Des Moines Register..Business event planner is on cutting edge-Feb 15, 2007

By Joanne Boeckman

Register Staff Writer

Ten years ago Kimberly Baeth saw a need and filled it by starting a small service business that now serves a global market.

Today, as owner of Golden Openings based in Urbandale, Baeth (pronounced Bayth) is a business event planner who specializes in organizing ribbon cuttings, grand opening celebrations, business anniversaries and other events. As a companion to her event planning, Baeth has a Web site that sells supplies to others who host similar events.

Some of her clients include Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Barnes & Noble and Oprah's Harpo Studios.

Golden Openings' products include large, functioning scissors for ribbon cuttings, ceremonial ribbon, business banners and more. Purchases have been shipped all over the United States and to other countries, including one for India that came in during this interview.

Baeth, 35, works out of her home, but she also has a warehouse. Both are in Urbandale.

She and her husband, Kevin, were living in Minnesota when she founded Golden Openings. They moved back to their native Iowa with their two children in 2006.

Q. Will you talk a little about your background?

A. I'm from Marshalltown. I went to Iowa State University and that's where I met my husband, Kevin. He's from West Des Moines. He took a job in Minnesota and we lived there 10 years. We had our two kids there. We have tons of cousins, brothers, sisters - we love all our family and would be on the road at least once a month coming back here. We decided it was time to move back here. We moved back in July 2006.

Q. How did you get started with this business?

I started with events. I was working for the North Hennepin County Chamber of Commerce in Minneapolis and everyone was calling up and asking for things for ribbon cuttings. I couldn't outsource things they needed, but my boss told me I could borrow cardboard scissors. I saw a good opportunity to do grand openings and ribbon cuttings. I'd been at the chamber three years and I was getting bored. I left, formed my company and joined the chamber as a member.

When I started Golden Openings, my dad made me wooden scissors with razor blades for the ribbon cuttings. A couple of months later, people kept trying to buy them from me. I had one offer for $1,000. I kept telling them they didn't want those I had to take the razor blades out because people cut themselves on those, so the scissors became just a prop.

Q. Where do you get the scissors you use now?

Quality Manufacturing Corp. in Urbandale manufactures them. We have the handles coated in rubber in Minneapolis. Our scissors are patented.

Q. Is Golden Openings more about planning a function or selling the supplies for someone else to do it?

I really have two businesses, the event planning and the Web site sales. Online, I've had some orders up to $10,000. I could focus on that, but events are my passion. I like to get dressed up and meet people.

Q. What are some of the products sold on your Web site?

Well, the scissors. I sell gold-plated, chrome, painted and engraved scissors. They can also be customized with a company's logo. What's popular are those that are 34-inches and they weigh five pounds. We have smaller ones - 20-inches and 13-inches. We also sell small chocolate scissors we set out at those events.

We sell keys to the city, ground-breaking shovels and hard hats.

We also have ribbons in wider widths.

Q. What are some events you've organized?

Sun Country Airlines had a two-hour networking event. I sold the job and pulled the team together. Me and a team of eight other event planners worked on it. We had an arch with 10,000 balloons and a big airplane balloon on the top. That took a staff of 60 people, including some balloon specialists.

The most interesting was probably for a fitness club in St. Paul seven years ago. I brought in two female cast members from "Baywatch." We invited people to come see them and get their picture taken with them and tour the club. They sold more memberships at that club than at any (the chain) had ever opened.

I've had events with look-alike celebrities, too, like Jack Nicholson.

I love to do events with themes. I've taken something as simple as "Time to Celebrate" and set up tents that look like clock towers. We gave out little watches. One theme was "Get Some More out of Your Hardware Store" and we handed out s'mores.

The best openings are in housing developments. People get absorbed in the atmosphere, tour the models. Those are great because I can raise money from sponsors.

Q. What if a company doesn't have a large budget?

The budget doesn't matter. You can make anything happen on any budget or find sponsors. If I have a vision, I'm going to make it happen.

Our budgets have ranged from $100 to $150,000 for events. Some are entirely free, after the sponsorships from vendors, restaurants and partnerships kick in, which we go after and line up. We have a check-off list of over 1,000 event items that we give quotes and estimates from, once they choose what they want for their event, with a complimentary consultation meeting.

Q. When you made the decision to return to Iowa, what did you do about the event-planning portion of your Minnesota business?

I sold it as a franchise. I spent three to four years determining how to franchise. One way it works is when orders come in from (a particular area) on the Web site, I ask if they want someone to come in and set it up. Then I call the franchise (in that area).

I'd like to have one franchise in every state by the time I'm 50. For about $10,000 someone can get everything needed - the banners and everything. It's a good opportunity. There's no place not having grand openings, including overseas. I've shipped stuff all over the country and to other countries - the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and now India.

Q. Of course you kept your Web site sales when you relocated to Iowa from Minnesota, but how did you switch your event planning to Iowa?

I knew I'd have to start over, networking-wise. In the last five years in Minneapolis, I never had to seek a lead - people knew me. Now I'm a member of the Des Moines Area Partnership, West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce and Urbandale Chamber of Commerce. I do lots of networking.

Q. Do you have employees?

I have one full-time employee. I've had as many as 50 part-time employees work at events. They do labels, decorations, greeting people - things like that. I keep a list of people who are willing to do work. It's exciting work. People are always in a good mood at the events.

Q. Do you travel to do events?

I will, but I don't like to. I have little children - my kids are 9 and 6. I've been asked to be part of events in other places, but I usually have enough to keep me busy locally.

Q. Where do you draw inspiration?

I go to the Special Events Show every year (an educational and trade show for even planners in a different city every year). There are all top notch planners there and I learn a lot from them. I get my ideas and inspiration from them.