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Iowa Business Hall of Fame Honors Ric Jurgens, Gage A. Kent, Michael L. Duffy and Rich Willis as 2018 Inductees

Iowa Business Hall of Fame Inductees

November 5, 2018

GREATER DES MOINES, IOWA (Nov. 5, 2018) — The Greater Des Moines Committee will recognize Ric Jurgens, Gage A. Kent, Michael L. Duffy and Rich Willis as the 2018 inductees to the Iowa Business Hall of Fame. The inductees will be honored during the Greater Des Moines Committee’s Annual Black Tie Dinner to be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at The Meadows Events and Conference Center. The Iowa Business Hall of Fame honors the achievements of Iowans who have made outstanding contributions to the development and enhancement of Iowa’s business climate.

Ric Jurgens

Ric Jurgens retired as Chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee in 2012. Jurgens spent his entire 43-year business career with Hy-Vee serving in virtually every capacity, including Store Manager, Regional Manager, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, President, Chairman and CEO. His community involvement includes serving as Vice President of the Healthiest State Initiative, the Partnership for a Healthier America Board and heavy involvement at Iowa State University Foundation board, where he graduated from. In the past, Jurgens has chaired the Topco Board and Food Marketing Institute Board, and has served as Vice Chairman of the Healthy Weight Committee. He has served on the Variety – The Children’s Charity Board, the Iowa Games Board, the YMCA of Greater Des Moines Board and as a member of the Greater Des Moines Committee. Additionally, Jurgens has won a number of awards including the Iowa Grocery Industry Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Gage A. Kent

Gage A. Kent is Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Kent Corporation. Based in Muscatine, the 90-year-old company is a strategically diversified nutrition, beverage and food ingredients business for animals and humans with 23 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. as well as locations in Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Mexico. Kent is a founding member and past Chairman of the Muscatine Charities, Inc. Board of Directors and a past Chairman of the Board for the Muscatine Power and Water public utility in addition to many more Muscatine community organizations. On the state level, Kent serves on the Board of Trustees of Simpson College, as a member and former Chair of the Board of Governors of the Iowa College Foundation, a member of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and a member of the Iowa Business Council. Kent is a founding member and past Chairman of the Board of the Cultivation Corridor and is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Business College at Iowa State University.

Michael L. Duffy

Michael L. Duffy is Chairman and CEO of Per Mar Security Services. He joined the company, which was founded by his parents, in 1967 and has held various positions including Dispatch Supervisor, Alarm Manager, Vice President of Operations, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, President, Chairman and CEO. In 1977 he assumed leadership of the company, and has led the organization in more than 80 acquisitions of security companies to become a full-service security provider. Duffy is a licensed Private Detective in seven states and has held the level of U.S. Government Secret Clearance, in addition to being involved in many boards and committees within the industry. In the community, he has served his alma mater, St. Ambrose University, including as Alumni President; the Handicapped Development Center Board including as Chairman; the Scott Country YMCA, the Davenport Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Davenport Development Corporation and many more boards and committees.

Rich Willis

Rich Willis began working at Betts Cadillac in Des Moines while attending Simpson College in the early 1970s. In 1988, he began to purchase the Cadillac business and later the Lexus business from the Betts family, a purchase he completed in 2000. Since then, he has added several more franchises including Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Infiniti, and MINI. Rich’s two sons, Jason and Matt have worked their way up through the ranks at Willis Automotive, following in his footsteps. Over the years Willis has been involved in many community activities and boards, including at Simpson College, Blank Children's Hospital, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, the John Stoddard Cancer Board, the Board of IMT Insurance, the Principal Charity Classic, the Boys and Girls Club, and as Chair of the United Way Campaign for Central Iowa. The Willis Auto Campus has been a sponsor of the Civic Center's Broadway Series for the last 12 years, as well as raised money annually for the National Kidney Foundation. Rich's dedication to his company, his community, and his family isn't slowing down, either. Through Rich's continued leadership and mentoring, the Willis family and Willis Automotive look to continue his tradition of integrity, involvement and business success for decades to come.

Inductees to the Iowa Business Hall of Fame are selected on merit rather than endorsement. Past Hall of Fame honorees under the leadership of current Chair Bob Ritz, CEO of Mercy Health Network, serve as the selection committee. The criteria for selection are as follows:

Business Leadership

The nominated individual should lead or have led a business that has provided valued jobs and economic development to his/her community and the state; creating both wealth and workforce opportunity.

Community Development Impact

The nominated individual should have made an impact by improving the economies of the community and the state through his/her leadership in such organizations as chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or centers of education.

Community Volunteerism/Leadership 

The nominated individual should have personally given of his/her time and financial resources for the betterment of the community through support of charities and organizations.

Strategic Leadership

The nominated individual should have contributed to community economic growth through visionary leadership, community problem-solving,University of Iowa'. in Health Services Administration from Cornell University in Ithaca, tem in and building strategic alliances.

Business Recognition

The nominated individual should be recognized by his/her peers as a business leader.

About the Greater Des Moines Committee

The Greater Des Moines Committee was formed in 1907 by a group of 30 local business leaders. Today, the Committee consists of 123 members and provides an opportunity for business leaders to come together for an information exchange about important topics in the community, the state and the nation. The Committee founded the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 1975 to honor the achievements of Iowans who have made outstanding contributions to the development and enhancement of Iowa’s business climate.

The Greater Des Moines Committee’s purpose is to encourage, promote, develop and protect commercial, manufacturing and other business interests of Greater Des Moines (DSM) and the state of Iowa. The Committee is comprised of CEO’s, or in the case of professional firms, the senior managing partner of DSM companies that have a vested interest in the growth and development of our community and state.