The Business Record
Story provided by Michael Crumb
What started out as an idea to create giant scissors for ribbon-cutting ceremonies has led one Des Moines-area company to sign a contract to be an exclusive vendor for the White House.
Amid all the political turmoil surrounding the recent presidential election, Kimberly Baeth, president of Golden Openings Inc., was focused on the business of the White House and how her company could meet its needs for everything from events and holiday decor to printed materials and, yes, giant scissors.
Baeth, 49, spent Oct. 30, in Washington, D.C., where she toured the White House, met some of the staff and signed a contract for exclusive vendor rights, complete with nondisclosure agreements.
What will she provide as part of the contract? Just about anything the White House needs, Baeth said.
That could include ribbons, bows, banners, shovels for groundbreaking ceremonies, imprinted materials, red carpets, rope stanchions, holiday decor and more, Baeth said.
The most recent was materials needed to celebrate the opening of a new tennis pavilion at the White House, she said.
The agreement is the latest step in Baeth’s relationship with the White House, which began about 15 years ago.
Until the recent contract, Golden Openings had only periodically provided items to the White House and didn’t have a formal agreement with its staff, Baeth said.
Before Golden Openings, Baeth worked for the North Hennepin Chamber of Commerce in Minneapolis, where she worked after graduating from Iowa State University. While she was there, the chamber was doing ribbon-cuttings using regular-sized scissors or cardboard ones she made.
She said she had the idea to build giant scissors, and her dad, LeRoy Morford of Marshalltown, who operates a construction company under his name, built a big pair of wooden scissors with razor blades. Then companies such as 3M and General Mills began expressing interest in buying or renting the big scissors, Baeth said.
“There were thousands and thousands of chambers and they all wanted big scissors, so I knew I had a niche market and other companies wanted to buy them,” Baeth said.
So she left the chamber and started Golden Openings in 1997, she said.
Today, the giant scissor design is patented and trademarked. There are more than 100 sizes, and the company has become a one-stop shop for ceremonial events and supplies, she said.
Golden Openings has worked with Fortune 500 companies, organizations and universities around the world, including such names as Oprah, Disney and Warren Buffett, Baeth said.
“The fun thing is you never know who’s going to be on the phone, or who you’re going to get an email from,” she said.
She also has done work with the Trump organization and its businesses in the past, which she said is probably why the White House’s director of facilities reached out to her.
Golden Openings also won the U.S. Chamber Small Business of the Year Award in 2017, and won the community champion award that year, which Baeth said likely raised the company’s profile.
“All that took place in Washington, D.C., and a lot of the White House staff was there, so I met some people from the White House at that event, so I think that helped reconnect us as well,” Baeth said.
The White House’s director of facilities was disappointed in a previous vendor he had worked with to replace old rope stanchions that Melania Trump didn’t like, and he reached out to Golden Openings after seeing it had stanchion ropes on its website, Baeth said.
“They had been trying for two years to do this, and they wanted 1-inch gold ropes, but nobody makes 1-inch ropes and he said he got our name from the higher-ups,” Baeth said.
Baeth said she told him she could get him exactly what he wanted using a custom factory she works with in Pakistan that could match the fabric. Samples were delivered to him a week later, she said..
The director of facilities was so impressed that he invited Baeth to Washington to tour the White House and meet with staff to help streamline their needs, she said.
“He said he wanted me to come out to the White House and meet all the departments and all the staff, so we could have an ongoing relationship with them,” Baeth said.
She said she met with woodworkers, floral and kitchen staff, and others. The staff doesn’t change with changes in administration, so Golden Openings’ contract won’t be affected by the recent presidential election, Baeth said.
Golden Openings has offices in Urbandale and Grimes, with just four employees, down from 11, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The company also has partnerships with contractors who work for Golden Openings in other states around the country, Baeth said.
“We have worked with so many fun people,” she said. “When [the White House] first called, it was very exciting that we’re going to do something for the White House.”
But there is also the challenge now of meeting their needs as an exclusive vendor, Baeth said.
“I think if we keep working with them we’ll be doing more, and mostly my job is just to make the staff’s lives easier. That’s how I look at it,” she said.