Business & Professional
As a basketball player, Mike Weaver left a legacy that the Huntington community will never forget. In the more than 50 years since the end of his athletic career, the 6-foot-5 Weaver has stood equally tall in his life as a businessman and benefactor.
A star player for Coach Bob Straight’s 1964 Huntington Vikings, Weaver led his team to a state runner-up finish. He garnered All-State and Indiana All-Star status as a senior. At the high school state finals, he was named the winner of the prestigious Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award.
He attended Northwestern University and was a three-year starter for the Wildcats of the Big Ten Conference, averaging double figures in scoring all three years. During his junior year, Weaver averaged a “double-double,” scoring 15 points per contest and was the team’s leading rebounder at 10.4 rebounds a game. Although drafted by the Chicago Bulls as a third-round pick in the 1968 NBA Draft, Weaver decided to leave his basketball career behind and move on to the next phase of his life.
The Huntington community, though, has kept Weaver’s basketball legacy alive. Local youngsters played weekly in the local YMCA Kim League for “Mike Weaver’s Shoe,” a bronzed Chuck Taylor Converse sneaker that had been worn by Weaver. The first-place team in the standings held the “Shoe” until they were knocked off the top of standings.
Weaver spent two years in the U.S. Army, then returned to college, earning his MBA from the Northwestern School of Business in 1972. He entered the family business, the Weaver Popcorn Company, that was founded in 1928 by Mike’s grandfather, the Reverend Ira E. Weaver in rural Huntington County. Mike’s father, Welcome Weaver, later became president and oversaw Weaver Popcorn’s continued develop as a leading manufacturer of popcorn in the United States.
The company partnered with the most progressive farmers to grow and produce the world’s best popcorn, while making food quality and safety the most important criteria in its decision making. By focusing solely on popcorn, the company grew into the largest vertically-integrated popcorn company in the world, delivering a broad array of popcorn products including seed, bulk kernels, portion packs, microwave popcorn and ready-to-eat popcorn in more than 90 countries.
Mike Weaver assumed the presidency of the company in 1980. During his tenure, Weaver Popcorn became the largest bulk-producing company in the world. One of the company’s first developments under their new president was the introduction of microwave popcorn in the early 1980’s. He later became a pioneer in developing quality control standards in the industry using optical scanners which eliminated seeds not deemed suitable for sale. Systems introduced under his tutelage allowed the company to produce the highest quality product possible. These innovations elevated Weaver Popcorn’s status in the industry as a leader in quality product control.
Now a fourth-generation family-owned operation, Weaver Popcorn currently has three independent operating companies, including Weaver Popcorn Hybrids, Weaver Popcorn Bulk, and Weaver Popcorn Manufacturing.
A call from a struggling Boy Scout leader in Terre Haute produced one of the most satisfying endeavors in Weaver’s career, beginning a life of philanthropic efforts.
The scout leader was looking for a fundraiser to help his financially-struggling organization. Weaver Popcorn got involved and eventually established the National Scouting Fundraising. Since 1980, the fundraising program featuring Weaver Popcorn’s Trails End brand has raised more than three billion dollars for scouting organizations in the United States.
Weaver also started and managed for 25 years the Bob Straight Scholarship in his hometown of Huntington. Established in 1995, the scholarship recognized the impact Straight had on Weaver, his teammates and students throughout Huntington County during Straight’s time as a coach and school administrator. The scholarship provided a four-year grant-in-aid to a local high school student attending a college or university.
Weaver and his wife, Becky, were the benefactors for the lead financial gift to Marian University in 2016. Their gift benefited a project at Marian which included facilities to benefit student life, learning and leadership development.
The Weavers are the parents of three children. They have 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild. They have been active in homeowners’ associations in both Indiana and Florida and have been avid supporters of the Indiana Charter Schools movement, including Knowledge is Power college preparatory schools and Carpe Diem schools.