Lee’s Summit has given them so much. The Cundiffs make it a point to give back.
One has to wonder how much sleep the Cundiff family has gotten during the past few decades. Not only have Vic, Jon and Cam built and expanded a robust business in Lee’s Summit and beyond, they’ve tirelessly worked to give countless others the tools to prosper.
The Cundiffs paused recently during preparations for Lee’s Summit’s Emerald Isle Parade to talk about their commitment to training local students in professionalism and entrepreneurship while also supporting adult entrepreneurs.
Thirty years ago, the community embraced a young couple operating a lawn-care business out of their bedroom.
By 2000, they had become Weed Man, a sub-franchise with operations in the Kansas City area, Springfield, Des Moines, Iowa, and Fort Worth, Texas.
Today they employ 65 workers here, approximately 25 of them full-time, to meet the demands of thousands of Kansas City-area customers.
One of the ways Jon gives back to the community is by serving on the board of directors for Velocity — an initiative of the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street and the City of Lee’s Summit.
“Our charge is to grow entrepreneurial start-ups in the community,” he said. “Start-ups are job creators.”
Eighty-two percent of Lee’s Summit businesses have just one to four employees, Jon said. The group knew that local entrepreneurs were leaving Lee’s Summit for Kansas City, where they could access more resources.
Velocity now sponsors events on topics like “bootstrapping,” taxes, and growth. It connects entrepreneurs for peer-to-peer mentoring on everything from business accounting to website development.
“It’s very exciting,” Jon said. “It’s a means to help folks out there navigate this journey of being entrepreneurs.”
As a family, the Cundiffs not only work at motivating their employees to achieve, but they mentor local high school students, too. Jon judges Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA, competitions, where participants develop plans to respond to various business scenarios.
Vic judges Innov8, where she can assist would-be entrepreneurs from all three local high schools who team up to experience the process of building, selling and marketing a product.
Michael Schippel, 18, was on an Innov8 team that developed an app to alert parents of a school bus’ arrival. He also competed in DECA business leadership events at the state level. He always wanted a sales job, Schippel said, and the programs were good preparation for his current role on the Weed Man sales staff.
There should be more of the kind of hands-on learning he received, Schippel said.
“These are things you can start early in life and become good at,” he said.
Cam, 29, started working in the family business at 15 and now focuses on marketing and expanding the company. He also coaches soccer at Lee’s Summit West, where he learns about his players’ aspirations during their four years on the team.
Cam was particularly gratified recently when he ran into a former player who had become a successful engineer.
“It was cool to talk to him about his life,” he said. “I’d like to think I had an impact on that.”
Cam is keenly aware of a gap between student readiness and becoming part of the workforce. Many students are smart but lack in “soft skills,” as basic as initiative and making eye contact, he said. He speaks about the nuances of writing resumes and cover letters to juniors and seniors enrolled in the Summit Technology Academy at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit.
His family has been recognized more than once for their commitment to others’ success: a “Volunteer of the Year” award for Vic in December, an “Ethics in Business” award for the company, and an Ambassador Award last year from Weed Man USA for setting an example of leadership through commitment and dedication to their community and the brand.
“I feel very strongly that God led us to be very, very successful, to overcome so many hurdles in life, both business and personal,” Vic said. “So many people don’t have hope.
You don’t have to have it to make it happen. There are enough resources in Lee’s Summit to make anything you desire happen.”