Thursday, Jan. 10 2013 5:12PM
Pride of Lee’s Summit
By John Beaudoin
This past Wednesday, I got to see where the actual work is being done in Lee’s Summit.
Sure, the board rooms are full. The coffee shops are bustling. And, for those that don’t leave Lee’s Summit, (which is a vast majority of you) plenty of work is getting done each day.
But what I saw this week was real innovation.
My Leadership Lee’s Summit class took a few field trips to some local companies and in a few hours, my opinion of what can be done with an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to balance risk and reward had changed drastically.
Our first stop was Billy Goat Industries, the brainchild of the Coates family and run by Will Coates, a man with a true spirit of the capitalist.
Coates’ company makes industrial and commercial lawn equipment and seeing the process from front to back was simply fascinating.
Every function of making tens of thousands of pieces of equipment each year is seemingly down to a science at Billy Goat.
With nearly 100 employees, the 40-plus year company operates on a pretty solid business plan – make exceptional equipment, charge a premium, pay your employees well and take a ton of pride in what gets shipped off your docks.
It all seems easy enough.
Billy Goat is one of dozens of industries that can boast they truly do manufacture something right here in Lee’s Summit.
Our other stop was American Foodservice.
And while the Accurso family isn’t actually making those famous Sonic French fries or developing the next best thing in mayonnaise, they are certainly at the forefront in making sure your favorite restaurants are well equipped.
Touring the endless aisles of food at American Foodservice was a real treat for this former grocery store stock boy/restaurant waiter.
There’s just something about being around all that food and its possibilities that was inspiring to me.
It’s also inspiring to see this mammoth warehouse of fare, just off southbound 291 Highway, doing so well.
While the locally owned company recently sold to Rinehart Foodservice, the name and commitment to quality sounds like it is going to remain the same, with the Accurso family at the helm and still putting into practice the same business ethics that have helped it thrive in this industry – price integrity, promotion of name brand products and support local, family-owned restaurants and eateries.
Both Billy Goat and American Foodservice should be applauded for calling Lee’s Summit home and for doing their part to bring jobs and financial stability to our community.
If you truly want to see commerce in action, get out and take a tour of one or both. Chances are, the owners will be right there to greet you.