Omaha Business Hall of Fame: Five New Honorees to be Inducted August 17

As part of its centennial celebration, in 1993 the Greater Omaha Chamber inducted six local legends — Nebraska Furniture Mart founder Rose Blumkin, investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett, pioneering businessman and university founder John A. Creighton, Valmont founder Robert Daugherty, construction and engineering leader Peter Kiewit, and attorney and Mutual of Omaha executive V.J. Skutt — into the newly established Omaha Business Hall of Fame. Every year since, a new group of civic and business honorees has been inducted, with this year’s class of five bringing the total number of individuals to more than 170.

The Omaha Business Hall of Fame pays tribute to leaders whose accomplishments are not only highly regarded, but also deemed historically significant. Individuals may be honored posthumously, and although a new group of honorees are selected every year, there is no set number established of how many must be inducted. The Omaha Business Hall of Fame includes one family, several couples, and a number of multigenerational connections.

Nomination criteria is simple: individuals representing large and small businesses who have made an outstanding contribution to the free enterprise system are eligible. A nominee does not have to be the founder of an organization, only someone who contributed significantly to a Greater Omaha company’s development and success. Civic and philanthropic activities are considered but not the primary factor in selection. Inductees may be honored for achievements from a former association with an organization, and they do not have to reside in the Omaha area at the time of induction. Nominations for the 2023 Omaha Business Hall of Fame will be open from August 25 to December 30, 2022.

This year’s inductees — Scooter’s Coffee/Harvest Roasting founders Don and Linda Eckles, The Lund Company founder John F. Lund, Noddle Companies President & CEO Jay Noddle, and North End Teleservices founder and CEO Carmen Tapio — will be honored at the Omaha Business Hall of Fame Gala the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the Holland Performing Arts Center. The evening includes a pre-event with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and the induction ceremony is followed by a dessert reception. Presenting sponsors are KPMG, U.S. Bank and Fraser Stryker. Proceeds from the gala support the Greater Omaha Chamber Foundation and maintain the permanent Omaha Business Hall of Fame exhibit at the Durham Museum.

Bio information on the honorees provided by the Greater Omaha Chamber and incorporated into the story.

Linda Eckles and Don Eckles, co-founders of Scooter’s Coffee and Harvest Roasting. (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Linda Eckles and Don Eckles, co-founders of Scooter’s Coffee and Harvest Roasting. (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Don Eckles, Co-Founder and Chairman
Linda Eckles, Co-Founder
Scooter’s Coffee/Harvest Roasting

Don and Linda Eckles have been in the coffee business since 1991. But it wasn’t until 1998 that they unveiled the concept of quick-service drive-thru coffee to the Greater Omaha area at the first Scooter’s Coffee location in Bellevue. Their business model was simple: find a great location and stay committed to high-quality drinks, speed of service, and a smile — not only in person, but in the form of a smiley face sticker on every drink that’s become a hallmark of their business. The company’s “brand promise” reflects it all: “Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast!”

In 2000, the Eckles started Harvest Roasting, where the coffee beans are roasted and the baked goods are created for Scooter’s Coffee stores. Today, Scooter’s Coffee is approaching 600 stores in 27 states with millions of smiley face stickers brightening the days of customers everywhere.

“Over the last 15 to 20 years, specialty coffee has become part of our culture, part of our DNA,” Don Eckles said. “We just got lucky to be in probably the right business at the right time.”

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It wasn’t merely luck, however. The entrepreneurial couple recognized the potential of the product and backed it with hard work and outstanding customer service.

“Don and I have been in a lot of business during our married life. We made a lot of mistakes and we learned from them and we kept going,” Linda Eckles said. “I think it’s half the battle if you love what you do. We love our business, and that makes it easy to go to work.”

Don Eckles grew up in Omaha and Linda Eckles grew up in Culbertson, a town in southwest Nebraska. They’ve lived in other American cities and traveled all over the world, but they strategically chose to locate the Scooter’s headquarters in Omaha.

“I think Omaha’s a great place to be,” Linda said. “The people are friendly and the work ethic is great, and the cost of living is pretty reasonable.”

“Omaha’s as good as any place, and better than most…The economy is stable and strong here. To be able to do business here, this is a great choice,” Don Eckles said. “There are a lot of really strong companies that started in Omaha.”

 John F. Lund, founder & chairman of The Lund Company (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
John F. Lund, founder & chairman of The Lund Company (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

John F. Lund, Founder & Chairman,
The Lund Company

Since launching The Lund Company in 1981, Founder & Chairman John Lund has accumulated over 40 years of comprehensive commercial real estate experience including general brokerage, asset management, development, and property investment acquisitions.

Today, Lund’s organization has over 400 employees and manages 8 million square feet of commercial properties valued at more than $1 billion. In addition, The Lund Company manages more than 18,000 multi-family units in a six-state region. Its development and acquisition portfolio includes Regency Court Shopping Center, Landmark Center (home to The Farnam, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel), the PayPal campus and the Securities America headquarters. Other notable projects include the AAA Auto Club campus, Omaha Tower, Clocktower Village, One Pacific Place, and most recently, the former Kiewit International headquarters now known as Blackstone Plaza.

Lund said he’s proud of the people whose careers have flourished as The Lund Company prospered and grew.

“There are a couple of people who were here from the beginning, in years one and two, who became partners. And we have some folks who have been more than 30 years of the 40,” he said.

“I’m most proud of their loyalty. I’m most proud of what we’ve done to have them continue to be part of the firm’s growth.”

Lund also takes personal pride in the properties his firm develops. A showcase example is 450 Regency Parkway Building, where The Lund Company relocated its corporate office after a full-scale upgrade and renovation of the property. The project was named Development of the Year at the 2012 Commercial Real Estate Summit.

That same year, The Lund Company became a member of the Cushman & Wakefield Global Alliance that consists of specially selected independent firms that provide clients with extended geographic reach through elite commercial real estate professionals and high-quality, comprehensive services.

In 2012, Lund was recognized in Midwest Real Estate News magazine’s Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame and in 2015 he was inducted into the Commercial Real Estate Summit’s Hall of Fame. His contributions to the Greater Omaha community include leadership and board positions with the Omaha Airport Authority, Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority (MECA), the Board of Educational Lands and Funds, the Greater Omaha Chamber Board and Omaha by Design. He is also an alumnus of Leadership Omaha.

Carmen Tapio, CEO of North End Teleservices, LLC (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Carmen Tapio, CEO of North End Teleservices, LLC (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Carmen Tapio, CEO
North End Teleservices, LLC

When Carmen Tapio started North End Teleservices, LLC (NET), back in 2015, her mission was simple: Bring better jobs to areas of underutilized talent and high unemployment.

Now, seven years later, NET is on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing, privately-owned companies in the United States.

As a longtime strategist, thought leader, and mentor, Tapio has used her “a rising tide lifts all boats” philosophy to further her reach of helping others. In 2021 she started Nebraska Black Women United (NBWU) in order to better connect the state’s nearly 45,000 Black women. NBWU is committed to celebrating and encouraging Black women by providing education, information, and access opportunities for its members, as well as access to talent for employers.

A champion of social responsibility, diversity and inclusion, Tapio has led diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for global corporations as well as the Omaha business community. She served as the council chair of the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Commitment to Opportunity Diversity and Equity (CODE), and co-founded CEOs for CODE. She is also the incoming 2023 Greater Omaha Chamber board chair.

Tapio is committed to helping others achieve economic independence and improving the lives of others and the community. Her commitment and vision for what is possible is being further realized through a $50 million redevelopment and revitalization project that will help significantly transform north Omaha.

Tapio is a 100 Black Women Legacy Award honoree, WCA Tribute to Women honoree and recipient of the 2020 Urban League of Nebraska African American Leadership Award for Business. She was named to the 2021 Forbes Next 1000 list of inspiring entrepreneurs and was honored as a 2021 Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine. In 2022, she was named the USA Today Women of the Year Nebraska Honoree.

“My parents told me I can ‘do anything I set my mind to,’ and I believe them. I have tremendous belief in the human spirit — what it can endure, what it can overcome, and what it can achieve,” Tapio said. “If we believe what my parents told me, and if we believe that anything is possible, then we have the ability to change our story and help others change the story of their lives. Collectively and individually, we can change the outcome to create a better future. Having done the work to improve the lives of people and community is what I want to be remembered for.”

Jay Noddle, president & CEO of Noddle Companies (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Jay Noddle, president & CEO of Noddle Companies (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Jay Noddle, President & CEO
Noddle Companies

Jay Noddle is the president & CEO of Noddle Companies, a real estate development company that’s been a driving force behind Omaha’s ever-changing cityscape since the early 1970s when his father, Harlan Noddle, first started the business. Since then, the company has developed over 150 projects in 18 states, making Noddle Companies one of the Midwest’s largest commercial real estate developers.

“Twenty years ago, my dad was inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame. That’s pretty cool,” Jay Noddle said. “To me, it’s unbelievable that I would be thought of in the same manner as my dad. How much better can it get than that?”

Noddle said his overall vision is shaped by the question of what the community needs from an economic development perspective. As both an advisor and principal, he has been intimately involved in many of the area’s most important economic and real estate developments including the Omaha Riverfront Redevelopment, First National Bank Tower, First National Business Park, Omaha World-Herald headquarters projects, Aksarben Village, One Pacific Place, and many more.

“I think it’s critically important to always be a ‘we,’ a team, collaborative … It’s been very fundamental to what we have been able to accomplish,” he said, emphasizing that what he’s most proud of is the team of people he works with every day.

Noddle’s strengths include his abilities to provide leadership to diverse groups, build a consensus, and dissect complex issues. His experience structuring public/private partnerships and managing their implementation has resulted in multiple successful projects enjoyed by the community. He’s not only quick to credit his team for the company’s success, he’s willing to share the simple principles he feels contribute to effective leadership.

“I think you need to be yourself. You need to be transparent,” he said. “And you certainly have to be accountable. When there’s a challenge, bring it to everyone’s attention yourself, and early.”

Noddle’s civic involvement has included leadership and board roles in multiple organizations including Omaha Streetcar Authority, Greater Omaha Chamber Urban Core Committee, Metropolitan Entertainment Convention Authority (MECA), Aksarben Foundation, Eppley Cancer Center, Greater Omaha Chamber, UNMC Chancellor’s Board of Counselors, Omaha by Design Technical Advisory Group, University of Nebraska Foundation, and Jewish Federation of Omaha.