Minority-owned businesses gear up for growth in 2020

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Many of the largest minority-owned businesses in Wichita have been growing and their owners are looking to continue that expansion in 2020. 

According to the list of the area’s largest minority-owned business, published this week in the Wichita Business Journal, 81 percent of respondents surveyed for the list indicated they have plans to hire new employees in the next 12 months. 

At the same time, 45 percent said they have difficulty hiring qualified personnel.

Those statistics continue to underscore the fight for skilled workers in Wichita's tight labor market, which is impacting companies of all sizes on the list and in industries ranging from health care and manufacturing to grounds maintenance and marketing.

And for some business owners on the list, it means being deliberate and creative in which sections of the talent pool they target.

At Quik Tek Machining LLC, company president Cang Phu says growth continues to be driven by aerospace work that includes the Boeing Co.'s 737 MAX program.

The company's reported workforce total is up 15 percent year over year to 90 local workers, with Phu saying he would like to add as many as 15 more in the next year to help continue to meet demand.

The biggest challenge for his business is that finding those skilled workers is even tougher for a smaller supplier like his, given the higher pay available at larger companies such as Textron Aviation and Spirit AeroSystems Inc.

Where he has found the most success, Phu says, is providing opportunities for new immigrants to the U.S.

"Word of mouth works best for us," he says.

At CML Collective LLC, which provides graphic design and communication services, owner Christina Long says her small shop is growing on the back of demand she sees for marketing services from customers of all sizes.

With that growth, Long says she would like to hire another person next year as CML works to transition many of its clients to monthly, project-based scheduling.

Just as it is for Phu in the manufacturing world, making the money work for a growing business isn't always easy.

"Financing the position through the transition will be a challenge as we're still a lean company," Long says.

But for Long — whose growing list of local endeavors also includes urban entrepreneurial advocacy organization Create Campaign Inc. and participation in the Founders' Grove entrepreneurship hub — a challenge just means opportunity is waiting.

"Creative contractual support helps to extend our capacity," she says. "We're in a great flow, now, with the contractors we have on board. I think this climate proves ripe for colleges and universities to aggressively connect businesses with intern and co-op students."