Champions of Business
Junior Achievement

2017 Founder Award

George Ruder

George L. Ruder attended Wausau public schools before continuing his education at the University of Wisconsin. Shortly after receiving his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1920, George Ruder began his first law practice in his hometown of Wausau with other local attorneys, until starting his independent practice in 1933. During this time, Mr. Ruder greatly assisted in the reorganization of several large area businesses, which allowed them to not only survive the Great Depression but also prosper long into the future. In 1954, George Ruder joined Stanley F. Staples, Jr. to form Ruder & Staples. While Mr. Ruder passed in 1970, the firm that Mr. Ruder founded still exists today as Ruder Ware Law Firm.

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2017 Developer Award

Dwight Davis

After beginning his career as a high school teacher in Michigan, Dwight Davis spent 19 years of his career as a community college executive, including Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, WI. In 1985, Mr. Davis joined Wausau Insurance, where he held a 15-year career in various senior executive positions before retiring as the company’s President and COO in 2000. After many years of serving on the Greenheck Board of Directors, Davis was asked to assume leadership as President and CEO of Greenheck Fan Corporation. Under Davis’s decade of leadership, the company nearly tripled in size and expanded their business worldwide.

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2017 Developer Award

William Sampe

William B. Sampe began his career with Household Finance in Kansas City, MO. After fourteen years at Household Finance, Bill accepted a position with First Wisconsin National Bank, allowing him to relocate back to his home state of Wisconsin. He worked his way through the ranks and in 1976, was offered the presidency of the First Wisconsin National Bank in Wausau, where he grew the bank over a 12-year period. Even after retiring from First Wisconsin National Bank in 1988, Bill remained extremely active in local business development and consulting. During this time, he was instrumental in driving the downtown Wausau revitalization project.  

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2016 Founder Award

The Fromm Brothers

In 1901, midst their adolescence, the four Fromm Brothers of Hamburg, WI discussed their dream of producing the finest silver foxes in the world. In order to acquire the capital necessary to pursue this dream, the Fromm Brothers began farming ginseng. The Fromm farm quickly became the largest ginseng operation in the world. By 1913, the brothers were able to purchase their first premier silver foxes. By the 1930s, the Fromm's had also become the world's largest producer of silver fox furs, and were instrumental in funding research for animal vaccines and genetics.

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2016 Developer Award

John Slayton

John Slayton worked for Marathon Electric Manufacturing Corp. for 41 years serving as Vice President of Finance, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and President, and as a member of the Board of Directors. He retired from Marathon Electric in 1989. Slayton was active in many civic, community, and public service organizations and was distinguished with many awards, among which was the honor of being named the 1984 Wausau Citizen of the Year. 

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2016 Developer Award

David Smith

David Smith joined the Marathon Corporation in 1927 and worked there until assuming the role of President and General Manager of Ward Paper Company in 1938. In 1950, Smith became the President and General Manager of Wausau Paper Mills Company. Under his direction, the Brokaw mill made some of its greatest and most innovative advances including adding paper machines and reducing the pollution of the Wisconsin River. 

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2015 Founder Award

Daniel Plumer

Daniel Plumer settled in Wausau in 1857 when he was just 20 years old and began working as a surveyor of timber lands. He worked his way up in the lumbering industry and invested very successfully in timber lands, sawmills, mining and real estate. In 1868, he and a partner started the Silverthorn & Plumer Bank, which became the First National Bank of Wausau in 1882. Plumer continued as president of the bank until the time of his death in 1920.

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2015 Developer Award

G. Lane Ware

G. Lane Ware was a prominent attorney and civic leader in central Wisconsin for 49 years and represented numerous Wausau area businesses and major corporations in corporate and governance issues. His experience in business and securities law played a key role in the growth and expansion of many area businesses.

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2015 Developer Award

Robert C. Greenheck

Robert C. Greenheck co-founded a small local sheet metal factory that has become The Greenheck Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of air movement and control equipment for commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. After graduating from Marquette University’s College of Engineering in 1950, Bob Greenheck returned to the Wausau area and provided more than six decades of engineering expertise, manufacturing knowledge and business leadership to his company.

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2014 Founder Award

Walter McIndoe

McIndoe was one of the most enterprising and prosperous lumbermen in Wisconsin and instrumental in establishing the community of Wausau and the county of Marathon in the mid-1800s. He became a prominent elected official in Wisconsin, a candidate for Governor, and served five years in the U.S, Congress where he introduced legislation that led to the construction of the Wisconsin Central Railroad line to Superior, Wisconsin. Walter McIndoe will be recognized with the Founder Award for his contributions to our area’s economy prior to 1945.

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2014 Developer Award

Ed Creske

Ed Creske founded Wausau Tile in his garage in Mosinee in 1953. Today, Wausau Tile is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of a wide variety of precast concrete and terrazzo products for some of the world’s best known buildings, stores, parks, museums and stadiums. The company employs more than 350 employees in Rothschild. Creske also owned Imperial Industries, a Rothschild-based manufacturer of bulk storage tanks that began operations in 1981 and employs 150 workers today.

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2014 Developer Award

Gordon Backer

Ophthalmologist Gordon Backer founded the Backer Eye Clinic with his brother, Bill, in 1965. Today, his original practice is known as the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin and employs 17 ophthalmologists and optometrists who provide comprehensive vision services including eye surgery. The Eye Clinic of Wisconsin serves patients at six locations including Wausau, Merrill, Antigo, Rhinelander, Medford and Stevens Point.

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2013 Founder Award

Alexander Stewart

Alexander Stewart was one of Wausau’s first entrepreneurs. In 1849, at age 20, he founded what became a major U.S. lumbering enterprise. He was a member of the Wausau Group and served three terms in the U.S. Congress.

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2013 Developer Award

Lula Jacob

Lula Jacob served as president of Hammer Blow Tool Company, Wausau, from 1945-1967 when she retired at age 90. The company manufacturedtrailer equipment. She also supported many community organizations throughThe Jacob Trust Fund.

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2013 Developer Award

W.F. McCormick

W.F. McCormick became the publisher of the Wausau Daily Herald in 1974 following a 47-year career at the newspaper. He also served as chairman of the former Forward Communications and led the community during many important public initiatives.

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2012 Founder Award

Cyrus Yawkey

In the early 1900s, Cyrus Yawkey was instrumental in establishing Marathon Paper Mills, Wausau Paper Mills, Wisconsin Valley Electric Co. and Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Co., which became Wausau Insurance - now part of Liberty Mutual Insurance.

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2012 Developer Award

Art Juedes & Rick Gering

In 1980, when boyhood pals and high school coaches Art Juedes and Rick Gering set out to find professional quality shoes for their athletes, they ended up finding their dream and a business. This venture grew into a worldwide direct mail catalog and internet sales conglomerate called Eastbay.

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2012 Developer Award

Bart Kellnhauser

Bart Kellnhauser, one of the original employees, led WSAUTV (now WSAW-TV) from 1954-1988 as a film director, program director, general manager and president and helped the station grow into one of Wisconsin’s premier broadcast companies.

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2011 Founder Award

Walter Alexander

Walter Alexander was a prominent Wausau lumberman in the late 1800s and a member of the Wausau Group. Between 1900 and his death in 1926, Alexander helped organize Wausau Paper Mills, Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, and many more successful area businesses.

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2011 Developer Award

E.O. Johnson

Emery “E.O.” Johnson founded E O Johnson Office Technologies in 1957 in Wausau. For more than 40 years, he guided the company that automated many Wausau area offices and today employs 180 people in four Wisconsin and Minnesota locations. Sadly, E.O. Johnson passed away February 2, 2011.

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2011 Developer Award

Richard Dudley

As president and chairman of Wausau-based Forward Communications, Richard (Dick) Dudley guided the company through a tremendous era of growth between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s by acquiring radio stations, television stations and newspapers throughout the country.

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2010 Founder Award

Hans Hagge

Hans Hagge was one of the first four employees to join Employers Mutual of Wausau in 1911 (which became Wausau Insurance Companies). His 48 years of leadership produced one of the largest mutual fire and casualty insurance companies in America.

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2010 Developer Award

Ray Goldbach

Ray Goldbach and his wife Marie started Marathon Cheese Corporation in 1952. Under Goldbach’s leadership, the company became one of the largest independent packagers of natural cheese and a nationally recognized innovator of cheese packaging.

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2010 Developer Award

Marv Schuette

Marv Schuette co-founded Wausau Homes in 1960 along with his brothers, Cliff Schuette and Earl Schuette. As president, Marv Schuette helped the company become the nation’s leading producer of custom homes while revolutionizing the industry.

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2009 Founder Award

D.C. Everest

D.C. Everest was one of the most influential industrialists in Wausau’s history. He served as president of the Marathon Corporation that became one of the largest paper mills in the nation.

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2009 Developer Award

John Ullrich

John Ullrich, was a Certified Public Accountant and founding partner of Wipfli, Ullrich & Company. Today, Wipfli is one of the largest CPA and consulting firms in the U.S.

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2009 Developer Award

B.A. Bernie Greenheck

Bernie Greenheck was co-founder and president of Greenheck Fan Corporation, Schofield, Wisconsin. Today, Greenheck is the world’s leading manufacturer of air movement and control products for non-residential buildings.

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