The Wichita Business Journal
Wichita businessman Troy Palmer has long admired Jack DeBoer, founder of several extended-stay hotel chains and developer of WaterWalk in downtown Wichita.
Palmer, president and owner at Simon Palmer Properties and R.E. Black Building Management, says he’s heard DeBoer speak, and he appreciates the way DeBoer has managed to persevere through a variety of business challenges.
“I’ve heard his story, the ups and downs of his business career, and as a business person I’ve had the same ups and downs,” Palmer says.
That and respect for DeBoer’s commitment to Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision are among reasons Palmer had wanted to meet his role model.
When Palmer won a Wichita Business Journal 40 Under 40 award, then, he said on a WBJ questionnaire that the person he’d most like to have lunch with would be either DeBoer or Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
While he still hasn’t dined with Jones, Palmer got to have lunch Tuesday with DeBoer at the Wichita Country Club.
The meeting was a surprise for Palmer. He says he was a bit irked when his assistant, Theresa Gobel, arranged the lunch but wouldn’t tell him whom he’d be meeting. When Palmer arrived at the country club, he says he spotted DeBoer and thought that, before he met his mystery date, “I finally get to say ‘hi’ to the guy.”
“(Gobel) said, ‘That’s who we’re here to meet,’” Palmer said. “I told her, ‘I’m sorry for giving you a hard time.’”
Palmer says he’s always somewhat nervous meeting someone he admires. For instance, he has helped bring professional athletes to town to meet youths in the Kansas Special Olympics, and he says he’s never sure if they’ll be as friendly as he hopes.
But in DeBoer’s case, there was no need for concern, he said.
“He was so, so nice,” Palmer said of DeBoer. “He made you feel so comfortable.”
Palmer says he took away some business advice, some respect for DeBoer and a copy of DeBoer’s new book, “Risk Only Money: Success in Business Without Risking Family, Friends and Reputation.”
Tuesday’s meal was arranged by Greteman Group, which is helping to market the book.
DeBoer said he was surprised to learn of Palmer’s interest, but happy to participate in the lunch.
“We talked only business — mostly about his business,” DeBoer says. “He’s a very good guy, very interested in doing what’s right, and it was great to meet him.”
Greteman brand associate Robert Tolley says he noticed that Palmer had wanted to lunch with DeBoer when he was looking in the WBJ’s 40 Under 40 publication for another honoree. The Greteman Group’s Jennifer Szambecki-Benninga also was a winner.
“I knew Jack was very big on entrepreneurship and helping other businesses,” Tolley says. “Jack’s been doing it for 80 years.”
A tale of two entrepreneurs
• Founder and chairman of Value Place LLC.
• Developer of WaterWalk.
• Founder of Residence Inn, Summerfield Suites and Candlewood Suites.
• Owner and president of Simon Palmer Properties and R.E. Black Building Management.