Ingram's October 2022

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T O P D O C T O R S | 2 0 I N T H E I R T W E N T I E S | C A M P U S I N N O V A T I O N | October 2022

The Medical Edition


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OCTOBER 2022 • VOLUME 48, NO. 10

Talk of the Town 7 In the News/Correspondent Business News and Legislative Updates Perspectives 4 Editor’s Note Leaders, Where Art Thou? by Joe Sweeney 11 Between the Lines

The Kansas City crime problem will persist until the real sources



are addressed. by Jack Cashill 13 Reflections

What a long, strange Odyssey this pandemic has been. by Dennis Boone

Features 20 20 in Their Twenties What makes Kansas City the right

14 In a Nutshell

Special Reports 20 20 in Their Twenties The 2022 Class of 20 in Their

The Fed’s response to high inflation may stand in the way of a rally for oversold equities markets. by Ken Herman

career fit? Members of our 15th class of 20 in Their Twenties sound off in this special report, and we feature individu al profiles of these high achievers.

Twenties offers solid evidence that entrepreneurship and executive-level achievement are values dear to young members of the business community. Special Medical Edition Ingram’s 26th class of Top Doctors upholds a tradition of health-care excellence that elevates the overall quality of life in the Kansas City region. In a separate report, CEOs and other leadership figures from regional health-care systems and medical schools address a shortage of physicians and nurses that they say how now moved into the critical stage.

Business & Commerce 17 Small Business Adviser A few notes on ESOPs. by Ben Williams 18 Financial Adviser Is this the right time to buy? by Aaron Wiens 19 Wealth Management

39 Top Doctors of 2022 Meet 15 of the region’s most highly regarded physicians, as recommended by their peers. 56 Rising to the Challenge

39 Top Doctors and

Executives from large medical centers to small community hospitals are in the fight of their lives to find physicians and nurses amid a historic labor shortage.

60 Q&A With ... Matt All

On transitions and family relationships. by Stephanie Siders and Christopher Wolff

The chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas goes one-on-one with Ingram’s to address rising costs, business needs, the impact of ACA after a decade, and more.

Leads & Lists 62 Top Area Health Insurers 63 Top Area Hospitals (Revenue) 70 Top Area Advertising Agencies

65 Campus Innovation

Faced with a nearly unprecedented decline in enrollment, the chancellors and presidents of regional universities and small colleges have begun to imple ment sweeping changes in higher edu cation programming and delivery. By Dennis Boone 69 Evolution of Marketing


The transformation of digital marketing over the past decade has been startling in scope, but one surprising element of an integrated marketing plan is the enduring strength of print.


I n g r a m ’ s

October 2022

E D I T O R ’ S N O T E

by Joe Sweeney

Leaders, Where Art Thou?

Strong, effective leaders needed. Now.

many mediocre to terrible ones, as well. Our area cities, counties and bi-state region deserve better. And elected and appointed officials deserve fair and reasonable compensation, certainly. Qualified can- didates for mayor of Kansas City, for example, should not be dissuaded from running for of f ice

Each spring in the April edition along with our 40 Under Forty honors, Ingram’s dedicates that edition to the theme of leadership. This tradition was established in 1998 and it’s fair to say that to some degree, every monthly edition of Ingram’s advocates the importance of that topic. In May of this year, the headline of my column read “Is Kansas City on Track to be the Next Detroit?”

Having been to Detroit recently, I’d like to retract this reference and apologize to our friends there. That city has made significant strides to improve since my perception of Detroit was so tainted nearly two decades ago. People are human and make mistakes. The problem I have is that despite being proven wrong time and again, some dig their heels in deep and fight to defend their mistakes. This is the norm with folks in Washington, D.C. and among many elected and appointed officials and political parties.

because of the finan cia l burden they may endure if they’re elected. I personally would like to see the smartest and most qualified people of character occupy ev- ery such elected and appointed position throughout our region. Kansas City and

Don’t like what you see in your community? The coming elections will present opportuni ties for you to help elect more effective leaders.

We started the 20 in Their Twenties program in 2008, which makes this year’s class our 15th. There are several similarities to our 40 Under Forty program. The biggest difference, however, is that honorees for the latter have performed half of their working career and have in this time significantly achieved at work, as volunteers and philanthropists and as civic supporters. The reality of today’s work force is that folks in their 20s not only change companies more often than previous generations, but often change career tracks. That doesn’t seem to be as prevalent with this year’s 20 in Their Twenties honorees, who already have carved out impressive spaces in their respective sectors. The quality of candidates and the level of their accomplishments elevates each year. This is a refreshing sign. As I edge a bit closer to the sunset of my publishing career, I contemplate what kind of mark we might have made, or might still be able to make, on this great region we love and call home. I believe the best legacy we can leave is to ensure we align and overlap with a qualified successor and leave Ingram’s in the capable hands of great leaders and a team that is entirely dedicated to serving the citizens and business community of the greater Kansas City area and our bi-state region. I’ve often thought of the need for a leadership institute where our loyal executive readers might engage by aligning with and mentor promising young leaders. I believe my hopes do not vary much from those of other executives reading this issue. We all want to make our mark and to leave a legacy, a footprint deeply imbedded into our region and the organizations we form, manage and grow. I look around the region and, regrettably, see a tremendous void in leadership, which has only grown over the past decade as some of the most prominent figures in commerce and civic life have retired or moved on. This is especially true in public service. We have many friends and folks we greatly respect who serve as elected and appointed officials, but sadly, there are

Jackson County are especially in need of strong leadership. Change is not only inevitable but often times necessary. These juristictions need an overhaul. Let’s hope our citizens pay close attention to performance and campaign promises and elect qualified leaders with character. Last month we published the Ingram’s 250—a distinguished group of executives mostly from large and mid-size businesses. Baby Boomer retirements are accelerating the speed of change in the executive leader ship ranks. Literally 155 of those in the first Ingram’s 250 class of 2016 are gone. I can tell you it’s very hard to replace folks on the i250 but the data shows an encouraging sta tistic for the young and emerging business execs. Never has there been a better oppor- tunity for young leaders to step up and in. We dedicate our business to focus on growth and performance and to recognize those leaders who are so effectively driving both. I consider that mission to be a noble pursuit, and it makes mine one of the best jobs in the region. I’ll be honest—it’s not for the money that we do what we do. There’s a greater good from serving as a steward of business success, and it’s an honor and privilege to serve the greater Kansas City area and the states of Missouri and Kansas. As the elections near, may voters cast their vote for candidates who possess the highest level of intetrity and character.

Joe Sweeney Editor-In-Chief and Publisher E | JSweeney @


I n g r a m ’ s

October 2022

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Thank You Ingram’s I would like to thank you for including me in your distinguished publication [50 Mis sourians You Should Know, August 2022]. The entire article was professionally writ ten and received by scores that have read your fine publication. It was an honor and a privilege to visit with Joe and Michelle Sweeney. Abe McGull McGull Law Firm Springfield, MO Ingram’s 250 Players About 10 hours. The time it took me to read much of, but not all, of the Septem ber Ingram’s 250 issue. I thought I knew the market and its leadership better and was pleasantly surprised to learn so much about so many stars on our hills. Ingram’s editors do a terrific job keeping up with and reporting on the players. You make my job easier. Thank you for the well-reported issue. Steve Wolfe Kansas City, MO

Thank you SO MUCH! Your latest Ingram’s was OUTSTANDING! I don’t see how you ever get all that in- formation together on the 250 leaders, but when I finished my copy I took it to church, and when finished there, I put it in the McCrite Library where more people read it. Ingram’s has given a lot of people an advanced education. Thank you again. Missouri Department of Conservation Kansas City Board of Parks & Recreation Then and Now I found Joe Sweeney’s [Editor’s Note in the September 2022 issue] quite interesting and a bit shocking to think there has been so much turnover at the top among KC’s execuitive community. I suppose it comes as no surprise when the Boomers are rea dy to retire, the corner offices change over in a hurry. I found the issue fascinating and extremely informative. Thank you. Mike Watson Overland Park, Kan. Anita B. Gorman Chair Emeritus

Editor-in-Chief & Publisher Joe Sweeney | JSweeney @ Editorial Director Dennis Boone | DBoone @ Senior Editor Jack Cashill | Editorial @ Columnists Ken Herman Stephanie Siders Christopher Wolff Director of Sales Michelle Sweeney | MSweeney @ Art Director Traci Faulk | Production @ Copy Editor Nancie Boland | Editorial @ Contributing Photographer Chris Crum Aaron Wiens Ben Williams

Advertising @ Digital @ Editorial @ Production @ Research @ Subscriptions @

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DID YOU KNOW? Ingram’s is Missouri’s and Kansas’ only audited business magazine and has been the leading business publication in both states since 1975. Put Ingram’s on the Plan in 2023

Title of Publication: Ingram’s Publication Number: 402-990 Filing Date: October 6, 2022 Frequency: Monthly Number of Issues Published Annually: 12* Annual Subscription Price: $44.95 Mailing Address and Business Headquarters:


President Joe Sweeney | JSweeney @ Senior Vice President Michelle H. Sweeney | MSweeney @

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Tidbits of Business News from Around the Region


KANSAS ATCHISON COUNTY Benedictine Med Expansion Economic development officials have requested funding for a study to deter mine the feasibility of a medical-school presence at Benedictine College. The college plans to lease space to an inde pendent, separately governed medical educator, creating an estimated economic impact of $80 million a year and 100 jobs.

leverage access to public transit with the adjacent park and ride/bus stop. Project costs top out at $90 million and include a garage with 377 parking spaces, plus additional public and street parking. TranSystems Goes Big TranSystems, the Kansas City engi neering and design firm, continues its growth-by-acquisition strategy by snapping up a Raleigh, N.C., firm with 330 employees. It closed on the acquisi tion of Sepi in late September, the third such deal since 2020. The estimated $40 million in annual billings at Sepi will bolster TranSystem’s 2021 revenues of more than $250 million and will bring overall employment to more than 1,325. Correspondent News Updates from the Capital cities

With enrollment demand well above capacity, the St. Joseph school district will break ground this fall on a 22,000-square foot expansion of its Hillyard Technical Center, which trains students in the skilled trades. More than 470 high-school students applied for courses at the center this school year, well above the capacity of 362, creating a waiting list of 110. The $5 million expansion project will double the size of the center’s welding program when the project is completed in January 2024. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City has stepped in to claim 260,000 square feet of Downtown office space that unexpectedly opened up after the acquisition of Waddell & Reed, which had planned to make the new 1400KC its headquarters. That distinction will go to Blue KC, which will lease all 18 floors of the building at 1400 Baltimore Ave. The new headquarters will house most of Blue KC’s 1,400 area employees. That 15-year lease commitment will free up 240,000 square feet Blue KC currently leases at 2301 Main and 2300 Main St. Current Groundbreaking Owners of the Kansas City Current broke ground Oct. 6 on a new riverfront stadium, hailed as the nation’s first to be designed specifically for a women’s professional soccer team. The $117 million stadium, with seating for 11,500, is expected to open by the 2024 regular season. Waldo Density Push EPC Real Estate Group has filed plans for Waldo 74 Broadway, a mixed-use project with 289 units over the top of a restaurant and retail space at 74th and Broadway. Covering nearly a full block now occupied by a restaurant and car wash, the project proposes either five or six stories of new construction that would JACKSON COUNTY New Home for Blue KC


Texas-based McKesson Corp., one of the nation’s biggest health-care com-

Washington | Lawsuit Challenges School-Debt Relief The Pacific Legal Foundation has filed suit against the U.S. Department of Education to block the Biden administration’s plans to cancel more than $500 billion in student loan debt, calling the proposal “flagrantly illegal.” President Biden, in August, called for canceling up to $20,000 in student loan debt each for more than 40 million Americans. “Cancelling student debt is unjust to those who have paid their loans or never took any. It will only lead to more calls for government intervention in education at taxpayers’ expense,” said Steve Simpson, senior attorney for the foundation. Jefferson City | House Opts for Individual Tax Cuts The Missouri House of Representatives has approved cutting the top state income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 4.95 percent, starting next year, with the potential for a reduction to 4.5 percent if state revenues continue to grow. The House embraced that plan, rather than a call for a reduction in business taxes, sending it to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature. Parson had originally called for a cut to 4.8 percent for individual taxpayers. Opposition came from Democrats in both the House and Senate, as well as the Missouri Budget Project, a non profit organization that said the cuts would disproportionately benefit wealthier residents. Topeka | Taiwan Makes Major Grain Buy Taiwan has given Kansas farmers a boost with an agreement to buy 66 million bushels of wheat from U.S. farmers by 2025, a deal with a projected value of $576 million for growers, a large portion of which will benefit Kansas farms. The deal was announced after a trade mission hosted by the state’s Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. Since 1998, Taiwan has dispatched a total of 13 agricultural trade missions to the U.S. in an effort to strengthen trade relations. This year’s mission included a visit to Washington, D.C., and select agricultural states, including Kansas, to demonstrate Taiwan’s intention to continue purchas ing quality wheat from the United States.

I n g r a m ’ s 7

Kansas City’s Business Media

October 2022


Tidbits of Business News from Around the Region

Major Home Project Emerges Drake Development is rolling out Wild Horse, an ambitious project at 179th Street and Switzer Road, where it plans to build 418 homes. Early this month, the City Council approved the 82-home first phase of construction covering 33 acres of a project that will eventually span roughly 187 acres. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., one of the Topeka area’s largest employers, has announced plans to invest $125 million in the modernization of its tire production facility there, a project with an estimated economic impact of $480 million by 2033. The plant, which opened in 1945, will see 40 new jobs added to a work force of 1,600. Stormont Vail-CMH Align Stormont Vail Health and Children’s Mercy Kansas City, which already collaborate on pediatric health-care SHAWNEE COUNTY Goodyear Modernizing

panies, has struck a deal to acquire Rx Savings Solutions of Overland Park for $600 million upfront and potentially as much as $875 million. Michael Rae founded the sof tware company for pharmaceutical comparison shopping in 2012 and, in just a decade, amassed a following of 17 million members— individual consumers, employers, and health insurers. Ferrellgas Back on Track For the first time since 2015, and thanks in large part to a Chapter 11 reorganization, publicly owned Ferrell gas Partners has posted a profitable year. The national propane-services firm generated a net of $148.86 million in its recently-closed 2022 fiscal year, a sharp reversal from the $69.1 million loss posted for 2021. The company hit a wall with the 2015 purchase of Bridger Logistics for $837.5 million, taking a considerable loss when it sold most of Bridger’s assets for $92 million in 2018.

services, are taking that to a new level with Chi ldren’s Mercy Topeka at Stormont Vail Health, slated to open this month. Children’s Mercy’s services will include cardiology, endocrinology and neurology, with additional telemedicine and specialty clinics still being planned. The two organizations have worked on joint projects since 2018. WYANDOTTE COUNTY KU Health System Adds Olathe Officials from the University of Kansas Health System and Olathe Health agreed earlier this month to the biggest health care merger in the Kansas City market in nearly 20 years. Leaders of the two institutions have signed a Letter of Intent to merge, pending a due-diligence review. If the deal proceeds, officials say there will be little immediate change apparent to patients. It’s the biggest health-care market in Kansas City shift since HCA acquired Health Midwest’s hospitals and clinics for $1.13 billion in 2003.

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October 2022

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Pointed Perspectives & Penetrating Punditry | by Jack Cashill

A Tragic Motivation to Rethink Public Safety in KC The slayings of two international researchers are a grim reminder that bromides from pub lic officials aren’t coming close to a solution. black Kansas Citians suffered most. In a city roughly one-third black, 78 percent of the murder victims were African American. Although the calculus for “suspects”

As crime in the Kansas City area continues to flourish, will the murder of two scientists change the mayor’s view on crime and policing in the community? In the early morning hours of Oct. 1, firefighters were called to the scene of a blaze in the Midtown neighborhood of Kansas City. Inside the smoldering apartment, they found the bodies of Camila Behrensen, 24, and Pablo Guzman-Palma, 25, both scien tists at the city’s nearby Stowers Institute for Medical Research. The fire was not what killed the pair, the Kansas City Police Department says. After entering the apartment to extinguish the fire, KCFD located two victims inside, a police spokesman said in a prepared statement. All indications are that the pair, whose bodies showed signs of trauma, had been murdered before the fire was set.

is not nearly as reliable as that for victims, at least 84 percent of the sus pects were black. Lucas has been freely pontificating about the causes of crime since he took office. For him, the word “gun” almost always precedes the word “crime.” “For those who don’t know the Midwest, we are not unlike Texas. We have no requirement for concealed carry permits,” Lucas told a reporter in July. “Folks can access assault rifles very simply. There is little to no investiga tion into illegal gun

traffickers and dis tributors. And our police are not only overworked, but they find themselves at the risk of getting shot as well.” This argument

The fact that Kansas City’s mayor took a knee with the protestors tearing up the city in the 2020 riots did not have the calming effect the mayor likely intended, or reassure police that he had their backs.

The fact that Behrensen was from Argentina and Guzman-Palma from Chile will make it that much harder for Mayor Quinton Lucas to pacify international media with his disingenuous bromides. “I think in the short term it will certainly start a dialogue of the involved countries and the United States,” retired FBI agent Michael Tabman told 41 KSHB. “They’ll want security for their people.” A Promise Unkept When Lucas first ran for mayor in 2019, he put fighting crime at the center of his campaign. Specifically, he promised to bring the annual homicide count down to below

would work better i f ne i ghb or i ng Kansas did not have the same constitu tional-carry laws as Missouri. The numbers suggest gun laws are not a relevant factor. For example, Johnson County, Kansas, runs parallel to Kansas City, Missouri, for about 11 miles, sepa rated only by State Line Road. In 2021, Johnson County had just four homicides to Kansas City’s 157. The numbers are even worse than they appear, in that Johnson County has roughly 100,000 more people. In 2021, twice as many people in Kansas City were stabbed to death as were shot to death in Johnson County. In fact, more Kansas Citians were beaten or strangled to death than were shot to death in Johnson County.

100. As an African American, he convinced many voters he would have more moral authority to tackle the crime issue than the liberal female who ran against him. The voters did not get their ballots’ worth. Lucas was sworn in on Aug. 1, 2019. In that year, Kansas City suffered 148 homicides–up from 138 the year before. In 2020, the homicide rate shot up to a record 179 in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The fact that Lucas took a knee with the protestors who were then tearing up the city during the Floyd-inspired riots did not have the calming effect the mayor likely intended–nor did his gesture reassure police that he had their backs. As events would prove, he did not. In 2021, the body count in Kansas City subsided a bit to 157, though still 19 more than the year Lucas took office. As usual,

Jack Cashill Ingram’s Senior Editor P | 816.842.9994 E | Editorial @


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October 2022


Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. A party-line Democrat, Baker often seems more concerned with achieving “equity” than with reducing crime. If Lucas objects to her perceived leniency, however, he has not said so publicly. He prefers to use his bully pulpit to berate gun manufacturers and Republican lawmakers. The murder of the two Stowers researchers brought the 2021 body count to 126, a near-record pace. Although the murders remain un- solved at this point, they are too public to ignore. The voters may buy Lucas’ excuses when he runs for re-election in 2023, but the Stowers people may not, and that bodes ill for Kansas City.

The problem is not the law. Illinois has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and Chicago’s are tougher still, and yet, as The Wall Street Journal observes, “Violence in Chicago is so routine these days that it barely registers as news.” The city had 797 murders in 2020. An Honest Assessment The problem is inner-city culture. Unfortunately, Lucas has not even attempted to address the family dysfunction at the heart of Kansas City’s crime problem. An ambitious Democrat, he has followed the cues from party leadership and shifted the blame onto the police. In 2021, he un- successfully attempted to defund the police, and this year, he similarly proposed to take $37 million out of the police budget and give control of it to the city manager for a new “Com munity Policing and Prevention Fund.”

The murders of Camila Behrenson and Paulo Guzman Palma remain unsolved at this point, but they are too public to ignore.

Never one to accept responsibil ity when it can be shirked, Lucas has argued he has no control over

The views expressed in this column, which is also published online in the Heartlander, are the writer’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Ingram’s Magazine. Jack Cashill , Senior Editor, Editorial @

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I n g r a m ’ s

August 2017


I n g r a m ’ s

October 2022


by Dennis Boone

At the Intersection of Business and Life

What a Long, Strange Odyssey This Has Been . . . gone in the populace? You still see the oc- casional mask-wearer out there, which is certainly sensible for those most at-risk, given daily case counts during much of the summer of 2022 were 10 times the 2021 low.  How will public health officials

Is the pandemic really over? Maybe. Maybe not. But we can do a lot better next time. Well, well: The declaration finally came last month, when President Biden acknowledged during a televised interview that “the pandemic is over.” I have to salute his best efforts to try and catch up, but I could have told him that … oh, about a year ago. And it’s not because I have access to super-secret CDC data sets, state health-department metrics, or insider knowledge from medical providers. Nope, I’ve got the Odyssey Social Health Indicator at my disposal. Haven’t heard of it, you say? Not surprising—this particular determinant of societal health is known only to yours truly and the three teens I’ve chauffeured through middle school and high school since 2018. That’s when I acquired my rolling pride and joy, a one-owner Honda minivan (maroon) with 189,000 miles on it, for the princely sum of $3,200, sales tax included. (Try to find a deal like that today!)

regain the credibility they sacrificed (especially at the federal level) with shift ing directives that flew in the face of the case/death count data and contradicted their earlier guidance?  If nothing else, perhaps we’ve learned that contract tracing during a pandemic is a futile gesture if you don’t start until more than a month after the spread has started. The fact is, by April 2020, we had no clue how prevalent the virus was in the population. We still don’t. We’ll simply NEVER know how many people have had COVID, given the enormous numbers of cases that produced no symptoms. Before the next one hits, can we please focus on developing rapid-test solutions to let people know they’re infectious?  What will it take to get more Americans off the couch and in better shape (hypocrisy alert: I should be one of them), with stronger physical defenses against contagion?  I’m never going to suggest a supplemental regimen for anyone else (I have my own, though, and it seems to have worked) or pretend to offer medical advice. But it would be nice if the folks at CDC and NIAID, who are supposed to know such things, would be more forthcoming about the types of vitamins and minerals that are known to impede the development of coronaviruses and reduce the severity of symptoms.  And for Pete’s sake, Washington: Can we please bring as much urgency to early treatment protocols and off-use approval for existing medications as we brought to pushing new vaccines? That strategy opened the door for tens of millions to doubt the safety of a product rushed to market. What do you say we try to cut down on the potential for political gamesmanship? Over or not, theGreat COVIDPandemic has indeed been a long, strange Odyssey. Not, however, a very good-looking one.

Being a Dad, and prone to Dadisms, I im- mediately began taking note of other Odysseys on the road, declaring their presence with: “There goes a good-looking Honda Odyssey.” Dad genetics compelled me to repeat it with sufficient frequency, eliciting the Teenism “Daaaa-uuud, please!” from my young passengers. It became a point of pride to see how far I could push that aggravation button. Payback, don’t you know, for the condition of their bedrooms and the nightly WWF smackdowns over who loads the dishwasher.

With a semblance of “normal” now restored, a few questions are in order about how we’ve responded to COVID since 2020.

The unanticipated result of my observational study? I became much more aware of traffic flow around me. So I’m a better driver. But it also gave me a sense of how active the Odyssey-driving share of the public was both pre-pandemic and post. In 2019, the rule of thumb was one Odyssey would pass by for every mile driven. Typically, seven or eight would be seen on the 7½ -mile drive from Baja Brookside to Downtown each morning. Then came March 2020 and . . . nothing. They simply vanished from the road as schools closed and companies shuttered their doors. It was the Odyssey Rapture. Fast-forward 18 months. By the start of the 2021-22 school year, the Odyssey counts come back, and pretty quickly. So they hit pre-pandemic levels more than a year ago, which is why I knew the president’s perception lagged the road reality by juuuuust a bit. Now that traffic flows are being restored—odd in itself, since so many large office spaces remain empty with remote work— there are a few questions that should be asked if we’re going to declare this pandemic “over” and be better prepared to deal with the next one. Among them:  With this past summer’s rolling 7-day average COVID-fatality count more than twice the 2021 lows, where has the collective fear

Dennis Boone is the edito rial director at Ingram’s. E | DBoone @ P | 816.268.6402


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Kansas City’s Business Media

October 2022


by Ken Herman

The Fed Will Subdue Inflation at Any Cost

Stocks are now in oversold territory; what will it take to restore confidence?

Even subprime borrowers could borrow due to teaser rates. There was no housing correction during the 2001 recession because lending standards were easy enough to offset weakness in demand. The S&P had shed almost 23 per cent year to date before the strong market on Oct. 3 at least temporarily reversed market declines. Before Oct. 3, the market was within 10 points of last June’s low. This kind of price action still puts pressure on fund managers trying to put window dressing on their quarter-ending portfolios to show they have the right blend of risk and cash. Cash levels noware

Last week, in clear tones, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said, “Inflation is running too hot. You don’t need to know much more than that.” He added, “This committee is committed to getting to a meaningful, restrictive stance of policy and staying there until we feel confident that inflation is coming down.” After hearing this, the bond market “took out” the stock market. Virtually all of the gains after the June bond rally had evaporated. The good news is that the S&P 500 retested its June lows on the final trading Friday of September, and it did not set a new low. However, trading volume was not near capitulation-selling levels, so additional retests may follow.

Powell called the Federal Open Market Committee’s commitment to fighting in flation “unconditional,” and The Street takes that pledge at face value. The theme of this forecast is the Fed’s inflation-fighting resolve. The Fed’s latest forecast and Summary of Economic Projections show the median fed funds target at 4.4 percent this year, with its 2023 year-end median at 4.6 percent. To get to 4.4 percent, the Fed might hike 75 basis points in November and 50 more in December, which is entirely possible.

If history is any guide, we’re about to be rewarded for our patience with a stronger market in the fourth quarter and well into 2023.

at the extreme posit- ions that have histor ically defined a mar ket bottom, at least going back to the dot com crash. The Bank of America Global Fund Manager Survey just revealed that cash levels reached 6.1 per cent in August, the

Last month was particularly tough for investors as all 11 S&P sectors experienced losses to some extent. As The Street expected, the market tested its June lows and set new lows in all major indexes to close the quarter. Not long ago, two-year Treasury rates rose above 4.3 per cent, mortgage rates topped 7 percent, and 10-year Treasury rates rose above 3.95 percent as the bond market continued to spook the stock market. Mortgage rates hit their highest level in 20 years as the Federal Reserve has seemingly leaped from one extreme to the other, likely killing any remaining home-buying momentum. Housing now appears to be in a recession. Existing home sales were down 5.9 percent in July, or -25.9 percent since January! New home sales were down 12.6 percent in July, or -39.1 percent since December! What this means for lenders and the economy, both directly and indirectly, is another matter. Today’s housing market is so different from the past that it should be expected to behave very differently. From the 1960s through the ’90s, home sales typically peak- ed as much as a year before recessions and recovered before the economy recovered. This relationship broke down in the early 2000s when much of the industry abandoned rational mortgage lending standards. For a few years before the 2007/09 housing crash, anyone who wanted a loan could get a loan.

highest in 21 years.

One wonders what sort of headlines it might take to turn the long-term tide and bring confidence back to the market. It will probably take several headlines about inflation being on the decline, plus better-than-expected earnings from companies with market leading stocks, as well as a change in the makeup of Congress after the November elections. Will the strong start to October continue? With stocks in extremely oversold territory, a rally of perhaps 7 percent to 10 percent, hopefully, may be in the cards near term, and that would get the S&P back up to 4,000 (where the 50-day moving average lies overhead). If history is any guide, we’re about to be rewarded for our patience with a stronger market in the fourth quarter and well into 2023. However, that recovery still depends on what the Federal Reserve does next. And elections do matter, as well.

Ken Herman served as the Managing Director of Bank of America Global Capital Markets and was the Mayor of and served on the City Council in

Glendora, Calif. E | Editorial@


I n g r a m ’ s

October 2022

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by Ben Williams

Thinking About Creating an ESOP? Things to Note.

Employee ownership changes the workplace dynamic in multiple ways. U.S. businesses are facing a challenging environment. Baby Boomers are looking to transition their businesses, and many business owners are finding it difficult to hire and retain the best talent. Workers are demanding better opportunities, causing companies to rethink their compensation, purpose, and futures. One of the ways we’ve seen many forward-looking companies address these challenges is through Employee Stock Ownership Programs. An ESOP is a type of ownership succession plan that allows a company’s stockholders to sell their shares to the employees of the company. Unlike other methods of business transition, employees pay nothing for their shares. Instead, the ESOP borrows money from a lender (leveraged) or a note from the selling shareholders (unleveraged). Shares are then allocated to employees of the company over time.

such. ESOPs require a company to have ongoing controls in place, such as an an- nual CPA audit. ESOPs also need trustees and board members for oversight. In creasingly, these individuals are required to be parties outside the company, and paying them will add to the ongoing cost. According to the National Center for Em- ployee Ownership, these costs average $20,000to$30,000for smaller companies, with additional costs for larger ESOPs. A second concern for sellers should be the fundamental way the company is operated. Although sellers and key management typically remain with the company, they MUST act in the best interest of the ESOP owners. This can be particularly challenging for small companies and those that have been family-owned. Sellers may be conditioned to pay excessive salaries, use the company for personal expenses, or take unnecessary company trips. Using company funds in this manner could result in valid action or lawsuits against management and officers. Like all business transitions, ESOPs require a business to be profitable. If a company is not profitable, it will strug gle to satisfy the debt and value for the shareholders. Companies with large swings in profitability may not be the best fit for an ESOP. Companies should also consider key creditor relationships before deciding on an ESOP. An ESOP transaction will most likely cause the company to have a deficit equity position for the first few years. Many lenders, bond companies, and other strategic relationships may not be familiar with ESOPs. The sale could negatively impact a company’s future operations if not handled correctly and by parties familiar with these structures. All business owners should explore an ESOP as a method of transitioning their business. Few other methods pro vide a means to improve the lives of employees, maintain company culture, and provide fair value to sellers. ESOPs also continue to be supported by both sides legislatively and should continue to enjoy favorable tax and regulation for years to come.

There are many benefits to a business owner who sells to an ESOP. First, a 100 percent ESOP pays no federal income taxes or state income taxes in most states. The significant tax savings provides the cash necessary to pay back the debt created by the ESOP. Second, an ESOP allows companies to reward their employees while preserving the company’s culture. Unfortunately, this is often lost when employees sell to outside buyers or even family members who do not share the same values. Employees share in the company’s success without having to borrow or spend their own money. In this way, altruistic sellers can help offset the U.S. retirement crisis. Sellers are often pleasantly surprised to see a boost in employee retention,

Few other methods provide a means to improve the lives of employees, maintain company culture, and provide fair value to sellers.

performance, and profitability once employees realize the value of their ownership. In fact, multiple studies have shown that ESOPs outperform other companies. ESOPs also create a market for business owners. This can be very valuable when fair-market value may be difficult to obtain from an outside buyer in industries such as construction and “blue sky” businesses. This can also benefit businesses where family members and other internal buyers are uninterested or incapable of buying the business. One thing to note is that there can be challenges to selling to an ESOP. One of the most cited negatives of this structure is costs. ESOPs require a significant investment upfront. ESOPs require a feasibility study, valuation, tax planning, and legal advice, among other expenses. These can easily cost $100,000 or more for a smaller company and significantly more for larger transactions. Sellers should consider that many of these costs exist whether a company sells to an ESOP or through other means. Although they can be negotiated with sellers, most business transitions involve significant costs to set up properly. Additionally, ESOPs involve significant ongoing costs. The ESOP is a government-approved retirement plan and must be treated as

Ben Williams is surety director for Holmes Murphy in Kansas City. P | 816.857.7800 E | ben.williams@


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October 2022


by Aaron Wiens

Is This the Time to Buy?

Unique circumstances of the current economy might provide businesses with growth opportunities.

For strategic buyers, this is when you evaluate whether a business is the right fit. It may take months or even years to find the right company to merge with your culture and bring the right balance to facilitate growth. Often, a seller wants to ensure the right person or entity takes over the busi ness. Do research to truly understand their business and be able to articulate how the sale will benefit both parties. In small-business situations where clientele is loyal to the owner, it’s common to experience a drop-off in business when you first take ownership. This is some thing to factor in when you run num- bers and forecast ROI in the first years. If you don’t already have advisers whom you consult on financial and stra tegic decisions, now is the time to find trustworthy experts for the acquisition process. This team often includes:  Accountant Enlist a strong team of advisers First, make sure you are ready to ac quire another business. Before you can close an acquisition deal, you will need to prepare fairly extensive documentation. To ensure you are ready to sign when the right opportunity arises, there are several ways you can prepare your business now: 1. Organize and complete your fi nances on a monthly basis. Financial institutions or investors will ask for your trailing 12-month set of books. 2. Work with your financial advis ers to assess your business’s financial well-being. 3. Pass a background check. Acquiring a business can be a strate gic next step to growing your business or your portfolio. With a solid under standing of your financial well-being and a clear vision for your future, you will be prepared to make decisions to get you further on the path to your long-term goals.  Lawyer  Banker  Small business consultant  Broker For strategic buyers

If you are evaluating ways to grow your business, acquir ing another business may be an option. With the economy in a unique position and tens of thousands of small businesses in the United States up for sale, knowing what to look for and how to undertake a business acquisition will allow you to make sure your business is prepared to take advantage of the opportunity. Unlike a competitively priced home, which may sell within a matter of days, studies show that it takes an average of eight to 10 months to sell a small business. This is even the case for successful, cash-flowing small businesses. If you are considering buying a business, there are two buyer scenarios. First, you may be a strategic buyer seeking to realize synergies by combining or running another compa ny in the same or a related industry as your existing business. Or, you may be a financial buyer: a company or individual with out a company in the industry but with an interest in purchas ing as a financial investment. Whether you are a strategic or financial buyer, there are ways you can determine, “Is it time to buy?” Understand your borrowing options There are many financing options available to those look ing to acquire a small business. Most notably, favorable lending terms are found in U.S. Small Business Administration loans, which exist specifically to help qualified small businesses ob tain capital for expansion or operations. Another increasingly popular financing option is seller fi nancing, in which the seller allows the buyer to pay off a fraction of the price of the business over time with interest. Although a more complex transaction, a seller acting as the “lender” has a vested interest in the business and demonstrates confidence that the business can continue to be profitable in years to come. Research: Asking the right questions The first numbers you will be presented with when you examine potential ROI for a business purchase include annual gross revenue and profit, as well as its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). You should also request at least three years of profit-and-loss statements so you can reconcile the two. Depending on the size of the trans action, it may make sense in some cases to engage a reputable accounting firm to perform a Quality of Earnings report. For the full picture, the due diligence process includes vetting additional financial documents, including interpreting past tax returns, with the help of your accountant or financial adviser. Next, you will want to find out how involved the current owner is on a day-to-day basis. If you are a financial buyer, re member you are buying all aspects of the operation, which in cludes employees, liability, and day-to-day management.

Aaron Wiens is a vice president with Enterprise Bank & Trust in Leawood, Kan. P | 913.663.5525 E | awiens@


I n g r a m ’ s

October 2022

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