Preserving Rural Businesses

Business School’s RedTire Program Preserves Rural Businesses

| 2017 Q1 | story by Lauren Cunningham, Communications Director, KU School of Business
 Business on the Hill

Red Tire Program

For the last five years, a University of Kansas (KU) School of Business program has been keeping open the doors of rural businesses across Kansas.

The RedTire program, short for Redefine Your Retirement, works to sustain businesses by linking retiring business owners to alumni of Kansas Regents institutions. The program also provides financial projections and valuations for the businesses, helps negotiate a fair transaction for both parties and delivers post-transaction counseling to better ensure business success and job preservation.

RedTire is an initiative of the KU Center for Entrepreneurship, housed within the KU School of Business.

Recognizing the need to address the shuttering of small- and medium-sized businesses because of a lack of successor management, the center launched the program in 2012, though it’s been in the planning stages since 2009.

“Without the RedTire program, regional communities would lose essential services, tax bases and diminish the quality of life, particularly in rural areas,” says Wally Meyer, director of the RedTire program and entrepreneurship programs at the KU School of Business.

Since its launch, RedTire has received national attention, including from, which referred to the program as a model for sustaining small businesses across the U.S.

 Business on the Hill

Dr. Matthew Standridge (left) currently owns Yates Center Dental LLC, formerly Epler DDS, which formerly was owned by Dr. Steven Epler (right). Standridge took ownership of the business in 2015 as part of RedTire, an initiative of the KU Center for Entrepreneurship that matches qualified graduates with retiring business owners.

Last October, RedTire received a 2016 Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development (UEDA) during its Annual Summit, in Roanoke, Virginia.

The program earned the honor in the UEDA’s Place category, one of five categories recognized by the Awards of Excellence program. The awards recognize organizations focused on developing economic prosperity in their communities and beyond.

Initiatives were judged on factors of sustainability, replicability, originality and effect of the program or initiative. Leading entries were selected by attendees of the summit after going through a six-month process that included application, peer review and live presentations.

“We were thrilled to be recognized as a nationwide best practice but equally pleased to be able to assist in preserving employment and the quality of life in communities in Kansas and the Midwest,” Meyer says.
 Business on the Hill

Retiring Funk Pharmacy owners Kathy and Doug Funk (left) found successors for their business, Robb and Meredith Rosenbaum (right), through KU’s RedTire program in 2016. Photo credit: Jay Lowell, Concordia Blade-Empire

The RedTire program currently is assisting 91 businesses. Since its inception, it has closed 27 transactions, saving more than 200 jobs in Kansas.

Some of RedTire matches in Kansas communities completed in recent years include:

• Funk Pharmacy: Concordia
• Yates Center Dental LLC: Yates Center
• Duis Meat Processing Inc.: Salina and Concordia
• Atchison Animal Clinic: Atchison
• Hoisington Veterinary Hospital: Hoisington
• Flint Hills Veterinary Hospital: Junction City
• Kansas Publishing Ventures: Hillsboro

The program is a free service and is financed by the KU School of Business and grant support from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

To learn more about the program, visit

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