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Johnsonville Co-Founders Named to Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame

Ralph F. and Alice Stayer Among 2015 Inductees

Married during the Great Depression, and both growing up with very little money, Ralph and Alice Stayer were no strangers to hardship. But like many other individuals from their generation, they believed that if you had a dream, and the willingness to work hard for it, anything was possible. For the Stayers, that dream turned out to be Johnsonville Sausage. In 1945, after years of saving up, Ralph and Alice, along with Carl and Hannah Hirsch, opened a butcher shop and named it after the town in which it resided.

The original butcher shop has since been replaced with modern, state-of-the-art facilities and a worldwide distribution system, now headquartered in Sheboygan Falls. Today, Johnsonville is the No. 1 brand of sausage in America, available in all 50 states and 40 countries, and employs nearly 1,600 members.

The Stayers were inducted into the Junior Achievement (JA) Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame on April 16, 2015 at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. JA celebrated its 25th anniversary of this Hall of Fame by also honoring all 100 past laureates at the induction ceremony. 

Each year, inspirational business leaders are honored at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and benefit dinner, with proceeds benefiting JA. Established in 1990, the Hall of Fame honors individuals whose business innovations, effective management and civic involvement made a difference in companies and communities throughout the state. The new laureates inducted this year are innovative business leaders who have positively shaped Wisconsin’s business climate, and have also been recognized for the high standards they set as role models for Wisconsin’s young people. In addition to the Johnsonville Sausage co-founders, three other business and civic leaders were inducted into the 2015 Hall of Fame: Joyce Bytof, of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group, Inc., Russell M. Darrow, Jr. of Russ Darrow Group, Inc.,and Edward Zore of Northwestern Mutual.

Johnsonville remains family owned, with their son Ralph C., serving as chairman of the board. Both Alice and Ralph F. have passed away, Ralph in 2007 and Alice in 2013, but their work within the community will not be forgotten. Over the years the Stayers contributed to a number of civic projects in both Wisconsin and in Naples, Florida, where they lived during the winter season. Whether it was a park, a children’s museum, or an organization pushing to give kids a better start, both Alice and Ralph sought to give young people an opportunity to dream as big as they did when they started out many years ago.

Past inductees to the Hall of Fame include William Specht, Cousins Submarines, Inc.; Robert E. Harlan, the Green Bay Packers; Pleasant Rowland, American Girl; Frederick Stratton, Jr., Briggs & Stratton; Richard Teerlink, Harley-Davidson, Inc.; John Stollenwerk, Allen Edmonds Shoe Company; Don Schneider, Schneider Trucking; and Bud Selig, the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club and Oscar Mayer.

For more information about the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame visit the JA website,

Media interested in more information should contact Jessica Levine at 414-271-0101,

About Junior Achievement of Wisconsin:

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc. is dedicated to educating students about work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. The organization prepares young people for the real world, showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, create jobs which make their communities more robust, and apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Over 168,000 students in the state of Wisconsin put these lessons into action every year and learn the value of contributing to their communities.

About Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame:

The Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame was established in 1990 by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin to honor individuals who have established themselves as role models and whose business innovations, effective management and civic involvement make a difference in companies and communities throughout the state. An annual induction ceremony and benefit dinner honors new laureates each year.

The Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame exhibit, sponsored by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and housed at the Junior Achievement Kohl’s Education Center, functions as an interactive showcase of more than 100 inductees inducted since 1990. The exhibit features interactive iPad displays, energy graphics and multimedia wall. The result is a dynamic experience that makes the stories of Wisconsin business leaders come alive for the more than 20,000 visitors and students who come through the building annually.