Non KCMN Events for your consideration

BotsKC Industry Mentors Needed!

From KC Natioinal Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA):

BotsKC has doubled again!  Schools/Students/Teachers love working on these fun 15 pound BATTLE bots!  We need more manufacturers to work with these teams to help guide and critique their engineering/build process throughout the year as they prepare for the April 7th competition in Olathe.  Each team has a group of students, a teacher/coach and hopefully an industry mentor to help them see the connection between “cool ideas” and “design/build/compete”.

The ASK:
1-2 hours per week Sept-March to meet with schools, offer tours of your shops, etc.
2-4 hours per week March -April – crunch time for build, testing and finalizing bots for April 7th event.
Scrap metal, possible small parts, help with build issues

Please contact Torree Pederson, Executive Director, Greater KC Chapter of NTMA at 816-739-4422/ or Ashley Gorman  if they can count on you to mentor the future workforce of manufacturing.  They need you and you need them!

Here is a link to a Video, our flyer and sponsorship information:

PSA Video –


Decision Making Approaches & Tools

By: Kansas City Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers Chapter

Join IISE’s Kansas City chapter on October 12th at the K-State Olathe campus for a conference demonstrating proven decision making approaches and tools.

A successful, sustainable decision making process is one of the hardest things for corporations to successfully achieve. Do you use tribal knowledge and intuition? Just data? There are so many ways to go about it and each organization has its own culture that impacts how decisions are made.

The goal of this conference is to explore different decision making methods and tools, and to understand what has worked in actual application and why. What is successfully being used by engineers in different industries to bring about successful, sustainable decision making processes that produce results?
Thu, October 12, 2017
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM CDT
K-State Olathe

22201 W. Innovation Dr.
Room 145
Olathe, KS 66061-1304

For more information CLICK HERE

Northland CAPS Seeks Business Partners

Does your business or organization have a project that really needs to get done but you don’t have the manpower to complete it?  What about a Northland CAPS student intern? We are in the process of securing requests for the Spring 2018 semester. (

Last year we placed 250+ interns in over 100 companies throughout the metro. This year our program has grown and we look to place 100 more associates in positions.

Northland CAPS Course Strands:  Digital Media and Design, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Global Business and Entrepreneurship, Global Logistics, Medicine and Healthcare, and Technology Solutions.

If chosen students would be available on site with you during their class time, either 7:30 am – 10:00 am or 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm  Tuesday – Thursday.

Students apply in November and would interview with you in December.  The internships would run from January 9 – April 27.

Happy to talk through this with you if you have questions, appreciate your consideration.

Jon Newcomb
Business Development
Northland CAPS

 FYI – New Revenue Recognition Standard



Bullying in the Workplace JCCC Breakfast Event

Bullying is called the silent epidemic. At work, bullying can cause stress, low productivity, absenteeism, and other health conditions that can impact your employees’ health and the quality of their work. It can lead to high turnover and low reputation amongst the company and its management.

Although half of workers have experienced or witnessed bullying, policies and laws dealing with it are far less prevalent. This is, in part, because bullying can be hard to identify and address. People wonder, what does bullying look like? How can we discourage it in our workplace? What can I do to protect my staff and co-workers?

Join us for a discussion by a panel of experts where many of these questions (and more!) will be covered. Hot breakfast included. Pre-registration required.
Thursday, September 28
7:30-9 a.m.
Johnson County Community College, Regnier Center 101

Register HERE 

Moderator: Cheryl Wright

Celeste Gruhin – HR Specialist, UPS
Dawn Murphy – Senior VP of HR, St. Luke’s Healthcare
Cathy Hanna – Senior HR Business Partner, Amazon Distribution
Nancy Fry, PhD, MBA – Psychologist, Coach, Consultant
SHRM & HRCI Approval Pending

Apprenticeships Work! Learn How To Implement Them In Your Business.

Come To Breakfast Or Dinner.

The skills gap is real, and finding the right fit for your most in demand roles is hitting your bottom line. We can help answer that need with a modern apprenticeship program. Our program can upskill your labor force, train new employees and identify an untapped labor pool. Equip your employees with the skills necessary to be successful. RSVP today!

Business-Led Apprenticeship Breakfast Open House
Breakfast, Presentation and Panel Discussion Followed by Tour

October 5th at 7:30 a.m.

RSVP for Breakfast
Or email to RSVP.

MCC-Business & Technology
Campus Room TC200
1775 Universal Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64102

– OR –

Business-Led Apprenticeship Dinner Open House

Dinner, Presentation and Panel Discussion Followed by Tour
October 5th at 6 p.m.

RSVP for Dinner Event 

MCC-Business & Technology
Campus Room TC200
1775 Universal Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64102

Or email to RSVP.

I-9 & Immigration Law Compliance

Immigation Law

Thank you to all for a great Summer Event!

One hundred people from 8 area manufacturing and industry related organizations came together on August 24 at the iWerx Co-Working Space for food, fun and some great networking!  The event provided an opportunity for associations to get the word out about their upcoming events and membership benefits, and a networking activity helped everyone meet a few new people.  Restless Spirits provided tastings of their Gin, Vodka, and Irish Whiskeys, and a great big thanks to Spencer Fane for being our drink sponsor 6 years in a row!  Additionally, supporting sponsors Kelly Services, MIQ Logistics, Union Bank & Trust, Greater KC Chapter of NTMA, KCIC, Neff Power and GLMV Architecture helped support the event, so that proceeds will benefit several organization scholarship funds. We hope to see you all back next year!

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Congratulations to our Spring 2017 Emerging Leaders

Seventy-five participants from 19 companies who are members of KCMN and KC-NTMA participated in our Spring 2017 Emerging Leaders Program. Of those 75, 62 earned certificates for attending at least 5 of the 6 sessions.  A second Spring Tier 1 group launched in May – Out of 30 participants, 28 earned certificates! The Emerging Leaders program is a leadership development program in partnership with KCMN members,  Johnson County Community College and the National Tooling and Machining Association’s Kansas City Chapter. It was launched in response to feedback from our members who were seeking options for improving interpersonal skills among all levels of their companies.  Sessions combine classroom instruction, with sharing of best practices and ideas and practical solutions.

Session titles include: Strengths Finder, Delegation, Cross Generational Motivation, Meeting Facilitation, and How to Read People.  To date, we have had 416 enrollments since beginning in mid-2014; 352 of those have earned certificates.  Attendees have ranged from newly promoted supervisors, to even a few company CEO’s. Among some comments of this recent group of leaders:

  • “The open discussion was the most important part of my experience”
  • “I’ve learned strategies for dealing with difficult personalities, or people I don’t like or can’t relate to”
  • “The course made me stop and ask – what am I doing to help myself?'”
  • “This makes me think about my strengths and barriers, not only for myself, but for my employees and co-workers”
  • “Our instructor is engaging, personable, and speaks from a wealth of experience”

To find out more about upcoming Emerging Leaders sessions please sign up for our meeting notice list, by contacting Donna Gordon. or 816-304-7958

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Generational Change in Your Company?

KCMN April Meeting Summary 

KCMN’s April meeting featured two sets of speakers who shared their company best practices for managing the generational transition as boomers are reaching retirement age.  As part of the registration process, attendees could respond to an optional survey indicating their breakdown of employees between Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers.  Company responses varied, but net result of the 20 company response was that 25% of their workforce is comprised of Boomers (born in 1946-1963). Six companies have over a third of their workforce from the Boomer generation.

Reduced Hours For Employees Transitioning to Retirement

As a way to provide an opportunity for Boomers approaching retirement to transition to retirement, rather than abruptly leave and take their experience, tribal knowledge and skills, Scott Nord, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at UltraSource, LLC, and Chris Vering, President, CFO, COO of Knit-Rite, Inc. shared their companies’ experiences with their retirement transition plans.  Both programs share many of the same elements:

–        the programs are voluntary, include a reduced hours schedule, provide benefits despite reduction in hours, and are intended to be for a mutually agreeable finite period.

–        In both cases, management has to approve individuals on a case by case basis depending on business need.

The advantage is that the transitioning employee can mentor and set the stage for their eventual replacement, and can help with personnel planning vs a 2 week notice on the way out the door.

UltraSource has had several employees choose this option, and has been successful with some minor revisions along the way. Knit-Rite just initiated their program in January, and has limited communication of this to those positions where a transition/knowledge transfer is an important consideration.  Chris also noted that their hiring guidelines are being revisited in regards to how they evaluate those with past criminal records as potential employees.  This change was driven by the lack of candidates, and includes a guidance document on the nature of the offense, kind of position, and time since the offense occurred. Chris noted that those given a second chance have been some of their most dedicated and loyal employees.

Developing a Multi-Generational Culture

The second half of the meeting was comprised of a panel of manufacturing company employees, led by Kirk Young of Job Match Assessment, who discussed how their companies are managing the transitions in their companies as the workforce becomes more Gen-X and Millennial. Brian Pittel, Engineering Manager at Continental Disc, noted that his company’s product line is very mission critical to their customers – product failure can result in injury or death. Therefore, processes and knowledge in the hands of experienced employees was needed to be captured before these people retired.  Brian has looked to strategies such as asking them to write things down/author new processes, and the use of video to visually capture key processes and concepts.

Chris Coad, Production Manager at Dimensional Innovations, stressed that their use of temp to hire drove home the need to develop more standardization of processes, despite their company actually being very Millennial-heavy. The company seeks to hire for cultural fit almost more than skills, since skills can be taught, while work ethic and cultural fit cannot. However, the process of teaching those skills must accurately reflect the demands of the product and customers, so continues to be a work in process to create accurate processes.  Kirk noted that the training methods are evolving – and that the era of creating a binder that employees will read is no longer the best methodology.  Holland Nameplate is also working hard to standardize everything to help improve training, and allow them to focus on cultural fit, hiring nice, smart, driven people who can then learn the specific job skills when they come on board.

Considerable discussion centered on the importance of culture.  Kyle Hooten, Quality Manager at Holland Nameplate noted that he came to the company for the job, but has stayed due to the culture.  All of the panelists are Millennials, who agreed on some common points that are critical for maintaining a loyal and dedicated Millennial workforce:

–        Communication:  Chris Coad noted that DI attempts to ‘over communicate’ as much as possible. Kirk noted that traditionally, Boomers subscribe to the ‘knowledge is power’ philosophy, but this creates animosity in the Millennial generation. All noted that sharing information promotes trust.

–        Focus on Culture and Teamwork: Brad Farmer, Accountant/Estimator at Holland Nameplate stressed that with a strong culture, those employees who do not work hard and contribute will weed themselves out.  DI has a keg on site, and employees can participate in ‘drink and learn’ sessions to improve their skills and build camaraderie across departments. Holland offers Beer Thursdays and company lunches once a month to share information, and build teamwork amongst the employees.

–        Flexibility:  While processes and procedures are important, there also needs to be avenues where new ideas, suggestions, or technology can play a role in improvement.  Providing more flexible work schedules when possible is a growing expectation, especially in the Millennial generation.

–        Respect: Companies have to walk a fine line between respecting the contributions of the older workers, many of which contributed to the current/historical success of the company, with the reality that the business environment and technology is changing very rapidly. The key to managing changes is to focus on showing all employees how changes can be improvements, and can make their jobs easier and/or the company more successful.

Solutions and new strategies for workforce recruiting

KCMN’s March meeting featured 4 speakers who shared their efforts to increase the pipeline of qualified workers in manufacturing and related industries.

Shannon Martinez, Program Manager with the Kansas Department of Commerce shared information about the Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (AID) program.  Workforce AID is a business driven training solution.  The program covers costs for students to attend training programs tied directly to  technical/employability skills needed, they receive college credit and/or industry credentials, and are guaranteed an interview with employers upon program completion. To date, over 200 jobs have been filled, and about 90% of graduates are hired by the companies partnering with the program. Presentation/contact information here – Workforce AID Presentation March 2017

Torree Perderson, Executive Director of the Greater KC Chapter of NTMA talked about NTMA’s BotsKC program. As one solution to concerns that fewer young workers choose or consider manufacturing careers, BotsKC gives students an real world training opportunities in a fun and engaging environment.  The battle bots are purchased by NTMA for participating schools.  Student teams are mentored by manufacturing company employees, providing a link to companies and future career opportunities.  The program has grown rapidly in the past 3 years, and additional schools and mentors are needed. See Torree’s presentation here-  BOTS KC 2017.  The BotsKC tournament is March 25 – anyone who is interested is encouraged to attend. More information at BotsKC INDUSTRY Invitation_opt.

Greg Kindle, President of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council shared data about the growth in Wyandotte County employment, and the challenges it has created.  With $3 billion in investment over the past 5 years, the need for a stronger pipeline for employees was noted by 70% of WyCo employers.  Increased offerings for training has been developed at area and regional colleges, career academies and at the Workforce Training Assistance Center.  Workforce AID programs have been utilized as well. Additionally, WYEDC has formed a consortium of over 40 non profit, governmental, and educational programs to help get the word out about job openings. This provides employers a much broader reach to candidates without the time investment in outreach and multiple postings.  See Greg’s complete presentation WYEDC Presentation March 2017

Tim Welsh, Executive Director of the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) in Wichita, a world-class aviation and advanced manufacturing training center, where he leads NCAT’s Talent Solutions Coalition (TSC). The Coalition functions as a national aviation industry talent supply chain. TSC is retained by aviation industry employers and associations to help them source talent from multiple markets, improve talent retention and institute best practices in talent planning. The talent supply chain created includes promotion of opportunities at two and four year institutions, and sometimes high schools as well.  TSC also functions as a Center of Excellence for members to share best practices in a trusted environment. While the program launched in Wichita, it is spreading throughout the country as a way for companies to reduce talent acquisition costs.   See Tim’s presentation here: KCMN TSC Overview Additionally, NCAT is hosting a Talent Planning Management Forum March 23 & 24th in Wichita.  Click here for details.


Congratulations to our Fall 2016 Emerging Leaders

Seventy one members of KCMN and NTMA wrapped up sessions to improve their leadership skills, and make connections with those who have similar goals and challenges, as part of the Emerging Leaders Program this fall.  Emerging Leaders was launched in 2014 as a result of a joint effort between Kansas City Manufacturing Network, the Kansas City Chapter of NTMA (National Tooling and Machining Association)  and Johnson County Community College.  The genesis of this effort was the feedback from our respective members who noted a dearth of options for developing improved leaders in their businesses, and the advocacy and planning efforts of KCMN advisory board member Ben Troja.  Along the way, additional guidance was provided by participant feedback, and from the leadership efforts of Thomas Dunbar, Rehrig Pacific Company, Jason Heidbreder, LPF High Performance Coatings, and Jimmy Woodall, Livers Bronze.   To date, 308 participants from 40 companies have enrolled in the program and 262 have earned certificates for attending at least 5 of the 6 sessions.

Sessions include Communication, Delegation, How to Read People, Driving Change,  Conflict Management, and lively discussions around cross generational motivation.  Among participant comments:

“Gave me ideas to take back to work to help me delegate, to lighten my load and help develop others”

“Caused introspection, made me realize there are things I need to improve upon”

“This information was new to me, and I learned a lot about myself”

New Emerging Leaders sessions will be rolling out in 2017, for more information, click here.

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Are People Happy When You Enter the Room, or When You Leave It?

IMG_1038KCMN’s October meeting featured author, coach, triathlete and inspirational speaker, Karin Lindner, author of ‘How Can We Make Manufacturing Sexy?’ Karin’s message centered on the concerns of many in the manufacturing space: how to get and keep good people.  Karin discussed the evolution of the modern workforce of today, noting that when we evolved from the hunter gatherer mode, that an agricultural society left 90% of the hunter gatherers obsolete.  As we move from the industrial age to the age of information, the labor intensive assembly line single function worker jobs are rapidly going the way of the hunter gatherer; we are entering the age of the knowledge worker.  While companies attempt to trim waste, Karin argues the #1 waste in manufacturing is human potential.

When asking about stresses of the people in the room, a common theme emerged: getting, keeping and motivating people.  While Karin noted that indeed this could be a problem, she countered with, “You can’t change your people, but you can change yourself”.  She recounted that when speaking to a manufacturer who noted, “All of my people are stupid”, she countered with, “Did you hire them that way, or did they become stupid in your work environment?”  Too often, in production the focus is on the process, not the people, and Karin argued that production is really 10% process and 90% people. Too often, managers are so focused on the tangible: the deadline, the product, the process. They forget that people have different motivations, needs, and goals which can be harnessed to make many small, incremental changes that can add up to bigger gains and a more productive workforce that is engaged to contribute.  She asked “Are you the person who makes people happy when you enter the room, or when you leave the room?”  With employee engagement levels at less than 50% in manufacturing, it is critical to find ways to harness the potential of your employees, if you want to keep them.

Karin noted that you can have a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset.  A growth mindset focuses on what can be, vs. feeling like nothing is going to change; “it’s only failure if you stop trying”.  She challenged the audience that some of their beliefs could change in order to improve their way of getting the maximum potential from their employees and their work.  A belief is a thought that you think over and over again. Her tips:

-Positivity: Train your mind to see the good in every situation; don’t get hung up on the little things

-Clarity: Be clear in how you express yourself, and what your goals are; and communicate to employees how they contribute to the bigger picture.

-Identity: What you believe – “Operational excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude.”

Karin’s overall message focused on the need to focus on people, not processes, numbers or tasks. She challenged the audience:

-To create a vision for what the ideal situation looks like

-Ask meaningful questions

-Refuse the status quo: always ask if there is a better way.

If your employees don’t want to come to work, what is your role in changing that mindset?



Summer Networking Success!

Our Annual Summer Networking event was a great success! Over 100 manufacturers and those interested in manufacturing, from 8 area associations attended the event at the 28 Event Space.  Drinks, food and lively discussions were offered.  The event also gave area manufacturing and technical societies an opportunity to expand their networks and introduce their organizations to a wider audience.  An added bonus was a book giveaway–retiring engineer Arwayne Peters brought his personal library of business books to give away to help the next generation of manufacturing leaders in their careers.  Thanks to David Lippe of Mid America Commerce and Industry Magazine for covering the event, and supplying the photos! Also thanks to Spencer Fane, for buying the drinks, and to our event sponsors:  Johnson County Community College, GLMV Architecture, Inc., MIQ Logistics, Kelly Engineering, Union Bank & Trust, Greater KC Chapter of NTMA, and Kansas City Industrial Council.   We couldn’t do this without you!


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Principles of Lean: Beyond the Shop Floor – May Meeting Recap

May’s Kansas City Manufacturing Network meeting featured a panel of manufacturing professionals, who shared their best practices for expanding Lean concepts to processes and services, and not just on the production floor.

Principles of Lean: Beyond the Shop Floor

May 10 2016













May’s Kansas City Manufacturing Network meeting featured a panel of manufacturing professionals, who shared their best practices for expanding Lean concepts to processes and services, and not just on the production floor.  The panel was led by Joe Torrago, Project Manager for MAMTC, who has helped Kansas-based organizations achieve their growth plans since coming on board with MAMTC in early 2015, and has led Lean implementation in 3 companies and 2 countries.  Joe noted that a current project he is working on with a local municipality was helping to streamline the permitting process, as the existing process was eliminating wasteful steps that did not add value to the process.

Talli Denney, Retail Technology Director, Sally Luck, Director of Corporate Services, and Mark Pettit, Corporate Services Manager, Hallmark Cards, Inc. discussed Hallmark’s transition from Lean in plant operations, to a broader tool for all areas of the business.  The ultimate driver for their Lean initiative was to help determine if services and processes were adding value to the customer.  For example, help desk functions were being considered for outsourcing.  However, with the implementation of Lean problem solving tools, help desk employees became empowered to add value by seeking solutions to common problems, thus eliminating or reducing issues that increased call volume. This led to increased customer satisfaction, as well as cost savings for the company.

The panelists noted that Hallmark’s creation of Lean coaches helps to sustain the Lean efforts, and also had the benefit of creating new challenges and development opportunities for those who are coaches, which boosts morale in an environment where not everyone can earn a promotion.  Another key to success of Lean efforts was changing the culture where it became OK to challenge management, to point out problems, and have a hand in creating solutions.  This change created momentum for the company’s Lean efforts, as empowered employees worked to solve problems using the Lean tools.

Additionally, the complaint that people don’t have time to devote to Lean efforts can be overcome by taking small bite sized efforts – 30 minutes a day, and over time the participants can see that the Lean efforts actually result in time savings as wasteful processes are eliminated or changed.


Thomas Dunbar, Mechanical Level Production Supervisor, SOR, Inc. discussed the success he has had with expanding the concept of Lean beyond just seeing it as a tool to solve problems.  SOR holds Kaizen events not just to discuss problems, but to also discuss what is working well, and how that success can be built on in other areas. Thomas noted that there were those who saw the efforts in a negative light, and that early on, it’s important to start with some ‘quick wins’ that are more visible – employees won’t always buy in to benefits they can’t see, which is more common in an office environment where work is less visible than in production.  He also noted the importance of building a Lean team that has multiple perspectives – sales, purchasing, accounting, etc, so that the issues are viewed from different problem solving angles.  Finally, he noted that when looking to prioritize issues, choosing the laziest person you know can help bring problems to light, as the things they are complaining about most are likely also the most in need of improvement.

Among the takeaways noted by the panelists:

  • Seek opportunities to benchmark performance measures and differentiate between value added and non value added activities.
  • Don’t get caught up in terminology – using common terms instead of some of the ‘Lean’ terms removes some of the mystique around Lean and makes it more accessible.
  • Creating Lean champions, or inside experts is key to creating and building on momentum.
  • Find ways to celebrate wins, and recognize the people who contribute to gains and efforts.
  • Understand that there will always be naysayers, or those who don’t buy in completely.  Try to focus some effort to make the complainers part of the process, but don’t let managing them bog you down
  • Remember that value is determined by the customer, that the ultimate goal of any Lean effort is to improve the customer experience.

Go Global, KC!

Looking for new business?  Have you ever considered exporting your goods or services? Have you ever been contacted by a potential customer in a foreign market and you weren’t sure what to do next?

95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside U.S. borders.  And that population is expected to enjoy 85 percent of the planet’s economic growth in the next five years.  The opportunities are ginormous.

Increasing our number of Kansas City exporters is an important goal in the KC Rising effort to grow Kansas City’s regional economy – which, by the way, is lagging behind the rest of the country.

The good news:  the KC region now has a metro export plan, released last month by the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) Steering Committee.

If you’ve been daunted by the complexities of international business, or haven’t thought about it, you now have your own global business advisor – a concierge to help you expand into new markets.

Concierge: a hotel employee whose job is to assist guests

The goal:  100 new exporters within the next five years.

“Our strategy revolves around a new export concierge program,” says Chris Gutierrez, co-chair of Kansas City’s Global Cities Initiative Steering Committee and President of Kansas City SmartPort. “We found that most Kansas City businesses were unaware of the many local export services available to them. The new export concierge will provide personal, one-to-one guidance to current and prospective exporters, helping them navigate the complex process of entry into foreign markets.”

Paul Weida, co-chair of the GCI Steering Committee and Vice President, Government Affairs at Black & Veatch, adds, “The KC area has all the right pieces to grow exports but the market assessment showed the pieces need to be better connected. That’s what this export plan does. It connects potential exporters to export service providers by way of the region’s economic development agencies and the newly created export concierge.”

The World Trade Center Kansas City (WTC-KC), an affiliate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, will serve as the export concierge.  Just as a hotel concierge makes reservations or gets theater tickets, the new international concierge will provide advice, direction, market information, connections to not only WTC-KC’s global network of world trade centers in 330 cities around the globe but also to other regional export assistance providers in the KC region. An easy first step to being connected to a world of trade resources available to businesses who want to go global!

What is the Global Cities Initiative?

In late 2014, Kansas City was selected one of 28 cities in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase to help business and civic leaders grow their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.

Through GCI, the Brookings Institution has been providing research, data, and wise counsel.

The WTC-KC is already providing concierge services to a number of local companies interested in international business.  To learn more, visit, or contact Ivry Karamitros at You can read Kansas City’s export plan here: