Spotlight on an Innovative Business

The Spotlight on a Innovative Business is a monthly feature focusing on businesses doing extraordinary things during difficult times. The spotlight is presented in collaboration with Miami County Economic Development, Louisburg Chamber or Commerce, Osawatomie Chamber of Commerce, Paola Chamber of Commerce and Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce. Businesses featured in the Innovative Business Spotlight are nominated by their local chamber of commerce with nominations rotating among communities.

  1. April 2021 - Price Chopper
  2. Feb. 2021 - Wright Way Homes
  3. Jan. 2021 - KRS Corporation

Queen’s Price Chopper changing the grocery store game20210329_125530

When it comes to grocery stores, Queen’s Price Chopper in Spring Hill may seem ordinary on the outside but it’s the inside that makes it special. 

“A grocery store plays a very essential role in a small community,” Barry Queen, managing member of Queen’s Price Choppers, said. “…Our culture and one of the things we believe is to support the community that supports you.” 

Opening in 2004, the Queen family has put in hard work, upgrading for Spring Hill residents and U.S. 169 travelers, he said. In the last year, the store replaced all parking lot and track lighting with LED lights; reconstructed the parking lot; added new, lightweight shopping carts; implemented online grocery ordering and delivery; installed new self-checkouts and perhaps the most interesting, an ultraviolet disinfection system in the air vents. 

All five Queen’s locations utilize Synexis — an innovative Lenexa-based bio-defense system installed in ventilation — which turns air into Dry Hydrogen Peroxide and dramatically reduces any viruses, bacteria, mold, and odors in the air and on surfaces. 

“Our experiences with COVID have been very minimal in that location and I believe a lot of that has to do with that system,” Queen said of the July 2020 installation. “You can’t see it … it resides inside the big air vents in the ceiling. It’s 100 percent safe.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the company shifted their focus to keep their employees — deemed essential workers in the pandemic — safe and stress-free, Queen said

ough COVID, our people have been stressed and very challenged,” Queen said. “We’re out in the mix of it every single day. We attacked very quickly by installing the plexiglass shields and the Synexis system, implementing social distancing and hand sanitizers everywhere. 

A 10 percent bonus on every hour worked was immediately implemented along with several rounds of gift cards to every employee to help with necessities. 

“It equated to a lot of money … to show our support and them showing up every day and risking their own health with COVID concerns,” he said. “Our people are front and center. …I had to go into protect mode to keep both our employees and our customers as safe as possible dealing with this pandemic.” 

When COVID-19 also brought on a nationwide meat shortage, the company began to think in different ways to still bring customers the meat they needed, Queen said. They were able to utilize their veteran meat cutters to repurpose meats originally intended for restaurants, he said, allowing the store to never run out of meat. 

In the immediate future, the Queen family has big plans for the Spring Hill location, he said. A remodel of all perishable sections including deli, floral, produce and dairy is coming soon along with remodels of existing check stands and customer service areas. 

“We believe that customer service is what differentiates you from your competition. You have to be on top of your game. I believe we are, and we compete very well.” 

By Kate Shupert for Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce

  1. Dec. 2020 - Seats Inc.
  2. Nov. 2020 - One Way Deliveries
  3. Oct. 2020 - On Point Catering
  4. Sept. 2020 - Social: Managed.
  5. August 2020 - BlackHawk Apartments
  6. July 2020 - Be Well Spa
  7. .. 

Seats Incorporated brings innovation to Spring Hill with their outside-the-box thinking and care for their employees.

Seats Inc. is a seating manufacturer that provides diverse options to a wide variety of applications including industrial trucks, over-the-highway semi-tractors, off-highway equipment, earth moving equipment, military and emergency vehicles. 

Already established in Wisconsin, Seats Inc. expanded their innovative practices to Spring Hill in 2018. They are now one of the largest seat manufacturers in the United States. The company Seats Photo 2utilizes highly advanced polyurethane foam-making machines as well as powder-coating lines, robotic welding stations and built-in communication stations help train employees in their assembly line.

Seats Inc. has also come up with some creative ways to keep their 200 employees happy. Employee satisfaction surveys are conducted frequently in addition to wage increases. They also offer onsite chiropractic services and hope to offer full-service medical clinics, similar to those in their home plant in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Of course, all work and no play would make for a dull workplace, so Seats Inc. makes sure to inject some fun into their employees’ day.

“There’s a lot of quirky things [Halloween costume and ugly sweater contests] that we’re trying to do to create that family culture that we have up in Wisconsin and trying to incorporate that here,” Tim Stevens, general manager, said. “Seats prides itself on growing people from coming in and working on the shop floor and going to higher levels.” 

In addition to manufacturing seats and caring for their employees, the company also thought outside the box to come up with creative partnerships within the community. Fastenal, a supplier of industrial goods, leases a space inside the facility. That has allowed the Seats Inc. plant to remain stocked as well as supply goods to others in the area. Fastenal also brought personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines to the plant, allowing employees to remain safe. 

Another innovative partnership came in the form of an unused commercial kitchen at the facility and a pastry chef needing space. Seats Inc. reached out to Lupita’s Kitchen, another Spring Hill business, who was needing room to grow her baked goods venture and offering customers a storefront. In November, Lupita’s Kitchen opened inside the commercial kitchen at the Seats Inc. facility.

“We’re here to stay,” Stevens said. “We’re not a company that hops around to find different opportunities. We’re a growing company in this area that’s doing a lot for their employees.” 

Seats Inc. is currently accepting applications for their Spring Hill plant. To learn more about Seats Inc. or to apply for a job, visit their website at www.seatsinc.com

Seats Photo 1