TSC3, or Topeka & Shawnee County 3%, encourages businesses to support each other by purchasing supplies and services locally. There are real benefits for businesses to support other local businesses and there are many experienced and highly skilled people right here in Topeka that help create a better quality of life for Topekans, North East Kansas and across the country. Read on to learn how two Topeka businesses are shifting their spending locally.
How Derrick Hodam Shifted 3% By Putting Client Experience First
Derrick Hodam with Farm Bureau Financial Services gives his clients a unique #TopCity experience by purchasing locally for his business.
How did you approach the idea and process of shifting 3% of your purchasing decisions to buy local?
My story may be different than others. I’m an insurance agent, so something I’ve been focusing on with the help of my wife and Sales & Service Associate Lesleigh is making the most efficient use of marketing dollars. Right now we’re a small operation and have to make the most with what we have, and from the beginning, we’ve been purchasing nearly 100% of our client thank you and referral gifts locally.
I was purchasing my business cards and signage through another provider, but I’m now working locally with Kalos Print Services. I was able to not only save money but put it back into the market by doing it locally.
What businesses have you been working with locally for client gifts?
When giving gifts to clients we get to know them and the things they like, then tailor gifts for those needs.
We get dog treats from Hazel Hill Chocolates to give to families with dogs, wine from Glaciers Edge Winery and Prairie Fire Winery and Cashmere Popcorn for families with kids. We've also purchased mugs from a local artist that sells out of Cashmere Popcorn and tea from Cafe Barnabas for a client who wasn't a wine drinker but loves teas.
What other advice can you provide to help give people ideas on what they can shift?
We challenge people to at least take a look at your purchasing behavior to identify what you spend outside of Shawnee County. It's not as difficult as you might think, and 3% really isn't a lot. If you have the freedom to buy it locally, try and look at what you can get.
Time is also a currency. Giving back has always been important to me. Many people have helped me along the way, and I want to continue to do those things for others. Getting involved in the community and helping sponsor or volunteer also builds up our community. Try shifting 3% of your time if you can't shift 3% of your purchasing dollars.
As far as local business goes, if we don't take care of ourselves no one is going to do that for us. We're a local brand and trying to build a referral base, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to do it with the people and businesses around us.
The Stevenson Company Saves with the TSC3 Campaign
When Stevenson Company, Inc. decided it was time to modernize their facilities, dedication to local sourcing was paramount. “We grew up in Topeka. Our innovative products ship worldwide, but it all started by working with local food plants, supplying high-quality specialty fabrications,” said Joe Pennington, president of the family business. “We wanted to extend that same loyalty to our community partners.” Stevenson fabricates Spiral Chutes - think a playground slide sized for chips or candy - for global leaders in the food production market.
Matt Pivarnik, President & CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership, said “If Shawnee County businesses pledge to shift just 3% of their out of market purchasing to our local market it could improve employment and have an economic impact of up to $200 million, so we initiated a campaign called “TSC3.” When we approached Stevenson’s with the proposal, they immediately pledged their wholehearted support.”
“We started sourcing locally when the project began, and prices were unexpectedly lower. The quality of services was outstanding,” said Pennington. He said buying office furniture locally resulted in a 40% savings when compared to internet vendors. Service providers, such as the alarm company, were on site within minutes. “Three percent seemed a low threshold, so we challenged ourselves to procure exclusively from home town suppliers and contractors.” Electrical, plumbing, lighting, networking, computers, painting, concrete, and signage contracts were all awarded to Topeka merchants. “These people are our neighbors, so it is satisfying to contribute to their entrepreneurial success.”
Mayor Michelle De La Isla said, “I am proud of the commitment Joe and his team have put forth; not only to be an active citizen and business in our city, his love for the community is yet again exemplified by his commitment to supporting local businesses.”
The shop office renovations at Stevenson Company feature standing workstations, technology improvements, and a refurbished customer counter. The focal point is a larger than life mural depicting teammates forming stainless steel parts, soldering metal at the Statehouse, and fabricating their signature product, a stainless-steel Spiral Chute. Emblazoned above the doorway in bold letters are their hallmarks, “Quality, Innovation, and Craftsmanship.”
What’s next for the crew at Stevenson Company? “Back to work,” said Pennington, “enhancing shelf appeal, eliminating waste, and improving the bottom line for our customers. We will also be introducing our services to tree nut processors, pet food makers, and the coffee world. Need to keep those whole beans whole, right?”
Stevenson Company has specialized in metal fabrications and services inside food plants since 1952. It currently employs twenty-five people at their metal shop in North Topeka.
To learn more about TSC3 or to pledge your 3%, visit our website at TopekaChamber.org/tsc3 and join over 65 businesses making the shift to a better Topeka.