Madison father, son named Retailer of the Year

Madison father, son named Retailer of the Year The owners of a restaurant in Madison received the 2003 South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award.

DeWayne and DeLon Mork, owners of the Dairy Queen in Madison, were honored at the South Dakota Retailers Association annual Awards Banquet in Pierre Jan. 13. The event was attended by state legislators, and retailers from throughout the state.

The Morks were nominated for the award by dozens of employees and customers, who expressed their appreciation of how customers of the business are treated like friends, and employees are treated like members of the family.

SDRA Board President Kent Baker said, "When employees come to work in the morning, they know the owners will already be there, will greet them with a smile, will ask about their families and care about the answer. As special events or problems come up in their lives, the employees know that the owners will be understanding and accommodating. As a result, employees are very loyal to the business."

Baker noted that the Morks even rewarded one longtime employee for her years of good work with a trip to Hawaii.

Customers praise the owners of the business for their commitment to consistently providing good service, and for going the extra mile for customers who need a helping hand.

"The executive director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce tells us that each year, the Chamber sponsors a customer service training seminar, and each year, during the discussion period, the Dairy Queen is mentioned as an example of a business which offers excellent customer service," Baker said.

The Morks also play a leadership role in many local and national charitable, civic and church organizations. Their involvement includes the Chamber of Commerce, the Development Corporation, local athletic programs, fund-raising projects for community improvements, their church, United Way, Ducks Unlimited, and the Make A Wish Foundation. In addition, they encourage their employees to be active in community events, and every Christmas provide an opportunity for their staff to help provide funding to purchase gifts for people in need.

DeWayne and his late wife Joanne Mork, who died this past fall, purchased the business nearly 40 years ago, when it was a tiny, struggling, seasonal restaurant with just a walk-up window. Since then, the business has expanded, and has become a very successful year-round sit-down restaurant with a drive-through.

The business is also a model for other Dairy Queen owners in the state. "DeWayne Mork is regarded as a beacon for Dairy Queen operators in the state, who look to him to see how to run your business the right way," said Redfield Dairy Queen operator Jim Ellenson.

Employees also describe the father and son team as mentors and role models. When young people who have worked there graduate from high school and leave for college, most return to work for the Morks summer after summer. As one former employee noted wryly, "How many people can successfully raise dozens of teenagers and have them continually come back?"

Baker noted that one couple who nominated the Morks � Maynard and Betty Wiseman of Madison � summed it up best: "It is thanks to businessmen like this that small communities continue to thrive and prosper. For more than 35 years they have actively promoted the growth of our community on so many levels. And by quiet example, they have taught all of us lessons in the value of family, the balance between work and play, and giving back to the community."

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