MASON CITY — The late John K. and Luise V. Hanson were honored with the Legacy Award at Tuesday night’s Pappajohn Entrepreneur Gala at North Iowa Area Community College.

John K. Hanson in 1959 became the president of a Forest City recreational vehicle company that would eventually become Winnebago Industries, and then purchased what became Manufacturers Bank and Trust in 1967. The Hansons became one of north-central Iowa’s great philanthropists, establishing the Hanson Foundation which has contributed millions of dollars to enhance the quality of life for individuals in the area.

Former Winnebago Industries CEO Bruce Hertzke spoke on behalf of the Hanson family last night, telling those in attendance about how John K. Hanson always wanted to make sure people stayed employed in Forest City, even during the tough times for the company.  “When you go back and you think about it, and you could look back, you could definitely see John K. was going to keep employees working. He was going to keep employees receiving a paycheck. He was going to make sure their employees and their families had healthcare, and he was going to make sure that they continue to stay in North Iowa. Because he had the confidence, and he knew that the industry would be back stronger than ever before.”

Hertzke says all north-central Iowans have benefited from a Hanson Foundation donation.  “The Hanson family has truly impacted almost every family in Forest City and the North Iowa community from all of their contributions, whether it be through YMCA, the swimming pool, all the different projects that they did, all the nonprofits that they all contributed towards, definitely impacted all these people. I can also say that they have definitely made North Iowa a much better place for all of us to live in.”

John K. Hanson died in 1996, while Luise V. Hanson passed away in 2003. Winners of other awards handed out at last night’s gala:


  • Derek Balsley of The Art of Education University in Osage won both the Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year awards


  • EZ Manufacturing of Charles City won the Innovation Award


  • Scott Soifer of McSoifer’s Incorporated of Charles City won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award


  • Special recognition was given to Student Entrepreneur Sami Schupanitz of Sami’s Sock Monkeys

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