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SME Excellence Awards® & SME Membership Meeting

2017 SME Excellence Awards®

Honoring the 2017 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™, Bernie DeWald
February 28, 2017
The Sioux Falls Convention Center 

Time:  Doors open 5:30 pm; Dinner 6:30 pm

Sponsor:  TBA 

Bernie Dewald

Bernie DeWald can be described  in two words:  Staying Power.

Over the years, Bernie has exemplified what it means to be a husband, father, businessman and community leader.  Born n the family farm in Hutchinson Country, South Dakota, Bernie graduated from Tripp High School in a class of twenty-five students.  He joined the US. Army in December of 1956, spending six months in Fort Ord, CA, then eighteen months in the Panama Canal Zone, serving with the 517th Military Police Stockade as a company clerk.   He was discharged in December, 1958, and went on to join the Tripp National Guard.  Upon being injured in a military accident, he spent over a month in the VA Hospital in Sioux Falls, receiving a medical discharge from the National Guard.  After working construction for a summer, Bernie enrolled in Nettleton College and after graduation took a position with McKinney & Allen Insurance, starting as a company underwriter on May 1, 1960.  Bernie has an outstanding fifty-six year long career with what is now McKinneyOlson Insurance, having worked his way from underwriter into sales, serving as President of McKinney Allen, Inc. from 1990 to 2004, and where he still serves today as Chairman of the Board of McKinneyOlson.  In any capacity, it's always been Bernie's passion to help others  by being truthful, a good listener, and providing solutions that truly meet the needs of those he's honored to work with, all traits that have highlighted his career success.  

Bernie has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the city of Sioux Falls by serving on a number of civic and non-profit organizations over the years.  Having benefited from his leadership are the Sioux Falls Jaycees, Sioux Empire United Way, Sioux Falls Junior Achievement, Girls Club, Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Rotary, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, St. Michael's Cemetery Council, Sioux Falls Independent Insurance Agents, Festival of Bands, the Lincoln High School Bank Parent organization, and of course, SME Sioux Falls.  Each public service commitment is punctuated by Bernie's longevity, in many instances his involvement spans over five decades.  Never one to just show up, Bernie has always been instrumental in bringing new ideas to each organization as well as a willingness to take on new challenges and leadership roles.  

Bernie has been married to his wife Rose for 52 years, and they have two children, Wendy Jo and Jonathan, and three grandchildren.

SME Sioux Falls Members attend for free.  Guests $50.


2016 SME Excellence Awards®

2016 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year 

Tom Walsh SR

Tom Walsh, Sr
President GreatLIFE & Dakota King
The SME Excellence Awards® is an annual signature event for SME Sioux Falls and you'll want to be there in February as we honor one of South Dakota best leaders, Mr. Tom Walsh, Sr. as the South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year.

Thomas Walsh, Sr. has called Sioux Falls home for over 40 years. Since his graduation from Augustana College in 1971, he has contributed much to the community that gave him endless opportunities. In 1975, Walsh opened the first Burger King restaurant in South Dakota. Since then, he has developed over 50 Burger King restaurants in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Under his leadership, Dakota King restaurants have earned many awards – including the “Operational Excellence” award, the “Restaurant Excellence” award and the “Community and Local Store Marketing” award. When not running the restaurant world, Walsh tirelessly shares his love and compassion for children through a variety of humanitarian efforts. He founded the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation in 2002 – an organization dedicated to providing medical, educational and humanitarian assistance to children and families in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. And under his leadership, South Dakota’s “Make-A-Wish” Foundation became the #5 Chapter in the United States. Thomas was inducted into the prestigious South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2009. Thomas and his wife Kathy are blessed with 4 children and 8 grandchildren.

Video sponsorships are available at $1000, $750 and $500 levels.  Email if interested.  

SME Members attend for FREE but must order tickets!  Guests are $50.  Order from the ticket link or call 605-336-5626.


2015 SME Excellence Awards®

2015 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™
Evan Nolte 

Evan Nolte

Evan Nolte is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Nolte joined the Sioux Falls Chamber staff in 1979 as its Executive Vice President. In 1992, he was appointed President and CEO. His current community and professional involvements include serving as a: member of the Forward Sioux Falls 2011-2016 Joint Venture Management Committee, South Dakota Economic Development Council and American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE); he currently is a board member of the Sioux Empire Housing Partnership, the South Dakota Technology Business Center, the Southeast Technical Institute Foundation and the Downtown Sioux Falls Development Committee. In 1997, Nolte was named Business Citizen of the Year by the Sioux Falls Sales and Marketing Executives (SMEI) organization. In 2013, he received an Alumni Achievement Award from Augustana College for his leadership in community issues. He and his wife, Lesley, have four sons. Nolte attended Iowa State University and graduated from Augustana College (Sioux Falls) with a bachelor’s of science degree in political science and business administration. 

SME Members attend the event for FREE!  Tickets can be ordered for $50.  Call 605-336-5626 to order tickets.

2014 SME Excellence Awards® 

T Denny Sanford

2014 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™
T. Denny Sanford 

T. Denny Sanford was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.   Young Denny developed an early work ethic during his summers, working in his father’s clothing distribution company.   His mother died of breast cancer when he was 4; and his father and an older brother both died of heart disease at a young age.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1958, Denny had a career in sales, marketing, and materials distribution.  He then established Contech Inc, a Minneapolis-based national company, manufacturing sealants, coatings, and adhesives.  The company employed 350 people, including a chemical laboratory with 13 chemists, developing products for large architectural buildings.  At same time, he started a venture capital company.

In 1986, following a brief retirement, he purchased United National Corporation in Sioux Falls, SD (now First PREMIER Bank), and added a newly-formed credit card company (Premier BANKCARD).  Today, UNC is one of the strongest capitalized banks in the country.  The success of these two companies has helped the economy and created more than 3,000 jobs within the state of South Dakota.  Denny remains active in Threshold Ventures (his Arizona office), as well as these two financial institutions.

Upon forming his foundation for charitable giving, Mr. Sanford’s initial focus was to help sick, disadvantaged, abused and/or neglected children.  To that end, he has been a long-time supporter of the Children’s Home Society in South Dakota.  He also donated money to build the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, as well as the T. Denny Sanford Mayo Clinic Pediatric Center in Rochester MN; and the T. Denny Sanford Pediatric Center at Florida Hospital for Children.  He also donated funds to the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine for their new pediatric residency program.

Mr. Sanford’s attention subsequently turned to the fields of scientific and medical research.  He pledged $70M for the Homestake Mine Underground Laboratory Research Program in Lead, and donated over $400 million to the Sioux Valley Health System in Sioux Falls (now Sanford Health), whose major initiatives include developing children’s clinics worldwide and whose research center focuses on finding a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.  Most recently, he gave Sanford Health $100M to establish the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research Center.  Today the nonprofit health system centered on North and South Dakota includes nearly three dozen hospitals and more than 140 clinics.

Denny’s generosity extends to other agencies around the State: the Crazy Horse Memorial, Homesteak Underground Mine in Lead, SDSU’s Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center, USD’s Beacom School of Business, Volunteers of America-Dakotas, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation and Sioux Empire United Way, to name a few.

In California, he supports the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, the Salk Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.  Other recipients around the country include his Alma Mater’s football program; Roundup River Ranch in Vail, Colorado; and teacher education programs and gender harmony projects at Arizona State University.

Mr. Sanford’s total giving to date is over $850M.


2013 SME Excellence Awards®

Jeff Scherschligt - color

2013 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™

Jeff Scherschligt
Jeff was born in 1955 to Lester & Arlette Scherschligt and was raised in Sioux Falls along with his three siblings. After graduating from Lincoln High School, Jeff headed east to attend the College of Insurance in New York City. After four years of the big city and college life, Jeff returned to Sioux Falls to work in the family business, Howalt McDowell Insurance. He took over as president in 1985 and has served in the role ever since.

With Jeff as a leader, Howalt McDowell Insurance/Great Plains Brokerage has grown to employee 90+ employees and is a leader in the Property/Casualty and Employee Benefits Insurance market in the Midwest region. Jeff believes in the utmost personal service for all clients, beginning with a friendly voice answering the phone and extending to creating true, lasting partnerships with clients. Jeff and the Howalt McDowell staff works tirelessly to understand their clients and their business’ risk management needs so they can focus on the challenges they face and things they enjoy.
Jeff is knowledgeable in all lines of insurance and risk management. However, he has a special interest in Professional Liability, Medical Malpractice, and the enterprise risk management needs of large commercial businesses. 

Jeff is an insurance man with a passion for development. In 2004, in search of a new home for Howalt McDowell, he stumbled upon the Zip Feed Mill site on east bank of the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls. Enamored by the challenge, he decided this is where his company would be located.

Deciding to tear down the Zip Feed Mill couldn’t be done quietly. Jeff was determined to make a splash and raise some money for a cause near and dear to his heart. Jeff’s youngest daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis early in 2004. This was a perfect time and a perfect cause to raise money and awareness. After selling thousands of tickets to be the one to “Blow Zip Up” and securing sponsorships, December 5th, 2005 arrived. On the day of the demolition, countdown began, the blast went off, but the old concrete and steel feed mill simply tilted and sunk into its basement. The laughing began and hasn’t actually stopped. But, despite the “Oops!”, the MS Society ended up raising more money and far more awareness than was ever thought possible. And eventually the Zip Feed Mill did come down with the help of a ball and chain.

Instead of hauling off all of the concrete, the Zip Feed Mill lives on and is the base for where Cherapa Place sits. This 144,000 square foot, LEED Gold, office complex with underground parking is designed with a two story base of local stone which appears to rise organically from the riverfront and a curved upper section oriented to maximize views of the river and Falls Park. Howalt+McDowell Insurance is one of four tenant-owners of Cherapa Place.

Jeff is very involved in the community, serving integral roles in organizations such as the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum and the South Dakota Parks & Wildlife Foundation. In his free-time, Jeff enjoys hunting, nature conservation, riding horses, development and spending time with his family, most importantly his two young granddaughters.


2012 SME Excellence Awards®

dana dykhouse

2012 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™

Dana Dykhouse

Banking on South Dakota

Born on February 16, 1957, Dana Dykhouse grew up just down the road from the South Dakota border in Rock Rapids, Iowa. His mother and father, Evelyn and Emerson, raised their son to enjoy life and to live each day to its fullest.

His early years were spent doing what young boys did back then – exploring life and creating adventure for himself in this small farming community. At an early age he loved horses and dreamt of being a cowboy. He also showed that he was a hard worker and quite the entrepreneur. On those beautiful spring days Dana could be found going door to door offering his extermination services to catch the mice in peoples’ houses for a per mouse price. A businessman was born.

Dana’s exploration on his journey to success continued throughout his high school years. He won various Future Farmer of America Awards, played the drums in band and tried his hand in a variety of sports, including track and field, wrestling and football.

Among all the sports, he enjoyed and excelled at football the most. In 1975 he accepted a football scholarship to play at South Dakota State University (SDSU). He went on to letter three times as a Jackrabbit and earned honorable mention as an all conference defensive tackle.

He met LaDawn Stenson from Mitchell, SD while they were both students at SDSU.  They wed in 1980, and after graduation he began his financial career with Farm Credit Services working in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1984 he accepted a position at Western Bank in Sioux Falls and began to establish deep roots in South Dakota. He quickly impressed the management team and was promoted to several leadership positions throughout his tenure at Western Bank.

In 1995 Dana was approached by T. Denny Sanford, owner of South Dakota based First PREMIER Bank to take the reigns of the organization as President and Chief Executive Officer. Dana brought with him an unconventional leadership style and a firm belief that individuals who, enjoy their job, feel valued and have a passion to serve others can do extraordinary things together. Establishing an internal Training Academy, employee scholarships, unexpected staff events and celebrating successes led to a PREMIER organization. Under Dana’s leadership, First PREMIER Bank’s total assets have grown from $220 million to more than $1.5 billion. Together with its sister organization, PREMIER Bankcard, the organization has grown from 175 employees to employ thousands across South Dakota.

The American Bankers Association’s ABA Banking Journal has ranked First PREMIER Bank as one of the top 10 performing financial institutions of its size in the nation since 1997. In 2001, 2002 and 2003 the organization was ranked number one. First PREMIER Bank’s Holding Company was ranked number one in 2006.

Community involvement has been one of the core values of First PREMIER Bank that Dana has championed. Creating an environment that encourages PREMIER associates each year to serve others has been vital to the organization’s success. Whether it is building shelter for a family in need or mentoring young people, the organization puts a high value on helping others.

Leading by example, Dana has invested his time and energy into making the State of South Dakota a better place to live and conduct business. Working to attract new business, increase job growth and enhance the overall quality of life, Dana has served as Chairman of the Sioux Falls Development Corporation and Co-Chair of Forward Sioux Falls. 

His passion for inspiring and mentoring youth led him to his involvement as past Chairman of Junior Achievement of South Dakota. In addition, he served as the Chairman for the SDSU Foundation Board of Directors and currently Co-Chairs the SDSU “It Starts at State” campaign. This campaign is the largest fundraising drive in state history to support the strategic vision and goals of higher education, with a goal of raising more than $200 million dollars.

Since sports helped him establish a foundation of training hard, persistence and teamwork; Dana has stayed close to the South Dakota sports world by serving on the Board of the Sioux Falls Sports Authority. He was also instrumental in bringing Division I athletics to South Dakota as Chairman of the SDSU Athletic Champions Council and Division I transition group.

His contribution to other organizations statewide can be seen in his various appointments including: President of the South Dakota Bankers Association, Chairman Sioux Empire Fair Association, Chairman of Sioux Empire United Way Campaign, Board Member DUESEL/SDSTA – Sanford Lab and Children’s Care Hospital Foundation among others.

He has also felt a commitment to give back to the community on a monetary level. His donations have helped build the $6 million Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center at SDSU, establish the Dykhouse Family $1 million scholarship endowment at BHSU.  The Dykhouse’s also contributed $1 million to the endowment fund at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls.

While Chairman of the SDSU Foundation, Dana played a leadership role in establishing the Jackrabbit Guarantee Scholarship Program at SDSU.  The Dykhouses remain active in many other community and church based philanthropic efforts.

From his early days on the farm to South Dakota business leader he has not forgotten to enjoy life and to live each day to its fullest. Putting people first and having unshakable integrity are bedrocks to community banking. Ask Dana if  “Banking on South Dakota” has been a wise investment and you are likely to see a big smile from this transplanted Iowa boy as he discusses all that the state has to offer and the people that make it great.

Dana and his wife LaDawn are the proud parents of Dan, a 2006 graduate of SDSU and Alana, a 2011 graduate of BHSU.  Dan and his wife Kristina have one son Bennett, born January 11, 2011.


2011 SME Excellence Awards®

Don Dunham

2011 South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™
Donald A. Dunham Jr. 

Donald A. Dunham, Jr., is the founder, owner/broker, Chairman of the Board and CEO of The Dunham Company, a diversified real estate company, founded in 1977.  The Dunham Company operates as Dunham Commercial and Residential Real Estate, Dunham Real Estate Development, Dunham Property Management, and Dunham Consulting and Construction Services and currently has 18 employees.  The Dunham Company, through Dunham Consulting and Construction Services (DCCS) which was formed in 1982, has supervised and managed over $100,000,000 in construction projects over the past 30 years.

Mr. Dunham has been involved in numerous real estate partnerships, has been involved in the real estate business since 1974, and is now primarily involved in commercial construction, syndications, property management, and land development projects.  Mr. Dunham is a partner in various real estate joint ventures and is currently an owner-manager of the following land developments: Granite Valley, Diamond Valley, and Platinum Valley (totaling approximately 800 acres) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Dakota Prairie (110 acres) in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota; Country Club Estates (207 acres) in Elk Point, South Dakota; Fox Run (35 acres) in Yankton, South Dakota; 30 acres of land in Vermillion, South Dakota; River Valley (140 acres) in North Sioux City, SD; and Crystal Valley (160 acres) in Watertown, South Dakota. 

Mr. Dunham is a Past President of Main Street Sioux Falls, past Chairman of the South Dakota Division of the American Cancer Society, past Chairman of Sales & Marketing Executives International, and a past Chairman of the Sioux Empire United Way 1994 Fund Drive.  Mr. Dunham has received his CCIM designation and is a past member of Coldwell Banker's National Advisory Council.  In 1998, Mr. Dunham successfully chaired the Falls Park Sound & Light Show fundraising drive and was the Chairman of the Convention Center Hotel Committee from 1996-1997 and has served as a Chairperson for the Phillips to the Falls and East Bank Renovation Committee.  Mr. Dunham has served as State Director of the South Dakota Association of Realtors and was President of the Sioux Falls Board of Realtors in 1980.

Mr. Dunham, as an individual, has acted as a General Partner in many limited partnerships, some of those being Community Health Center Limited Partnership; Homestead Trails Limited Partnership; Hospitality Apartments Limited Partnership; Kingsport Village Limited Partnership; Northern Heights Development Limited Partnerships; Vista Park Limited Partnership and several limited partnerships which own Granite City restaurants.

Additionally, Mr. Dunham owns a home building company named Dunham Homes, LLC. This entity was originally formed in 1984 as Silver Creek Development Company but was began operating as Dunham Homes, LLC in 1999.  Property currently under construction and owned by Dunham Homes is located in Granite Valley, Diamond Valley and Platinum Valley in Sioux Falls, SD; Dakota Prairie in Dakota Dunes, SD; Country Club Estates in Elk Point, SD; Wynstone in Jefferson, SD; and Woodbury Heights in Sioux City, IA.

In addition to the above, Mr. Dunham has developed and syndicated numerous properties to include land developments, hotels, apartment complexes; condominiums; office buildings; retail centers; rent-to-own housing developments; two sow farrowing units and two dairies.

In 2002, Mr. Dunham entered into a Development Contract with Granite City Food & Brewery, LTD to develop up to 22 restaurants. This agreement has been fulfilled. Upon completion of construction, these restaurants were syndicated and sold to new limited partnerships.  Mr. Dunham is the Managing Member of Dunham Equity Management, LLC which serves as the General Partner of these limited partnerships.

Mr. Dunham is married and he has three sons, Don Dunham, III, Jim Dunham, and Chris Dunham whom are all active in the real estate business.

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