Junior Achievement of the Heartland inducted four members into the Quad Cities Area Business Hall of Fame during a ceremony Thursday.
"They are living examples of the opportunities our free-enterprise system can provide our young people," Nick Kremer, Junior Achievement board member, said. "These honorees have inspired us with their dedication to hard work and achievement. More importantly, they serve as role models to our youth, inspiring them and giving them the vivid illustrations of the opportunities presented by our free-enterprise system."
The 2021 Laureates were selected for their entrepreneurial achievements and their demonstrated community involvement, according to a new release.
Inducted into the hall of fame were husband-and-wife team of Thomas and Jennifer Rowe, past owners of Serv-A-Lite Products, and XPAC father-and-son team of Donald L. Ruggles, CEO and chairman, and XPAC President Greg Ruggles.
They join 71 other laureates previously inducted.
The Quad Cities Area Business Hall of Fame was started by Junior Achievement in 1990 to celebrate the accomplishments of business leaders who have had a positive and lasting impact on the Quad-Cities region.
In addition, JA of the Heartland also named Katie Castillo-Wilson, founder and CEO of TapOnIt, as Young Entrepreneur of the year. Brett Decker, chief financial officer with Central Bank Illinois, was honored as Outstanding Junior Achievement Volunteer of the year.
All honorees will be formally recognized during the Quad Cities Area Business Hall of Fame celebration on June 10 at Rhythm City Casino in Davenport. The event includes a reception, dinner and induction ceremony.
Proceeds from the event will help further JA’s mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. For more information, visit https://jaheartland.org/events/qc-business-hall-of-fame/.
About the honorees
Decker has been an active JA volunteer for 24 years and has taught 52 programs at the middle-grade and high-school level, including serving as a business mentor to Geneseo High School students.
"He has invested countless hours guiding students through the virtual business simulation as they prepare to compete against other high school teams throughout the region," Kremer said. "Leading discussions around capital investment, product development, supply and demand, and charitable contributions, he has served as a mentor that I’m sure many of us in this room wished we would have had in our earlier years."
Decker's "passion for teaching business has impacted 1,000 students in the Geneseo community," Kremer said.
Castillo-Wilson left her career in digital marketing in 2014 to launch a tech start-up in the Quad Cities, helping brands connect with customers by sending offers directly to their telephone via text message.
"Driven to take her venture to the next level, our Young Entrepreneur has raised over $5 million since the inception of her business to grow TapOnIt into a technology used all over the nation," Kremer said. "Managing a new business has its challenges, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. Katie’s ability to successfully manage TapOnIt through the ups and downs of 2020 further demonstrates her strengths as an entrepreneur. She serves as a role model for all when it comes to achieving goals and following your passion."
Thomas and Jennifer Rowe grew Serv-A-Lite Products, a wholesale hardware distributor of fasteners and small items, over 30 years of ownership from one employee to 141 local employees and 250 remote sales representatives.
"Their passion for success goes well beyond their business," Kremer said. "Their involvement in many civic organizations demonstrates their personal and professional commitment to the growth and well-being of the Quad Cities and the people who make it special."
Don and Greg Ruggles built a company specializing in customized logistics and supply chain management. The father-son duo grew the business from a small pallet and crating company with 50 employees to employing more than 1,200 employees in a 1-million-square-foot facility by offering additional services such as warehousing and integrated computer systems.
"Proudly serving the Quad Cities for 47 years, they continue building XPAC’s reputation as an innovative supplier with a commitment to exceeding customers’ expectations and achieving continued growth," Kremer said.