Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kindness, Like a Boomerang, Always Returns.

Our local paper, the Chamberlain-Oacoma Sun, recently did a feature story on volunteering and local volunteers. I was flattered to be interviewed for the story along with my friend, Susie Geiseler, who is a wonderful servant of our community.

Because volunteering is something that I am passionate about, I thought I would share that interview and the article from the paper. Because my space here is not limited, I have added some additional commentary that was not part of the interview. Those comments are italicized below.

Sun: What are some of the ways you volunteer?

HDK: I coach, teach religious education, serve as advisor for Explorers (junior high boys service club), serve on several local, state and national boards and various other things around our community and in church.

Sun: How or where can people volunteer in Chamberlain?

HDK: There are many organizations that are always looking for volunteers. Schools, churches, hospitals and retirement homes are good places to start. It depends somewhat on what you would like to do. Find someone who is volunteering in an area that you are interested in and ask them how you can get involved.

Sun: How did you get started or find information about how to volunteer?

HDK: My parents were both good examples to me. Both volunteered in the Chamberlain area and on statewide boards and projects.

My father was civic minded. He started the Chamberlain Chamber of Commerce in 1963. Dad realized the importance of a small community working together. He served on the city commission for nine years (anyone who has done that in a small community will recognize was a service that is!). He organized the school's athletic banquet for many years and taught religious education at St. James Catholic Church

My mother belonged to a local ladies service club, taught religious education at St. James and served on the South Dakota Easter Seal Board of Directors. She volunteered in many other ways at our church. 

Both of them showed me, by example, how to serve others long before the Jesuits ever got a hold of me.

In high school, they encouraged me to volunteer and to look for ways to serve others. I carried that interest in serving on to college. I went to school at Creighton University where volunteering was encouraged by the Jesuits. I had many opportunities at college to volunteer - through the school, the church and my fraternity.

After college, I really felt a need to serve others. I remember I started coaching a tee ball team in Omaha. I have some priceless stories from that time. That tested my patience but I really enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed serving as a Big Brother in Des Moines as well. I have some great experiences and stories from that period as well.

I naively thought that I would be teaching baseball when I coached tee ball. No, not so much. But I learned so much from those kids. Just because I showed them what to do or how to dot did not mean that they learned. That was a valuable lesson for me as I have continued to coach young people.

My Big Brother experience in Des Moines was great. I am reminded of the first hockey game I ever went to. That will be material for a later post!

Sun: Do you think volunteering is important?

HDK: Yes, I think it is very important.

Sun: Why?

HDK: There is an element of "giving back" that I think is very important. At some point, everyone has been on the receiving end of volunteerism - especially if you live in a smaller community like ours.

Additionally, I think anyone who volunteers can tell you that there is some self satisfaction that goes with serving others.

Sun: You seem to volunteer quite often, what drives you to do this?

HDK: Much of my volunteer work is with young people. I really enjoy coaching and teaching young people for what I would guess are the same reasons our professional teachers do. It is rewarding to watch them learn and grow as a person.

I think any volunteer is at least partially motivated to do so by a desire to "give back" to either a community, a cause, an industry, etc.

I believe that giving one's time is perhaps the most valuable thing anyone can give. We all have just 24 hours in every day and so that time becomes a very precious commodity.

Sun: How does it make you feel?

HDK: I guess it makes me feel pretty good. I can tell you that I have received far more than I could ever give in almost every situation in which I volunteered. So I feel a certain gratitude for the opportunities as well.

I feel fortunate to have all the wonderful relationships that I have made by volunteering.

Sun: Any tips? Should people tie volunteering to things they already like to do? For instance, say you are a talented cook, singer, or something like that, could volunteering be more fun if it plays on strengths? Or is trying something new equally fun?

HDK: Volunteering is a very personal thing. I encourage people to find something they enjoy and stick with it. Don't limit yourself though. If you have the time, volunteer more.

Sun: Anything else you'd like to add?

HDK: A community like Chamberlain-Oacoma thrives on volunteers. There are so many programs that exists only because of volunteers. Sometimes we forget that people are volunteering for things that we take for granted. Tell them thanks and that you appreciate what they do. If they didn't volunteer, we probably wouldn't have that program.

Unless you live in a small community, you don't realize how many great events and activities depend on volunteers. Volunteers are important in every community but they are the life blood of small communities!

We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.         —Winston Churchill

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 2015 SDADA Column

It goes without saying that the NADA Director's Column is intended to be about NADA issues. While I have discussed South Dakota issues in this space before, they have not usually been the primary focus. But he South Dakota Automobile Dealers Association has a very important bill in front of the legislature this year and I feel compelled to address it.

The bill will repeal the South Dakota damage disclosure. We have been down this road before but the hail storms last summer seem to have raised awareness of what a bad law that our current damage disclosure law is. In fact, several legislators have learned firsthand about "diminution of value".

The used car dealers, insurance companies, body shops and salvage dealers have also expressed support of this bill. Through the years, we have struggled to get all these parties on the same page. As the saying goes, "the stars have aligned".

Two years ago, I added a body shop in my Ford store. Since then, I've seen the lengths to which people will go to avoid having to disclose damage on their vehicle. They have learned how a damage disclosure can crush the value of a late model vehicle. If you give people a reason to lie, cheat or steal, don't be surprised when they do so. Our current damage disclosure law causes people to do just that.

I have never talked to a member of SDADA that thinks the damage disclosure law is a good one. We have discussed raising the damage limit or excluding certain equipment. That is simply spraying perfume on the pig.

This is our best opportunity to kill this law. We need your help. Please talk to your legislators about this bill. Make certain that they understand it and why we want to do it. Point out to them that all of this information is now public (Carfax, Auto Check, etc.) and that many of us are providing this information to your customers at no cost before they buy your vehicle.

Get involved. Make a phone call. Let's put a stake in the heart of the damage disclosure law once and for all!

Dealers Much More than "Middleman" for Consumers

Tesla's sales model had stirred much discussion about the role of the traditional automobile dealer. We have been cast as everything from oligopolists, who just want to preserve an antiquated system, to middlemen, who add no value to the process.

NADA's arsenal of resources intended to get the dealers' story out continues to grow. The videos and other materials found here make a great short presentation for your Kiwanis or Rotary meeting. Please consider spreading the word.

NADA’s “Get the Facts” initiative is designed to inform policymakers, opinion leaders and the media about the numerous benefits of the dealer franchise network through a variety of multimedia resources and videos available at

The current franchised new-car dealer model has benefited consumers, manufacturers and local communities for nearly a century. It is supported by both dealers and factories as the best and most efficient way to buy, sell, service and finance cars in the marketplace. NADA’s Get the Facts page sets the record straight about the benefits of the franchise system for consumers and local communities all over America.

This campaign emphasizes that local franchised auto dealers: fiercely compete for business and drive consumer prices down; take the side of consumers in warranty and safety recalls; create good-paying local jobs and significant tax revenue for local communities; and simplify an otherwise complex car-buying experience.

Dealers and local dealer associations are encouraged to link to the videos on their websites, and with permission can co-brand the videos with their own logos. For more information about co-branding content from NADA’s “Get the Facts” initiative, contact

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Hunting Story

As I have mentioned in another post, hunting is a tradition in South Dakota. Like any tradition, it
needs to be carefully passed from generation to generation. I enjoy taking new prospective hunters (especially young hunters) hunting as much as any aspect of the hunting culture.

Pheasant hunting is an important part of the South Dakota economy, culture and tradition. I believe that every young person, male or female, should take part in some way. If they don't want to carry a gun, they should still walk the fields to see Mother Nature in Her glory.

Several years ago, one of my son's friends expressed interest in hunting. Joe had never hunted before and I jumped at the chance to take him afield for the first time. He and my son, Alex, were both about 16 or 17 at the time.

So on the morning of Opening Day 2006, we loaded the truck down with guns, ammunition, dog supplies, snacks, lunch, drinks and other miscellaneous items. It took longer to load the truck than we would be hunting but we wouldn't want to forget anything we needed! We had enough food and drink to be in isolation for a month. But every hunter knows sandwiches always taste better when you're hunting. That's why hunters can walk 5-6 miles in a day and still end up with positive calories for the day!

We had 8-9 hunters that day. As was our tradition, we lined up in a ("flying") wedge formation (hunters on ends slightly ahead of those hunters in the middle) and set off across the field. The idea of the wedge formation is that if birds are flushed in the middle of the formation, those hunters on the end will have a better opportunity to shoot them as they fly to the right or left. Any birds on the sides of the field will hopefully be pushed toward the middle of the field where the other hunters are.

It's fun to put young or first-time hunters on the ends because since they can see them coming, they have a bit more time to prepare for the shot as the bird approaches and hopefully they have a closer shot. Pheasants can surprise a novice hunter when they get up and make it more difficult to get a good shot.

We had placed Joe on the right end of the wedge formation on that day. The field we walked was a half mile long and birds were getting up periodically as we covered that distance. Some flew straight away and other flew right or left.
Joe (right) with Alex and the infamous ringneck

We were about two thirds of the way through the field when a bird got up on the left side of the formation and flew to the right, passing in front of each hunter. As each of us flung lead at the ring-necked bird passing in front of us, the pheasant continued to gain altitude. By the time he got to the right side of the formation, he was at the top side of the troposphere! No veteran hunter would consider wasting a shot at the out-of-range bird.

But Joe was not a veteran hunter. Figuring everyone else in the wedge had taken a shot at this indestructible bird, Joe cut loose with a shot of his own. Like a strike of lightning, one of the 6 shot lead pellets in Joe's shell broke the wing of that rooster pheasant and it helicoptered to the ground just in front of Joe. The shock of the bird hitting the ground stunned it and it did not run, though its legs were thrashing as it came to the ground.

Joe chased the bird down and stashed it in his hunting vest while the rest of us whooped it up for the the rookie hunter. I think we were more excited than Joe was. He was distracted by the ground pursuit of the bird.

We finished our drive and then gathered in a huddle at the end of the field to discuss the highlights and the low lights of the previous 25-30 minutes of warfare. Joe walked up with a huge grin on his face and everyone congratulated him on bagging his first ringneck.

I told him to pull to bird out so we could get the obligatory photo. He handed his gun to someone and reached back into his vest. As he did, the pheasant jumped out of the opposite side of his vest and took off running. Joe looked as if someone had shot his dog.

Meanwhile, our Springer Spaniel, Repo, took off in pursuit of the runaway ringneck. The pheasant (with a broken wing) was running for a tree line about 75 yards from where we were standing. As the hunters scrambled, Joe was speechless (and motionless).

Everyone recognized that this wasn't just ANY bird, this was Joe's FIRST bird so losing it was not an option. Though he wasn't aware of that significance, Repo chased the bird like it was the ONLY bird left on earth.

The ringneck beat Repo to the tree line but was still no match for his nose. He sniffed the bird out of its first hiding spot into another before securing it between his soft jaws and bringing him back to the group.
Repo with our bag; one of those birds is Joe's
The whole affair only caused some serious ribbing for Joe. "Joe did not shoot the bird, he just scared it," was one comment. Another commented that Joe had not shot the bird but that it was the sheer weight of all the lead taken on as the bird flew in front of each of us that brought it down. Despite all of that, there was another round celebration for retrieving the $100 bird (it seemed as though at least $100 of ammo was spent on the bird as he passed down the gauntlet!).

Joe took the harassment gracefully as he got his bird back and posed for photos. Before he got it back though, he learned how to give the pheasant's neck a swift jerk to be certain that there would not be another race to the tree line!

We have had a lotta fun telling this story over the years. Whenever Joe is around as we tell the story, the same smile crosses his face. He offers no details and no opinions regardless of how the story is embellished. He knows that everyone else missed that bird and he got it. His first pheasant was a memorable one!

South Dakota: Great Faces. Great Places. Great Sunsets.

Each rotation of the earth brings us a dawn and sunset. In South Dakota, our view of the horizon is, for the most part, unimpeded. That simple fact provides us with some stunning vistas.

My time awake before the sun peeks at us in the morning is usually spent on some piece of exercise equipment or in a hunting stand. I am not typically equipped with photography gear.

Evenings, however are different. I enjoy watching the sunsets from our home. Because we are only 70 miles from the time zone line, the sun rests in summer months as late at 9:30 PM in our area. In winter months, the sun will dip below the horizon as early as 5:00 PM.

We get spectacular sunsets regardless of what time of day they occur. I like the winter sunsets a bit better because our home is situated where the sun sets down river in December and January, so we get both the sunset and the reflection of the sunset on the river.

I've decided to post some of my best sunset photos. I have gone into the archives for these photos. I have posted the dates though I find sunset photos are timeless.

We get 365 sunsets each year. While not all of them are as spectacular as these, God gives us many wonderful shows here in South Dakota. I invite you to take a "front row seat" in South Dakota. Even better, come join us at our house for the best sunsets in South Dakota!

I cannot resist a sunset photo. Now I have a place to share them! Check back for more. 

December 11, 2004
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2007

November 24, 2009
December 5, 2010
December 19, 2011
November 13, 2012
December 7, 2014
December 20, 2014