If you have been on Lakeridge Drive lately you will have noticed the new park sign across the street from Crystal Springs Lake, Kessler Park. Dave Kessler, now retired and living in Saskatoon, made his mark in Warman not only as a successful business leader, but as an influential councillor and Mayor. The Kessler family continues to be pillars of our community and serves as inspiration to fellow local businesses. Kessler Insurance is the oldest family-owned business still operating in Warman.
Dave Kessler, having lived in Saskatoon and Martensville, then BC, came back to Saskatchewan with his family in 1973 to take over Ben Ens grocery store on the corner of 6th Avenue and North Railway Street West (in the building where “The Meeting Place” currently is) in Warman, which had been in operation since the 1930’s. Dave Kessler changed the name to Kessler M & M Grocery Store. He began selling insurance for Mennonite Mutual Fire Insurance through the store, and eventually settled his focus on the insurance business, closing the grocery. He launched Kessler Agencies in 1977.
Active in local politics, Dave Kessler served one term as town councillor and two terms as Mayor in the early 1980s. He was a forward thinker and was heavily involved in the development of storm sewers in Warman, which was a hotly debated issue at the time. Dave’s son-in-law, and now co-owner of Kessler Insurance, Richard Petkau says, “It has been said that at that time there were people in in the community who wanted to keep Warman small with a ‘small town feel’ and not grow. Dave recognized that nothing stays the same. Everything changes and either gets better or goes downhill and gets worse. He said that you can’t hold back on development and hold back on issues like storm sewers. You have to push the people to move ahead, build the community and make it better.”
In 1985 Kessler Agencies Ltd. purchased the local SGI office and became a Motor Vehicle License Issuer as well as selling general insurance for several insurance companies. Warman and Osler were growing and so was Kessler Agencies. During these years Ernie and Lena Hoeppner, brother-in-law and sister, worked with Dave at the office. In response to the community growth, they opened a second location in Osler in 1990. Richard Petkau (Dave’s son-in-law) joined the Kessler Agencies team in October of 1993. In 1998, Kessler Agencies moved to a more central location in a new building at 211 Central Street West. “Dave recognized that Central Street was becoming the main street in town and 6th Avenue was going to have less and less traffic as development in the Crystal Springs and north Warman areas were being developed,” says Petkau. So they looked for a more central location on the busiest street in Warman and built the new building where they are currently located.
In 2004, Vic Kessler (Dave’s son) moved back to Warman and joined the team. This was also the year that the Osler office moved to the new Osler Town Office building. Shortly after, in 2005, Dave retired, leaving the business in Rich and Vic’s capable hands. They continue to operate as a family business dedicated to serving Warman and Osler communities. The Kessler Insurance Osler branch offers all the same products as in Warman, as well as being an SGI Motor License Issuer.
Kessler Insurance strongly believes in giving back to the communities that have been supportive of their business. In more recent years they have made an effort to support local organizations as a whole instead of individual team sponsorships. “We try and steer our sponsorship and donation dollars to local organizations,” explains Petkau. “The Warman Sport and Cultural Campaign focused on raising funds for the Legends Centre which is an important addition to Warman, so we’ve helped as much as we could with that. Vic and I are both golfers, so we sponsor the Legends Golf Club.” Kessler Insurance also gets involved with the Warman Open for Business Exhibition (WOBE), the Warman Diamond Rodeo, the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce, many local sports groups and other types of organizations in Warman and Osler.
The City of Warman is hosting a park naming ceremony on Wednesday, October 9th at 2:00 p.m. in recognition of Dave Kessler and family. The park will forever be a tribute to the Kessler family, honouring their many contributions to our great community.