Three local businesses were recognized Tuesday at the monthly Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce meeting for their contributions locally and statewide.
Representatives from Vogt’s Hometown Market, Golden Heritage Foods and Wendy’s were nominated for the award by Hillsboro Development Corporation.
“HDC is pleased to showcase these three businesses as a representation of Hillsboro’s strong business community to the entire state,” said Clint Seibel, executive director.
“In spite of a struggling national economy, Hillsboro is very fortunate to have these kinds of businesses serving our area.”
In addition to Seibel, Kansas Department of Commerce representative Bob Fettke and Renee Lippincott were also available to thank each business on behalf of Gov. Sam Brownback.
Seibel said the recognition of these businesses is also timely because June is Business Appreciation Month, allowing the opportunity for a statewide tribute for these types of awards.
Prior to receiving the recognition certificates, a brief summary of each business was highlighted.
Vogt’s Hometown Market
“Vogt’s Hometown Market, better known to many of us as Vogt’s IGA has had a long history of providing grocery services to the citizens of Hillsboro and Marion County,” Seibel said.
Vogt’s was established by the Vogt family 85 years ago, he said, and was located on East Grand in Hillsboro.
The late Jerald Vogt and his wife, Karlene, he said, took over the business from Jerald’s father and now their son, Todd, is one of the principal owners.
“In 2003,” Seibel explained, “Vogt’s IGA embarked on an ambitious expansion project because the aging 6,500 square foot building was a limiting factor to the growth of their business.”
Teaming up with the city of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Development Corporation, the Vogt family secured the needed financing for a 15,000 square foot building expansion costing $2.8 million.
“As they completed the project,” he said, “which is now located in the Hillsboro Heights Addition, they renamed the business Vogt’s Hometown Market.”
The expanded facilities required more employees to handle new services to include the deli and bakery departments, he said.
“Vogt’s increased their staff by approximately 30 percent presently totaling 40 employees,” Seibel said.
A number of department heads have been with the store for many years, dating back to earlier days in the downtown location.
At the same time, Vogt’s has been the place where students find part-time employment giving them the opportunity to prove themselves as responsible employees.
“For many students, Vogt’s is the first employer listed on their resume,” Seibel said.
The store supports the Hillsboro community through youth sports activities ranging from sponsoring radio broadcasts for Hillsboro USD 410 and Tabor College sporting events to donating food and drinks for the after prom party.
The Hillsboro City Recreation program continues to be supported by Vogt’s as they provide team uniforms, bottled water and other needed items, he said.
“For many years, Jerald Vogt served as the tournament chairman and organizer for the Kansas NBC Hap Dumont Youth Baseball tournament held in Hillsboro each year,” he said.
“Baseball was one of his passions.”
Todd has also served the community as past president of the chamber.
The store was also one of the first businesses to locate in the newly-developed Hillsboro Heights Highway Commercial Business District along U.S. Highway 56, Seibel said.
“After completing the business expansion, Vogt’s has more than doubled its gross sales, drawing customers to Hillsboro from around the county,” he said. “The contribution that Vogt’s makes to the economic health of our community is invaluable.”
Golden Heritage Foods
In talking about Golden Heritage Foods, Seibel said it has a unique and interesting story, spanning over three generations.
“It all started when a young man back in the 1920s by the name of Ezra Barkman, father of the late Richard Barkman and grandfather of Brent Barkman, pursued his interest in beekeeping,” he said.
Barkman began selling his honey during World War II when sugar was rationed, soon partnering with his son Richard, in the 1950s, to establish a migratory beekeeping operation.
“The Ezra Barkman farm, where the first honey was processed, was only a mile from the farm where I grew up and I remember as a young boy watching them process honey in a room they had fixed out in the barn,” Seibel said.
With increased production, Barkman Honey Company, was born in 1960 with a brand, “Busy Bee.”
The company moved the operation to Hillsboro in the building just East of Wendy’s, Seibel said.
In the late 1970s, they relocated the plant to the Hillsboro Industrial Park.
In 2004, Barkman Honey became Golden Heritage Foods, LLC., and are now delivering trusted products throughout the U.S and abroad.
“From this small family operation, Golden Heritage Foods has grown to be one of the largest honey processers in America, employing some 80 people in their state-of-the-art Hillsboro plant,” Seibel said.
“I would encourage you to browse through the GHF website which outlines their mission statement, and I quote: ‘We believe it is our mission to serve God with all resources entrusted to us, enlarging our territory of influence through wise stewardship and servant leadership,’” he said.
GHF has lived out its mission in very tangible ways by supporting the local community.
Their involvement ranges from financial support of Main Street Ministries to providing support for USD 410 and Tabor College athletic programs, he said.
One of the most recent contributions was to help purchase ovens for the Hillsboro Senior Center, Seibel added.
They have not limited their assistance to local causes either, he said.
In 2005, Golden Heritage Foods led a community-wide effort to collect and ship several semi-truckloads of emergency supplies, food and bottled water to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Several years ago, Golden Heritage Foods became the first and only honey supplier in the country to be certified as a Level 3 performer by the Safe Quality Food Institute.
“To earn the rigorous SQF Level 3 certification, a food supplier must have systems in place that provides continuous control of food safety and business excellence,” Seibel said.
The company processes and sells millions of pounds of honey under various private brand names nationwide, as well as its own “Busy Bee” brand.
“It has two state-of-the-art facilities—the Hillsboro plant, which includes the corporate office and the second plant in Van Wert, Ohio,” Seibel said.
The first Wendy’s Restaurant was opened in 1969 by then owner Dave Thomas, Seibel said.
In March 2012, Wendy’s edged out Burger King in the U.S. for the number two spot following McDonalds in sales volume for the first time in its history.
“As you may be aware, prior to Wendy’s coming to town, the facility they are now in was occupied by McDonalds,” Seibel said.
“The McDonalds Corporation was trying to sell their Hillsboro property for some time to no avail, so they decided to sell it through auction and that’s when things got interesting.”
To make a long story short, Seibel said the Hillsboro Development Corporation, along with the Hillsboro mayor and city administrator, were able to negotiate a deal with Sunset Equities of McPherson to establish a Wendy’s Restaurant in Hillsboro.
“Sunset Equities owns and operates a number of Wendy’s Restaurants throughout the Midwest,” he said.
“Our challenge was now to find a group of investors to purchase the property at the auction, which we were able to accomplish—and the rest is history.”
According to Seibel, in 2008, the new Wendy’s was open to the public and has been for the past four years.
Another plus for the Hillsboro Wendy’s Restaurant is that it has the distinction of being ranked number two among the 13 Wendy’s franchises held by Sunset Equities in increased sales in 2012 over the previous year.
Wendy’s has about 25 employees, who are offered flexible hours to accommodate family and school schedules.
One of the restaurant’s popular fundraiser programs for various school organizations is the “Community Night” when 20 percent of the sales during a specified time period are donated by Wendy’s to a participating community organization.
Seibel noted that Wendy’s is the 2012 sponsor of the Tabor College Track and Field Meet, which includes 25 teams from colleges and universities in the Midwest.
“Wendy’s supports a variety of events for both Hillsboro High School Trojans and Tabor College Bluejays athletic programs,” he said.
The restaurant is also an annual sponsor of the Marion County Fair and the Annual Toy Run.
“With its nationwide recognition, the presence of a Wendy’s Restaurant in our community gives a sense of pride to the citizens of Hillsboro and Marion County that a top-tier national chain restaurant would choose to locate in our area,” Seibel said. “Wendy’s of Hillsboro plays an important role in attracting people to Hillsboro providing increased revenues for the entire town.”
More than 20 people attended the Chamber luncheon to congratulate these three businesses for their dedication to the community they serve.
Representatives from each of the businesses were also present to receive their award certificates.
Those attending included Karlene Vogt and Todd Vogt on behalf of Vogt’s Hometown Market; Joyce Barkman, Dave Mathis and Kerry Hein with Golden Heritage Foods and Warren Nelson, manager, and Al Copp, senior vice president of Sunset Equities.