Junior Achievement of Kansas inducted its newest Wichita Business Hall of Fame Laureates at a tribute dinner at the Hyatt Regency the evening of March 13. It includes Sonia Greteman, president and creative director, Greteman Group; Steve Cox, owner, Cox Machine; and Bob Geist, owner, RAGE, Inc.
Laureates are chosen based on business excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, community impact, leadership style, local influence and enduring legacy. Past laureates welcomed the new class of honorees.
“This induction is such an unforeseen honor,” says Greteman. “I hold these fellow entrepreneurs and business people in high esteem. Business builds and fuels community. It realizes what others may miss. It takes guts to see ideas through.
“I was told early in my career, when working as a designer at Boeing Wichita, that I was like fuchsia silk in a gray-flannel world. I took that as a compliment and used my nonconformity to think and act differently. That included launching a woman-owned marketing agency that specialized in a male-dominated industry. Our base in the Air Capital helped make our aviation positioning work, which has allowed us to deepen our impact.”
Past Laureates include 2016 Ron Holt, Cindy Carnahan and Claude and Ron Mann; 2015 Paul Allen, Bill Livingston and Steve Martens; 2014 Jim Hattan, Ann Konecny and Sheryl Wolford; 2013 J.V. Lentell, Steve Clark and Patty Koehler; 2012 Robert Schaefer, William Moore, The DeVore Family and Joe Johnson; 2011 Dr. George J. Farha, Dr. S. Jim Farha, Phil Ruffin and Richard Smith; 2010 Anita Oberwortmann, David and Darrel Rolph and the Schwan Family; 2009 E.W. Pete Armstrong, Jeff Turner and Ted and Betty Vlamis; 2008 George Fahnestock, Helen Galloway and Al Higdon; 2006 Barry Downing and Bill Hanna.
The complete list dates back to 1986. For that inaugural event, business luminaries honored posthumously include Walter and Olive Ann Beech, Clyde Cessna, Jesse Chisholm, William Coleman, James Davidson, William Greiffenstein and Marshall Murdock.
“In short, our Hall of Fame Laureates include the who’s who of Wichita business,” says Marci Werne, Junior Achievement of Kansas district director. “Our goal is to inspire young people to follow in the laureates’ footsteps. They certainly inspire me.”
Greteman’s long list of personal achievements include a special governor’s appointment, American Advertising Federation lifetime-achievement award, American Marketing Association marketer of the year, Broadcast and Media Professionals hall of fame, Donna Sweet Humanitarian of the Year, Wichita Aero Club founding board member and more. She gives back by serving on multiple industry and community boards.
“Every community hopes to have a creative genius that builds in place an organization of world renown,” says past Laureate Cindy Carnahan, president, The Carnahan Group. “Someone whose mark is recognized throughout an industry and thus giving distinction back to the place she calls home.”