The Center for Entrepreneurship will host seven free workshops for entrepreneurs. This is free and open to the community. Seating is limited, and registration is required. Missouri Western State University is still closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization and supports nationwide efforts to help keep our communities safe. 

All businesses are very important to our community and region. As always, the Center for Entrepreneurship is here to help you in any way we can.  Please let us know if we can be of assistance.  

Meet Our Guest Speaker

Joe Gray

Founder of Gray Manufacturing

Joe founded Gray Manufacturing in 1952 with his father, J.H. Gray here in St. Joseph, Missouri. The company first started offering an air end lift jack that changed the automotive repair industry. Their brand quickly gained recognition as Gray lifting equipment became a fixture in service stations, car dealerships and auto repair shops. They soon included truck lifts for heavy-duty trucks in their product line. Joe currently serves on the company’s Board of Directors as Chairman Emeritus. Joe has numerous product patents to his name, the most recent awarded in 2014, and he continues to help guide the company with his entrepreneurial vision.

Entrepreneurship Week Awards

2021 E-Week Award Winners

Kendall Randolph, Entrepreneur of the Year

Kendall has spent most of his life as an entrepreneur. In addition to running several successful local businesses, he has supported countless other entrepreneurs in St. Joseph to help make their dreams come true. As a cornerstone of the business community, Kendall, his partners and team have grown Sunshine Display into one of the largest producers of electronic displays in the industry, staying on the cutting edge of technology and adapting to meet changing needs. Kendall is also committed to utilizing Downtown St. Joseph properties to house. Sunshine’s expanding needs as well as local his other businesses Gold n’ Glaze and the Hi-Ho. A vital and growing community is critical to Kendall, as is his dedication to helping others.

Kendall supports many community organizations as well, both personally and through his businesses, including Missouri Western State University, United Way, YWCA, YMCA, Noyes Home, The Crossing, Historic Charities, St. Joseph Police Department and the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. He is also passionate about supporting individual entrepreneurs. Through professional and financial support he has assisted many with their entrepreneurial dreams.

Chris Lanman, Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year

Chris grew up in St. Joseph and graduated from Missouri Western State University. Before becoming a successful craft beer brewery owner, Chris was a home brewer and rafting guide. After college, he turned to business development for start-up operations of passenger rail systems throughout the United States. His last corporate project was the Kansas City Streetcar. After leaving corporate life, Chris and his brother started a brewery on the East Coast in 2014. After Learning about the best practices of brewing. Chris returned to his hometown with the vision of starting a brewery in St. Joseph. River Bluff Brewing has rapidly becomea St. Joseph staple. River Bluff was awarded a Silver medal from the Great American Beer Fest, one of the world’s largest and most distinguished beer competitions. Currently he is spearheading River Bluff’s expansion, with a new location opening in Kansas City’s River Market area in late summer. Chris also is the owner or operator of three other companies, two of which call St. Joseph home.

Enriching the economy and community of his hometown of St. Joseph is important to Chris. River Bluff reflects this passion with its commitment to preserving history within its walls as well as crafting unique beers that reflect the area’s local flavor. Chris and his partners also focus on collaborations with fellow entrepreneurs by featuring local products in their recipes, supporting the region’s growing brewery industry and staying actively involved in the business community. Chris is a father and husband and considers family his first job, with the brewery close behind.

Past Award Winners

Entrepreneur of the Year

2020 – Joe Freudenthal

2019 – Mike Dragoo

2018 – Scott Gann

2017 – Bob Wollenman

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year

2020 – Austin Evans

2019 – Alyson Fisher

2018 – Scott Bratton

2017 – Jason Chase

2022 Award Nominations

Entrepreneur of the Year

Do you know of a successful entrepreneur? One that you admire and hold in esteem? Have they shown experience in starting, growing, and/or expanding a successful business? Have they been in business for five years or more? Do they give back to the community? If so, we would love for you to nominate them for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Nominate an Entrepreneur

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year

This is for those entrepreneurs that have been in business five years or less. This is to highlight those entrepreneurs that are showing innovation and has the potential for impact on our community.

Nominate an Entrepreneur