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Marshalltown Native Honored as Iowa Small Business Person of the Year | News, Sports, Jobs

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

Your dream is out there. Go get it.

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

“She’s done things that most people dream of, but that’s because of her aggressiveness and her willingness to pursue her dream,” LeRoy said. “If you’re going to dream, she dreams big.”

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

“I’ll tell you he’s the hardest working person I think I’ve ever met – having employees leave, go through COVID and business skyrockets. He works day and night, day and night, day and night,” Eyles said. “In my opinion, she’s a very inspiring person who deserves all the accolades she’s getting… It’s been a lot of fun to be able to see her story, see what she’s doing, put her in front of young women or young student entrepreneurs, because it started with a couple of scissors.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO LeRoy Morford, left, and his daughter Kimberly (Morford) Baeth, right, present a check to Don Lamb for renovations at Marshalltown High School in 2014.

It’s time for a change

At the age of 26, Baeth made a rather rash decision in 1997: He quit his job at a chamber of commerce in Minneapolis/St. Paul and chose to go out alone. The idea for Golden Openings stemmed from the fact that the chamber did not provide any supplies or services for ribbon cutting for new businesses, but she had a feeling she could.

Even her husband, Kevin, had his doubts at the time, telling Baeth she had a year to turn a profit or she would go back to work. But he also knew his wife was one of the most driven people he had ever met: At ISU, she studied journalism, public relations, and business communication, was named Greek Woman of the Year, participated in countless student organizations, made homecoming court, and spoke at prom, and if anyone could pull it off, it was Kimberly.

His father felt the same and offered his full support.

“I was on board right away because she had the dream and she had a goal. I guess in my mental capacity I’m thinking ‘Wow, this is what my daughter wants to do.’ I’m going to do whatever it takes to help her get there,’” LeRoy said. “She was an extrovert. She was outgoing. She had the personality. She is a people person… she has the ability to communicate and engage her interest, and she can exploit her ideas and implement what she wants to do.”

The same year, Kimberly and Kevin welcomed their first child three weeks ahead of schedule, and she already had three openings scheduled. She was not discouraged and went ahead with them anyway.

“My (motto) back then was that the show must go on. Do or die,” she said. “Overall, from that very beginning, my mind was set to ‘Yes, I can make this work. Yes, large scissors are needed. Yes, there are openings and openings everywhere, but no one is doing it, so it’s something new. I didn’t invent the ribbon cutting, but I did invent the depth, the fun. It’s more the experience.”

A quarter of a century later, Baeth not only survived and managed to make a profit. He brought Golden Openings to his home state of Iowa at its current headquarters in Urbandale and has done business on every continent except Antarctica. The first giant pair of scissors that LeRoy built with his own hands has become an award-winning international operation with franchise potential.

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

“Most businesses closed during COVID, and we were able to keep everyone hired, bring them back, organize our warehouses, and essentially the government paid for it,” he said. “In a very, very difficult time, that was a blessing.”

That is from the family

Baeth credits both her father and her late mother Patti for her success and said they were both instrumental in making her who she is today. LeRoy is well known in the Marshalltown area as the long-time owner-operator of LeRoy Morford Construction Co. (he’s been in business for 52 years) and both father and daughter take pride in the fact that they built their operations From the beginning.

“It wasn’t giving me money. My dad started his business with a shovel and a truck. He built with a lot of determination, a lot of energy and a lot of pride,” Baeth said. “The bottom line is that if you can get knocked down and get back up, that’s really what it takes to be a good business owner. Some people get things delivered. Some people are given things. Some people buy businesses, but to create something out of your own imagination or vision and then make it as successful as it is, having 84 percent growth last year, is a dream.”

LeRoy admits he often spoke in clichés when emphasizing the value of hard work: “Your dream is out there, go for it” is still his catchphrase, but he always wanted to make sure his daughters knew what it would take to succeed. .

“Nothing happens unless you make it happen. You can do it right or you can do it wrong. If you want something good to happen, then do good things and good things will happen,” she said. “That’s kind of a cliché in life that people have never been able to comprehend.”

Patti, on the other hand, brought a different sensibility: in Kimberly’s words, she encouraged her daughter to “eat more ice cream, go barefoot, not work as much, take more vacations, wear the polka dot dress, and never bake cookies.” from a can.”

“She brought balance back to our family because you have to work hard, play hard,” Baeth said. “I think it’s important to be able to see both sides because you can definitely work yourself to death, and I’ve pretty much been feeling it for the last 18 months.”

And though she’s moved away from her hometown, Baeth, who interned at the Times-Republican as a teenager, still maintains a close connection to her family and the wider community. She is very involved in class meetings and charitable efforts, and the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce uses her scissors for their own ribbon cutting.

an eye to the future

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

“She really should be falling apart under all the pressure she’s under, but she’s always positive, she’s always willing to help and she really wants to inspire young people,” Eyles said. “My job for the last 25 years is teaching students to be entrepreneurs and innovators. Well, what a great role model for that.”

After working with the White House a few years ago and even hosting a personal tour, he has his eye on franchising Golden Openings in all 50 states and around the world, as his father put it, the classic Johnny Cash song ” I’ve Been Everywhere” could easily be used to describe Kimberly. As long as businesses continue to need her services, she intends to provide them.

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

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

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

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