President’s Message – February 2024

President’s Message – February 2024

President’s Message

Dust off your best suit or favorite cocktail dress – this is SME’s night to shine! We will host the annual SME Executive of the Year banquet on February 6th. This award recognizes individuals who have contributed to the well-being of Northeast Kansans. SME began this tradition in 1970 when Governor Robert Docking received the first award. Mr. Jon Haas was named as the SME 2023 Executive of the Year. Mr. Haas is the owner and CEO of HME (Haas Metal Engineering) which consists of several affiliated companies in the steel and metal engineering and fabrication industry. Recent HME investments created a significant economic impact surpassing $12 million for the Topeka community. Boosted by these investments, HME attained record sales for their products, surpassing $200 million last year. Click here to register to attend. It promises to be a great evening with many past honorees in attendance along with all of our members there to celebrate and Mr. Haas will share how they are on target for another banner year in 2024. SME is proud to recognize Mr. Haas as the 2023 Executive of the Year.

Steve Shehi, Director of Player Development at Prairie Band Casino & Resort, will speak on customer service and leadership in a customer focused organization at the February 27th High Performance Seminar. These seminars, held over the lunch hour, are free to SME members and their guests. Click here to learn more or register to attend and be treated to a free lunch, compliments of Scott Van Genderen!

You probably know him simply as ‘JT’, but Jay Ladenburger is the Executive of the Month this month. He is always right there with his winning smile to lend a helping hand in the best way possible. Scroll down in this newsletter to learn more about JT and also know all the many ways he continues to contribute to make SME the best organization it can be. Congratulations to JT on this much-deserved honor.

Have you circled the date to reserve the morning of Tuesday April 23 for SME Live? The keynote speaker is Kolbe Corp’s Executive Vice President of Sales, Eric Herrera. Kolbe is the world leader in identifying and applying conative strengths in human behavior. Come learn and gain key insights into how unlocking the mysteries of the 3-dimensional mind and your personal conative strengths can help build or strengthen key relationships. Herrera will share information about the Kolbe index and its meaning and application. Understanding your instinctive strengths can help to boost success in sales and marketing for you and your team. Opening the seminar for SME is a local talent, Dan Linquist. He will share his marketing genius over breakfast. Dan is a local Jingle and Voice Over talent and President of Twilight Productions. SME-Topeka will host SME Live at Topeka Civic Theatre. Registration will begin at 7:30 am with a continental breakfast offered. The program will start at 8:15 am. As an SME member you receive one free ticket to attend the SME Live seminar, a $100 value. SME Live typically has a full capacity audience. We anticipate no vacant seats will be left again this year. To get your free ticket, you must claim it by March 8 by submitting your RSVP to SME Executive Director, Beth Mathews. After March 8, all tickets not claimed by members are released for sale to the public. All attendees will receive access to obtain an individual personalized Kolbe index at a well-discounted price of $44.00. This is not only an offer for you personally, but also the offer extends to the company team or organization of each attendee at the same discounted price. Many companies use the Kolbe Index throughout the organization to build strong teams. Sponsorship opportunities for SME Live are available. Check with Mike Eichten for details.

Many people were disappointed we had to cancel our January meeting due to the extreme weather. The good news is that we were able to re-schedule the featured panel of three local entrepreneurs discussing sales and marketing from a small business perspective to our April meeting. Serving on the panel are Jessica Horton, Clinical Services & Designer of Heart & Home Design Services, Michael Odupitan CEO of Omni Circle Group and Jeremy Poling Owner and Digital Strategist of Top Fuel Digital. We all look forward to participating in a lively discussion with them this Spring.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing everyone next week in their best evening cocktail wear as together we host the SME Executive of the Year banquet for our community!

All the best to you,


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