Thomas Kia of Highland builds camaraderie at Indiana Dunes

Thomas Kia of Highland builds camaraderie at Indiana Dunes
By: Kole Rushmore Last Updated: December 27, 2019

Along with boosting morale and increasing job satisfaction, workplace camaraderie also promotes teamwork, which is why the staff at Thomas Kia of Highland are hitting the trails. 

For the last two years, Tom Seely, General Manager at Thomas Kia of Highland, and a few other team members from the dealership have been meeting twice a month at the Indiana Dunes for a 5 ½ -mile hike. They’ve made great memories, increased their fitness, and even saved a life.

“It’s people who want to get out and experience nature and enjoy good conversation with good guys,” Seely said. “We also occasionally will meet in the morning to play basketball or go bowling. Doing those types of activities helps build bonds and camaraderie amongst the Thomas Kia family.”

For the last 12 years, Seely, an avid mountain climber, has been using the dunes to train for his hiking excursions. The Thomas Kia of Highland hiking tradition started when Seely told his co-workers about his training regimen and asked to them join him. 

“Some of the younger guys had never climbed a sand dune before, and now they’re experiencing a national park,” Seely said. “For them to get a chance to see Mount Baldy, Central Beach and all of those things for the first time - that’s the reward for me.”

And just like that - the tradition started. Every other Sunday, a group of six to 10 Thomas Kia of Highland team members meet at one of the most diverse areas in the world for a hearty hike.

“Hiking up and down the sand dunes makes for a great workout. It takes us about an hour and a half to complete the trail and then we usually go out for breakfast afterward,” Seely said. “It’s an incredible place. You can go to the dunes, to the bog areas, to the evergreens, and into ravines.”

The team’s hikes have created lots of laughs and some unforgettable moments for the group, but there’s one hike Seely and his co-workers won’t forget. 

Following the completion of their usual 5 ½-mile hike, Craig O’Hair, Senior Sales Manager wanted to go a little bit longer. As he was hiking through the dunes he came across an older woman and thought she seemed disoriented, so he asked her where she was heading. She said, “I’m just heading towards the parking lot.” Still skeptical, O’Hair completed his hike and got into his car. But before he got to the park exit, he listed to his gut feeling that something wasn’t right. He turned his car around, parked, and hiked the trail again. About three miles into this hike O’Hair ran into the woman again, this time going the opposite direction. The woman, who was in her mid 70’s, was 3 1/2 miles from the parking lot. O’Hair then walked her back to the parking lot and got her to her car. 

Before she left, he had exchanged contact information. The next day O’Hair stopped by her house to check on her. Her daughter answered the door and immediately upon learning who he was, said, “you saved my mother’s life.” 

“He did seven more miles, just on a hunch someone was in trouble,” Seely said. “Having that kind of instinct to turn your car around and hike back is incredible.”

For Seely, the benefits of hikes with the Thomas Kia of Highland family are two-fold. 

“It’s a great team-building exercise and it’s great seeing the sheer enjoyment of these guys that have lived in Northwest Indiana their whole life and yet have never been out there on top of a dune or in the woods,” Seely said. 

Through the power of hiking, Seely said, the well-solidified team at the dealership is even better able to serve their clients. They extend an invitation to anyone who would like to join in on their hike. They’ve even had a few customers join in on the fun from time to time. 

For more information on Thomas Kia of Highland, visit their website or call (219)-934-2266.