In this ongoing seven article series, we’ll introduce you to each of Carroll White REMC’s board members. This issue, we feature Kevin Bender, CW REMC board president.
Family is at the forefront for Bender
Growing up on a family farm in northeast Indiana’s DeKalb Country not only instilled in Kevin Bender the passion to serve the REMC as a board member and its board president — but also to serve as president of a locally-owned and managed community bank. As a board member and banker, Bender considers his work teams his family. And, he counts his strong personal family ties as being the forefront of his life.
“I am so fortunate to have been married to my wife, Denise, for the past 33 years,” Bender said. “We are very proud of our three sons, Kyle, Kris and Karson, and the awesome men they’ve become. Each is a college graduate, and they are all immersed in their own careers.”
Several years ago, Bender began investing and expanding the family farm in northeast Indiana. “it takes a lot of help from others but I really enjoy doing that,” Bender said. “In the past three years, I started working with my son, Kirs, and his fiancée, Alanna, building a cattle operation in Carroll County. The most enjoyable part of this new business venture is the fact that I get to work with my own sons.”
The Bender family enjoys traveling, especially when all of the family can go together. “Each summer, one of our fun trips is a long family weekend in St. Louis to watch Cardinal baseball games,” Bender said. “I really enjoy high school and college sports. I have certainly attended many Delphi and Purdue games since moving to Carroll Country in 1981!”
In 1997, Bender and his wife became owners of Ready Set Go Children’s Center near Delphi. This business includes a Nursery Class for four year olds, a Pre-School class for five year olds, and child care for up to 12 children. “Denise’s passion is working with children,” bender said. “I am more of the bookkeeper and maintenance man. we love working with kids, trying to help get them off to a good start in life.”
Bender is a fully engaged member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Delphi and serves in a number of roles there.
Intrigued By Member Owned-Concept
“When I first moved to Carroll County, I was intrigued about the REMC member-owned concept,” Bender said. “In the early 1980’s, I remember attending a Carroll Country REMC Annual Meeting at Carroll High School. At that time, many of the REMC directors were people I was acquainted with, and I remember thinking that I may be interested in serving in that director role someday.”
That someday began with a position on the Operation Round Up® board. “In 2005, Operation Round Up was initiated at Carroll County REMC, and my local director, Don Willy, asked me to represent the district on that board,” Bender said. “I enjoyed that experience, and I had the opportunity to learn more about how REMC worked.
“In 2008, when my district director retired, I ran for the open position, along with a number of other individuals,” noted Bender. “Fortunately, I was chosen at the local district meeting to represent the district, and I was elected to serve at the 2008 Annual Meeting.” This was the beginning of Bender’s commitment to his role as an REMC board member.
“Each month at the REMC board meetings, I am so impressed with the engagement of each director,” Bender said. “Over my professional career, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a number of different boards. At REMC, the board truly cares and wishes to serve each member in a fair and equitable fashion.”
From Banking to the Boardroom
A Purdue University graduate, bender was initially employed a Camden State Bank before moving to Bank of Wolcott where he has worked for 26 years,. “Obviously, my background and training is in lending and finance,” he said. “I feel I bring a strong financial and business management skillset to the REMC boardroom.
“As a banker for the past 38 years, my career had been fully ingrained in the for-profit model,” Bender said. “I need to wear a different hat in the REMC boardroom since it is a non-profit entity. We work to sell LESS of our product by educating our members.”
The cooperative principles are the boardroom guidelines. “One cooperative principle, ‘Cooperation among cooperatives’ is so impressive and dramatically different from the competitive banking field that I live in daily,” Bender said.
“CW REMC board members need to continue to focus on decisions which allow the co-op to deliver dependable power to our members in the most cost effective and safest fashion,” said Bender. “We’re charged with effective management of that portion of the members’ dollars beyond the raw cost of power. We need to continue to find ways to constantly improve on what we do to become more efficient.”
Bender has no doubt the REMC will accomplish that mission. “The team at CW REMC is fully committed to serving each and every member fairly, equitably, and efficiently,” he said.
“I enjoy working with teams serving the needs of others. I’ve got a great team at Bank of Wolcott, and we daily strive to best serve the financial needs of our communities. Likewise at Carroll White REMC, CEO Randy W. price has assembled a team second to none. I enjoy working side-by-side with each of them and my fellow directors in serving our members.”