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Davenport University Excellence in Business: Capt. Richard Phillips Keynotes; Wolverine CEO Blake Krueger Honored

Davenport University President Richard Pappas announced details for the May 2 Excellence in Business Gala today on “The Andy Rent Morning Show” with Andy Rent on 100.5 The River in Grand Rapids. (Photo: 100.5 The River)

Wolverine World Wide, Inc., CEO and Chairman Blake Krueger is being honored with the 2014 Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award at Davenport University‘s Excellence in Business Gala on May 2 at DeVos Place.

The gala, which benefits student scholarships at Davenport, has U.S. merchant mariner and author Capt. Richard Phillips as featured guest speaker. Phillips was captain of the MV Maersk Alabama during its hijacking by Somali pirates in April 2009; and his heroics were chronicled in the Oscar-nominated 2013 film “Captain Phillips” starring Tom Hanks.

Blake Krueger (Photo: Wolverine World Wide, Inc.)
“This event will be a true celebration of the business excellence as exemplified by Blake Krueger, who has achieved so much as the CEO of one of West Michigan’s most successful global companies and as a well-respected community leader,” said Richard Pappas, Davenport president.

Krueger has been an officer of the company for more than 20 years, and formerly practiced law with Warner Norcross & Judd LLP. A former director of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Foundation and the St. Cecilia Music Society, he is on the board of directors for Bissell Inc., Heart of West Michigan United Way, The Right Place Inc. and The Economic Club of Grand Rapids.

Wolverine World Wide manufactures and markets footwear, apparel and accessories, and the Rockford-based company had annual sales of $2.7 billion in 2013. The company’s portfolio includes Merrell, Sperry Top-Sider, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine, Keds, Stride Rite, Sebago, Cushe, Chaco, Bates, HYTEST and Soft Style; and it is also the licensee of brands including CAT, Harley-Davidson and Patagonia.

Capt. Richard Phillips (Photo: The Harry Walker Agency)
Phillips, a 58-year-old Winchester, Mass., resident, authored “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea,” about his experience and remarkable rescue by the U.S. Navy. He and his crew of about 20 were hijacked aboard their container ship off the coast of east Africa for five days in April 2009; it was the first hijacking of a U.S. ship in more than two centuries. Columbia Pictures’ movie “Captain Phillips” was largely based on Phillips’ book.

“His courageous story is intriguing and inspirational,” Pappas said of Phillips.

The Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award was established in 1998 to honor the Davenport alumnus, and recognizes business and community leaders with an entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit. Besides Cook, previous recipients of the award include Frederik “Fred” Meijer, Richard DeVos, Wilbur Lettinga, David Frey, John Spoelhof, Robert Hooker, Betsy DeVos, Donald Maine, John Canepa, Fred Keller, Peter Secchia, Doug DeVos, Steve Van Andel, James Hackett, David Van Andel, Carol Van Andel and Michael Jandernoa.

For the gala, which starts at 6 p.m. May 2, table reservations and tickets are available online or by calling (616) 233-3412.

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