Dave Hadenfeldt Remembered As Teacher, Innovator
With his quick wit and outgoing nature, Dave Hadenfeldt could always make people feel at ease when they visited his in-plant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).
“He was what you would call a people’s person,” observes Ken Reining, UNL’s mail and distribution manager. “People gravitated to him because he had humor and wit about him.”
Sadly, that wit was silenced in August when Mr. Hadenfeldt was killed by an oncoming SUV while riding his motorcycle to work. The driver of the GMC Yukon told police he was changing a CD in the stereo and failed to negotiate a curve. Mr. Hadenfeldt was 57.
The news was devastating for his staff at UNL Print, Copy, Mail & Distribution Services, where he had served as director for the past nine years. Friendly and approachable, he was always very patient with employees who were learning new tasks, says Reining, recognizing that some people needed more time than others to become proficient. But he wasn’t above jumping into the trenches to help out when an extra hand was required.
“He would work whatever hours were needed in order to take care of the problem,” recalls Reining, who crossed paths with Mr. Hadenfeldt in various jobs over the 34 years they knew each other. “When new equipment was purchased, he would be one of the first ones in line to learn it because he said, ‘If I can learn it, then I can teach it.’ ”
And teach he did. He took an active role in leading student tours of his operation, eager to impart some of his enthusiasm for the graphic arts to the next generation. The tours were always spiced up with jokes, and Mr. Hadenfeldt would test the visitors on things he had told them earlier.
“When he worked with people he always wanted them to learn,” reflects Reining.
He was more than happy to share his knowledge with his peers in the industry too. When UNL became one of the first in-plants to install a 3D printer, Mr. Hadenfeldt talked candidly about the experience with fellow higher-ed in-plant managers during a roundtable discussion he led at last spring’s Association of College and University Printers conference. Always proudly sporting University of Nebraska shirts, he was a frequent attendee of that conference, where he befriended managers around the country.
“One of the unique things that I came to appreciate about Dave was his genuine interest in whoever he meets,” recalls one of those friends, Bob Madden, of Messiah College. “Old friend or someone he never met before, he always included you in his conversations, and it wasn’t fake. He liked people and what makes them tick. One of the most thoughtful men I know.”
In January, Mr. Hadenfeldt was honored with a University of Nebraska Board of Regents Kudos Award, given to outstanding employees. At the ceremony, he was lauded for introducing several cost-saving and innovative services and for bringing 3D printing to the university. He led a team to improve on an office copier contract after vendor changes were made, bringing UNL savings of well over $400,000 annually compared to the prior contract. He also added promotional product sales to the in-plant’s services about eight years ago, Reining adds. This is now a half million dollar business.
Despite his accomplishments, though, Mr. Hadenfeldt never wanted any glory.
“He never asked for attention,” Reining remarks. “He always gave it to his staff. He never wanted to be in the limelight. He always said, ‘It’s the team—all of us—who made this work.’ ”
In the hectic days after Mr. Hadenfeldt’s death, as the new school year started, that team has been struggling to meet demands while mourning their leader. Reining, who stepped in to assume the director’s responsibilities while a new one is sought, feels that Mr. Hadenfeldt’s memory is inspiring staff to work harder.
“We just have to keep it going for Dave’s sake because this is our busy time and I don’t think he would want us to sit back and…have everything just cave in on us. So we’re doing it in his memory,” he says.
Reining notes the irony that Mr. Hadenfeldt had given up motorcycle riding years ago once he started a family, but then about four years ago “he got the bug again” and bought a used bike. He had recently talked about riding less after a recent spate of local motorcycle accidents, Reining says.
“There was so much potential that he had yet at age 57 to do more,” he laments.
Mr Hadenfeldt and his wife Heidi had three children. His obituary notes that “he enjoyed teaching Sunday school at Trinity Lutheran Church for many years and reading books, but above all, he loved being with his family and taking walks together. His smile, laughter, stories, jokes and unique sense of humor will always be missed and remembered.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.