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Living Their Dream: Business Owners Find Hard Work Comes First

March 2018

The owners of three new or newly expanded businesses combined hard work and capital through Midwest Small Business Finance to achieve their dreams (top to bottom) Dairy Queen on North Oak Trafficway, Kountry Kuts in Richmond and the Dry Cleaner of Kansas City (the Parkville location is shown here).

Three business owners who were recently honored by an area non-profit organization run very different companies but share an important trait: a willingness to tackle hard work.

Jessica Edens, Marissa Orender and Mary Weber are three Northland business owners who were recognized Feb. 14 by Midwest Small Business Finance (MSBF). Edens recently opened her new Dairy Queen at 8530 N. Oak Trafficway; Orender relocated her dog grooming business to a much larger location in Richmond; and Weber expanded The Dry Cleaner of Kansas City from one to three locations in Kansas City North and Parkville.

Their stories might make fewer headlines than a new health care campus or manufacturing plant, but small businesses like these account for a lot of jobs in this country. According to the Small Business Administration, small companies account for 49.2 percent of all private-sector employment and 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs.

But, it’s not easy.

“It definitely was a lot of hard work, but it’s turned out beautifully,” Edens said of her “built from scratch” Diary Queen. “We thought about it a long time but finally watching it grow was so exciting.”

Orender had already opened Kountry Kuts in Richmond, but the dog grooming business was outgrowing its original location, and she had realized her customers would also use other services like boarding if she had the room to offer it. Like the other two entrepreneurs, she used an SBA loan through Midwest Small Business Finance to build a long-term loan package with below market interest rates ­– and a minimum of headaches.

“I could not have done it without that to grow my business,” Orender said. “And everybody was wonderful. I was confused on some of it, but they made it almost painless.”

With her expansion complete, Orender’s business is booming. “In our old building, we could only do grooming. Now we can expand and grow. It really is a dream.”

Weber’s story actually began 22 years ago. She worked with MSBF four years ago to buy out a partner, then last year she pursued the opportunity to purchase two other Northland locations when they became available.

“I had the opportunity to expand, effectively double my business,” she explained. From a total of seven jobs, she now provides employment for 18 people, including both full- and part-time.

She praises MSBF for making the process easy. “They made it possible to do everything about as easy as possible. They made it possible, and they made it easy.”

Like any small business owner, she’ll acknowledge the effort is never easy. “I haven’t had a vacation in three years,” she laughed. “But you know, we’re building a business. That’s really something.”

MSBF Director Jim Hampton said the efforts have several benefits, but a crucial one is helping create jobs within the community. “Job creation helps families; it helps communities,” he explained. “Small businesses do that, and capital is critical for businesses of all kinds. It’s one of the things they need most.”

For more information about MSBF and its loan programs, call (816) 468-4989, email, or visit

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