EMPORIA -- Gov. Sam Brownback recognized B&W Trailer Hitches of Humboldt with the Governor’s Award of Excellence and Excel Industries Inc. of Hesston with the Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award at the annual Team Kansas/Kansas Cavalry Awards Banquet at the Emporia State University Memorial Union in Emporia.
The two awards are the state’s top business honors and are the culmination of Business Appreciation Month, the Department’s annual statewide tribute to Kansas businesses for their contributions to the state. The event is sponsored the Kansas Department of Commerce and Team Kansas/Kansas Cavalry, a volunteer group of business leaders who promote the state as a desirable business location.
“B&W Trailer Hitches and Excel Industries have worked tirelessly to grow their businesses,” Brownback said. “They have distinguished themselves as outstanding companies and important members of their communities, and I wish them continued success.”
Finalists for the Governor’s Award of Excellence were S and Y Industries (Winfield); Community National Bank and Trust (Chanute); PTMW Inc. (Topeka); and Newell Rubbermaid (Winfield).
Finalists for the Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award were GT Manufacturing Inc. (Clay Center); Kansas Aviation of Independence (Independence); Swift Bullet Company (Quinter); and Tank Connection Affiliate Group (Parsons). The Exporter of the Year Award is sponsored by the Department and the Kansas International Trade Coordinating Council.
“Congratulations to all of the companies recognized during Business Appreciation Month,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. “Kansas is fortunate to have so many successful businesses generating economic growth and creating great jobs. We will continue to work towards ensuring that Kansas provides these companies with the best business environment possible.”
In addition to the business awards, several individuals were honored at the banquet. U.S. Senator Pat Roberts accepted the Silver Stirrup Award via video presentation. This is a meritorious service award given in the spirit of leadership and dedication.
Jack P. DeBoer, chairman of the board of Hix Corp., Pittsburg, Kan. and founder of Residence Inn, Summerfield Hotel Corp. and Candlewood Hotel Co., was recognized as the Contemporary Award Winner. The late Dr. Mark Morris Sr. (1901-1993), who developed the pet food formulas that would become Hill’s Prescription Diet and Hill’s Science Diet, was recognized as the Historical Heritage Award Winner.
Profiles of the award winners follow:
B&W Trailer Hitches (Humboldt)
B&W Trailer Hitches engineers and manufactures trailer hitches and aftermarket truck and trailer accessories. B&W offers a broad selection of products, all of which are manufactured in the United States. Their products are designed to seamlessly integrate and enhance the use of trucks and the equipment that they tow. These products include the Turnoverball gooseneck hitch, which revolutionized the industry two decades ago. Today, the Turnoverball is the number one selling gooseneck hitch in America.
Founded in Humboldt in 1988, B&W recently completed two expansions at its Kansas headquarters to increase the size of its facility to more than 270,000 square feet. The company currently employs 267 workers.
B&W believes that investment in employee development helps it manufacture better products and has committed extensive resources to worker training programs. The company relies upon innovative technology for its advanced manufacturing, and training helps workers gain technical expertise in many areas. B&W also encourages its employees to participate in local and regional leadership training programs.
The company and its employees remain active members of the Humboldt community, especially in their support for the local school district. In addition, B&W works closely with the city to develop land for local retail stores and attractions.
B&W Trailer Hitches recently received the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center’s Manufacturing Award of Distinction for outstanding performance and growth through a strong commitment to quality and process improvement. The company has also received the Excellence in Community Service Award from Thrive Allen County.
Excel Industries (Hesston)
Founded in 1960 in Hesston, Excel Industries has grown over the last five decades to become one of the leading manufacturers of consumer, professional and golf course mowing equipment. A third generation family owned business that remains proud of its Kansas roots, Excel introduced the first zero-turn mower in the world in 1964 and began exporting 10 years later. In 2004, the company began focusing on strategically expanding its presence in other countries and has since seen tremendous growth in its export markets.
Excel currently manufactures a broad range of mowing equipment under its Hustler Turf Equipment and BigDog Mowers brands. The company employs 405 Kansans and serves more than 30 countries through a global distribution network of more than 2,000 dealers.