On Friday, Oct. 22, Sterling College will host Fred F. Berry Jr., chairman of Berry Companies, Inc., as its 2010 Oscar Schmidt Convocation speaker. The event will be held at Culbertson Auditorium on the Sterling College campus at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Berry and his brother, Paul Berry, purchased the Sam Denney Road Machinery Company in 1957. They renamed it the Berry Tractor and Equipment Company in honor of their father’s 30-year business in St. Louis. The business expanded by opening branches and acquiring other equipment distribution businesses serving construction and industrial markets. Today Berry Companies, Inc. includes seven distribution businesses and one manufacturing business; has 25 locations in five states; and employs more than 400 people. Its estimated annual sales are in excess of 140 million dollars. The company is owned by members of the Berry family and by its employees.
Berry received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1950 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1952. He served for two years as a maintenance officer in the U.S. Air Force before working in his father’s farm equipment business and then purchasing the business that grew to become Berry Companies, Inc. Berry serves as its chairman and is also active in community service. In 1996 he was named Wichita’s Uncommon Citizen, the most prestigious individual award given by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. Berry is also an elder at Eastminster Presbyterian Church and has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations in Wichita. The Berry Foundation was created in the 1970s to support several non-profit organizations on a consistent basis.
The Oscar Schmidt Lecture Series is an endowed series by C. Oscar Schmidt Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, that occurs on three campuses across the country: Sterling College, the University of Iowa and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. Schmidt was strongly oriented in the free enterprise system and intended that the series assist undergraduates in understanding the system and how it continues to help the success of the United States.