George Risk Industries | History & Leadership
Founder, Chief Executive Officer, President and Board Chair from 1965 to 1989
George Risk was born in 1912 and was interested in electricity at an early age. By age seventeen, he entertained audiences in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area using transformers and tesla coils to generate 500,000 volts which created a man-lifting magnet and Jacob’s Ladder.
After high school, he owned and operated a radio shop in Wood, South Dakota. In 1938, George moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he started Electronic Development Corporation which researched perfecting war weapons and peace time luxuries. During that time, he also operated an electronic radio-television institute to train 7,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines during World War II. The school also taught women to serve as communications clerks.
In 1949, George became Executive Vice President of American TB Laboratories, a manufacturer of television tubes, located in Chicago.
In 1951, George, his wife Eileen (Johnson) Risk and children relocated to Columbus, Nebraska, where he started Dale Electronics named after his eldest son. The company became a leading manufacturer of precision resistors and employed 2600 people. George later lost controlling interest.
In 1965, he founded George Risk Industries, Inc. in Columbus, NE. It was relocated to Kimball, Nebraska. The main product line was push button reed switches. George used his inventive genius and developed many products over his life time including many of the standard burglar alarm switches still sold today.
While his work and his family was his life, one of his greatest loves was St. Jude’s Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of the original founders with his good friend Danny Thomas and served on the Board for many years.
After George’s passing in 1989, their youngest son, Ken Risk, was appointed President and CEO by the Board of Directors.
Chief Executive Officer, President and Board Chair from 1989 to 2013
Ken Risk attended Pratt Individual School of Learning in Omaha and graduated in 1966. He served in the US Navy in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. He married Bonnie Borer in 1972. Between 1971 and 1980 Ken worked various jobs. In 1981, he founded Platte Valley Sales and Service, Inc. in Hastings, Nebraska, a retail/wholesale company specializing in residential and commercial lighting.
When George Risk died in 1989, Ken assumed his father's duties as President and CEO of George Risk Industries, Inc. Ken maintained both businesses until 1996 when he sold Platte Valley Sales and Service so he could focus on George Risk Industries. Under his leadership, George Risk Industries grew from 75 employees to more than 150, added a 10,000 building to the main plant and opened a satellite plant in Gering, Nebraska.
Ken was very involved in the Tom & Nancy Osborne Teammates Mentoring Program and served on the Program Board from 2003–2009, its Foundation Board from 2008–2013 and on the Kimball Area Teammates Board of Directors. Additionally, he served on the Nebraska Aeronautics Board of Directors, the Kimball County Aeronautics Board of Directors and Greater Nebraska Work Task Force's Board of Directors. In 2012, he accompanied Nebraska Governor Heineman to China on a trade commission trip. Ken Risk passed away in 2013.
Current Chief Executive Officer, President and Board Chair
Stephanie Risk-McElroy joined the accounting staff at GRI in 1999 after graduating from Hastings College with a degree in Accounting, working at Platte Valley Sales as staff accountant and serving as accounting manager at Kershner's Auto Korner.
She was promoted GRI's Chief Financial Officer in 2012 and was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer when Ken Risk died.
Stephanie oversees accounting and the day to day operations of George Risk Industries and serves on GRI's Board of Directors. With Stephanie's leadership and the expertise offered by the other 165 members of the GRI team, our company is well-positioned for growth far into the future.
GRI Over the Years