Doug Bessler received the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award Jan. 31.
Angie Bedel introduced her father, saying he was “the son of a hardworking sawmill family.” He grew up in Ballstown, went to St. Louis Catholic School and was a 1972 Batesville High School graduate. Bessler later attended the Ohio College of Applied Science, earning his Journeyman Tool and Die certificate in 1977.
“In 1978, along with company founder Ron Fledderman, Dad was one of the first five shareholders of Batesville Tool and Die. After serving 23 years, he retired from there in 2001 as vice president of manufacturing. He was very grateful to be a part of this very successful company and is still a shareholder.”
Bessler purchased an auto dealership in 2000 and named it Bessler’s Trackside Auto Depot. “Four times a year, Dad and his associates voluntarily teach driver education students at Batesville High School how to purchase a pre-owned vehicle.”
For nine years in a row, the dealership has been voted the best place to buy a used car or truck in Ripley and Franklin counties by The Herald-Tribune readers. It also received the Joe Krier Indiana State Quality Dealer of the Year Award, she added. “This was the first time in the history of the Indiana Independent Auto Dealers Association that this prestigious award was presented to a small dealership.”
As owner and general manager of the Sherman House, the Batesville resident “maintains a very active role in the day-to-day operations. Dad, along with his associates, work very hard to keep this historic landmark operating on a daily basis.” For the past seven years, the restaurant has donated the Ripley County Relay for Life survivors’ breakfast.
In 2008, Bessler was one of 11 recipients to receive the Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award, which honors the hard work of individuals in the tourism industry. The Sherman House was recently featured on a TV show called “My Ghost Story – Caught on Camera.”
He has served in various capacities on many different boards, including the BACC; St. Andrews Health Campus Advisory Committee; Ripley County Convention, Visitors and Tourism Commission; ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) of Indiana; Batesville High School Advisory Committee for Vocational Education; and Batesville Tool and Die board of directors. He is also a member of St. Louis Catholic Church and the National Rifle Association.
Bedel noted, “Dad enjoys spending what little spare time he has with his four children and seven grandchildren .... His hobbies include car collecting, cooking and motorcycling.”
Bessler pointed out, “I think being a good person in the community means being a good steward, and that means giving back. I hope I’ve demonstrated this by my contributions and by keeping the Sherman House open and an icon to the downtown area.
“And, yes, we have the best smallest community with some of the greatest amenities that you can find anywhere in the world, and I am very proud of our little town.”
The honoree announced, “You know this past year, I’ve taken on a new motto, a Doug Bessler original! This can and should apply to any business, no matter what size: ‘It’s not about how many people you serve. It’s about how many people you make happy.’”