Skip to content

A City of Entrepreneurs

Through the years, men and women have pursued their entrepreneurial path in the Kansas City region.  Along the way, they have created new goods and services and changed the ways we live, work and play.

Through the years, men and women have pursued their entrepreneurial path in the Kansas City region.  Along the way, they have created new goods and services and changed the ways we live, work and play.  Several entrepreneurs who helped shape Kansas City are featured on a mural in the lobby of the Kauffman Conference Center, but there are many more people who have had dramatic impacts well beyond our city.

Tracing the region’s entrepreneurial record, here are some of Kansas City’s greatest hits.

Elite Entrepreneurs

Joyce C. Hall | Hallmark Cards
Jesse Clyde (J.C.) Nichols | Country Club Plaza
Ewing Kauffman | Marion Laboratories / Kansas City Royals
Henry W. Bloch | H&R Block
Richard Bloch | H&R Block
James E. Stowers, Jr.  | American Century Companies
Edward Durwood | AMC Entertainment
Stan Durwood | AMC Entertainment
Barnett Helzberg | Helzberg Diamonds
Barnett Helzberg, Jr. | Helzberg Diamonds / HEMP Entrepreneurial Mentoring
Neal Patterson | Cerner
Clifford W. Illig | Cerner
John Ernest Dunn, Sr. | J.E Dunn Construction Company
Lamar Hunt | Hunt Midwest and Kansas City Chiefs
Clinton S. Burns | Burns & McDonnell
Robert E. McDonnell | Burns & McDonnell
E.B. Black | Black and Veach
N.T. Veatch | Black & Veach
L.R. Ash | Harrington, Howard, & Ash / Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff (HNTB)
E.E. Howard | Harrington, Howard & Ash / Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff (HNT&B)
J. L. Harrington | Harrington, Howard & Ash / Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff (HNT&B)

Notable Entrepreneurs

Louis Wolferman | Wolferman’s
Howard Cowden | Farmland Industries
J.L. Wilkinson | Kansas City Monarchs
Walt Disney | Walt Disney Company
A.C. Ferrell | Ferrellgas
James E. Ferrell | Ferrellgas
William “Doc” Worley | American City Business Journals
Skip Rein | Bernstein/Rein Advertising
Bob Bernstein | Bernstein/Rein Advertising
Russell Stover | Russell Stover Candy
Clara Stover | Russell Stover Candy
Hugh Zimmer | Zimmer Real Estate
Jack Lockton | Lockton Companies
Robert D. O’Byrne | Robert D. O’Byrne & Associates
James Nutter | Nutter Real Estate
Samuel Sosland | Sosland Publishing
William Berkowitz | Tension Envelope
        Walter Berkowitz | Tension Envelope
        E.B. Berkowitz | Tension Envelope
Dr. Charles N. Kimball | Midwest Research Institute
Myron Green | Myron Green Cafeteria
Thomas B. Bullene | Emery, Bird, Thayer & Company / Board of Trade / Railroad
Isaac “Ike” Katz | Katz Drug Stores
George E. Muehlebach | Muehlebach Brewing Company / Muehlebach Hotel
Louis Oppenstein | Oppenstein Brothers Jewelry
Elmer Frank Pierson | Vendo Company
Charlie Bryant | Arthur Bryant’s
Arthur Bryant | Arthur Bryant’s
Lester T. Sunerland | Ash Grove Cement Company
Katherine Berry Richardson | Children’s Mercy Hospital
Alice Berry Graham | Children’s Mercy Hospital
Fred Pryor | Fred Pryor and Associates
John Ernest Dunn | J.E. Dunn Construction Company
Nell Donnelly Reed | Donnelly Garment Company
William Rockhill Nelson | Kansas City Star
Nelle Nichols Peters | architect
Chester Franklin | founder The Call
        Lucile Bluford | editor The Call
James Cash (J.C.) Penney | J. C. Penney
Chris Carver| Populous 
Ron Labinski | Populous 
Joe Spear | Populous 
Dennis Wellner  | Populous 
Count Bassie | Count Basie and his Cherry Blossoms
Bennie Moten | Bernie Moten Band
Lester T. Sunerland | Ash Cement Company 
C. Richard Belger | Belger Cartage Service
Kersey Coates | land developer | Kansas City Board of Trade
Jacob Loose | Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company
William Volker | roller shade, and home-furnishings company
Tom Bass | horse training / American Royal
Isaac “Ike” Katz | Katz Drug Company
Hazelle Hedges Rollins | Hazelle, Inc.
Elmer Pierson | Vendo Company
John Pierson | Vendo Company
Michael Brown |Euronet Worldwide
Daniel Henry | Euronet Worldwide  

New Breed Entrepreneurs

Chad Boeger | Union Broadcasting
Dr. Min Kao | Garmin Corporation
Gary Burrell | Garmin Corporation
Joseph Brandmeyer | Medi-Flex
Michael Platt | PlattForm
Micheal Rainen | Rainen Companies
Dan Lowe | RED Development
John Sherman | Inergy
Scott Haetman | Novastra Financial
Jerry Reese | Reese Nichols
Ollie Gates | Gates Bar-B-Q
Michael J. Brown | Euronet Worldwide
Daniel R. Henry | Euronet Worldwide
Toby Rush, EyeVerify
Larry Downey | Teva Neuroscience
Frank Ellis | Swope Community Enterprises
Sandy Kemper | Perfect Commerce
Jay Wolfe | Wolfe Automotive Group
Cecil Van Turl | Van
Larry Van Turl | Van
Pasquale Trozzolo | Trozzolo Communications Group 
Paul Messner | Paul Messner Puppets
John McDonald | Boulevard Brewing Co
Danny O’Neill | The Roasterie
Dan Dye | Three Dog Bakery
Mark Beckloff | Three Dog Bakery
B. Joseph Messner | Bushnell Performance Optics
Rick Krska | LaserCycle InkCycle
Dr. Joseph and Judy Roetheli |S&M NuTec
Jeff Yowell | Datacore Marketing
C. Richard Belger | Belger Cartage Service
Alonzo Washington | comic book artist
Charles Barsotti | cartoonist
James Ellroy | author
Dr. Felix Sabates | Roland Sabates Eye Centers
Dr. Nelson Sabates | Roland Sabates Eye Centers

Pioneer Entrepreneurs

Francis Reid Long | Commerce Bank
W.T. Kemper | City Center Bank / United Missouri
R. Crosby Kemper, Sr, |United Missouri / UMB
J. Logan Jones | The Jones Store
William Chrisman |tobacco / banking / education
Major William Warner | Kansas City Life Insurance Company
J.H. North |Kansas City Life Insurance Company
S.E. Rumble |Kansas City Life Insurance Company
William Gillis, | Westport Landing
Robert A. Long | lumber baron, developer
John Calvin McCoy | founder Westport
Francois Gesseau Chouteau | fur trade / founder Kansas City
Antonio Jose Chaves | Santa Fe trade
Mariano Chaves | Santa Fe trade
Alexander Majors | Pony Express
William Russell | Pony Express
William Waddell | Pony Express
Frank A. Theis | Grain Elevators Board of Trade
Barney Allis | Muehlebach Hotel downtown development
Kirkland Armour | Armour Packing Company
Charles Armour | Armour Packing Company
Simeon Armour | Armour Packing Company
Charles Morse | Kansas City Stockyards / Railroads
Rose Mindlin Jacobson | retail entrepreneur
Hazelle Hedges Rollins | Hazelle, inc. toy manufacturer
Uriah Spray Epperson | Epperson Land & Investment Company
William Volker | roller shades and linoleum
Jacob Loose | Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company
Cleyson L. Brown | Brown Telephone Company / Sprint
Annie Chamber | brothel operator
Arthur E. Stillwell | Kansas City Southern
Octave Chanute | Designer Hannibal Bridge, KC Stockyards,
August Meyer |The Kansas City Consolidated Smelting and Refining Plant Co