2020 Wichita Business Hall of Fame Laureates Announced
The 2020 Wichita Business Hall of Fame laureates were announced at a lunch event on Monday September 30, at Commerce Bank in Wichita. Three business leaders will join the Junior Achievement of Kansas Wichita Business Hall of Fame.
The 2020 laureates are: Bob Babst, Metal Finishing Company, Inc.; Tom Kice, Kice Industries; and Lynn Nichols, Yingling Aviation.
The 2020 Wichita Business Hall of Fame dinner honoring these individuals will be Tuesday March 10, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency (400 W Waterman).
Bob Babst is a Wichita native where he attended North High School before graduating from Wichita State University with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Bob grew up working at Metal Finishing Company from an early age, learning the plating business from his father and company founder Harley Babst. Bob was unexpectedly thrust into a leadership role within the company at the age of 20 when Harley suddenly passed away in 1967.
The early years were tough with limited resources and poor business conditions, but he maintained a conservative growth strategy and focused on reinvesting in the business whenever possible. Drawing on his experience working for a local sign company during high school, he opened an aerospace painting facility in 1969, becoming the first local coatings supplier to vertically integrate in this way. Future expansions would include green-fielding a facility in Wellington, Kansas designed to process aerospace wing spar and stringer components up to 80' in length, as well as growth into high end ultrasonic inspection capability for modern composite aerospace structures.
Bob's leadership over the next five decades has transformed Metal Finishing Company from a small 12 employee plating job shop into an industry leading business offering diversified metal processing, heat treatment, non-destructive inspection, painting, and other specialized coatings for general aviation, commercial and defense end users including Boeing, Spirit, Textron, Gulfstream, Bombardier and many others. Metal Finishing Company currently has over 500 employees and 800,000 square feet of manufacturing space across several facilities in Kansas as well as an international location in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Bob currently serves as CEO of the company and continues to be active daily in business operations. His legacy in the family business continues with his sons Rob and Alex – Rob serves as President of the company while Alex heads IT development. Bob also supports numerous local charities on both a personal and corporate level and has consulted and invested in many start-up businesses both locally and nationally. He remains passionate about the company's role in supporting our local aerospace industry and counts helping many other local businesses grow over the years among his greatest successes.
He grew up in the Riverside area and quickly developed a love of nature and all things outdoors. He continues those passions today as a fisherman, amateur pond builder, and part-time rancher at the family ranch in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas.
Bob met his wife Jennifer at the Orpheum Theatre and married her in 1969. They are proud to be celebrating their 50th anniversary together this year. Their children are two married sons, Rob and his wife Amy as well as Alex and his wife Layne, and two daughters Penelope and Abigail. They are also blessed with 5 granddaughters ranging in ages from 7 to 19 – Celia, Phoebe, Anabelle, Vivienne, and Genevieve.
Tom Kice is a fourth generation Wichitan born in Wichita, KS in 1949 to Russell and Naomi Kice. Tom was the youngest of four sons and had one younger sister. Tom graduated from Wichita High School Southeast in 1967 and graduated from Wichita State University in 1972 with a degree in Business Administration. Tom joined the Kansas Air National Guard in 1970 and was honorably discharged in 1976.
Tom married Jo Gingrich in 1970 and they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2020. Tom and Jo have three married sons, Drew & Megan, Tim & Carrie, and Jeff & Erin along with 7 grandchildren.
Tom started working part-time at Kice Industries in 1965 in the manufacturing department. It was a requirement for all Kice family members that planned to work at Kice Industries. to begin in the shop doing the dirtiest and hardest jobs. It was always Tom's desire to work with his family at Kice Industries. During his time in the shop, Tom learned welding, machining, and other skills. The education Tom received while working in the manufacturing department proved to be extremely beneficial for his entire career of over 50 years at Kice Industries More than anything, this time gave Tom an appreciation for heart for all employees at Kice Industries. After graduation from Wichita State, Tom moved into the office, working in sales and design of pneumatic conveying systems.
Kice Industries was founded in 1946 by Tom's grandfather Wilbur, father Russell, and two uncles Jack and James. Russell served as President from the incorporation until 1988, Jack was Vice President of Engineering, and James was Vice President of Manufacturing. Kice Industries remains a family owned business that is currently managed by fourth generation family members. From the late 1950's through the 2000's, as many as seven of the eleven 3rd generation family members worked at Kice Industries. During these years Kice Industries grew into one the dominate providers of the pneumatic conveying systems, dust control systems, and aspiration systems in North America. Each member of the Kice family had unique skills and provided tremendous insight and support in their field of expertise.
Tom was elected to the role of President and CEO in 1988. Tom served as President & CEO until 2009 when Drew, Tom's oldest son, was elected President. Tom remained CEO until 2014 when Drew assumed the role of President and CEO.
Kice Industries' roots are in the grain processing industry, primarily wheat milling. Customers included Pillsbury, General Mills, Quaker Oats, ADM, Cargill and virtually every flour mill in North America. Today, Kice Industries maintains these long-standing relationships but has also expanded its business into virtually any industry that processes dry, bulk materials. The company has also expanded its scope of supply from individual systems to complete, turn-key processing plants.
Tom is extremely pleased to have all three of his sons working at Kice Industries. Drew is President and CEO, Tim is Vice President of Manufacturing, and Jeff is Vice President of Business Development. Nephews Alex and Ben work in Sales and are responsible for significant portions of the company's business. Kice Industries' headquarters and manufacturing are located in Wichita. They have nine regional offices located around the U.S. and Mexico. Kice Industries built CFM, a grey and ductile iron foundry, in Blackwell, Oklahoma, in 1975. Today, Kice employs around 220 people and 40 people at CFM.
It is rare for a family business to exist for 74 years and four generations of family. As of the last couple years, it's now a 5th generation company. When people ask how Kice has been able to continue this long, Tom's reply is that the Kice family has a strong Christian foundation. The company was founded with these beliefs in mind, and the values driving behaviors today remain grounded in these beliefs.
Over the years Tom has served on church and Christian youth organization's boards. Tom is a member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church and was a member of Young President Organization. Tom served on a mutual fund board for 20+ years and currently serves on the board of a manufacturing company in north central Kansas. Tom still "goes into the office" most days and supports Kice Industries with some the long-time relationships he built over the past 50 years.
Lynn Nichols is Chairman & CEO of Yingling Aviation, located at Dwight D. Eisenhower Airport, and Ridge Road facilities in Wichita, Kansas. Lynn is a multi-engine, instrument rated pilot.
Born in Winfield, Kansas, his parents moved to Wichita when he was three years old, so Lynn only knows Wichita as his home. Lynn graduated from Southeast High School and attended Wichita State University.
In 1984, he and a partner purchased A.B.Dick Products Co., a company engaged in office equipment and reprographics business. In 1988, they co-founded Office Automation, Inc., in Wichita. After a decade of growing that business, he and his partner sold the company to IKON Corp., a $6 billion global company, which was recently acquired by Ricoh Corporation. He was retained by IKON as one of 25 operating presidents, and the Kansas and Oklahoma marketplace with responsibilities of 400 employees until 1998. He left IKON to help his mother and sisters take care of his terminally ill father who worked at Cessna Aircraft Company for 40 years. After a short sabbatical, he acquired Yingling Aviation in January of 2000.
Yingling Aviation is a widely diversified general aviation services provider offering maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and fixed based operations (FBO) services for both piston and turbine powered aircraft, avionics, parts, interiors, aircraft paint and propeller sales and repair. Founded in 1946, it became Cessna Aircraft Company's first sales and service dealer. Yingling Aviation is a FAA and EASA (European) Authorized Repair Station. In addition, Yingling holds service authorization for Cessna, Beechcraft, McCauley, Garmin, Collins, Hartzell, MT and Sensenich products.
Lynn is also a partner in TNW (Turner, Nichols, Williams) local private equity group investing in local businesses and start-up desiring to expand in the Wichita community. To date, TNW owns Hornet Cutting Systems, a CNC machine manufacturer in Valley Center, Kansas, and also the majority interest of three other aviation and transportation related companies.
Lynn says, "It should be everyone's mission to leave this community better than when we arrived – Community service is a must." He serves on the non-profit boards of the Wichita Greater Partnership, Wichita State University Foundation, and Doc's Friends (restored B-29). He also serves as a Director at Intrust Bank and General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Previously, he has served on the boards of Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce (2011 Chairman), Wichita State University's President's Council, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, Southwestern College, National Conference of Christians and Jews, American Cancer Society, Via Christi Riverside Health Systems, The Independent School, The State Bank, Union State Bank, and Wichita State University's Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization (SASO).
He and his wife Sherry have been married 39 years and reside in Andover, Kansas. They have two adult children, and four grandsons. Son, Andrew is married to Koda, and is a graduate of both Kansas State University, and Wichita State University. September 1, 2019, he was promoted to President of Yingling Aviation. Daughter Lynnsey, graduated from Emporia State University. Lynnsey's husband, Zach work's at Yingling Aviation as Director, Support Services. Zach, a Northwestern Oklahoma University also is the Managing Director of the family's food service businesses.
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