Ben Agee has a lot on his plate. He implemented a large-scale change for the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center by establishing an in-house food and beverage operation, which includes five independent concession stands operating at over 100 events per year. All this is in addition to the annual Ozark Empire Fair, resulting in a significant revenue increase for the fairgrounds, starting with the first year of operations.
Agee accomplished this while earning an MBA at Missouri State University, volunteering at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, maintaining membership in Springfield Rotary Leadership Academy, and helping at Meals on Wheels.
What was your first job? When I was 15 years old, I started my own lawn-mowing business and kept up with it until I turned 18 and moved to college.
What’s your most treasured possession? My outdoor gear. In my free time I like to spend a lot of time outside.
What about your job would shock clients? We are not just here for the annual fair. We have a mobile food/concessions trailer, a small restaurant, a full-service catering department and, most recently, we have acquired a smoothie franchise called Maui Wowi that operates not only at our fairgrounds, but at JQH Arena and Lucas Oil Speedway.
What historical figure do you identify with most? Jacques Cousteau, because of his desire to explore the unknown.
Local medical marijuana dispensaries must find ways to get creative with their marketing in light of industry advertising regulations released this summer by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Marc Thornsberry, a Senior Engineer at CJW, says he joined the company after working in the public sphere. He says CJW had a ton of experience working with the community, and putting their customer's and clients.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful advice and cautionary tips about the importance of tracking cash flow for new or established businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.