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September 4, 2018

The third quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series featured the success stories of Neal Sharma, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at DEG and Tyler Nottberg, Chairman & CEO at U.S. Engineering. The two leaders spoke about their entrepreneurial journeys, and how they remain successful and competitive in a market that is constantly morphing to meet the demands of the consumer. If you missed their inspiring testimonials, here are four key points to motivate you for the rest of the week:

  1. Reduction of overall cost is extremely valuable to the consumer.

Tyler Nottberg admitted that being an entrepreneur in mechanical contracting is not a walk in the park. Like many industries, there are set ways of doing things that are extremely difficult to change or challenge. In his current role, Tyler has made it his mission to change the mindset of his associates, peers, and clients by finding ways to effectively reduce the total cost of a project, while maintaining the highest quality. He aims to accomplish this by providing education on the holistic value of investing in systems and products that may be more expensive initially but will save money in one year, five years, and beyond. This big picture approach can be applied to many industries and projects and helps prospective and current clients understand that the lowest bid is often synonymous with the lowest value. Thus making the strategic investment towards a larger bid, can provide a greater long-term value. 

  1. “The fish rots from the head down.”

While Neal admits this is an old saying and not his own, he used it to drive the importance of strong leadership in an organization. When people ask him how to create an engaging and positive company culture, he emphasizes the importance of an organizational commitment to create an environment where you bring your best self to work and encourage ongoing change. In order to make people feel valued and fulfilled at their job, personal investment is key; as he puts it, “The best way I can build a better company is to be a better man.”

  1. A company doesn’t exist without the community, and the community doesn’t survive without the company.

Tyler emphasized that there is always a partnership that exists between the community and its companies. One cannot exist without the other. A well-functioning society fosters this dynamic so that both are invested in the other for mutual growth and success. In order to keep moving forward, it is imperative that people see that relationship not as a burden, but as a life source to help foster the collective community.

  1. Our community sees Kansas City as a major league city.

Both Tyler and Neal spoke very highly of Kansas City and the strong community that has been cultivated here. When asked about the growth trajectory and what Kansas City needs in order to thrive, they said it began when Salvador Perez’s hit happened in the fifth game of the World Series. “We began to see ourselves as a major league city,” Neal said. Since then, growth has been exponential, but the ability to level off is coming. “We have not yet been asked by our leaders for an ounce of sacrifice for the sake of our communities.” They encouraged current community leaders and aspiring leaders to avoid the civic vacuum, wherein they participate in programs and then disappear for 20 years. Instead, they encourage these leaders to stay involved and encourage more participation and engagement and be personally connected to the communities they serve.

May 24, 2018

At the most recent CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, leaders from across the city gathered to learn from local experts who were charged with answering the question: What to Expect in Kansas City in Five Years.  

The panelists were purposefully selected to provide diverse opinions based on their respective areas of expertise and covered a broad spectrum of areas. The panel featured moderator David Warm, Executive Director of the Mid-America Regional Council, Dr. Kim Beatty, Chancellor of Metropolitan Community College; Dianne Cleaver, Executive Director of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative; and Troy Schulte, the City Manager of Kansas City, Missouri.

The panelists each shared commons goals for the future of Kansas City and challenged the audience to consider continuous innovation to keep KC on the map. With an aging infrastructure, a population that is geographically spread out and culturally diverse, and a broad range of economic levels from the inner city to the suburbs, there are certainly some challenges to consider. Below are the top five key points discussed during the panel.


All the panelists noted that incredible things are happening in the community. David Warm started the discussion by giving statistics about the future of Kansas City. Of note, Kansas City is growing and expanding in population, diversity, job opportunities, and in educated citizens. Within the next five years, Kansas City will surpass Cincinnati, Ohio as the 30th largest metropolitan area in the United States. With that, however, comes the natural growing pains of a city.

Troy Schulte reminded the audience that most innovative ideas do not come from city hall; they come from the vision of the community. He weighed the need for entrepreneurs and dedicated business leaders to continue to push the needle for generating ideas in Kansas City, which will ultimately enhance the City’s competitiveness on a national scale.


Every major city continues to struggle for how to connect their population with the most efficient and effective public transportation. This key discussion point stemmed from a question David Warm positioned to the group; namely, how do these community leaders address the difficulties that arise from the intersection of people and places? As Kansas City continues to add people into the community, there are natural challenges that surface. Troy Schulte recognized this has highlighted a need for better public transportation across the area, and how he hopes that the next five years will see the completion of a streetcar to the plaza, the opening of the new KCI, and more expansive bus routes. Dianne Cleaver agreed on the necessity of this, adding that many people she works with in the inner city neighborhoods struggle to find and maintain jobs because of the inefficiency of our current transportation system.


Dr. Kim Beatty went into detail about the initiatives at Metropolitan Community College to better equip high schoolers and adults with skills that will provide a livable paycheck with or without a four year college degree. Like many cities across the United States, there is a growing lack of qualified trade workers within the metropolitan area, and she emphasized the need for internships and apprenticeships to be supported by the larger community businesses.


 David Warm asked each panelist to end with action items for attendees of the seminar, so that people would leave with a sense of responsibility to their community. Dianne Cleaver encouraged the business community to continue their philanthropic efforts, supporting initiatives like her own that aim to eliminate barriers to equity in Kansas City. We must be committed to achieving equity and justice in a manner that honors the unique identity of the communities and citizens in those communities. 


Dr. Beatty’s final thoughts posed a task to the audience to think outside the box. Ask the courageous questions; sometimes, the difficult issues are neglected or put on a backburner because people are scared to confront topics that make others uncomfortable. However, it is in these difficult questions that we address pain points and can then work together to eliminate them moving forward.

Troy Schulte pressed for collaboration within Kansas City. Increased collaboration between the business community, political community, education community, and the residents of the city are vital to keep Kansas City moving forward.


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