Marshalltown native Iowa honored as Small Business Person of the Year | News, Sports, Jobs

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PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED — 1989 Marshalltown High School graduate Kimberly (Morford) Baeth poses with one of her signature giant scissors during a ribbon cutting in Times Square in New York City. Baeth, founder and owner of Golden Openings, was recently recognized as the US Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year as Iowa Small Business Person.

Your dream is there. Go get it.

It’s a phrase LeRoy Morford repeats often and instilled in the mind of his daughter, Kimberly (Morford) Baeth, at a young age. He guided her throughout her journey from the halls of Marshalltown High School (MHS) to Iowa State University (ISU) until eventually starting a business that would count former President Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, and Disney among its clients.

“He did what most people dream of, but that’s because of his aggression and his desire to pursue his dream,” LeRoy said. “If you’re going to dream, dream big.”

Baeth, a 1989 MHS graduate who owns and operates Golden Openings out of Urbandale, was recently named Iowa Small Business Person of the Year by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Judy Eyles, director of the John Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship at ISU, nominated her for the award.

“I will tell you that he is the most hardworking person I have ever known – through employee departures, going through COVID and a job boom. He works day and night, day and night,” he said. “I think he’s a very inspiring person who deserves all the praise he gets… It was really fun to see his story, watch what he does, put him in front of young women or young entrepreneurial students, because it started with a pair of scissors.”

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED LeRoy Morford, left, and daughter Kimberly (Morford) Baeth, right, presenting a check to Don Lamb for the 2014 Marshalltown High School renovation.

Changing time

In 1997, at the age of 26, Baeth made a sudden decision: Minneapolis/St. Paul chose the area and to strike on his own. The idea for Golden Openings arose from the fact that the chamber did not provide ribbon cutting materials and services for new businesses, but she felt it could.

Even her husband, Kevin, had doubts at the time, saying he had a year to make a profit for Baeth or else he would be back in business. But he also knew that his wife was one of the most motivated people he’d ever met – she studied journalism, public relations and business communications at ISU, was named Greek woman of the year, attended numerous student organizations, spoke at graduation, and if anyone could make it, it was Kimberly.

His father felt the same way and offered his wholehearted support.

“Since he had that dream and had a goal, I immediately got to work. I think in my mental capacity, ‘Wow, that’s what my daughter wants to do. I’ll do whatever it takes to help her do that,'” LeRoy said. “He was an extrovert. He was an outgoing person. He had personality. He’s a human being… He has the ability to communicate and get your attention, and he can leverage his ideas and implement what he wants to do.”

That same year, Kimberly and Kevin welcomed their first child three weeks early and have already planned three openings. She wasn’t deterred, and yet she continued to move forward with them.

“Back then (my motto) was that the show had to go on. Do or die,” he said. “Generally, from the very beginning, my mind was ‘Yes, I can do this. Yes, large scissors are needed. Yes, there are openings and groundbreaking everywhere, but nobody does that, so it’s something new.’ I didn’t invent ribbon cutting, but I did invent its pure depth, its fun. More experience.”

A quarter of a century later, Baeth not only survived and managed to make a profit. He brought Golden Openings to his current headquarters in Urbandale in his hometown of Iowa and has done business on every continent except Antarctica. LeRoy’s first two-handed giant scissors has grown into an international, award-winning operation with franchise potential.

Baeth learned she was eligible to apply for the SBA award and jumped at the opportunity, as she received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During COVID, most companies were shut down and we were able to hire everyone, bring them back, organize our warehouses and essentially the government paid for it,” he said. “In a very, very difficult time, it was a blessing.”

works in the family

Baeth thanked both her father and her late mother, Patti, for her success and said they were both instrumental in making her what she is today. LeRoy is known in the Marshalltown area as a longtime owner-operator of LeRoy Morford Construction Co. – he has been in the business for 52 years – and both father and daughter take pride in the fact that they have built their operation first hand.

“It wasn’t money that was given to me. My father started his business with shovels and trucks. He built with so much determination, so much energy and so much pride,” Baeth said. “The most important thing is that if you can fall down and get back up, that’s what it takes to have a good job. Some people are given something. Some people are given something. Some people buy a business, but create something with your own imagination or vision and Making it as successful as it was after – achieving 84 percent growth last year – is a dream.

LeRoy admits she often speaks to clichés while emphasizing the value of hard work – “Your dream is there, go get it” is still her signature phrase – but she always wanted to make sure her daughters knew what it took to be successful. .

“Nothing happens unless you succeed. You can do well or do badly. If you want something good to happen, do good things and good things will happen.”

Patti brought a different sensibility: she encouraged her daughter to “eat more ice cream, go barefoot, not work hard, take more vacations, wear polka dots, and never bake cookies,” as Kimberly puts it. from a box.”

“He brought balance back to our family because you have to work hard, play a lot,” Baeth said. “I think it’s important to be able to see both sides because you can definitely work to the death and I’ve almost felt that for the last 18 months.”

And despite being estranged from his hometown, Baeth, who interned as a teenager with the Times-Republican, maintains a close bond with both his family and society at large. He’s heavily involved in class reunions and philanthropic endeavors, and the Marshalltown District Chamber of Commerce uses his scissors for their ribbon cuttings.

a look into the future

Some business owners lose the passion they once felt as they reach the final stages of their careers. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that Baeth isn’t one of them.

“She must be really breaking down under all the pressure she’s under, but she’s always positive, always willing to help, and really wants to inspire young people,” said Eyles. “My job for the past 25 years has been to teach students how to be entrepreneurial and innovative. What a great role model for that.”

After working at the White House and even going on a solo tour a few years ago, he decided to set his sights on franchising the Golden Openings in all 50 states and around the world – singing Kimberly’s classic Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere”, as her father said. can easily be used to identify As long as companies still need its services, it plans to provide them.

“Whenever there is a change, we do well. When companies move, rename, merge, it all happens all the time and we honestly just can’t keep up. We’re always on the defensive,” Baeth said.

Award winners from each state will be formally recognized during the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit Awards Ceremony on May 5.

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Contact Robert Maharry at extension 641-753-6611. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com

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