Friday, June 16, 2006

Hall of Famers

Thursday evening, instead of spending another night watching videotape of that day's World Cup action, I attended the banquet and induction ceremony for the Junior Achievement of the Tri-State Business Hall of Fame. About 200 people attended the event at the Grand River Center.

I have interacted with each of the inductees -- Ed Babka, Mike Budde and A.J. Spiegel -- from time to time. That is to be expected of a local newspaper editor who has been in town 20 years. And though the Telegraph Herald has reported on each of these gentlemen over the years, I learned more about them through the awards program, which included a brief video biography.

Though their main businesses are (or were) varied -- Babka in publishing, Budde in call centers, and Spiegel in manufacturing -- they have several things in common. Each started his own enterprise. Each worked long hours (and days and weeks and years). Each found a niche for his business. But that's not all: Each acknowledged that he could not do it himself. Each surrounded himself with talented people. And each gave credit for that vital help.

Beyond that, each of the Hall of Fame laureates has given back to the Dubuque community in many ways -- financially and through personal service.

Though Babka's success with his Antique Trader publication brought him to Dubuque -- his publication outgrew his previous printers, so he came to Dubuque, where the Telegraph Herald handled his printing needs -- Budde and Spiegel are natives of the area.

When out-of-town acquaintances comment on Dubuque's success as a community, I point out that this area is blessed with a large number (it seems to me) of home-grown, privately owned businesses. Their leadership and "give-back" to the community simply can't be duplicated by corporate owners with headquarters in some distant city.

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