By: David Shepherd, News Director / Anchor
HUNTINGBURG -- Two local business leaders were inducted into the Jr. Achievement Business Hall of Fame this morning.
The Junior Achievement Dubois County Business Hall of Fame honors members of the Dubois Business Community who exhibit strong vision, innovation, inspiring leadership and who are visionaries within their respective industries. A crystal eagle symbolizing the spirit of free enterprise is presented to each laureate. A monument with a citation and image of each laureate will also be displayed at the Dubois County Museum.
Doug Bawel and the late Robert Menke Sr. were both honored for their contributions to local business and the community.
Doug graduated from Jasper High School as Outstanding Senior Boy and followed that as Outstanding Senior Boy at University of Evansville with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Management and Marketing in just 3 years.
Doug joined Jasper Engines and Transmissions as a sales trainee in 1976, later served as advertising manager, sales manager, and vice president of sales before partnering with a group of Associates to purchase the company from its founder, Alvin Ruxer, in 1987 and was elected president. At the time, they had 550 Associates and sales of $58 Million.
In 1989, the company became involved with NASCAR, in 2001 teamed with Roger Penske to form Penske Jasper Racing and turned all their attention on building NASCAR’s future Transmissions. Eleven cars use them currently with 178 wins.
On March 2, 2010, JASPER became a 100% Employee Owned ESOP Company (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Sales were $245 Million with 1460 Associate-Owners. Today, there are 3300 Associate-Owners with the JASPER Family of businesses who have received in excess of $115 Million in JASPER Stock. Sales in 2018 were $649 Million.
In July 2011, Doug was named as Chairman/CEO of JASPER.
JASPER is the World’s Largest Remanufacturer of gas and diesel engines, transmissions and differentials. Although they are proud of that statistic, they like the following better: “Leader of the Industry in Quality.” They also own a $40 Million parts company, a remanufacturer of large electric motors and 2 Premier Health Clinics.
JASPER purchased Weller Truck parts, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014. Weller remanufactures transmission, differentials and steering gears for the heavy duty truck market. Today, JASPER and Weller have 11 manufacturing facilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Missouri along with 78 branch locations across the country with Associate-Owners in 41 states. JASPER was named to Forbes List of America’s Best Midsize Employers for 2018.
Doug is a past recipient of the Indiana Business Leader of the Year award, Indiana Corporate Leadership Award, and Entrepreneur of the Year for Manufacturing. He currently serves as President of Patoka Valley Health Care Cooperative, board of OFS Brands, and President of Affinity Insurance, the World’s largest heterogeneous Captive Insurance Company.
Doug has seven children and eleven grandchildren. His motto is “Do It Right and Have Fun…”
Robert Menke Sr. was the chairman of the Board of OFS. He passed away in 2008. His wife, Phyllis, accepted the award Thursday on his behalf.
Robert Menke grew OFS from a small manufacturing company into the major employer it currently is with over 1,700 employees at this time. He started working at a young age stringing Venetian blinds in his father, William Menke’s, factory. At the time of his father’s death, Menke took over Du Crafts which had approximately 30 employees. When the Ferdinand plant burnt in 1970, it was moved to Huntingburg. Du Crafts became Styline and the businesses were merged.
Menke loved his town and served it well even as a young man when he led his basketball team to a state finalist game in the 1937. He was a member of the 1940 Indiana University’s NCAA Championship basketball team, won the Gimbel (now the Trester) Award, and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame IN 1982. Menke valued education and obtained his BA in government from Indiana University in 1941 and his Master’s degree in Government in 1953. His commitment to building a better community was exemplified by his serving as state representative to the Indiana General Assembly from 1952 to 1954. He served his country as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Air Force during World War II and returned home in 1945 to take over business responsibilities.