Muskegon Hall Inducts Class

February 7, 2003
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MUSKEGON — Remembering and understanding the past as the community charts a new economic future is the premise for the foundation of a new business hall of fame.

As Muskegon embarks on an economic rebirth, particularly with the new SmartZone high-tech business park and numerous investments made in downtown, organizers of the Muskegon Business Hall of Fame decided they needed to document the achievements of past business leaders.

“We’ve found over and over again, you must know your history and know what occurred before you,” said Pat Shafer, membership director for the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce. “The whole message is that you just really have to know where you come from. Where have we been and what have we had? That’s how you plan your future.”

The inaugural class being inducted into the hall of fame during the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting on Feb. 20 includes five business pioneers who laid the foundation for Muskegon’s economic base for the late 19th century and the 20th century. Each was known for philanthropy, civic involvement and leadership.

They are:

  • Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume, lumbermen who founded the Hackley & Hume Co. in 1881, one of the most successful lumber companies in Muskegon. Charles Hackley founded Muskegon’s first chamber of commerce in 1893.
  • Charles E. Johnson, co-founder of Sealed Power Corp. in 1911.
  • Louis C. Walker, co-founder of the Shaw-Walker Co. in 1889.
  • Ted Operhall, who founded aerospace company Misco Corp. in 1951, the forerunner of today’s Howmet Corp. operations in Muskegon. Howmet acquired Misco in the 1950s and remains one of the area’s largest employers.

“Somehow each of our lives are tied to the men and the industries they created here in Muskegon,” chamber President Cindy Larsen said. “We have a tremendous amount to learn by understanding their achievements.”

Criteria for entry into the new hall of fame include success in business, philanthropy and community service, and employee relations, Shafer said. The Chamber of Commerce will recognize annual inductees through a timeline created at the organization’s downtown office depicting Muskegon’s business history.

The chamber plans to add an annual small business inductee beginning in 2004, Shafer said.    

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