By Lisa Loewen
What do a former football player, an information technology specialist, a hotel mogul and a floral magazine owner have in common?
More than you realize. These four people have been selected as this year’s Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame inductees. Individually, each one of these honorees has made a significant contribution to the Topeka business community. But as you will see in the next few pages, these business leaders also came together at various times to move Topeka in a better direction.
Danenhauer learned the significance of hard work as a professional football player in the AFL. This offensive tackle out of Pittsburg State University played for the Denver Broncos from 1960 to 1966. He put in the hard work to earn his position, finding himself playing in conditions that only a weatherman could appreciate. “I remember one game we played on a high school field where the mud actually came up over our high top shoes,” Danenhauer recalls.
But even that kind of weather couldn’t dampen his love of the game. “The best part of playing professional football was that they actually paid you to do something you loved.”
When playing football was no longer an option for this all-star player, Danenhauer took a job with Coors Brewing Company in Denver. A year later he purchased the Coors Distributorship in Topeka, which he named Lapeka. “It was a little bit of Lawrence and a little bit of Topeka,” he said.
That business venture catapulted him into the role of business and community leader. Danenhauer admits he didn’t know much about Topeka when he first moved here in 1967, but he was a quick learner. “It was a bit of a challenge because I was new to the community,” Danenhauer said. “I had to make the right contacts, understand the laws and learn the business.” He became active in community affairs, serving on numerous boards and advocating for growth.
Danenhauer appreciated the abundance of successful businesses surrounding him and the talented people who ran them, but he felt that the community lacked motivation. “Nothing big was happening.” So he decided to make something happen.
In 1982 he started the Association for Action, a community grass-roots organization that coordinated approval for an airport terminal at Forbes Field, construction of the Kansas Expocentre, a new form of city government, and funding for Heartland Park Topeka race track. His involvement in these projects earned him the title of Topeka’s Most Powerful Person in 1990 by the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Of all of his accomplishments in life, the one he is the most proud of is his 55-year marriage to wife, Linda. Today, Danenhauer is enjoying retirement, but recalls his time in Topeka fondly as a true learning experience. “Life is about learning,” he says. “Thank goodness I am still learning.”
When Frances Dudley was growing up, she didn't plan on owning a magazine. In fact, she worked in a flower shop while attending school. But that love of flowers, combined with a knack for writing, proved to be a natural fit.
Florists’ Review Magazine, based out of Chicago, hired Dudley as a freelance writer for a weekly column—a position that quickly segued into Dudley becoming editor of the magazine. As editor, Dudley split time between Topeka and Chicago, spreading herself a little thin. So when the owner offered to sell Dudley the publication 25 years ago, she jumped in with both feet and moved the publication to Topeka. “It has been quite a ride,” Dudley says with a smile.
Florists’ Review Enterprises is the publishing house for Florists’ Review Magazine—the oldest and largest trade publication in the floral industry. This 115-year-old magazine, which made its mark as the first floral publication to use photographs instead of sketches, is still setting the industry standard with cutting edge products offered to florists.
The magazine doesn’t offer an online version at this time, but according to Dudley that isn’t so surprising. “We don’t have a big demand for an online publication,” Dudley says. “Florists are so visual and so tactical, they want something they can hold and prop up in front of them while they work.” Dudley also owns Super Floral Retailing, a publication for large volume floral buyers such as supermarkets.
Dudley says she is honored to be selected for the Business Hall of Fame, mostly, because only a few small business owners have received this award and even fewer women. She admits that her road to success hasn’t always been easy. The long hours and relentless struggle to make a business successful has taken its toll. “The balance between home and work is really difficult,” Dudley says. “My social life and friends probably suffered.”
But Dudley says she wouldn’t change a thing if she could go back and do it all over again. She truly loves being involved with the floral community because the business is still so family-oriented. “Florists tend to be very happy people,” she says. “They may not be in the highest income bracket, but they feel they are doing something meaningful and they control their own destiny.”
Dudley isn’t looking at closing the pages on her career any time soon. In fact, she is in the middle of working on the development of some new product displays made in China. “A few years ago I cut back my hours a little,” Dudley admits. “But I love what I do. It keeps me modern. It keeps me young.”
Robert Brock was known as an accomplished businessman, a brilliant strategist and a tenacious supporter of the Democratic Party. Born in Pawnee Rock, Kansas, Brock received his bachelors and law degrees from the University of Kansas and was a lifelong KU fan.
Brock is no longer with us, but his memory remains vivid for Jim Parrish and others who knew him well. “Bob was a tireless dealmaker,” Parrish says. “He had a tremendous grasp on the financial aspects of deals and the impact they would have not only locally, but on a national level.”
Parrish credits that “big picture” mentality as the impetus behind Brock’s invention of the indoor pool and entertainment center concept—a concept that would make his corporation the largest Holiday Inn franchisee in the country with 76 hotels.
Parrish, who worked for Brock when he launched the ShowBiz Pizza Place Restaurant and Entertainment chain (which later acquired Chuck E. Cheese Pizza), speaks of Brock fondly, recalling the mentoring he received from Brock both in politics and in business.
“Even though Bob was incredibly influential, he always treated me like I mattered,” Parrish says.
While Brock mentored numerous individuals, he wasn’t one to simply give advice to others; rather he led those asking for advice through a thought process to help them find the answers to their questions themselves.
“He would get you thinking creatively about what might go right and what might go wrong,” Parrish says. “Then he would let you come to your own conclusion by taking you through the possibilities.”
Brock served on numerous local boards. He was a trustee of the Menninger Foundation and a Trustee of the University of Kansas Endowment Association. Brock supported numerous non-profits and held a special affinity for Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka.
Locally, Brock may be best known for his Holiday Inn and ShowBiz Pizza franchises, but his real love was politics. A successful businessman and staunch Democrat, Brock was somewhat of an anomaly in Kansas. His involvement in politics ranged from sponsoring local candidates to befriending governors, senators, congressmen and even presidents. Brock was named Kansan of the Year by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas in 1976.
Parrish remembers Brock for his keen mind, incredible focus and uncanny business acumen, but mostly he remembers his personality. “When Bob walked into a room with his great big smile, everyone knew he was there and they were glad.”
Raised in a small town in Missouri, the son of a dentist, Terry Kimes grew up feeling like he knew everyone around him. This sense of familiarity fostered a personality that was comfortable around all types of people—a trait that has served him well throughout all aspects of his life. “I’m a people person,” Kimes says. “I love working with clients and vendors and interfacing with employees.”
As a dual major in mathematics and chemistry at the University of Missouri, Kimes had the unique experience of attending MU at the same time as four of his first cousins. His aunt, who was in charge of keeping athletes academically eligible to play, found him a job as a student trainer under Head Football Coach Dan Devine.
At the first away game, the head student manager made a tactical mistake and got fired on the spot. By default, Kimes stepped into the role, and what started as an insignificant part time job, turned into an opportunity to rub elbows with the movers and shakers in MU athletics. “That happened to be the year MU went to the Orange Bowl,” Kimes recalls. “What a fun, unique experience.”
Kime’s love for all things business really began when he worked for a CPA firm his junior and senior years of college. His whopping $1.75 per hour not only helped to pay his school bill, but also taught him the value of hard work.
Kimes began his career with a Fortune 500 company in Chicago, but he always had a desire to own his own business. When the opportunity arose to come to Topeka to join Mize Houser & Company, a new CPA firm that was starting a department in information technology, Kimes didn’t have to be asked twice.
“They took a chance on a young 26-year-old to head that new department,” Kimes says. “Two years later I became an owner, and that began an almost 40-year fabulous and wild-ride career.”
That career, ironically, was tied to fellow laureate bob Brock who approached Mize Houser about handling the accounting and information technology for his hotel franchise business—one that became the largest Holiday Inn franchisee in America. As Brock’s firm grew, so did Mize Houser. Mergers brought in another large franchisee client, McDonald’s. The rest, as they say, is history.
Actively involved in the community, Kimes served on several boards and played an instrumental role in helping fellow laureate Eldon Danenhauer bring projects such as the Kansas Expocentre and the airport terminal to Topeka. “You have to balance ‘if you build it they will come’ with ‘they will come and then you build it,’” Kimes says.
Besides love for business, Terry’s passions include his family and exercise. Married for 47 years, Terry and his wife, Judy, have two daughters. Terry has completed five marathons, breaking the three-hour mark at the KU relays marathon.
His reaction to being inducted into the Business Hall of Fame? “You’ve got to be kidding!”