Loping From UNK Student to President of Kearney Winlectric

Posted: May 2, 2023 12:00:00 AM CDT

For recent college graduate Hunter Novacek, finding a job wasn’t a problem. As a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Industrial Distribution program, one that boasts an almost 100% job placement rate, Novacek knew he had a great chance of immediate employment. However, his journey as an ID student helped him do more than just land a job. He was able to take loping strides from seeing his name printed on his college diploma to watching it appear on his office door as president of his own company immediately following graduation. 

While Novacek admits that it was always “a goal of (his) to be able to be the president of a local company,” his path at UNK actually started in the Agribusiness program. Being a Kearney native who had certainly heard about UNK’s successful ID program, it wasn’t long before he decided to switch his major. As it turns out, that was the start of the journey that would help him become president of his own company at an unusually young age.

Hunter in front of inventory

As Dr. Ben Brachle, an ID faculty member at UNK, shares, careers in this industry are “hidden in plain sight” and it’s almost impossible to “graduate students fast enough because they are uniquely positioned to get into these roles.” Novacek credits classes taught by his former professors, including Dr. Brachle, for preparing him to step out of the classroom and through the doors of his own business.

When discussing his coursework at UNK, Novacek mentions how “simple challenging things like breaking down a PnL” has had a “huge impact” on what he does now. Using PnLs (profit and loss statements) in place of traditional textbooks in classes, such as the one he fondly remembers Dr. Brachle teaching, helped Novacek, who classifies himself as a “very hands-on learner.” He shares that, as a student, what he “really like(d) about the ID program” was “being able to learn without having to just read it from a textbook.” He credits his “professors who are knowledgeable about the industry” with helping him walk across the graduation stage and into his own business almost immediately.

When asked about how the ID professors manage to thoroughly prepare their students for future careers, Novacek mentions the benefits of experiential learning in the classroom. He states that the “ID program really does a great job training” students through their use of “a lot of mock interviews” as well as “mock sales.” He also shares that his professors were great to talk to, seamlessly passing on their insight and experience to students such as him.

hunter in his office answering emails

Thinking back on everything he learned as a student in UNK’s ID program, Novacek says that the sales competition he was able to be a part of has had a huge impact on his current success as a business owner. Knowing that the people interviewing him were actually part of the ID industry made this experience more than just hands-on; it made it “fairly similar to real life.”

For Novacek, who was able to participate in internships as well as work in the industry before graduation, he feels thankful that the opportunities he received at UNK helped him graduate without feeling a ‘huge shock” when he entered “the real world” of business.

This knowledge explains why he has already hired several UNK Lopers to work for him at Kearney Winlectric. He currently has two UNK alumni working for him as well as a current ID student and a current supply chain management student. As a business owner, he knows that “you get a lot of blue-collar hard-working kids” from UNK. He appreciates that these students “also have the social intelligence” that is needed to work in his sales department. He credits UNK’s ID program for “putting Grade-A people in front of companies” that want to hire them. For Novacek, who turned down a job offer to open his own business after last year’s graduation, he is well aware of the talent being piped out of UNK and into Central Nebraska and beyond.

For him, entering the ID program at UNK was the start of his dream coming true. He believes there’s “not a better place in the world that you could be other than Central Nebraska” and he is grateful for a career that allows him to live his best life in the town he has always called home.

Hunter in the wearhouse

Even though he is currently living out his goal of being the president of his own local company, Novacek has more goals for his future. These include expanding his business to several more employees. He wants the majority of those who work for him to come from UNK. After all, he personally spends his days using what he learned in his own college classes. He finds himself reflecting on what he learned at UNK as he puts it into practice, making him confident that he will be able to hire fellow Lopers who will one day do the same as his employees.

For Dr. Ben Brachle, Dr. Alejandro Cahis, Mr. Mitch Peters, and everyone else involved in UNK’s ID program, stories like this one are simply a byproduct of the focus on relationships and real-world applications that they make available to all their students. Hunter Novacek plans to take advantage of the hard work of his former professors. As is true for many business owners, he is grateful for UNK’s ID program, the gem hidden within the College of Business and Technology.


By: Sandy Brannan

Category: General, Business and Technology, Entrepreneur, Marketing

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