Tag Archives: Women in Business

Patsy Sumner and Andrea Brendis

June 19, 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

Today’s consumers are bombarded with marketing messages every waking moment. These messages come from traditional mediums such as print, TV, radio, and billboard advertising as well as internet-driven digital and social media options that are increasing exponentially. Businesses that will survive and thrive in this rapidly changing environment are the businesses that take steps to make certain that their message isn’t just white noise.

Creating the perfect message is only part of the marketing challenge. In order to drive results, brands need to deliver that message to the right people. This raises questions. Who are those people? Where do you find them? How do you choose the best possibilities on a fixed budget? For any media question, MediaSpark is the answer.

MediaSpark can discover your best audience. Then, they can tell you where to place your message so that the audience can discover you. Most importantly, MediaSpark can measure your results on an ongoing basis to ensure that your message remains current and effective for your unique audience.

Patsy Sumner founded MediaSpark after almost 20 years of corporate marketing and branding experience. She has designed and launched many multifaceted national media campaigns. Not only does she have an excellent grasp of traditional approaches, she is well versed and connected in the new and developing arenas of digital and social media. Patsy specializes in media strategy to maximize your media budget. And, she makes sure that you understand your results helping you to keep your messaging on track.

Andrea Brendis previously represented a national media agency where she gained experience with local, regional, and national media markets. She understands the best possible way to get the most targeted messaging out of any size media budget. She coordinates the performance of integrated media campaigns with her sharp negotiation skills and her relentless attention to client service.

Not only do these ladies have impressive individual backgrounds—they are a real live sister act. MediaSpark clients can be assured of a unique blend of competitive spirit and camaraderie that comes from working with two powerful women who have been “working” together for over 35 years. Their clients find this partnership refreshing in today’s environment of virtual relationships. 

And, if all of that is not enough, these two were born and raised in Omaha and are genuinely committed to the community. Patsy serves on the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Friends Board and Andrea is a Scrubs Ambassador. They are also involved in a number of other charitable endeavors, including The Aksarben Coronation Ball and Scholarship Fund, Angels Among Us, and The Girl Scouts of America.

There is no doubt—you want these sisters on your team. They are a win/win proposition in every sense of the word. They would love to buy you a cup of coffee, listen to your needs, and explore the possibilities.

P.O. Box 540965
Omaha, NE 68154

Kris Metzler

June 16, 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

As Maple 85 Premium Landscape Mulch Center nears its 20th anniversary, much of its business comes from repeat customers and personal referrals, says president Kris Metzler, who owns the landscape distribution company with husband Todd.

“It’s our customer service. We are very attention-to-detail and we try to make the process as efficient as possible,” she says. The experienced, all-woman office staff is responsible for making a good first impression and providing the kind of care that builds productive and long-lasting relationships with customers, she adds. In turn, they are supported by a warm, family atmosphere with owners who don’t hesitate to pitch in when needed and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty—literally.

Maple 85 provides top-quality mulch and river rock, aggregates, top soil, fill dirt, and Nebraska compost to residential and commercial clients. Customers can also purchase accessories such as landscape fabric and edging. During the winter months, the company provides salt and sand to contractors.

“We offer the most variety of mulch—eight different types and colors,” Metzler says.  “Most of our competitors offer three, maybe four.”

Another way the owners of Maple 85 distinguish their business from the competition is by offering the use of dump trailers for a minimal fee with any size purchase.

“We have different size trailers that we can match up with any size SUV or truck,” she says. “For those customers that don’t have a vehicle to pull a trailer, we can deliver the product to them.  Customer service is our number one priority!”

8415 Maple St.
Omaha, NE 68134

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.


Patricia Regan

June 2, 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

After 30 successful years, Patricia Catering and Cocktails gets a lot of repeat business—some of it even multigenerational.

“Customers and guests at events remember us and seek us out even years later,” owner Patricia Regan says. “We currently have one bride coming to us to cater her wedding reception because we catered her parents’ reception years ago, and they loved the service. We have been doing business with some of our corporate clients for well over 20 years.”

The team is knowledgeable, respectful, helpful, and takes tremendous pride in both product and presentation, Regan says.

“We provide food and cocktails for corporate needs and special events,” she explains. “We also provide professional and timely service for our customers, from delivery and set-up to full-scale events with linens, china, bar service, and everything else that is needed for the success of our customers’ events.”

In the catering business, Regan says that relationships are paramount. “We look at each customer as a partnership in success,” she says. “Success for them is success for us, too.”


Audra Gude

May 26, 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

Audra Gude lives and works by a very simple rule: “I will never expect my team to do something that I have not done or am not willing to do myself,” says the managing partner at Midwest Ultrasonic. “You will never learn new skills if you don’t get your hands dirty.”

It’s with that mantra that Gude leads her team. Midwest Ultrasonic provides ultrasonic cleaning of window blinds and shades, golf clubs and bags, and sporting gear and pads.

Ultrasonic cleaning is the process that uses sound waves with water and detergent. “Ultrasonic cleaning utilizes sound wave technology to eradicate soil, odor, and harmful bacteria for items even in the smallest crevices,” says Gude.

It’s that motivation to clean in a safe way with fair pricing that Gude says makes clients feel like part of the family.

Couple that with a laidback work environment filled with incredibly dedicated, hardworking team members and Gude says she knows she has the perfect combination for great customer service and fantastic products.

“We all want to be able to deep clean items in a safe way, using detergents that don’t harm our family members, children, and the environment,” she says.

She also works hard to be a positive role model for women inside and outside of the organization—including working mothers.

Recognizing that they often struggle with being away from their kids during the day, she says she wants to provide a service that allows them to keep their home and the items in the home clean while not taking away from their family time in the evenings and on the weekends.

“My ladies are part of my family,” she says. “We all work hard, laugh hard, and support each other in and out of the office. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to come to work every day and enjoy the people you work with.”

Gude is also managing partner for another business in addition to Midwest Ultrasonic. FRSTeam is a fabric restoration company that helps families restore their textiles after fire or water damage.

Working in a family business, Gude says whenever she has any doubts, she remembers back to some somewhat harsh advice from her father. It still resonates with her every day—and motivates her wanting to do the right thing.

“When I was looking at coming into the family business back in my 20s, my father looked me square in the eye and told me, ‘You provide zero value to my company. I do not need another body. Go find a real job,’” says Gude, who joined the family dry cleaning business nine years ago after completing two degrees at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

“That has resonated with me with all that I do within our family businesses,” she says. “I want to be known for doing the right thing and doing it with a smile. At the end of the day, I want my husband and my daughters to be proud of me.”

3305 S 66th Ave. Cir.
Omaha, NE 68106

Michelle Schrage

May 19, 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

When women are looking for a place to grow their careers, they want to be at a company that recognizes that work-life balance is important. They also take into consideration that family is a big part of their lives, says Michelle Schrage.

“It’s important to see our team members not just as professionals, but as passionate people. Driven women want to do well for our company, and we expect our company to do well for us,” explains Schrage, a single mother of an 11-year-old son.

MassMutual was named one of Working Mother magazine’s “Top 100 Best Companies” for 2016. Schrage says that the company deserves the prestigious ranking: “Our commitment to progressive workplace programs, our advancement of women, our flexibility, childcare, and paid parental leave all excel.”

Women do very well in the financial services industry because they have a natural ability to build relationships, says Schrage. “We’ve got a team of motivated women who want to earn what they are worth and build long-term relationships with their clients,” she continues.

MassMutual Nebraska has a team-oriented environment. “We’ve created a culture of idea sharing and collaboration. We also have specialists who can come to the table to help our advisers succeed,” says Schrage. “In our office, we have fun and laugh a lot. We are involved in the community through charitable and education-focused events, and we bring in speakers frequently to talk about important issues. Everyone on our team believes in keeping a ‘door always open’ approach.”

“At MassMutual, we are proud of our ability to access a variety of different carriers for financial solutions. We truly have the ability to do what’s in the best interest of the client,” she says. “At MassMutual, we empower our advisors to build their client base and know they’ll never lose them if a company change should occur. Relationships are important, and we protect the right of our advisors to always keep their clients, no matter what.”

MassMutual has a prestigious list of rankings and honors, among them:

• Named a World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute for three consecutive years, 2014-2016.

• Named 2016 “Insurer of the Year” by Risk Management Association.

• Ranked No. 76 by Fortune Magazine in the “Fortune 100” list.

“Our company goal is to establish MassMutual Nebraska as a premier financial firm where financial specialists aspire to build and grow their practices,” she says. “My personal goal is to always connect with people. I love meeting people and facilitating powerful connections. So in my role as the Marketing and Recruiting Director, I connect people with their desire to have a great career.”

Schrage has contributed greatly to the community. She is the founder and Executive Director of Business4Business Professional Society, planning programs that bring together people who want to make a difference.

An actress for 20 years, she founded and ran the Nebraska Film Association for seven years. She lobbied state senators to provide tax incentives for the film industry. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. But because we don’t have incentives, filmmakers often won’t come here,” she says.

She also is a board member of The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and serves on the board of the Engagement Council of the Greater Omaha Chamber.

“I’m always looking for ways to make a positive difference,” she says.

10250 Regency Circle, Suite 250
Omaha, NE 68114

Kate Packard

May 11, 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

As president of Kaplan University’s Nebraska campuses—and a woman—Kate Packard has a keen understanding of what the majority of her students need and want from their educational experience.

After all, 75 percent of them are women, and just as she does, they learn to integrate education into their busy lives of children, career, and family.

“As women, we understand the juggle—being a mom, daughter, employee, student, business leader, etc.,” Packard says. “As a female leader, I also juggle similar demands in a day. As a female leader, innovation is a valuable quality to possess.

“This quality allows female leaders the opportunity to juggle and prioritize daily so that we can remain focused on personal growth and accomplishments.” 

Kaplan University is a higher education institution offering more than 180 programs including diplomas, associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as professional certifications and graduate certificates for eligible, nontraditional students.

Fifty-nine percent of Kaplan’s students are over the age of 30. Time spent on any level of education assists students to master both basic and advanced skills. The more time spent focusing on education, the stronger the students’ writing, reading, comprehension, and communication skills will develop. Packard says it’s the flexibility of Kaplan University that also appeals to students—male and female, traditional and nontraditional.

“Each day I focus on pushing the boundaries by approaching what we do inside the walls of the university to support our students,” she says. “By the end of your program, you will have become accustomed to interacting with a wide variety of people and these social skills will assist students in their job search.”

5425 103rd St.
Omaha, NE 68314

Nancy Schlessinger

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

Women are not just major consumers of skin care products and services, they also tend to be the decision-makers for the entire family when it comes to skin care, says LovelySkin.com Vice President Nancy Schlessinger. So it should come as no surprise that more than 85 percent of LovelySkin and Skin Specialists employees are women, that most managerial roles are filled by women, or that board-certified dermatologist (and Nancy’s husband) Dr. Joel Schlessinger has always valued the input of women in his practice.

“Many employees have been with him for 10 or more years and have grown from entry-level positions to higher management positions,” Nancy Schlessinger says. “This is made possible due to the friendly and fast-paced but exciting environment with ample opportunities available for both women and men.”

Schlessinger describes the workplace atmosphere as “fun” and “like a second family home” where hard work, attention to detail, and a sense of humor are all valued.

“We like to hang out together even when we’re not working, whether at a Taylor Swift concert, a companywide Halloween costume contest, or just having a tailgating picnic in the fall sunshine,” she explains. “Our female employees are a diverse group of smart, creative, incredibly hard-working women who take ownership for their part of the business.”

And that business is incredibly successful. Customers and patients benefit not only from Dr. Schlessinger’s 20 years of dermatology clinic and research experience (and excellent connections), but also a team of award-winning estheticians, an unparalleled research department, and the best beauty supply store in Omaha three years running.

“We have national product trainers on site every week, training our staff members on the latest products and breakthroughs in skin care and often offering advice for individual patients and customers on brands that are important to them. This is simply unheard of in this field,” Schlessinger says. “Additionally, to have a store with over 350 unique skin brands and over 15,000 individual products is astonishing. There isn’t another store in the world that offers this much skin care inventory in one place.”

The staff operates on the sincere belief that everyone can achieve healthy, beautiful skin, she adds.

“We hope our customers keep coming back because they know we love them. ‘LovelySkin loves you’ is at the heart of our customer outreach and on every single box we send out. We apply that mantra to our customer service and train our employees to live that as well,” she says. “Many of our patients come to us for childhood issues and return as teenagers for acne, while their parents trust us with their adult skin concerns, such as wrinkles and cancer prevention.”

Helping people put their best face forward and feeling confident is an important responsibility, she says. “We like to be known for the difference we made in the lives of the women and men of Omaha and all over the world as well as the lives of our valued employees.”

2929 Oak View Drive
Omaha, Nebraska

Margaret Stessman

May 5, 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

The founder and chief executive officer of StrategicHealthSolutions LLC—Margaret “Peg” Stessman—followed a great role model into the health care field: her mother, who was a nurse at a time when many women never worked outside the home and career options for those who did were limited. Stessman started out as an oncology nurse, but as her career evolved, she observed problems with high costs and low quality of care, spurring her eventual move out of traditional nursing into the administrative side of the industry.

In 2005, she founded Strategic. Today, Strategic employs approximately 300 people, almost all of them with college degrees and with women comprising more than half of the corporate advisory team.

“We have a very educated workforce and I think that tends to define your organization at a level that’s fairly sophisticated in their knowledge,” she says.

As a company, Strategic helps set health care policy, recoup misspent dollars, and develop education and training products for health care providers and beneficiaries.

Strategic’s diverse employees also have a common goal they call the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of redefining health care as a sustainable resource and to protect the future of health care for generations to come. Their talented workforce has created systems and procedures to assure that quality outcomes are well-defined, repeatable, measurable and modifiable for continuous quality improvement, Stessman says.

Government clients may have come to them initially because they were classified as a woman-owned small business, but as Strategic has grown, clients return because of the service.

Stessman says, “Not only does Strategic have excellent quality, we can perform our services at a lower rate because most of our competition is in larger cities with higher costs of living.”

Although Stessman has built her business in an era where opportunities for women have increased, Strategic is still in the minority. 

“I was recently reading the 2015 National Women’s Business Conference Annual Report…Of all the woman-owned businesses—which there are significantly fewer than men-owned—only 10 percent of them actually employ people. Although that number is better than it’s been, it is still just a staggering few,” Stessman says. “Women represent 50.8 percent of the population and they have $11.2 trillion in spending power. When are we going to get caught up? When are we going to address the situation? I love that the government gave me a chance by giving me some set-asides for small women-owned businesses, but it’s not enough. Women-owned businesses continue to be underrepresented and continue to have the potential to significantly impact the financial well-being of the country, but only if we are given our fair share.”

Stessman says the time is ripe for women to seek leadership roles in their organizations and become entrepreneurs.

“I can tell you there’s only one sure-fire way you’ll never have a ceiling cap, and that is if you’re in charge,” she says. “We have power, we just have to use it.”

4211 S. 102nd St.
Omaha, NE 68127

Susan Henricks

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

With decades of leadership experience at private and public companies—including First Data Corp. and RR Donnelley Corp. —Susan Henricks had established herself as a business leader on a global scale.

Then she began to contemplate how she could further encourage future generations of leaders. That’s when she joined the board of the Omaha-based Institute for Career Advancement Needs. ICAN named her CEO a few years later in May 2014, and Henricks hasn’t looked back.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing, because I have the opportunity to take what I learned over a 35-plus year career in various corporations and share that with others,” she says. “The one thing I was always passionate about was developing people. So, now I have an opportunity to do that in a broader way.”

ICAN provides leader development programs, custom services and events with a focus on developing inspired and authentic leaders who transform their organizations. The programs were originally created to advance women in business when ICAN was founded in 1981, but the growth of the organization now caters to all leaders in the workplace.

ICAN programs include Defining Leadership, Women’s Leadership Circles, the Speaker Series, 7x7x7, EVOLVE and a recently developed for-credit program called IMPACT. This new eight session, five month program builds leaders who manage higher performing teams with stronger strategic influence.

The largest event ICAN produces is the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, which draws 2,500+ attendees. This one-day insightful and intensive focus on leadership provides access to national thought leaders and leadership trends and transformations present in today’s workplace.

One important concept for women in the business world is balancing work and home, or as Henricks says “the work-life challenge.” ICAN’s 24th Annual conference will address this theme in 2017.

“This topic is really resonating with a lot of the organizations that send people to our conference,” Henricks says. “We purposefully did not use the word ‘balance’ because it implies that one can achieve balance when in reality true balance is not really achievable.”

How different generations and age cohorts look at the “work-life challenge” varies, says Henricks.

“Historically, work life challenges have been the responsibility of the woman. This has now changed to also include Corporate Organizations, Men and Millennials. For example: from a man’s perspective with elderly parents or young children,” she says. “Men want to participate more in their lives and are looking for more flexible work schedules. We’re also going to look at the work/life challenge from the standpoint of millennials. They want to do something they are passionate about. Unlike baby boomers who worked 12 hour days and didn’t have time for passion projects until retirement, millennials are saying, ‘I want to work, I want to work hard, but I also want my time.’ That’s a very different work structure.”

Whatever the generation, whatever the reasons for wanting to approach the work life challenge, Henricks and her team are making sure to provide guidance and assistance to both businesswomen and their organizations.

“In a lot of our programs, we focus on helping women and men develop their leadership voice, grow in their confidence, and their interrelational skills,” she says. “We are taking a specific role in that effort by creating active leaders who have the capacity to advance authenticity and intention in the workplace, and get more women in senior leadership.”

14217 Dayton Circle, Suite 5
OMAHA, NE 68137