Kansas City Business Kudos

Recent business promotions, awards, new hires and special announcements

Have news or promotions that you would like to share? Email them to Please include the name of the person you would like to applaud along with his or her formal job title and a 100-word biography and hi-resolution photograph.

Elizabeth DeZeeuw

Elizabeth DeZeeuw, one of our Influential Women honorees for 2014, has joined ECCO Select, a KC-based IT professional services and management consulting firm, as COO. In her new role, DeZeeuw manages a wide range of responsibilities including direct oversight for sales and marketing.

“Her tremendous leadership skills, senior management and technical expertise, coupled with her client and partner relationships, are well suited to meet our immediate needs and strategic plans for growth,” President and CEO Jeanette Hernandez Prenger says.

Previously, DeZeeuw was the vice president of CoSentry, where she managed cross-functional strategies for sales management, marketing and business development. Prior to that, she spent 19 years at DST Systems.

James S. Allen Jr.

The White House announced that James S. Allen Jr., cofounder of Honor Capital LLC, was selected as a 2014 recipient of the Veteran-Entrepreneur Champions of Change Award. The KC native and Navy veteran was selected among more than 600 applicants based on his career and his work with Honor Capital, a company dedicated to creating financial solutions for post-9/11 veterans so they can become entrepreneurs.

The Champions of Change program is a White House initiative to identify and honor veterans who have started a for-profit or nonprofit business, veteran spouses who have started their own business and individuals who support veteran entrepreneurs by providing them with skills, capital and other necessary resources. These Champions have distinguished themselves by continuing to serve our country through their successful small business ventures that create jobs, spur economic growth and help their communities.

Pamela Berneking

Pamela Berneking, cofounder, president and CEO of Alterra Bank, was appointed to the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate’s Board of Directors for a two-year term. In this role, Berneking will help lead the association’s mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke through oversight of local revenue generation and health impact activities.

Berneking serves on Alterra Bank’s Board of Directors and as president and director of the bank’s parent company, Aslin Group. She provides strategic direction and oversees performance of the company across all areas of operation. Her career spans more than 30 years and includes leadership roles in community and regional banks, as well as commercial lending and regulatory experience.

As a member of the Midwest Affiliate Board of Directors, Berneking will help oversee the American Heart Association’s efforts in an 11-state region comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

J. Randall Vance

Ash Grove Cement Company announced that J. Randall Vance was promoted to president and CEO. Vance, who served three years as CFO and senior vice president of administration, assumes responsibility over manufacturing and sales of the company’s cement operations. He will continue to lead its finance, accounting, risk management, information technology and human resources departments.

“Since joining Ash Grove, Randy has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills that fit well in the Ash Grove culture,” says Charles T. Sunderland, chairman of the board. “Randy brings a breadth of business experience to Ash Grove, which gives us confidence that he will be a catalyst in guiding the company’s performance.”

“It is a privilege to be selected to lead such a talented and dedicated team,” Vance says. “Our focus on safety, quality and customer service is exceptional in the cement industry. I am eager to continue to grow our business as a supplier of choice.”

Headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., Ash Grove Cement Company is a national leader in the cement industry with eight plants located across the country and a production capability of 8 million tons of cement annually.

Michael McKeigue

Montage Investments hired Michael McKeigue as managing director of the Leawood, Kan.-based firm’s national accounts team. Montage Investments offers alternative investment solutions across the spectrum of asset classes and strategies that include mutual funds, closed-end funds and separate accounts. McKeigue will be responsible for enhancing strategic account relationships for Montage Investments and its affiliated asset managers.

“I am thrilled that Michael has agreed to join the firm,” says Gary P. Henson, president and chief investment officer of Montage Investments. “Michael is an industry veteran with deep experience leading sales teams, assisting financial advisors and enhancing distribution efforts.”

Anthony Caruso

Dr. Anthony Caruso, professor of physics in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences, accepted a part-time administrative appointment within the university’s Office of Research Services as an assistant vice chancellor for research. Caruso’s research is already responsible for attracting more than $3 million in funding, spinning off one commercial startup and the creation of a new line of products for another.

In this new role, Caruso will be focused on developing existing and new research efforts, as well as strategic partnerships in the areas of defense, intelligence and advanced materials and instrumentation.

Joe Sims

Kennedy and Coe LLC, a national accounting and consulting firm in the Midwest, announced that Joe Sims, CPA, has joined the firm. Sims is renowned for providing tax, accounting, regulatory and consulting servicing for community banks in Kansas, Missouri and surrounding states. With his high energy and extensive expertise, he is a regularly featured speaker on topics about bank tax and financial matters.

“Joe Sims is a terrific addition to our expanding community bank practice,” says Kennedy and Coe CEO Jeff Wald. “His knowledge and personality endear him to banks throughout Kansas and Missouri.”

Sims leverages his 30-plus years experience helping community banks with many operations, including tax planning and compliance, bank acquisitions and financial analysis.

“Having been on the other side of the table, I appreciate what community banks are dealing with,” Sims says. “That experience has made me a better advisor. Joining Kennedy and Coe’s community bank practice is a good fit with my background. They too are immersed in community banking.”


Trabon—a leading technology firm in Kansas City, Mo., that helps companies better manage marketing and operational functions—announced multiple new hires and promotions. Christy Trinkler was promoted from director of client services to senior director of client services. Colleen Standefer and Jessica Jimenez were promoted from senior account managers and onboard specialists to directors of account management. Laura Knight joins Trabon as account director. Nicole Jordan and Abigail Gloe join the firm as account managers. Turner Davis was hired as a new client application specialist.

Intouch Solutions

Intouch Solutions, a marketing agency serving the pharmaceutical industry, earned a position on the 2014 Inc. 5000 list. This competitive list showcases the fastest-growing companies in America.

Based in Kansas City, with offices in Chicago and New York, Intouch Solutions came in 2909th on the list, with 125 percent growth over a three-year period and revenue of $67.7 million. Intouch also added 250 jobs since 2010, bringing it to a grand total of 505 employees. In addition, the company was ranked the 20th fastest-growing company in Kansas.

“We are excited and honored to be on the 2014 Inc. 5000 list,” says Intouch Solutions CEO Faruk Capan. “Intouch Solutions has experienced exceptional growth over the last several years, thanks to our outstanding employees and clients. The Inc. 5000 list represents innovation and hard work—qualities we strive for at Intouch. We are privileged to be recognized with so many accomplished companies and look forward to continued growth in the future.”

Linda Endecott

Washington University in St. Louis announced that Linda Endecott has been hired as managing director of its top-ranked Olin Business School Executive MBA program in Kansas City. Endecott will lead Washington University’s efforts to continue the expansion, momentum and reputation of its Executive MBA program, which has been offered in Kansas City since 2010.

Vercie Lark

Avila University recently appointed three new members to its board of trustees, including Vercie Lark. Lark is chief information technology officer for DST Systems in Kansas City, Mo., where he has been employed since 2010.

Lark is also leading DST’s Global IT Sourcing team in India and Thailand. Prior to his time at DST, Lark was employed at CenturyLink as vice president and chief information officer and served in several IT-based roles over a 16-year period at Hewlett-Packard.

Lark received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where he serves on the Technology Advisory Board. As an Avila trustee, Lark becomes part of a group that implements policies and sets the strategic direction for the university.