Winfield, Kan., May 11, 2017 — The Southwestern College Business Hall of Fame added three new names Saturday, April 22. Eric Kurtz, Brian Pettey, and Dennis Hodges have joined the ranks of other distinguished business leaders in Southwestern College history and were inducted as part of Founders Weekend activities. The Business Builder Award was presented to Kline Motors.
This year’s inductees included:
• Eric Kurtz ’92 is CEO and president of Union State Bank, the culmination of a career that began immediately after graduation. Kurtz progressed from night processor to senior vice president of Pioneer Bank and Trust in Ponca City before the bank was acquired in 2006. During his tenure the group became one of only three Oklahoma banks with Preferred Lender Program status with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Following acquisition by RCB Bank, Kurtz became senior vice president of commercial lending. In 2009, he joined Union State Bank. He became president of the bank in 2011, rising to CEO and president in 2014. During his tenure, the bank has expanded into Bartlesville, Okla., and Wichita, acquired RelianzBank, and has been recognized as one of the healthiest banks in the nation.
• Brian Pettey ’96 is CEO of Robotzone, LLC, a business he founded in a Reid residence hall room during his senior year at Southwestern. Located in Winfield, the initial focus of Robotzone was designing and manufacturing robots and robotic components for educational purposes. In 2002, Robotzone began developing more advanced products that were suited for more diverse markets. Robotzone has assisted companies with NASA missions, had robots displayed at the Kennedy Space Center, and constructed robots to help kids learn in thousands of classrooms worldwide. Pettey has also assisted in the development of robots used to protect solders in war zones as well as in television programs and movies. Currently, Robotzone is designing a modular robotic construction system. Pettey has invented numerous products and holds more than 30 patents.
• Dennis Hodges ’81 is the founder/CEO of Creatalyst, a global strategy boutique that teaches executives, educators, students, and entrepreneurs how to unlock creativity and drive innovation. Hodges started with a self-designed degree in aesthetics and humanities that taught him to see relationships and connections among seemingly dissimilar items. This set the course for his life’s work, which combines photography, creativity, and strategy. Living for 14 years in Hungary taught him to look at issues from multiple perspectives and appreciate the local nuances that shape world views. He has worked on five continents, including speaking at TEDx Danubia. His work has been shown globally and is in the permanent collection of museums and private collectors. Dennis also launched the lifestyle brand Dream. Believe. Do. and hosts its podcast.
• Kline Motors was established in 1963 by Don and Virginia Kline as a family-owned business and has served Winfield and the Cowley County area for more than half a century. Its mission stresses the company’s commitment to the community. Pat Biddle started his career in 1975 in the service and parts departments and continued the tradition of supporting the community that included Southwestern College as he assumed leadership of the company. Kline Motors is now a third-generation business with Pat’s son, Jeremy, set to take ownership of the business. Following in the family footsteps, Jeremy’s son, Wyatt, 14, works summers in the dealership.
Southwestern College is a private institution granting undergraduate and graduate degrees and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. About 1,700 students attend classes at the main Winfield campus, at five professional studies sites in Kansas and Oklahoma, or online around the world.