When William Engler, Jr. ’58, LLB’61 was named Outstanding Small Business Person of the Year by President Bill Clinton in 1993, it was for more than just Kaytee Product’s exceptional business performance. The award recognized Engler’s imagination, initiative, independence, integrity, and the tremendous value those traits meant for Calumet County and the nation.
Engler’s business and law degrees from UW–Madison have helped him navigate a lifetime of leadership in business and the community. His contributions to his community go far beyond his leadership of Kaytee Products, which provides food and other products for birds and other small pets. Engler has been an important part of a long list of local organizations, including serving on the school board for 12 years.
The one thing that distinguishes the University of Wisconsin–Madison for me is that they require students to think independently.
He attributes a lot of his success to his Badger roots. “I think the one thing that distinguishes the University of Wisconsin–Madison for me is that they require students to think independently,” he says. “It’s that idea of sifting and winnowing, where you discuss issues openly with people from all over the world.”
While the attitude of inquiry and open discussions remains the same, some things about UW–Madison have changed. For instance, Engler says, “My tuition when I entered the UW was $98 for my first semester.”
He recalls that one of the most important aspects of his time on campus was making connections. “At UW–Madison, I was able to associate with a high caliber of people,” he says, adding that many of these fellow alumni have gone on to do great things. He knows this because they continue to be a part of his life.
“I still meet with many of them each year,” Engler says. “They’re lifelong friends.”