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WinTech concludes 20th anniversary celebration honoring late founder

Monday, June 4, 2012

Founders of WinTech in Monett recently added a photograph of fellow company founder Lonnie Dunn to the company's Wall of History. From left are: Debbie and Bob Berger, Earlene Dunn holding the photo of her late husband, Lonnie Dunn, and Karla and Gary Rickman. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Monett manufacturing firm WinTech recently completed the celebration of the company's 20th year by recognizing one of the firm's founders, Lonnie Dunn, with a special photo to hang on the company's history wall.

WinTech was incorporated in August of 1991. The celebration began last fall with the presentation of plaques to employees recognizing service in five-year increments.

Twenty-year plaques were presented to President Bob Berger and Karla Rickman. The other founding members of the company were Lonnie Dunn, Gary Rickman and Debbie Berger. Dunn retired in February 2005 and died in 2011. The remaining founders continue to serve on the company's board.

Plaques commemorating 20 years of service to WinTech were presented to Karla Rickman and Bob Berger during the company's 20-year anniversary celebration. At left is a miniature mock-up of the Monett manufacturer's first window, a replica of which was also presented to the remaining company founders.
The picture of Dunn, taken by Carol Jones, showed him smiling on stage at the Dixon bluegrass festival.

"The photo typifies Lonnie Dunn, doing what he loved best, singing," said Bob Berger.

Dunn and his wife, Earlene, ran the Dry Valley Bluegrass Festival and owned the campground adjacent to the Dry Valley School, where the festival was held, for many years.

During the 20th anniversary cerebration at WinTech, Adam Verstraete received a plaque for 15 years of service to the company. From left are Mark Harper, vice president, Verstraete, and Bob Berger, president.
The photo was hung recently after company founders took Earlene Dunn to lunch and reminised about their time together.

"Lonnie had tremendous experience in the window business," Berger continued. "He had been a plant manager for EFCO and worked for seven years at Monalco before coming to WinTech. He didn't have a lack of confidence. He had an eighth grade education, but he could solve problems that gave me fits even with my masters degree in engineering. He knew what was right."

"He made every employee feel special," Karla Rickman recalled.

Plaques recognizing 10 years of service to WinTech were distributed to employees during the Monett company's 20-year anniversary celebration. Front row, from left, are: Linda Doty, Ginger Henry and Onesimo Ibarra. Back row: presenter Mark Harper, vice president, Wayne Clevenger, Dale Dart and fellow presenter Bob Berger, president.
Mary Lemings said many in the plant simply referred to Dunn as "Pa". Dunn was always the first person to arrive at the factory. "I think everyone had respect for him," she said.

"Lonnie had a way of getting what he wanted done but still be a fatherly figure," Berger said. "He always had the ability to stop and talk. He had a way of getting the most out of people."

Stories were shared about the time Dunn spent with the Berger and Rickman kids in the plant, a potentially delicate scenario that never became a problem because of Dunn's approach and the respect even the young people had for him.

Plaques recognizing five years of service to WinTech were distributed to employees during the Monett company's 20-year anniversary celebration. Front row, from left, are: Travis George, Angela Courdin, Lynn Ingle, Tasha Koehler and Larry Stapleton. Back row, Mark Harper, Darla Campbell, Brian Holenda, Lynn Smith, Vanita Garner, Carrie Utter, and presenter Bob Berger, president.
Asked if Dunn ever talked about what made him successful with people, Earlene said, "He was just being himself."

Dunn was also remembered as a skilled gardener, one who enjoyed sharing his faith and helping others, serving for several years as chairman of the Crosslines board of directors.

Another recent addition on the company's history wall is a miniature version of the first WinTech window, made for a Kansas City firm and assembled from scraps left at the plant. Each of the founding members received one of the windows.

WinTech became a 100 percent employee-owned company in 2006. As the manufacturing firm completed its first 20 years, Berger was optimistic looking ahead.

"This is the end of one era and hopefully the beginning of a better one," Berger said. "As the economy recovers, so has the company. WinTech will continue to grow here in Monett. That's the nice thing about being employee owned."

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