After graduating from PHS, Ralph Stayer attended Notre Dame, where he earned a degree in Finance. Upon graduation in 1965, he returned to the small meat-processing operation his family founded in Johnsonville, Wis. He immediately began building the company’s wholesale operation, which was spun off into a separate entity in 1968. This led Johnsonville Sausage to incredible growth – it became the leading sausage brand in the United States and grew its operations to more than 30 countries.
At Johnsonville, Mr. Stayer embraced a decentralized management style, giving his members (i.e. employees) a lot of decision-making ability. In 1990, he established Leadership Dynamics, a consulting firm that specialized in coaching leaders of large organizations. His article “How I Learned To Let My Workers Lead” was published in the Harvard Business Review – and it remains one of the top 100 most reprinted articles.
Mr. Stayer’s commitment to his members is best exemplified after a Johnsonville manufacturing plant in Watertown was destroyed by fire. He kept everyone on the company payroll, instructing them to complete service work in the community until a new production facility could be constructed.
Not as well known, Mr. Stayer and Johnsonville have supported a host of charitable causes, including Stayer Park in Plymouth; the Quit Qui Oc ball fields; Boys & Girls Clubs in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties; The Stayer Center at Marian University; the Boomer Esiason Foundation; and a school for the poor in Nicaragua run by his PHS classmate, Sister Katie Schilling (also a member of the PHS Alumni Hall of Fame).
Today, Mr. Stayer and Johnsonville work directly with PHS supporting Youth Apprenticeships, Inspire, and The 180° Program, which honors students who significantly improve their GPAs between the fall and spring semesters.
Mr. Stayer was nominated by Larry Schmitz, president of the PHS Class of 1961.
Shortly after graduation from PHS, Allen Nohl enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to a helicopter crew in Vietnam. While there, he was the lone survivor of an accident in which two helicopters on a support mission crashed into each other and exploded in flames. He was able to jump from the burning chopper. A rescue helicopter could not land, but dropped him a rope and he dangled from it for the 20-mile ride to an aid station. Mr. Nohl was awarded a Purple Heart and was honorably discharged in 1972. After his Army service, Mr. Nohl had a 38-year career at Johnsonville Sausage as a team leader and a foreman.
He has freely given his time to serve veterans through the Sheboygan County American Legion for more than 40 years. He has served as post commander, county commander, and mentor for veterans’ treatment court, and he helped set up the Camo-Quilt Project. Since 2000, Mr. Nohl has served as chairman of the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial Committee. The memorial is just off Highway 23 on the west side of Sheboygan, and displays the names of men and women who participated in wars and conflicts.
Additionally, Mr. Nohl has volunteered his time to support the Johnsonville Fire Department, Plymouth High School FFA, the Saron United Church of Christ Senior Choir, the Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car Association, the U.S. Snowmobile Association, and the Sheboygan County Fair.
Mr. Nohl was nominated by his friend, Konrad Kaczkowski of Plymouth.