. It has to do with how personal information of EU subjects is processed and applies to all enterprises, even if located outside the EU, that work with the EEA. Among other things, it requires that data collectors and processors receive opt-in consent from the data’s owner; certain data breaches must be reported within 72 hours; users have a right to request a copy of the data collected; and users have a right to have their data erased under specific situations. This last right is also called “the right to be forgotten.”

When the GDPR became enforceable on May 25 it affected me. I was in Austria and I could not get access to several U.S. websites, including the Omaha World Herald. “Come on, what’s the privacy issue with our local paper?” I thought.

Talking to several business leaders when I came back to the U.S., we reflected on how the new regulation affects Omaha businesses. There were two distinct responses.

The first was, “the GDPR is interesting to know about. But our firm doesn’t have clients in the EU so it’s not a regulation that I think too much about.” I’ll call this a short-term, narrow reaction. It doesn’t indicate that the businessperson’s perspective is far, wide, and high. The conversation closed down almost immediately.

What I’ll call ethical legacy thinkers, however, consistently had a different take. Even if their firms don’t currently have EU clients, they exhibited attitudes and perspectives that left me with the thought, “I can see why they have influence and will last a long, long time.”

Ethical legacy thinkers have four attitudes in common, which were apparent in my GDPR conversations with them.

First, they exhibited curiosity, asking questions such as, “What’s the difference between opt-in and opt-out?” and “What is
personal information?”

Second, they expressed concern for long-term business impact, asking“How can we continue to satisfy our customer’s need for privacy?” and “What will the overall cost be?”

Third, these businesspeople showed a sense of the relationship between business and society, asking,“What are the social norms across communities and countries that drive different senses of privacy?” and “What is businesses’ role in maintaining these?”

Fourth, they always bring it back to their values and the core values of their firms. They asked “Why is privacy important to me?,” “How can I make sense of the right to be forgotten?,” and “How can our company use the spirit of this regulation to do what we do best—make good money through excellent customer service and respect for our customers?.”

Ethical legacy thinkers are seers. They pose big-picture questions and seek long-term impact. They know that passing on a strong moral compass and a sense of purpose is meaningful.


This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics and Society at Creighton University.

Blockchain

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

To industries that depend on verification as a core factor of their business, blockchain technology has much to offer, according to Erica Wassinger, co-founder of The Startup Collaborative and senior director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Greater Omaha Chamber. B2B recently caught up with Wassinger to get her take on blockchain and its benefits to companies in Omaha and elsewhere. 

B2B: Please explain what blockchain technology is. 

Wassinger: Blockchain is a new form of the internet. The distinguishing factor between blockchain and the internet as we know it now is the fact that blockchain is not controlled by any central entity or person. It’s completely decentralized and distributed. Think of it like a public ledger that can record transactions of any type. A simple parallel might be that it can be a supply chain for just about anything, including information. When you dig deeply into the industries of Omaha, you think about our density within the supply chain. We’re home to Union Pacific, Werner Enterprises, and some of these big logistics companies. Blockchain fits really nicely into the business models of those types of companies because it allows any organization or person to verify where something is on the supply chain. 

B2B: To make use of blockchain, you have to be appropriately credentialed, digitally, right? 

Wassinger: To an extent. Businesses can operate on blockchain, any person can cooperate on it. If you want to develop on the blockchain, it does require a certain level of skill. There are very few developers. I heard one source say there are as few as 1,300 true blockchain developers in the world. 

B2B: What are those individuals doing? Developing applications for different products? 

Wassinger: Yes. They’re thinking of different use cases just like we would for the internet, where we think of how to create a web platform or an app that solves a problem. Blockchain developers are doing that same thing for blockchain use cases. 

B2B: What are some blockchain use cases?

Wassinger: You see blockchain used in the food industry with the verification of crop growth product formation. For example, if, as a consumer, I want to eat a food, and it matters to me greatly that that is a wholly organic food, I might want to go all the way back to the point at which that was planted in the soil to figure out how the crop was treated, how often was it watered, when was it harvested, where did it go, and what happened to it at the next facility.

B2B: Is supply chain verification the most popular use of blockchain?

Wassinger: Yes, at least here in the Nebraska blockchain market, whether it’s the food supply chain or the information supply chain. 

B2B: What are some local use cases for blockchain?

Wassinger: Let’s dig into the economy of Omaha. We’ve got deep density in financial services— everything from payment processing to banking to insurance. All those bases are completely ripe for blockchain technology, especially when you think about the need for authenticating things. Think about insurance, for example. Wouldn’t it be great if, upon buying a new policy, you could record every transaction very simply? That’s happening now with certain insurance companies. They’re testing that, and some are live right now. You can also look outside financial services and into the food industry. There’s a startup we are working with called BlockEra that’s working on an ingredient-to-table verification process. You can also think supply chain logistics. For example, if I am Union Pacific and I want to watch my train go from here to there, and I want to know what freight was loaded, when it was unloaded, and all of the details of that experience, blockchain becomes very relevant. 

B2B: What about an international use case? 

Wassinger: The United Nations, which works with massive refugee populations, has a really interesting blockchain use case. As a refugee, your anonymity is important to you—the ability to transact in any environment is important. You also fully expect to have a physical wallet on you to carry cash. You’re going to be crossing borders and deal with this, that, or the other. So the United Nations looked at that. We can respect these people’s anonymity through leveraging the block chain by giving refugees tokens that will allow them to transact across any border. As they reach certain points in their journey, we can make sure that they have enough tokens to fuel that piece of their journey. 

B2B: The technology sounds great. How does anybody make money from it? 

Wassinger: A lot of people are still trying to figure all of this out. Because the transactions are happening on blockchain, they require use of cryptocurrency. When you hear “cryptocurrency,” a lot of people are going to initially think of bitcoin. But there are several others that come up, Ether being one. Ether is the cryptocurrency of choice for the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is an open- source blockchain that is hinged around the idea of a smart contract, which is a really transparent way of two entities agreeing on a value for something and then recording that agreement
transaction together. 

B2B: Is there anything you’d like to add? 

Wassinger: I think about Omaha and the talent pools we have here. I keep coming back to this: we’ve got really a strong agribusiness talent pool, we’ve got a really strong talent pool in supply chain and logistics, and we’ve got an incredibly dense and strong talent pool as it relates to financial services, insurance, and payment processing. I think our region needs to embrace blockchain. We need more people in the core industries where blockchain stands to be a major disruptive source to test and dabble and experiment earlier with the technology to look at it and say what levels of verification need to happen in those industries. I would love to see that embraced because I firmly believe that blockchain will be very important to the future of Omaha’s economy.


Visit blockgeeks.com for more information about blockchain.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

In Frost We Trust

Photography by contributed

When the University of Nebraska football program again failed to produce a winning season last fall, new athletic director Bill Moos fired head coach Mike Riley and promptly hired former Husker Scott Frost. After years of losing, Nebraska is hopeful that they have found a winner with Frost. The Wood River, Nebraska, native quarterbacked NU to its last national championship in 1997, under the direction of legendary Husker head coach Tom Osborne.

Bringing Frost back into the fold for the much-scrutinized role of head football coach in Lincoln was an easy decision because he fits NU culture to a T.

“Nobody else would have generated that type of enthusiasm,” Osborne says. “He’s here now and we’re glad to see it. Where Scott really brings a lot to the table is he understands Nebraska and what you have to do in a sparsely populated state where there’s cold weather and not a lot of geographical advantages like beaches or mountains.” 

Osborne continues, “I don’t think there’s anybody more prepared than Scott to do the job. He’s intelligent, he has energy, he’s played and coached offense and defense at a high level.”

In Nebraska, Frost has only coached the 2018 exhibition spring game, but he is viewed as the deliverer who will lead the program out of the wilderness of mediocrity and irrelevancy it has fallen into. 

Fans are voicing their approval via social media and sports talk shows. They are also purchasing extensive amounts of Husker merchandise and tickets, making donations, and turning out for events at increased rates. 

Call it the Scott Frost Effect.

NU is taking advantage of this return-of-the-conquering-hero narrative by ramping-up development efforts wherever large bases of Husker fans reside.

“We’re really reaching outside the borders,” says NU Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm, who oversees external operations.

He says fundraising junkets to Chicago, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, and Palm Springs and Naples, Florida, are tapping into “enthusiasm over the hire and for the direction the program is heading.”

Nebraska Alumni Association Executive Director Shelley Zaborowski notes a ripple effect.

“We have certainly seen increased interest from alumni,” she says. “Our trip to Chicago for the upcoming Northwestern football game sold out in record time, our allocation of football tickets sold quickly, and we have received a high volume of calls about the Nebraska Champions Club.”

The association’s previous trips for the Northwestern game sold out between July 1 and the start of football season. This year tickets were nearly gone by the spring game in April; however, this is also the first year the alumni association has used an online ticketing system.

The waiting list for tailgate spots at the Nebraska Champions Club has grown by nearly 50 percent this spring. Zabroski wrote in an email that the membership numbers for May were the third best since 2014.

“It’s a little soon for us to attribute a spike in membership to ‘the Frost Effect,’ but we have high hopes the collective enthusiasm will pay off in that way, too. Anecdotally, there are a lot of people excited—[with] our local alumni and our chapters across the country. His return home is a point of pride and enthusiasm for Nebraska alumni and friends.”

University of Nebraska Foundation President & CEO Brian Hastings echoes the sentiment.

“Our fundraisers travel around Nebraska and the country, and they certainly are hearing a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our alumni and supporters. Athletics—especially football—is a front door to the university, so we are excited to have a lot of eyes on the University of Nebraska this fall.”

Wherever Frost has appeared, he has been well received. A record 86,000-plus fans attended the April 21 spring game at Memorial Stadium. 

The June 11-12 Husker Nation Tour saw the new head coach, his assistants, and Moos and other administrators criss-cross the state to pump the Big Red well in anticipation of the 2018 season. High-energy crowds turned out at all 26 town stops. 

All good signs the Frost Effect is paying dividends.

“There are barometers in which to confirm that,” Moos says. “We sold out our spring game, which is basically a scrimmage, in less than 36 hours. [It was the first time the game has sold out] It was incredible. Our season ticket renewal rate was 96 percent. That’s about 1.5 percent higher than in 2017, but you’ve got to realize there aren’t a lot of seats available year-to-year.

“Our novelty stores and online site Fanatics were up about 10 percent in December [over the previous December] after Scott’s hire from people jumping on the wagon to celebrate the coming home of one of our stars. We’ve seen a great surge in sales—over 15 percent—in Husker items from all of our licensees.”

Husker Hounds owner Scott Strunc says, “Coach Frost has generated a ton of excitement again with Husker Nation. Our sales are up 40 percent from last year through May. I anticipate the excitement building as the first game gets closer. The ‘Frost Effect’ has been the best thing to happen to our business in 20 years.”

Positive media spin generates free publicity.

“The media has been all over our campus following this new era,” Moos says. “We’ve had USA Today, Sports Illustrated, espn.com, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, cbsports.com, and the Big Ten Network. It’s a big story and big excitement.”

Boehm has “seen a lot of ups and downs” with Husker football’s following since 2001.”This past year it was getting concerning, where you saw a little apathy setting in, which is never good,” he says. “Then once that hire hit, it was game on. The biggest thing is that the state is now unified. When that happens, it can be a pretty big force.”

Boehm says the economic engine of Husker football will be most felt in-season, when fans spend thousands of dollars at the stadium and at bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops in Lincoln.  Fans watching the games at Omaha venues will do
the same.

“Nebraskans are very proud, and right now that pride is back,” he says, “and it’s much more than the investment—it’s the time and energy donors and prospects put into coming to the games. Forget about the financial end, it’s actually showing up and being emotionally invested again.”

Nebraska proudly touts the NCAA record for consecutive home football sellouts and Osborne says that streak “certainly was in dire jeopardy if we hadn’t got somebody like Scott to come back,” adding, “I think it’s important that people have hope and I think there’s a renewed sense of hope.”

Moos observes how “the feverish pitch of the fan base” is in stark contrast to the mood he found upon arriving in November.

“I’ve always felt that what intercollegiate athletics could do for an institution is be a source of leadership, morale, and positive feeling,” Moos says. “All those things are in place and it’s just a real good time to be involved with the University of Nebraska. It’s been my experience that when football is firing on all cylinders, then all boats rise. The attention a school’s football program brings to it is something you can’t really put a price tag on. Applications for admission grow. Already have. Donations across campus improve. When people have a good feeling about their university, are happy with the results, and anticipate a good future, they’re more apt to loosen the purse strings and get involved, and that’s where I feel we are right now.”

Moos says the savvy Frost knows that as football goes, so goes the athletic department, and that, despite NU’s recent on-the-field struggles, the school boasts the tradition, facilities, financial resources, and fan support to be competitive.

“He’s aware. Scott’s been around the game a lot at every level and has been involved in some big-time college programs, so he knows what we have in comparison to others and is very appreciative.”

Few wish to broach what will happen if things don’t pan out with Frost. Osborne suggests this may be NU’s last, best chance to regain top status. “I think people more or less realize if this doesn’t work we’re going to be really hard-pressed to find somebody who can do better, because Scott has pretty much all the pieces you’re looking for.”

Moos echoes Osborne in expressing guarded optimism that all the right moving parts are in place—Frost being the key chess piece on the board.

“Scott definitely has the coaching know-how and not many times do you get to implement that at a place you love and that loves you. It’s a dream come true.”

Moos also knows fans’ fickle nature can turn this honeymoon into hell if NU doesn’t win big
under Frost. 

He quips, “But, hey, we’re still undefeated.”


Visit huskers.com for more information about Nebraska football.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Play Ball!

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Mancuso: a name revered in the Omaha area for their family’s event planning business, Mid-America Expositions. 

From hosting grand events in Omaha’s late Civic Auditorium to formulating events like “Taste of Omaha,” the Mancusos’ impact has been felt in the Omaha area for more than 50 years. It is their passion for sports, however, that has held the family together. 

Youngest son Mike says his father, Bob Sr., grew up in Omaha with a heavy interest in sports thanks to Mike’s grandfather, Joe, being in charge of the city parks. Mike also says because his father grew up in a time without television and video games, sports were something he could easily focus on.

Bob Sr. took his passions to Kansas State University on a wrestling scholarship and later qualified to wrestle at the 1956 Olympic trials. However, before the trials started, Joe fell sick and passed away; Bob Sr. needed to move back to the area. Bob Sr. took a job coaching wrestling at Bellevue High School (now Bellevue East). He led the team to their first state championship, and within a few years, the University of Nebraska offered him a job coaching wrestling in Lincoln.

“Bob Devaney was just hired as the head football coach in 1962 and Frank Sevigne was the track coach, so he was just really enjoying the new environment and coaching at the time, as were us kids,” Mike says.   

Since their days in Lincoln, the Mancuso family has owned tickets to every season of Nebraska football.

“When my dad started coaching at Nebraska in the ’60s, he got a couple of seats for every football game,” Mike says. “We’ve kept those seats every year since it’s a tradition of ours to attend every game, through the good and the bad.”

Mike says he best remembers Saturdays at Memorial Stadium with his dad.

One October 1994 game in Lincoln has remained apparent in his mind.  

“It was a huge Big 8 matchup with Colorado, and Brook Berringer got the call at quarterback because Bobby Newcombe wasn’t feeling too good,” Mike says.  “We had the tunnel walk and HuskerVision for the first time, and [then] Colorado came out before we [Nebraska] came out onto the field. And because of that, I can just remember the stadium…going absolutely nuts.” 

For most games, the Mancusos have traveled to Memorial Stadium from Omaha. The family’s residence in Lincoln was cut short, in part due to Mike entreating his father to move home.

“1964 is when our family decided to move back to Omaha, since coaching, at the time, wasn’t paid in a substantial amount like it is today,” Mike says with a laugh. “I inspired our dad to start [Mid-America Expositions] and come to Omaha to start managing events.”

Mike and his older brothers, Bob Jr. and Joe, took their Cornhusker pride and athletic passion to the ball diamonds and courts of Omaha. Bob Sr. was also a prominent figure in the Omaha sports community.

“We grew up around Omaha sports, playing in a variety of different leagues,” Mike says. “Like his dad, my dad also coached a lot, mainly because he loved teaching. He also was very involved in the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, originated by my uncle Charlie, and continued by my dad after Charlie’s death.”

Mike says his dad’s involvement in the Greater Omaha Sports Committee created many surreal experiences as a child, where he and his brothers worked as bat, and ball, boys for Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association exhibition games.

“I remember one time I was a ball boy underneath the hoop and Sam Lacey was the big center and ‘Tiny’  Nate Archibald was the little guard,” Mike says, speaking of two Kansas City Kings players. “During the game, Lacey went after a ball and tumbled into the stands, causing everyone to [launch] their pops, creating a mess. I had to get my towel out and clean it up in front of everybody.”  

At the core of the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, and the city, was the College World Series. Bob Sr. and fellow committee members often held a welcome luncheon for all the participating teams, hoping to provide unforgettable experiences in Omaha.

The Mancusos’ contribution and involvement in college baseball’s grand series carried on throughout the tournament as Mike and his brothers helped to enhance the experience in any way possible. 

“We would run the dugouts, trying to clean them up between each game,” Mike says. “We worked the fields, and if we had time, would run up and clean the press box. Up there we took care of the press by giving them something to eat and plenty of water to drink at the games. We’ll just say I made a lot of Zesto runs.”

A newspaper clipping from Wilmer Mizell’s appearance in Omaha

One time his father even gave up their family’s premier seats to former Saint Louis Cardinals pitcher and U.S. congressman Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell.

“Ben Mizell came in for breakfast one morning before the games to speak in front of some of the players who were involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Mike says.  “After the speech, my dad generously told him to take our seats, kicking my brothers and I out.  Luckily, there were spots up top in the GA [general admission] section, and at that age we liked to run around anyway.”

Like Bob Sr., his three boys also played college sports. Mike inherited his father’s passion for wrestling, taking his talents to Iowa State University. Bob Jr. also took the Mancuso name to Ames, though for baseball, while Joe played baseball at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Although the brothers now longer watch sports with their dad, who passed away in 2015, in many ways, sports act as a microcosm in demonstrating the core aspects of family, which is why the Mancuso brothers’ passion in athletics ceases to fade.


Visit showofficeonline.com for more information.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

A souvenier given to CWS teams

Storybook Cosmetics

Photography by provided

Developing a cruelty-free cosmetics company may not have been the dream with which they started, but Maynard triplets Erin, Mandy, and Missy have combined their individual talents to make fantasy a reality.

Storybook Cosmetics is an online business they created after Missy introduced her sisters to high-end makeup about 10 years ago. At first, Mandy and Erin were worried about her “obsession.” Missy would spend $80 on a single brush. The two were slowly swayed and that love of high-end product influenced their decisions when creating their own line. The self-proclaimed “nerds” drew inspiration from their interests and channeled them into those products. 

Erin says she would often spend nights researching “how to start a cosmetics company” on the internet. But she didn’t get far. “Labs will not even talk to you if you’re an indie brand. You need hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Erin sent drawings to her manufacturer from a previous online business. She surprised Erin one day by producing a prototype of their Wizard Wand Makeup Brushes. When Erin posted the picture of them on her Instagram account, the post blew up—engagement was in the thousands in about five minutes. She quickly removed it and the sisters decided to post it on a Storybook Cosmetics account they had created but had not used yet. The account went from 9,000 to over 100,000 followers “in a matter of days.” They started pitching themselves to beauty magazines right away, and publications  like InStyle, Allure, and Teen Vogue started writing about them. Their social media was inundated with questions and comments. 

The women knew this was their chance. Erin started at the top of the list of cosmetics labs she’d previously contacted. “I said, ‘Yeah we’re the creators of the magic wand makeup brushes,’ and they were like, ‘Please hold.’ They signed us on that day.” 

The brushes launched the brand, but there is a constant buzz around all of their products. 

“Honestly, we have a really loyal, awesome following.” she says. “Everything since then has been almost as successful.” So successful that they are now a multi-million dollar company. All from a $500 prototype.

Initial orders of brushes were shipped out of their mother’s living room in Omaha. Friends and family filled the house for three weeks during the Christmas season to help box products. Erin says it’s great being based in Omaha because it’s cheaper than if everything was based out of L.A., especially with the help of their extensive support system—the triples are three of six sisters. 

Roxane Cosgrove, a friend of their younger sister Erica, is not surprised by their success. The triplets’ interest in makeup was evident early on, as Cosgrove recalls going over to their house while she was in middle school. “The triplets lived in the basement and they would give us makeup tutorials.” She remembers looking up to them, and is quick to mention that their mom is also a “superstar.” “They were always really innovative: the whole family is,” she says. “They were always figuring something out and they were always hard workers.” Besides that, she adds, “the Maynards have always been nerds at heart.” 

While having their support system around is key, the fact that Missy lives out west has its advantages. The triplets’ work is often based on popular movies or books, such as their Mean Girls Burn Book Palette, and it’s much easier for her to set up and get to meetings. And, according to Erin, she’s the right person to have in those meetings. “Missy is our mouthpiece, basically. She gets us all of our licensing,” she says, later adding, “She’s like the licensing whisperer.”

Each of the girls brings something unique to the table. Mandy is the graphic designer and artist, so she handles the creative side. Erin says she is good at “the boring stuff,” dealing with logistics and manufacturing. “It’s very bizarre, but we like to say when we combine we make one normal superhuman.”

While the business is currently only online, they are working on funding to branch into retail. A bigger investor can help them get to the next level. Erin says they have stores that are interested, but currently they can’t fill the orders. “That’s kind of the hurdle that we’re at right now in our growth,” she says, adding that it’s “obviously a good hurdle to have.”  


To learn more, visit storybookcosmetics.com.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

from left: Missy, Erin, and Mandy Maynard

Curing Cancer One Machine At a Time

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Driving down Leavenworth or Dodge streets, the average person might see the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, located on the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine campus, as something of a museum because of its notable artwork and architecture. 

It is also vital to note the advanced medical technology used to detect and treat cancer at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine. 

Mihaela Girbacica is a registered nurse who works directly with cancer patients every day and depends on smoothly functioning tech to do her job.

“I sit next to a patient one-on-one for their entire treatment,” Girbacica says. “We become like a family. I bond with them, I know what makes them comfortable and [feel] taken care of when they are with us, and when things go well, I’m so happy to be there for that, too.”

Having a support network (or favorite nurse) is a key facet to fighting the cancer battle, but finding and targeting cancerous tumors is at the forefront of fighting the war. 

Dr. Chad LaGrange demonstrates an MRI Ultrasound Fusion Biopsy

Dr. Chad LaGrange, a urologist with the cancer center, has helped to revolutionize the discovery of prostate cancers by using an MRI Ultrasound Fusion Biopsy. Essentially, this procedure, which takes place at Nebraska Medicine’s Lauritzen Outpatient Center, blends the technology of an ultrasound and MRI by combining one image with another, overlaid, image to fuse into a 3-D view.

LaGrange says this tool allows technicians to view a clearer image of the area they must work on to remove all of the cancer. The fusion biopsies also remove needless worry and unwarranted medical procedures if patients are not diagnosed with life-threatening cancers.

“It’s been a night-to-day difference,” LaGrange says. “Patients will come into our office to find out that their regular biopsies didn’t tell the whole story. Our equipment ensures that part of the major diagnosis doesn’t go missed.” 

While this computer-aided detection has been used for mammography and breast cancer screenings for years, its assistance in prostate cancer detection has reimagined—and reimaged—the way doctors analyze potential deadly lesions. 

From easily treatable small cancers to aggressive life-threatening cancers, the next step can often lead to radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Dr. Charles Enke, chair of Radiation Oncology, regularly uses the department’s Varian True Beam Linear Accelerator, a radiation device that delivers treatment to patients 75 percent faster than any other previous piece of tech used at Nebraska Medicine. 

“We’ve gotten up to seeing 115 patients in one day because of this much more elegant system,” Enke says. “The delivery time for this kind of treatment has decreased from 18 minutes to about three, meaning we have the ability to treat more patients with less machines.”

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is home to three of these machines, which Enke says has increased the speed and quality of most radiation plans. Treatment has transformed from a six-week plan to five simple treatments, maintaining a Nebraska Medicine culture of patient-centered care. 

Enke also has the ability to work from home using the machine’s remote system. This makes room for peace, quiet, and well-rested research, resulting in an environment where work done in the office directly affects patients. 

People often assume a cure for cancer will be a revelation; a singular miracle. However, that in-office work, albeit common and routine, is what will bring further knowledge to the professionals. Curing cancer is a daily goal, comprised of small and strong steps, increased technological advancements, and a medical team ready to work. 


To learn more, visit nebraskamed.com.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

A Varian True Beam Linear Accelerator at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

Designing Spaces Where Illumination Makes the Difference

July 25, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Trevor Hollins has a passion for how others see the world around them.

Specifically, he has a passion for how thoughtful design and lighting affects the environment people experience and how it shapes their impressions, emotions, and activity. 

Hollins is the lighting design studio lead at HDR’s Omaha architecture studio. He helped pioneer lighting design at HDR by advocating for it to shift from electrical engineering to the architecture studio. The move allows the lighting design team to work directly with architects and interior designers, improving the quality of the lighting and the overall design of structures.

“Good lighting design improves the way a user visually experiences architecture,” he says. “When you sit next to the people you are working on a project with, you are able to ask questions, bounce design ideas off of each other, and create better solutions to designs.”

The lighting design team works on projects in various stages of development, and they can be a resource for projects where the team is not directly involved, Hollins says. As part of the architecture studio, the team brings awareness of the latest advances in lighting and controls technology to projects, improving architects’ ability to stay within budget and meet other project requirements.

One of Hollins’ favorite projects is the Think Whole Person Healthcare facility near Aksarben Village, which features a six-story glass atrium that creates an inviting space for patients.“It is how we perceive architecture,” Hollins says. “It’s not putting out a cool lamp.”

“Lighting within that atrium had to be visually cohesive from floor to floor in order to connect all public-facing areas of the building together,” he says.

The design of the building uses the brain’s neural pathways as inspiration, Hollins says.

“The lighting design for the building reinforced this architectural concept in the atrium by highlighting major hubs of activity with illuminated rafts that reference an activated neuron,” he says. “Visiting the doctor can be a stressful time, and being able to help to create an inviting environment that reduces stress, and improves the patient experience and the ability of doctors to provide care, is
important to me.”

Hollins was recently honored for his contributions to his industry with Lighting magazine’s “40under40” award, which is organized in association with global lighting brand Osram. He was recognized alongside professionals from “high design cities” around the world, putting Omaha among the likes of London, New York, Singapore, and Stockholm. 

Andy Yosten, vice president and director of mechanical engineering at HDR, says Hollins has evangelized for lighting design.

“He truly understands the impact that our design can have on the human experience,” Yosten says. “It’s one thing if there is just one stand-alone great individual, but his ability to pass that knowledge on and influence others and help others see the impact that that light design can have is very special with Trevor.”

Clarence Waters, an architectural engineering professor at the University of Nebraska who has grown the program to national prominence, says Hollins has been an advocate for lighting design since graduating in 2004. Hollins regularly works with students, offering them feedback on projects and presentations. He also helps students looking to transition into the workplace.

“He’s very willing to give up his time,” Waters says. “HDR hires a lot of our students as interns, and Trevor is always mentoring those student interns who are working for HDR.”

As Hollins looks to continue to elevate lighting design in his industry and community, he hopes the next generation will recognize its potential to better illuminate our world.


Visit hdrinc.com for more information.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.