Dubois County Business Hall of Fame Laureates announced


Pictured: Gib Verkamp, Jerry Seger / Courtesy: Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana

JASPER, Ind. (WEHT) – The Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana and Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLC announced the 2020 JA Dubois County Business Hall of Fame Laureates at a press conference on Wednesday.

The 2020 laureates are Gilbert Verkamp and the late Jerry Seger.

The announcement was made at the Vincennes University Jasper Campus.

Both Verkamp and Seger will be inducted into the JA Dubois County Business Hall of Fame at 7:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, May 7 at the Huntingburg Event Center.

Here’s more background on Verkamp and Seger from JA of Southwestern Indiana:

GILBERT VERKAMP: Chairman and CEO, MasterBrand Cabinets Inc.

Gilbert Verkamp is a successful business person and community supporter. Under his leadership at Aristokraft/MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., the company went from a small regional player to becoming the most recognizable cabinet company in North America. Gilbert not only had a vision to make Aristokraft/MBCI a great company, he also possessed the drive to make it happen. Gilbert cared for his employees and knew that a successful company would provide opportunities for this community. During his tenure at Aristokraft/MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., Gilbert was very supportive of Junior Achievement. He directed the company to financially support Junior Achievement in Dubois County as well as supported employees that volunteered their time to JA during work hours.

In 1968, he started with Aristokraft/MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. as assistant to the President and founder, Stan Krempp. Gilbert Verkamp became President in the early 1980’s when Aristokraft was about $20M in annual sales. Through organic growth and acquisitions, the company was nearly $800M when he retired in 2000. He led the company through its first major acquisition which was the Schrock Companies in the mid ‘90’s. This acquisition led to its channel strategy and current success. MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. is now a $2.6 billion company supporting over 13,000 employees across North America.

In addition to Gilbert’s leadership at Aristokraft/MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., he took roles, including leadership positions, in multiple organizations. He sat on the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association board where he served as President, the Indiana State Alumni Association board where he also served as President, and the Indiana Furniture Board where he was a Board Member for 26 years and Chairman of the Board for 8 years. Additionally, he was a founding board member of the Dubois County Community Foundation and served on the Jasper Country Club Real Estate Board and the Jasper Action Committee. He was also a founding stock holder and board member of Freedom Bank. He is a long time member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper and currently resides in Jasper.

JERRY SEGER: CEO and President, Wabash Valley Produce

Jerry Seger was “earning his keep” by the age of ten. Working on the family farm year-round, he went to school only eight months out of the year in order to help with the crops full time during the summer. During this time, he learned that the family and the farm were an inseparable unit; his family relied on his contributions. This embedded culture of responsibility and devotion provided the blueprint for what would become Seger’s family-committed, self-reliant persona. These humble beginnings laid the groundwork for what today is one of the nation’s top-5 egg processing companies that exceeds approximately 7 million eggs per day and the nation’s fourth largest turkey processor by volume (15 million turkeys annually).

Following graduation from the Indiana University School of Business in 1947, Seger returned to Dubois County. During this time Seger joined his father at the Dubois Co-Op and his interest in meat production began. With little capital, he started to raise fryers and broilers. He bought the chicks from a hatchery and supplied the feed, while contracting with farmers for a fee to supply the land, buildings, and labor. To further utilize his feed mill capacity, he started raising pullets and soon became interested in the egg production business. Managing layers in a confined environment to achieve maximum efficiency, resulted in experimentation with lighting, feed formulation, and breed selection, ventilation, and labor efficiency. While Seger worked through all of these day-today problems, he did not fully realize the extent to which he helped revolutionize the meat-production industry.

Those beginnings have transformed today into Wabash Valley Produce and Farbest Foods in Indiana, Brown Produce in Illinois, and Ballas Egg Products in Ohio. Combined these entities employ over 2,000 people and contract with over 225 local family farms. Seger’s goal was for his business to remain a family one. This has come to pass over the years as 7 members of the second generation and 5 members of the third generation have entered the businesses. Seger proved himself to be a hard charging entrepreneur with a vision to take a small country elevator to a multi-state enterprise supplying egg and turkey products to multi-national corporations. He leaves a legacy of family and business which he and his family have grown into an enterprise supplying quality food products throughout the world.

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(This story was originally published on January 8, 2020)

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