William Gerhold, Sr.
William Gerhold, Sr. formed a partnership with his brother Alfred in 1921 to buy the family business and remained owner and CEO of the Gerhold Company for the next 51 years. Throughout the '20s and '30s, Gerhold was constructing highways around Nebraska. The company played a significant role in the Loup Canal project beginning in 1935. The Gerhold Company entered the Ready-Mix Concrete Business in 1947 with construction of a plant in Columbus. William acquired sole ownership of the company in 1957. For the next 15 years, he would continue the expansion of his family's business. William continued to own the company until turning it over to his sons William, Jr. and Jim in 1972.
E.H. "Bus" Lohr
E.H. "Bus" Lohr, founder of Lohr Petroleum Company, Inc. owned and operated the business for 64 years. In September of 1932 on $600 of borrowed capital, Bus founded the Lohr Petroleum Company by leasing what eventually became his downtown location. The company eventually grew to include a bulk plant and 16 service stations in Columbus and surrounding communities. Several stations were later converted to convenience stores.
Bus chaired the Columbus Industrial Committe of the Chamber of Commerce, and in 1949 served as President of the Chamber of Commerce. He worked for 17 years to help make Platte College a reality and chaired the committee to place the college's bond issue on the ballot.
After working as a bank examiner and at banks in Creighton and Lincoln, in 1943 J.O. Peck purchased ownership in the Central National Bank and Trust Company in Columbus. Central National Bank was re-chartered as First National Bank. J.O.'s leadership laid the foundation in the Nebraska legislature for what is today's branch banking network.
Following World War II and long before written business plans, J.O. and key senior staff of the First National Bank advised companies such as Behlen Manufacturing, Dale Electronics, Mid-American Research Corporation, Torin Products, Lindsay Manufacturing and others, creating a base of employment that has become Columbus' legacy for decades.