Junior Achievement names Champions of Business
Wausau, WI – Outstanding area business leaders who helped shape our area’s economy in past years will be honored this spring at the 15th Annual Champions of Business dinner established by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. – Northcentral District.
John Sturtevant, John Noel, and John and Carolyn Sonnentag have been selected as the 2024 honorees. A dinner on May 9 at the Jefferson Street Inn & Event Center will celebrate their historic contributions to the Wausau area business community.
Sturtevant will be honored with the Founder Award for his business success after the early 1900s.
Sturtevant made his mark as a journalist, editor and publisher, launching the Wausau Record-Herald newspaper in 1907, which he ran for 32 years with a firm, principled hand until his death in 1939. From his beginnings at age 14 as a printer’s apprentice, he was a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, led The Waupaca Post, and moved to the Wausau area in 1907. He consolidated the two existing dallies into one successful newspaper that defined local news. His industry prominence led him to serve as vice president of the Associated Press in 1919-20.
Noel and the Sonnentags will receive the Developer Awards for their contributions to the Wausau area economy and community.
The breadth and depth of Noel’s business efforts, philanthropic generosity and the acumen his work contributes to the Wausau community knows no boundaries. He began Travel Guard, a travel insurance business, formally launching it from his home basement office in 1985. This ingenious idea inspired Noel to develop other travel industry products through The Noel Group companies — including Marathon Travel, My Assist, Insure America — as well as organizing Compass Properties, a valuable property-management group that oversees much of Wausau’s downtown.
The Sonnentags boosted a small, family-owned concrete and gravel company based in Marathon City from a modest manufacturer for masons and builders to an award-winning, industry leader of concrete construction and landscape products. County Materials Corp. — which the couple took over running from John’s parents — continues to make its mark 75 years later. In addition to their work growing and expanding the business, John and Carolyn are generous to multiple causes, such as the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Mayo Clinic and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Wausau.
“Our community and local economy are built from a foundation of passionate and innovative leaders. These leaders created a solid footing in the area that has been and will continue to be developed upon for years to come,” said Marla Kolbeck, event co-chairperson.
Information about past winners and the Champions of Business annual event is available at www.championsofbusiness.org.
Tickets to the event are on sale at Junior Achievement of North Central Wisconsin at 715-842-1056 or www.championsofbusiness.org.
A panel of independent judges selected Olive Graham, Ralph Mirman, and Larry Niederhofer as the 2022 honorees.