Business Watch: Job benefits paid out in chocolate, wisdom

Morgan Chilson is The Capital-Journal’s business reporter.

I saw the funniest post online recently that said, “Journalism, it’s a tough job with insane pressure and pretty crappy pay. On the other hand, everybody hates you.”


But this weekend, I discovered the real benefit of being a reporter. Brett Oetting with Visit Topeka, asked me to be a judge at the Chocolate Festival. I mean, really? I bet that was the fastest I’ve ever returned an email… count me in! However, although this invite was at the top of my “I’ve got the best job” list, I must say that eating 13 or 14 different chocolate creations was a little much even for this diehard chocolate lover. Still, kudos to the bakers who entered — there were some fantastic recipes.

I do enjoy most of my job, even the “insane pressure.” One of my favorite parts is gathering wisdom from people in the community as they build their businesses and make changes to stay relevant in the marketplace. I’m working on a story for an upcoming special section about companies that have experienced rapid growth, and it was interesting to think about how that growth can actually be a negative if service or product quality drops.

Each person I spoke with talked about the importance of people in making their businesses viable and successful. Workforce issues are in the news all the time lately, and the challenge of finding and retaining good employees comes up in almost every conversation I have. These local business owners are finding ways to attract top people to help them excel.

Interview tidbits from this week:It’s all about perspective. Everyone tells Cody Foster, co-founder of Advisors Excel, how fast his business has grown. And it did seem to pop onto the scene pretty dramatically in the last five years or so. To him, though, he’s been working at his career for a while. “We’ve been working really hard at it for 13 years; and I did this same thing for almost five years before we started,” he said. “When you put it in that perspective, I’ve been working at this for 20 years.”

Mitesh Patel, developer of the Hilton Garden Inn that’s being built on S.W. Arvonia Place, behind the Walmart on Wanamaker, said the hotel has been a little delayed because of the massive retaining walls that had to be built on the site. They are pretty close to done, though, and hope to be open by the end of the year.

As usual, there’s lots of news happening in Topeka. Keep reading!

Topeka Country Club starts renovation, expansion

Construction began in September on phase one of the $7.5 million clubhouse renovation and expansion project at The Topeka Country Club. That includes demolition of the club’s existing pool and patio and construction of a new 6,300-square-foot resort-style pool area. It’s expected to be completed by summer 2018, and will include an expanded deck and patio area that will seat up to 250 guests for events.

Phase two, which includes expansion and renovation of the clubhouse, is expected to begin next month and will be completed by the fall of 2018.

“Golf and social activities used to be the primary influencers for joining a country club,” said Clay Meininger, president and COO. “Today, health, wellness and fitness are overarching characteristics of current and future clubs. Our renovation and expansion will not only increase our health and fitness offerings, but also upgrade every aspect of Club life. We’re excited to have this project in motion.”

New Girl Friday business opens

After more than 13 years owning and operating a senior care home in Holton, Sherri Moore was seeking a more personal way to be of service to seniors.

She sold her Glenn Moore Meadows facility, and launched Girl Friday Senior Concierge Services. The new business, which helps seniors stay in their own homes through a variety of services, will allow her to give back on a smaller scale.

“Whether we want to admit it or not, they thrive better in their own homes,” she said. “I’ve heard so many people throughout the years who moved into our facility, a nice, clean facility, but it was not home.”

In her new business, which can be found online at and can be reached by phone at (785) 364-6614, Moore intends to stretch beyond the health services she is certified to do.

Instead, she’ll focus on everything from picking up groceries to organizing the pantry, simple housekeeping tasks and transportation.

Moore will cover the Topeka market, as well as Holton. Her services are available by the hour, and she is bonded and insured.

Nominate employers for their support of National Guardsmen, Reservists

If your employer is a strong supporter of National Guardsmen or Reservists, nominate them for the 2018 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Master Sgt. Young Daniel Chambers’ employer provides full pay and benefits to service members for a period of military service up to 12 months, according to a Freedom Award release. Maj. Thomas Dunn’s employer recognizes service member employees with award ceremonies and public press releases. Ensign Gamaliel Baer’s employer hosts dinners for deployed service member spouses at the firehouse and helps their families with household chores during a deployment.

The stories from just a few of the employers who received the Department of Defense’s highest employer award – the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award — show what a difference employers can make. Nominations must be made between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. For more information about the Freedom Award, or for how to nominate your employer, visit