Thursday, April 15, 2010

Alumni Business Spotlight: Cheryl Brungardt, the Chotchke Queen

Ever wondered about the chotchkes you get at every event you have ever been to? The red and blue pompoms are fun for the kids, and the compostable, reusable Metro State bags are great for grocery store runs. But who thinks of this stuff? There is at least one Metro State alumna who does. Cheryl Brungardt (’95, human services) spends the majority of her work life coming up with these creative promotional products, and she has made a successful business out of it.

Brungardt runs Thank Em Promotions, a Colorado based company she founded in 1998. She currently helps clients across the United States, including Metro State College of Denver, brainstorm, develop, and distribute promotional products. The point of the products, she says, is to help businesses grow.

“I find them chotchkies that support the mission of their organization,” Brungardt says. “It’s a really creative way to gather things that are relevant to a person or organization’s needs.”

Brungardt found inspiration while getting her degree in Human Services with an emphasis in nonprofit administration. She had been a volunteer coordinator, often dealing with providing chotchkes to her volunteers. She realized the power of offering these promotional products and decided it would be more fun to sell them. With experience working with and for nonprofits, she also had an understanding of the need to make these things affordable. And, equipped with information she gleaned from a marketing class with current Director for Center for Nonprofit Studies, Kelly Felice, Brungardt decided to start her own business.

And business, she says, is booming despite the recession. “I don’t advertise, but I continue to get a lot of referrals from the several networking groups I am a part of, as well as from my involvement with Volunteer Connections of Jefferson County.” Brungardt works with small businesses, nonprofits, and schools, but will also occasionally work with larger companies. As well, she maintains regular business with the Office of Alumni Relations at Metro.

According to Gini Mennenga from the Office of Alumni Relations, “Cheryl has always been the easiest person to work with. All you have to do is ask her do something, and she finds an answer for you.” In addition to providing promotional products, Brungardt regularly donates her time to the College. She supports the non-profit studies program, speaks in classes, and, says Mennenga, “she is always very positive about her experience at Metro. I have seen that is one of the first things that comes up when she is talking with other people.”

Brungardt, Mennenga adds, really represents the majority of Metro’s graduates. “She works hard, she takes care of her family. For a small, individually-owned business like hers to have survived over the years speaks to her work ethic, business skills, and her sense of going in and getting things done.” For more information on Brungardt or her business, please visit her website:

To read last month's article on Terrence Trieu, click here. To read the Business Spotlight on Eric Pederson, click here.

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