Business Hall of Fame adds Conover, Gerdes

Latonya Brock, executive director of the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, hugs Phil Conover after his acceptance speech at the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting at the Oakley Lindsay Center on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. At the meeting, Conover and William F. Gerdes III were inducted into the Business Hall of Fame and Dot Foods and Chris Taylor were honored for their dedication to diversity and inclusion within the workplace. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 16, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY — Phil Conover will always be remembered as a community leader.

From his various pursuits as a businessman, educator and an assortment of roles in between, Conover's quiet efforts to help better the Quincy region he has always loved were rewarded Wednesday afternoon before a large turnout at the Oakley-Lindsay Center.

Conover and the late William F. "Bill" Gerdes III were inducted into the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.

"I have sat in the audience of past (Business Hall of Fame inductions) and was always so impressed by those being honored," Conover said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a part of this. It caught my surprise -- it really did, and I am deeply honored. I appreciate belonging to such a select club."

Conover played a prominent role in the creation of the John Wood Community College Workforce Development Center, helping the school move -- and remain -- ahead of the curve in the areas of career and technical development and advancement.

Conover has always been recognized for his visionary and leadership abilities. Although nominated for the Business Hall of Fame through his efforts as president and member of the JWCC Board of Trustees, he was also instrumental in establishing the John Wood Community College Foundation and serving on its board.

Conover also served JWCC as interim vice president for instruction and dean of career, technical and workforce education.

Conover also served as president of Quincy University from 2017-2019.

Gerdes was the fourth president of the Michelmann Steel Construction Co., a Quincy area industrial presence that dates to 1865. Gerdes served as president from 1975 to 2006. He died in 2009.

"This honor means a lot to our family and the business," said Laura Gerdes Ehrhart, the daughter of Bill Gerdes. "I regret my father was not here to receive this honor."

Ehrhart said her dad always emphasized the significance of people, whether it involved employees, customers or family.

"That was always important to him," she said.

The induction of Gerdes and Conover swells the Business Hall of Fame to 51 members. The hall was started in 2006 to celebrate the history and accomplishments of the Quincy area business community.

Also honored Wednesday were Dot Foods and local business owner Chris Taylor.

Dot Foods received the Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award. Taylor was the recipient of the Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award.

The Diversity and Inclusion honors were established in 2019 to recognize and celebrate organizations and community leaders for their commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

"This award is significant and meaningful," said Matt Holt, Dot Foods vice president of human resources. "It's a recognition of what (Dot Foods) is doing matters. We're proud of Dot's impact on the region and its programs that emphasize inclusion and diversity."

Taylor is the co-owner of For Home and Her in Quincy's downtown district and manages the Cabaret (known as "The Cab").

"Diversity and inclusion are now more prominent in Quincy," said Taylor, who lauded the Chamber of Commerce for its efforts in those area. "All people need to feel they have an equal opportunity."

The Business Hall of Fame luncheon and awards were made possible through the sponsorship efforts of Adams Fiber, Blessing Health System, County Market, Dale Koontz Builder Inc., Gardner Denver, Hollister-Whitney, KHQA, Kohl Wholesale, Kunes Country Auto Group, Peoples Prosperity Bank, Schmiedeskamp Robertson Neu and Mitchell LLP, Titan International and TI-TRUST Inc.

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