Two Businesses Inducted into PCDC Business Hall of Fame
14 Nov 2023
Awards and Recognition, Business, Events
Governor Jim Pillen shared his top priorities for Nebraska, and PCDC honored two local businesses at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet on October 26 at the Holdrege Sun Theater & Event Venue.
PCDC’s Large Business of the Year award went to Nebraskaland Aviation of Holdrege, and the Small Business of the Year was awarded to Pretty & Fabulous Custom T-Shirts & Boutique in Bertrand.
Pillen said his top priorities are kids, taxes, agriculture and values.
“Our kids are our future,” Pillen said. “We must lift up every kid so that no kid falls through the cracks. That is the key to our future workforce development.”
He encouraged everyone to consider mentoring a child to make a difference in the future. He also touted his transformative educational plan that lessens the burden of using property taxes and brings more money to small schools.
Pillen said he is also focused on operating the government like a business and cutting out unnecessary funding while improving efficiencies and upgrading services.
“Next year, we will be spending less money in the state operating budget than we spent this year,” he said.
He has a group of 35 people working on a plan to reduce property taxes in preparation for the upcoming Legislative season.
Pillen said that ag is the “heart and soul of who we are.”
He said Nebraska could soon become its own circular ecosystem using all the corn it produces for items such as food additives, soaps, cosmetics, etc.
He encouraged all Nebraskans to “stand up for the conservative values we believe in.”
At the banquet, PCDC honored Nebraskaland Aviation as its large business of the year and inducted the Holdrege business into the PCDC Business Hall of Fame.
Nebraskaland Aviation, 1002 Brewster Road, is a family-owned business that provides aerial application services to farmers along with ground liquid custom applications, dry fertilizer custom applications and chemical and fertilizer sales to growers who do their own spraying.
It serves a 22-county area in South-Central Nebraska and North-Central Kansas. Besides Holdrege, the business has locations in Holstein, Alma, Minden, Phillipsburg, Kansas (Kansas Crop Care) and Smith Center, Kansas (Kansas Ag Care).
Nebraskaland is owned by Tye and Aimee Marquardt of Holdrege and their children. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Westerlin-Harrington Flying Service, which was started by Dennis Westerlin in the mid-1960s. It was later owned by Jim and Sue Lindstrom. Tye joined the operation in 2007 and learned everything he could from Jim and Sue. He purchased the remaining shares of Westerlin-Harrington Flying Service in 2012.
In an emotional speech, Tye Marquardt expressed his surprise and gratitude for the PCDC honor.
“After 17 years in business, Holdrege is our home,” Marquardt said. “We are proud to be in Holdrege. When the community that means so much to you recognizes your business, it means a lot to us.”
He said Holdrege provided the perfect environment for his business to flourish and grow. That perfect environment includes the farmers who see value in their services and products, employees who are like family, local and state business leaders who create a friendly business environment, suppliers who help support the business, and previous owners Jim and Sue Lindstrom for making Nebraskaland’s success possible.
“Thank you to Jim and Sue Lindstrom,” Marquardt said. “If it weren’t for the opportunity that they gave a couple of 30-something-year-old kids quite a few years ago, we could never have imagined owning and operating a business like this. We will be forever grateful.”
He also paid tribute to the business’ founder, Dennis Westerlin.
“Whether Dennis Westerlin knew or not decades ago when he opened his doors that this would be a great place to do business today, he found just the right spot,” he said.
Pretty & Fabulous
PCDC honored Jennifer Weber and her business Pretty & Fabulous Custom T-Shirts & Boutique in downtown Bertrand as the small business of the year.
The store opened full time in 2017 and provides custom-designed t-shirts and clothing, mugs and cups that can also be customized with lettering, candles, crafts, lotions, toys, earrings, dips and jams, and plus-sized clothing.
Besides operating a store, Weber is highly involved in making Bertrand a better place to live and visit. She serves on the Bertrand Brews & BBQ committee, which plans a summer BBQ and music event; the Bertrand Ag Society, which organizes events such as the Bertrand Craft Show and Christmas Tree Walk; and helped on the Bertrand Aquatic Center committee, which organizes a New Year’s Gala. She also serves on the Phelps County Visitors Committee.
She also helps those beyond her small community.
When wildfires raged through southwest Nebraska in 2021, Weber and her team designed and sold a Prairie Strong t-shirt to be sold as a fund-raiser for fire departments that helped fight the fire. She was able to donate $40,000 to help small-town fire departments.
Jennifer said she was “excited and stunned” when she found out about the PCDC Business Hall of Fame Award.
“I felt very humbled that people notice me and are enjoying doing business with me,” she said. “It makes me want to continue to grow my business and work with my amazing customers.”
Also at the event, PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery reminded the more than 100 attendees about PCDC’s mission and values.
“We are working together to grow a vibrant economy,” Tillery said. “Our vision is that Phelps County is a place where free enterprise and families can flourish, and that guides everything we do as an organization.”
PCDC Board President Shane Westcott shared some of PCDC and Phelps County’s recent successes.
“Our market continues to set record sales and attract customers from a large region,” Westcott said.
PCDC recently started a new partnership with The Retail Coach to provide support for recruiting targeted retailers and restaurants to the area.
“Their efforts will build upon the recent opening of Hy-Vee and very soon we will see more visible evidence of the ongoing revitalization of the Holdrege Plaza,” he said. “The excitement in our market is a great indicator of things to come in the retail sector.”
PCDC has been actively involved in building new housing in the county, including the Crew Subdivision where six new homes were recently completed, and the new Northern Meadows development that will be west of the new Hy-Vee. PCDC, in partnership with Community Capital Partners in Kearney, plans to build 30 homes in the subdivision at a cost of $275,000 to the buyer.
As a local farmer, Westcott said he is proud of the work PCDC is doing to promote agriculture. He said PCDC has nine recruitment files open related to the ag industry, and they are hopeful some of them will become reality soon.
“Holdrege and Phelps County can compete with anyone,” Westcott said. “We are attracting attention from businesses all across the nation. It’s an exciting time.”