JA Names Its 2004 Hall Of Fame

April 12, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Every year since 1989, Junior Achievement has inducted West Michigan business leaders into its Business Hall of Fame.

Honorees are selected based on outstanding business accomplishments, recognition within the person's industry, adherence to high moral and ethical principles, demonstration of civic responsibility and community involvement, service as a role model and work in West Michigan.

The seven 2004 laureates join 53 leaders already recognized by Junior Achievement.

Inductee Michael J. Jandernoa is the former chairman and CEO of Perrigo Co., the nation's leading manufacturer of store-brand over-the-counter drug and nutritional products. He has served on many corporate, community and religious boards, including the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Cascade Engineering and Young President Organization.

Paul A. Johnson is being honored posthumously for his work to create one of the area's largest industrial companies, JSJ Corp.

Johnson began his corporate career, after serving in the Navy as a lieutenant commander during World War II, at Grand Haven's Dake Corp. In 1970 he was one of the founding directors who created JSJ Corp. by merging five Grand Haven companies. He retired in 1994.

Johnson was the first president of Loutit Foundation, president of the Rotary Club of Grand Haven and served on the school board. Johnson was the former member, director or president of West Michigan, Chicago and Mackinac yacht clubs and a charter member of the Grand Haven Watershed Authority.

He was honored with the Governor's Minuteman Award in 1992 and served on many West Michigan and statewide boards, including 26 years as a trustee on the board of Grand Valley State University.

Business leaders and brothers Otto and Victor Krause followed in the footsteps of their father, G.A. Krause, at what would become Wolverine World Wide Inc. Both men are deceased. Otto worked in the factory side of the business and succeeded his father as president. He later became chairman of the international company. Victor, meanwhile, learned the leather tanning business in Massachusetts and returned to West Michigan to lead technical breakthroughs in leather preparation that moved the company from cowhide to horsehide to pigskin. He was instrumental in helping to develop the Hush Puppies line.

Christos (Chris) Panopoulos is being honored as he continues to enrich the West Michigan community. As the founder and owner of at least five businesses, Panopolous employs more than 800 people. His contributions to his church earned him the title "Archon Orphanotrophos" — the highest honor a layman can receive in the Orthodox Church. His companies — which include Panopoulos Salons, Chic University of Cosmetology and U.S. Golf Carts — support many charities in West Michigan, including food banks and cancer research.

A second team of brothers is being inducted this year: Gary and L.J. "Midge" Verplank. They are the third-generation owners of Verplank Trucking, begun in 1908 as coal and ice distributors. The brothers started Shape Corp. in 1974, and Gary managed its growth and the start-up of companies that manufacture such products as automotive bumper beams, office furniture task lights, automotive seat adjusters, and many others.

Gary has been a councilman on the Ferrysburg City Council and a vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as serving on other committees in West Michigan. Midge joined the family business to expand the company into the importing business. Today, the firm operates from seven docks in three harbors. Midge's community activities include yachting associations and rotary boards. Spring Lake's Warner Baird Library building committee and fund-raising for a new Spring Lake District Library were beneficiaries of his community involvement.

Laureates will be inducted, and past laureates honored, during a black-tie dinner on May 6 in the Amway Grand Plaza's Ambassador Ballroom. Some students who have benefited from Junior Achievement programs also will attend.

Huntington National Bank will be the event's Title Sponsor for the fourth year. Huntington President Jim Dunlap will chair the event. Sponsorship opportunities and tickets are available. In the Grand Rapids area, contact Bill Coderre at 575-9080, Ext. 22. In the Lakeshore area, contact Beth Harris at (616) 844-0800.

Junior Achievement's mission is to educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business and economics to improve the quality of their lives.    

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