Building Construction graduate still uses skills he learned.
Mark Kolterman grew up in Seward, but he wasn't a city boy.
Growing up, he and twin brother Clark worked for their father, Don Kolterman, at the Ben Franklin Variety Store that grandfather Fredrick Kolterman started in downtown Seward in 1915.
"I was always in charge of the maintenance situations and the inventory in the basement," Mark said. "I was always the hands-on type of guy."
After graduating from Seward High School in 1969, one might think Kolterman would enhance those skills by venturing south to Milford and the Nebraska Vocational Technical School. But his parents had other ideas.
"They wanted me to go to the university, and I did for two years," Mark said. "I didn't enjoy the classroom with a couple-hundred kids. I've always been a hands-on person."
After two years at UNL, Mark married his high school sweetheart, Suzanne Geis, and he put his name on the waiting list at Milford, eventually starting in the Building Construction Technology program in 1973.
"I had Ron Eberspacher for masonry, Dick Divis for carpentry (woodworking) and Ron Jantzi for drafting," he said. "Larry Kness was over the entire department."
Kolterman chose the Building Construction Technology program because he wanted to get into the carpentry and home-building business.
"I worked for a home builder in Seward for a couple of years after I graduated in September 1974," he said. "I was a framer. We did a lot of building in the north part of Seward.
"I really enjoyed it," Kolterman said, but he wasn't making enough money to support a family.
He worked for Hughes Brothers, Inc., in Seward until 1976, when he stepped out of the construction business and went to work for Hafemeister, Suhr & Imig Insurance Agency in Seward. Four years later he bought his own agency in Utica, NE.
"I didn't know if I could pass all of the (insurance) tests," Kolterman said. "But I eventually got licensed and learned the business. I was in general sales, and I provided service to customers."
His construction background, which includes building four houses for his family, paid off when he called on agricultural customers.
"I could evaluate if their buildings were adequately insured," he said. "And in those early years, on weekends former Milford classmate Bill Saalfeld and I would do some masonry projects. That helped keep my construction skills sharp."
Kolterman earned a bachelor's degree in industrial technology from Peru State College in 1994, but he's most proud of the degree he received 20 years earlier.
"My degree from SCC I treasure the most," he said. "I've used it my entire career. Last summer I built a treehouse for my grandkids. I've built a shop for myself. Once or twice a month I use those skills."
Kolterman, 65, said he tries to visit the Milford Campus every couple of years.
"I like to come down and look at the house the students are building," he said. "We built two houses during my time here. One turned into a medical clinic that was moved to the northwest part of Milford."
He also remembers working on the houses of former Milford Campus Director Lowell Welsh and former SCC President Dr. Robert Eicher.
Kolterman, who represents District 24 of the Nebraska Legislature, is proud of how the Milford Campus of SCC has graduated skilled workers throughout its 75-year history.
"I'm such a proponent of hands-on education," he said. "This campus was the first of its kind in the nation. It has a reputation of being second to none. It's good to see how this campus has grown and prospered.
"But the thing I appreciate about this school is that the instructors wanted you to succeed. They were hands-on. It was a great environment in which to learn."
Kolterman is a Senior Financial Services Representative with the Principal Financial Group® and a Princor Registered Representative with Princor Financial Services Corporation. He specializes in business solutions, including employee benefits, group health, 401(k), executive benefits and succession planning and also provides services in the areas of individual estate and retirement planning.
As part of his profession, Kolterman is actively involved in the Nebraska Association of Health Underwriters and the Nebraska Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He also is a Life and Qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table, based on professional sales and service.
A lifelong resident of Seward County, Kolterman remains active in civic matters and promoting his community through his involvement in the Seward County Economic Development, Seward Area Development Corporation, the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce, St. John Lutheran Church, and other civic groups and activities.
Kolterman and his wife have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.
As a member of the "Whiz Bang Kids," Omaha World-Herald staff writer Tom Allen's term for the Seward High School class of 1969, Kolterman, his brother Clark and other classmates decided that Seward needed a modern Fourth of July celebration for Seward's Centennial. In 1973 Gov. James J. Exon designated Seward as "Nebraska's Official Fourth of July City." A state of Nebraska Historic marker stands on the courthouse lawn.
"I'm proud of my career, my family and the contributions we have made in our community," he said. "I hope that my service to the state as a state senator can continue that family tradition of making a difference, and I'm honored to serve."