Howard Speicher Brembeck, influential business leader and philanthropist from northern Indiana, passed away on Dec. 5, 2010, at Goshen General Hospital.
Brembeck, 100, was a world leader and innovator in the manufacture of agricultural equipment. He founded and was chief executive of CTB. Inc. He founded the Fourth Freedom Forum and the Oakwood Christian Academy and authored several books. He built and supported the Oakwood Inn in Syracuse. He contributed generously to church and Christian educational institutions.
Brembeck was born Feb. 9, 1910 in Wabash to Paul and Hulda (Speicher) Brembeck. He and his siblings, Winston, Cole, Paul "Bud," and Ardis were raised in Urbana. Brembeck married Myra Katherine Bates at her parents’ home in 1933. She passed away March 28, 2001. Brembeck’s father owned a hardware store in Urbana and served as a State Representative in the Indiana legislature.
Brembeck graduated from Urbana High School in 1928 and briefly attended the University of Chicago before being called home to help the family during the Great Depression.
In the 1930s Howard worked at the Cyclone Manufacturing Company in Urbana. He owned and operated the Snack Harbor drive-in restaurant in Peru with his wife Myra. In 1944 he and his family moved to Alliance, Ohio, where he worked for United Cooperatives until 1952. He traveled the country selling agricultural equipment and before long became the company’s most successful salesman.
In 1952 Brembeck decided to form his own manufacturing business. In describing that decision he wrote in his memoir about awakening "in the darkness of early morning," driven "in a very powerful and personal way" to start a business. . . . "I felt compelled to take action. . . It was almost as if I didn’t have any choice in the matter." That manner of acting intuitively out of a sense of mission characterized many of Brembeck’s business and philanthropic decisions.
Brembeck located his new company, Chore-Time Equipment, in Milford in 1954. That same year he moved his family to Goshen. In 1957 Howard founded Brock Manufacturing in Milford and in 1976 combined the two companies, forming Chore-Time Brock, CTB Inc., which became a worldwide company.
Brembeck and his colleagues at CTB revolutionized poultry and swine feeding with their invention of the centerless flexible auger. Through his innovations in livestock feeding and grain storage, Brembeck revolutionized food production. His inventions and products helped to expand the availability of high protein poultry in the United States and around the world. CTB grew rapidly, gaining major market share in the United States and extending sales to more than 100 countries. Under Brembeck’s direction CTB established additional manufacturing plants in Europe and Latin America.
In 1991 CTB and the National Broiler Council honored Brembeck for his 60 years of excellence and innovation in the poultry industry, calling him a "great pioneer and leader of the industry." In 1997 Brembeck was inducted into the Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to industry, business, and the community. He was honored with the Indiana State Poultry Association’s Golden Egg Award in 2004. In 2007 the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen presented him with the "Living Waters" honor.
Brembeck served on the Board of Directors of Goshen Hospital, the Goshen Hospital Foundation, the Elkhart County Community Foundation, and other charitable and service organizations. He was a founding member of the Elcona and Maplecrest Country clubs.
In 1982 Brembeck founded the Fourth Freedom Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, private operating foundation focused on promoting international cooperation through the power of trade. The Forum, which is headquartered in Goshen and now has offices in Washington, DC, New York, and in Europe, derives its name from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vision of the four freedoms. The fourth is freedom from fear, freedom from the threat of war and weapons of mass destruction.
Brembeck said of creating the foundation, "My basic thought was that economic power, not military power, is the power that rules the world. I wanted the Forum to be a source of objective information on the role of incentives and sanctions in avoiding war and eliminating nuclear weapons."
In May 1993 Brembeck was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Manchester College by then-President A. Blair Helman in North Manchester. The citation for the award read: "Business leader, manufacturer, innovator, humanitarian, philanthropist. Howard S. Brembeck has achieved a distinguished record, excelling in each of these areas." In addition to his honorary degree Brembeck and Myra, a Manchester College attendee, were awarded Manchester College’s Citation for Responsible Philanthropy in 1980 in recognition of their substantial contributions.
In 1996 Howard built the new Oakwood Inn on Lake Wawasee as a hotel and Christian retreat center. In 1999 he founded the Oakwood Christian Leadership Academy, a summer training program for teenagers to develop Christian leadership skills rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus.
Brembeck wrote six books: Making Nuclear War Impossible (1984); The Alternative to Nuclear War (1985); The Civilized Defense Plan (1985); In Search of the Fourth Freedom (2000); and What a World! What a Life (2001, sequel in 2003).
Brembeck was a resident of Atlantis, Fla. He attended the Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach, Fla. and the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen.
Howard is survived by his daughter Caryl Brembeck (Byron) Chocola of Hobe Sound, Fla.; his two grandchildren, Kelley Chocola (John) Logan of Harbor Springs, Mich. and J. Christopher (Sarah) Chocola of Bristol; three great-grandchildren, Kaitlin Logan of Jupiter, Fla. and Caroline and Colin Chocola of Bristol; and his sister Ardis Brembeck Witkoske of North Manchester.
Friends may call 9 to 10 a.m., Saturday, at First Presbyterian Church, Goshen, where a 10:00 a.m., funeral service will be conducted. Pastor Alan Griffin will officiate.
Burial will follow in Violett Cemetery, Goshen.
Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be given to Fourth Freedom Forum.
Yoder-Culp Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to yoderculpfuneralhome.com.