One man whose name is synonymous with hospitality and another whose company is one of the most highly regarded in the financial services and retirement planning industry are this year's Kansas Business Hall of Fame (KBHF) inductees at Emporia State University.
The late Fred Harvey, founder of the Harvey House restaurant and hotel chain, and Howard R. Fricke, past chairman of Security Benefit of Topeka, will be recognized at the KBHF induction ceremony Tuesday, June 17 at Emporia State University, in conjunction with the Kansas Cavalry encampment.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will attend the ceremony to recognize and honor these two Kansas business leaders who have added to the business community's prestige and growth.
"This is the 20th year for the Kansas Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony," said Bill Barnes, KBHF executive director. "The Hall of Fame induction spotlights the achievement of people who have been instrumental in the development of business in the state of Kansas," Barnes added.
Fred Harvey: Restaurant Owner and Entrepreneur
Fred Harvey's chain of Harvey House restaurants and hotels traced the Santa Fe Railroad's expansion westward in the 1870s. For nearly a century, Harvey's company served good food at reasonable prices in clean, elegant restaurants to the travelling public throughout the Southwest. They also brought civilization, community and industry to the Wild West.
Mr. Harvey was born in 1835. He left his native England for the United States when he was 15 years old and began working in the restaurant business in New York. While the Civil War was bad for restaurants, it was good for railroads, and Harvey made a career change. As the rails moved west, Harvey rose higher in the railroad business, but he never forgot his roots as a restaurateur. Given the sorry state of eating establishments for train travelers in the day, Harvey realized rail passengers needed quality food service on their journeys.
His longtime employer, the Burlington Railroad, declined Harvey's offer of establishing a system-wide eating house operation at all railroad meal stops. But it was Harvey's later association with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway that led to the development of several eating houses on an experimental basis. At its peak, this first-ever restaurant chain included 84 Harvey Houses, all of which catered to wealthy and middle-class visitors alike.
The chain's "Harvey Girls," waitresses dressed in plain black uniforms with crisp, white collars and aprons, were the signature feature of Harvey House lore. Trained to handle hungry crowds of rail passengers quickly, efficiently and politely, the Harvey Girls became a symbol of the restaurant chain's respected reputation.
Harvey died in 1901, but the Harvey brand continued to be associated with the hospitality industry through the 1960s, reinventing itself numerous times to respond to trends in business and leisure travel.
Howard R. Fricke: Business and Civic Leader
"In the competitive world of business and finance, Howard Fricke has a reputation for inspiring others," wrote the Topeka Capital-Journal's Michael Hooper in a 2000 article naming Fricke as the most powerful person in Kansas' capital city. Fricke led Security Benefit, one of the most highly regarded companies in the financial services and retirement planning industry, as Chairman of the Board until 2006.
Described as an effective leader who knows how to empower other people, Fricke joined Security Benefit as chief executive officer in 1988. By the time he stepped down as board chairman in 2006, his innovative leadership helped the company's assets grow from $2 billion to more than $15 billion.
Both Fortune magazine and Working Mother magazine selected Security Benefit as one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
Fricke was born near Springfield, Ill., and is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and the Harvard University Graduate School of Business, Advanced Management Program.
A leader in the Topeka community, Fricke set the pace for Security Benefit's nationally recognized volunteer program. He served as a director of the Menninger Foundation and Stormont-Vail HealthCare, and is chairman of the board for Collective Brands, Inc. (formerly Payless ShoeSource). Fricke is past chairman of both the United Way of Greater Topeka and the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce.
Fricke has headed two state government agencies. He served as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Administration, and as Kansas Secretary of Commerce.
About the Kansas Business Hall of Fame
The Kansas Business Hall of Fame is located at Emporia State University. Business leaders selected for the KBHF are widely known for their contributions to Kansas, and are recognized as role models. The KBHF recognizes historical contributors and present-day leaders who have made private enterprise work in Kansas and throughout the country.
Previous inductees include such prominent Kansans as Pizza Hut founders Dan and Frank Carney, Clara and Russell Stover of Russell Stover Candies, Don Hall of Hallmark Cards, Clyde Cessna of Cessna Aircraft Co., Walter Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corp., and William Allen White, entrepreneur and Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the Emporia Gazette.
The only program of its kind in the state of Kansas, the Kansas Business Hall of Fame serves as a chapter of the American National Business Hall of Fame.