The Southwestern Business Hall of Fame was established in order to honor alumni who have excelled and obtained significant success in their chosen field of business. The college is known for having a quality business program and for producing outstanding graduates. It is the intent of the college to honor graduates who excel in their respective fields of study.
Larry Ewart ’73 began his 40-year career in crop insurance on a part-time basis when he joined Wheat Growers Mutual Hail Insurance Company 1974, continuing when the company merged with FMH in 1994. He became state supervisor of Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma in 2003, and vice president—claims manager in 2009. During that year he also became a member of the newly created management committee, later taking on management of the Internal Claims Reporting Center in addition to managing the external claims staff. In 2015 Ewart was named senior vice president and national claims manager. He has been a champion of change over the years and is credited with transforming the claims operations at FMH, as well as being an advocate for the industry as a member of a number of NCIS committees.
Cory Helmer ’99 has chosen to make his career in the same city where he was born and raised, Winfield, Kan., and has focused on improving up his hometown as well as his industry. He is currently Winfield/Udall market president of the Union State Bank. Cory is a 2004 graduate of the Kansas Bankers Association Commercial Lending School and a 2012 graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked in the banking industry for more than 20 years. He also is active in the community, currently serving as the vice-chair for the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Board of Directors for the William Newton Healthcare Foundation. He is also active at Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield where he is the finance chair.
Graves Drug Store
Business Builder Award 2019
The Graves Drug Store has a decades-long presence in Cowley County, both as a pharmacy and gift store, and as a community business leader. Established in 1947, the company has changed and adapted to remain relevant and ground-breaking. Dared and Renee Price purchased the Winfield and Arkansas City stores from the Graves family in 2010 and have responded to customer needs with a multitude of changes to the operations and business focuses of the stores. Graves now offers compounding, immunization, packaging and compliance services; patient counseling and medication reconciliation; medication therapy management; and smoking cessation programs. The gift department added an ecommerce component and has seen a growth in sales of more than 80% in each of the past three years. The Prices also serve on boards of directors for various organizations in Cowley County and are enthusiastic supporters of community development.
Dan Fauchier ’68 spent five years in the ministry, seven years in California youth prison counseling, and five years in restaurant development before he took his SC Builder heritage literally, spending the next 40 years in construction. During the past two decades he consulted on such iconic megaprojects as the Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in San Francisco; the Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors; the $1.8 billion New Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto; and the California Prison Medical Center in Stockton. He co-authored Lean Project Delivery: Building Championship Project Teams. He also is co-founder of A Ship in the Woods, a non-profit art and science foundation with a gallery based in his wooded homestead near San Diego.
Kelly J. Rundell ’82 is a litigator with extensive experience in the areas of civil litigation, employment law, civil rights law, and governmental liability. As a deputy city attorney for the City of Wichita, Kelly spent more than 20 years litigating municipal liability, in addition to employment and labor law issues in the government sector. She joined Hite, Fanning & Honeyman L.L.P. in 2015. Kelly is regarded as a resource for issues of employment law, ethics, and trial litigation practice. Her presentations have been heard by members of the bar at CLEs and conferences. Kelly received the Wichita Bar Association President’s Award in 1993 and the Louise Mattox Attorney of Achievement Award in 2012. Her community service includes the Susan G. Komen Kansas Affiliate, the Wichita Area Women’s Golf Association, the Wichita YWCA, and the Southwestern College Board of Trustees.
Best Western PlusPatterson Park Inn
Business Builder Award 2018
Best Western Plus Patterson Park Inn opened in 2014 and began its partnership with Southwestern College at the same time. Under the leadership of general manager and SC graduate Sara Williams, the Patterson Park Inn continuously works toward the personal growth of its team members while offering superior customer care. Southwestern College has provided the hotel with not only a valued partnership but an invaluable gift in the formation and education of many of its staff members. The Patterson Park Inn has been recognized every year for its exemplary service and commitment to its brand standards but considers its most important service the opportunity to give back to the Cowley County community it calls home.
Dennis Hodges ’81 is the founder/CEO of Creatalyst, a global strategy boutique, that teaches executives, educators, students, and entrepreneurs how to unlock creativity and drive innovation. Hodges started with a self-designed degree in Aesthetics and Humanities that taught him to see relationships and connections among seemingly dissimilar items. This set the course for his life’s work, which combines photography, creativity, and strategy. Living for 14 years in Hungary taught him to look at issues from multiple perspectives and appreciate the local nuances that shape world views. He has worked on five continents, including speaking at TEDx Danubia. His work has been shown globally and is in the permanent collection of museums and private collectors. Dennis also launched the lifestyle brand Dream. Believe. Do. and hosts its podcast.
Eric Kurtz ’92 is CEO and president of Union State Bank, the culmination of a career that began immediately after graduation. Kurtz progressed from night processor to senior vice president of Pioneer Bank and Trust in Ponca City before the bank was acquired in 2006. During his tenure the group became one of only three Oklahoma banks with Preferred Lender Program status with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Following acquisition by RCB Bank, Kurtz became senior vice president of commercial lending. In 2009, he joined Union State Bank. He became president of the bank in 2011, rising to CEO and president in 2014. During his tenure, the bank has expanded into Bartlesville, Okla., and Wichita, and acquired RelianzBank, and has been recognized as one of the healthiest banks in the nation.
Brian Pettey ’96 is CEO of Robotzone, LLC, a business he founded in a Reid residence hall room during his senior year at Southwestern. Located in Winfield, Kan., the initial focus of Robotzone was designing and manufacturing robots and robotic components for educational purposes. In 2002, Robotzone began developing more advanced products that were suited for more diverse markets. Robotzone has assisted companies with NASA missions, had robots displayed at the Kennedy Space Center, and constructed robots to help kids learn in thousands of classrooms worldwide. Pettey has also assisted in the development of robots used to protect soldiers in war zones as well as in television programs and movies. Currently, Robotzone is designing a modular robotic construction system. Pettey has invented numerous products and holds more than 30 patents.
Kline Motors was established in 1963 by Don and Virginia Kline as a family-owned business and has served Winfield and the Cowley County area for more than half a century. Its mission stresses the company’s commitment to the community: “Through the commitment, pride, and leadership of all employees, we are dedicated to continuous improvement and growth in every aspect of our business and our community.” Pat Biddle started his career in 1975 in the service and parts departments and continued the tradition of supporting the community that included Southwestern College as he assumed leadership of the company. Kline Motors is now a third-generation business with Pat’s son, Jeremy, set to take ownership of the business. Following in the family footsteps, Jeremy’s son, Wyatt, 14, works summers in the dealership.
Todd Conklin ’84 has served in the human resource and reliability management and training arena at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the last 15 years. His strong background in delivering highly regarded and sought-after training on a national level has dovetailed with proven experience in personnel and labor relations, and he is a sought-after trainer and facilitator. His book, Simple Revolutionary Acts: Ways to Revitalize Yourself and Your Workplace, encourages the reader to become a positive deviant in the workplace. Conklin speaks on workplace humor and friendships; workplace violence; high-risk conflict organizational development; and training for recognizing unusual behavior in the workplace. He has been a guest on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition," and is a three-time finalist for the Publisher's Clearing House giveaway.
Bruce DeHaven ’70 is one of the most celebrated special teams coaches in the National Football League, with three decades experience at this highest level. Coaching at this level is big business – in fact, most business people do not have their work this highly scrutinized on national TV. Before he joined the NFL, though, DeHaven gained 12 years of coaching experience on the college and high school levels. He broke into pro coaching in the US Football League, then joined the Buffalo Bills, where he led special teams from 1987-99 and 2010-12. During his 13 seasons with the Bills DeHaven consistently produced outstanding special teams units and developed elite special teams players, notably Steve Tasker (seven Pro Bowls) and kicker Steve Christie. In 2012 DeHaven’s special teams units set franchise records with an NFL-leading 17.1-yard punt return average. He also coached NFL teams in San Francisco (2000-02), Seattle (2007-09) and most recently the Carolina Panthers (2013-present).
Benjamin S. Harrison '12, who has undergraduate degrees in communications and in clinical psychology, earned his MBA from Southwestern College in 2012. He had a lengthy military career that included service as a squad leader in the 29th Infantry Division and as a master recruiter. Harrison timed his SC degree completion to coincide with his military career completion, and after retirement from the Army accepted a governmental post overseeing a district of financial institutions in the mid-Atlantic region. Using skills learned at Southwestern, Harrison discovered fraud, which resulted in the termination of multiple employees and earned him and his agency accolades. After the unexpected deaths of his wife and mother in 2014, he is taking a strategic pause, traveling the world, and blogging on the dozens of countries he has visited.
Business Builder Award 2016
Galaxy Technologies (formerly Galaxy Tool) was founded in 1985 in a small building with four employees. Galaxy started as a manufacturer of injection and blow molds for local companies such as Rubbermaid and Coleman. Today owned by Gladstone Investments, Galaxy has expanded to become one of the largest tooling manufacturers in the country. Located in the Winfield Industrial Park, it employs 140 engineers, machinists, and various other skilled laborers. In 2015 Galaxy completed its most recent expansion of 35,000 square feet, adding one of the largest 5 AXIS CNC milling machines in the country. In the 1990s Galaxy entered the business, commercial, and military aerospace markets and now is supporting NASA and Boeing on the Orion and SLS space programs. In 2014, Galaxy was awarded the “Governor’s Award of Excellence.”
Shawn Fanshier ’83 began her career at UPS in 1986, working part-time unloading tractor trailers while she attended medical school. When she took a year off from medical school, UPS offered Shawn a computer programming position in their New Jersey tech hub. Since then she has been involved in ground-breaking roles with the company: she was on the team that created “smart scanning” in the early 1990s; helped integrate newly acquired companies into UPS Europe; collaborated on bar coding and data capture systems for UPS International that are still used today; and became UPS’s first worldwide business analyst manager. In 2003 she became manager of the Americas Region (now Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Canada). In 2012 Shawn became the first Americas Region brokerage vice president with responsibilities in 47 countries.
Gregg A. Howell ’73 grew up on a small farm near Udall and turned his interest in agriculture into a career with the farm credit system. He worked his way from his first position as a loan officer to his ultimate achievement of vice president-lending at the Farm Credit Bank of Wichita with responsibilities for 16 farm credit associations in Colorado and New Mexico. He was involved in numerous farm credit association mergers, including the 2001merger of the Farm Credit Bank of Wichita with the Western Farm Credit Bank to form U.S. AgBank, FCB, and a $225 million preferred stock offering by U.S AgBank in 2007. In 2011, AgBank merged with CoBank, ACB. After having witnessed both the worst and best of times in agricultural lending over nearly 41 years with the farm credit system, Gregg retired in 2014.
Leo “Pete” Whalen
Leo “Pete” Whalen ’51 started out as a junior high math and science teacher, but he made his fame and fortune in a much more entertaining fashion—he is founder and president of Lucky Leo Amusements. Now celebrating its 60th year, the amusement business grew from one store to 15 stores in Seaside Heights, N.J., and is the largest and most famous arcade along the Jersey Coast. During the off-season Whalen lives in Hollywood, Fla., where he constructed 44 apartments in Hollywood and Hallandale, Fla. Since his retirement 27 years ago the arcade business has been run by family members while Leo spends much of his time on the golf course, where he has shot three holes-in-one.
Winfield Economic Development
Business Builder Award 2015
Winfield Economic Development, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, was formed in 1996 in response to the closing of the Binney and Smith crayon factory in Winfield. This closure had followed shortly after the closing of the Winfield State Hospital and Training Center and plastics molding company Casco. WED’s objective is to create an environment that encourages job and wealth creation in the community which will lead to a brighter future for Winfield and the surrounding area. The corporation borrowed money against a lease commitment from GE Engine Services and purchased the Crayola factory. Cash flow from the property leased to GE Engine Services led to many other projects, including renovations to create Neives Restaurant in downtown Winfield; relocation of Fluid Kinetics to the industrial park and finding a buyer for their former property; and recruiting a buyer for the former Casco building. WED’s donations throughout the community have included gifts to support Southwestern College’s nursing program and to help fund construction of Jantz Stadium.
Rodney C. Kreie ’77 is a certified public accountant. In 1985 he started his own practice in Ulysses, Kan., merging in 1989 with two other Kansas firms to become part of the CBIZ professional network. Kreie left public accounting in 1999 to pursue other business ventures including irrigated and dryland farming, a bank (where he was president and CEO), a property and casualty insurance agency, a software development start-up, and other small companies. His current companies specialize in developing renewable and alternative energies in an effort to increase the amount of dependable sustainable power in the marketplace. Kreie has been an active volunteer. In Ulysses he helped form the first teen center, worked with local schools developing leadership programs, and was chair of the Grant County Economic Development Council. He has also served on the Southwestern College Board of Trustees.
James L. Richardson ’70 has been involved in management and growth of the same institution since 1972 and now is chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Prairie Bank of Kansas (Stafford, Kan.) and Farmers National Bancshares, Inc. He has administered, developed, and implemented all bank operational, investment and lending policies and procedures, successfully managing the bank through the 1980s and the recent financial crisis. During this time, he has managed to increase the bank’s assets by 400%, has overseen growth through acquisition and managed growth in new markets, and was responsible for managing loan growth of 500%. He has been a member and executive committee member of the Southwestern College Board of Trustees, an active member of the Kansas Bankers’ Association, and an advisory board member of the Hutchinson (Kan.) airport.
Merle D. Sharick ’68 is a Certified Mortgage Banker, supporting all business development activities for LexisNexis in mortgage/real estate. This includes the Mortgage Asset Research Institute’s (MARI) MIDEX data base. His expertise supports a team that markets LexisNexis data solutions to the mortgage and real estate industries. Sharick earned the CMB designation from the Mortgage Bankers Association of America in 2007. Prior to joining MARI, Sharick was a risk management and business development executive in the private mortgage insurance industry for 21 years. He also has a background in public record retrieval, pre-employment background screening, and real estate property disposition, and started several businesses. He has been a successful teacher and coach, public school administrator, and was in the real estate and auction business. He is a licensed auctioneer and real estate broker in several states.
Business Builder Award 2014
Sandy Foust is founder and chief executive officer of S and Y Industries. Starting with a vision to generate extra income for her family, she began fabricating printed circuit boards on the back porch of the 19th century farmhouse she and her husband, Gary, owned in rural Kansas. The company quickly grew beyond a part-time job and now S and Y continues to grow with Foust actively at the helm from company headquarters in Winfield. Under her leadership the company has received awards including inclusion in the Inc. 500 fastest-growing companies in America in 2009 and 2010. Today the company has more than 70 employees and operates in more than 50,000 sq. ft. of space. Sandy’s community involvement includes ownership of retail stores in downtown Winfield, and active support of various philanthropies.
Otis W. Morrow ’70 has combined professional, civic, and philanthropic efforts for nearly half a century to benefit his hometown of Arkansas City. Prior to joining Home National Bank as senior vice president and senior trust officer in 2005, Morrow was a practicing attorney in the fields of estate planning, estate preservation, and business organizations. For 30 years he was the town’s city attorney, participating in landmark public improvement projects that included acquiring properties and rendering legal advice for the flood control/levee project which spanned 30 years, and negotiating the acquisition of the building that now houses the fire and ambulance services. His community service includes service through civic organizations (Chamber of Commerce, Rotary), philanthropic organizations (Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Arkansas City Health Foundation), the First Presbyterian Church, Midian Shrine, and Masonic Lodge.
Leonard R. Wolfe
Leonard R. Wolfe ’79 is president and chairman of the board of United Bank and Trust. He began his banking career during his senior year at Southwestern College, working part-time at his hometown Cedar Vale State Bank until graduation, then full time until 1986 when he became president of Home State Bank, Erie, at age 28. In 1998 Wolfe was named president of Peoples National Bank, Clay Center, a subsidiary of the publicly traded holding company Gold Bank. His roles with Gold Bank included regional president responsible for oversight of several Gold Bank locations. During 2003 Wolfe established UBT Bancshares, Inc., parent holding company for United Bank & Trust, and organized a group of investors to purchase 11 Gold Bank branches in northeast Kansas. Today this bank has 15 branches in nine communities with total assets of $545 million.
Business Builder Award 2013
Blenda Hoskinson had raised two daughters and finished a career in office administration when she set out to fulfill her dream—to serve Winfield delicious, healthful, homemade food and coffee. In October 2001 College Hill Coffee opened at 420 College St. The shop soon outgrew its original home, and in 2003 moved across the block into a renovated arts and crafts bungalow at 403 Soward. Today CHC is the premier Winfield venue for chatting with friends, studying, or gathering for a business meeting. Hoskinson’s innovative business practices and commitment to customer service have made her a leader in the Winfield business community. She has become a force for positive change in Winfield through her philanthropy, motivates her employees to provide high quality service, and supports both the visual and musical arts of the community by presenting them to her customers.
Teresa “Terri” McCorkle Dalenta
Teresa “Terri” McCorkle Dalenta ‘87 began her career at Aetna in Connecticut in the actuarial leadership development program. After five years in that program, she continued the job rotation theme by working in roles of increasing responsibility in various departments and various insurance companies. Dalenta worked at Aetna Life and Casualty as an actuary and senior investment strategist, at Travelers Insurance Company as vice president product management, and at Safeco Insurance as senior vice president of claims and customer service. She now is the chief risk officer for Allstate’s property and casualty insurance division.
Ronald Richardson ’83 had expected to go to law school after graduation, but his first job with Dean Witter Reynolds set him on a path to his career in finance. He soon was hired by Merrill Lynch to boost the local branch’s production in equity trading. After Richardson became syndicate coordinator the branch moved into the top 70 offices in the nation. Richardson also became a Certified Financial Planner. He rejoined Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in 2000 and became a portfolio manager in the custom portfolio group in 2005. He was named Oklahoma magazine’s top financial advisor in 2008. In 2009 Richardson formed Vista Investment Partners and is a portfolio manager providing financial planning for private clients and small businesses.
Business Builder Award 2012
Bob Redford was one of three co-founders of the Walnut Valley Association, a group that in 1972 organized the “National Flat-Picking Championship and Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival.” Later it would become known simply as the Walnut Valley Festival, or to its thousands of devoted fans, Winfield. President of the association for 40 years, Redford has managed the growth of the festival to its current status as one of the most renowned music events in the nation. In 1999 the Walnut Valley Festival was named the “Bluegrass Event of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Redford also had a 25-year career with as an agent with Northwestern National Life Insurance, hired in 1960 as the youngest agent in the company. He was selected one of the Outstanding Young Men of Kansas in 1973.
Laurence “Larry” Jarvis
Laurence F. “Larry” Jarvis ’39 was the president of Jarvis Auto Supply and K&O Distribution Co., and was engaged in farming, oil and gas discovery, and real estate development. A major in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Jarvis joined his father, two brothers, and another partner in Jarvis Auto Supply, and after the war soon became general manager. He guided the business’s expansion to include 13 stores in Oklahoma and Kansas. Eventually the business had 135 employees, with 15 wholesale stores in Kansas and a complementary distributing warehouse business. Larry was deeply involved in the Winfield community and was committed to sustaining important community institutions. He was instrumental in the development of Webster Engineering, which became one of Winfield’s top manufacturers, and developed the Country Club Estates and Vizcaya Estates.
Robert “Bob” Jewell
Robert P. “Bob” Jewell ’77 is an entrepreneur, engineer, and businessman. After earning his master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri, Jewell turned his passion and affinity for technology into a career. He began working for a multi-national pharmaceutical company where he gained national and international experience during the 15 years, he managed global computer operations and telecommunications. Today, Jewell operates his own consulting firm, Network Integration Services, Inc. (NIS). He has developed NIS into a premier IT consulting firm known for providing comprehensive consulting services and enterprise class data center services for its local, national, and international clients. Jewell has served on the Southwestern College Board of Trustees and is involved with the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program as a Fellow, collaborating and advising other budding business owners.
Michael “Mike” Lewis
Michael D. “Mike” Lewis ’74 began his corporate career in the Kmart management trainee program, and further developed management skills while a store manager with Wendy’s. He received his first Wal-Mart store assignment in Joplin, Mo., in 1980. This location just 50 miles from the corporate headquarters provided exposure to corporate leadership on a regular basis, and soon after Lewis began managing the Macomb, Ill., store he was called to interview for a home office merchandising position. Under Lewis’s leadership, the Alaska/Hawaii merchandising group became responsible for coordination of unique logistic issues, specific replenishment opportunities, development and implementation of unique local market merchandise needs, and tailoring the merchandise layout of each offshore store. Lewis has mentored more than 300 Wal-Mart management associates in the Bentonville home office to help advance their careers and develop their potential. Mike has provided important leadership for the college as a member of the board of trustees, including six years as a board chair.
Business Builder Award 2011
Robert Tyler is the president and founder of Winfield Consumer Products, which manufactures Husky and Husky Liner aftermarket accessories for cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles. The main product lines consist of cargo area protectors for sport utility vehicles, floor liners that protect the carpeted floor areas inside vehicles, and custom molded mud flaps for pick-ups and sport utility vehicles. The company employs approximately 90 people in Cowley County. Tyler moved to Winfield in 1978 to work for Gott Corporation, which was purchased in 1986 by the Rubbermaid Corporation. During this period, he served as a project engineer, engineering manager, and then as the product engineering manager. In 1988 he left to start Winfield Consumer Products, a company that has grown to be one of the most successful and admired businesses in the aftermarket industry.
Brad Bennett ’73 is president and owner of The Bennett Agency, Inc., an independent insurance agency that has served Conway Springs and south-central Kansas for 45 years. He also is president and owner of The Brad Bennett Agency, Inc., independent consulting service to private and commercial agricultural enterprises throughout the Midwest and southwest United States. During Bennett’s career he has been a partner in Salina Scale, Inc.; a partner in Lee Products, Inc., which distributed electrical components to the aerospace industry; and vice president of business operations for a group of seven plastics facilities in a multi-state area. He was president of Farm Credit Services, Wichita, for 13 years, entering the organization as a lending officer and becoming CEO six years later.
Roger Crossman ’92 began his career at First National Bank of Liberal (Kansas) in 1995 and was vice president of investments when he left the bank in 2001 to become a State Farm Insurance agent. At State Farm he has been in the Chairman’s Circle and the Central Vice Presidents Council. He is an eight-year Ambassador Traveler. Crossman has been active in real estate investments, building Liberal’s Northtowne Square Mall in 2006 and locating his insurance agency and his RadioShack in this mall. He and three partners started the “High Plains Daily Leader” newspaper in 2008, and now print a weekly Spanish version, “El Lider,” as well as a shopping guide. Crossman is a past president of the Liberal Lions Club and of the Liberal Area Chamber of Commerce.
William “Bill” Seyb
William T. “Bill” Seyb ’65 is a businessman, farmer, and community leader in the Johnson, Kans., area. He first joined his father and another partner in the Seyb-Tucker Lumber and Implement Company and was part of that business until 1992. Four years later he began farming family-owned land, and with his son, Rhett, expanded and improved the farming operation. The farm has received several conservation and natural resources awards. Seyb served on the Stanton County USD 452 Board of Education for 12 years, the Southwestern College Board of Trustees for 12 years, and the Smoky Hills Public Television Board for six years. He is an active member in the United Methodist Church, and past president and a Paul Harris Fellow in the Johnson Rotary Club.
Business Builder Award 2010
Bruce Schwyhart is president of CornerBank. He has been an influential Winfield and Cowley County business leader and supporter of Southwestern College who has been instrumental in developing a county-wide approach to economic development. Schwyhart graduated from Emporia State University. He completed graduate work at Wichita State University and earned his Certified Financial Planning certification through the College for Financial Planning, Denver. Schwyhart has taught in the Southwestern College MBA program. His community service includes leadership on a wide variety of local and state boards, including on the Kansas Bankers Association; Kansas Co-op Council; Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation; Kansas University Lied Center; Cowley First Advisory Council; Twin Rivers Development; William Newton Healthcare Foundation; Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Winfield Area Habitat for Humanity; Marquee Performing Arts Center; and Grace United Methodist Church.
Sue (Lewis) Hale
Sue (Lewis) Hale ’66 retired from The Oklahoma Publishing Company in 2008 after a 43-year career in print, digital, and broadcast journalism. From 2000 to 2007, Hale was executive editor of The Oklahoman, coming from her position as general manager of Connect Oklahoma, the first internet version of The Oklahoman. She started Connect Oklahoma in 1996 after holding several editorial management positions at the newspaper. During her final year before retirement Hale was vice president of Community Engagement for OPUBCO Communications, spearheading cause-focused community projects and assisting in the launch of a statewide digital calendar. Hale was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2002, she was the first person inducted by the National Freedom of Information Coalition into the State Open Government Hall of Fame.
Jimmy L. Kline ’67 has spent more than 35 years providing leadership, management, and consulting to various medium- to large-sized manufacturing companies. The focus of his career has been turnaround situations, continuous improvement, and leadership development and enhancement. Kline was ahead of his time in implementing “lean thinking” long before it was universally promoted. His work has taken him to all parts of the United States, Asia, Europe, and Australia. For the past decade he has been vice president of operations for a global manufacturing company. He has earned a master’s degree in leadership and retired a colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after 24 years of service.
Business Builder Award 2009
Todd Gentry is the CEO and founder of Inno-Labs, a product development company with a diverse array of consumer products in its portfolio. Based in Winfield, the company also offers consulting and design services for new product development. Its customer base has included Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Amazon.com, Menards, and Cabelas. Before founding Inno-Labs, Todd was the president and co-founder of Horizon Internet Technologies, the first Internet service provider in many rural communities in southern Kansas, northern Oklahoma, and eastern Missouri. In 1998 the company was acquired by OneMain.com, and in 2001 OneMain.com sold to EarthLink. Before founding Horizon Internet, Gentry was a control systems engineer for Webster Engineering in Winfield. Todd was part of a team to integrate a European-designed control system into the product line, a revolutionary leap in this industry.
Keri Alexander Crask ’82 spent her early career in gerontology, then entered the field of human resources. During her first decade as a human resources professional, she developed a U.S. management training program for a computerized tax accounting firm, managed a team supporting a Kansas division of a marketing firm, and led the HR organization for a medical school. In 1999, Crask moved into high tech, joining the Kansas division of LSI Logic, a computer chip and computer storage company. There she supported a $500 million global division of 1,100 employees responsible for OEM’d storage systems for major server vendors globally. In 2002, she joined Equinix as vice president of global human resources. During her time with the company Equinix has doubled the size of its workforce, adding a European region, and has experienced rapid growth.
Michael J. Foster ’71, CEO and chairman of Twin Valley Telephone, began his telecom career as a child, riding along with his father and grandfather, then working summers and vacations while going to school. Immediately after graduating he returned to Twin Valley and worked in the field and switch room until the late 1970s when he was appointed vice president in charge of operations. In 1994, he became the third generation of his family to become president and general manager of the company. In 2003 Twin Valley implemented one of the first commercial IPTV deployments in the nation. The success of the effort, along with the fourth-generation employees now helping manage the company, led to the commitment to grow the company, and in 2006 Foster undertook initiatives that have tripled the size of the company.
Richard L. Jantz ’70 grew up on a farm near Cimarron, Kansas, and has used his farming background to forge a career in service of farmers. Jantz founded Millard Management, a crop insurance agency, and in 22 years the business has grown to be one of the largest in the industry. He excels at providing personal service to a large and far-flung customer base. He is active in community and professional organizations and he is currently serving as a member of the Southwestern College Board of Trustees. He has remained connected with many friends from his years at Southwestern, particularly members of the Beta Rho Mu fraternity.
Business Builder Award 2008
Steve A. McSpadden has been a leader in both the business and civic communities in Winfield and in Kansas. Following graduation from college McSpadden moved back to his hometown of Winfield to work for The State Bank as a management trainee. During his 33-year tenure with the bank, he worked in every area, and was its president and chief executive officer. In 2007 the century-old bank merged with Union State Bank of Arkansas City to form a county-wide institution. McSpadden has been a multiple-term trustee of Southwestern College (including service as chair of the Board of Trustees) and of William Newton Memorial Hospital and is a former mayor of Winfield. He has served as president of the Cowley County Economic Development Agency and of the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce. He is currently chairman of the Kansas Bankers Association.
Ron Denton ’79 began his career with Phillips Petroleum as a computer programmer/analyst in the financial resources area. Since then he has been promoted to become a computer analyst, supervisor for the internal information technology information systems group, director of litigation support services for the legal department, and director of legal business services. He was supervisor of the legal department information technology team that was formed to bring information technology into the internal Phillips legal department. When Phillips Petroleum merged with Conoco, Denton was promoted to manager of legal business services at ConocoPhillips. As one of five people on the legal leadership team Denton provided management, oversight responsibility and support for the ConocoPhillips world-wide legal organization.
Ralph C. Hanna III ’78 began his career with Conoco, Inc., in 1978. He has served in a variety of financial accounting and information systems positions with the company now known as ConocoPhillips. He started in the pipeline accounting group and progressed through analyst positions as a senior analyst developing accounting systems. In 1988 he was named finance director in corporate accounting. In the mid-1990s, he helped implement the first U.S. instance of the corporation's enterprise resource planning system. He was part of a transition team related to the merger of Conoco and Phillips Petroleum, and became manager of the enterprise information delivery systems group. In 2006, Hanna became leader of the global leveraged service group responsible for personal computing, meeting technology, e-mail, messaging, remote access, and enterprise content management.
Rod Strohl ’66 has risen through the levels of management to become executive director of customer service of AT&T Advertising and Publishing in Dallas. He leads a team of 276, including 33 managers. Strohl is responsible for all of customer service for AT&T’s southwest region, which includes the states of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. In addition to being responsible for all field collectors in those states, he leads the customer service group that handles all of AT&T Yellowpages.com internet advertising. His service to AT&T (formerly SBC Corporation) included stints as district manager of residence service centers, director of customer service, and managing director of customer service. In 1968, he was U.S. Jaycees Man of the Year.
The Colvin Family
Business Builder Award 2007
Kent Colvin and Kevin Colvin ’98, Liberal, exemplify this award’s description of “business leaders who have created jobs, supported community institutions, and through their hard work and civic contributions have made a lasting impression on the local quality of life.” The Colvins own High Plains Pizza, which brought Pizza Hut to Liberal in 1962. Co-founded by Kent’s father, Bill, and including Kent and his brothers, Mike, Tracy, and Greg, and son Kevin, High Plains Pizza now owns 77 stores in five states. The Colvins have committed their businesses to provide high quality and excellent service. Those efforts were recognized when the Meade and Hugoton stores were ranked No. 1 and 2 in the nation for cleanliness and service. In 1996, the Hamilton, Mont., store earned the same designation.
Craig L. Anderson ’82 became chairman and CEO of UMB National Bank of America in 2005. He had joined the company in 1986 and was president of the Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit, Mo., markets before moving to Wichita in 1996. In addition to his SC degree, Anderson completed a degree at the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado. He is heavily involved in community activities, including leadership in Arts Partners, the Wichita Symphony, the Via Christi Foundation, and the Southwestern College Board of Trustees.
John T. Smith ’64 earned graduate degrees from Michigan State University before devoting his professional career to his native southwest Kansas. In 1971 Smith started his own business in private land planning and development, also serving as a planning consultant to governmental units in the area. He has been general manager of Village Plaza, a retail and office complex, for more than 25 years, and is general manager of Yucca Ridge, a residential fly-in golf community. He was founding member and first president of the Liberal Air Museum Foundation, and of the High Plains Heritage Foundation, as well as a longtime member of the Southwestern College Board of Trustees.
Wendell R. Smith ’65 began his career teaching mathematics and coaching at Clifton, Sabetha, and Wellington high schools. A career change in 1973 led him into the insurance industry when he became agency manager of Travelers Insurance Co. in Wichita. From 1979 to 1991 he was owner of Financial Services of Dodge City before returning to Wichita in 1991 as owner of Financial Planning Concepts, Inc. He became a member of the Million Dollar Round Table with the move to Dodge City and has continued this annually since. He was Travelers Life & Annuity Agent of the Year in 1989.
Jill Long & Patty Neises
Business Builder Award 2005-2006
Jill Putters Long and Patty Kelley Neises established Long & Neises CPAs Chartered in 1991 and have made community service a hallmark of their company. Members of the firm (including three certified public accounts and four support staff) are active volunteers, combining professional achievement and service with support of Winfield and the surrounding area. Neises is on the board of directors of Eagle Nest, Inc., and is a founding board member of Legacy Foundation. Long serves on the board of directors of Cumbernauld Village, as well as Winfield Economic Development, Inc.
Charles H. Kopke ’44 studied at Southwestern College for three years before World War II interrupted his education in the spring of 1943. After three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps and graduation from the University of Kansas, he was hired by Commerce Trust Company, Kansas City, Mo. He spent his entire career at the company, retiring as senior vice president of the company after 40 years. As a commercial lender and head of the real estate and construction loan department, Kopke facilitated loans to build hospitals, churches, shopping centers, and sub-divisions, as well as loans that assisted colleges and individuals. In retirement he has been an active board member for several not-for-profit organizations.
Becky O’Neal ’77 began her distinguished career with State Farm Insurance in Los Angeles in 1981, working extensively with fraudulent claims, legal cases. She became involved in legislative issues and achieved the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. In the early ’90s, she chose to move to a similar position in Albuquerque, and in 1997 she was asked to join the newly formed Customer Response Center in Bloomington, Ill., as an operations manager. She continues to be heavily involved in the financial services side of State Farm and in 2004 led the effort to offer health savings accounts to the public.
Steve K. Stone ’74 is senior vice president and chief financial officer of Morris Communications Co., a privately-held media company. He is responsible for the financial operations of Morris Publishing Group (which publishes 61 newspapers), and heads MStar Solutions, the Morris Communications subsidiary establishing and operating a shared services center since 2002. During his 24 years in the newspaper industry Stone has been assistant vice president/shared services for Knight Ridder, Inc., and has been an administrator at several of the nation’s most respected newspapers. Stone is a recognized thought leader in the field of shared services, actively participating with benchmarking groups concerned with reducing organizations’ finance and administration costs.
Business Builder Award 2004
Craig Duncan has been associated with Winfield Iron and Metal, Inc., a family-owned business, since returning to Winfield in 1978. Craig has worked with his father (the founder of the company), Bob, since then. The company was started in 1961 as a scrap iron and metal processor and has expanded into the new steel and welding supply business. The company serves agricultural, industrial, and consumer markets in south central Kansas. In addition to his oversight of company operations, Craig is involved in the Winfield Economic Development (board of directors), Snyder Research Foundation (trustee), Southwestern College Business Advisory Council, and Cornerbank (board of directors).
James L. Buterbaugh ’71 is the longtime president of Buterbaugh & Handlin, Inc., a real estate and insurance agency in Winfield, Kan. A six-year veteran of the Navy, he has been active in civic and community activities, including service as national historian of the American Legion; several terms as commander of the Winfield American Legion; leadership in Grace Episcopal Church; presidency of the Seabury Development Society, Inc.; and leadership in realtors’ associations. His service to the college includes membership on the Cowley and Sumner Counties President’s Advisory Council; support of SC students, and active guidance and participation in alumni events.
Arthur N. Modschiedler ’59 enjoyed a long and successful business financial services career with the Travelers, serving that company as a financial service manager in Wichita and Kansas City. There he managed and motivated a marketing team that consistently ranked among the company’s national sales leaders. His performance won him numerous management honors. In 1990 he founded his own company in Kansas City providing financial services, marketing development, and consulting to a diverse clientele of business executives. His civic activities include work with SCORE and the Cancer Challenge. Modschiedler’s workshops for college staff and alumni have provided estate planning expertise to the college.
Delmar O. Seevers ’41 was a research physicist at Chevron Oil Field Research Co. in LaHabra, Calif., from 1951 to 1984, retiring as senior research associate. At Chevron he made significant contributions to the science of petroleum exploration, developing and applying the principles of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to the search for deposits. Seevers was a mentor to young scientists joining the expanding research programs at the LaHabra laboratory, encouraging active exchange between colleagues in industry and academia in the U.S. and abroad. Indeed, he was instrumental in the corporate-academic cooperation, connecting research faculty and students with Chevron scientists.
Business Builder Award 2003
The impact of Betty Daniels and her late husband, Chet, is visible throughout Winfield, and especially on the Southwestern College campus. The company they started in 1949, Daniels Rock and Ready Mix, has been the community’s source for crushed rock, concrete, and asphalt. Betty worked alongside her husband in management of the company, and continued this role after his death in 1994, until it was sold. Today she is heavily involved in community activities such as Winfield After 5, the Assembly of God Church, and The Eagle Nest, a women’s self-help organization in Winfield.
Larry Cantrell ’71 is a native of Tucson, Ariz., but has spent a quarter of a century in the fields of engineering and construction around the world. He has held project, finance, construction, contracts, and materials management positions in the United States, Southeast Asia, South America, and the Middle East. During four years in Indonesia during the 1980s he was so successful in instituting programs to deal with new Indonesian government procurement regulations that other companies invited him to give classes to Indonesians on how to deal with their own government’s procurement system.
Harold W. Deets ’43 began his career in 1941 as a sheet metal worker at Beech Aircraft Corporation during the boom days of Wichita’s aircraft industry and stayed with the company for more than 45 years. He was supervisor of all accounts payable operations before transferring to the materiel division in 1950, where he progressed through a series of supervisory responsibilities until 1972 when he was elected vice president, materiel. He retired from Beech in 1987 as vice president, materiel and production. Deets and his wife, Mary Ellen, have been loyal supporters of Southwestern College, and honorary trustees of the college.
Dick Edmondson ’50 started Edmondson Construction Co, Inc., and Development. He began building starter homes in 1967 and moved to executive style homes while teaching at West Junior High in Lawrence, Kan. He was an original investor in Alvamar, Inc., and helped develop several hundred acres of land for building homes. He was an executive board member of Alvamar Country Club, and on the board of Wakarusa Valley Development, which reviewed and approved SBA loans. He was one of the original participants in government-subsidized low-income housing in Lawrence, Kan.
James E. Farney ’53 retired as senior vice president of the Travelers Companies in Hartford, Conn., in 1990. He joined The Travelers in 1958 as an agency service representative in Wichita and was promoted through progressively more responsible positions until 1978, when he was named regional vice president with headquarters in Morris Plains, N.J. Later that year he returned to the home office as national director. He was promoted to vice president in 1981. For 13 years he was responsible for marketing in the United States and Puerto Rico. A retired captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve with 27 years of service, Farney also is a member of Southwestern College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Paul L. Hellman ’58 retired as an affiliate general manager of Mobil Oil Exploration and Production Division after 28 years with the company, much of this time spent in foreign locations such as Venezuela, Libya, and Indonesia. He held various engineering, operations, and planning positions before his promotion to general manager. The high point of his career was in Indonesia, where he directed control of two large gas well blowouts in North Sumatra. Prior to retirement, he was task force manager of the Exploration and Production reorganization/culture change.
Armon Mills ’64 is a certified public accountant who spent more than 20 years in public accounting before making a career change to newspaper publishing with American City Business Journals. He was publisher of the Business Journal in Phoenix from 1987 to 1991, then relocated to the San Jose Silicon Valley Business Journal and was publisher until becoming managing partner of Shilling & Kenyon/SK Consulting in 1999. Most recently he has been publisher, CEO, and co-founder of a weekly business newspaper with a strong emphasis in covering technology in the Silicon Valley.
Larry Montgomery ’60 followed an early career with the FBI and the U.S. Department of State with service to three state governors and achievements as a successful business leader. He served as president and CEO of U.S. Wheat Associates; was president and CEO of the International Management Group, and most recently was co-founder, president, and vice chairman of the board of directors of publicly-traded Multimedia Games, Inc. Multimedia Games was recognized as the public company with the greatest growth of any company traded on stock exchanges in the United States during 2001, growing to more than 160 employees and annual sales of $180 million in 10 years. Montgomery retired in 2001.
Deryl K. Schuster ’57 has spent his business career in banking and small business finance. He was president/CEO of several banks, including a four-bank holding company. Schuster served as president of the Kansas Bankers Association in 1985 and was district director and regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Schuster received the National Small Business Banker Advocate of the Year award in 1984, and SBA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. He was an incorporator of the Wichita/Sedgwick County Zoological Society that directed the establishment of the internationally acclaimed zoo in Wichita. He also worked on the original committees that established Century II in Wichita, the Kansas Jaycees Cerebral Palsy Ranch, Wichita River Festival, and Leadership Kansas.
Dale H. Snyder ’51 began his career as a teller-bookkeeper at the Lyons State Bank in 1951, and nearly 30 years later was elected president and chairman of the same bank. He retired as president in 1991 and remains as board chairman. Snyder has been a trustee of Southwestern College and was honored by the Lyons Chamber of Commerce in 2001 with the Distinguished Award for Community Service.
Business Builder Award 2002
For more than three decades Newton Richardson and Leonard Richardson ‘50 operated the most prolific construction company in Winfield. They were said to have built, remodeled, and torn down more buildings than any other company in Cowley County. From its beginning in 1955 until the brothers retired in 1986, Richardson Brothers Construction Company changed the landscape of Cowley County by completing dozens of new buildings and major demolition projects to make way for future buildings. Both have been active in civic opportunities (Newton was a city commissioner, and Leonard was president of the Chamber of Commerce), church, and farming.