From the editor: These business owners are going places

2012-10-01T00:00:00Z From the editor: These business owners are going placesBy TOM HOWARD The Billings Gazette

A couple of young business owners haven’t wasted any time in their careers since they were featured in separate issues of Billings Business over the past couple of years.

David Yakos, director of creativity and co-owner of Salient Technologies Inc., a Bozeman engineering and design firm, is among 25 finalists vying to appear on the fifth season of “Everyday Edisons,” a reality series on public television that profiles inventors and their efforts to bring new products to market.

Inventors submit their product ideas to a nationwide casting call on the website Finalists have the chance to pitch their idea in person to a panel of judges. Yakos flew to North Carolina recently to make his pitch.

Yakos can’t reveal exactly what his invention is, because its details must remain under wraps until the show airs. But he describes his invention as a tool to improve meal time for young children.

“The inspiration for my invention came from parenting my three children: 5 years, 2.5 years and 5 months old,” he writes in a profile for the show. “The bane of parenting is the hopeless task of somehow getting the food from a dish into the mouth of a toddler. There always seems to be something more exciting in the room than the life-sustaining nourishment sitting on a platter in front of them.”

Salient Technologies, which was featured in the October 2011 issue of Billings Business, has been instrumental in developing a host of products, many of them manufactured in the Bozeman area. Salient is a Montana success story. The owners are demonstrating how a small company can make a significant contribution to Montana’s manufacturing industry.

“I do this every day, developing products from concept through the prototype stage to production,” Yakos said. “This way I get to take one of my own ideas and get it out there, and maybe land a nice deal with somebody.”

To pick Yakos as a fan favorite, follow this link: 


Comedy competition

Wayne Wilcox and his friend and business partner, comedian Lukas Seely, have been working hard for years to establish Billings as a comedy magnet. To date they have brought Louie Anderson, Mo Mandel, Pauly Shore and many other comics to town.

Wilcox, profiled in Billings Business in 2010, has started several businesses, including his comedy business.

Their latest venture is the Big Sky international Comedy competition Oct. 4-6 at Manny’s Entertainment and Bones Brewing. The finals will be held at the Babcock Theater.

Twenty-six comedians from throughout the U.S. and Canada will compete for $5,000 in prize money. But more importantly, they’re competing for a chance to make an impression on some prominent show business executives who are on the lookout for promising young talent.

“This is a big opportunity for young comedians to get some exposure,” Wilcox said.

Seely, a Billings native who splits his time between Billings and Los Angeles, has performed in some major comedy venues, including Hollywood Improv and The Comedy Store. He recalls dreaming of someday reading his name on the marquee of the Alberta Bair Theater. That dream came true last February when he performed before 1,100 people, a fundraiser for The Center for Children and Families. Seely’s first comedy album, recorded during that ABT performance, will be released this fall.

Some might consider staging a comedy competition as a risky business venture, but Wilcox and Seely are confident that they have a hit on their hands.

“In the comedy industry, Montana is considered a posh place,” Seely said. “They’re sold on the Montana experience.”


Natural Grocers

One final note: Last month Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, a new grocery store in Billings, was misidentified in the print edition of Billings Business. Unfortunately, the mistake wasn’t caught before the edition went to print.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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