By Jackie Nelson
John Carder has been an influential community leader in Hesston. However, through his career, he has maintained his professionalism and coveted his privacy.
The Record wanted to know, who is John Carder off-the-clock.
As a child, Carder was born and raised in Chanute a small community in south-east Kansas.
Carder became involved in the family business before he was even old enough to drive.
“My family owned a local business and I started working in it after school and on weekends starting at age 12. This helped me to develop a work ethic that has served me well in my entire career,” he said.
Following high school, Carder set his sights on higher education.
“I went on to Chanute Junior College and finally to Kansas University where I earned a degree in psychology,” he said.
Following graduation, Carder applied the knowledge from his family’s business and operated his own chain of stores.
“I ran a business that had locations in five Southeast Kansas communities for 25 years,” he said.
Carder first became involved in city government in Iola and quickly threw himself into many facets of local governance.
“During that time I had the privilege of being elected to three terms as mayor of Iola, Kansas. During those years I served on four governor’s task forces, six years on the executive board of the Kansas League of Municipalities (Elected and served as President of the League during that time) and finally I was appointed by the governor and served three years on the KDHE citizens advisory board,” he said.
After years of serving as an elected official, Carder decided to make his civic involvement a career.
“My background as a small business owner has made me service-oriented, always treating residents as customers. My service as an elected mayor helps me understand the needs and challenges facing public officials allowing me to relate well with them. My degree in psychology helps me to understand the needs and to deal with people and work with employees,” he said.
Carder finally made the transition to administrator just over two decades ago.
“Therefore, when I sold my business in 1992, I decided to pursue a career in city administration. It was a natural fit since I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and rewards of public service,” he said.
Carder’s first city administration position was in Herington, a rural community an hour north-east of Hesston.
“I had been city manager of Herington, Kansas for six years and when the position was advertised here in Hesston. It was an opportunity to move to a better job in a great community,” he said.
Carder and his family quickly adjusted to life in Hesston and plan to remain in the community after he steps down as city administrator.
“We have a great home in a community we love. It doesn’t hurt that I have two daughters and two grandkids living in the area,” he said
Carder said there are elements of the community he has grown fond of as well.
“My absolute favorite is the Dog Park. My wife and I rarely miss a day enjoying the park with our two schnauzers. The Arboretum comes in second as simply a beautiful place. Finally, the Hesston Golf Park where I hope to spend more time with retirement,” he said.
Though, for Carder, retirement does not mean simply being idle. He will begin yet another career in January.
“My wife and I plan on taking a couple of weeks to travel and I hope to play more golf. Surprisingly, I have accepted a new job with GVL Poly which is building a plant here in Hesston on North Old 81 Hwy. The 50,000 square-foot building is under construction and we will have 55 employees. I am fortunate to have been offered the job as the new plant manager for this new plastics manufacturer. I have committed to work at least two years to help get it set up and running,” he said.
Carder said through this transition, he is looking forward to the new challenges presented.
“I am looking forward to a change of pace and a new career. I have been in city government for over 33 years and I am excited about the challenges of learning and working as plant management.”