Springfield, MO

Business Class co-hosts John Wanamaker, left, and Randell Wallace are pictured next to a Paul Mueller Co. tank at a Napa Valley winery in 2015.SBJ photo by JENNIFER JACKSON
Business Class co-hosts John Wanamaker, left, and Randell Wallace are pictured next to a Paul Mueller Co. tank at a Napa Valley winery in 2015.


Opinion: Saying goodbye to Business Class

Posted online
After five years, it’s time to say goodbye to a class act. In June, approximately 30 guests gathered at Touch in south Springfield for a reunion of the Business Class event, which has honored 33 local companies since 2012 and hosted a total of 18 different winning companies on exclusive executive retreats in the Napa Valley wine country. 

Ann Marie Baker, UMB Bank’s president for its Greater Missouri Region, brought Business Class to life in Springfield out of a desire to recognize and share a meaningful experience with extraordinary leaders in the area. 

“We are so proud to have brought Business Class to the Springfield business community,” Baker said. “Recognizing best-of-class companies across the region was a tremendous privilege and pleasure.”

Baker quickly assembled a group of co-hosts in the first year to help bring her vision to fruition. Springfield Business Journal had the honor to be among them as a media sponsor and coordinator for the awards event. Each sponsor played a unique role that contributed to the overall success.

The awards recognized companies for financial performance, innovation and community involvement. Participating companies had to have been in business three years, operated their headquarters within SBJ’s 50-mile coverage area and reported at least $5 million in gross annual revenue.

“We at UMB feel it is vitally important that every company have a first-class network of experienced professionals working together to guide their path and support their success. Our partnership with BKD, Lathrop Gage and SBJ was a very fitting way to acknowledge that a professional support network is critical to all business pursuits,” Baker said.

I know I speak for each of the sponsors in saying that we accomplished all that Baker envisioned we could and then some. We were able to shine a light on some of Springfield’s most extraordinary companies in a grand way and really get to know the leaders that make them great.

“The trip itself was outstanding and allowed us to develop personal relationships with the business executives and their spouses in a way that you can never achieve through other sponsorships,” said Business Class co-host John Wanamaker, a BKD managing partner.

I agree. None of us could have anticipated the memories, friendships and partnerships that would evolve and continue to grow as a result.

Springfield Business Journal Publisher Jennifer Jackson can be reached at
[[In-content Ad]]


No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick

Robotics in Waiting: OTC seeks pole position as advanced manufacturing educator

The move would come with a new property tax levied on residents of regional school districts.

Most Read
SBJ Live logo
Training Bootcamp: Training Needs Assessment

All workplace problems have root causes. When will training be the solution? Sherry Coker, OTC Center for Workforce Development business development director, provides you the framework of a training needs assessment, which will uncover the root causes of a workplace problem and help you determine if training is the solution. A download is available at with a complete outline for an effective training needs assessment. This is sponsored content. Duration: 2:29

Don’t Micro-Manage Are you guilty of micromanaging your employees? “If we’re going to require them to be that educated when they come to work for us, should we not let them do their job? They should know so much …
Seek Wisdom from Many “My whole life goal is to change the world, one connection at a time,” says Keisha Mabry. Mabry, who is an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur, says she had a “quarter-life crisis” and …
DNA Uncovers Best Version of You A simple swab of the inside of your cheek can lead to optimizing your nutrition and fitness program, personal medication profile, in addition to your ancestry. According to Austin O’Reilly, owner …
Booked - Go Back to the Basics “You’ve gotta go back to the basics,” says Larry Peterson, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Springfield Missouri. Peterson says he gains leadership advice from General Ulysses S. …