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Iowa Business Hall of Fame Honors Gerald M. Kirke, Nix Lauridsen and Franklin and Drew F. Vogel as 2017 Inductees

October 30, 2017

GREATER DES MOINES, IOWA (Oct. 27, 2017) — The Greater Des Moines Committee will recognize Gerald M. Kirke, Nix Lauridsen and Franklin and Drew F. Vogel as the 2017 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 Wednesday, Dec. 6 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.

Gerald M. Kirke

Gerald M. Kirke is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kirke Financial Services, L.L.C., a firm he founded in 1999 which specializes in investments, strategic acquisitions, real estate development, insurance and management consulting. He, along with his current partner, Michael Richards, acquired MED-TEC, an Orange City-based designer and manufacturer of the patient fixation and tumor targeting software and accessories used in radiation treatment. As an offshoot of that endeavor, they established a carbon fiber composite manufacturing plant to ensure an adequate supply of carbon fiber components for MED-TEC. In late 2005, after MED-TEC was sold to Roper Industries, Kirke kept Tec Industries as a separate business. The company became a major supplier and developer of carbon fiber products for the aeronautics and health care industries. 

Kirke also created a new Iowa gaming company in 2005 called Wild Rose Entertainment, which owns casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson. In addition, he formed a private equity company that invests in technology and energy companies among others. 

Prior to July 1, 1998, Kirke was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Kirke-Van Orsdel, Incorporated (KVI) for 25 years. He co-founded KVI with William A. Van Orsdel in 1974.  On July 1, 1998, KVI was sold to Seabury & Smith, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan.

A native of Des Moines, Kirke received his Bachelor's degree in Commerce from DePaul University. Kirke is a leader in numerous community activities and formerly served on many boards in the financial, utility, and health care industry.

Nix Lauridsen

Nix Lauridsen is Co-founder and Chairman of Lauridsen Group, Inc. (LGI), headquartered in Ankeny, IA. LGI oversees the operation of seven independent companies operating 60 processing plants in 20 countries. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin and University of Iowa’s School of Law, Lauridsen traveled to Europe where he developed a passion for mountain climbing, as well as a willingness to take risks, an attribute he carried into his professional life. Upon returning home, Lauridsen immersed himself in Boyer Valley, a rendering plant his father, Wally, owned. The company is now a manufacturer and marketer of processed poultry by-products and remains the oldest of LGI’s independent companies. American Protein Company (APC), the second of the LGI companies, was created to separate plasma from red cells and began to thrive in the mid-1980s. LGI has gone on to pioneer the development and application of value-added products created from by-products through multiple companies.

Through APC, Lauridsen also became involved in a palatability study that went on to add plasma to the swine diet and reduce baby pig mortality from 10 percent to 2 percent. That study is considered one of the top 10 most important things to happen in the swine industry in the past 100 years.

Over the years, Lauridsen has made major contributions to entities in Greater Des Moines as a supporter of educational initiatives and visual and performing arts, and continues to make community service and philanthropy high priorities. 

Franklin Vogel

Franklin Vogel is the Chairman of the board of the Iowa State Bank in Orange City and former Chairman and President of the Diamond Vogel Paint Company. Born in 1927, Vogel joined his father in his family paint business after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Through his career he led Diamond Vogel from a small local paint business to a strong regional supplier of architectural and industrial paints and coatings. In 1988, he turned the leadership of the paint company over to the next generation and focused his attention on a second career in banking.

With the acquisition of the Sioux County State Bank, he began to build the Iowa State Bank organization, now made up of nine different branch operations in Sioux, O’Brien and Plymouth counties.

Throughout his career, Vogel served on various other boards and committees including the board of the First National Bank of Sioux City, the Orange City Utilities Association, the Orange City Industrial Development Corporation, Sioux County Head Start, the Orange City Fire Department and Northwestern College.

Drew F. Vogel

Drew F. Vogel is Chairman and CEO of Vogel Paint, Inc. headquartered in Orange City, Iowa. Vogel is a native of Orange City and returned to Iowa in 1987 after serving in various positions with the company in Omaha, Neb., Minneapolis, Minn. and Denver, Colo. He attended Northwestern College in Orange City and graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Administration in 1973.

Vogel currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Iowa College Foundation, on the Executive Committee of the Board of the American Coatings Association, as Vice Chair of the Board of Iowa State Bank, as a board member Emeritus of Living History Farms and as a director of the boards of The Association of Business and Industry, The Luke Society and the NOVA Paint Club.

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 Rich Willis, President of Willis Auto Campus, 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 and building strategic alliances.
  • Business Recognition: The nominated individual should be recognized by his/her peers as a business leader.

The Chair-elect also will be honored at the event. Bob Ritz, CEO of Mercy Health Network, will take over duties in 2018.

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 120 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.