March 25, 2017
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Warm Hearts

Santa Clothes Club has provided clothing for needy children since 1946
Fundraising efforts throughout the years, such as the annual telethon, help provide clothing for children.

When seasons change, shorts are exchanged for jeans, tank tops are traded for coats, and flip-flops are swapped for socks and boots. Unfortunately, when thousands of Tri-State residents reach into their closets for these layers, they return empty-handed.

Since 1946, the Santa Clothes Club has provided new, warm clothing for more than 74,000 children and raised nearly $6 million. Today, the organization is headed by Doug Duell, who carries on the tradition his father Dave Duell set serving the club 25 years ago.

“My father became involved with the club 25 years ago and was the president for a long time,” says Duell, who is the owner of Evansville Kia Mazda Volvo and Evansville Hyundai. “When he passed away in 2005, I joined the board and became president this year. There are 18 board members and no one is paid. All of the money goes to the local community.”

The organization services 3,000 needy children in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson, and Posey counties in Indiana, and Henderson County in Kentucky, and provides them with complete sets of clothing that include one pair of jeans, one shirt/top, nine-pack of underwear, 10-pack of socks, gloves, a pair of shoes, and a hooded coat. Board members of Santa Clothes Club, through schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and private referrals, compile information on the children. Vouchers are mailed to the children in kindergarten through sixth grade to redeem at the East Side Walmart.

“It has been in our family for years and the dealership has worked very closely with the organization,” says Duell. “I’m attracted to it because it’s local, in our area, and 100 percent goes into buying clothes for these kids. Unfortunately, we have a need in the Tri-State and we need to help those kids.”

Fundraising takes place throughout the year with events such as a spaghetti dinner at Biaggi’s, the Dave Duell Memorial Golf Outing, the Santa Clothes Club Telethon, and others.

For more information about Santa Clothes Club, visit its Facebook page.


Pioneer Woman

Old National’s Schoettlin works to lead by example through volunteering
Kathy Schoettlin

Many times, the most deserving award recipient is the one who believes she hasn’t earned the accolade.

Such is true of Evansville native Kathy Schoettlin, Old National Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Community Relations Officer, who was named one of eight women honored at the 2015 Torchbearer Awards held by the Indiana Commission for Women in September. The awards ceremony recognizes women of Indiana who are pioneers and leaders in their community and careers.

“I was completely caught off guard,” says Schoettlin, who attended Mater Dei and graduated from the University of Southern Indiana. “(Former Lt. Gov.) Becky Skillman and (ONB President and CEO) Bob Jones nominated me. Those are two people I admire deeply and for them to even consider nominating me, honestly, and to win the award, I was speechless.”

Schoettlin was a 2010 ATHENA Award winner and also was named Big Sister of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ohio Valley, where she has served as a mentor for years. Her involvement in the community ranges from serving on the board for Indiana Youth Institute, Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana, and Public Education Foundation, to serving on leadership teams for many organizations.

Her modesty can be traced back to her beginnings at the Southwestern Indiana Chapter of the American Red Cross, where she first joined as an intern and later spent 14 years with the organization.

Out of the blue, she received a cold call from a recruiter from Old National Bank and she candidly responded: “I don’t even balance my checkbook.” Schoettlin decided she had nothing to lose and began a three-month application process, which led her to meeting Bob Jones and eventually accepting the position.

“Bob said, ‘I don’t want you to be a banker. I want you to be the person who thinks about the community each and every day and what we can do for our community, and bring awareness, and help support the image of Old National,’” says Schoettlin, who lives in rural Posey County with her husband Steve and their three children.

At the bank, she says associates are encouraged to lead by example by volunteering on company time. ONB allots two hours a month for employees.

“There is a difference between allowing and encouraging. We are a community bank and in order to strengthen the communities that we serve, we need to be involved and engaged.”

For more information about Old National Bank, visit


Modern Craft Banking

Field & Main Bank creates comfortable atmosphere for clients
Chairman and CEO Scott Davis says the design of Field & Main Bank lends to better productivity with the bankers and clients.

When Ohio Valley Financial Group merged with BankTrust Financial to create Field & Main Bank in January 2015, a new look was needed to match the new brand.

Chairman and CEO Scott Davis says when clients walk into Field & Main at 140 N. Main St. in Henderson, Kentucky, he wants them to feel connected with their banker and at home in the space. Field & Main has multiple branches in Henderson and a location on Evansville’s Burkhardt Road.

“With the new name came a new brand, a new logo, new look, new everything that was all built around our tagline which is Modern Craft Banking,” says Danielle Falconer, senior vice president of marketing and communications. “It’s all about being relevant in modern times with an appreciation for that tailored experience that you would get from a craft brewery or a boutique where the people who own the place have a passion for what they do.”

With a modern design, comfortable seating placed in front of a fireplace with a perfect view of wallpaper reminiscent of Kentucky’s own agriculture, a technology bar complete with iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and a PC, and an untraditional teller line placed under speakers playing modern folk music, Field & Main has worked to ensure their clients’ time is enjoyable.

To create this tailored experience, Field & Main worked with New Ground, a design and building company based in St. Louis, Missouri, that specializes in financial institutions.

Instead of creating a traditional teller line you would normally see at a bank, New Ground installed relationship banking pods where the relationship banker and the client interact face-to-face, using the same computer, without a wall between them.

The technology bar was created allowing relationship bankers and clients to easily walk over from the pods and set up an online or mobile bank account on whichever device works best for the client.

“We want people to feel connected with their experience of banking with Field & Main,” says Davis. “One of the reasons we wanted to make this overhaul is that banking is a very personal thing and the traditional model created an unnecessary barrier between the banker and the customer.”

The relaxed, personal feel of Field & Main isn’t limited to the lobby. Davis’ office is personalized to suit him with one full wall covered with a scribbled on dry erase board, a dinner table instead of a computer desk topped with a MacBook Pro instead of a desktop computer, and a cozy seating area with two chairs and a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” acoustic guitar.

“I want people to see aspects of my personality because it may be a chord they could connect with,” says Davis. “I want people to feel that they are in a place that is open, engaged, and where people honor their relationship.”

For more information on Field & Main Bank, call 888-831-1500 or visit 


Supporting Families

Home Instead CAREGiver enjoys building relationships with clients
Lori Anderson and Mariline

Lori Anderson’s workdays begin around 7 a.m. when she arrives at the home of Mariline, 88, and Roy, 89, on the North Side. She prepares breakfast for Mariline, and afterward, her day consists of cleaning up around the house, making meal plans and grocery lists, and spending time with Mariline.

Anderson is a CAREGiver with Home Instead, located at 223 N.W. Second St. Ste. 310. CAREGivers specialize in the personal care industry, attending to individuals in their homes in order to enhance their quality of life so they can remain independent for as long as possible.

The Boonville, Indiana, native and current Evansville resident’s resume is varied. A graduate of Boonville High School and a former University of Southern Indiana student, she’s worked in the cashier’s office at USI, as a legal assistant for Biesecker Dutkanych & Macer, LLC, and a bread baker at Vecchio’s Italian Market all before joining Home Instead in 2011. During her almost-five years with the company she’s cared for two long-term clients; Anderson has been with Mariline and Roy for almost three years.

“I know a lot of people go other places every day … but I like the same gig continuously,” she says. “I like to get to know them, I like to get to know their routines, what they like, and what they don’t like.”

To Anderson, working in the personal care industry is more than just helping clients with chores, daily activities, and more. She enjoys cooking and fixing the couple their favorite meals, but also says spending her day getting to know Mariline and Roy and hearing their stories is a great aspect of her job.

“I’ve had some really special clients. It’s just interesting to listen to some of this stuff,” says Anderson. “The last couple I was with, man, they could tell some stories. (Mariline and Roy) are the same way. That’s something I think is good for them, too.”

For more information about Home Instead, call 812-471-0050 or visit


Expecting the Unexpected

Attorney Terry Farmer follows fortuitous path to managing partner at Bamberger
Managing Partner Terry Farmer currently is in his 34th year at an Evansville general practice law firm.

From the moment Terry Farmer began practicing law in 1980 in Canton, Ohio, he has learned to adapt to the legal arena surrounding him. His aspirations of serving as a trial lawyer were put on hold as the economy nosedived and a demand for bankruptcy attorneys ascended. Since then, Farmer has used those early lessons of changing as businesses have and enters his 34th year at Bamberger, Foreman, Oswald & Hahn, LLP.

“It wasn’t what I expected, but it turned out to be a very fortuitous time to be where I was,” says Farmer, who worked for Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths, and Dougherty for more than two years before deciding to relocate to Evansville with his wife Denise in 1982, where he had lived most of his life.

As the average mortgage interest rate hovered around 17 percent, Farmer says his career in bankruptcy representing creditors, primarily for banks, hit the ground running. A brand new bankruptcy code zeroed out the knowledge of those who had been practicing in the field for years, he says.

The experience made Farmer, an alumnus of Indiana University and Indiana University School of Law, a marketable employee for an Evansville general practice law firm, which was started by Fred Bamberger, William Foreman, Charles E. Oswald, Jr., and Robert Hahn in 1959.

“Bamberger primarily was a trial firm at that point of development,” says Farmer, 58, who currently is the firm’s managing partner. “It was a business practice, but they had very little depth. I appealed to them from that standpoint.”

The firm also represented Citizens National Bank of Evansville, which later was acquired by Fifth Third Bank, and “they didn’t really have anyone doing banking work. I was recruited to represent them and I did from that point until they were acquired,” says Farmer.

On Oct. 11, 1982, Farmer joined the firm as an associate attorney, and after four years, he became a partner. He has served in a management role for 30 out of the 33 years. 

“It’s a great group of people,” he says of Bamberger, Foreman, Oswald & Hahn, which is located the historic Hulman Building in Downtown Evansville. “Every organization has a culture and there are a lot of them that are toxic. This place isn’t. This place is extremely approachable. In an industry that is full of puffed-up egos, there aren’t a lot of them here. People here are normal. It’s an open-door shop. We generally get to know our clients pretty well.

“The thing that excites me the most about us right now is that we’ve always been ahead of the curve on technology. Our Indianapolis presence is not as large as I would like it yet, but it gives us significant reach across the state. These are good people. They really are.”

Farmer is the second to last attorney to practice with all four founders. Over the years, his duties have included significant client representation in banking, construction, coal mining, telecommunications, and some portion of trial work, which is what he currently is doing today.

In 2013, Farmer represented Lori Koch during a family dispute over ownership of the popular amusement park Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana.

According to the Indiana Court of Appeals opinion written by Judge Paul D. Mathias, when Will Koch, the majority owner in the partnership with his brother Dan Koch, died unexpectedly in June 2010, Dan was elected president of the business and took over operations. The judge ruled that Lori, Will’s widow, did not have to sell her shares of Koch Development Corp., which owns and operates the theme park, to Dan through a purchase agreement.

“I’m on the board up there now,” says Farmer of Holiday World. “I enjoy that relationship with them.”

Farmer says the opportunities to represent clients in large cases similar to the Koch Development Corp. and Daniel L. Koch vs. Lori A. Koch appeal is becoming more and more rare through the changes in the legal arena.

“Evansville has changed a lot over the last 30 years,” he says. “Its loss of headquarter companies is significant and really changes the nature of the legal practice here. For a long time, you viewed the guy across the street as your competitor. That’s a pretty parochial view. What is happening is the Chicago firms are eating up Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis firms are coming here.

“This is a firm that has had a long history of pretty high-end opportunities but some of those opportunities don’t exist anymore. Our firm did Washington Square Mall, the first covered mall in the state of Indiana. When they put up the fiber (optic network) that is now WOW!, we did that. At one point, I worked on a quarter of a billion dollar deal and you don’t get a lot of that around here.”

Farmer also has observed the accelerated pace in which cases are handled. When Bamberger first opened, there was one telephone that was shared among employees, and later in 1982 when he arrived at the firm, there wasn’t a computer in the office.

“You would do something, write a letter, and stick it in the mail, and you had bought yourself four to five days. That’s gone,” he says. “There have been some improvements with the ability to research on the computer. What has been wrung out of the process is the time to think. Complicated problems need a lot of consideration and no one wants to give you the time to do that anymore. It’s difficult to get time to reflect. If you do take that time, you are viewed as either being dimwitted or unresponsive. Sometimes that’s fair, and other times, the client has a bigger problem than you thought they did and you need to think it through.”

Farmer advises up-and-coming lawyers to challenge themselves to take on cases that are “above their weight class,” look for role models who work in other markets, and to get to know their clients.

“If you don’t really know your client, then you don’t get to know what they think the problem is versus the problem they have. The clients you really get to know, you can get to know their industry, their goals, and objectives. You can do a much better job representing them from a preventive standpoint. That’s what I’ve been good at.”

When asked to reflect back on his impressive career, Farmer says he measures success based on the people associated with him.

“It’s not only the quality of the organization, but the character of your clients,” he says. “Over time, they will define you.”

For more information about Bamberger, Foreman, Oswald & Hahn, LLP, call 812- 425-1591 or visit


Patty Balbach

Hometown: Morganfield, Kentucky

Job: Staff Physical Therapist with Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center

Resume: Physical therapist, Deaconess Hospital, 1979-1980; staff physical therapist, Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center, 1980-1982 and 1992-present; supervisor of physical restoration, Easter Seals, 1982-1987; and Director of Rehab Services, Easter Seals, 1988-1992. She also has founded a wheelchair basketball program; co-founded a Taekwondo class for individuals with special abilities; been involved with Riding Hope, a horseback riding program for those from age 2 to 18 with disabilities; helped established the iCan Bike camp at Easter Seals; coordinated Fitness Awareness Days, showing adaptations for different activities to those with disabilities; and volunteers time to speak to University of Evansville students. Balbach also is a board member for the Evansville Trails Coalition, which promotes the establishment of trails throughout the city.

Family: Husband, Bob, one daughter, Emily, 26, and one son, Scott, 23.

Growing up, Patty Balbach was an avid viewer of the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Labor Day Telethon, a campaign started in 1966 to raise awareness and funds for families and MDA programs. She knew at the age of 12 as she watched caregivers help children learn to walk that she wanted to be a physical therapist. After completing her studies at the Indiana University, Balbach worked 11 months at Deaconess Hospital before she accepted an opportunity to join the staff at Easter Seals to fulfill her dream of working with children. Thirty-six years later, Balbach continues to give her all to her clients of all ages and researches ways to introduce new programs to Easter Seals to benefit the community.

What do you strive to accomplish through your work?
I want to provide my clients with the best possible situation … they may be in a wheelchair all the time, but there (may be) ways that we can work so they can use braces and walk for short distances, even if it’s just in the house or to get in a place that’s inaccessible. I want to provide them with as much opportunity and ability to maximize their potential and have the best of both worlds so to speak so they can be as functional in their daily lives (as possible).

I also want to help the families enjoy that individual for the person they are and provide them with the most independence and the best function they can possibly have.

Is there an achievement that you are most proud of?
I’ve always tried, and I feel like I take pride in that, to improve myself. I always wanted to be aware of the latest things. I’ve gotten my Neuro-Development Treatment certification, which is a two-month course … and my Pediatric Clinical Specialist certification, which was a very stressful, difficult test.

I feel like I’ve always strived to be on top of things, always be the best therapist, and have the most up-to-date knowledge I could provide to my patients. I feel like I’ve done that for 36 years.

What has always driven you in your career?
I’ve never been driven by money or anything. I’ve strictly been driven by the love of this job. I truly love being a physical therapist. I truly love the interaction with my clients. I would work for free basically because I do what I do because I love the occupation. I think you have to truly love — and I think the majority of therapists do — what you do and that’s your driving force. I feel like that’s always been mine. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The two things I always tell students and that I always have tried to do are: I treat all my clients as I would want to be treated. I put myself in their place and listen to what they say and respond to them, as I would hope someone would to me.

Two, I always try to have fun in treatment sessions. It is an unfortunate situation and no one wants to have a life-changing injury or have a child with a disability, but it happens, so you might as well make therapy as enjoyable as possible.

Issue CoverEvansvill Business December / January 2016 Issue Cover

Inside Politics

Evansville native gives Indiana more access to candidates
Adam Berry, creator of Political Bank.

As the general election nears on Nov. 3, Adam Berry says he wanted to create a way for voters to learn which candidates or elected officials they identify with. On Sept. 9, the Evansville native and Republican, along with his Democrat partner Frank Short, launched

“I was wondering, ‘What other Republicans are out there that might be conservative on government spending, but may be more moderate on social issues,’ and I realized that there was no place for me to identify those candidates or elected officials,” says Berry, the founder and CEO of “The hope is that people will get the opportunity to find candidates who align with them.”

Berry’s career in politics began in 2004 after graduating from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, with his first job stuffing envelopes for the Marion County Republican Party. Since, Berry has helped dozens of state, local, and federal candidates establish organizational structure, raise money, or spread information by going door-to-door. In 2012, Berry joined the Pence Administration as policy director and attorney in the Governor’s Office. He considered this his dream job, but left last summer to pursue his dreams of entrepreneurship and to begin his Political Bank journey.

Approximately five percent of the 2,800 candidates — about 140 — who are running in this year’s election have their own websites. Berry says this is because political websites are expensive to establish and costly to maintain. Beginning later this month, a candidate profile on Political Bank created to raise campaign money will be $50 for a 12-month subscription. If candidates choose not to use the website to raise money, all of the features are free. A Political Bank profile always will be free for voters.

“We want to offer candidates an affordable, easy to use website,” says Berry, an Evansville native and a 1999 Reitz Memorial High School graduate. “It’s just like setting up your LinkedIn or Facebook page, there’s absolutely nothing difficult about it. It gives (candidates) the opportunity to say everything in their own words the way that an expensive website would do.”

“It’s something I hope the political novice can use as well as someone who wants to be involved with politics but just doesn’t know where to start.”

By registering with Political Bank, voters will have the ability to ask candidates questions, view a candidate’s takes on certain issues in their own words, make candidates aware of their support on a position, and contribute to a candidate they support.

Indiana has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the U.S., and the lowest in the 2014-midterm elections. Berry says he believes Political Bank is what the state needs to improve voter turnout in Indiana.

“The hope is that by giving voters more access to candidates — not just the Donald Trumps — they’ll be more engaged and inclined to cast a vote for someone they relate to that they wouldn’t have seen if it weren’t for their Political Bank profile,” says Berry.

For more information on Political Bank, visit


Bank On Them

Since 1967, the Kempfs have dedicated their lives to creating delicious donuts
For the full feature on Donut Bank, pick up the latest copy of the October/November issue of Evansville Business.

In 1967, Evansville native Harold Kempf collaborated with a Chicago flour company to perfect his mix for Donut Bank Bakery donuts. A technician from the business was slated to join Kempf for a week, but on the third evening the man stood up from the work and announced his departure. Kempf asked about the remaining work to be done on the recipe and the technician replied, “I’ve got to go. You’re not going to make it.”

The doubt served as Kempf’s motivation to make his donut shop a success. Today, Donut Bank uses the same mix that Kempf created in 1967 and has expanded to nine locations in Evansville, Newburgh, Princeton, Indiana, and Henderson, Kentucky.

“It was always dad’s dream to have a donut shop,” says Chris Kempf, Harold’s son and current president of Donut Bank. “He felt like he could make donuts better than anyone else. We always looked at him like, ‘Donuts, really?’”

Yes, donuts — and coffee, bagels, pastries, cookies, muffins, brownies, and cakes, too. Harold, along with his wife Shirley Kempf, believed he knew what a quality donut tasted like and there were not enough bakeries that adequately produced the treat. In 1967, Harold, whose father worked at Honey Crust Bakery in the 1940s in Evansville, built his first location at 1809 First Ave. next to his brother Greg’s office building, but within two weeks of opening, the building slid into Pigeon Creek and had to be rebuilt. 

The St. Joseph Avenue location of Donut Bank Bakery & Coffee, built in 1976, was the location that the Kempfs say “changed Donut Bank forever."It later was rebuilt in 2003. Photo by Jerry Butts. Below, the Kempfs’ first location was at 1809 First Ave., which opened on July 18, 1967. Photo provided by Donut Bank.

“Dad grew very slow — just like we’ve grown slow,” says Chris, who oversees all nine stores today. “Whenever he opened the location at 1809 First Ave., he bought a gas station at Washington and Weinbach (in 1974). He thought that was a really good location and it turned out to be the move that sent Donut Bank on its way. Without that location, things would have been really, really difficult.”

“And a lot different,” adds 42-year-old Joe Kempf, Chris’ younger brother who shares the vice president role with their other brother Ben Kempf.

Two years after opening a store at Washington Avenue, Harold purchased the old Bell Office Supply store on St. Joseph Avenue, which would be Donut Bank’s third location.

“I think that store changed Donut Bank forever,” says Ben. “It made Donut Bank the neighborhood hangout. With Washington and St. Joseph Avenue (built in 1976), it turned into a meeting place. Instead of just a place to buy donuts, it was a place where everyone hung out.”

In 1981, Donut Bank added its Green River Road location, and in 1989, the family built the location on Diamond Avenue, which created the opportunity for the store to transform into the full-fledged bakery it is today. Its breadth of treats include more than 100 different donuts and baked goods making it the perfect “meeting place” for countless breakfast clubs and diners across the Tri-State.

Joe Kempf, vice president, Chris Kempf, president, and Ben Kempf, vice president, help operate the family business their parents Harold and Shirley Kempf created. Photo by Jordan Barclay.

“It’s fun to go into each store, because the atmosphere is just a little different,” says Joe, who along with his brothers, is in their various stores every day 10 to 12 hours a day. “There’s Lester over at Washington, and then there’s the guys who sit at St. Joe and Green River. At Lincoln Avenue, there are people who put four or five tables together and play bridge. It’s almost like your extended family and you miss them when you don’t see them.”

Evansville native Mary Jo Marks is one of the “regulars,” who finds a table at Donut Bank on Diamond Avenue almost every day where she orders a Long John and a cup of coffee in a to-go mug, because she likes her coffee “really, really hot.” The staff at Donut Bank practically has her order ready before she steps up to the counter, because of her consistency, and their initiative and friendly customer service.

“There’s always room for one more,” says Marks about why she enjoys frequenting Donut Bank. “You can have a private one-on-one conversation or sit with a group. It’s kind of a hang out. When someone says they need to talk with me, I say, ‘What end of town are you on?’ I can give directions to any Donut Bank in town, because it’s a place everybody knows.”

Marks, 73, a nurse who now volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in her spare time, meets with a group of women at Donut Bank every Wednesday. She says she already is teaching her great-granddaughter to love the donut shop.

“My dad always said that what we do is fun food,” says Chris, who helps oversee the company’s six supervisors. “Bakery by itself, maybe not so much. But donuts and a really good cup of coffee, it’s a really fun environment. We’ve even told our sales people that if you’re going to work retail, why not work at a place where the people are very happy to be here. Our customers are. It makes our job so much easier.

“People will say to us your staff is always in a good mood. It’s because our customers are always in a good mood. They are coming here for a treat, for an experience, for something a little bit above the ordinary. You can actually hear their mood through the intercom at the drive-thru that they are happy to be here.”

Marks says the Evansville community has a strong brand loyalty to the family-owned, third-generation donut and coffee shop, and it’s something the Kempfs don’t take lightly.

“We are honored by that and it is something we don’t take for granted,” says Ben, 48. “People don’t understand the responsibility behind that. People don’t just continue to show up because we are Donut Bank. They stick with us because of the quality of service.”

Donut Bank’s philosophy of business was built on three principles, says Chris. The store’s goal is to serve the best quality food possible, have exceptionally nice and friendly sales associates, and offer a clean environment. Every location also offers free Wi-Fi. The store never sells day-old donuts — they always are fresh with a formula that hasn’t changed except for a few tweaks over the years. Shirley handpicked Donut Bank’s signature coffee blend more than 20 years ago after working to perfect it for six years. The store also has a reputation of giving — frequently donating sweets to race events, golf tournaments, charity fundraisers, and silent auctions.

“Unlike a lot of other businesses, this is our home, too,” says Chris, 56, whose son Chris also works at Donut Bank. “We live here. We want the best for this community.”

As the store sees three generations of customers and owners, so too does it host its third generation of employees with grandparents encouraging their grandchildren to apply for a position at Donut Bank.

“The people who worked here while I was a kid set a standard of service that somehow keeps being dragged through generations of workers,” according to Ben. “Somehow that knowledge, pride, and expectation keeps being pushed through.”

Harold Kempf, patriarch of the Donut Bank family, is pictured making donuts in 1979. Below, Donut Bank Bakery & Coffee Shop opens at 1809 First Ave. As a grand opening special, the store sold a dozen of glazed or cake donuts for 59 cents. Photos provided by Donut Bank.

When Donut Bank opened in 1967, Chris was seven years old, Ben was a toddler, and Joe would be born years later. Harold and Shirley, who had seven children total, asked each family member to be involved in helping make donuts, serve coffee, decorate cakes, clean countertops, pick up trash, and more.

“We all started working here when we were tykes,” says Chris. “It was what you did. It was a good thing. We had the opportunity to be around so many good people — great people — who were our customers and those who worked here. Being in that environment so often, we probably didn’t know it, but it was going to help us in the future.

“There are some kids where you get them in front of a lot of other people and they kind of step back, but us, we were thrown into environments that were so crazy. We recently had a really long training meeting about how shocked people are when they get behind the counter and you have 100 people walking through the door. We forget how intimidating that is, but we were exposed to that at 7, 8, 9 years old.”

The boys would make donuts, while the girls would serve customers and decorate cakes. The Kempf brothers’ sisters were the ones who established the cake process Donut Bank still uses today. While Chris, Ben, and Joe help operate the stores, their four other siblings are involved with other ventures. Their parents Harold and Shirley are retired, but still are at the end of a coffee line at least four times a week.

“What people don’t realize is donuts are really, really hard work, and that’s why a lot of bakeries don’t serve donuts and a lot of donut places aren’t around any more,” says Chris, who considered being an electrical engineer at one time over working at the family business.

“There is an incredible amount of energy and machinery needed. The hours start at midnight. A baker can’t just come in at 5 a.m. and start baking. Us, we are baking eight hours before we open just to have our donuts ready. It is time consuming and hard. To choose that path was difficult in one way or another for all of us. The sacrifices are real.”
Ben weighed becoming a deputy sheriff and Joe contemplated working as a physical therapist, but all three brothers came backto work at Donut Bank.

Top left, Dan Wannemuehler, the Kempf brother' first cousin, cuts cinnamon rolls by hand.

“You have to remember that we all worked here — brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts,” says Ben, whose 19-year-old daughter is employed at Donut Bank while she attends the University of Southern Indiana. “If I left, then all my family is still here. It was a family project. It was what we all worked toward. It took all of us to get where we are now. All seven kids have their fingerprints here.”

Such commitment to the business has earned the Kempfs nine locations in Southern Indiana and branching into Western Kentucky (the Henderson store was the latest to join in May 2014), and adding another site always is a possibility, says Chris.

“We would love to have more locations, but so far the philosophy of buying a great location instead of buying the best location available has worked for us,” says Chris. “If we see that happen, we will look at it.”

The philosophy has worked for the family-owned company and its success has kept many big players such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme from dominating the market. The Kempfs are well aware of their competition — Krispy Kreme opened in October 2003 on N. Burkhardt Road, and there have been several Starbucks pop up in the area since the early 2000s. But to the brothers, Donut Bank is competing against more than that. Donuts can be found in nearly every convenience store and every grocery store, as well as coffee. Because of this, the owners always have been open to try new ideas and introduce new products.

“We have an obligation to our customers who support us now,” says Ben. “Some companies grow too fast and they forget who brought them to the dance … I think (our father) is proud that we have taken all of his life’s effort and tried to not improve, but just to move it along, make it bigger, while keeping his values.”

For more information about Donut Bank Bakery & coffee, call 812-426-0011 or visit


Done Well and Well Done

Todd Tucker stands with Hank Petrig of Evansville at this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Fourteen-year-old boys do not easily arise from their beds at 6:15 on a Sunday morning. “Let’s go, buddy” usually is followed by an inaudible noise and a groan. However, my son Jackson’s feet promptly hit the floor, and after checking his phone (of course), he headed to the bathroom. After a quick shower, which my water bill can attest is not the norm, he hurried downstairs proudly wearing last year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure volunteer shirt. That T-shirt makes more appearances throughout the year than most of his wardrobe.

We already had dropped off multiple cases of magazines on Saturday afternoon at Eastland Mall, which serves as the race headquarters. The mall parking lot was set up and beginning to look similar to a small city within a city — no small undertaking. On Sunday morning race day, it takes no time at all upon arrival to find immediate pleasure in becoming a small part of such a large event. The 7 a.m. crowd was already large and enjoying the festivities. The color pink was everywhere. There were men in pink tutus, pink dogs, pink glitter, pink clothes, and pink chalk. You get the idea.

No matter how many years you attend, if you don’t get a lump in your throat at some point then you might need to check your pulse. The Survivors’ Parade, in particular, combined with the emotion you feel coming from their supportive families, is a powerful thing. So as we packed up and left, Jackson said, “Dad, this is a really nice event where everything is done right. I can’t believe so many people in Evansville are here today.” In our community, we often are our own most vocal critics, but we need to stop and remember what we do well — even my 14-year-old gets that.

Evansville’s own Donut Bank Bakery & Coffee is certainly another thing in Evansville done well. In an era where there is a serious lack of customer service and understanding of what it involves, Donut Bank is an anomaly. After our feature story “Bank on Them” on page 22, I think I know why, too. Go to any of the nine locations and see for yourself. Great products, great service, and squeaky clean stores inside and out are a few reasons its customers are fiercely loyal.

I also would like to throw out some praise to anyone who had anything to do with the recent Lloyd Expressway and U.S. Highway 41 interchange. From my perspective, it was a total win for our city by removing two stoplights, adding a new pedestrian bridge, and creating a better traffic flow — all while being done on budget and on time. Well done, Ragle, Inc. of Newburgh, Indiana, and the Indiana Department of Transportation as well as city planners.

By the time you skip past my next publisher’s letter, we will have elected our next mayor of our fair city. If you don’t vote in the local election, then don’t write letters complaining about the Mayor, City Council, and community leaders. Period.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker