Wausau, WI – Outstanding area business leaders who helped shape our area’s economy in past years will be honored this spring at the 11th Annual Champions of Business Dinner established by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. - Northcentral District. A panel of independent judges selected A.P. Woodson, T A Duckworth, and Ronald Nicklaus as the 2019 honorees. A dinner on Thursday, May 9 at the Jefferson Street Inn City Grill will celebrate their historic contributions to the Wausau area business community. Tickets to the event are on sale at Junior Achievement of North Central Wisconsin (715.842.1056) or online at www.championsofbusiness.org.
A.P. Woodson will be honored with the “Founder Award” for his business success prior to 1945.
A.P. Woodson moved to Wausau from Kansas City in 1913 to assist his father-in-law Cyrus Yawkey, joining the Wausau Group, which was investing in and encouraging new businesses to diversify the area’s declining white pine lumber industry. This started A.P.’s participation in an amazing array of business undertakings for the next 45 years. During his lifetime he served as a director or officer of 88 corporations, focusing on the paper, public utility and insurance industries. A.P. is also remembered as a community pacesetter. Most notably, he was instrumental supporting the development of the Wausau YMCA, still bearing his name.
T A Duckworth and Ronald Nicklaus will receive the "Developer Awards" for their contribution to the Wausau area economy and community after 1945.
T A Duckworth grew up in Missouri and was a lawyer by training. Accepting a claims adjuster role with Employers Mutual of Wausau started a life-long career with the company eventually known as Wausau Insurance. After a 43-year career, T A ended his tenure as the chairman of the board with the organization in 1981. Among T A’s many civic pursuits, he served on the boards of numerous charitable non-profits like the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and organizations with a health- and education-focuses such as the Wausau Hospital Center and the Wausau Schools Board of Education.
Ronald Nicklaus developed a successful bean harvesting business in 1956 that stretched beyond north central Wisconsin to five other states. Nicklaus Enterprises grew to include farms with innovative irrigation systems and self-manufactured harvesting equipment. By the 1970s, farms run by Nicklaus Enterprises sent almost 80 trucks of beans out a day for distribution. With experience setting up unique financing to manage his interests with lenders, Ron set his sights on owning a bank, becoming the majority River Valley State Bank stockholder in 1983. River Valley Bank’s growth in its retail, commercial and insurance business now stretches across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“Each of these Champions of Business has left a lasting impact on our regional business economy and serves as an excellent role model for the young people who may become our future business leaders and stewards of our community,” said Bridget Wenman, event chairperson.
“To ensure a prosperous local economy for the next generation, it’s important that we understand the values and lessons that these leaders can teach us about innovation, teamwork, perseverance and grit.” Wenman said. “We want our young people to know that Central Wisconsin has a rich business history and offers tremendous potential for future business ventures.”
Thirty other Champions of Business have been honored in the past eleven years. They include D.C. Everest, Bernie Greenheck, John Ullrich, Hans Hagge, Marv Schuette, Ray Goldbach, Walter Alexander, Dick Dudley, E.O. Johnson, Cyrus Yawkey, Bart Kellnhauser, Rick Gering and Art Juedes, Alexander Stewart, Lula Jacob, W.F. McCormick, Walter McIndoe, Ed Creske, Gordon Backer, Daniel Plumer, Robert C. Greenheck, G. Lane Ware, the Fromm Brothers, John Slayton, David Smith, George Ruder, Dwight Davis, William Sampe, August Kickbusch, and Herb & Ervin Kolbe. Information about past winners and the Champions of Business annual event is available at www.championsofbusiness.org.
Title sponsor for The 2019 Champions of Business Dinner is Ruder Ware. Reception sponsor is Associated Bank. Other sponsors include Peoples State Bank, Samuels Group, E.O. Johnson, Greenheck, and M3 Insurance. All proceeds from the event will go to the local Junior Achievement district office, which provides business and economic education programs to area schools.
More than 11,100 Northcentral District Kindergarten through 12th grade students participate in JA’s experiential learning programs. Critical to the success of JA’s approach is the use of community volunteers who use their own job and life experiences to bring the curriculum to life. Ethics, as it relates to business, has always been taught as part of the Junior Achievement curriculum.
The purpose of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Today, Junior Achievement reaches more than 158,000 Wisconsin students annually and ten million students worldwide.