Kauffman Center Ensemble Member Profiles
Belger Cartage Service
Ask the folks at Belger Cartage Service why they joined Ensemble, the Kauffman Center’s business membership program, and they reach back to the company’s 1919 beginnings for an answer. That’s when company founder, Richard Belger, launched his business idea and realized that his ability to succeed relied not only on a strong work ethic, but on creativity and innovation. He also established the principle that service to the customer and community was the most important guide to the company’s actions.
“My grandfather bought a 1919 Dodge truck and was set on improving the way the printing industry was serviced. He didn’t know how to drive the truck, because horse-drawn wagons were used in those days,” says C. Richard “Dick” Belger. “So innovation was his watchword from day one. He was a creative problem-solver who saw himself—and eventually his company—as uniquely tied to the greater community.”
In 2000, this focus led to the opening of the Belger Arts Center at 21st and Walnut, located in Belger’s headquarters. As Dick Belger adds, “Artists have a different perspective–a creative one that we should always keep in mind as we work with our customers.” And customers are now served through six locations throughout the Midwest, offering crane services, machinery installation and de-installation, specialized heavy hauling and warehousing.
Supporting the Kauffman Center seemed a natural for Belger. Like his grandfather, Dick Belger believes that being a successful company with longevity comes with responsibility. “We haven’t been successful on our own, there’s a community supporting us,” he says. “We welcome the Kauffman Center to the Crossroads and want to be part of its success, because we count on it to inspire us, our employees and the greater community.”
Mid-America Merchandising, Inc.
Mid-America Merchandising, Inc. (MMI) considers their Ensemble membership to be a rock solid investment with a multiplier effect: it helps them to accomplish business goals while contributing to the arts in Kansas City, a cause dear to the hearts of business owners Tom and Carol Barnett.
MMI is an incentives and promotional products business in Kansas City, Missouri. For the company’s 30th anniversary last fall, 150 guests joined in a celebration at the Kauffman Center. “Since we are a business in the River Market and are passionate about supporting the arts, it was an obvious choice,” said co-owner Carol Barnett. “It was an extra bonus that our Ensemble membership made it affordable.”
Carol says that the Ensemble membership also increases the Company’s range of client entertainment options. “We love taking clients to Kansas City’s wonderful sports events. Having arts options available, too, expands our ability to meet the range of our clients’ interests,” Carol said. As an Ensemble member, MMI can select from more than 300 performance options each year, with a personal concierge to arrange tickets.
In February, Ensemble also helped the Company thank its 40 employees for their work during their busiest months of November thru January. Working with their Ensemble concierge, they secured a block of tickets to two upcoming performances. “Each employee picked the show that was more attractive to them, plus they were able to bring a guest,” said Carol. “It was a sincere thank you and the chance to introduce employees to something new or different.” By sending their team to the Kauffman Center, Carol and Tom hope employees and their families will return again and again.
When Henderson Engineers, Inc. reviewed its philanthropic goals, they made a conscious decision to include the arts as part of their support of the Kansas City community. HEI is also happy to support the endeavors of an industry they often work with.
“We’re pleased to support the Kauffman Center, which is a major focal point of arts in our community. We’ve also enjoyed the opportunities we can give to our employees to attend special events at the Center,” said Dana Kettle, Chief Financial Officer. “The Kauffman Center has been an incredible partner and we look forward to many years being a member of the business program and encourage others in our community to do the same.”
Hawthorn Bank became a Kauffman Center Ensemble member in part because of its philosophy of encouraging community engagement among its employees.
“Hawthorn Bank appreciates the Kauffman Center’s emphasis on making this outstanding facility available and accessible to everyone,” says Keith Asel, NW Regional President. “The center’s outreach to young people, affordable ticket prices and range of art programming is impressive.”
Through its headquarters in Jefferson City and branches around the state of Missouri, Hawthorn Bank has shared the word about the Kauffman Center’s cultural opportunities to all of its markets. “We tell employees, partners and clients that this is a regional cultural treasure. We encourage them to keep an eye on it and find a way to participate.” The Kauffman Center Employee Day and volunteer program offer interesting connections for the bank.
This philosophy led to an innovative partnership with Washington University’s Olin Business School. Asel encouraged the university to host a thought leadership session at the Kauffman Center in April 2013. “I’ve participated in their executive education and found it to be innovative and excellent. Hawthorn sponsored food for the one-day session and 300 people were introduced to the Kauffman Center,” says Asel. “It was a win-win situation and we hope to find more of these opportunities through our membership.”
When State Street executives bring clients to Kansas City, they want to entertain at a venue that sends a positive message about both the company and Kansas City. State Street’s involvement in the Kauffman Center Ensemble program provides that opportunity and more, Tom Forrester, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of State Street Kansas City.
“The Kauffman Center is an integral part of the community in which State Street works,” said Forrester. The company also likes the chance to get employees involved in the arts.
“We especially enjoy the membership benefits that allow us to show off Kansas City to the large institutional investors State Street brings into town,” said Forrester. “Entertaining clients at the Kauffman Center is unique, affordable and memorable. We plan to do it often.”
Since Travois moved to its Crossroads Arts District offices in 2009, they have enjoyed a birds-eye-view of the Kauffman Center—and have taken advantage of its proximity. “As a company we seek to inspire our employees, and we are fortunate that Kansas City’s arts community offers us so many opportunities,” says David Bland, chairman, Travois, Inc.
For years the company has supported the Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Ballet and offered tickets to their staff. “Now that we are a Kauffman Center Ensemble member, we look forward to helping the Center to reach growing audiences,“ says Bland.
The company feels fortunate to be part of a community that created such a “magnificent performance venue” and shares this invitation: “Join with us as a Kauffman Center Ensemble Member to ensure that it continues to inspire, educate and transport us as only the arts can do.”
Contact Janet Mark, Senior Director of Development at 816-994-7235 or for more information.