Abe Baker, Omaha, Baker's Supermarkets. (Deceased) Abe Baker emigrated from Russia
as a child and held a variety of jobs, including newspaper carrier, and produce
clerk, before becoming Omaha's favorite grocer.
Abe and his wife, Helen founded the grocery chain just prior to the Great Depression
with a store in Walnut, Iowa. The tiny store with six workers grew to employ as
many as 3,600 associates. Abe's hallmark was his commitment to his customers. He
preached dedication to customer service and total quality management long before
these phrases became the buzzwords of the 90s and created the Baker's success story.
He led by example, working the sales floor, sacking groceries, and visiting with
customers at his many stores. Some of his favorite expressions were, "The customer
signs our paychecks," and "We are really in the people business, we just happen
to sell groceries," and are often repeated by his associates and family.
As the business grew, Abe realized controlling locations would be a key to future
growth and began developing shopping centers. The firm was a pioneer in employee
benefits and profit sharing, and it instituted a scholarship program to help young
employees further their education.
Abe Baker passed away in January of 1999. He is survived by his daughter, Debbie
Krasne, and his sons, Jack and Bob, who carried on the tradition set by their father
for many decades.
C.G. "Kelly" Holthus
C.G. "Kelly" Holthus
C.G. "Kelly" Holthus, York, is Chairman, President and CEO of Cornerstone Bank,
a multi-bank holding company formerly known as First National Bank of York, which
received it's charter on April 22, 1882, with a mission to meet the financial needs
of central Nebraska. Surviving the pioneer days, the great Great depressionDepression,
and a bank robbery in 1933, the bank has grown through the past 127 years to have
29 locations in 20 communities throughout Central Nebraska
Kelly attended the University of Nebraska and is a 1970 graduate of the University
of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking. He began his banking career in his hometown
of Bertrand before joining the York bank.
Kelly was elected the American Bankers Association (ABA) president in 1990 and also
served as president of the Nebraska Bankers Association. He served as Chairman of
the State Chamber in 1996. He is currently Treasurer of the York General Health
Care Services; a member of the Board of Directors of the York Community Foundation;
and a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Nebraska Technology
Park. He has previously served as President of the York Chamber of Commerce, a member
of the York City Council, a member of the Board of Directors of Concordia Foundation,
a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Nebraska Foundation and
on the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska Independent College Foundation, along with
many other local, civic and philanthropic organizations. Kelly also helped improve
the York Area Senior Center and the York County Fairgrounds. To recognize his commitment
to the community, Holthus Field House at York College was dedicated in 2003.
Kelly and his wife, Virginia, have four grown children who are all active in Cornerstone
Bank. He devotes his time and energy on civic and charitable projects serving central
John P. Nelson
John P. Nelson
John P. Nelson, Omaha, SilverStone Group. After attending Carleton College and serving
as a U.S. Naval officer, John joined his father at the Nelson Insurance Agency in
1965. The company has since changed its name and grown from a one-room office with
three employees to more than 160 consultants, actuaries, administrators, and registered
investment representatives who serve clients throughout the United States. John
has served as sales manager, executive vice president, and president of the company
and he currently serves as chairman. With nearly 200 employees, SilverStone is an
independent consulting, actuarial and insurance brokerage firm that is an industry
leader in risk management, property and casualty, human resource consulting, employee
benefits, and private client services. Nelson sees two key elements to the company's
growth: a focus on acquiring companies and the recruiting of highly qualified technical
associates to create a state-of-the-art company.
John has served many Omaha and Council Bluffs organizations and boards, including
the Iowa Western Community College Foundation, Doane College, the Durham Western
Heritage Museum, Great Western Bank and Growth Management Corporation, and the Boy
Scouts of America, Mid-America Council. In addition, John was the 2003 King of Ak-Sar-Ben
and the 2002 United Way Citizen of the Year and he was inducted into the Omaha Business
Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Anne, have three children and five grandchildren.
Their son, John H. Nelson, is president of SilverStone.
Joe Hampton, Lincoln, Hampton Enterprises. In 1947, at the age of 22, Joe Hampton
moved to Lincoln from Chadron, Nebraska when a lack of funds forced him out of college
and into the workforce as an apprentice electrician.
In his spare time he began building a house for himself. Housing was short in those
post-war years and Joe found himself selling his brand new home just as soon as
he had finished it. So he built another, then another. And that's the way things
went until 1964 when Joe made the leap from homebuilder to developer by purchasing
land that became the city's first office park and residential community –
Lincolnshire Square. The firm continued to build and develop commercial properties
in Lincoln, including Williamsburg Village, Corporate Centre and Meadowlane Shopping
Since those days, Joe Hampton has continued to grow in size and scope and has built
a solid reputation for quality craftsmanship and unique architectural detail. Today,
the company employs more than 60 people and is involved in land development, commercial
general contracting, construction management and real estate services, including
property management and building maintenance.
An avid pilot, Joe served on the Airport Authority Board from 1963 – 1977.
He served two terms on the Lincoln City Council and was a stalwart supporter of
pro-growth policies and expansion of the city's infrastructure for future development.
Joe continues to be actively involved in state and civic development efforts.
Joe built his business and his life on an unwavering foundation of trust and integrity.
He and his wife, Marge, have a son and daughter.
Willard H. Waldo
Willard H. Waldo
Willard Waldo, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, began his lifelong involvement
with agriculture at a young age. After the Civil War, his family migrated to Nebraska
to build a farming operation near DeWitt. By 1937, although Waldo Farms had built
a good reputation, they still had not accumulated much. The company set a goal to
have the best Duroc hog herd in the world and to either make the business profitable
or quit farming altogether.
While working as a Vocational Agriculture instructor and County Extension agent,
Willard established his own Duroc herd using selected, Waldo-raised foundation stock.
He strongly believed in using the principles of agricultural science to improve
swine breeding stock. He put these principles into practice by being among the first
to weigh pigs at birth to determine when the pigs would reach market weight. He
also developed a simple, but effective ear-notching system, which was used to identify
Over time, Waldo Farms has established a tradition of using independent evaluators
and industry-wide trials to measure the performance of Waldo Farms' pigs. Willard's
son, Max, graduated from the University of Nebraska and became a full partner of
Waldo Farms in 1960. Under Max's leadership, an SPF, or Specific Pathogen Free,
herd was established, which means that the pigs are free of certain diseases. The
entire herd was subject to performance testing and an intensive selection program.
Over the years, Willard has worked tirelessly on behalf of agriculture with many
Nebraska agricultural organizations, such as Livestock Breeders and Feeders, the
Farm Bureau, the Sheep Breeders and the Wheat Commission. He was a state senator
and has served on numerous local and state civic and charitable organizations. He
is well known as a lifelong supporter of the Nebraska State Fair. Willard's many
achievements indicate his devotion to helping others.
Willard has two children, ten grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren, and
one great, great grandchild.
J. Gates Minnick
J. Gates Minnick
J. Gates Minnick is a lifelong resident of Lincoln and a 1954 graduate of the University
of Nebraska. As a young man he worked in a service station where he learned important
lessons about dealing with customers and doing things right the first time.
Minnick's father-in-law, Al DuTeau, began the family car dealership in 1928 and
Minnick began work at DuTeau Chevrolet in 1955. He became president of the company
in 1983. His love of the automobile industry and innate concern for customers helped
Minnick and the DuTeau team grow significantly during his tenure.
Minnick has served as a board member of the Lincoln Foundation, the University of
Nebraska Foundation and Alumni Association, Bryan Memorial Hospital, the Downtown
Lincoln Association, and other significant industry boards. He has also served on
boards for civic and charitable organizations, such as Lincoln Electric System and
the City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Minnick served as president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska
New Car & Truck Dealers Association and was chairman of the State Chamber in
1997. He was elected to the Lincoln City Council and served two terms. One of his
main accomplishments on the Council was helping to continue the retail development
of Lincoln and adding considerably to the sales tax base.
J. Gates Minnick has received many awards for his service, including the Time Magazine
Quality Dealer Award, the University of Nebraska Builder Award, and the Juvenile
Diabetes Foundation Man of the Year Award, among other achievements. In retirement,
he continues to serve on the Lincoln Vision 2015 group. He and his wife, Daisy,
have four children, who have all graduated from the University of Nebraska, and
Donald Smeal was the fourth generation of a family that settled on a homestead in
Snyder, Nebraska. On the farm, he learned about mechanical objects and took particular
interest in the steam engine tractor that was used to operate a saw mill. In high
school, Don focused on math, physics and science while he continued with work on
the farm, such as threshing, saw milling and silage cutting. Eventually he was drafted
to serve in WWII.
Upon returning to Snyder, Don bought farm machinery that would allow him to shell
corn and bale hay for profit. In 1955, he purchased a repair shop in order to start
a welding business. His plan was to earn a living while he searched for a product
he could build and sell. He designed and built a feed box with an auger system and
a water well hoist, which became the basis of Smeal Manufacturing. In 1965, due
to the success of his machines, Don was chosen as Nebraska Businessman of the Year.
In 1963, the Snyder Rural Fire Board asked Don to fix a leak in its fire truck tank.
Although the tank could not be repaired, Don was a volunteer firefighter and he
knew the needs of the community so he came up with a plan. He asked that the Board
buy a new chassis and in exchange, he would design and build a new fire truck. This
truck was to include a PTO water pump, a 1200 gallon water tank, a body with an
enclosed crew cab and a 42 foot hydraulic aerial ladder.
Today, Smeal Fire Apparatus Company is a major competitor in the fire and rescue
industry. The company has thousands of trucks and aerial ladders throughout North
America and has grown to include over 340 employees.
Smeal Manufacturing and Smeal Fire Apparatus Company are family owned. Five of Don
and Ardath's children work in the company, along with their spouses and children.
Don never strayed from his roots and built his business with people who share his
values and work ethic. He passed away on October 19, 2004, leaving his companies
in the hands of his family and long-term dedicated employees, who share the same
commitment to their customers.
Alan, Fred, and Steve Simon
Five generations of the Simon family have turned Omaha Steaks into a nationally
It began with a father and son, who left Riga, Latvia in 1898 to escape religious
persecution. They found themselves in Omaha, Nebraska where they worked as butchers.
In 1917, they founded their own company and were dedicated to processing and selling
tender, grain-fed beef to restaurants and grocers in the area. Originally known
as Table Supply Meat Company, the firm also supplied to the Union Pacific Railroad.
The company's reputation quickly spread to the general public and the family began
a mail order venture in 1952.
Between the late 1950s and early 1960s, three key innovations were developed: direct
parcel shipping, polystyrene shipping coolers, and vacuum packaging, which allowed
the firm to ship its products to a much larger audience more efficiently. In 1963,
the first direct mail flyers and catalogs were sent to customers to satisfy consumer
interest. In 1966, the company was renamed Omaha Steaks International, Inc. and
between 1975 and 1978 it began to provide inbound and outbound customer phone service.
In 1990, Omaha Steaks became one of the first companies to join the technological
wave of electronic marketing. Customers who were connected to CompuServe could order
food products via computer. In 1995, a website, www.omahasteaks.com, was developed.
Today, customers can order from anywhere in the world with just a few mouse clicks.
The fourth generation of the Simon family: Alan, Fred, and their late brother, Steve,
has been instrumental in developing the concept of mail order steak. This concept
has helped the company grow to become a worldwide supplier of a variety of red meats,
smoked meats, poultry, fish and other seafood, pastas, soups, desserts and gift
baskets. Bruce and Todd Simon, the fifth generation, are now playing major roles
in managing the company. All five generations contributed to the company's success
in serving 1.5 million customers.
James P. Abel
James P. Abel
Jim Abel began to work for NEBCO, Inc. in 1969 as a laborer in the company's concrete
pipe plant. NEBCO is a family owned business, based in Lincoln, Nebraska whose interests
are in the manufacture of concrete building materials, road construction, mining,
railroading, farming and real estate development. Jim attended both the University
of Nebraska and Arizona State University and received a degree in business.
He succeeded his father, Business Hall of Fame member George P. Abel, Jr., as president
of the firm in 1985. Under Jim's leadership, NEBCO has expanded its concrete building
material business through organic growth and acquisitions. NEBCO's real estate activities
were expanded to include commercial, residential, and recreational developments.
Most notable are the Landmark office buildings near the State Capitol, Chalco Valley
Business Park in Southwest Omaha, and Fallbrook, a 700-acre residential and commercial
development in Northwest Lincoln, utilizing the features of new urbanism. The Abel
family's love of golf led to the construction of Quarry Oaks Golf Club voted by
Golf Digest as the "Best Affordable Public Golf Course in America" when it opened
in 1997. Quarry Oaks was the last project Jim worked on with his father. Jim's passion
for baseball led to the development of Haymarket Park, adjacent to Lincoln's historic
Haymarket District. Haymarket Park was built through a joint cooperation of NEBCO,
the City of Lincoln, and the University of Nebraska. Haymarket Park is home to the
Lincoln Saltdogs and the University of Nebraska baseball and softball teams. Jim
is chairman of the Lincoln Saltdogs franchise which began their inaugural season
His activities within the community and state extends to membership on civic, philanthropic,
and professional boards including the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, Nebraska
Wesleyan University Board of Governors, University of Nebraska Foundation, Madonna
Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. He believes examples set
forth by his father, his mother Betty Abel, his aunt Alice Abel, and his grandmother
Hazel Abel, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska, helped instill
the value of public involvement and charitable giving. When accepting a board position,
one of Jim's criteria is that the business has a foundation and tradition of giving.
The Abel Foundation continues his family's tradition of returning a measure of the
company's success back to the communities in which they operate. Jim is actively
involved in its operations and serves as President of the Foundation. Major gifts
have been awarded to Nebraska projects that greatly promote the quality of life
in Nebraska and health & human services. Abel Foundation gifts have gone to
projects such as the Lied Center for Performing Arts, Abel Stadium on the Nebraska
Wesleyan campus, Folsom Children's Zoo, Mahoney State Park, and the Lincoln Children's
Museum, University of Nebraska, and the United Way.
He and his wife, Mary, have a son, Jack.
In 1948, a farmer and part time truck driver, Fred, his wife, Maxine, and family
members opened Bosselman & Eaton Truck Stop in Grand Island. Having been on
the road, he saw the wretched conditions for drivers and began to provide good service,
good food, and quality products for the transportation industry and traveling public.
Realizing the Interstate system would be the key to future growth, he bought river
bottom land and built "The Truck Stop of Tomorrow" on I-80 before the road was completed.
When a major oil company would not finance the project, he gained local backing.
The company has now grown to 40 Pump & Pantry stores, 8 Grandma Max's restaurants,
5 motels, 10 Boss Truck Shops and 8 Travel Centers. The company includes Bosselman
Energy, a multi-state distributor of fuels, propane, ethanol, and lube products;
Bosselman Tank & Trailer, fuel/LP transport trailer and bobtail truck sales,
testing and repair; Petroleum Equipment Co., with complete services for the petroleum
industry; Bosselman Carriers, a multi-state fuel transportation company; Bosselman
Contractors Services, providing construction and environmental services; plus condominiums
The business became a strong family affair with Fred's sons, daughters and spouses
helping the expansion. Fred's sons - Chuck and Fred, Jr. - oversee the retail operation
and petroleum product and distribution operations. With the third generation of
Bosselmans now entering the business, they are poised to enter the new millennium.
Despite the growth, Fred's "hands-on" management style provided the vision for continued
success. Longtime employees talk of road trips with Fred where he could see what
was working or not working at the retail stores. Family lunches at the Grandma Max
restaurant (naturally named after Maxine) also provided opportunities for the Bosselmans
to communicate and brainstorm new ideas.
Fred's career had many high points, among them President of the National Association
of Truck Stop Operators, the UNL College of Business Administration Entrepreneur
of the Year, and president of Fonner Park. His generosity to Grand Island ranged
from contributions for the Stuhr Museum, College Park, Make-A-Wish Foundation, the
Crane Meadows Center, and the Fonner Park Civic Center.
Fred Bosselman passed away at his home in Grand Island in July of 2006. He is buried
in the Grand Island cemetery across the street from the corporate headquarters where
he can always keep an eye on the company.
A Sandhills native and lifelong Nebraskan, Jack Vetter worked on a ranch, as a blacksmith,
completed a tour of duty with the United States Army, and was foreman of a feed
and fertilizer plant before he became administrator of a Valentine, Nebraska nursing
home in 1965. A friend noticed Jack's personable and compassionate manner with elderly
customers and encouraged him to apply for the Administrator position. Over the next
three years he succeeded in improving the home's low occupancy rate. He was then
recruited by the Bethesda Foundation to be Director of Operations. During the next
10 years he played a key role in the company's growth from seven facilities to 20
and tripling the bed count from 500 to 1,500.
With experience and tenure in long-term care, Jack and his wife, Eldora, bought
their first nursing home in 1975. Their reputation grew. They began to acquire facilities
from friends and business associates who were familiar with their work ethic and
the integrity with which they conducted their business. Vetter Health Services (VHS)
evolved as the management company. Today the company owns and manages 32 skilled
nursing centers, three assisted living units, one retirement campus and a rehabilitation
care center with locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Wyoming. They
employ over 3,000 team members with an annual payroll of $59 million. Collectively
these team members provide 784,000 days of resident care each year.
Jack and Eldora have a strong spiritual commitment that is entwined in their business.
He embraces a mission of "dignity in life" that is conveyed to each facility and
supported by six vision goals – Quality Life, Quality Care, Excellent Teams,
Outstanding Facilities, Quality Reputation, and Stewardship. These goals are accompanied
by four values: Serving, Integrity, Teamwork and Excellence. By embracing these
visions and values the family of Vetter Health Services facilities has assured quality
life for many senior Nebraskans and the elderly in surrounding states. Vetter Health
Services' is recognized nationally as a leader, innovator and trendsetter in long-term
An active member of the Nebraska Health Care Association, Jack has also completed
committee assignments and held regional and national leadership positions with the
American Health Care Association. In 2001 Jack was presented the Friend of the AHCA
Quality Award in appreciation of his dedication to and support of the AHCA Quality
Award. He maintains a political presence and visits Lincoln and Washington D.C.
regularly to be a voice for the elderly and long-term care providers in the state
and across the nation.
It has been said that you can take the boy out of the country, however, you can't
take the country out of the boy. Jack and Eldora own and manage the family farm
outside of Bassett. Through the years they have purchased additional land in the
area for their cow and calf operation and growing crops.
They developed a 501(c)3 company, Vetter Foundation, to receive personal contributions
along with regular donations from the long-term care operation's profits and outside
contributions to promote and assist them in their philanthropic giving. In addition
to providing ongoing education for people in long-term health care, the Foundation
supports local organizations including the Alzheimer's Association, Nebraska Special
Olympics, NGA-Nebraska Operations Airlift, and Assistance League of Nebraska. Through
the Foundation, they support 50 children through Mission of Mercy. The Foundation
partners with Convoy of Hope to assist with disaster responses in the US and around
the world. The Foundation has contributed land, libraries and computer labs to bible
colleges in Ethiopia and Kenya and promotes water well drilling in Africa to provide
clean and safe drinking water in rural villages.
Jack and Eldora reside on an acreage outside of Gretna, Nebraska. They have three
grown children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandson. The family enjoys skiing,
hunting, fishing, motorcycle riding, and snowmobiling. Jack and Eldora enjoy cruising
for their personal vacations. Jack also travels extensively, often piloting his
own private aircraft, to manage the business and develop their philanthropic endeavors.
Dr. Wayne Ryan
A native of Corning Iowa, Dr. Ryan served in the U.S. Navy after completing high
school. Following World War II, he earned degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry
from Creighton University, and a doctorate in Biochemistry from University of Missouri.
Dr. Ryan founded Streck Laboratories in 1971. The company, which began with two
employees, now has more than 300 employees with 15,000 customers, and generates
$50 million in annual sales revenue.
Streck, whose products are sold throughout the United States and in 42 countries
worldwide, recently completed a brand new $12 million, 114,000 sq. foot facility
in LaVista. Streck maintains 65% of the world market of hematology controls through
a combination of Streck label, private label, and patent licenses. In addition,
Streck is the largest supplier of hematology reference controls to Japan and is
recognized in the global marketplace as a technological leader in its industry.
Recently, the company developed preservatives that are added to blood-collection
tubes to prolong the life of samples. This development will aid in treatment of
people infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Dr. Ryan divides his time among teaching, research, and running the business. He
has gained 40 patents and authored or co-authored 80 published scientific works.
His Platelet-Chex was the first hematology control on the market. Dr. Ryan has also
received numerous awards and honors from local and national organizations. He is
a long-time supporter of area philanthropic causes, such as the Christian Urban
Education Services, Creighton University, and the St. Augustine Mission at the Omaha-Winnebago
He and his wife, Eileen, have three daughters and two sons. The company name is
a derivation of Eileen's first and maiden name (Krebs), Ryan, and their children's
first names: Stacy, Steven, Tim, Connie and Carol.
Dale C. Tinstman
Born in Chester, Nebraska, Dale Tinstman was inspired by his father's efforts in
selling stock for his employer. He obtained degrees at the University of Nebraska
in Business and in Law with the intention of becoming an investment banker. After
service in World War II as a B-29 navigator and navigator instructor in the Army
Air Corps., he finished law school and began work in the financial industry. He
started his own firm in 1960 with the purpose of financing agricultural-related
industry, which he felt was ignored by Wall Street.
The firm, First Nebraska Securities, Inc. was the only Nebraska member of the New
York Stock Exchange. He was instrumental in providing financing for food, grain,
cattle, hogs, and packing companies, including Iowa Beef Packers (IBP), an innovative
Tinstman served as president of IBP. He played an important role in the early success
of IBP by establishing their headquarters in Nebraska and in the expansion of the
concept. Founded in 1960, IBP revolutionized the beef industry by locating highly
efficient slaughtering and processing facilities near the source of supply, in the
heart of the nation's rural cattle producing areas.
Tinstman has been actively involved with the University of Nebraska, serving twice
as Chairman of the Foundation. He was an original director of the Nebraska Technical
Development Corporation and assisted in the establishment of the University's Technology
Park. He is involved in investments and venture capital projects for a number of
many Nebraska companies, including Gene Seek, Nature Technology, and development
of the Flat Iron Steak.
Dale and his wife, Jean, have three children.
Robert, and Gary Kelley
The history of the Kelley Bean Company begins with the founding in 1927 of the Chester
B. Brown Company with a key employee, Robert L. Kelley, Sr. In 1969, Robert's sons,
Robert and Gary opened the Kelley Bean Company and Robert, Sr. joined the new company
in 1972 The initial growth of the company was enhanced through mergers and acquisitions.
In 1982, the bothers purchased and merged with the Chester B. Brown Company. The
pattern of acquisitions continues and Kelley Bean Co., has grown to become one of
the largest originators and marketers of dry edible beans in the world. Currently,
the company has receiving and processing plants located throughout Nebraska, Colorado,
Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. Kelley Bean's reputation for quality
and service has enabled them to expand their markets globally into every continent
except Australia. The Kelley Brothers pride themselves on their relationships with
grower and dealers at home and abroad.
The company delivers quality at every level of bean production through the Kelley
Bean Vertical Integration system of research, production, processing, distribution,
culminating with the end consumer. They partner every company initiative with quality
control for the customer. Their mission is to understand and deliver superior value
with absolute integrity.
The brothers maintain a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to the North Platte
Valley area that headquarters their six-state operation with 28 plants. They both
credit the company's success to the outstanding employees and management team at
Kelley Bean. Today, a third generation family management is in place and poised
to lead a team of outstanding employees into the future.
Gary and wife, Patty, have two children. Robert and his wife, Rossel, have two children
A native of Belden, Nebraska, George F. Russell graduated from the University of
Nebraska and served in the U.S. Navy. He and a partner founded Millard Lumber &
Grain Company in 1948. The business initially catered to a rural farming community
of fewer than 400. Millard Lumber provided a center for the farmers to sell grain,
buy coal and, of course, purchase lumber.
George F. Russell shifted the focus of the business towards building materials and
products that supplied both professional contractors and do-it-yourself homeowners.
Millard Lumber was an early manufacturer of roof trusses, pre-manufactured wall
sections, and pre-hung doors and has stayed in the forefront of advanced building
techniques since that time.
Today Rick Russell, George Russell's son, and his management team run the family-owned
business along with over 300 associates at their Omaha, Waverly, and Des Moines
locations. Both of Rick's sons, Joel and Mark, are also an integral part of the
organization. While Millard Lumber has experienced tremendous grown, the mission
remains unchanged; to provide basic building materials and continually add project
lines and services that provide quality and efficiency on the job.
George also served on the board of two banks, various business organizations, and
as a member of the Millard City Council. George served as president or chairman
of a number of civic and business organizations, including the National Lumber &
Building Materials Association, Bellevue College, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce
& Industry, and several other associations. He was inducted into the Millard
Education Foundation's Hall of Fame, and an elementary school in the district is
named after him.
Bill Kubly founded Landscapes Unlimited in 1976, following his five years of work
for a local golf course construction company. With five years experience and his
Landscape Architect degree from the University of Wisconsin, Kubly formed his one-man
operation. With a pickup truck, a pipe wrench and a pipe cutter, he began handling
small irrigation projects for local golf courses.
Forever the optimist, Kubly soon began to broaden his capabilities. He began by
working with many different golf course architects, helping to take their conceptual
designs and build them into striking realities. From its modest beginning in 1976,
LU now employs a staff of more than 1,000 professionals during its peak season and
has a project resume, which includes many of the most notable locations in golf.
Throughout the last 28 years, Kubly's philosophy and vision for LU has remained
unchanged. Direct personal involvement, total commitment to quality, and a desire
to be "The Best" have been the attributes that have served to chart the course for
LU's success. Today, LU builds more than 35 golf courses per year, coast to coast,
working with designers and architects on renovation and new development construction
projects. LU is capable of completing projects ranging from $50,000 to $50 million.
In 2000, Kubly was selected as National Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst &
Kubly is also passionate about giving back to the game of golf. He served as president
of the Golf Course Builders Association of America from 1996-1999 and has been instrumental
in both and First Tee programs.
He and his wife, Myrna, have two daughters and one granddaughter.
Robert "Bobby" Gottsch
Robert "Bobby" Gottsch
Following his father's footsteps in the agricultural business, Bobby Gottsch has
developed his family's interests into cattle feeding, ranching, farrow to finish
pork production and farming. Growing up on his family's farm in Elkhorn, Bobby Gottsch
began his entrepreneurial career at the age of 6 when he would get eggs from his
uncle's farm and sell them in his neighborhood.
He began working for his father's feed yard after high school graduation. In 1982,
after his father had a mild heart attack, Bobby went to oversee a feed yard the
family had an interest in Juniata. Though he packed his bags for about a month stay,
he never left the Hasting area.
Gottsch Enterprises has interests in a packing company, a mail order steak business,
commercial and residential real estate, Indian Creek Golf Course in Elkhorn, San
Crisobal Farm, a rice farm in Argentina, and a trucking firm. Businesses are also
located in Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri. While the family's primary business
is in cattle, the company is actively involved in hog operations.
An active member of the Hastings community, Bobby Gottsch strongly believes in helping
wherever possible. He is a member of the Nebraska Environmental Quality Council
and the Hastings College Board of Trustees. Gottsch also served on the Omaha Federal
Reserve Bank Board of Directors from 1997-2002.
He and his wife, Cindy, have five children.
Bruce Lauritzen's primary business occupation is Chairman of First National Bank
of Omaha, its holding company, First National of Nebraska, and Lauritzen Corporation.
He is chairman of more than a dozen other banks and bank holding companies operating
in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas. The combined
organizations have more than $16 billion in assets and 7,500 employees in 31 states.
His family has been actively involved in Omaha's growth and development since 1854,
when Thomas Davis, one of the bank's first shareholders, helped start the bank.
During most of the past century, the Davis, and later Lauritzen, name, has been
synonymous with the leadership and growth of First National Bank. It is their vision
and courage that made First National a multi-state, multi- bank holding company,
an active marketer of banking services, and a leading innovator in merchant processing
and integrated data processes.
Bruce Lauritzen has been a leading proponent of Omaha's downtown redevelopment,
envisioning, and then bringing to fruition, the exciting riverfront area and a bold
new skyline highlighted by the 40-story First National headquarters, the state's
Mr. Lauritzen is President of the Omaha Development Council and Foundation, Royal
Danish Consulate for the State of Nebraska, member of the Chief Executives Organization,
Financial Services Round Table and the STRATCOM Consultation Committee. He is Chairman
of Clarkson Regional Health Services, Treasurer of The Nebraska Medical Center,
and a Director of Ak-Sar-Ben, Creighton University, Joslyn Art Museum, Nebraska
Game and Parks Foundation, Omaha Symphony Association, Strategic Air and Space Museum,
and Visa U.S.A. He was inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame in 2004.
He and his wife, Kimball, have two daughters and a son.
Elizabeth Jane Robb Douglas
Elizabeth Jane Robb Douglas
The inventor of the collapsible voting booth, Mrs. Douglas founded the company in
1910, and Douglas Manufacturing Corporation is the nation's oldest manufacturer
of election equipment. She had actually pledged a sum of money to a missionary when
she had a dream about a folding ballot box.
She began designing ballot boxes, and her first order came from Los Angeles County,
which was impressed with the collapsible voting booth. Considering woman were not
allowed to vote for another 7 years, her inspiration for a voting booth was eerily
Mrs. Douglas had a flair for innovation and designed a number of items that were
actually ahead of their time. The firm still has patent applications that were never
applied for, such as retractable Pullman car steps, a gasoline pump shut-of valve,
and a mail cart for postmen.
Now owned by the fourth generation, the firm is considered a major supplier of auxiliary
supplies to makers of voting systems. The company began making metal storage containers
in 1970 when former IBM employees sought a company to make boxes for their data
storage business. The firm has been in the same location in Crete, NE and has survived
through three fires and a flood. Douglas sells nationally and internationally through
a dealer network as well as end users.
Roger and Gayle-ann Douglas are president and executive vice president of the company.
Jan Thayer, Grand Island, - A registered dietician, Jan Thayer is an owner, chairman
and chief executive officer of EXCEL Development Group, a developer of retirement
housing alternatives and long-term care for the elderly. Her first experience out
of college was at Bryan Hospital in Lincoln.
Since her graduation from the University of Nebraska, Jan has been involved in health
care, as a dietetic counselor of her own firm and as an instructor at the post-secondary
and adult education level.
Her knowledge and experience in working with nursing care facilities as an owner
and administrator has made EXCEL a leading developer of retirement housing alternatives,
and the key is having good employees. She feels that part of her success is having
a great respect for our elders; they built this state and this country and it is
our privilege to work along side them and to provide for some of their needs as
they reach a more vulnerable time in their lives.
EXCEL works closely with local and state government officials. Jan firmly believes
that the key to any business success is to be part of the community.
She has served on civic and community boards as well as on national and state offices
with the American Dietetic Association and the Nebraska Health Care Association.
She has done extensive speaking to many health and allied groups at local, state,
and national meetings and conventions. Looking to future is also a key to continued
Jan was inspired by a dietician in her hometown, and has followed suit. Her career
has taken her farther than she thought. She and her husband, Ernie, have three children.
Lawrence J. Arth
Lawrence J. Arth, Lincoln, – Lawrence J. Arth became president and chief operating
officer of Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. in 1988, the same year the firm changed
its name from Bankers Life of Nebraska. He has been with the company for 36 years,
beginning in the investment area.
Under his leadership, the firm has grown to a major diversified financial services
company, delivering products and services in life insurance and annuities, retirement
plans, group dental and eye care, investments, banking and public finance.
A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Arth attended UNL and served in the U.S. Navy before
starting his career. His past community services and current activities range from
the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben to Junior Achievement and the Girl Scouts. In fact, youth
and community development are very high on his activities. A charter member of Leadership
Lincoln, Arth was recently awarded the group's "Pillar of the Community" honor,
presented to people who have significantly strengthened and transformed Lincoln.
Statewide the firm is a key player in state economic activity. In 2003 the Nebraska
Diplomats awarded the firm for its work in helping finance community growth and
Under his direction, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. converted to a stock life insurance
company, wholly owned by Ameritas Mutual Insurance Holding Company. The firm subsequently
merged with Acacia Mutual Holding Corporation of Bethesda, Md., to form Ameritas
Acacia Mutual Holding Company.
He and his wife, Mary, have three children.
William A. Fitzgerald
William A. Fitzgerald, Omaha – In 1887, the forerunner to Commercial Federal
started as a building and loan association. In 1974, Commercial Federal Savings
and Loan named William A. "Bill" Fitzgerald as president – the third generation
of Fitzgerald's working for the firm. He began working as a part time teller and
served many roles in the firm, which had most of its business related to housing
During his tenure, the company began building an interstate network of retail banking
offices with purchases of thrift institutions in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas,
bringing its philosophy of outstanding customer service and innovative products
to an even broader range of customers.
Fitzgerald is currently chairman of the board for Creighton University, his alma
mater, and involved in a host of civic and professional duties.
While crediting his parents for much of his success, he also credits his association
with the Jesuits who taught him in high school and college for his strong devotion
to helping others.
Under his leadership, Commercial Federal provides corporate support to a wide range
of nonprofit organizations that relate to the company's major areas of concern:
social services, education, arts and community development. They provide support
in a number of ways, including operating fund support, capital drive donations,
event sponsorships and in-kind donations.
Fitzgerald is a strong believer in personal involvement and feels young persons
entering the job market need to be ready to demonstrate such involvement. He and
his wife, Barb, have three children.
E.H. "Shoey" Shoemaker
E.H. "Shoey" Shoemaker
E.H. "Shoey" Shoemaker, North Platte – Born on Long Island in New York, "Shoey"
Shoemaker returned from World War II service thinking he might work for an insurance
firm in Chicago. His wife's father, though, asked him to run the Milldale Ranch,
north of North Platte, feeling that his business experience would be valuable to
the operation. Last year the ranch celebrated its 120th anniversary – Shoemaker
has been there 60 of those years!
Marie Shoemaker's grandfather established the ranch in 1884. In fact, the first
brand recorded under the new Nebraska law was the joined 7HL, by Milldale Land and
Cattle Co. of Gandy. "Shoey" Shoemaker's Milldale Ranch still uses the brand today.
Of the 1,590 brands registered in 1899, Milldale's is one of a few traceable to
original owners through family names.
The graduate of the University of Pennsylvania began to learn all there is to know
about ranching from some of the dedicated cowboys who worked the ranch – from
branding and calving to riding and roping. Even today, he still has a hand in the
operations of the ranch, which covers about 55 square miles in Logan County on the
southern edge of the Sand Hills.
In addition to his ranching duties, Shoey took an active part in his adopted community.
Shoemaker has been president of the North Platte Chamber of Commerce as well as
vice president of the American National Cattlemen's Association, and a Trustee for
the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. He and others worked
to establish banking and insurance operations in the community. He is a popular
and enthusiastic spokesman for ranching and the beef industry. He was inducted into
the Nebraska Cattlemen's Hall of Fame in 2002.
He and his wife, Marie, have two daughters.
Walter, Mike, and Gib Behlen
The three entrepreneurial brothers started Behlen Manufacturing in Columbus, NE
in 1936 in a backyard garage. That modest undertaking grew to an 800,000 square
foot plant located just east of Columbus. The brothers began manufacturing agricultural
equipment and material such as wire mesh, corncribs, power steering adaptors, and
grain drying fans. The company grew steadily, and it developed a systems concept
that was apparent in all of its activities: design, manufacturing and marketing.
Among these innovations were the Behlen animal husbandry systems such as the Pork
Factory and Beef Factory. Other products were the Behlen Building System, Behlen
grain-conditioning handling and storage systems, and Behlen hydraulic presses to
name a few.
The Behlen Dubl-Panl roof was developed to be utilized with conventional masonry
sidewalls, as well as metal rolled walls. The building's durability was demonstrated
in a 1950's atomic explosion where the Behlen building withstood the blast. The
Behlen hydraulic press is used as a metal stitcher for joining continuous coils
of sheet metal in steel mills and finishing plants across the world.
The firm grew to a worldwide manufacturer before the brothers sold the company in
1969 to the Wickes Corporation. Among the many contributions to Nebraska, the brothers
contributed more than $500,000 to the Columbus Family Y and the Columbus Hospital,
as well as their donations to the University of Nebraska (the Behlen Observatory
in Mead and the Behlen Laboratory of Physics on the Lincoln Campus).
Walter Behlen is survived by his wife, Ruby, and children.
Mike Behlen is survived by his wife, Lois, and children.
Gib Behlen is survived by his wife, Rose, and children.
Donald O. Clifton
For 19 years, Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., was an instructor/professor of educational
psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1950-1969). In 1969, he resigned
his position and founded Selection Research, Inc., which became a nationally recognized
company in the fields of employee selection, management research, and survey research.
In 1988, Selection Research, Inc. acquired The Gallup Organization. Although Gallup
is best known for The Gallup Poll, it is now one of the world's largest management
consulting firms, with more than 40 offices in 20 countries. Gallup's core expertise
is in measuring and understanding human nature and behavior. Gallup leverages this
knowledge to develop research-based measurement tools, development programs, and
strategic advisory services that help organizations and individuals maximize their
In demand as a speaker and seminar leader, Dr. Clifton had many articles published
in professional and trade journals, as well as co-authoring Soar With Your Strength.
His mission was to select and develop the right people for the right jobs and to
"let people be heard" through surveys and opinion polls. Dr. Clifton served his
community with participation on many local boards, including the YMCA, Father Flanagan's
Boys and Girls Town, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and Rotary International.
In 2002, the American Psychological Association presented Clifton with its Presidential
Commendation for lifetime contributions as "the father of strengths-based psychology
and the grandfather of positive psychology."
Dr. Clifton passed away last year and is survived by his wife, Shirley, four children
and nine grandchildren. His children, Jim, Connie Rath, Mary Reckmeyer, and Jane
Miller, are all key employees of The Gallup Organization.
Henry H. "Hod" Kosman
Henry H. "Hod" Kosman
A third generation member of a banking family, Hod Kosman became president and chief
executive officer of Scottsbluff National Bank in 1990. The bank was subsequently
sold to FirsTier, then merged with First Bank Systems Inc., and in 1996 the Kosman
family sold their interest in First Bank and announced the opening of their own
Platte Valley Bank and three financial institutions in the Scottsbluff-Gering area.
Kosman is a member and co-founder of the Community and Economic Development Committee,
director of the Oregon Trail Community Foundation, a member of the U.S. Small Business
Advisory Council and chair of the Scottsbluff-Gering Chamber of Commerce housing
committee. He also has been a member of the board of advisors for the Eppley Cancer
Institute at UNMC and a member of the NU Foundation Board of Trustees. Kosman was
named University of Nebraska Alumnus of the Year by the Panhandle Alumni Chapter,
Star-Herald Citizen of the Year and recipient of the Scottsbluff-Gering Chamber
of Commerce Trail Blazer Award.
Hod grew up in Scottsbluff and graduated from the University of Nebraska and the
Colorado School of Banking. He is currently serving as the chairman of Regional
West Health Services, serves as a director of the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve
Board, and is on the Nebraska Information Technology Commission. He also continues
to serve on many civic boards. Hod and his wife, Willa, have two children: Jennifer
Richard K. Davidson
Richard K. Davidson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Union Pacific Corporation, Dick Davidson
began his railroad career as an 18 year-old brakeman-conductor with Missouri Pacific
in 1960 as a college student. He served as a trainmaster and in various operating
departments with the railroad. A top officer with the Union Pacific Railroad since
1982 when the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads merged with Union Pacific,
Davidson is a railroad industry leader.
His direction was crucial to the UP's merger with the Southern Pacific Railroad,
making the UP one of the largest U.S. railroads. He was awarded one of the 2002
Horatio Alger awards given to individuals who share a belief in the American dream
and have made it their reality by overcoming incredible personal adversity through
positive thinking, determination and hard work. He holds a degree from Washburn
University in Kansas and is active in various civic endeavors in Omaha. Davidson
is a member of the board of directors of Grupo Ferroviario Mexicano and of The Kroger
He also serves as a trustee and director of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Awards Foundation. Davidson is chairman of the President's National Infrastructure
Advisory Committee (NIAC) and represents NIAC on the Homeland Security Advisory
Council (HSAC). In addition, Davidson is a member of the U.S. Strategic Command
Consultation Committee and the advisory roundtable for Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns.
He is also on the board of trustees of the Boy Scouts of America.
Richard and his wife, Trish, are the parents of three children.
Thomas C. Woods, Jr.
Thomas C. Woods, Jr.
A pioneer in Nebraska telecommunications, Thomas Woods, Jr., directed Lincoln Telephone
and Telegraph Co. (LT&T) for 29 years. Under his direction, the company grew
to one of the country's largest independent telephone companies and was one of the
first developers of cable television. LT&T was recognized for the aggressive
deployment of advanced technology, a hallmark of the company since its inception
by Wood's grandfather.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1943, Tom served as a paratrooper
in the U.S. Army. In 1947, he and his wife moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked
in a variety of positions at the Addressograph-Multigraph Company. In 1958, following
the death of his father, he returned to Lincoln and carried on the business and
civic traditions established by his father and grandfather. During his tenure, LT&T
was the first phone company in the state to offer coast-to-coast direct distance
dialing, provide 911 services, to use electronic switching systems, and deploy fiber
optic transmission facilities.
The Woods Family has given greatly to Nebraska and the Lincoln area through the
Woods Charitable Fund, established by Mr. Woods' grandparents in 1941. Mr. Woods
served as Chairman of the Board from 1968-90. The arts, social services, and economic
development programs all received support from both the company and the foundation
under his leadership. He and the foundation were particularly interested in helping
social agencies committed to improving the quality of life for individuals and families
in need. He served on countless boards and committees, including the State Building
Commission, the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Board, and the Nebraska State Historical
Tom was an excellent swimmer and was an early practitioner of scuba diving. He also
enjoyed reading, hunting and gardening. His wife, Marjorie, and daughter, Avery,
survive him. His son, Thomas Woods III, passed away in 2000, and also served the
Woods Foundation as president.
Roy Dinsdale is a 1948 graduate of the University of Nebraska. He began work immediately
with Dinsdale Bros., Inc., a farming and cattle operation based in Palmer, as well
as the State Bank at Palmer. Over the years, the farming operation has grown in
Nebraska and Colorado, while the cattle operation is one of the largest in Nebraska,
and is also located in Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and California.
The family's banking business, known as Pinnacle Bank in Nebraska, has assets of
$3 billion and has operations in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri,
New Mexico, and Texas. The family-owned bank holding company started when a group
of businessmen and farmers started the bank in Palmer after the two banks in town
closed in the 1930's. This group included Roy's father, George, a local cattle rancher
and farmer. In 1958, George's sons, Roy and Jack, purchased a second bank, and the
bank group began to grow. Soon, the third generation of Dinsdale joined in the banking
Roy, through business and personally, has contributed time and funding to various
charitable organizations and community endeavors. He has been especially instrumental
in helping rural hospitals and medical recruitment efforts. In addition, he has
been particularly interested in and contributed to agencies that help the disabled.
Roy's contributions are usually significant and quiet.
Roy and his wife, Gloria, have three children: Sid of Elkhorn is president of Pinnacle
Bancorp, Inc.; Chris of Sterling, Colorado and president of Dinsdale Bros., Inc.;
and Jane Rogers of Omaha.
Roy A. Smith
Roy A. Smith
A longtime advocate for business in Nebraska, Roy Smith has been involved in the
new car business all of his business life. The son of a car dealer, Roy grew up
in Omaha and went to Stanford University with the hopes of a career in Foreign Service.
As an undergraduate, he also developed a passion for campus political activities
that he carries with him today on the local, state and federal level. His father,
Homer P Smith, needed Roy to help run the family business on L Street. When the
Smiths began planning for a new dealership in the Old Mill area of Omaha, Roy heard
some ominous words from then-Ford president Lee Iacocca about his fears of the Japanese
auto industry. Roy told his dad that that was the right time to start selling Toyotas.
While maintaining an active role in Omaha politics, Roy has been a steady and insistent
voice for growth in Nebraska as well. He served the State Chamber twice, once as
President of the Nebraska Association of Commerce & Industry (NACCI) in 1978-79
and as Chairman of the State Chamber in 2000. He has served as Chairman of the Nebraska
New Car Dealers Association and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Community service is part of Roy's job, and his office and home have awards and
plaques from United Way, the Boy Scouts, and the National Conference of Christians
& Jews. He is particularly proud of an honorary degree from Bellevue University,
as he has worked tirelessly for the growth and development of that institution.
Already inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame and a former King of Ak-Sar-Ben,
Roy's advice and outspoken promotion of the Nebraska business community continues
on a daily basis.
He and his wife, Macaela, reside in Bellevue within the Fontenelle Forest. He has
two grown children, David and Sandra.
Edwin E. Perkins
Edwin E. Perkins
Edwin Perkins was a self-taught investor, chemist, printer, manufacturer, researcher,
merchandiser, and entrepreneur at a very young age in rural Nebraska during extremely
difficult times. In 1900 as an 11 year-old boy, he saw a magazine advertisement
that read, "Be a manufacturer - Mixer's Guide tells how - write today." He sent
for the materials and turned his mother's kitchen into an aroma-filled juvenile
laboratory. At 25 he created a small mail-order business known as "Perkins Products
Company." Eventually he and his wife, Kitty, moved to Hastings and he began experimenting
with soft drink syrups.
One of his first major successes was "Fruit Smack," sold in four ounce bottle in
six flavors: cherry, orange, grape, lemon, root beer, and raspberry. Bottle breakage,
leaks, and shipping costs caused Perkins to borrow an idea from Jell-O, and he began
manufacturing a concentrated powder- and "Kool-Aid" was born in 1927. "Kool-Aid"
is designated as Nebraska's official soft drink. In 1937, demand was so great that
the Hastings plant was jammed to capacity and he moved his business to Chicago.
His introduction of the "Silent Salesman" counter display was an innovation in advertising.
"Kool-Aid" stands may well have been most Americans' first foray into private enterprise,
providing the owner's didn't drink the entire product before it was sold. Today
Kool-Aid is one of the most popular drinks in the world with more than 563 million
gallons consumed each year.
By 1933, Perkins was able to reduce the cost of an envelope of Kool-Aid from 10
cents to five cents. Factoring in the effect of inflation, the price of Kool-Aid
today is actually lower than it was in 1947. Perkins sold the company in 1953 to
General Foods, which was merged with Kraft in 1989. Without immediate heirs, Perkins
wanted to see the company to continue. He and Kitty were most generous with the
proceeds of the sale of the company to Nebraska through the Perkins Foundation.
Edwin Perkins passed away in 1961, and his wife in 1977. Both are buried in Hastings.
Werner Enterprise, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer C.L. Werner started
the business in 1956 with one truck at the age of 19. Built from scratch, Werner
came to Omaha seeking work in a factory, but found he would rather drive a truck.
He sold his only car to buy a gas-powered Ford F800 truck and started subcontracting
to haul cargo for other trucking companies. He also hauled the kind of low-end cargo
that was exempt from regulatory restrictions, such as grain, watermelon, livestock
feed, and fence posts. C.L. built the company one truck at a time, hauling in a
five or six state region.
Today, Werner Enterprise is a truckload motor carrier of general commodities in
both interstate and intrastate commerce. Werner is among the five largest truckloads
carriers in the United States and maintains its headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska,
near the center of its service area with terminals throughout the country. The company
operates throughout the 48 contiguous states and also portions of Canada and provides
through trailer service in and out of Mexico.
Werner completed its initial public offering in April 1986 with a fleet of 630 trucks.
At 2000 year-end, the fleet consisted of 7,700 tractors, over 19,770 trailers and
over 10,000 employees and independent contractors. Revenues for the year 2000 were
$1.2 billion. Innovation and technology are keys to the Werner success story. The
firm is the only carrier with DOT approval to use paperless logging, eliminating
costly downtime for drivers and adding more efficiency and productivity.
Another innovation is the use of a training center simulator and computer-based
training for Werner's drivers. Located in its Omaha headquarters, the state-of the-art
simulator gives Werner drivers the best defensive driver-training program available.
Three of C.L.'s four children work in the business. Gary is Vice Chairman, Gregory
is President, and Curtis is Vice-Chairman-Corporate Development. Werner's daughter,
Gail Werner-Robertson, has served on the board of Werner Enterprises and downs several
businesses. C.L. and his wife, Linda, live in Omaha.
J. Robert Duncan
J. Robert Duncan
Established by Robert's father, Donald Duncan, in 1956 as a Beechcraft distributorship,
Duncan Aviation has grown into the largest family-owned aircraft support facility
in North America. Robert Duncan got his pilot's license at 16 and began to learn
all he could about business aviation. In the early years, he did everything, from
piloting charter flights to pumping fuel. One of the first distributors of the new
Learjet, Duncan continued to build the business, continually adding employees as
the firm in service capabilities to fully support their customers and their aircraft.
As new business aircrafts were introduced to the market and Duncan's customers purchased
new models, the company invested in support capabilities for those models and continued
its passion for service. Robert was elected president of the company in 1968.
For nearly half a century, Duncan Aviation has provided business aircraft operations
with high standards and limited downtime to the absolute best in turbine service,
sales, and support. The firm believes in investing in facilities and people and
in developing innovative products, services, and process to continually improve
the corporate aviation industry. They have specialized teams who service, paint,
overhaul, install, modify, inspect, troubleshoot, fuel, and repair.
Above all, Duncan employees work to attain the highest customer satisfaction possible
in any service industry, not just in the world of corporate aviation. In 1998, Duncan
added service facilities in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Michigan, by purchasing
a former competitor, Kal-Aero.
Duncan Aviation has grown significantly since the early days, with now more than
1,900 employees located across the United States. Last year it was one of the Top
100 Companies to Work For by Fortune Magazine.
Robert and wife, Karen, have two children, Todd and Paige, and grandchildren.
Hugh, and Richard Hunt
Richard A. Hunt (left)
Hugh W. Hunt (right)
In 1912, E.C. Hunt's vision laid the foundation for what has become HunTel Systems.
Hunt's son, Emory, adopted his father's innovative style. He nurtured the young
company through the middle of the 20th century before passing the torch to his two
sons, Hugh and Richard. The brothers found that by expanding the core business beyond
local exchange telephone service, HunTel could better meet its own internal needs
while offering more comprehensive service to its growing customer base.
After attending college and military service, both Hugh and Richard joined the firm
in the early 1960s, working many positions before assuming management positions.
Active participants in community and industry activities, Hugh and Richard have
held many posts. Recently honored by the Applied Information Management Institute,
Hugh transitioned their telephone company into a family of diversified businesses
that are on the technological forefront in the development of local cable television,
the deployment of fiber-optic technology, local telecommunications services, and
Headquarters in Blair, HunTel's products and services, which include 900 associated
worldwide, also provide business forms, portable concrete mixing equipment, professional
staff augmentation, communication engineering, energy billing, customer care software,
software development, and service bureau administration.
The work ethic of the Hunt family has been passed from generation to generation.
Those standards have laid a solid foundation for the future of HunTel, as the fourth
generation of Hunts continues the tradition to its associated, customers, and communities,
Hugh and Richard's vision continue to bring the world home.
Hugh and his wife, Jane are the parents of Karen Aman, and Bryce Hunt. Richard and
his wife, Janyce, have five sons, David, Daniel, Nathan Hunt, and Jay and Greg Gerke.
Joe R. Seacrest
Joe R. Seacrest
Born into a family of newspaper writers and editors, Joe R. Seacrest was directly
responsible for the growth and development of four daily newspapers in Nebraska.
He believed that a newspaper publisher should maintain an active role in the community
He started his long career at the Lincoln Journal in 1946, working as a carrier,
reporter, copy editor, editorial page editor, and associate editor before becoming
managing editor in 1958 and editor in 1962, a position he held until his retirement
in 1986. Among the many issues he championed, Joe R. believed in good streets, good
highways, and good planning for roads. His influence went beyond the Lincoln area,
and he passionate in support for greater Nebraska's road system and the current
Game and Parks Commission Foundation.
Freedom of the Press was a subject dear to Seacrest, and he helped organize Media
of Nebraska to represent newspapers, radio, and television interests on matter of
First Amendment issues, open meetings, and public records. His dedication to fostering
freedom of the press earned him the Nebraska Press Association's Master-Editor Publisher
Award in 1984, and in 1987 he was inducted into the Nebraska Press Association Newspaper
Hall of Fame.
Joe and his wife, Beatrice, have four sons, Kent, Gary, Eric, and Theodore, and
one daughter, Shawn Farrar.
Charles Durham built HDR, Inc, as a nationwide architectural and engineering company
and built other companies including Continental Care Center, two Illinois banks
and one independent bank in Omaha, as well as many other investments in Nebraska
businesses. Born in Chicago, Mr. Durham followed other family members into the engineering
field, eventually obtaining three engineering degrees from Iowa State University.
After beginning with his wife's father's architectural firm, he began the work of
building HDR into an international giant. Just looking around Nebraska, one can
see many of the HDR projects, including Nebraska Methodist Hospital, the Hastings
Sewage Treatment Plant, the Omaha Federal Building, and many of the Strategic Air
Command/Offutt Air Force Base facilities. Mr. Durham is the Chairman of the Durham
Resource, where he is actively involved in the business and community.
A strong supporter of both the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Lincoln, he has
given substantial time and funds to the Omaha community, such as the Durham Western
Heritage Museum, the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Boy Scouts, the carillon on the UNO campus,
and so many more. He and his wife, Marge, are the parents of Sunny Lundgren, Steve
Durham, Lynne Boyer, and Debra Durham.
Margaret Robinson retired as Chairman of the Board of Norfolk Iron & Metal Co.
in Norfolk. Mother of a growing family of four, Mrs. Robinson was suddenly thrust
into a leadership role when her husband, Arnold, died unexpectedly in 1974. The
company began in 1908 by Arnold's father as a scrap metal dealer. Under Margaret's
leadership, Norfolk Iron & Metal grew from a small salvage and metal company
to a regional leader in steel distribution with her son, Richard, as the third generation
of leadership. Norfolk Iron now serves a 10-state area from three locations and
a fleet of over 100 trucks.
Under her leadership, the firm won the national Small Business of the Year award
in 1979…just five years after she began fulltime duties at Norfolk Iron & Metal.
She credits key employees and their talent for the firm's success.
A strong proponent of education at all levels; Margaret served on the Norfolk School
board for 14 years. She then opted to run for the University of Nebraska Board of
Regents in 1982, and she served as a Regent until 1994, the first woman ever elected
to the Board of Regents.
Despite running a family business, raising a family, and taking a leadership role
in Nebraska's growth in higher education, Margaret continued to find time for local
civic and charitable activities. She has served on the Board of the NEBRASKALAND
Foundation, the Executive Board of the Nebraska Council of Economics Education,
the Norfolk Family YMCA, and the Governor's Conference on Small Business. In addition,
she served for six years on the State Chamber Board of Directors, one of the first
women to do so.
Margaret has four children–daughters Dr. Gwen Burney, Barbara, and Dianne,
and son Richard.
Paul Mohr was one of the best hitters in the Cleveland Indians minor league organization
in the late 1950's, fresh out of college and a promising career in professional
baseball ahead of him. He was a second-team All American at the University of Texas
in 1953. But his father, who founded Ideal Laundry, needed some help and Paul went
back to Scottsbluff to learn the business. Over the next year, the laundry business
was beginning to grow until a disastrous fire burned his business to the ground.
It was time for a tough decision, and Mohr opted to continue, utilizing a small
Today, Ideal Linen covers the Nebraska panhandle and eastern Wyoming and has expanded
to include janitorial products and services, paper products, uniform supply services
and commercial cleaning products. A business that started with one truck and 20
employees now has more than 30 delivery trucks and 120 employees.
A strong propend of growth and development in the Scottsbluff-Gering area, Paul
Mohr has served on the State Highway Commission and numerous local organizations.
He has taught Sunday school and served on the board of the YMCA and local banks,
and is active in the Scottsbluff Rotary Club, United Way, and Centennial Celebration.
He and his wife, Beverly, have one son, Paul, Jr. and a daughter, Mindy.
Fred Hawkins, Sr.
Fred Hawkins, Sr.
In 1923, Fred Hawkins worked as a water boy for 25 cents a day as his father's construction
company built Memorial Stadium. He later played varsity football in the stadium
for UNL and received a degree in architectural engineering.
By the time he graduated, Fred had worked as a general laborer, truck driver, heavy
equipment operator, carpenter, ironworker, and bricklayer, learning the business
from the ground up. In 1960, Fred founded Hawkins Construction Company with his
father. An early contract with the city of Omaha to construct a water treatment
plant gave the firm a financial boost. Among the major construction jobs completed
by Hawkins Construction are the Omaha City-County Building; the Telephone Building
at 13th and Douglas and 20th and Douglas; the Eppley Airfield terminal, parking
garage and runways; the Kiewit Conference Center and Creighton Library and Law Buildings.
Under Fred Hawkin's leadership, the company became one of the nations 400 largest
buildings contractors and it ranks among the top 200 equipment fleet owners in the
U.S. The company was named the University of Nebraska Entrepreneur of the year in
1997. Fred and his wife, Tish have two sons, Fred Jr. and Kim, and one daughter,
Charles "Chuck" Sand founded Sand Livestock Systems, Inc. in 1969 and has revolutionized
the pork industry throughout the world. Sand is currently the world's largest domestic
and international builder of swine products facilities. In 1979, Sand became the
first company to build modern swine productions systems in the People's Republic
of China and has added more than 23 additional units since that time.
Sand Livestock produces over 1 millions pigs a year, worldwide. The process is done
in sprawling, isolated complexes of barracks-style buildings where hogs are bred,
nursed, and fattened in automated, factory-like conditions. Locally, Sand employs
over 400 Nebraskans in his various companies and continues to expand his operations.
The son of a grocer in Lindsay, Nebraska, Chuck began a small construction business
in the mid-60s. After taking over a farm building dealership in Columbus, he began
putting up the first of their swine confinements units. Chuck has been extremely
active in economic development activities in the Columbus area and throughout Nebraska
and contributes generously to civic, religious and political organizations.
He and his wife, Carol, have three children, Mike, Michelle, and Nicole.
Harriet Peterson Fort
Harriet Peterson Fort
Harriet Peterson Fort was one of the founders, owners, and senior officers of Peterson
Manufacturing. Along with her brothers, the family perfected their father's tool,
the Vise Grip, into one of the best-known tools in the world.
When Danish blacksmith Wilhelm Peterson immigrated to America, he didn't realize
his flair for inventions would be the basis of a giant manufacturing concern. Starting
at his blacksmith shop in Dewitt, Bill Peterson invented and patented a unique wrench
in 1924. Harriet and her brothers had gone separate ways when her father decided
the business would grow if the family were involved. In 1934, a partnership, Peterson
Manufacturing, was established and the business took off.
She was a Senior Vice President in charge of finance and marketing and was instrumental
in developing sales internationally. Under her guidance the company, which started
with vise-grip locking wrench, grew to an international company with sales at the
time of their acquisition by American Tool Company of approximately $30 million.
Dale LeBaron was Chairman of the Board of Lincoln Plating Company, a firm that he
started as the only employee and built to become one of the Midwest's leading finishing
companies. However, his first shop consisted of a boiler in the basement of his
home. Working in a heavy industry fought with potential waste issue and heavily
regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Dale was determined that taking
the firm ahead of current regulations and practices would pay dividends down the
He believed totally in his business and constantly worked to improve Lincoln Plating.
He had a vision of what his niche was going to be in that particular industry and
built on it. Today the firm is the exclusive furnisher for chromed Harley-Davidson
Dale received the Nebraska Small Businessman of the Year Award in 1981 and was active
in numerous business organizations to promote the causes for small business. He
held many leadership positions in both professional and civic organizations as well
as being a "Father Figure" to 35 foster children in his home. Always willing to
help employees and his community, Dale hired or worked with close to 500 parolees
on work releases. A strong proponent of the free enterprise system, Dale supported
programs such as Junior Achievement to help train youth. He and his wife, Joanne,
have four children, Marc, Marcia, RoseMary, and Mike.
In 1982 the State Chamber Board of Directors hired Jack Swartz as President. He
had already served in a similar capacity in his native Kansas and brought new direction
and growth to the Nebraska Association of Commerce & Industry (NACI), as the
organization was known them.
Born in Dodge City, Jack began his lifelong passion for horseracing as a jockey
for his father's thoroughbreds. He worked briefly in the family grain business before
he began duties as executive director of the Jaycees. He worked 13 years for the
Kansas Association of Commerce and Industry before coming to Nebraska in 1982.
Jack's skill in organizational management began to flourish within the organization.
By incorporating a strong outreach to member via the statewide legislative forums,
chamber of commerce conference calls during Unicameral sessions, inaugurating a
major Annual Meeting and Legislative Caucus for all members, representing Nebraska
business community before state and federal governments, and employing a member-driven
professional staff, Jack helped bring the organizational to the largest business
association in the state. Attention to details and working closely with members
and public officials paid long-term dividends. The State Chamber today is one of
the most respected organizations in governmental affairs.
He and his wife, Nadine, have four children, Dana, Sean, Jay, and Tim.
B. Keith Heuermann
B. Keith Heuermann
Born and raised on a dryland farm near Phillips, NE, Keith Heuermann attended the
Agricultural College at the University of Nebraska. While in college, he worked
for Dr. Louis Camp, an accomplished breeder of hybrid seed corn. Mr. Heuermann saw
the potential for hybrid seed on his father's Hamilton County farm, so he wrote
home to ask for $12 to purchase the foundation seed. He began production in 1943.
As Heuermann's successful hybrids and increased yields caught the neighbors' attention,
he began producing hybrid seed for them as well.
As the demand for hybrid seed grew, Heuermann expanded production in 1956. He developed
a single-cross hybrid that brought even more success. He started Prairie Valley
Hybrids, which also developed sorghum, wheat, and soybean hybrids. In 1978, he sold
the business to Stauffer Chemical (now known as Novartis Seed, Inc.).
Keeping a strong interest in hybrid corn, Heuermann began to experiment with developing
popping in 1982. "B.K. Heuermann's Exclusive Popping Corn" is marketed nationally
and as far away as Argentina. Mr. Heuermann's appearance on the QVC Shopping Network
sold out its first shipment and has consistently been a favorite item on the program.
He and his wife, Norma Faye, have four children.
A.F. "Tony" Raimondo
A.F. "Tony" Raimondo
The son of a Buffalo, NY steelworker, Tony Raimondo has been in manufacturing his
entire adult life. A graduate of Michigan Technological University and the University
of Rochester, he worked for General Motors, Moog, and Sperry Corp. before moving
to Nebraska in 1982 as General Manager of Behlen Manufacturing, a family-owned agricultural
supply company that had been acquired by the Wickes Corporation in 1968. He began
a new people-oriented program, helped bring sales up with backlog of order for grain
The next year, the federal government ended the subsidization of grain storage,
replacing those subsidies with the PIK program that paid farmers to keep land idle.
Behlen's business dropped 50% and Wickes wanted to sell off the assets. Tony and
his partners (Dick Casey, Bob Theilen, and Steve McGill) began a leveraged buy-out
of Behlen in 1984.
Having already decertified the union, Behlen Mfg. Began as a new company utilizing
profits sharing, incentives, and elimination time clocks to grow the firm. Changing
products, exploring new markets, diversification, and proceeding on a path of slow
growth and steady profitability were the major keys implemented by Raimondo. By
1994, the turnaround was obvious, with Behlen making over $5 million in profits
on $108 million in sales.
Tony has served as Chairman of the State Chamber Board of Directors, the Nebraska
Economics Development Commission, and is a Director of the National Association
He and his wife Jeanne have four children.
Peter Kiewit's father, a Dutch immigrant bricklayer, founded Peter Kiewit Sons,
Inc. in Omaha in 1884. Under Peter Kiewit's leadership, the local construction company
became one of the world's largest construction and mining enterprises. Assuming
control in 1939, Peter Kiewit guided his company as it builds canals, dams and power
plants for the Roosevelt Public Works Administration. War saw a switch to munitions
plants, and the beginning of interstate road construction. Eventually, the firm
invested in coal mining and other business ventures Kiewit learned about in the
A strong supporter of community activities and higher education, Mr. Kiewit had
given or pledged $20 million to charitable and civic causes until his death in 1979.
The Peter Kiewit Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the
country, and the largest in Nebraska.
A native Lincolnite, James Stuart attended Lincoln High and the University of Nebraska,
graduating in 1940. Shortly after he began his career, he served in World War II
as an infantry company commander. He returned to Lincoln to begin building on the
family business of his father and grandfather.
His father built Lincoln's first skyscraper, the Stuart Building in 1928. James
Stuart began his business career in 1941 with Stuart Investment Company. In his
remarkable career he worked in property and casualty insurance, real estate development,
radio broadcasting, outdoor signs, and banking. He is a member of the Board of Directors
of First Commerce Bancshares of Lincoln and National Bank of Commerce.
One of the original radio stations owned by Stuart was Lincoln's KFOR. In 1948,
he originated Operations Santa Claus through KFOR. The project, which still continues,
solicits public donations used to provide a Merry Christmas to indigent children
of the community. Mr. Stuart also gifted a portion of the Stuart Building to the
University of Nebraska Foundation in 1977, wit the remainder of the building gifted
to the Lincoln Foundation in 1985.
He served on the Lincoln School Board, has served on the University of Nebraska
Foundation, the Nebraska Games & Parks Foundation, the Lincoln Foundation, and
many civic, charitable, and educational organizations.
He has been honored by many civic organizations. He and his wife, Helen have three
Willis Strauss is a legend in Omaha business circles. His management style and commitment
to civic progress has inspired many Nebraskans. He retired as chairman of InterNorth
(Northern Natural Gas Company) in 1984. After serving in World War II and obtaining
an engineering degree from Iowa State University, young Bill moved back to his hometown
of Omaha and began his career with the firm in 1948 as an engineering department
He soon was promoted into leadership positions and became chairman, CEO and president
in 1966. Under his leadership, the company increased its revenues from $308 million
in 1966 to nearly $5 billion in 1983.
A strong supporter of community activities and higher education, Mr. Strauss served
on the board of Creighton University and Hastings College and the University of
Nebraska and Iowa State University Foundations. He served as the chairman of the
Citizens Commissions for the Study of Higher Education during Gov. Robert Kerrey's
term. He and his wife Janet were honored by having the University of Nebraska at
Omaha's Performing Arts Center named after them.
A founding member of the Joslyn Art Museum's board of governors, a governor of Ak-Sar-Ben,
and the United Way Citizen of the Year in 1981 are just a few of Mr. Strauss' accomplishments.
And his efforts have continued well past his retirement as his activities in economic
development projects in Omaha and for the state include work for the SAC Museum,
UNO Information Science, and Technology Center.
He and his wife, Janet, have two daughters.
Nathan J. Gold
Nathan J. Gold
Born in Hampton, Iowa, in 1894, Nathan Gold moved with his family to Lincoln in
1902. His father started a dry good business there, and young Nate attended Lincoln
High School, Lincoln Business College and the University of Nebraska, while also
working for his father. The business, Gold and Company, grew to be Lincoln's retail
landmark that operated until 1964. Nathan Gold was very active in the business and
economic development for the city and state.
In 1962, Mr. Gold was appointed by Governor Frank Morrison at $1 a year salary as
special counsel for the Nebraska Economics Development Division and traveled widely
across the nation to tell industry about Nebraska's potential.
In 1966, Nathan Gold received the University of Nebraska's highest service honor,
the Nebraska Builder Award, for his work in establishment and operations of the
Nebraska Resource Foundation. He was one of the organizers of the Lincoln Community
Chest and the Urban League Center.
A keen businessman, Mr. Gold was nationally recognized in the Retail Merchants Association,
serving on the board of directors and as president in 1959, and was awarded the
gold medal of the National Merchants Association, the highest award given in the
retail industry. Mr. Gold was also a strong supporter of youth activities, Mr. Gold
received many awards of appreciation for his longstanding efforts towards 4-H Clubs,
Future Farmers of America, and Future Homemakers of America.
Mr. Gold married Evelyn Baum in 1922 and lived in Lincoln until his death in 1970.
They had one daughter, Louise Levitt and one son, William Gold III.
Raised in Atlanta as one of two sons of a chauffeur and domestic worker, Herman
Cain attended Morehouse College and later obtained a graduate degree from Purdue
University. His first job out of Morehouse was with the Department of the Navy.
He then worked for a time at Coca-Cola, where his father, Luther Cain, was a chauffeur.
Ever restless and looking for newer challenges, he left Coke to join the Pillsbury
Co., and was named vice president of systems and service in a few years.
Pillsbury ran a "fast track" program for its Burger King subsidiary. Cain signed
on and dropped the prestige of having a vice president's title and salary to broil
burgers so he could progress through management. By the time he was 40, Cain was
asked by Pillsbury to "take on" the presidency of its ailing subsidiary, Godfather's
Pizza. He turned the company's performance around in less than 18 months.
Two years later, in 1988, he and Ron Gartlan, Godfather's than current president,
formed a partnership and bought the company. While working to reinvigorate Godfather's,
Cain became increasingly frustrated with the regulations and red tape. As the volunteer
chairman of the National Restaurant Association, he became very involved in debating
the Clinton Health Care Plan. These efforts propelled him into his next challenge,
as president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association.
Mr. Cain and his wife Gloria have a daughter, Melanie, and son, Vincent.
Kenneth L. Morrison
Kenneth L. Morrison
Kenneth L. Morrison was born in Roxbury, Kansas, in 1921, and has been involved
in all aspects of agriculture, from his youthful days on the Kansas farm, until
now. He began trading farm commodities and developing agricultural properties at
an early age. He attended McPherson College in Kansas and has been a resident of
Hastings since 1947.
Mr. Morrison and his family own and operate Morrison Enterprises of Hastings, and
he is managing partner. The business includes grain storage and farmland in Nebraska,
Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana for the production of cotton, soybeans, and
feed grains. The company also engages in large-scale livestock production and feeding
with other Nebraska partners. He was a pioneer in the dehydration, pelleting, and
marketing of alfalfa in Nebraska.
Morrison Enterprises is a worldwide company, including a fully integrated shrimp
production business in Ecuador, as well as construction of commercial fishing boats
and fish meal in processing in Chile. The techniques learned form dehydrating and
pelleting of alfalfa in Nebraska have been applied to improve the processing of
Mr. Morrison serves as a trustee for the University of Nebraska Foundation and is
a member of the Board of Directors for Hastings College. He was awarded the University
of Nebraska Builder Award and was recognized by the Ak-Sar-Ben Court of Honors as
a Leader of Business and Industry.
He and his wife, Marjorie, have one daughter, Susan Roberts, who is also active
in the family business.
Across Nebraska, a number of facilities bearing the name "Lied" are testament to
a former Omaha car dealer and his uncanny knack of making a deal. Ernst Lied made
a fortune in real estate and began a charitable foundation with the money he made.
Much of it has found its way to Nebraska.
Lied followed his father's footsteps as an Omaha car dealer, utilizing World War
II airplane parts contracts to stay in business when rationing nearly shut down
his dealership. After the war, his Buick dealership prospered, becoming the third
largest dealership in the nation. Another partnership began as well. Christian Hixon,
who had worked at Lied's dealership since 1944, became his secretary, assuming accounting
duties as well.
In the 1950's, Lied saw the potential for land development in Las Vegas and determined
that would be the next boom. He sold the car dealership, leased his Omaha property
and moved to Las Vegas. Miss Hixon joined as his assistant in 1960. Miss Hixon and
Lied were essentially business partners–he took her to business meetings and
dependent on her instinctive judgments of people.
Lied had no living relatives and created his foundation trust in 1972. It is solely
administered by Miss Hixon. Two stipulations are noteworthy: The Lied Family name
must be displayed on projects funded by the foundation; and all foundation assets
should be given away by 2010.
Among the many gifts to Nebraska are the Henry Doorly Zoo Lied Jungle, the Lied
Performance Center in Lincoln, the Arbor Lodge Conference Center in Nebraska City,
and the IMAX Theater in Hastings.
The daughter of parents who were bankers, Alice Dittman comes naturally to her position
as Chairman of the Board of Cornhusker Bank of Lincoln. Her father, an Oklahoma
banker, sent her to the University of Nebraska where she earned a masters degree
in finance and earned a degree from Harvard "in the days before they let women into
the business school." She is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at
the University of Wisconsin.
Her banking career began with the family bank, Farmers State Bank of Davey, NE,
where Mrs. Dittman was a cashier. She also worked at banks in Central City, NE,
and Richmond, MO, before returning to Nebraska. In 1964, the Farmers State Bank
moved to Lincoln where it became Cornhusker Bank. Alice became President, CEO and
Secretary of Cornhusker Bank in 1975.
A strong believer in community involvement, Mrs. Dittman and her employees are active
participants in many Lincoln organizations, ranging from PTAs, Girl Scout Council,
Nebraska Wesleyan University, Bryan Memorial Hospital, and the University of Nebraska
Lincoln. She has been a pioneer for Nebraska women in business, becoming the first
female Chair of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in 1988, President of the Nebraska
Bankers Association in 1993, and first woman to become Chairman of the State Chamber
Board of Directors in 1992.
She has three children-Dawn, John, and Doug.
Rose Blumkin is the founder of the Furniture Mart, one of the largest stores in
the country. "Mrs. B" believes in her cardinal principles: sell cheap, tell the
truth, and give special attention to customers.
Mrs. B's success story is a classic. He began working in her mother's store in Russia
at the age of 6. She married Isadore Blumkin and planned to immigrate to America.
While Isadore left in 1914, Mrs. B began her journey in 1917.
She and her family began life in America in Fort Dodge, Iowa. They later moved to
Omaha where they were more Russian Jews, so she could learn English better. After
working in clothing stores and second-hand furniture store, Mrs. B opened the Nebraska
Furniture Mart in 1937. Most of her family, whom she helped bring to America, joined
her and the rest is history. Weathering fierce competition from other furniture
stores and manufactures, lawsuits, change in location, and the 1975 Omaha tornado,
Mrs. B is a shinning example of determination.
In 1983, Omaha investor Warren Buffett bought a majority of stock in the company
on a handshake. Without formal education or business training, she has produced
a business success that ranks right up there with any of the great corporate leader
of our time.
Virgil Froehlich started working for his company the day after he graduated from
high school. Fifty years later, and a lifetime of change in the food industry, Froehlich
is still at the same place–but now he's president and general manager of Affiliated
Foods in Norfolk.
Affiliated Foods is a mammoth operation, serving 550 member grocers in the eight-state
area and has an annual sales volume of $500 million. About 500 full and part-time
employees work at the Norfolk warehouse facility where some 20,000 varieties of
foods and grocery items are shipped daily to retail stores. The company survived
a catastrophic fire and went from 100 employees to six. But hard work and cooperation
kept Affiliated afloat.
Norfolk has profited from Froehlich's success. It would have been easy to move the
facility to another location closer to the interstate when Affiliated re-build after
the fire, but he remained loyal to his hometown. Froehlich has served on the city
council, the planning commission, PTA, hospital board, the local chamber of commerce,
the State Chamber board, and many other community and state groups. He initiated
the Affiliated Reclamation Center, which salvages food and other products, then
sells at low prices to food banks and other pantries from Norfolk to Omaha, as well
as provides meaningful employment to the area's mentally handicapped citizens.
He and his wife, Betty Jane, have ten children.
Warren Buffet is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire
Hathaway, Inc. The firm's business activities include underwriting of property and
casualty insurance, candy productions and sales at retail, newspaper publishing,
retailing home furnishings, sales of encyclopedias, sales of home cleaning units,
manufacture and distribution of uniforms, retail jewelry, and manufacture, imports,
and distribution of footwear.
Mr. Buffet is perhaps the one of the most highly regarded businesspersons in the
United States. He served as a Director of Capital Cities/ABC, the Coca Cola Company,
the Gillette Company, Salomon Inc., and USAir Group, Inc. Berkshire Hathaway has
significant investments in each of these companies.
The annual report of Berkshire Hathaway is anticipated and widely read in the business
and investment community for its sound advice, its creativity, and it humor in explaining
important investments principals. The annual meeting in Omaha is always a high point,
with shareholders enjoying visits to the Nebraska Furniture Mart, Borsheims's Jewelry
Store, and an Omaha Royals game–all part of Mr. Buffett's holdings or investments.
Born in Omaha to Howard Buffett and Leila Stahl Buffett, Mr. Buffett attended school
in Omaha and Washington D.C., where his father served as a U.S. Congressman. He
attended the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and received
a B.S. degree in Business Administration from UNL in 1950. He received a Masters
degree in Economics from Columbia University in 1951. He marred Susan Thompson in
1952, and they have three children-Susan, Howard, and Peter.
Burnham Yates was born in Lincoln on April 30, 1911, and graduated from Lincoln
High School in 1928. He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University
in 1933. Mr. Yates began his business career with First Boston Corp., serving in
the company's New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles offices.
In 1937 he joined the investment-banking firm of Weeden & Co. and remained in
the firm's Chicago office until joining the Navy in 1942. During World War II, he
served in the Pacific and earned the Bronze Star. After being discharged from the
Navy, he joined the First National Bank of Lincoln on December 1, 1945. Burnham
Yates was elected chairman of the board in 1969 and remained in that position until
his retirement April 30, 1976. He retired from the board in 1982, although he continued
to maintain an office in the FirsTier Bank Building.
During Mr. Yate's long and distinguished business career he was very active In supporting
economic development in Nebraska. He served as the president of the Lincoln Chamber
of Commerce and the Lincoln Chamber Industrial Development Corporation and as chairman
of the Advisory Committee of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. He
was instrumental in the growth and development of First National Lincoln.
Burnham Yates and his wife, Mary Walsh Yates have three children; sons, Silas Burnham
Yates Jr. of East Lansing, MI and Willard W. Yates of Alexandria, VA; and one daughter,
Mrs. Russell (Sharon) Ewers, Phoenix, AZ.
George P. Abel
George Abel was born in Boulder, Colorado, the son of early-day Lincoln contractor
George Abel, Sr. and Hazel Abel, a former U.S. Senator from Nebraska. He began a
lifelong career in the construction business by helping his father, founder of one
of the state's oldest paving companies, as a water boy on city paving projects.
Attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Mr. Abel was the student member of
the Athletic Board of Control, and won he Big Six Athletic Scholarship Award. One
of the Nebraska's full-time football greats, Mr. Abel, a guard, won all Big Six
honors and played in the Rose Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, and the College All-Star
Game before joining the U.S. Army in 1942.
Upon his discharge, he assumed an active role in the Abel family business. Under
his leadership, NEBCo has became a broadly diversified company with interests in
building materials, construction, banking, insurance, railroading, farming, ranching,
warehousing, and real estate. NEBCo is one of Nebraska's largest privately-owned
employers with operation all throughout the state.
Mr. Abel has served the state in many capacities, such as president of the Nebraska
Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, a Trustee of the Nebraska
Game and Parks Foundation, and as organizer and member of the Executive Committee
of FirsTier Financial, Inc., Nebraska's largest financial institution.
He is married to Elizabeth Nichols, who was an NU beauty queen, and they have two
sons, John and James Abel, both engaged in the family enterprises.
No one can drive through Nebraska without at least seeing one billboard about Harold
Warp's Pioneer Village in Minden. Pioneer Village was started in 1948 when Mr. Warp
bought his old school house in Minden, and began collecting objects and items that
told the story of growth on the Plains and across America.
Harold Warp was born and raised in a sod house near Minden, Nebraska, where he was
the youngest of 12 children of Norwegian immigrants, and was orphaned at age 11.
He had a genius for inventions, and began inventing products in his teens. He developed
a flexible glass that could be put up next to henhouses, which would keep the cold
out, and still allows for the beneficial ultraviolet rays that helped chickens thrive
in winter. With $800 in savings, he left for Chicago in 1924 with his patent for
Flex-O-Glass. He and two brothers began production of Flex-O-Glass in Chicago, and
he began establishing a network of dealers, which grew to 3,000 across the country.
He was a pioneer in advertising and aviation, as he built his company's growth on
advertising, and he used his first airplane, a Curtiss Jenny, to fly to dealers
and distribute Flex-O-Glass samples from the air! A holder of more than 30 patents
in plastics, and a stall-speed indicator for airplanes, Mr. Warp's record as an
inventor and businessman displayed a major influence on agricultural growth and
in the development of the plastic industry.
But despite his factory location in Chicago and his worldwide travels, Mr. Warp
still called Minden "home". He found many of the historic and antique items now
on display at the Museum during his many travels. He was determined to tell the
"History of Man's Progress" at his museum. In 1979, Mr. Warp was awarded the Haratio
Alger Award by the late Norman Vincent Peale. This is an award reserved for those
who no only have a rag to riches story, but who have used their success to enrich
others. Mr. Warp passed away on April 9, 1994.
Daniel W. Gardner
Dan Gardner was born in New York City, served his country during World War II, and
graduated from Syracuse University in 1948. On vacation in 1951, he came to Nebraska
and visited Dr. Milton Waldbaum who was just beginning his egg production business.
Mr. Gardner moved to Wakefield in 1952 to run the company, while Dr. Waldbaum began
medical studies in Omaha. Beginning with only 25 employees, the M.G. Waldbaum Company
now employs close to 900 people in Nebraska. Starting as a regional wholesaler of
locally produced eggs, the company eventually began to produce their own eggs, and
developed egg products for the entire food industry. In addition of shell eggs,
Waldbaum's manufactures more than 100 million pounds of egg products each year,
including frozen, dried, liquid, and hard-cooked for food services and industrial
A major key to growth of the company was Mr. Gardner's leadership in developing
complete control of production. Waldbaum owns and operates five feed mills, pullet
farms, laying farms, and processing facilities in Wakefield and Bloomfield. He has
been active involved in the egg and poultry business, serving on the board of institutions
like the Poultry and Egg Institute of America, the Egg Clearinghouse, and America
Egg Board, and the United Egg Producers Board, which named him Industry Man of the
Year in 1985.
Mr. Gardner and his wife, Jeanne, and their children have been major public servants
and philanthropists for Wakefield and northeastern Nebraska.
Charles M. Harper
Charles M. "Mike" Harper received his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering
from Purdue University in 1949, and a master's in business administration from the
University of Chicago in 1950. He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World
War II. After earning his M.B.A. degree, Mr. Harper spent five years at General
Motors, working in methods engineering. In 1955 he joined the Pillsbury Company,
where he worked for 20 years. When he left in 1974 to join ConAgra, he was group
vice president with operating responsibilities at Pillsbury's poultry and foodservice
businesses, as well as several venture companies.
In October 1974, Mr. Harper joined ConAgra as executive vice president and chief
operating officer. He was elected a director in September 1975, the president and
chief executive officer in March, 1976. In September, 1981, Mr. Harper assumed his
current position with ConAgra, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive
officer. During his 16 years at ConAgra, Mr. Harper and his management team have
engineered the company's strong rebound from sizeable losses and a precarious financial
position in 1974 to today's position of strength and leadership across the food
chain. Under his leadership, ConAgra's sales have increased from $600 million to
over $20 billion.
Mr. Harper serves of the board of directors of Creighton University and the board
of governors of Joslyn Art Museum. He serves as chairman of the board of governors
of Ak-Sar-Ben, and was Council president of the Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts
of America, in 1983. He serves as chairman of the board of the Greater Omaha Chamber
of Commerce in 1979. Charles Harper is married to Josie Harper.
Walter Scott, Jr.
Walter Scott, Jr. was born in Omaha and graduated with an Engineering Degree from
Colorado State University. He followed his father's footsteps as an engineer and
began his career at Peter Kiewit Sons, Inc. in 1953.
Started over a hundred years ago by a Dutch immigrant bricklayer, Peter Kiewit Sons
expanded under the late Peter Kiewit, Sr. into a giant construction firm building
canals, dams, and power plants for the Publics Works Administration. Later, the
company built munitions plants and interstate highways. Headquartered in Omaha,
the company stays close to its core construction business, which produces 80 percent
of the firm's revenues. Mr. Scott worked in many roles, however in 1979, he began
chairman of the company. Mr. Scott has guided the company into outside investment
in the areas of telecommunications and private financing of infrastructure projects,
utilizing the talents of many long-term employees.
Mr. Scott and his wife Suzanne, have been most generous with their time to Omaha
and Nebraska, particularity the Henry Doorly Zoo and the Joslyn Art Museum. He has
served as President of the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and
as the director of Creighton University, the SAC Museum Memorial Society, the Greater
Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Boys Club Omaha, the University of Nebraska Foundation,
Omaha Junior Achievement, United Way of Omaha, Hastings College, and many other
civic and philanthropic posts. He is also a recipient of the University of Nebraska's
Mr. Scott, and his wife, Suzanne, have three children, Karen Dixon, Sandra Parker,
and Amy Walter Scott.
Duane W. Acklie
Duane W. Acklie
Duane Acklie is the founder of Crete Carrier Corporation, as well as a chairman
of Shaffer Trucking, Inc., Sunflower Carriers, Inc., HTL Truck Line, Inc., and president
of LRC, Inc. The Acklie Companies are national leaders in the transportation industry.
Crete Carriers and its sister companies, while under the same ownership, are independently
operated and comprise of the largest privately-held carrier network in the United
A native of Madison, Mr. Acklie graduated from Norfolk Junior College before attending
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he received a Bachelor of Science and Law
degree. He served as an Army counter intelligent officer in Germany. After returning
to the U.S., he practiced law becoming very involved in transportation law, which
helped Crete Carriers and determine its name when it was founded in 1967. Five years
later, he and his wife, Phyllis, purchased the company. Today, Crete Carriers Corporation
operates a state-of-the-art truck servicing facility, as well as all data processing,
and satellite communications to its rig across the continent from its headquarters
A member of many civic and state boards and organizations, Mr. Acklie served as
Chairman of the State Chamber in 1988. He was also a Commissioner of the Nebraska
State Highway Commission.
Duane and his wife, Phyllis have three children: Dodie Nakajima, Laura Schumacher,
and Holly Ostergard.
Richard, and James Cabela
James Cabela (left)
Richard N. Cabela (right)
Dick and Jim Cabela are avid outdoorsmen and their love of Nebraska's hunting, fishing,
and camping is a classic story of making a dream come true. It was while working
in his father's Chappell furniture store in 1961 that Dick Cabela decided he could
make a nice profit by selling fishing flies he had purchased in Chicago, at well
below the going rate. He put an ad in the Wyoming newspaper. Drafted on the kitchen
table, it was the start of a thriving mail order and retail sporting goods business
with over 1,000 employees. With each of the original orders went a mimeographed
"catalog" of outdoor items. Dick and his wife, Mary were on their way. However,
in 1962 they realized their kitchen table business was growing fast enough to need
full time attention. Dick persuaded his younger brother Jim into leaving the banking
business in Denver and join the family enterprise.
Jim ran the day-to-day operations of the young company in Chappell, while Dick spent
a good deal of time developing business contracts on the road. Investing all their
money in the business, Jim lived for two year on his National Guard pay and at home
with his parents, while Dick and Mary lived on their salary from the future store.
Eventually, the brothers outgrew a number of locations in Chappell as the sheer
volume of the mail orders necessitated a move to the vacant 50,000 square-foot John
Deere building in Sidney. Within ten years, they had outgrown the Sidney building,
moving warehousing to old Sioux Ordinance Depot west of Sidney. A second retail
outlet was opened in Kearney in 1986, where the telemarketing center and more warehouse
is also located. Mail order dominates the business. The Cabelas' have always stressed
a commitment to quality products, value, service, and guaranteed customer satisfaction
to outdoor enthusiasts throughout the world.
Both Dick and Jim continue their outdoor activities when they have time. Dick and
Mary have nine children. Jim, a bachelor, focuses on conservation and restoration
of wildlife habit, working with youths to respect the environment and to be conscientious
V.J. Skutt was born in Deadwood, South Dakota. He came to Omaha on a cattle train
to attend Creighton University. He joined the legal department of Mutual of Omaha
in 1924 after earning a law degree at Creighton. In 1926, he was appointed legal
counsel for the company's Southwest Division in Dallas. He became a director and
executive vice president in 1947 and president in 1949. Named chairman of the board
and chief executive officer in 1953, Mr. Skutt served in that capacity until his
son, Thomas, succeed him as CEO in 1986.
For 33 years, V.J. positioned Mutual of Omaha as one of the largest health insurance
providers in the world. When Mr. Skutt became president, annual sales were $76 million,
however, when he retired in 1987, premium sales exceeded $2.37 billion. To assure
the highest standard of professional selling, Mr. Skutt established a training program
for the company's sales representative that is unique in the insurance business.
Mr. Skutt served on many boards and committees throughout his career, always making
it a point to be active. He established the Mutual of Omaha Criss Award to recognize
contributions in the fields of heath, safety, and/or the public welfare. His award
and honors range from honorary degrees to Distinguished Nebraskalander in 1984,
to founding president and former chairman of the Nebraska Chapter of National Wildlife
Federation. The Omaha Archdiocese honored him and his wife by naming the community's
new Catholic high school V.J. and Angela Skutt High School. Mr. and Mrs. V.J. Skutt
have a son, Thomas and daughter Sally Desmond.
Kenneth L. Wortman
Kenneth L. Wortman
Ken Wortman is known far and wide for his skills as an entrepreneur and as an ambassador
for his community and for the State of Nebraska. As president of Wortman Enterprise,
Mr. Wortman oversees business operations of automobile dealerships, residential
and commercial construction company, motels, and a petroleum marketing business.
With the exception of military service, Ken Wortman has lived his entire life in
Nebraska. Born in Neligh, Nebraska, he purchased Aurora Ford in 1948, combining
natural business ability with an interest in mechanical things, which later branched
in to a diverse range of business interests. He has channeled energy not only into
his business interests, but into the community he calls home.
Throughout his career, he has been active in civic affairs. He has been instrumental
in ensuring quality health care facilities and service to his community. He has
worked diligently in establishing area vocational technical schools, while giving
generously of his time, energy, and resources. A true leader in industrial recruitment
for his community and for the state, Mr. Wortman has served as president of the
Nebraska Diplomats, an organization which honored him as an Ambassador Plenipotentiary.
He and his wife, Marilyn, have two children: Jayne Mann and Brian Wortman.
Clifton K. Hillegass
Clifton K. Hillegass
Cliff Hillegass is the founder of Cliff Notes, Inc., a Lincoln-based publisher of
literary study guide known and respected the world over. Under his direction, the
company has established a reputation for excellence and success based on long-held
business principles that have made Cliffs Notes a true standard-bearer in the publishing
Born in Rising City, Nebraska, Mr. Hillegass got an early start in business, carrying
newspapers and selling magazines to earn money for college. He graduated in 1937
from Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska, and received a graduate assistantship
at the University of Nebraska to pursue studies in physics and geology. Mr. Hillegass,
an avid reader, landed a job at Long's College Bookstore–now the Nebraska
Bookstore as a young graduate student. There he was given the opportunity to further
his knowledge of the book business. After serving in the Army Corps as a meteorologist
during World War II, he resumed working for the Nebraska Book Company in its wholesale
division. He worked closely with their operations and getting to know their needs
In 1958, working from the basement of his home Mr. Hillegass established Cliffs
Notes, Inc. Today, this company still produces study guides, which have become a
standby for countless students the world over. Cliff Notes cover more than 200 literary
classics and are sold in approximately 7,000 retail outlets in the U.S. and abroad.
Cliff Hilllegass and his wife, Mary are parents of James C. Hillegass, Linda L.
Hillegass, Diane Nolan, Kimberly M. Newton, and Patrick J. Ebel.
Robert L. Peterson
Robert L. Peterson
Robert L. Peterson, president and chief executive officer of IBP, Inc. of Dakota
City, Nebraska, has had led of his company through years of growth to become one
of the largest and most successful company in the meat packing industry.
Born in Hartington, Nebraska, Mr. Peterson grew up in Omaha and attended the University
of Nebraska-Lincoln. Active in the livestock and meat processing industry, he was
one of IBP's original cattle buyers when the company began operations at its first
plant in Denison, Iowa in 1961.
During the 1960s, Mr. Peterson moved up steadily through the management ranks, leaving
the company briefly to work for another meat company before founding his own company,
Madison Foods of Madison, Nebraska. He rejoined IBP in 1976, when Madison Foods
was acquired by IBP through a stock transaction. He was named president of IBP in
Under Mr. Peterson's leadership, IBP has experience tremendous growth. He has led
the company through a significant expansion, adding new beef plants and pork facilities,
increasing both employees and sales. The company is now the nation's largest producer
of fresh beef, pork, and related allied products.
Mr. Peterson has received numerous honors during his distinguished career, including
being named "Best Chief Executive in the Meat Industry" in 1981 by the Wall Street
Transcript. In 1989, he was selected by BEEF magazine as one of 25 individuals who
have made a major contribution to the beef cattle industry, and he received Ak-Sar-Ben's
"Agricultural Achievement Award" for his contributions to the beef industry. The
South Soo Development Corporation of South Sioux City, Nebraska also named him "Developer
of the Year" in 1984
He and his wife, Ginny, are the parents of Mark and Susan Peterson.
Thomas Creigh, Jr.
Thomas Creigh, Jr.
Thomas Creigh, Jr. of Hastings was chairman emeritus of the Board of Directors of
K N Energy, Inc. He has been an employee of that company since 1936, the year of
its founding. He began his career with K N as a construction inspector and has since
served in a variety of capacities including assistant to the president and chief
engineer, vice president-transmissions and gas supply.
A native of the Chicago area, Mr. Creigh is a 1933 graduate of Wabash College. Mr.
Creigh served as a chairman of Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 1966.
Other civic and service affiliations include the board of trustees of Hastings College;
past chairman of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education; board of trustees of
the University of Nebraska Foundation; member of the Nebraska State Committee for
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; past board member of the Nebraska Art
Collection; and past member of the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Mr. Creigh and his wife, Dorothy, have four children: Mary Elizabeth Pfeil of Philadelphia;
Thomas Creigh II and John Creigh, both of Hastings; and James Creigh of Washington,
Dr. Lewis Harris
Dr. Lewis Harris
Dr. Lewis Harris began Harris Laboratories in the summer of 1933 in an office on
the third floor of a building at 12th and O Street in Lincoln. Over the next 50
years his business idea grew to one of the largest laboratories of its kind in the
nation, and is recognized as one of the industry's most respected scientific testing
and research laboratories, with more than 500 employees worldwide.
While guiding Harris' development, Dr. Harris also played a major role in the growth
of Lincoln's Norden Laboratories, where he served as president from 1959 to 1969.
After the SmithKline Corporation acquired Norden, Dr. Harris became a part of SmithKline
management team, which he served as chairman of the board from 1973-76.
Dr. Harris has served on numerous civic and charitable organizations including many
years as a trustee to the University of Nebraska Foundations. Two University lectures
series have been established in his name. He served as chairman of the Nebraska
Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 1969-70. Dr. Lewis E. Harris has continued
to be actively involved at Harris and has served as Chairman Emeritus.
He and his wife, Toni, have two children: Ron, president of Harris Laboratories,
and Bob, Chairman of the Board of Harrison Laboratories.
Robert B. Daugherty
Robert B. Daugherty
Robert B. Daugherty, a native of Omaha, was Chairman of the Board of Valmont Industries,
Inc., Valley, Nebraska. A graduate of Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, he
served as a Marine Corps Captain in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. Upon
his return to civilian life in 1946, he became one of the founders of Valley Manufacturing
Company, a small manufacturer of farm elevators. Over the years, he helped build
Valmont into a major worldwide producer and supplier of outdoor lighting and traffic
signals poles, electric transmission and substation structures and communications
towers. Valmont maintains approximately 39 percent of ValCom, Inc., a major distributor
of microcomputer products and services, and is the leading producer of mechanized
irrigation systems for worldwide agricultural markets.
Beyond his many achievements in the business sector, Mr. Daugherty has been very
involved in civic activities and philanthropy. He is currently chairman of the Executive
Committee of ConAgra, Inc., a Director of K N Energy; Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc.; and
FirsTier Financial, Inc. Mr. Daugherty is a member of the Peter Kiewit Foundation,
a Director of Creighton University; Clarkson Hospital; and a Trustee of Hastings
College. He served as chairman of the board of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce
& Industry in 1967.
Earl T. Luff
Earl T. Luff
Earl T. Luff graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln in 1928. In 1935, he became secretary and general manager of The
Lincoln Steel Works Company. In 1947, stock was made available to company employees
in which he purchased majority interest in the company. He was president until 1972,
when he became chairman of the board of Lincoln/Northland, Inc. serving until 1984
when he retired.
Mr. Luff is a past director of the First National Bank & Trust Co., Lincoln,
and a member of the Advisory Board for Commercial Federal Savings and Loan Association.
He served as president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in 1953 and was chairman
of the Association Industries of Nebraska (a forerunner of the State Chamber) in
1944-45 and again in 1957-59. Mr. Luff was one of the originators of the Nebraska
State Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman from 1963-65. He was named Nebraska
Business and Industry Man of the Year in 1959, received the Nebraska Diplomat of
the Year Award in 1981, and was the very first recipient of the Private Enterprise
Award from the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He organized a series
of meetings in Nebraska on "Ethics in Business" in 1977 and 1978, and served as
chairman of the Governor's Task Force for Government Improvements from 1980-1982.
Earl Luff and his wife, Florence, have two children, Earleen (Mrs. Arthur Knox)
and Lyall E. Luff.
Edwin J. Loutzenheiser, Jr.
Edwin J. Loutzenheiser, Jr.
Edwin J. Loutzenheiser, Jr. was Chairman and Chief Executive Office of Great Plains
Container, Inc. of Hastings. Great Plains, which was founded by Loutzenheiser in
July of 1956, is a manufacturer of folding cartons and corrugated boxes. After 30
years, it now employs 165 people in a 165,000 square foot modern plant operation.
Over the past four decades, Mr. Loutzenheiser, a Gothenburg native, has formed at
least 11 successful companies including other manufacturing companies, an aluminum
foundry and machine shop, a water purification equipment manufacturer; a silk screening
facility; a country store; construction; real estate; computer electronics; and
a rabbit raising operation.
He received his bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the Armour Institute
of Technology, Chicago, then went on to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin,
where he received his Masters and Doctorate degree. He was an officer in the U.S.
Naval Reserve in World War II.
Mr. Loutzenheiser's numerous civic activities include the Hastings' Board of Public
Works; District Governor of Rotary International, and President and Secretary of
the Hastings Rotary Club; President of the Nebraska Diplomats; Chairman of the Board
of Governors for the Central Community College; and Chairman of the Board of Trustees
of the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church. He served as chairman
of the board of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 1988.
Mr. Loutzenheiser and his wife, Cora, have two children; William R. Loutzenheiser,
and Richard A. Loutzenheiser, and they have raised four foster daughters.
Harry P. Seward, Jr.
Harry P. Seward, Jr.
After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Harry P. Seward, Jr. came to Nebraska
to work for Bankers Life Nebraskan in 1940. During his 42-year tenure with the company,
he worked in several capacities. He became president in 1969 and was named president
and chief executive officer in 1973. In 1977 he was elected chairman of the board.
A native of Missouri, Mr. Seward graduated from the University of Missouri in 1939.
He earned his Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 1960. He is a past president
of the Lincoln Community Council, and was a Trustee of Westminster Presbyterian
Church. He was president of the Bryan Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, served
on the Cornhusker Council of Boy Scouts, and the Lincoln Foundations. He was selected
to the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry in
1969, and served as chairman in 1972.
Mr. Seward his wife, Franny, have two children: Anne Cordell, and Harry P. Seward,
Robert B. Harris
Robert B. Harris
Robert B. Harris was 10 years old when he first began work at Harris Laboratories,
helping clean the glassware and equipment at his father's laboratories. Through
the years, Bob Harris has held numerous positions with the company including vice
president in 1969, and vice chairman in 1974. Since 1977, he has served as chairman
of the board of Harris, helping to direct the growth of the company that now operate
research facilities in Nebraska, Arizona, and Northern Ireland, and sales offices
in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he has served on the University's
Foundation, as well on the Board of Governors of Nebraska Wesleyan and as a trustee
of the Nebraska Independent College Foundations.
Mr. Harris was named an Outstanding Young Nebraskan in 1978, and was recognized
as the 1988 Nebraska Small Business Person of the Year by the United States Small
Business Administration. He was chairman of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce &
Industry in 1987, marking the only time in the organization's history that a father
and son have both served as chairman. He and his wife, Marilyn L. Harris, PhD are
the parents of Matt, Ted, and Emily.
Virgil R. Eihusen
Virgil R. Eihusen
Virgil R Eihusen, president and chairman of Chief Industries, Inc., started his
construction business with one employee in 1952. The principal activity in the beginning
was the construction of single family homes in Grand Island. The business was then
expanded to include the construction of commercial and industrial buildings and
farm structures. In 1961 the company started its first manufacturing facility to
make steel grain storage tanks for farm and commercial use. Mr. Eihusen became head
of the company which has five major divisions and several smaller ones, with operation
in eight states and England, employing over 1,000 people.
Mr. Eihusen is on the board of directors of Overland National Bank and the Nebraska
Private Industry Council. He is a past director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
and the Nebraska Independent College Foundations. He was chairman of the Nebraska
Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 1976 and the Nebraska Diplomats in 1982. He
has served on the Grand Island City Council, and was named the Small Businessman
of the Year in 1968 by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 1973 he was awarded
the Diplomatic of the Year from the Nebraska Department of Economics Development
for promoting industrial growth in Nebraska. He served as Chairman of the Nebraska
Economic Development Commission and as Chairman of the State Chamber's Economics
Mr. Eihusen and his wife, Patty, have two daughters: Libby and Terri and one son