CleanWash Laundry: Taking the Competition to the Cleaners

From its vintage showroom built in 1890, CleanWash Laundry Systems has been a staple in the Omaha community since their opening in 2011.
This month, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce honored them with their Small Business of the Month Award because of their steadfast commitment to quality and service.

Boasting a family history of owning small businesses and the discipline of 16 years in the National Guard Reserve, Todd Santoro realized his potential success as a business owner. In fact, Santoro’s in-laws had an extensive history in the laundry business, owning and managing their own laundromats for more than 50 years.
After buying their first location in 2008, Santoro decided to make the switch from laundromats to distribution; selling and servicing new equipment to local hotels, laundromats, apartment complexes and even prisons.
While most laundromats are owned by families, the average distributor works from a mobile office (aka their vehicle), whereas CleanWash utilizes a more internet-based approach.
This way, they can cover a larger territory of the Midwest including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas as well as northern Missouri, while sub-offices are available to supplement their headquarters at 4808 South 26th Street in Omaha.
Using a “more 2019 versus 1979” philosophy, Santoro realizes the huge significance of the machines he sells to each businessowner he works with.
“When someone is buying a $30,000 piece of equipment, they want to look that person in the eye,” he said.
Some machines are so large, in fact, that one individual machine may be up to the same size as ten normal top-loader washing machines.
Looking ever toward the future, Santoro points out that one of the main challenges he faces daily is finding good service people.
“It gets harder and harder by the day finding those who have had good mechanical skills from an early age and problem-solving skills,” he said.
In fact, he insists that future generations need stimulation at a young age to develop both technical and mechanical skills. While some may have the misconception that technology is the only future, he stresses, “we need to do something with kids while they’re younger for the trades,” because there is currently a desperate demand.
While building his own business, Santoro loves helping others succeed.
“On the vendor side, we get to help folks build their business,” he said. “I have a gentleman in Council Bluffs getting ready to break ground on a store. He’s gone from being a service tech for a technology company to owning his own business. That’s a lot of fun.”
From another perspective, he also sees businesses that are in dire need of an update. Hotels are a perfect
“The laundry room at a hotel is as non-sexy as it can get, but it’s the heart,” Santoro said. “If they run out of bagels, they can still open. If they run out of sheets …” thousands of dollars in daily revenue can be lost.
With hundreds of pounds of sheets, towels and linens being laundered every day, it is essential to have up-to-date equipment that is well maintained for optimum functionality.
Hotels are required to have more than two times their daily linen inventory on a consistent basis, so having a broken washing machine or dryer is simply not an option.
“We can help them last longer,” Santoro said because the machines that CleanWash distributes are long-lasting and are built for heavy-duty use.
Teaching preventative maintenance is what helps Santoro ensure that the equipment he sells lasts as long as possible.
Dryers, for example, need cleaning at least every six months. If the front panel is not removed and cleaned, excess lint builds up which, according to Santoro, wears on the drum, the belt, the motor and (most importantly) is a major fire hazard! For this reason, CleanWash ensures a follow-up with clients periodically to teach them proper ways of handling industrial equipment.
To maintain functionality, however, it is essential to service and maintain the machines regularly.
“We want equipment that’s going to last,” Santoro said. “The goal is not to replace them every five years. The goal is that in a hotel, if we put a washing machine in, it should be there 20 years from now.”
From the manufacturer to shipping to installation, however, everything must be set up perfectly for a machine to function at its intended rate.
“One little tiny thing missing,” Santoro explains, “and in 5 years the machine needs a $3,000 repair. So, you have to put it in right.”
Having been a part of the Omaha community for years, he is extremely pleased and honored to receive the Small Business of the Month Award from the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s nice to be recognized at home,” he said. “We try every day to be the best, most incredible, quality place people can find.”
For more information on CleanWash Laundry Systems, call their showroom at 402-505-4956.

Written for the Daily Record:

E Creative: January’s Small Business of the Month!

The Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month Award recipient, E Creative, has been creating dynamic brands and marketing communication campaigns for the Omaha community since 2011.
As a well-established marketing consultant with more than two decades of marketing
experience, owner Esther Mejia recently relocated their headquarters to the Mastercraft Building in downtown Omaha where her team generates cohesive designs and marketing materials for each and every one of their loyal clients.
For a portion of her early career, Mejia pursued freelance marketing after receiving her degree in Visual Communication.
“Design influences so much of our world,” she said, “and we don’t even realize it.”
She and her team engage with their clients intensively and learn every aspect of an organization in order to maintain an authentic idea of their message to the community.
Their ability to create visually impactful materials for their clients and ability to communicate preserves the many longstanding and trusting relationships that they have built over time.
“Relationships are very important to us,” Mejia said, “and I see this as an ongoing relationship.
We’re not transactional folks; we want to be sure we’re building lasting relationships.”
With their brand-intensive process, E Creative learns the fundamental ins and outs of an organization to produce an optimum result for an individual organization’s brand strategy. By facilitating conversations and posing strategic questions about the organization,
E Creative guides clients through a very thoughtful progression to get to the real heart and voice of the organization. This process allows them to develop cohesive visual communications and content that help each client reach their target audiences.
One satisfied client, Megan Addison, executive director of the Collective For Youth, said, “We were looking for someone who could help us be clearer about our messaging and visually represent it for the community.
E Creative took the time to get to know Collection For Youth. We can now tell our story better and advance our work through the meaningful materials that they developed for us.”
Mejia explained the purpose behind her method.
“There are many voices,” she said, “and our process captures how that organization works in the real world.”
From developing brand strategies to marketing materials and other forms of corporate communication, Mejia says that E Creative seeks to “make sure the clients’ values, mission and vision align with what we create, capturing the true essence of who they are. If we’re being authentic, we know it attracts the right people to that organization.”
Not only does E Creative lead by example with their transparent and relationship-based company values, they want to work with the right organizations for the right reasons.
With a client spectrum including non-profits as well as corporate entities, E Creative “strives to work with organizations that elevate our communities and enrich the lives of others. That’s why I’m in it,” Mejia said.
One client, Executive Director of the Midlands Mentoring Partnership Deborah Neary, said, “In today’s world, nonprofits must deliver effective messaging in a creative format. No matter the communication challenge I have faced, E Creative always provides the solution. It is rare to find such talented people who are also humble and wonderful to work with. I completely trust the E Creative team to make us look good.”
By stressing not only authenticity but also a focus on preserving the community, Mejia and E Creative’s mission seeks to serve and render the community a better place than it was before they started.
Client Emiliano Lerda, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Center, said, “Working with Esther and her texam at E Creative has been fun, productive and effective. They totally get our organization’s culture and their work allows us to elevate our profile in the community.
Ultimately, E Creative is a key partner that helps us achieve our mission and strengthen our capacity for impact.”
Having been a member of the Omaha Chamber since 2013, a huge benefit of membership has been the opportunity to connect with others who are excited to highlight Omaha as a place for talented, mission-driven individuals and to collaborate with several creatives on the “We Don’t Coast” campaign, Mejia said.
“It was incredible to work with folks in my field from the community,” she said. “There was so much talent that I just loved being a part of that process.”
Keeping in regular communication with the Chamber because of their avid support for local businesses, Mejia believes that “they make our community better, and I’m grateful for that.”

Written for The Daily Record:

Save the Date Catering: The Little Caterer That Could

Nothing brings people together like a shared meal. This is exactly what Save the Date Catering strives to convey through delectable dishes at every one of their events. “Whenever people want to gather, that’s who we want to work with,” says Kate Duggan, a catering coordinator at Save the Date.

Owned by Pamela Briere, Save the Date has worked over 60 events since their recent opening in October of 2016, including weddings, anniversary parties, and rehearsal dinners. Pam has been in restaurant management for almost two decades and is responsible for operations at multiple restaurants outside of Save the Date. “I enjoy watching my employees excel,” she says. “I have employees who have been with me since day one of ownership.”

While weddings are their primary niche, Save the Date is expanding. Pam is currently in the process of hiring catering coordinators in a variety of markets to serve a wider scope of clientele. Two of these employees, Cathy Ebers and Kate, are catering coordinators who have known each other personally for years. They combine their unique skill sets to create an unstoppable duo. “Cathy is more organized in preparation, and I really like the execution,” says Kate. “That includes things like getting the food on the table, making sure everybody has what they need, making sure the bride is happy and that the toast happens at the right time.” Working at both intimate and large-scale events, Save the Date is comfortable with a party size anywhere from 20 to 1,000 people.

Inside their brand-new location at 1902 Betz Road, in Bellevue, Save the Date houses an industrial kitchen, an elegant waiting area, and a posh new tasting room for potential clients to sample the food before the big occasion. Working with Chef Peter Vanderzyl (“Chef Pete”), Save the Date will be offering a brand-new menu that features locally sourced ingredients with a gourmet flair. Cathy is especially pleased by the focus on local produce. “We’re chopping it ourselves, we’re cooking it ourselves, we’re aiming for more fresh food,” she shares.

Creating comfort food with a gourmet twist, Chef Pete makes mashed potatoes with roasted garlic-infused oil to enhance every flavorful bite. If a more formal cocktail hour is on the menu, Chef Pete can create petite amuse-bouches with fresh herbs and spices—small bites with big flavor. Save the Date provides everything from sit-down dinners to buffet-style meals. They will even recreate Grandma’s favorite lasagna from scratch, if a recipe has sentimental value for your guests. “We want to make sure to get it absolutely perfect for your event,” says Cathy.

 “The thought of entertaining 60-plus people for an annual family Christmas party was overwhelming,” says customer Jane Ford. “I want to thank Cathy Ebers and Save the Date for coming to my rescue. Cathy was in contact with me diligently prior to the event, planning all the details—including the full menu. The day before the event, Cathy came to our house to set up the buffet line and help with decorations. The food was delicious, and we received great feedback from the guests. This was my first time using a caterer for an event like this, and I can honestly say it was well worth the money and peace of mind. I would give Save the Date a five-star rating!”

Cathy and Kate build personal relationships with their clientele, forming a special bond by the time the event itself comes together. “It’s emotional,” says Cathy. “This is their special day!” Whether you are looking for a full-blown affair or a sweet and salty fix, Save the Date can accommodate virtually any request. They offer gluten-free options and can easily cater to specific dietary needs.

To the staff at Save the Date, nothing is more rewarding than their mutual success. “I have been able to watch my team grow and become successful, and that is very satisfying to me,” says Pam. “It’s the best reward I could ever receive.” Her team feels the same way about their work. As they thrive under pressure, Kate stresses that her favorite part of her job is “executing an event where everyone is happy at the end. Even if things have gone wrong, as long as everyone’s had a wonderful time, we’re happy.”

With the tools and leadership of Pam and skillful catering coordinators like Cathy and Kate, Save the Date Catering stands to become one of Omaha’s top catering destinations. If you want to put a fun twist on your next event, call Save the Date Catering at 402-504-4466 or visit them online at


Written for Women’s Edition February 2019:

Find Your Own Piece of History in the Stacks at Jackson Street Booksellers

Upon entering Jackson Street Booksellers, one is greeted by the familiar, ancient scent of books that entices avid readers and collectors alike.
As the holiday season draws near, attorneys and locals alike can enjoy giving the gift of a well-enjoyed First Edition or a unique addition to any collector’s inventory.
In fact, a history book about the Supreme Court renders a meaningful gift when given to a newly graduated law student.
After more than 30 years in the trade, owner and operator Carl Ashford has rarely come across a title he doesn’t know and can easily assist with finding rare and unusual books from across the country.
Having studied history and political science in college, Ashford said he “grew up in retail,” working at his family’s store, The Nebraska Clothing Company.
After high school at Brownell Talbot, Ashford left Omaha to attend Macalester College, a private liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota. After college, he moved to San Francisco.
One day when he was still living in California, he wandered into a small bookstore. The owner hired him immediately and began his cultivation of literary knowledge. He remembered, “when I started in the Bay Area in San Francisco, it was such a fluid market … So, I got a good education in the first few years. Here, it’s a much slowertrade but we’ve established a reputation of paying people fairly.”
When Ashford and Amanda Lynch – who would become co-owner of the Omaha shop – left California, they spent months traveling across the country acquiring books, finally landing in Omaha. Ashford had traveled back and forth from California to Omaha often to visit his ailing mother. Her illness finally dictated a permanent move.
While here, they received an offer they couldn’t refuse. The Mercer family, who owned much of the real estate in the Old Market, had a bookstore on their wish list. In 1993, the Mercers offered the opportunity to Ashford and Lynch and they couldn’t say no.
They chose the location at 1119 Jackson Street in the Old Market for their own store that would soon expand to become the massive collection it is today.
“When we opened it was just 5,000 books,” Ashford said. “Now we’re at 100,000.”
They have so many books, they had to expand a few years ago into neighboring space.
While many customers bring in books to sell, others are sourced from a five-state area. Ashford frequently
visits estate sales, some by invitation, to appraise collections for estate attorneys or family members.
Using his vast experience in the trade, he helps families determine which volumes are worth keeping, selling or donating. He coordinates regularly with divorce attorneys as well, to help divide assets.
While this may seem like a tedious and unnecessary task, some clients have more than a thousand books to sort through with the possibility of finding an unexpected asset.
In an article published a few years ago, Lynch recounted a story when a customer offered them a collection of more than 10,000 western Americana books that had been preserved in his family since the 1848 California Gold Rush.
Besides offering consignment services for those larger collections, Jackson Street Booksellers has a range of paperbacks or hardbacks depending on an individual’s needs.
Ranging in a multitude of price points, the bookstore is bound to have the perfect read for anyone who saunters through its doors.
Although the store is ideal for any lover of literature, Ashford sees many attorneys come in for a multitude
of genres.
“Lawyers tend to be readers,” he said. “Some of our best customers are lawyers.”
Among his vast collection, Ashford has a number of rare philosophy books, which seem to appeal to those with a legal mind. He also offers modern first editions from authors such as Stephen King.
Some attorneys have specific tastes and may be collectors of books from Western Americana to mysteries to military history. When asked whether he had a favorite book, Ashford simply replied that it would be impossible to do because, “it’s like naming your favorite kid.”
Like many of his clientele, Ashford had a connection with the law through his late brother, Judge Mark Ashford. While he was an “average reader,” according to Carl, he did have an immense collection of celebrity autographs, which Carl now attributes to his love of collecting.
Carl’s other brother, Brad, is also a lawyer and has served as both a United States Representative and a Nebraska State Senator.
Ashford is no stranger to famous visitors. Many entertainers visit his store while they are in town for a performance. It’s a favorite stop for musicians, especially rock-and-rollers.
The store doesn’t stop at selling only within their walls. They have opened their collection to the world via their website, jacksonstree-booksellers.squarespace .com. While it’s probably more fun to browse the stacks in person, you can let your fingers do the shopping if you are looking for that special book.

Written for the Omaha Daily Record:

Anytime Tees – December’s Small Business of the Month

If you’re facing down a fashion emergency on game day, the team at Anytime Tees is ready to help.
Winner of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s December Small Business of the Month Award, Anytime Tees is a comprehensive customization business that caters to any occasion.
The business was nominated directly through the Chamber of Commerce, owner Rachel Nagunst said.
“I take it to mean that we are doing a good job, to be nominated by our own contact,” she said. “Everybody (at the Chamber) is super helpful. Anytime that we’ve needed help with something, they’ve always been there.”
Having been a Chamber member from the start of her business, Nagunst saw the value immediately during orientation.
“It was great,” she said of that first event. “I talked to several people and I got some leads from it.”
Beginning in spring of 2010, Nagunst started her business working out of her own home with simply a hot press and vinyl cutter while working part-time and learning the trade at another T-shirt vendor.
With a degree in Sports Management, Nagunst coached basketball and softball for 10 years and brings that experience to her printing enterprise.
Because of her connections with high schools and coaches, she was easily able to establish relationships with teams to provide T-shirts, logoed accessories and other items for high schools.
However, Anytime Tees doesn’t just help with high school teams. Promotional T-shirts, lanyards, keychains, customized embroidery and any number of items can be created at the drop of a hat for events or businesses.
They embroider hats, polos and jackets as well as produce digitally-printed promotional logos such as banners, decals and even license plate frames.
In fact, Nagunst has seen to it that orders of all sizes are easily accommodated.
For a soccer mom without a hoodie or a dad missing his favorite logo T-shirt, Anytime Tees maintains a database of logos on file, should a fashion emergency come up before a big tournament.
In fact, individual T-shirts made with heat transfer vinyl (HTV), according to Nagunst, “it will take you longer to pick out the shirt than for us to print. Press it for 10 seconds, and it’s done.”
She chooses HTV for on-the-spot orders because it is less labor intensive while still fusing the logo directly onto the fabric.
For large orders; however, Nagunst uses screen printing. It’s the most well-known method that produces a long-lasting effect, but requires additional steps to complete.
Anytime Tees offers, “just about any kind of customization,” Nagunst said, and is growing and improving their processes.
Clients are now able to proof, pay for and approve their final products online, as opposed to visiting the store each time, but are welcome and encouraged to drop by anytime.
Always considerate of her clientele, Nagunst’s reasoning behind her method is “always trying to make things as easy as possible for the customer,” rendering the process leading up to receiving the product as seamless as possible. She tries to work with every customer that orders.
“I’ve always had my hand in every single order,” she said, “and now we’re growing to a point where I can’t do that. Whether I’m on the phone with a customer or someone else is, they’re receiving that same level of customer service.”
Anytime Tees has expanded to its second location at 1034 Wright Road in Council Bluffs where they are conveniently open until 7 p.m. during the week to accommodate parent, teacher and coach schedules.
Now open Monday through Friday, they may possibly be offering Saturday hours in the future.
“Since we have a lot of schools, we do it so coaches are able to pick up after practice,” Nagunst said.
For more information, peruse their website to see what they have to offer your team at

Written for the Omaha Daily Record:

Say “So Long!” to the Yo-Yo Diet: Keep the Weight off with Rosalie Joy

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Struggling with weight loss is a common issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and body types. Rosalie Joy of Eustis, Nebraska, has made it her mission to help others reach their weight loss goals. To help her clients get where they want to be, she uses her expertise and coaching skills in conjunction with Suddenly Slim® products.

 “I’ve always watched my weight, from a very early age,” Rosalie recalls. “I started my first diet when I was 14.” Whatever methods you’ve used to try to lose weight, she has probably tried it, too—Weight Watchers, low-carb diets, stringent calorie-counting, and countless other strategies. In the 1980s, she and her husband decided to begin preventative maintenance and “take care of our bodies in a way that would honor God,” says Rosalie. Desiring a more holistic approach, Rosalie decided to start eating healthier foods and taking supplements rather than medications.

After years of fluctuating weight, Rosalie was introduced by a friend to the Suddenly Slim program (manufactured by FirstFitness Nutrition®). Rosalie was initially skeptical, but her doubts were soon erased when she started noticing visible results of her own. Through personal research, she has learned that, in order to fully absorb nutrients from food, the body needs to first be free of toxins and bacteria that can slow metabolism and hamper the digestive system.

Suddenly Slim is a shake-based program, but participants also eat real food from day one. They also offer a supplement that curbs cravings by simulating dopamine in the brain. Their meal plan is modeled on the one designed by the American Diabetic Association. Their shakes are perfectly balanced for people with diabetes and are ideal for a quick meal. Suddenly Slim offers three different programs to suit individuals with different dietary needs and weight loss goals.

When it comes to restrictive diets, people often reach a point when they decide to go back to what they were previously eating and, ultimately, they end up weighing as much (if not more) than they did when they began. To combat this cycle, Rosalie tailors her coaching to each client. “I work with people on an individual basis,” she explains. “Some people need quite a bit of detoxing, and they go through something like a withdrawal…people who have followed a healthier diet don’t need as much time to detox.”

It’s important to avoid going back to old habits after doing a Suddenly Slim program, Rosalie notes. She helps her clients remain intentional and focused on the bigger picture of overall health and wellness, avoiding foods that are harmful in the long term. She also guides her clients toward the products that will help them maintain weight loss and curb cravings. Her coaching has been very helpful, reports her client, Gwen. “I have found that my cravings and hunger have been controlled as I follow the food plan, use Body FX Meal Replacement Shakes, and take the appetite suppressant Xanolean Supreme three times daily. If I miss a shake or forget a Xanolean, I find myself on a ‘food hunt!’”

Rosalie understands the skepticism people might feel about trying yet another weight loss program; she was initially skeptical, too. What Rosalie brings to the table is her personal success—she doesn’t just sell the Suddenly Slim program; she lives it every day. Having found something that truly worked for her, she wanted to share it with others. “If I could find something that helped me, I knew I could help other people,” she asserts. “When I was able to keep the weight off, it was life-changing.” She enjoys the benefits that FirstFitness Nutrition promises, including greater energy and a more consistent mood.

What truly sets Rosalie apart from her peers is her penchant for customer service and her genuine understanding of what her clients are going through. She stresses the importance of meeting people where they are and moving forward from there. She notes that some people come in and out of the program, but she chooses to remain available for them when they need help. By maintaining an open door policy, she can be a consistent source of motivation for those who are fighting to improve their quality of life. As her client, Yvette, says, “Bottom line? This program works! It’s easy; no tracking or counting. The products set you up for success by changing your cravings, and you use them in conjunction with real food. All this, and you get free coaching to tailor this program to your needs.”

If you’re ready to lose weight and keep it off, schedule a nutrition consultation today! Rosalie is ready to help you meet your goals. Find Rosalie online at

Written for Women’s Edition, January 2019 –

Main Street Studio: An Art Gallery with History

Main Street Studios & Art Gallery is located in the heart of downtown Elkhorn, at 2610 North Main Street. It’s not just a place to view artwork—local artists work in the gallery, explain their process to visitors, and display their work for sale. “We really do have something like an artist co-op,” says owner and operator Tyler Curnes. “I love the concept of Hot Shops in downtown Omaha, but we didn’t really have anything like that in Elkhorn.” Tyler began seeking local artists who had the passion to come into the gallery every day to work and to give visitors an idea of the artistic process.

The building’s history is as eclectic as its current occupants. It was built in 1915 as a livery stable along the railroad. “In the 1920s, it was the very first Chevrolet dealership for Nebraska,” Tyler shares. The dealership went under during the Great Depression, so the building was sold to another family. “They had a mechanic’s garage for cars and two pumps outside, so they turned it into Elkhorn Propane and Oil Company.”

The building stood empty for four decades until Tyler bought and remodeled it in October 2014. The gallery is now a stunning celebration of its own history. A garage door sports multiple windows from the days of being a car dealership and garage, while massive wooden beams and high ceilings remain from its days as a livery stable. Even the cement floors pay homage to the building’s history as a Chevrolet dealership.

All of the art in the gallery is made in-house by five unique artists with unique talents. Tyler works

with glass. He discovered his interest in glass-blowing when he spent a summer in Europe during college and met a glass-blower there. Working with glass takes extreme patience, he explains, because of the amount of time it takes to heat and cool. One piece, in fact, had to stay in the kiln for an astonishing 560 hours at 900 degrees!

David Biehl, a sculptor who creates all his bronzes in-house, was a veterinarian for 40 years. Currently, he is working on a life-sized statue of Miguel Keith, an 18-year-old soldier who was killed in Vietnam after saving his entire platoon. After approximately 300 hours of work, the statue will be erected in South Omaha, where Miguel grew up.

David has a passion for history and loves the stories behind each piece he creates. He also wrote a historical account about a bronze he did of the Martin brothers, one of his favorite stories to tell. While running from Native Americans on horseback, he says, “these two boys got hit with four arrows. One of the arrows hit one boy on the back and stuck into his brother’s back and pinned the two of them together. They both lived.”

Artist Levent Oz, otherwise known as “The Silver of Oz,” has been working with silver and gold for over 30 years. Growing up working in an antique store, he began working with vintage jewelry in his youth and enjoyed making his own pieces from silver and gold. From hand-wrapped arrowheads to custom pieces, Levent provides an “unusual place for unusual jewelry” for those looking to expand their collections of custom jewelry. In fact, Tyler’s mother had purchased Levent’s jewelry in the past. When Tyler established Main Street Studios, he immediately called Levent to join the group.

Ashley Spitsnogle is the newest artist to join Main Street Studios. She specializes in oil painting. She loves using local themes, and she paints a live bovine subject every year at the Cattlemen’s Ball. Ashley produces pieces of art that commemorate important moments in Husker history and is licensed to do so by the Huskers. She also does commissions, does live painting for up to four hours at a time, and creates hand-painted wine glasses that are perfect for gift-giving. When asked about her chosen medium, Ashley says, “I like oil, but it takes forever,” referring to the amount of time a painter must wait for a piece to dry. A canvas must sit for days before she can even go back to make corrections or changes, and it takes more than a week for a finished piece to dry.

Jane Kathol completes the group of five at Main Street Studios and has known Tyler for over 20 years. Jane is an art teacher in the Elkhorn schools, and she comes to work in the studio every afternoon. Jane creates Jackson Pollock–inspired acrylic abstracts that constantly grab the attention of visitors. A great portion of her work also features colorful florals and elaborate skylines—she loves the Nebraska plain.

For more information about Main Street Studios & Art Gallery, drop by downtown Elkhorn or call 402-452-3088. You can find them online at

Written for Women’s Edition Omaha:

Foundation One Bank

At 17445 Arbor Street, Suite 100, Foundation One Bank is conveniently located to provide services to residents of West Omaha—but that’s not all. With 26 employees and three locations throughout the city, Foundation One continues to grow at a steady pace. As they serve more and more customers across the area, their dedication to customer satisfaction does not waver.

Foundation One Bank was established in 2009 when Randal J. Burns, President/CEO, and a group of investors purchased Western State Bank in Waterloo, Nebraska.

Ann Fuller, a recent addition to the Foundation One team commutes from Glenwood every day because of her passion for Foundation One’s philosophy. Originally from Colorado, Ann chose Foundation One because of its family dynamic, community outreach, and dedication to each individual customer. “You want to work for a bank like that,” she says.

In her previous positions as a loan officer with other organizations, Ann says, the process was not so personal. They just had boxes to check for loan applications, and if one of the boxes wasn’t checked, “you’d put it in the computer and it would almost always decline for you.” However, at Foundation One, personal relationships are established between bankers and their clients. This can sometimes mean having extremely candid conversations with clients to help them achieve financial stability or take out a loan. It creates a dynamic of trust and the ability to look at the bigger picture.

One aspect of the bank that sets it apart from others is its dedication to the community. “People still need people,” says Molly Merrell, Vice President. Foundation One Bank partners with many charitable organizations on a consistent basis. Even outside of the office, the employees at Foundation One are always giving back. According to Molly, “that’s an expectation for us.”

In their daily practice, the employees at Foundation One demonstrate their understanding and dedication to client satisfaction. In fact, Molly notes that the most rewarding part of her job is being a part of the “firsts” in her clients’ lives. This might be something like a client’s first checking account, car loan, or mortgage.

In a world where technology rules, Foundation One seeks to remain accessible and keep up with current trends. While younger generations may prefer not to go into a brick-and-mortar building, Foundation One still seeks to establish individual relationships with their clients. “We provide sound advice and make smart decisions for people who live and work here locally,” says Molly.

The banking industry is challenging, with banks opening on every corner. To stay on top, Foundation One continues to practice their high level of customer service. “As we grow, our challenge is to find people who share our core beliefs, philosophy, and vision, so that we don’t lose sight of those things,” Molly explains. At Foundation One, their overarching goals are to thrive and to help their customers achieve financial stability, and they believe their dedication to serving everyone in their community is unparalleled.

Foundation One wants to be the one-stop shop for all of your banking needs. They understand how frustrating it can be to work with a different person for each different banking service. “It’s kind of a comfort level,” Ann says, “because money is one of the things that people are most private about. Trust is huge when you’re dealing with money. If our clients can tell their story just one time, it establishes that trust factor.” Molly concludes, “We’re relationship-based, not transaction-based. That’s what makes us different.”

For a community bank you can trust with all your banking needs, contact Foundation One Bank today at 531-215-0066. For more information on the financial services and advice provided at this community institution, visit them online at

Written for Women’s Edition Omaha:

LifeLoop: Integrating Tomorrow’s Technology with Senior Care Today

Whether we visit once a week or once a year, we all worry about the day-to-day lives of our senior family members. LifeLoop, winner of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Month Award for October, seeks to bridge the communication gap between family members and providers via technology, allowing seamless, centralized tracking to keep everyone in the “Loop.”
LifeLoop’s user-friendly interface allows calendar management, resident tracking and reporting with the ability to live stream and share photos, plus check transportation and home maintenance requests, with the convenience of a secure, online platform.
From skilled nursing to independent living, LifeLoop comes in handy for a wide variety of clientele. Family members who live out of town or want to be more involved in their family members’ daily lives are able to check in via smartphone or tablet. Independent residents can also make notes, send their own messages and communicate with their loved ones with just the click of a button.
Amy Johnson, CEO and cofounder of LifeLoop, started the business with her husband, Kent, and Phil Lee in 2015.
“We started LifeLoop out of a need for our family,” Amy Johnson said. “My father-in-law, in particular, was going through the process of moving his mom into a community. He had just experienced these gaps in communication. The community was great, but it was very much a question of, ‘How do you bridge that gap in the day?’”
This experience caused Johnson and her cofounders to explore the need for a comprehensive service for nurses, staff, residents and family. As time went on, it evolved into a “much better platform,” Johnson said.
Knowing there is a 45-percent turnover rate in skilled nursing staff, LifeLoop maintains all the resident records in one consolidated portal so everyone can remain in-the-know, regardless of staff turnover.
Currently in 28 states, LifeLoop’s goal is to expand their work to all 50. With three cofounders from vastly different backgrounds, LifeLoop strives to set itself apart with a philosophy of solution-driven excellence that provides the best result for each client. Johnson, who worked with Mutual of Omaha for eight years, used that experience to prepare for her current position as CEO. Kent, a commodity trader, and Phil Lee, an attorney, brought other complementary skills to the company.
“We all kind of go in our own lanes,” Amy Johnson said. “I’m more of the sales, client-focused, and Kent and Phil are more of the financial end.”
Currently managing a team of 10 full- and part-time staff, Johnson enthusiastically beamed that she has, “a great team.”
“Without them, none of this happens,” she said. “We’re like a small family. You’ve got to put all of those talents together to make it work.”
Seeing the value their program has added to seniors’ daily lives has been an enormously rewarding to Johnson and her team. She said that she is overjoyed to be, “doing this for a reason versus just spinning our wheels.”
Their mission is simple and pure: “To simplify things for all the staff, residents, and families by creating a platform to do so,” Johnson said.
Winning the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Month Award has been an unexpected acknowledgement of all LifeLoop’s hard work.
“It was so exciting,” Johnson said. “I was not expecting that! I think it’s really cool because it’s acknowledging us as a business. I feel like sometimes I get all this recognition because I’m in that position (as CEO), whereas this is our whole team, and we’re doing this together.”
Having joined the startup community supported by the Chamber, LifeLoop received exposure to a wide variety of local organizations.
“I think the Chamber is a great staple in our community,” Johnson said, “and it’s something that we always want to support.”
After a time in the senior care community, Johnson has advice for fellow business owners.
“Trust your gut,” she said. “I don’t do anything that I have a bad gut feeling about. Find yourself with the right people, and don’t think you can do it all, because usually hiring the right people will take you a lot further.”
If you or a loved one need to be kept in the “Loop” with their relative, visit LifeLoop’s comprehensive service page at or call 402-915-3860 to set up a consultation.


Written for the Daily Record – The Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month:


Peitzmeier Demolishes Competition With Fair Prices and Clean Work

Even though it says demolition in its name, Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting, Inc. does more than just blow up buildings.
Owner Mark Peitzmeier said his team approaches every project differently, based on the desired result.
Their website elaborates: “We specialize in Commercial and Industrial Demolition Services. Our company attempts to recycle, when possible, as much of the material we work with to reduce the economic and environmental impact within communities.”
Because of Peitzmeier’s stellar reputation and vast experience, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce has named his firm the September Small Business of the Month. They serve Omaha and surrounding areas in the Midwest.
Offering everything from gutting buildings to emergency response when structures become unstable, Peitzmeier and his team are dedicated to both quality work and giving back to their community.
Located at 1119 South 6th Street and a member of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce since the doors opened in 2012, Peitzmeier values the relationships and contacts made through the many member events.
“We always seem to meet a lot of people there,” he said. “We wear shirts with our name on them and, by the end of the night, we get one or two more pieces of business out of it so that part’s always been good to us.
“All it takes is one job to pay for the membership, so it’s definitely worth it.”
Bringing 40 years of construction experience into his business, Peitzmeier was motivated to venture out on his own once his children were out of college. As superintendent at Kiewit for 18 years, he hesitated to leave a construction powerhouse and go out on his own.
“After I started,” Peitzmeier said, “I wish I’d started 10 years earlier, but then I didn’t want to take the risk.”
Having experienced life in construction during his tenure at Kiewit, he now contracts with his former employer on various projects throughout the Midwest. In fact, he has even done deconstruction on some of the buildings he helped to build.
The job that launched Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting’s contractor business was the complete demolition and dirt work of the 170,000 square-foot Nebraska Crossing shopping mall in Gretna. To Peitzmeier, it was a “make or break” job for the budding business. They completed the job six weeks ahead of schedule despite some difficult weather.
“That started us,” he said, “Kiewit was impressed.”

Another high-profile job elicited an emotional response from the Plattsmouth community. Peitzmeier took care of the emergency demolition of a historic building that housed three downtown businesses and residences at 4th and Main Street. A fire destroyed the structure despite the efforts of seven fire departments in the frigid January weather of 2014. A thick coat of ice covered the entire area, adding another dimension to the removal.
KETV Channel 7 has Peitzmeier to thank for clearing the way for a complete renovation of the historic Burlington Train Station into its new broadcast facility. The demolition work included an extensive salvage of historic and ornamental elements of the 1898 landmark building that was originally built in the Italianate style. Coordination with railroad authorities was necessary to facilitate removal of an elevated train platform without disturbing AMTRAK daily arrivals on the lower platform.
Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting has been successful because of Peitzmeier’s unwavering standards and connection to the community.
Not only does he give back locally; when projects are commissioned in other states like Kentucky, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, Peitzmeier hires local workers to contribute to the local economy.
“It’s a win-win,” he said.
They also have a “green” mindset and recycle as much material as possible from every job site.
“All of our concrete gets recycled,” he said. “We’ll take it and get it crushed down for road bases. All the steel gets taken in and re-sent out and re-melded. Same with all the aluminum and copper, glass, the carpet (if it’s in good shape), we’ll bring it in and re-sell it or donate it.”
Partnering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Ronald McDonald house, Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting is consistently contributing in some way to the community.
From demolition to dirt work, Peitzmeier’s work is mainly comprised of what is referred to as “soft” demolition like the removal of ceilings, carpets, walls and other interior structures. Their focus is to provide a quick, but quality job.
Peitzmeier’s philosophy is to, “Finish strong. Clean it up when we’re done. Broom sweep it, get all the wires, make sure the walls are clean.”
By doing things the right way the first time, Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting maintains a reputation of excellence and a philosophy of being detail oriented.
Not only are the company’s services top notch, Peitzmeier pays for half of its employees’ health insurance. Peitzmeier acknowledges that it’s “a huge cost.”
“In our industry, it’s amazing how many don’t have insurance,” he said.
However, the return is worth the investment because it guarantees quality employees stay. That’s reflected in their high quality of work.
Working with a variety of clientele, Peitzmeier has one simple motto.
“Price it right,” he said. “We’re not getting rich overnight. We want the customers to come back. We probably get half of our business from contractors. They just trust us, they know they’re going to get the right prices right off the bat.”
The biggest reward for Peitzmeier is coming to work every day.
“I love coming into work,” he said, “so that’s a reward. A lot of people don’t, so that right there is big. Loving what I do is what makes it fun.”

Written for the Omaha Daily Record Published 9/25/18: