Focus 2019: What Gives Kearney Its Edge?

WHAT GIVES KEARNEY ITS EDGE? Cross country, wrestling bring spectators. Page 4 U 2019 Cash-Wa hits 85th year By MIKE KONZ Hub Enterprise Editor KEARNEY —When Cash-Wa began in 1934 in the middle of the Great Depres- sion, it sold penny candy, nickel candy bars and tobacco products. Today — 85 years later — the neighborhood grocery stores that were Cash-Wa’s original customers are gone. They have been replaced by restaurants, convenience stores, nursing homes, hospi- tals, schools, jails and prisons in all or parts of 11 Great Plains states. Cash-Wa now has 8,000 customer accounts. The list of products the Kearney-based distributor provides is long and includes candy, fruit and vegetables, fresh and frozen meats, paper and cleaning supplies, and restaurant equip- ment. “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” said Tom Henning, Cash-Wa’s CEO and chairman of the board. Henning took over the company when his father, Harvey, retired in 1986 with 60 employees. Cash-Wa now is one of Kearney’s larg- est employers, with 627 on the payroll working out of headquarters and warehouse facilities in south Kearney that encompass 500,000 square feet. Cash-Wa also has distri- bution and sales facilities throughout its sales territory. Tom is the second gener- ation of the Henning family to lead the family business, which has several family members among its corpo- rate leadership team. Greg Henning of North Platte is vice president of convenience store marketing; Bob Hen- ning, protein buyer; Michelle Harter, vice president of mar- keting; Stacey Hurt, adminis- trative assistant to sales; Mat Henning, convenience store administration; and Kaleena Shannon, merchandiser. Cash-Wa has two co-pres- idents, Tom’s son, Chad, and Bill Mathis. Gary Henning, who died in 2012, was executive vice president. From the start Harvey Henning began working for Cash-Wa found- er R.J. McBride in 1939. According to the compa- ny’s 80th anniversary book, McBride’s son, Jack, was Harvey’s best friend. Jack enlisted in the U.S. Navy. When he left it was the last time Harvey saw his friend, who was a gunner on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, one of the battleships that sunk in the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Also, according to the 80th anniversary publication, there are two stories about the origin of Cash-Wa’s unusually spelled name. One version says that McBride didn’t want his business to be mistaken for the Cashway lumberyard in Grand Island. A second version said a sign painter goofed and left off the “y” when he ran out of space while painting the name on the side of a truck. Cash-Wa was among the businesses that benefited when the Kearney Army Air Base opened during World War II. The base had no store that sold snacks and person- al items, so R.J. McBride installed 16 U-Select-It candy dispensers, and Harvey Hen- ning kept the machines filled. Harvey purchased Cash-Wa in 1957. Six years later, in 1963, Harvey bought Kearney Candy Co. In recent years, Cash-Wa has grown to include two complete distribution centers in Kearney and Aberdeen, S.D.; multiple shuttle loca- tions; and several sales offices with representatives serving all or part of 11 Great Plains states. “We still embrace Harvey’s original conviction that if we just remember that we are here to serve our customers we will succeed,” says the company’s history. Tom Henning said a lot of people believe that his father never made a bad business decision, but it was more accurate to say he always made his decisions work. Harvey’s largest accomplish- ment was keeping the family together, Tom said. “My best friend has always been my dad,” he said. Cash-Wa Candy Co. founded Cash-Wa purchases Kearney Candy Co., begins selling food and moves from initial address at 25th Street and First Avenue to new warehouse at 19th Street and Second Avenue Tom Henning begins full-time employment at Cash-Wa 1934 Harvey Henning begins working for Cash-Wa Candy 1939 Harvey Henning purchases Cash-Wa Candy 1957 1963 1971 1970s Cash-Wa expands territory to all of central Nebraska and into the Sandhills Cash-Wa officially changes name to Cash-Wa Distributing Co. 1984 Territory expands into Kansas and begins delving into the produce business 1985 Harvey Henning retires and Tom Henning takes over as CEO 1986 1987 Territory expands to western Nebraska, parts of northern Colorado and eastern Wyoming 1992 1997 1998 1999 2006 2009 2013 2013 2014 2016 2016 Construction begins on new Fourth Street warehouse, including large freezer, docks and offices to increase operating efficiency and reduce costs Addition to Kearney warehouse includes offices, classroom and commercial kitchen 83,000-square- foot freezer and cooler space, offices and a learning center for CWD employees completed Cash-Wa purchases warehouse in Lincoln Cash-Wa acquires HRS Distributing of Aberdeen, S.D. Kearney distribution center expands to 150,000 square feet with a 75,000-square- foot frozen food warehouse and truck terminal west of the 162,000-square- foot headquarters Cash-Wa’s territory includes all of North and South Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa, and reaches into parts of Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri Cooler/freezer building expansion completed; Kearney campus now includes 337,000 square feet of warehouse space Work begins on cooler storage building at the Kearney warehouse campus Cash-Wa honored as the 2015 UniPro member of the year Cash-Wa purchases restaurant equipment supplier Buller Fixtures in Sioux Falls. S.D. Cash-Wa Candy Co. Timeline One of Kearney’s largest employers celebrates a big anniversary in 2019 Courtesy CASH-WA DISTRIBUTING CO. has grown rapidly during its 85-year history. Customers can purchase almost anything they need, including fresh fruit and produce, fresh and frozen meat, paper products, cleaning supplies and even equip- ment to run their operations. Courtesy CASH-WA’S FLEET of 160 tractor-trailers help the company serve its 8,000 customers in 11 states. Mike Konz, Kearney Hub TOM HENNING , seated, is CEO and chairman of the board for Cash-Wa Distributing Co. The business has two co-presidents: Chad Henning, left, and Bill Mathis. Courtesy IN ITS EARLY YEARS, the Cash-Wa company used its delivery trucks as rolling billboards. According to one story, the company’s unusually spelled name was born when a sign painter ran out of space while painting the name on a truck. Harvey Henning Courtesy R.J. MCBRIDE founded the Cash-Wa Candy Co. in 1934, and sold it to Harvey Henning in 1957.