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Rio Franzman, the director of SWCA’s Sheridan branch, along with other volunteers from the office clean up the North Main Street interchange Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.

When people think of businesses in Sheridan, they often point to service-industry companies. Restaurants, bars, apparel shops and dentists represent practical businesses people interact with daily.

Other businesses exist in Sheridan, too, and may not be as visible as those ground-floor Main Street industries, but serve an important purpose in keeping Sheridan a thriving place to live and work.

 

Cowboy ethics

Located on the second story at 50 E. Loucks St. above Lonabaugh and Riggs, LLP attorneys offices, Frontier Asset Management leadership chose Sheridan to headquarter a financial advising company. Although not in the heart of where financial markets usually thrive — Wall Street, for example — CEO Robert Miller and founders of the business knew Sheridan held the lifestyle they sought when settling a business.

Gary Miller moved to Sheridan because of its “phones and an airport” availability for another investment firm before creating Frontier. Now, with adequate internet, Frontier remains at the top of its game in the financial market while its employees live full lifestyles in the West.

“There’s a different culture in Wyoming than in other places that people are drawn to,” Rob Miller said. “We even use that in our business. We have our three ‘uniques;’ two of them are investment things...and the third thing is Wyoming.”

Miller said staff didn’t use to talk about the physical location of the business, but now they boast about it.

“We’ve incorporated cowboy ethics when we talk about the firm,” Miller said. “It’s the people more than anything.”

Obviously, there’s recreation in the Bighorn Mountains, but the culture of people in Sheridan and Wyoming have kept the business here.

That same culture drew Kennon founder Ronald Kensey to Sheridan. Originally from California, Kensey knew he wanted the quality of life Sheridan provided and moved the business in 1989. Similarly, Rio Franzman, SWCA Sheridan office director, was drawn to the city for several reasons.

“My family and I were fresh out of college and lived in a community a few hours from here, and I distinctly remember the first time I visited Sheridan more than a decade ago, it reminded me of a postcard or the scene from a romantic Lifetime movie. The charm is everywhere,” Franzman said. “Add on top of that the great schools, awesome local leadership, vibrant businesses, amazing recreation opportunities and very quickly the reasons for being in a community like this makes so much sense.”

 

Creating culture

Although those hidden, second-story companies aren’t as visible as the service industry, their staff members make themselves known by contributing heavily to the Sheridan economy. Miller, Kensey and Franzman lead their organizations by example in creating a culture of giving back, both with the business name attached and without. Miller and Franzman chase their children around in their multiple activities while juggling volunteer opportunities and board appointments throughout the city.

Franzman duplicates the connectivity he feels through his board seat with the Downtown Sheridan Association through SWCA’s Gives Back program, providing support to groups like Rooted in Wyoming, the food pantry, Out of the Darkness Walk and highway clean-ups.

“The sense of community is contagious,” Franzman said. “Giving people a chance to interact, volunteer, lead, employ, belong — humans receive a boost in morale and happiness.

“And from a business perspective, it sure makes it easier to recruit and retain talented team members,” Franzman added. “When you can point to our culture, the local events, arts, recreation, education — this becomes a selling point for us. A vibrant community is more attractive, an attractive community invites top talent, top talent makes any business more successful.”

Staff members actively participate on boards and volunteer their personal time to extend their expertise to organizations who need it.

Kensey, similarly, served on several boards, including a time as president of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, WYO Performing Arts and Education Center board chair and service to Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue.

Kensey said Kennon encourages its staff to give back by matching philanthropic donations dollar to dollar and encouraging board memberships and involvement throughout the community.

Miller instills the culture of giving back in his staff, as well, through company-wide service projects like Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns builds and board appointments.

 

Drawing business

Not only does each business draw executives and clients to the Sheridan community for in-person business, having their employees based in Sheridan naturally contributes to a healthy economy.

“Our staff are, I would say, well-paid for Sheridan. They’re buying houses — a lot of them are in their 20s — they’re eating out; they’re visiting the local watering holes; they’re doing all those; they’re spending their money here,” Miller said.

Beyond helping local businesses, taxes paid through purchasing goods and services within Sheridan County directly filter back into the local economy through governments that provide services and amenities that contribute to the culture many executives seek for their businesses.

These large-scale businesses, in turn, bring clients and other business into Sheridan. Kennon’s longtime contract with the U.S. Department of Defense provides customers for the businesses, operating on North Main Street. Likewise, Frontier brings its clientele to Sheridan and boasts about Wyoming’s cowboy culture to its city-based counterparts.

“Most of our business is outside of Wyoming,” Miller said, “which is neat because then it draws dollars from all over the country to Sheridan.”

Kensey said when drawing business, even if it’s off the beaten path or takes an extra plane ride to arrive, Sheridan remains a convenient location alongside a major interstate — Interstate 90.

“People like to come here,” Kensey said.

 

Recruiting efforts

Sheridan business leaders work to recruit more businesses to relocate or settle in Sheridan, and although some may not be as visibly beneficial as purchasing a Sheridan-stamped Weatherby for hunting season, these companies contribute positively to Sheridan’s economic health and stability. Kensey said comparing local, county or even state leadership with coastal counterparts exemplifies the drive they have to support business in Wyoming.

“Think about comparing the difference of this leadership — which is really gung-ho and supportive of business in the community — compare that to other areas like our friends from California who we left behind, I think you’ll find that we have a very welcoming and a very positive and entrepreneurial community (encouraged by) local and state leadership,” Kensey said.

Franzman finds it easy to attract business and staff to Sheridan with adequate pay and the amenities surrounding the job itself.

“We hire a lot of talented staff that earn a good wage. These folks are active in Sheridan and the surrounding communities. They also live, recreate, and spend their money here. At SWCA, our office really focuses on hiring talent that appreciates what Sheridan has to offer,” Franzman said.

 

Selling itself

From the perspective of high-level executives sitting in second-story offices sometimes unnoted by downtown passersbys, Sheridan is a no-brainer when it comes to finding a solid place to live, work and recreate. Likewise, the businesses employing Sheridanites at high wages create a culture of giving back, thus contributing to the economic stability Sheridan boasts.

Ashleigh Snoozy joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as a reporter before moving into the managing editor position in November 2018. She is a native of Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles. 

Managing editor

Ashleigh Snoozy joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as a reporter before moving into the managing editor position in November 2018. She is a native of Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles.

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