Debra and Randy Clayton, Susan Garlinghouse, Philip Morse, Brent Boles named to Junior Achievement of Kansas Business Hall

Five Topekans who have shaped the business landscape in the capital city were named the Junior Achievement of Kansas 2018 Business Hall of Fame laureates on Tuesday.

 

Honorees are Brent Boles, managing partner of Schendel Lawn and Landscape and Top Spin LLC; Debra and Randy Clayton, co-founders of Clayton Financial Services Inc.; Susan Garlinghouse, founder of Topeka Collegiate School and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center; and Philip Charles Morse, founder of Phil Morse Homes and co-founder of KS Commercial Real Estate. Morse died in December 2016.

The five will be honored at a tribute dinner March 1, 2018, at the Ramada Inn and Convention Center in downtown Topeka.

“I’m most honored and humbled because there are so many fantastic, wonderful leaders that have come before me in the Topeka area,” Garlinghouse said.

Much of her work has promoted the importance of education and learning, whether it be through founding Topeka Collegiate, volunteering for public schools or co-founding the Discovery Center. Her work in the nonprofit world, Garlinghouse said, has supported the community.

“Whenever we make a difference anywhere, we make a difference everywhere,” she said. “We are all more the same than we are different, and we are all connected one with another. I really believe that in helping others and in strengthening the support and enrichment systems for children, we truly are building a greater Topeka community for today and especially for tomorrow.”

Boles said he was honored to be recognized for his contributions to business. Recently, he was one of five men who contributed dollars to create Top Tank, a local version of ABC’s Shark Tank. Competitors vie for the $100,000 prize to open a business downtown.

Being involved in such opportunities to encourage entrepreneurship ties into the goal of Junior Achievement, Boles said.

“Junior Achievement, one of the things they talk about, almost a mission statement they have, is to give young people the skills and knowledge to own their own economic success,” Boles said, adding that Top Tank builds on that idea of helping people determine their futures.

For Randy and Debra Clayton, their business success has been built on their teamwork. Married 27 years, the two founded and expanded Clayton Financial through perseverance and focus. They understand the entrepreneurship that JA stands for.

“The positive is you’re responsible for your own successes and failures,” Randy Clayton said. “We don’t have anybody to blame. It also really means you can’t be an entrepreneur and do the standard 8 to 5, probably the first 10 years or even 20 years.”

Debra Clayton said some key decisions stand out as they look back over their business years. One was determining that they would eliminate commissions and fees that were charged to their clients. Another was understanding the “soft skills of what they do.”

“Our business is a very technical business, and you need to know numbers, you need to know markets,” Randy Clayton said. “We’re working with people; with people you need soft skills.”

“In our business, people get scared,” Debra Clayton said. “They get scared of the market. How do you help them through it, and just showing them a chart is not going to do it.”

There is no one key to business success, Randy Clayton said.

But each person nominated could attest to requiring the support of friends, family and the community to make a difference and to be successful.

Morse lived a life defined by service to others, his son, Mike Morse, said in an interview in December when her father died.

“He told me, if you’re going to live in a community and make your living in that community, you have to give back to that community,” he said. “You can’t sit on the sidelines and expect to make a living in a town and not give back.”

It is that attitude of service that Amy Burns, JA of Kansas president, hopes to honor with the Business Hall of Fame awards. In addition, she wants children involved in JA to see inductees as role models.

“Because our mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed, it’s important to have role models that we can hold out to the students as a model of what we would like them to become,” she said. “We would like them to emulate these hall of fame laureates as they grow up and pursue their careers, and realize that being an integral part of your community is important. Nobody is successful on their own.”

 

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