Pittsburg State University will honor three alumni with its Meritorious Achievement Award on Wednesday, April 13. This year's recipients are William E. Neighbors III, president and CEO of Tank Connection Affiliate Group in Parsons, Kan.; Gary E. Tredway, president of American Fidelity Educational Services in Oklahoma City; and Robert D. Tyler, president and founder of Winfield Consumer Products in Winfield, Kan.
The PSU Alumni Association established the Meritorious Achievement Award in 1958 as the highest award given to graduates based on career achievement. Candidates for the award have demonstrated substantial professional growth and advancement over an extended period of time. The candidates' activities, including participation and leadership in civic and professional organizations at the local, state and national levels, are also considered by the awards committee in selecting the recipients.
William E Neighbors III
William E. Neighbors III earned a BSBA in finance from PSU in 1978. After graduation and over his career in the engineered storage industry, Neighbors has held management positions in manufacturing, sales, and marketing with companies that included Peabody TecTank, AO Smith Engineered Storage Products and Columbian TecTank.
In 2003, he founded Neighbors and Associates and Tank Connection and affiliated companies. Tank Connection is an integrated family of companies that specialize in liquid and dry bulk storage applications around the world. In Parsons, Kan., Tank Connection is a leading employer with a new manufacturing facility currently under construction. ATEC Steel, another affiliate company, is a major employer in Baxter Springs, Kan.
Neighbors' leadership in the engineered storage industry includes the development of several new companies including Tank Connection, BOSS Tank, Alliance Constructors, ATEC Steel and others. He has also written and published articles for a variety of professional publications.
In addition to his leadership in business and industry, Neighbors has been very active in his community and his church. In 2004, he developed the "Kidz" donation program for grade school children with special needs. An annual fund sponsored by Tank Connection currently operates in more than 20 grade schools in southeast Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.
Neighbors said his PSU roots run deep, beginning with his parents, who attended Pittsburg State. Neighbors' wife, Julie, a teacher, earned both a BS and an MS from Pittsburg State. Their three children, Bransie, Chasnie and William IV, are also proud PSU alumni, Neighbors said.
Neighbors said he was honored to be recognized by his alma mater for his achievements, but he was quick to give credit for his many successes to others.
"Although this achievement award is directed toward me as an individual," Neighbors said, "I would like to acknowledge that our business development success in southeast Kansas is the result of dedicated employees.
Gary E. Tredway
Gary Tredway earned a bachelor of science degree in education from PSU in 1971 and a master's degree in education from PSU in 1972. He worked as a high school business teacher and basketball coach until he joined American Fidelity Assurance Company in 1979 as a sales representative for the Wichita area.
Tredway rose steadily through the company ranks and was named regional vice president in 1991. In 1995, Tredway was selected to lead First Financial Capitol Corporation, a sister company of American Fidelity Assurance. Three years later, he returned to American Fidelity as president of the Educational Services Division. In 2006, he was named president and chief executive officer of the company's Volunteer Worksite Group.
Tredway now serves as vice chairman of American Fidelity Assurance Company as he leads the development of American Fidelity's Voluntary Worksite Group (VWG). Currently, the Voluntary Worksite Group includes American Fidelity Educational Services (AFES) and the Association Worksite Division, (AWD) AFA's largest Strategic Business Units. Tredway continues to provide strategic direction to the First Financial team in Houston as chairman of the board.
Tredway has earned designations as a Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant. He is a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the National Association of Insurers and Financial Advisors.
Tredway has been active in his community and currently serves as a member of the Great Expectations Foundation and a trustee for the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
A native of Erie, Kan., Tredway said he grew up competing in sporting events at College High and at the PSU Relays.
"Pitt State was the logical choice," Tredway said. "My experience at Pitt State and education there has served me well in my teaching and coaching years and for the last 32 years in the business world. I am proud to be a Gorilla."
Tredway and his wife, Sheila, live in Edmond, Okla. They have two children: Chad Tredway of Owasso, Okla., and Courtney English, of Arlington, Va.
Robert D. Tyler
Robert Tyler earned a bachelor of science degree in plastics engineering technology from PSU in 1975. In 1978, Tyler moved to Winfield to work for the Gott Corporation, which was purchased by Rubbermaid in 1986. During this period he served as a project engineer, engineering manager and then as the product engineering manager. In 1988 he started Winfield Consumer Products.
Winfield Consumer Products manufactures aftermarket accessories for cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. The company's products sell under the trade names Husky and Husky Liners. The company's product lines include cargo area protectors for SUVs, floor liners and custom molded mud flaps. The company employs about 90 people.
Tyler's journey to Pittsburg State University from Concordia, Kan., where he attended high school and Cloud County Community College, literally began on two wheels. Tyler recounts how he arrived at PSU after a long motorcycle trip. His meeting with technology professor George Graham, now retired, was pivotal in Tyler's decision to come to PSU.
Tyler and his wife, Gwendolyn, have a long history of service to Pittsburg State. Tyler has served as a trustee of the PSU Foundation, Inc., and a member of the PSU Plastics Advisory Council. He is a lifetime member of the President's Society and is a member of the PSU Centennial Commission. Tyler received the PSU Outstanding Alumni Award in 1988 and through the Robert and Gwendolyn Tyler Charitable Trust, the Tylers provided significant support for the construction of the Kansas Polymer Research Center.
Tyler is very active in his community and is a past recipient of Cornerbank's First Citizen Award. Through his company and personally, Tyler supports community activities including Winfield High School Afterglow, Kansas Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Young Peoples Concert, Salvation Army, Eagles Nest, First United Methodist Church Helping Hands, Winfield Food Pantry, Legacy, Main Street and William Newton Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The Tylers live in Winfield. They have two children, Danielle Morris of Chandler, Ariz., and Christopher Tyler of Winfield.
The Meritorious Achievement Award recipients will participate in a number of events during their time on campus. In addition to speaking with students in their respective areas of study, the recipients will participate in two public sessions. A question-and-answer session will be held at 3 p.m. on April 13 in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center. At 5 p.m. that day, a reception will be held for the recipients in the Wilkinson Alumni Center.
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