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Leadership Partner /lēdərˌSHip pärtnər/: A business or organization who makes an annual non-dues voluntary investment to help the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce reach new programming goals by investing additional funds, and at the same time helping the Chamber organization keep their overall dues at a manageable amount for members.

We will share a bit about each of our Leadership Partners weekly.



Tell us a little about Ward Laboratories, Inc:

Ray and Jolene Ward founded Ward Laboratories, Inc. all the way back in 1983, initially operating out of a three-bay garage here in Kearney, Nebraska.

Our team of highly qualified scientists, agronomists, livestock experts and other agriculture professionals have spent nearly four decades analyzing millions of samples and steadily earning a reputation for excellence with our domestic and international clients. Along the way, we gradually expanded our operations to meet the needs of our growing customer base.

We would love to learn about your leaders. Tell us a little about each of you and why you love living in Kearney, Nebraska!

  • Ray Ward, Chairman

Ray Ward was born in Jefferson County Nebraska and moved to Western, NE when he was in 7th grade. He and his wife Jolene have four children, Mark, Karolyn, Kristin, and Tim, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren with one more on the way. Ray and Jolene are the founders of Ward Laboratories, Inc. and he currently serves as the Chairman of the Board.

  • Why did you decide to start your business and why in Kearney?

There were two people that influenced Ray’s decision to open Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Kearney- Mark Kottmeyer and Jerry Schmidt. Mark started his own crop consulting business, Central States Agronomics, in 1982. Every time Mark called Ray, he urged him to start his own business. In January of 1983, Ray and Mark spoke about starting the lab again. This time Mark told his friend Jerry Schmidt, who had Rovar Park, that Ray was interested in starting the lab. 10 minutes later, Jerry Schmidt called and the rest is history!

Additionally, the medical centers and education opportunities here in town are important to Ward Laboratories, Inc. UNK is tremendous for educating students and is a viable asset to Ward Laboratories. “It’s amazing to me that centered in Kearney, Nebraska, we can get samples from all over the world.”

  • What is your favorite “thing to do” in Kearney?

Eat out at Cunninghams on the lake, Alley Rose, Jersey’s, and a few others; Kiwanis Service

Club, attend Loper games, network with businesses.

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