Sargent Pipe Company was one of two companies named Nebraska Chamber of Commerce Manufacturer of the Year.
Sargent Pipe, owned by former Neligh resident Mike Whitesel, received the award for small-sized manufacturers while Lozier Corporation of Omaha received the award for large manufacturers.
The award was presented Wednesday by Gov. Pete Ricketts at the Nebraska Chamber’s Manufacturers & Distribution Executive Summit, held in Omaha at the CenturyLink Center.
“We take great pride in honoring Lozier Corporation and Sargent Pipe with this award,” said Barry Kennedy, president of the Nebraska Chamber. “Manufacturing is our state’s second largest industry and a key to future economic expansion. Both of these companies are important innovation leaders in Nebraska’s manufacturing sector.”
Sargent manufactures and supplies highly efficient turbine pumps and related products that are entirely American made. In addition, the company provides services in mill slot pipe perforation and custom fabrication works.
The company was founded in 1975 and operates as a subsidiary of Sargent Irrigation Company, which has a branch in Neligh.
Sargent Irrigation dates back to the 1930s. In 1953, Larry Whitesel and Wayne "Pete" Kaps joined Charlie Sargent, who founded the company. They incorporated as Charles Sargent Irrigation, Inc.
Whitesel and Kaps obtained full ownership of the company the following year, and in 1979 Whitesel obtained full ownership.
As irrigations continued to expand, several more branch offices were opened in Nebraska and other states. Today, Sargent continues to serve most of the Midwestern United Sates.
In the early 1980s, Sargent began to explore the international market. Within a few years, one major project was completed in Mexico, and in 1986 Sargent Irrigation International began drilling in Algeria.
Sargent Pipe Company is now shipping turbine pumps to Mexico and Australia and looking for expansion throughout the world.
Today, Sargent Pipe Company is owned by the Whitesel family and the current president is Larry's son, Mike Whitesel. The third-generation is involved in management in Neligh - Brian Whitesel and Amy Whitesel Thiele.
Sargent Pipe will also be featured on "How It's Made" the end of September.