Ken Vetter had many admirable qualities. Friends and colleagues who have been at Cassling over the decades can attest to his honesty, his kindness, his compassion, his generosity, and so much more. But if there was one single thing just about everyone could agree on in regard to Ken, it was this:
The man liked to drive fast.
“We shared lots of drive time,” said Steve Chambers, Chief Financial Officer of Cassling. “Sometimes, when we drove to or from Kansas City separately, it was ‘race’ time. Literally. There were times when he would even give me a head start (although I never won).”
“There was a time I was riding with Ken to make a sales call,” said Ken Sullivan, retired Regional Sales Director. “Ken would say we were moving right along when, wouldn’t you know it, a trooper pulled us over. Ken had all of the electronics to detect locations of troopers and when the officer noticed them in his car, he said, ‘WOW! You sure have a lot of detection devices! Would you like to see mine?’ Ken said ‘sure’ and went to the trooper's car and complimented him on his gear. I am sure when Ken retired, the Iowa Highway Patrol had a huge layoff.”
“I am so grateful that he took me under his wing when I first started at Cassling back in 1991,” said Dan Olson, Account Executive. “The wisdom he shared during our brainstorming sessions or the 100 mph-plus car rides was profound!”
“I would not want to guess how many miles he drove to meet with customers throughout the Midwest,” said Marty Huebner, retired Executive Vice President of Service. “I do know that he often drove a little faster than he should have, but he was seldom late to those meetings. There are many hilarious stories about his driving that are too numerous to mention here.”
On January 8, Ken Vetter passed away at the age of 83. As those who knew him well shared memories and mourned this one-of-a-kind man, it’s clear that the impression he made on those around him won’t soon be forgotten.
“Ken leaves a lasting legacy here at Cassling and with our business partners, friends and family,” said CEO Mike Cassling. “Ken worked with my father, Bob, for 20 years at Picker International before joining Cassling Diagnostic Imaging with him in 1984 as the first employee. With over 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Ken served as vice president of Cassling until he retired in 2008.
“Throughout his career here, Ken mentored every salesperson, including myself. He was an amazing person, leader, mentor and educator who truly valued the importance of strong customer relationships. He helped manage strategic initiatives to uncover new business and his positive attitude and dedication helped lead the company to success.
“Ken ensured that Cassling maintained the highest moral and ethical standards. His positive influence will continue to be felt for years to come. We will keep Ken’s wife, Rita, and his children, Dan, Deb and Kathy, in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Ken was a mentor and friend to me,” said Cassling President Kyle Salem. “He taught me what it means to be a servant leader – not just by words but, more importantly, by example. The lessons he helped me grasp have stayed with me and shape who I am today, both at work and at home. I’m always struck thinking about how Ken would be genuinely joyful watching other people succeed.”
“Ken Vetter was great to work with,” said Steve Chambers. “I really got to know him in 1996 and 1997 when we were managing the purchase of Clayton X-Ray. He was a great mentor to me and I learned a lot from him personally and professionally. His integrity was at the highest level and was reflected in everything he did. I always said that if I were to be fired from Cassling, I would want Ken to do it, because he would somehow find a way to make me feel good about it and my future. He truly personally cared about everybody. He was a great friend and will be truly missed.”
“I was the first salesperson Ken trained,” said Ken Sullivan. “He was always willing to give me all the time I needed to improve my sales talent. There was a time I got Rita to give Ken the phone in the shower so I could get some much-needed advice on a deal. I also caught him at the airport trying to catch a plane. Ken was always there for me and we laughed when remembering those times.
“Ken will be greatly missed by me after 30 years of misbehaving at sales meetings, celebrating equipment victories and comforting each other through the losses. I was lucky to have spent time with him.
"Please miss spell something in my comments…my old friend Ken was a master at spelling errors.”
“My friend, colleague and mentor, Ken Vetter, has passed away,” said Marty Huebner. “I spent over half my life working with, learning from and laughing with Mr. Vetter. I and many others had the good fortune to work with a man who represented the highest level of honesty, sincerity and humility.
“Not everyone knows that, way back in the early 1960s, Ken trained to become an electronics technician. When his schooling was completed, he opened up a TV repair shop. After a while, he decided that he wanted to get into the medical imaging business. The Picker X-Ray Company was looking for a repair tech. Ken answered the newspaper ad and interviewed for the job with Mike Cassling’s grandfather. Needless to say, Ken got the job and his future career was set.
“Ken worked hard his entire career. He loved helping customers and coworkers succeed. Ken would often confide in me how fortunate he was to have spent his career working for Bob and Mike Cassling. Bob and Mike knew they could always depend on Ken! He was as hard-working and loyal as anyone could be.
“Ken would also share with me that, without the strong support from his wife Rita and their children, he would not have had the success he enjoyed. We will miss Ken Vetter. For those of us who knew him, he was a shining example of how to work, how to help others and how to have a little fun doing it all! Goodbye, and rest in peace my friend.”
“Ken was one of the sincerest people I’ve ever met,” said Joe Matthews, Vice President of Service. “Whether he was giving encouragement or correction (and I received both from him), I believed it was genuine and valuable. Ken often spoke of the importance of providing great customer service and demonstrated it even more. He embodied what Bob Cassling taught us all in the beginning, that Cassling customers deserved the very best we could offer individually and as a team.”
“16 years ago, Ken Vetter interviewed me and offered me the position on my drive home,” said Kim Phox, Regional Vice President. “I sounded shocked on the phone to get an offer that quickly, and he simply stated, “You are a farm girl, I know how hard you will work for us.’ I love how Ken valued people and work effort. He was one of a kind and I will miss him greatly.”
“I had the pleasure of working with Ken Vetter during the entire length of my career at Cassling,” said retired Commissions Specialist Deb Flor. “I found Ken to be kind, gentle and caring, but he could also be tough as nails. Words that come to mind when thinking of Ken are integrity, honesty, fairness and, most of all, ‘do the right thing.’ I considered Ken both a coworker and a friend. He will be missed.”
“I remember Ken as a strong leader and great mentor,” said Field Service Engineer Jerry Glenn. “He was a great negotiator and extremely knowledgeable. He was so well-respected by everyone in the radiology industry. I am a better person because of him.”
“I worked with Ken for a number of years at Cassling,” said Executive Assistant Felicia Vasser. “He made a huge impact on the success of the company and a lasting impression on the people he encountered. Ken was consistently kind, fair, reasonable, and funny. You would just want to hug him every time you saw him. He will be missed. My condolences to Rita and the entire family.”
“Ken was always near and dear to me as a supportive coach and mentor during my early days at Cassling,” said Account Executive Courtney Glover. “I loved the way he would lean in to offer a comforting or clever comment and then would give a little giggle with a huge smile. He would always tell me that we shouldn’t get paid for all the fun we had together. He will be greatly missed by many.”
“Ken Vetter was a unique individual,” said Dan Olson. “He had the patience and wisdom of a father yet the spirited, gentle touch of a friend. He was a wonderful teacher, boss and mentor. He guided me in discovering solutions as he carefully listened to my issues. He was generous with his advice and made it practical by sharing personal experiences. Ken taught me that the focus of selling must not be about the sale, but about a relationship with the customer.
“He consistently maintained strong business ethics while keeping a smile on his face and the faces of the people around him. I will always be grateful to him for his guidance, useful advice, kindness, and appreciation and support of salespeople. His leadership and example helped me grow into my potential. I would not be where I am today without him.
“I am honored to remember one of the best people I ever met.”
Ken may be gone, but his impact on Cassling, the people who knew and loved him, and those who even got to share a daredevil car ride with him, will live on forever. Rest in peace Ken.