Seven business and community leaders were named the 2017 Business Hall of Fame Laureates. The 2017 laureates are: Duane and Beth Fager; Randy Austin; Don Landoll; Martha Bartlett Piland and Mike Worswick and DeWitt Harkness. These seven individuals are honored not only for their success in business, but for their dedication and commitment to the local community and the state of Kansas. While the Business Hall of Fame usually focuses on the Topeka community, this year JA of Kansas is proud to honor a member of the Marysville community as well. In Marysville, JA programming has reached around 300 students each year for the past four years.
Junior Achievement of Kansas annually honors businessmen and women to inspire young people to follow in the laureates’ footsteps. A committee selected this year’s laureates based on criteria including their business excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, community impact, leadership style, local influence and enduring legacy.
The Topeka Business Hall of Fame Tribute Dinner honoring the laureates will be held Thursday, March 2, 2017, at the Ramada Topeka Downtown. Contact Junior Achievement of Kansas for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785.235.3700.
Duane and Beth Fager Duane and Beth Fager are being recognized for their long-standing commitment to the Topeka community. Duane Fager is chairman of the board of CoreFirst Bank & Trust. He joined the bank in sales and marketing in 1970. He became President in 1978, serving until 2013. During that time, the bank’s assets grew from $19 million to over $1 billion. Duane Fager attributes this growth to excellent customer service, innovative use of technology and marketing and having talented people serving CoreFirst’s customers and the community.
Beth Fager currently serves as volunteer chair of the Topeka-Shawnee County Riverfront Authority, and is involved with the National Park Service, and city and county governments in the development of an Oregon Trail Riverfront Park.
Duane Fager was board chairman for the following organizations: Kansas Bankers Association, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and the St. Francis Health Center. He was honorary chair for the Midland Hospice Celebration Walk and YWCA Leadership Luncheon. Past board service includes: Go Topeka, FHLBank of Topeka, Security Benefit, Topeka Community Foundation and Countryside United Methodist Church. He currently serves on the Topeka Jazz Workshop Board.
For the past 20 years, Beth Fager has directed fundraising activities and coordinated museum exhibits at the Great Overland Station Museum, raising over $7 million for the restoration of the former Union Pacific Station and All Veterans Memorial. Previously, Beth Fager directed capital campaigns for the Topeka Performing Arts Center, the Ronald McDonald House, and Brewster Place Retirement Center. She has been involved in numerous volunteer activities including the Topeka Symphony, Junior League of Topeka, Kansas Arts Commission, Friends of Cedar Crest, Washburn University, the University of Kansas and Countryside Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Leadership Topeka.
Duane Fager received the 2005 Jayhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts Distinguished Citizens Award, the 2008 SMEI Topeka Executive of the Year and was inducted into the Topeka West High School Hall of Fame.
In 2011, Beth Fager was named ABWA “Woman of the Year”. She was inducted into the Topeka West Hall of Fame in 2012. She received an honorary doctorate from Washburn University in 2014.
After graduating from Topeka West and the University of Kansas, Duane Fager became an officer in the U.S. Army. A native of Hutchinson, Beth Fager moved to Topeka in 1964. The couple met at Countryside Methodist Church. They were married in 1969, and have three children and eight grandchildren.
Randy Austin Randy Austin has spent his career as a successful trial lawyer, starting practice in eminent domain law and moving into criminal defense. Austin became involved in Fairlawn Plaza in 1986, when his aunt asked for help managing the property, which his great uncle Charles Bennett had built in 1962. Eventually, Austin took over as owner of Fairlawn Plaza, LLC. He has been instrumental in the lifestyle shopping center’s evolution and continued success since its construction more than five decades ago. He currently owns and manages properties in Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona and Florida.
Austin has a longstanding commitment to the Topeka community, serving with many community and professional organizations including The Topeka Civic Theatre Endowment, The Topeka Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas Humanities Council, The Topeka Zoo and Audio Reader, a reading and information service for blind, visually impaired, and print disabled individuals.
Austin has received numerous awards over the years, including the Topeka Community Volunteer of the Year and Capper Foundation Founder’s awards in 2007. Fairlawn Plaza was recognized as the Topeka Chamber of Commerce Small Business of The Year in 1991.
A Texas native, Austin lived in several states as a child before graduating high school in Salina. He received a bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Kansas. Between degrees, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Randy has two children and four grandchildren.
Don Landoll Don Landoll began his passion for inventing at an early age. A set of tinker toys and an erector set turned into designing his first trailer in his high school FFA class.
His entrepreneurial spirit led him to purchase Quick Service Welding Company in Marysville in 1963. The diversified welding, blacksmith and radiator shop with three employees has become the Landoll Corporation, which currently employs approximately 800 team members. Landoll Corporation’s agricultural, forklift, trailer, OEM and government products are shipped throughout the United States and in 2015 were exported to 43 different countries.
Landoll has received numerous awards over the years including the 1986 National Small Business Contractor of the Year Award, the Ernst and Young Regional Award for the Entrepreneur of the Year and the Kansas Governor’s Award of Excellence. Landoll has served on many state and national boards throughout his career and his service continues today.
The Landoll Corporation team organizes the Junior Achievement program in Marysville and supplies many of the classroom volunteers. Landoll is actively engaged in giving tours and lectures to many high school and college groups on a regular basis.
Landoll likes to tell his students that “one person’s problem is another’s opportunity” and if they use their “ability to think (taking what they know, to figure out what they don’t know)”, they can begin to find the solution.
Martha Bartlett Piland Martha Bartlett Piland, President and CEO of MB Piland Advertising and Marketing, established the firm in 1998 to help clients build highly profitable and universally admired brands—which in turn, has ensured her own business success.
Driven by a passion to improve the health and well-being of people and communities, MB Piland works with clients who share that purpose. The agency has earned a reputation for razor-sharp strategy, killer creative and a particular focus on aligning internal and external brands.
Piland believes deeply in public service. Her service includes: community-wide campaign chair and board of directors for the United Way of Topeka; the Washburn University Entrepreneurship Advisory Board; a founder of Women United; the Delta Gamma PRO national speaker’s bureau; marketing chair and board of directors for the Topeka Chamber of Commerce; the Heartland Visioning founding/steering committee; the Topeka Civic Theatre Board of Trustees and the Youth Entrepreneurs Advancement Council. She also belongs to the Topeka South Rotary and has twice served as its PR chair.
Piland and her agency have won dozens of local, regional and international marketing awards, Kansas Women-owned Business of the Year, Topeka Chamber Small Business of the Year, ABWA Woman of Distinction, IABC Excel award, Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, GO Topeka Woman of Distinction and NoNoSo, an alumnae women’s honor society at Washburn University. Piland is a graduate of Leadership Topeka, Leadership Kansas and Leadership America.
She is a highly-sought after speaker and has traveled internationally, speaking on branding and marketing strategy, facilitating retreats and giving motivational talks.
Mike Worswick and DeWitt Harkness Mike Worswick and DeWitt Harkness of Wolfe’s Camera Shops have been carrying on the tradition of selling quality photography equipment and processing services begun decades ago when Harold Wolfe, a commercial photographer, started Wolfe’s Photo in 1924. At the time, Wolfe’s Photo was a small shop around the corner north of Eighth Street on Jackson Street.
Wolfe’s brother-in-law, Harold Worswick, joined him after World War II and the store relocated to 116 W. Eighth St. where it remained until 1976. Harold Worswick bought out Wolfe in the early 1950s. His interest in photo equipment and film/photo processing led him to open several branch stores and the name was changed to Wolfe’s Camera Shops, Inc.
Mike Worswick joined his dad full-time in 1974 after spending many hours at Wolfe’s growing up. Mike Worswick brought the business to its present location on the corner of Seventh Street and Kansas Avenue in 1976. The father-son duo ran Wolfe’s until 1980 when son and brother-in law De Harkness joined them.
Harold Worswick retired from day-to-day operations in 1990 and Mike Worswick and Harkness have run Wolfe’s ever since.
Junior Achievement (JA) of Kansas inspires and prepares young people with the skills they need to succeed in a global economy. Partnering with the business and educational community, JA of Kansas provides relevant, hands-on experiences that give students knowledge and skills in financial literacy, workforce development and entrepreneurship. JA of Kansas serves nearly 28,000 children statewide, including 12,000 in the Topeka area. Visit www.kansasja.org for more information.