BKDers Ryan Lockridge and Brandy Shy hang out in front of the 15-foot-tall barbershop pole outside Tina’s Barber Shop in Casey, Illinois.
Whether we’re headed to the big city or into the quiet suburbs, over the Great Lakes or past Pikes Peak, traveling is often part of the gig as a BKD Trusted Advisor™. This is especially true for Partner Tom Wheeland, who leads BKD’s National Insurance Services Practice out of the firm’s St. Louis office.
“I’ve driven the same stretch along Interstate 70 more times than I can count. But one trip with some curious BKDers—on our way to speak at an insurance conference in Indianapolis—led us into downtown Casey, Illinois, and its world of gems,” says Tom.
Casey, located roughly halfway between St. Louis and Indianapolis, is in the heart of the grasslands that gave the Prairie State its nickname. The city, with a population of 2,700, holds the motto “Big Things in a Small Town.”
Tom was joined by Director Brandy Shy and Manager Ryan Lockridge, both members of the St. Louis insurance team. As the group pulled into town just before dusk, Brandy and Ryan immediately headed for the World’s Largest Mailbox, which is fully functional at more than 30 feet tall, while Tom noticed an enormous sculpture, The Big Pencil: a 32-foot No. 2 pencil, which weighs more than 500 pounds. They explored the streets and marveled at a number of sights: wooden shoes made for a giant, a massive pitchfork and a birdcage fit for a group of CPAs.
“But it’s the people of Casey who made this destination worth the stop,” he says.
Brandy, who loves Casey, mentioned the recent installation of the world’s largest teeter-totter, which was handcrafted by locals and placed in the park across from the 56-foot tall rocking chair. Unfortunately, the seesaw wasn’t accessible to the public until the following week. But sometimes things have a special way of unfolding.
An older couple who lived in a nearby house joined the group near the outskirts of the teeter-totter.
“The woman had a key to the teeter-totter and even offered to let us take a walk across it,” says Tom.
The group crossed the fulcrum at midpoint and felt the balance shift as the nose of the seesaw dipped like the bow of a ship digging into the waves. They made their way to one end, turned and went across again. After thanking the couple for their complete generosity and returning the key, the group hopped back into their car and made their way to the insurance conference.
“We loved getting the opportunity to feel like kids again. It felt like a privilege to be part of this little town with so many big things,” says Tom.
“Being in the service industry is truly rewarding. We meet people in their hometowns, see them in their environment and share some of the most unique moments. We’ve had clients sing for us and even bake for us. We’ve shared joy and tragedy with them. They’ve welcomed us into their homes and lives, and we’ve done the same in return. The woman in Casey held the key to the teeter-totter, but also the key to finding joy in the simplest of things.”