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October 21, 2020

In business for decades and leaving a lasting impression

A young Cole Bonham started the millennium working a new job that would leave an indelible mark on his life. In 2000, his reputation of being a hard worker in high school earned him a recommendation for a job at Midwest Trophy (now Midwest Engravers). At age 16, Cole made a call, had an interview and was hired on the spot. At 19, he bought the business!

JCCC Etched a Lasting Impression

Cole was ready to take the leap from high school to the real world in 2002. His first step was to enroll in JCCC’s Business Administration courses. Cole confidently created a business plan. His next stop was at a local bank … for a sizable loan … for a teenager … to start a viable brick-and-mortar business on Metcalf Avenue. Cole’s business plan was nearly flawless. It detailed financials, future projections, current clients, possible competition, future planning and stats.

“I got the loan! I credit that to what I learned at JCCC,” Cole said.

In fact, the bank’s loan officer said Cole was one of the first applicants she’d known to have a complete application when he walked in the door. An impressive feat for anyone, let alone someone under 20!

“The preparedness that JCCC gave in communication and selling classes and learning, to understanding financials and statements, has been a huge part of our success,” Cole said.

Risk, Reward and Reputation

Midwest Engravers has built a reputation among area sports teams and has had the honor of engraving celebratory champagne bottles for 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals’ World Series runs, ring boxes for Kansas City Chiefs’ 2019 Super Bowl Championship bling, commemorative bats and crystal baseballs for Major League Baseball owners, and pieces commending the completion of Sporting Kansas City stadium.

“We value every order we get, from engraving a Happy Mother’s Day message on a wine glass to building 3,000 walnut boxes to help the FBI celebrate its 100th anniversary,” Cole said. “Our record of quality is becoming clearer to the public from the customers who trust us.”

Pandemic Sales Solutions

When the government asked nonessential businesses to shut down, Cole asked himself a question: “Am I essential because I need to make the money to support my staff and family?” He pondered.

He was listening to the radio and over the air someone said, “if you are wondering if you are essential, and have a thought that you may not be, then you are not.”  At that point he knew the safety of his family, staff and community needed to come before profits. Midwest Engravers shut down for two weeks.

During this time, Cole’s online business, EngraveIt, on picked up and got busier by the day. Online sales are still booming, and Cole recognizes the value of diversity in sales.

“I believe the online business was already outpacing walk-in consumers, but COVID-19 stay-at-home orders accelerated it,” he said. “I am not sure we will ever go back to walk-ins as primary business.”

The pandemic has not been Cole’s first obstacle, “and it will not be our last,” he said. “I am an entrepreneur and therefore by definition, a risk-taker. We have grown from it, we persevered, and we are overcoming COVID-19.”

Applying Polish to the Future

Midwest Engravers has outgrown its current location. Plans are in the works to move to a larger facility that includes a dock to handle sizable orders with greater efficiency.

“We have adjusted to what has been dealt over the years; that is the key to any successful business,” Cole said. “Not only within its own walls, but within the world around it.”

Shortly after becoming a business owner, Cole married his high school sweetheart, Megan. For over 16 years they’ve been business partners in every way. With teamwork and grit, they are raising 7 children who will more than likely etch positivity and celebration into the world — much like their parents’ business.

Eager to Be Your Own Boss?

Ready to investigate an idea or lay the groundwork for a new business? Credit classes can teach you practical business methods. Our campus is also home to the Kansas Small Business Development Center, where advisors are ready to guide you through a step-by-step plan.