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Inaugural Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

June 4, 2024

Inaugural Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Newly-created Hall of Fame Recognizes People, Products, and Companies that Have Made a Substantial Impact on Manufacturing in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) today announced the inaugural class of inductees into the Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame, which recognizes the people, products and companies that have made a substantial and indelible impact on manufacturing in Illinois.

The Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame was recently established to celebrate the state’s more than two centuries of manufacturing. Manufacturing is the largest contributor of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, supporting nearly a third of all jobs in Illinois and contributing more than $580 billion to the state’s economy each year.

“The Hall of Fame Class of 2024 represents a cross section of more than 200 years of Illinois manufacturing. From iconic products that have revolutionized daily life, companies that have transformed our society, and visionary leaders who dedicated themselves to building a brighter tomorrow, we are proud to honor these history-makers,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “The promise of manufacturing remains strong, with makers and creators utilizing game-changing and groundbreaking technology and products to make the world a better place.”

The 2024 Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame inductees are:


Linda McGill-Boasmond: Owner of Cedar Concepts Corporation, the first and only African-American, woman-owned chemical company in the United States. McGill-Boasmond was the first Black Chair of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Board and is a passionate advocate for engaging girls in STEM.

Blouke Carus: A polymath engineer educated at Caltech, he transformed Carus LLC into a global leader, launching both the Open Court Language Arts Program and the Cricket Magazine Group with his wife, Marianne Carus, resulting in significant improvements in children’s literacy.

Martin Cooper: An American engineer, he led the Motorola team that developed the first cell phone, placing the first public call from a handheld portable cell phone in 1973.

Abraham Lincoln – The first and only U.S. President with a patent, he signed the Pacific Railway Act, creating the transcontinental railroad that connected and secured the great expanse of the United States.

A.E. Staley: Founder of the A.E. Staley Mfg. Company, he rose from humble beginnings on a farm to create a global agricultural manufacturing company while establishing the Decatur Staleys, which later became the Chicago Bears.

Arthur Velasquez: Founder of Azteca Foods, Art Velasquez and several business partners created an international food manufacturing company fueled by a passion to bring traditional, quality Mexican food to a wider group of consumers.


Cell Phone: Sparking a technological revolution, the creation of the cell phone by Motorola changed communication globally and is considered one of the most important inventions of the 20th Century.

Cracker Jack: Featuring a recipe of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses, the iconic Cracker Jack was first produced by the Rueckheim brothers and presented at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Dishwasher: Patented in 1886, the first dishwasher to rely on heat and water pressure was created in Illinois by Josephine Cochrane, who later founded the Garis-Cochrane Manufacturing Company.

Lincoln Logs: A children’s construction toy, Lincoln Logs were invented by John Lloyd Wright and produced by The Red Square Toy Company. It is the first toy to be marketed to both boys and girls to encourage creativity.

Steel Plow: Created by a blacksmith named John Deere, the steel plow was made with cast steel, allowing farmers to cut through heavy soil. This helped increase food production and expand usable land.

Companies & Organizations

Abbott: A global healthcare leader, Abbott was founded in Chicago in 1888 and helps people live more fully at all stages of life with technologies and products in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and medicines.

Caterpillar Inc.: An innovative company that helped build America, Caterpillar’s legacy began with the production of a steam tractor in 1890 and now includes famed mining, agriculture, and construction equipment such as bulldozers, road graders and large mining trucks.

IMA Founding Members: The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the oldest statewide manufacturing trade association in the United States. It was founded in Chicago in 1893 by Amsted Industries, Brunswick, Western Edison Light Company (Commonwealth Edison), Dial Soap, Deere & Company, People’s Gas, and The Tablet & Ticket Company.

Knapheide Manufacturing Company: Founded in Quincy in 1848 by Herman Heinrich Knapheide,  the company has evolved from making wagons, spokes, and axles to customized truck bodies and truck beds used across industries including agriculture, contracting, construction, forestry, and water.

University of Illinois System: The University of Illinois System fulfills its land-grant mission by providing education and research opportunities to more than 94,000 students, creating pathways to economic development. It graduates more engineering students than any other institution of higher education.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company: Founded in Chicago in 1891 by William Wrigley Jr. and now part of Mars, it has created some of the most beloved snacks and pet care brands in the world. It was once the largest producer and distributor of chewing gum in the world, funding the All-American Girls Baseball League during World War II.

The Hall of Fame inductees will be honored during a ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on June 20 at the Westin Chicago Lombard. During that event, the IMA will also partner with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center to unveil new Manufacturing Excellence Awards that will honor companies, organizations, and individuals nominated in eight key categories. Categories include Champion of Operational Excellence; Community Impact Award; Economic Development Partner of the Year; Educator of the Year; Innovator of the Year; Safety Champion; Sustainable Champion of the Year; and Workforce Excellence Award.

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, please visit