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Grand Design Vice President of Service Operations Jerry McCarthy (L) with President and CEO Don Clark (Photo by J. Tyler Klassen)

About 75 Middlebury, Ind., emergency responders and their families gathered Monday night (Nov. 27) for a dinner at the Middlebury Township Fire Department hosted by Grand Design Recreational Vehicles Co., a towable RV manufacturer with facilities located a few miles north of town near the Indiana Toll Road.

The dinner was the five-year old company’s way of saying thank you to the men and women who serve their community.

“Too often you don’t think about the men and women on the police and fire departments until you need them,” said Grand Design President and CEO Don Clark, who served up the pork while the rest of the Grand Design’s executive management team dished out the sides and dessert. “They don’t go into this business either for fame or fortune.”

Grand Design, a 1,200-employee firm acquired late last year by Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc., chose Middlebury as its home base because of the quality of the community and the work ethic in the area, added Clark. The former Dutchmen RV president said he originally settled his family in Middlebury because of the schools, quality of life, and friendly neighbors in the community.

Emergency personnel and their families enjoy dinner courtesy of Grand Design RV (Photo by J. Tyler Klassen)

Clark said the idea to host the dinner was sparked by negativity in the news. “Every time I read the newspapers or watch TV news I see more and more negative news,”  he said. “We wanted to give back to the first responders; that’s the fire and police departments.”

Off the Grill of Vandalia, Mich., catered the dinner that included a roasted whole pig, bratwurst, chicken, mac and cheese, pork and beans and a dessert of ice cream and warm apple crisp. “Because they (the police and fire departments) have a very giving attitude we wanted to give back,” Clark said, sitting back after the meal in the fire department garage surrounded by trucks and equipment.

— Story by J. Tyler Klassen