A Menomonie businessman who grew his beer distributorship into a national leader, two local farm implement dealers and a young IT professional were among the honorees when the Chippewa Valley Technical College Alumni Association held its annual Spring Gala Thursday, April 4.
Terry Giertz, now retired as the CEO of Bill’s Distributing in Menomonie, was named the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. Erin Garney, a network systems shift manager at WIN in Eau Claire was named the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award winner. And Value Implement and Tractor Central were honored as the 2019 Proven Business Partners for their support of CVTC agriculture programs.
Giertz, a 1971 graduate of CVTC’s Marketing program, joined the beer distributorship business his father was giving up in the late 1970s. As the company leader, he grew the business from 70,000 cases a year to millions of cases today. The company built a new distribution center in 2008.
Bill’s Distributing has been honored as a top distributor by Anheuser Busch and has over the years added multiple lines, including Coors, New Glarus, Heineken, Corona and others. Along the way, Giertz and Bill’s Distributing has done much for the communities in which they do business. They have supported at least two dozen community celebrations, the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, Dunn County Humane Society, Dunn County Historical Society, and several wildlife organizations.
Giertz was awarded the prestigious Birch Sturm Fellow as a Member of Lions Club International. He is a past president of the Wisconsin Beer Wholesalers Association.
Garney, a 2013 IT-Network Specialist graduate, was hired at WIN before she finished the program. She started as a network management center technician, then earned promotions to network systems administrator and network systems shift manager. Garney enjoys volunteering at the community table and with United Way. She is a member of Leadership Eau Claire and Apprenticeship USA, which works to expand apprenticeships for students.
Value Implement, which offers Case IH as its major line of farm and turf equipment, opened its first stores in Arcadia and Osseo in 1992 and has since added locations in Menomonie and Baldwin. Founded in 2009, Tractor Central is a 10-store organization with its major line of products being John Deere equipment.
Both Value Implement and Tractor Central have been strong supporters of CVTC agriculture programs by providing the latest equipment for use by students, who learn by raising crops from planting to harvesting.
“Through Value Implement and other dealers, Case IH provided opportunities for educational organizations to obtain the most advanced agriculture equipment and technology, putting it in front of the future generation of producers and employees of businesses like ours,” store manager Scott Barnhart said. “They are the future, and we look forward to helping them in the industry.”
“We want students to know how to use the latest equipment and how to optimize it, so they can bring that back to whatever their endeavors are,” said Kori Richter, integrated solutions manager for Tractor Central. “We have always had great support for this partnership within the company and the ownership group.”
“Without these partnerships, our students would not have access to millions of dollars of equipment, technology and support,” said Mark Denk, agronomy instructor at CVTC. “We rely on it for tillage, planting and harvesting and also utilize some of the technology for analyzing our yields.”