Business not ‘a man’s world’: Stacks CEO no longer only woman in board room

Cheryl Creviston, president and CEO of Stacks, will be honored as an outstanding entrepreneur at GO Topeka’s fourth annual Women of Influence Awards. (Samantha Foster/The Capital-Journal)

Cheryl Creviston, president and CEO of Stacks, learned early in her career that she had to go to bat for herself to achieve success.


Twice, she probably wouldn’t have been considered for a promotion if she hadn’t had the benefit of an advocate.

Related: Topeka Women of Influence: Washburn professor Sharon Sullivan uses own experiences to encourage students

The first time, a woman who was Creviston’s mentor put her name in the pool for a position, which she interviewed for and received. The second time, she said, she gritted her teeth and spoke up for herself.

“I grew up in my career in a man’s world,” Creviston said. “I still think that women use that as an excuse, and I don’t think they should. I think they shouldn’t think of themselves as a man or a woman when it comes to business — they should just do a good job.”

Creviston will be honored Sept. 20 as an outstanding entrepreneur at GO Topeka’s 2017 Women of Influence Awards. In an interview, she spoke about obstacles faced in her career and her strengths as a business leader.

Most people who are successful work hard and keep going after what they want, she said, pairing their efforts with integrity, drive and desire.

“I have often been the only woman in the board room, which wasn’t bad, but now what I love about our leadership team here is there are six of us, and there are four women and two men,” she said.

Creviston spent most of her career at Admark, a full-service ad agency in Topeka that later split into two companies: ad agency Callahan Creek and Kids Stuff, with which Creviston stayed. She started as a bookkeeper at Admark and eventually became president. She left the company when Kids Stuff was sold.

For about two years, she sold insurance as a New York Life agent, then worked for a short time at a manufacturing company. In 2006, Chuck Karlan, founder of records and information management company Jayhawk File Express (now Stacks), hired her as president. Eleven years later, she is part owner and has overseen growth of the small business.

Creviston grew up in Manhattan and studied general business and accounting at Kansas State University and Washburn University. She never earned a college degree, but she received a degree in computer programming from a technical school in Manhattan in the 1970s.

Most accounting was paper-based at that time, she said, so the automated accounting she learned proved a unique skill set. She started at Admark by automating the bookkeeping, then she moved into other administrative responsibilities. Creviston said she still loves technology and promotes the use of automation at Stacks for consistency and accuracy.

Under Creviston’s leadership, Stacks has added employees and grown its revenue. One of her first steps as president was to provide structure — making sure people had job descriptions and knew what their roles were and who they reported to. Those things previously had been unwritten. She also worked to ensure fair pricing and that employees had the resources they needed to be able to do their jobs.

Stacks has a reputation for excellence and for caring about its customers, Creviston said. Letters of glowing recommendation cover a large board called the “love board” in the office’s waiting room.

It is important to Creviston to truly care about the people she leads and treat them with respect. She said she loves being able to give people opportunities to grow personally and professionally, and she has been able to watch people start in low-level positions and grow into leadership roles. She aims to be fair and honest, and when the company makes money, it is shared with the staff, she said.

“I hope everyone here knows how much I value them,” she said. “You have to tell them that, pat them on the back and reward them.”

She credits her husband, Jamie, and their two adult children, James and Lindsay, with giving her the support that allowed her to succeed. She also started a small group called the Kansas Network for Professional Women about 13 years ago. Its purpose was for businesswomen to meet and share business leads, but it grew into a business mentoring group, Creviston said. About a half-dozen of those women still meet and encourage each other.

Contact reporter Samantha Foster at (785) 295-1186 or @samfoster_ks on Twitter.


Women of Influence Awards

Six Topeka women will be recognized during the fourth annual Women of Influence Awards reception at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, in the Regency Ballroom of the downtown Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, 420 S.E. 6th. The event is sponsored by GO Topeka’s Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development.

The Topeka Capital-Journal is publishing a series of stories featuring each honoree from Tuesday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 17.

Those who wish to attend the free reception may register on GO Topeka’s website.