Tag Archives: La Vista

Sonja Kapoun-Roof

June 9, 2017 by

This sponsored content appears in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0217_125/56

Before she became the owner of a Pinot’s Palette franchise, Sonja Kapoun-Roof participated in the sip-wine-while-you-paint-a-picture activity as an enthusiastic patron. The experience delivered an extra benefit.

“I bought an evening to paint with one of my good friends for her birthday and had a great time,” she explains. “I also found it to be very helpful with my stress.”

When the accountant lost her job at ConAgra, she remembered the fun she had at Pinot’s Palette. The Bellevue resident believed this creative activity—perfect for girls night out or date night—would fill a niche in Sarpy County.

The studio (due to open in January) will offer wine, beer, and soda as customers unleash their inner Picasso on a large canvas. Currently, a mobile unit can bring the painting supplies anywhere.

Each session offers a specific picture to recreate. A professional artist walks everyone through each step of the process.

pinotspalette.com/lavista

Lalitha Nadam, Kristin Larsen, and Yuliana Linares

February 3, 2017 by
Photography by Ani Luxe Photography

This sponsored content appears in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0217_125/56

In a field known to be male-dominated, national full-service construction firm The Weitz Company offers excellent career opportunities for women as well as men, and its diversity in its workforce has contributed to the company’s longevity and success, say team members.

“The Weitz Company is associated and active in many industry-related women’s organizations both on a national and local level, including Advancing Women in Construction and the National Association of Women in Construction,” says Project Engineer Lalitha Nandam. “Gender balance in the workplace helps companies improve their organizational performance and operating results. I can describe the female co-workers in our company as trustworthy, dedicated, and creative. The ladies in our office don’t shy away from problems and are open to suggestions on how to handle them.”

“As different individuals bring their own views and ideas to the workplace, women also bring a unique perspective to the industry as a whole,” Project Manager Yuliana Linares says. “Having diversity in expertise and personalities helps our team at Weitz to tailor our services to each customer and to deliver not only an excellent product but a pleasant building experience.”

The Weitz Company, founded in 1855, has grown to become a national full-service general contractor, design-builder, and construction manager with offices around the country and team members who pride themselves in their ability to deliver the highest quality of customer service.

“Weitz uses a very innovative and flexible team approach that is unique on every job site,” Project Engineer Kristin Larsen says. “Each team member has their area of expertise but is working to bring the client’s vision to life.”

“In each effort, small or large, we value the partnerships we gain from each project we’ve done,” Linares says. “This kind of collective experience yields in our ability to provide value to our customers…Customers keep coming back because Weitz provides a collaborative approach for each project. We value the relationships we create; what we do is not just business to us.”

It’s clear why Linares was recently named to the 2016 Constructech Women in Construction list, comprised of some of the most successful women working within the construction community.  “Each construction project starts as a vision, and to be part of the team that brings that vision to life from start to finish is a great feeling,” she says. “It brings me a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

One of the company’s core values is “Nurturing Personal Growth,” which is reflected in a supportive and enjoyable work atmosphere.

“Employees are their happiest and most constructive when they work in an environment that suits them,” Nandam says. “Our workplace is an informal work environment with open office layout, which helps in getting exposure and learning things faster.”

“Our office is very collaborative; no one is ever on their own in finding a solution or going through a process,” Larsen agrees. “Everyone has their own experience and expertise, and they are happy to provide their insights…Our office has a good balance of varied personalities. We also know how to have a lot of fun in our office and on our job sites.”

8715 S. 121 St.
La Vista, NE 68128
402.592.7000
weitz.com

Beansmith

October 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Beansmith Coffee Roasters’ immaculate bar still feels brand-new—it just opened this past spring—but its original wood floors, exposed brick, and some of the design details resonate of a much earlier era. The Old Market building Beansmith occupies at 1213 Harney Street dates to 1880,  says owner Chris Smith. He’s the Smith in the cafe’s name, but another Smith was the building’s namesake.

“Its first owner was George Warren Smith, and it was known as the Smith Building. So we thought it was pretty appropriate that Beansmith should be one of its tenants,” Smith says. “We feel really honored to be part of the heritage of the building.”

The history of Beansmith itself starts 30 years ago, when Smith’s degree in electrical engineering helped pique his curiosity about coffee.

“Engineers in general are curious as to why things work the way they do,” he says. “That ultimately brought me to the point where I wanted to own and operate my own coffee roaster. I had more ability to source exactly what I thought would be great, and those elements—why coffee could taste much better and what’s making that happen—brought me to where I am now.”

Smith’s original foray into entrepreneurship was a drinking water company, which led to providing water for coffee machines, which brought forth the idea of a coffee wholesale business. Smith still operates the La Vista roasting facility he launched in 2006.

“That was a good place to start because it allowed me to see how a variety of different shops and stores operated. It also allowed me to see what worked and what maybe could be better and it allowed me to see how people were reacting to the coffee,” he says. “I had been to Kansas City, Minneapolis, and of course larger cities like San Francisco and Chicago; the coffee scenes in those cities were vibrant…I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, Omaha doesn’t have anything like this—why not?’ So as I became more proficient in roasting and experiencing all these locations and takes on coffee, I really started to develop my vision for what we could do here in this area.”

A coffee bar was the natural evolution of that vision, Smith says. “I realized that for us to really have better controllability of our own brand and who we are, ultimately we needed to be serving people our own coffee. We have some great relationships with a variety of shops that serve our coffee and we want to continue that, but we also felt like the best voice for our own coffee was us actually serving it and presenting it to those people interested in specialty coffee.”

Eventually, Smith hopes Beansmith leads Omaha in becoming known to specialty coffee enthusiasts everywhere.

“We can not only just educate, but share what we know about our coffees…I do see more community coffee shops beginning to spark up that are on that same trek in terms of trying to up their game in terms of quality and knowledgeability,” he says. “I think that’s really good for Omaha because that means Omaha is in for the treat of a thriving specialty coffee community.”

Beansmith1

Paypal

June 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article was printed in the May/June 2015 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Many job seekers from Omaha’s inner-city neighborhoods currently think La Vista might as well be Lincoln—or Egypt. That may not be the case much longer. Linda Dugan, vice president of Global Operations at PayPal, has spearheaded a plan to connect PayPal’s suburban office complex with new hires from North Omaha.

A cohort of 28 new customer service employees began using a pilot transportation program to travel to and from PayPal on May 4.

Dugan explains the program’s logic: “Our idea is that if transportation is a barrier, and we can provide a service from the North Omaha community out to our La Vista office and provide return transportation, then we’re going to help enable them to have a really rewarding career with PayPal; and at the same time bring talented and highly engaged team members into our organization.”

Dugan has pondered transportation accessibility for some time. During board meetings for the Sarpy County Economic Development Council, she listened to other La Vista area businesses lament how some potential hires are logistically incapable of considering job opportunities in Omaha’s outer suburbs.

“Not everyone has a car, not everyone can drive, but we do have the expectation of attendance,” Dugan says. “If their car might not make it 40 miles back and forth every day, they self-select themselves out of consideration. Hopefully by solving this (problem of accessibility), we will get some teammates who want to commit to us because we are willing to commit to them.”

Many people want to commit to PayPal because of their extensive benefits.

“I would put our benefits up against anyone in the community and believe that ours would still exceed,” she says, speaking from a conference room in the first of PayPal’s two adjacent offices, which house 2,500 employees (working in customer service, technical support, fraud prevention, corporate communications, and other capacities).

The company’s comprehensive benefits package begins on new employees’ first day and covers everything from family to pets. PayPal also offers tuition reimbursement, and Bellevue University teaches accelerated degree courses in undergraduate and graduate levels after regular business hours at the La Vista office.

No matter how good PayPal’s employment benefits might be, unreliable transportation could force job candidates out of the talent pool.

“I am so hopeful that our pilot can prove what I think it can, that by removing the barrier of transportation we can get really great talent that wants the career opportunities,” says Dugan.

The north Omaha transportation program resulted from a brainstorming session with her boss, John McCabe. “We were talking about opportunities and talent, and I proposed an idea of addressing possible barriers in the community for transportation,” Dugan says.

He liked the idea. McCabe agreed to fund a nine-month pilot program. Dugan’s next phone call was to David Brown, president of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. She explained how she hoped to incentivize talent acquisition from north Omaha with PayPal-funded complementary transportation.

“He was amazing!” Dugan says of Brown. More community outreach followed. Brown’s team helped PayPal network with agencies, keeping a pulse on the employment needs of Omaha’s inner-city community.

Representatives from Goodwill and the Urban League joined the discussion, followed two months later by Metro Transit, Omaha’s public transportation provider. The coalition eventually developed a blueprint for a transportation program that allows PayPal to leverage the Urban League and Goodwill’s talent pool while coordinating routes with Omaha’s existing busing infrastructure.

They organized two job fairs during March in north Omaha. Soon after, the company began extending job offers. PayPal’s buses would depart from the North Omaha Transit Center (near 30th and Ames), which is already connected to other bus lines throughout Omaha’s inner-city neighborhoods.

“Our hope is that this cohort demonstrates the same level of engagement that we have received from our talent from across the community, and that will help us see if we are on the right track,” says Dugan. “We are really hopeful that it will make a difference, that it will be great for our customers and great for the community.”

Dugan has deep family roots in the north Omaha community. Her grandmother was a member of Omaha North High School’s first graduating class. Dugan, her brother, and her parents also graduated from the school.

Now she’s able to give back to the Omaha neighborhood that nurtured her.

“It’s all about community,” she says. “Go Vikings!”

1PayPal

God Bless Us, Everyone!

December 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As the Omaha Community Playhouse prepares to transport theatergoers to Victorian England with their annual production of A Christmas Carol, 8-year-old Mackenzie Reidy is getting ready to be catapulted into the world of theater for the first time.

The bubbly La Vista native scored her first-ever acting role in this year’s production, and it’s a big one—she will be playing good-hearted Tiny Tim, the boy who personifies the show’s whole message of Christmas spirit. But with a toothy grin and a sense of fearlessness, Mackenzie is more than ready to spread the cheer.

Mackenzie caught the theater bug suddenly last year when she surprised her mother, Melissa, with the announcement that she wanted to audition for Papillion-La Vista Community Theatre’s production of Annie. While Mackenzie didn’t get a part in the production, she enjoyed the process and decided to give theatre another shot after Melissa saw upcoming auditions for a production of the Charles Dickens classic. While Mackenzie was gung-ho, Melissa and her husband approached the auditions with a cautious optimism.

“It’s a fine line between having faith in her and preparing her for reality. There were a lot of kids there, and obviously a lot of kids who have done it before,” Melissa says. “So I figured, if anything, maybe a choir part, not Tiny Tim.”

Susan Baer Collins, one of the show’s directors, remembers Mackenzie’s first audition well. Baer Collins mentions that one of the biggest problems with casting children is that many are
too shy. But after Mackenzie belted out two verses of “On Top of Spaghetti,” and “sang like a demon,” according to Baer Collins, the show’s directors knew Mackenzie would have no problem with confidence.

After Mackenzie’s cheesy approach won over the directors, she was called back for a second round of auditions. Melissa began to suspect that Mackenzie might have a larger role in the production than originally anticipated when the directors had Mackenzie read for Tiny Tim. But she says she was still floored when the Reidy household came home to a voicemail from the Omaha Community Playhouse—quickly followed by a scream from Mackenzie.

While the Omaha Community Playhouse’s main stage production of A Christmas Carol has never had a female Tiny Tim, it is standard on tour. Tiny Tim has to be small enough to be easily carried by Bob Cratchit, and Baer Collins says that many boys who come into audition are too tall or too large for that.

But it’s not enough to just be tiny—a Tiny Tim has to be preco-cious yet convincing enough that it’s believable that resident humbug Ebenezer Scrooge can be won over by the waif.

“People talk about Tim as being “God-like”, and you know in spite of his infirmity, he’s always thinking of others, so you’re looking for a kind of value that someone can project,” says Baer Collins.

Mackenzie has some large shoes to fill—the Omaha Community Playhouse’s production has seen 40 years’ worth of actors fill the role of Tiny Tim—but she has no qualms about getting up on stage. She says that she’s most excited for being able to act on stage and to make new friends.

While Mackenzie says she wants to try out for more plays, for now she’s simply relishing her time in the spotlight. When asked what her dream role was, she responded with a wry smile and, “Well, that’s kind of the role I just got.”

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