Champions of Business
Junior Achievement

2023 Champions of Business Announced by Junior Achievement

Wausau, WI – Outstanding area business leaders who helped shape our area’s economy in past years will be honored this spring at the 14th Annual Champions of Business Dinner established by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. - Northcentral District. A panel of independent judges selected Neal Brown, Jim McIntyre, and Jane Bierman as the 2023 honorees. A dinner on Thursday, May 4 at the Jefferson Street Inn & Event Center 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.  

Neal Brown will be honored with the “Founder Award” for his business success after 1880.

A lawyer, business advisor, real estate investor, politician, author and speaker, Neal Brown arrived in Wausau in 1880. He became part of the Wausau Group, involved with Marathon Paper Mills, Great Northern Life Insurance Company, Wausau Street Railroad Company and Wausau Sulphate Fiber Company. He was a significant force to unite and regulate water rights and its power, providing electricity in the community. Neal represented Marathon County in the state Assembly and Senate and was twice nominated as a U.S. Senate candidate. Renowned for his curiosity, intellect and creativity, Neal Brown is one of our community initiators to know. 

Jim McIntyre, and Jane Bierman will receive the "Developer Awards" for their contributions to the Wausau area economy and community.

Jim McIntyre, Greenheck Group CEO, is a steadfast, devoted supporter of the community, helping to make it a better place for others thanks to his ability to make things happen. Most recently, under his unwavering leadership, the Greenheck Group saw tremendous revenue growth, numerous acquisitions, and manufacturing honors. Before joining Greenheck in 2011, Jim led Capitol Transamerica Corporation.  He also had an impressive 30-year career in the commercial insurance industry, most notably with Wausau Insurance, serving in a variety of leadership roles and becoming president in 2000. Jim touches our area through his work with a variety of business and civic boards who benefit from his strong and caring spirit, along with his remarkable business acumen. It was good fortune when Jim McIntyre headed cross country from his native state of California to the Wausau area.

Buying an old dairy farm and renovating its barn in the Merrill area to house their new business, Jane Bierman and her husband, Carl started Lincoln Wood Products in 1947. With Carl’s millwork experience, the couple established their company together to manufacture wood products. As the company expanded, so did its operations — including windows and patio doors, adding vinyl manufacturing with Timeline Vinyl Products, Inc. Carl passed away in 2002 and Jane actively remained at the company’s helm until she died in 2011. Additionally, establishing the Bierman Family Foundation, Jane’s well-known industry and community commitment and perseverance continues to support the area.

“Our community and local economy are built from a foundation of passionate and innovative leaders. These Champions of Business 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.

“Junior Achievement’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed. Helping our youth understand the roots that have allowed the businesses in Central Wisconsin to grow and blossom, is one step in ensuring a healthy local economy for them,” Kolbeck said. “As I look back at these tenacious leaders and the history that they made, I look forward to the fearless, compassionate and courageous founders and developers of this community’s future.”

Thirty-nine other Champions of Business have been honored in the past thirteen 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, Herb & Ervin Kolbe, A.P. Woodson, T A Duckworth, Ronald Nicklaus, John Ringle, David Graebel, Jerry Viste, Olive Graham, Ralph Mirman, and Larry Niederhofer. Information about past winners and the Champions of Business annual event is available at www.championsofbusiness.org.

Title sponsor for the 2023 Champions of Business Dinner is Ruder Ware. Speaker sponsor is Associated Bank. Other sponsors include Peoples State Bank, Samuels Group, E.O. Johnson, and Greenheck. All proceeds from the event will go to the local Junior Achievement district office, which provides business and economic education programs to area schools.

Kindergarten through 12th grade students participate in JA’s experiential learning programs. 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.