Let’s go to a retirement home in Illinois where a contractor is using a highly sensitive bed bug detection system. This system is self-propelled, 100% natural, highly accurate in detecting bed bugs, and when it’s done, it just might climb up on your lap and lick your face. This detection system is a dog. Today we’ll learn about an innovative Kansas couple that is building a business using canines for locating bed bugs.
John and Jina Kugler are the founders of this business known as Bug Hounds LLC. John grew up at Lebanon, Kansas, where
he enjoyed hunting dogs. He met Jina in school and they later married. K-State drew John and Jina to Manhattan. She studied education and became a teacher and is now a school counselor in Wamego. John is a manager of a public facility in Topeka.
One day a bed bug surfaced in his facility, so he arranged for a pest control company to come clean out the problem. The company brought in a dog as a locator.
Iron clad. The term suggests something that is certain and stable. It is also the name of an innovative place which is now providing shared space for Kansas entrepreneurs to work and grow.
Darin Miller is the founder and owner of Iron Clad Coworking in Wamego and Manhattan. Darin grew up near Newton. He went to school at Berean Academy in the rural community of Elbing, population 229 people. Now, that’s rural.
As a student, he competed at the state cross country meet at Wamego. “I could see that Wamego was a community with a winning attitude,” Darin said. He studied mechanical engineering, worked at Cessna in Wichita, and then happened to come to Wamego for a project at Caterpillar. He and his wife decided to stay.
Darin noticed a change in the way corporate life operated. “Managers said they didn’t have enough room (for employees’ offices) but at any given time, a third of the people were out working on projects elsewhere,” he said. Technology was making it possible for people to work without being confined to a particular office. “Entrepreneurs were using coffee shops and libraries, but those didn’t work for some business purposes,” he said.
Friendship and food. That’s what a person can expect to find in a special restaurant and bakery in a pretty small town setting in a northeast Kansas community. This enterprise has also significantly expanded its catering business in the region.
Mike Pray and Jake Trummer are co-owners of the Friendship House in Wamego, Kansas. The rich history of this eating establishment goes back to the 1980s.
In 1988, an old Dutch windmill was relocated into Wamego’s City Park and used as a site to grind flour. The production of the stone-ground wheat flour gave birth to an idea: Why not bake the flour into a finished product for Wamego’s visitors and residents? Three Wamego women purchased a house adjoining the city park to establish such a place.
Let’s go to an amusement park in Florida. As the ride begins, some scary music begins to play. Who do you suppose helped create that musical track? It was a business consultant who’s worked on music licensing and other
elements of management. But he’s not in Florida. He is now half a continent away in Kansas.
Russell Disberger is the founder and senior partner of management consulting firm Aspen Business Group. Russell has deep roots in Kansas, where his ancestors homesteaded near Council Grove. Russ’s dad taught agriculture at Hutchinson Community College. Russell was the seventh of nine children.
With such a large family, the kids learned to work. The boys ran the family’s custom cutting crew in the summer, traveling from Texas to Montana harvesting wheat. “We were up at dawn and worked until the wheat was too damp to cut,” Russell said. “We learned the importance of hard work and taking care of our customer.”
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.