Three inducted into Kansas Business Hall of Fame

June 30, 2015

Three men who founded successful Kansas companies were inducted into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame at Emporia State University.

Gary Burrell and Min H. Kao, co-founders of Garmin, Inc., and the late Jess Cornejo, who started Cornejo Trucking Co., which became Cornejo & Sons, were inducted during the Team Kansas dinner at Johnson County Community College.

Cornejo started his trucking company in the early 1950s in Wichita. He started and operated many companies from trucking and excavation to demolition. Cornejo died in 1994 and his family eventually sold the business to Summit Materials LLC in 2010.

Burrell and Kao teamed in 1989 teamed up to create Garmin Corp., makers of popular global positioning system devices. Burrell, born in Stilwell, Kansas, has been recognized by Inc. Magazine, The Kansas City Business Journal and Ernst & Young as the “Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year” for Missouri and Kansas.

Kao, born in Jhushan, Nantou, Taiwan, came to the United States for educational opportunitis after earning his first degree in his native country. After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees, he worked on research for NASA and the U.S. Army. Before co-founding Garmin, Kao worked with navigation systems for Teledyne Systems, Magnavox Advanced Products, King Radio Corp.. and Allied Signal.

The ceremony marks the 27th year of inductions into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame, which is located at Emporia State University. Business leaders selected for the KBHF are widely known for their contributions to Kansas, and are recognized as role models. The KBHF recognizes historical contributors and present-day leaders who have made private enterprise work in Kansas and throughout the country.

Previous inductees include such prominent Kansans as Pizza Hut founders Dan and Frank Carney, Clara and Russell Stover of Russell Stover Candies, Don Hall of Hallmark Cards, Clyde Cessna of Cessna Aircraft Co., Walter Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corp., and William Allen White, entrepreneur and Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the Emporia Gazette.

The only program of its kind in the state of Kansas, the Kansas Business Hall of Fame serves as a chapter of the American National Business Hall of Fame.

Full biographies are available here: Gary Burrell, Jess Cornejo, Min H. Kao