Dreiling addresses CloudCorp dinner
By Sharon Coy
Leadership is essential and city and county government must be aligned for successful economic development. These were among the points driven home by Dave Dreiling, Manhattan, keynote speaker at CloudCorp’s annual dinner and program, Friday Night, at the 19th Hole.
Dreiling, successful entrepreneur who with a partner turned a $6,000 investment into a $40 billion industry told the audience the story of “It’s Greek to Me,” now known as GTM Sportswear. The business is Manhattan’s largest employer with more than 700 employees and approximately 60 million in annual sales.
Dreiling, son of Leo and Carolyn Dreiling, former owners of Dreiling’s Department Store in Concordia, attended Concordia High School and Cloud County Community College before completing his bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Kansas State University in 1989.
He became an entrepreneur at an early age with his first endeavor being an attempt to sell fish worms which proved unsuccessful. Later, he undertook another new business, planting a garden in his backyard and selling the produce, saying that the planting was fun, but picking in the heat of summer became tiresome. Here, he said, he learned a lesson from his mother, “Finish what you start, don’t quit.”
At age 15 and a freshman at CHS, he and a friend, Steve Brummer, founded D&B Bike Co., renovating old bikes in the basement of Dreiling’s and selling them. Larry Hartshorn, freshman football coach, purchased one of the bikes and was riding downhill when the brakes failed. Dreiling said this incident taught him another lesson, the importance of product liability.
While attending CCCC, Dreiling took advantage of pheasant hunting in North Central Kansas by paying students living in apartments to leave for the weekend and then leasing the apartments out to hunters.
Dreiling and a college friend started GTM immediately after graduating from KSU in 1989, traveling in vans to college towns throughout the U.S. setting up a temporary Greek Store in fraternity and sorority houses.
The business now focuses on high school team apparel and related markets. It has retail stores in both Manhattan and Lawrence.
In addition to telling about the founding and growth of his business, Dreiling spoke about KSU’s entrepreneur program, noting how it uses every tool available to help students with new ideas develop them. He also encouraged Cloud Countians to support its Small Business Development Center. “Studies show that 87 percent of jobs created come from within,” he said.
Dreiling said that Cloud County is great at educating its kids, but not so great about keeping them around. He placed kids in three “buckets”: those who graduate from high school and remain in the area either farming or taking jobs; those who go away to college and would like to come back after earning their degrees if there was opportunity for employment; and those who go away to college and have no intention of ever coming back.
“It’s that middle bucket you need to concentrate on,” he said.
Following his speech, Dreiling answered questions from the audience.
Friday’s meeting began with the singing of the National Anthem by Joel Figgs. CloudCorp executive director Kirk Lowell welcomed those present and introduced Marsha Wentz, outgoing CloudCorp president who has served the organization for four years. Wentz introduced Dreiling and his mother Carolyn and members of the CloudCorp board of directors. She noted that one third of the directors have been on 10 years, one third five to 10 years and the others new, giving a mix of experience and new ideas at all times.
Eric Johnson gave the table blessing for the dinner catered by the 19th Hole Restaurant, and Marcie Hartzell provided musical entertainment during the meal.
Prior to Dreiling’s address, Lowell spoke about the importance of the Small Business Development Center located in the CloudCorp office and how through the aid of grants it will be able to remain open through 2010. He said part of his job is telling people and businesses interested in investing in this county stories about the people who live and work here. “It’s the entrepreneurs and business people who create the jobs,” Lowell said.
Wentz introduced 2010 CloudCorp president Ben Retter who announced the following awards and presented plaques to those present: outgoing directors, Noel Hanson, Ben Budreau, Dr. Steven Bryant, Marsha Doyenne; and new associate donors, Coppoc Sports LLC, Mari Detrixhe, Judy Hill, Janet Lowell, Lucinda Balog; Concordia Tractor partner donors, Wildside Graphics, Tom’s Music House, Linda Houser. Wentz received the president’s award; and Donna Barrett, an award for her 10th year of service as administrative assistant.
Lowell closed the meeting by reminding everyone to be sure to vote in the upcoming city election. “In the last election, only 20 percent of the registered voters in the county bothered to vote,” he said. “We need to encourage that other 80 percent to vote and get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off.”
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