Two businesses recognized for community impact

Flanked by Clint Seibel, Hillsboro economic development director, 	and Renee Lippincott, representing the Kansas Department of Commerce, Roger Hofer (left photo), owner of Wheatbelt Inc., and Delores DalkeTwo Hillsboro businesses were recognized for their economic and civic contributions to the community last Tuesday during the Cham?ber of Com?merce luncheon at the Scout House.

Wheatbelt Inc. and the Real Estate Center each received a Merit Award from the Kansas Department of Com?merce as part of its ?Business Appreci?ation Month.?

The businesses were nominated for state recognition by the Hillsboro Develop?ment Corp., which provided the luncheon program.

Renee Lippincott, regional project manager for KDOC?s South Central Kansas Regional Business and Com?munity Develop?ment Office, presented a certificate and a letter from the governor to the two business owners: Roger Hofer with Wheatbelt, and Delores Dalke with the Real Estate Center.

Lippincott affirmed the value of local businesses to the state and local community.

?The state really does feel strongly that businesses should be recognized locally, regionally and statewide for what they have contributed to our future?and there are a lot of different ways the businesses do that,? she said.

Lippincott also affirmed the Hillsboro community for enabling local businesses to emerge and grow.

?Hillsboro has always been very dedicated to nominating local businesses and recognizing them,? she added. ?I think that?s wonderful because its our local way of really saying we?ve got some good things going on here.

?Without our businesses what would we do? To have our quality of life, we have to have those jobs.?

Prior to the presentation of each award, Clint Seibel, who is HDC?s executive director and the city?s economic development director, provided a brief overview of the business.

Owner of the Real Estate Center, receive their state merit awards Tuesday as part of KDOC?s Business Appreciation progra? WHEATBELT INC. In the late 1970s, Roger Hofer became interested in European-style rolling shutters primarily for increased home-energy savings. He started as a dealer-installer of Wheatbelt rolling shutters manufactured for residential applications located in Manhattan.

Soon after, Hofer purchased the business and moved it to the Hillsboro Industrial Park in 1981.

Over the years, Wheatbelt Inc. has grown and diversified, offering a range of rolling shutters for multiple applications.

Wheatbelt has responded to the demand for security as well as energy savings. The rolling shutters provide storefront protection and other security needs.

Wheatbelt began operating in Hillsboro in a 4,800-square-foot facility that has now grown to 22,000 square feet as the result of four expansion projects, the latest of which was in 2010 to provide additional office and warehouse space.

Wheatbelt currently has eight employees; the average employee tenure is about 16 years. A key to the success of the business is their profit-sharing plan. The business has nearly doubled in gross income over the past 10 years.

Wheatbelt has supported the local community through the years. Support for the schools has come through discounted products. Both USD 410 and Tabor College have benefitted from Wheatbelt?s financial support.

A portion of Wheatbelt?s business comes from in-state sales, but a majority comes from out of state. Hofer?s use of the Internet has allowed him to develop the business without a large sales force.

Nearing retirement age, Hofer is grooming several individuals to learn each aspect of the business in anticipation of making a smooth transition in management when the need arises.

?Hillsboro Develop?ment Corp. believes Wheat?belt is a company with a great amount of growth potential,? Seibel said. ?With the strength of the employee loyalty, it is certain that Wheat?belt will remain a viable business in our area for a long time and is worthy of recognition on the local and state level.?

? REAL ESTATE CENTER. The Real Estate Center, now celebrating its 35th year, was purchased by Delores Dalke from the Paul Rundstrom Estate in 1979. Rundstrom, along with two young businessmen, was killed in an airplane crash at the local airport.

Over the past 35 years it has developed into a multi-faceted business that centered on sales of residential, commercial and farm properties.

In the early years, the Real Estate Center served as a satellite office for Railroad Saving and Loan located in Newton, which complemented the real-estate business providing loans for prospective clients.

The business soon evolved into real estate development as Dalke teamed with local businessman Albert Reimer to design and develop an upscale residential subdivision on the outskirts of town. Carriage Hills now has some 26 homes with lots available for future development.

The Real Estate Center also built a number of homes on empty lots around the city, some of which were spec homes and others were custom built.

Along with her work as a real estate broker, Dalke has served as mayor of Hillsboro for 17 years. Prior to that she served on the city council for six years. She has filled several statewide and local offices as well.

Some of the major accomplishments that she has played a role in as mayor include:

? Hillsboro Heights, the highway commercial development now home to 14 businesses;

? Hillsboro Business Park, home to Midway Motors;

? a $3.5 million water-treatment plant improvement project;

? a $2 million Hillsboro aquatic center;

? a $5.3 million wastewater treatment plant;

? $6 million athletic stadium owned jointly by USD 410 and Tabor College.

Dalke also served on the Hillsboro Community Foundation Board, which has grown to nearly $2 million in assets since its inception in 2009. She presently serves on the Central Kansas Community Foundation, Newton, which is the umbrella organization for HCF.

?The Real Estate Center has been a strong supporter of local community activities,? Seibel said. ?Time does not allow to mention all of Delores? involvements and accomplishments.?

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