Wichita Business Journal Best in Business Nomination for Transitions Group
For over 28 years Transitions Group, Inc. (TG) has demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment and service to our customers, employees, business partners and community. Bill Jackson, owner of Transitions Group and his management team have built a company of enduring character with a fundamental set of values that set it apart from the norm. Bill believes “if we build our corporate culture based on fundamental values, coupled with intelligent mechanisms & systems and directed by intelligent, inspired people, our Company’s future success will be assured, regardless of external forces.” This belief is the basis for Transitions Group success. Transitions Group is doing business as:
- Furniture Options, a furniture rental company founded in 1985 in Wichita, KS and now in 8 locations throughout the Midwest including Wichita, Dallas, Des Moines, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Little Rock, New Orleans, and Omaha.
- Suite Options/ExecuStay, a corporate housing company and the largest ExecuStay franchise in the country. Founded in 1990, ExecuStay shares offices in all 8 cities with Furniture Options and has additional offices in Houston and Austin. Suite Options was the Winner of the WBJ Fastest Growing Business in Wichita -1994, and won Franchise of the Year award as a Marriott ExecuStay franchise in 2007 and 2010.
- ABODE Venue, a truly unique event venue in Wichita and voted “Best Venue” by the Wichita Eagles’ Reader Choice Awards every year since opening.
- ACI Design Studio, a retail and commercial furniture store catering to interior designers and architects in and around Wichita.
Transitions Group has flourished in the last few years, opening new locations and business ventures while increasing revenue and assets — this is in stark contrast to many businesses that are still struggling due to the recent recession. A strong sense of urgency, attention to detail and exemplary customer service are at the core of TG’s success. People are at the heart. Bill Jackson and Transitions Group VP’s Barney Lehnherr and Piper Ayala, surround themselves with people who have different strengths than them. They don’t micro-manage, they allow their employees to thrive and grow making the TG workplace an exciting experience and not just a job. TG fosters an atmosphere where people can come together and feel the joy and exhilaration of working to accomplish a common goal. TG’s core management team of 20 people has an average tenure of 13.7 years —– evidence of the phenomenal work environment established at Transitions Group.
All of the employees under the Transitions Group umbrella exhibit creativity, innovation, leadership, a mentoring spirit, and a commitment to TG’s mission, vision and values:
OUR MISSION: We are a team of professionals dedicated to delivering exceptional service and value. OUR VISION: We will care enough to become a nationally respected leader in our industry.
OUR VALUES: Family, Honesty, Respect, Quality, Service and Caring
Transitions Group Corporate Citizenship and Community Activities
In February of 2007, Bill Jackson embarked on a new community based endeavor to change the face of East Douglas and promote shopping local in the heart of downtown Wichita. He imagined an avenue of sophisticated, yet warm and welcoming islands of design, along a well manicured Douglas Avenue between Washington and Oliver. His vision turned into the Douglas Design District (DDD), a group of over 50 retailers and property owners along East Douglas. Bill has financially supported and with the help of Karen Cundiff – TG Marketing Director, volunteered thousands of hours to the group and worked with the city to create the DDD East Douglas Improvement Plan, currently in the Engineering Phase. The advent of DDD has spurred on recent development of multiple high profile and award winning properties in the area — many citing DDD as the reason for the redevelopment. This is just one small example of TG’s commitment to Corporate Citizenship and Community Activities. What we call Spirit to Serve.
Sample of Transitions Group Spirit to Serve Activities
- In 2012 TG began a Volunteer Paid Time Off Policy to help encourage Spirit To Serve activities. In the first year 91 volunteer hours where booked. This is in addition to other volunteer efforts described below.
- In 2009 Transitions Group started a wellness program and was winner of the WBJ Wichita Healthiest Employers 2011 (Small Business Category).
- Annual Holiday Projects include: food drives; coats for the homeless; participation in Operation Holiday; Adoption of a family of 4 – furnishing their entire apartment with furniture, housewares, providing Christmas gifts for all; Toys for Tots Toy Drive and many more holiday projects.
- Furniture Options: Furnished multiple apartments with used furniture and housewares for fire victim families without insurance free of charge.
- Furniture Options Wichita: has donated items to the WRC Women’s Shelter, Helping Hands and other help centers.
- Furniture Options Kansas City: Assisted in Make a Wish for Kereya Williams and the Apartment Association of Kansas City (AAKC), providing Kereya with a complete bedroom makeover. Donated furniture and supplies for AAKC Community Outreach emergency care packages that are deployed to families immediately after disasters such as fire, flood, and tornadoes. Donated gifts to the Newhouse Battered Women’s Shelter Holiday Gift Drive. Regularly donates furniture, housewares and electronics to Church of the Resurrection Furnishing ministry distributing to the homeless and people in need.
- Furniture Options Des Moines: Member of the Central Iowa Apartment Alliance, and a central part in the planning and implementation of the Thanksgiving Food Drive feeding more than 40 families and 200 people. Donation of food and personal care items to True Bible Baptist Church Personal Care/Food Pantry.
- ExecuStay has supported Habitat for humanity through volunteer efforts and donations at the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) annual conference in 2010 – 2012.
- ExecuStay Kansas City works with a different charitable organization each month. In 2012 they participated in events for: Meals on Wheels (Overland Park); Operation International Children; Ronald McDonald House (2 months); Johnson County Food Pantry; Red Cross Blood Drive; Marrilac (sorting clothing donations); Safehome (sorting donations); Harvester’s (sorting food donations); Crittenton Children’s Center; Meals on Wheels (Lenexa); Toys for Tots Toy Drive.
- ABODE Venue has assisted with several community non-profits and charities such as: Real Men Real Heroes, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, YEK, Cystic Fibrosis, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Communities in Schools, Arthritis Association, United Way, and many more.
TG Team Members: Individual Spirit To Serve Activities
Transitions Group promotes by example a corporate culture of citizenship and community outreach, so it’s no surprise that team members are active in individual endeavors of service to their communities.
- Bill Jackson, TG Owner, assisted in founding The Suppliers Council a division of the Apartment Association of Greater Wichita (AAGW). Bill is the founder and visionary behind the Douglas Design District (He served as President of the Board of Directors from DDD’s inception and is currently Director Emeritus. Bill is also president of ARNET, a national business association of independent furniture rental businesses.
- Barney Lehnherr, TG Vice President: has served s a past Supplier Council president and on the Board of Directors for AAGW. Volunteer/Fundraiser Haysville VFW Post 6957
- Piper Ayala, TG Vice President: is President of the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA). Piper was named CHPA Volunteer of the Year in 2010
- Brendan Hogan, Furniture Options General Manager: has served as past Suppliers Council President and currently serves on the AAGW Board of Directors. Regular blood donor for American Red Cross.
- Brent Dorrah, General Manager of ACI Design Studio: Past President of the AAGW Suppliers Council.
- Amy Pile, ACI Designer: serves as Co-Event Chair of IIDA (International Interior Design Association – Mid America Chapter). 2013 coordinator of Extreme Makeover: IIDA Edition providing annual makeovers for not-for-profits in the Wichita area. United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Communications Chair
- Lynda Najera, ExecuStay Regional General Manager: volunteer at the Dallas LIFE Family Shelter 2010- 2012. Volunteers 5 hours per week for Team Celtics, a youth non-profit organization.
- Gina Johnson, ExecuStay Inside Sales Guest Services Rep: feeds the homeless on a monthly basis at Word of Faith in Dallas from 2008-2013.
- Kyle Filiatreault, ABODE Venue General Manager: is active in the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce; a member of the Wichita River Festival Operations Team for 6 years; member of Go Wichita; Kansas State Director for USA Gymnastics; Operations Team for Wichita Autumn and Art Festival.
- Karen Cundiff, Transitions Group Marketing Director: Serves on Douglas Design District Board of Directors, oversees DDD marketing and event efforts. Works with city leaders and city planners on the DDD East Douglas Improvement Plan. Helped create 2nd Saturday a “Shop Douglas/Shop Local” initiative for Delano, Old Town, DDD and Downtown, and helped create “I Bike Douglas” promoting biking in downtown. Douglas Design District was chosen for The Better Block Project in 2012 and Karen was instrumental in all phases of the project. Created “BARKitecture” in conjunction with the Wichita Area Builders Association, a fundraising event for the Kansas Humane Society 2008 and 2010.
- Josh Jackson, ABODE Venue PR and Promotions: The Wichita Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man of the Year Nominee 2008.
- Wendell Goin, Furniture Options Distribution and Warehouse Manager: Volunteer/Fundraiser Haysville VFW Post 6957; monthly blood donor at American Red Cross.
- Deb Goin, TG Accounting, started a TG recycling project for the Kansas Humane Society.
- Jodi Simon, TG Human Resources Generalist: Monthly volunteer work at Lord’s Diner. Involved with Youth Ministry and Retreat. Sponsors a child through World Vision.