A company that has been in the community since 1908 celebrated another milestone Tuesday: the official induction into the Norfolk Area Business Hall of Fame, presented by the Daily News and First National Bank of Norfolk.
In a room in the carbon steel service center’s headquarters in Norfolk, about 75 people cheered on Richard Robinson, CEO and chairman of Norfolk Iron & Metal, and his son Arnie, president, as they received the award from Kent Warneke, editor emeritus of the Daily News, and Don Polodna, president of First National Bank of Norfolk.
Polodna said honoring the company is a great way to continue the hall of fame, now in its third year.
“For a company that started in 1908 just north of downtown at Third (Street) and Braasch (Avenue), from where you see the multiple sites today (and a) fourth-generation family, it’s amazing and I’m just so proud and happy to present the hall of fame award to Dick and Arnie of Norfolk Iron & Metal,” Polodna said.
The award started in 2017 as a partnership between the Daily News and First National Bank. It has recognized businesses in Norfolk and the surrounding areas, as well as emerging businesses. This year Blackburn Manufacturing Co. of Neligh also was inducted as the area business honoree, while Johnnie Byrd Brewing Co. of Wayne was awarded the “emerging business” honor for a company in business for less than five years.
Richard Robinson thanked the employees who make the company possible, calling them the “key cogs” in daily operations. There are about 1,000 people employed among 13 facilities serving 31 states total, he said.
“It’s a wonderful honor. But the honor’s not ours, it’s all the people who work here,” he said. “… They do a tremendous job day in and day out. Without the people, we would never get anything done so I applaud you for a great job.”
He also thanked the Vietnam veterans who had nominated the business after it sponsored an honor flight to Washington, D.C., in May 2017.
“That might have been one of the best things we ever did and … the honor was not ours, it was an honor to honor the vets. Thank you again,” he said.
Arnie Robinson echoed his father’s sentiments and said they are proud of the award.
“It’s always great to get honored and be surrounded by our community, our Norfolk Iron & Metal team, it’s fantastic,” he said. “… Being a part of the Norfolk business community is a great thing and we’re thankful for the honor.”
Richard Robinson said Northeast Nebraska is a “fertile” place for a business to grow, attributing it to Norfolk Iron & Metal’s growth and success.
“We have a great workforce in this part of the state, great people that work hard and that are innovative and willing to try things,” he said. “Whether it’s an innovative business that might just be starting, or someone that’s been around for 110 years, you start somewhere. And if you don’t start in the right place with the right people, you’re not going make it.
“So we are also thankful for Northeast Nebraska and Norfolk for all it’s done for us.”
The business award ceremonies will continue through the week with Johnnie Byrd on Wednesday and Blackburn on Thursday.
Previous hall of fame inductees are Appeara of Norfolk, Husker Ag of Plainview and Mama’s and Nana’s Cafe of Neligh in 2017 and Lou’s Thrifty Way of Norfolk, Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson and Real Estate Solutions Team of Norfolk in 2018.