South County Residents Set Guinness World Record

Seven South County residents set a new Guinness World Record in February for the “most coins tossed into a target area by a team in one minute.”

Gail Strome and Matt Lahman of Schoolcraft, Susan VanOrnam, Beth Simmonds, and Heather Puustinen of Scotts, Wendy Hoeksema of South Portage, and Shannon Boyd and Rudy Callen of Vicksburg participated with KALSEE Credit Union to set the new record at the Bronson Athletic Club in Kalamazoo. Philip Robertson, an official Guinness adjudicator, was on hand to certify the attempt and declare the new Guinness World Record as it happened.

The previous record of 289 was set in January, 2013, by Think Finance (USA) in Fort Worth, Texas. KALSEE Credit Union, with the help of the seven South County residents, established a new record of 868.

“I was confident we could beat the record, but I wanted us to destroy the record. I think we did that today,” said Lahman, COO at KALSEE.

The Guinness challenge resulted from a day of training for staff that combined multiple objectives.

“The Guinness World Record was simply icing on the cake,” said Callen, president and CEO of the $140 million credit union. “Our training objective was process improvement. We need to constantly evolve and redefine our business and service to stay current. We just put the opportunity out there and KALSEE staff applied the training to optimize the Guinness event. Our employees are positively amazing!”

In the coin-tossing event, guidelines must be followed exactly regarding the target, the size of the target, the distance from the target, the coins, the timing, location of participants, and every other aspect of the event.

KALSEE CEO Rudy Callen on the left displays the Guinness World Record plaque presented to him by Philip Robertson, the Guinness representative.

The target was actually a bucket and the coins tossed in were used to purchase protective vests for K-9 dogs which cost $734.50 each. The team’s goal was to raise enough money to purchase eight protective vests for the Kalamazoo Special K-9 Unit and two vests for the Calhoun County Special K-9 team that covers Springfield.

“Mission accomplished!” said Boyd, from the KALSEE Collections Department.

Over the years Simmonds and Strome have seen the great work local police have done in support of the credit union. K-9 Units have actually been used to track bad people doing bad things at KALSEE offices.

“Our members really stepped up to make this happen,” added VanOrnam, senior member service representative at the Millcork Branch. “We even had non-KALSEE people stop in and make contributions. The community support was touching.”

“It all came together so perfectly,” said Simmonds, a 30-year veteran at the credit union. “The process improvement methodology, the Guinness World Record, and the gift of vests to the ten police K-9s, it was a blast.”

Strome, branch manager of the KALSEE location on Westnedge added, “I am incredibly proud that KALSEE supports the employees, the members, and the communities we serve so strongly.”

Hoeksema, facilities coordinator at KALSEE by day and co-owner of Lakeshore Fresh Market at night, said, “Don’t tell anybody, but that process improvement stuff will be very useful at the market too!”

KALSEE staff also enjoyed a surprise visit from Zeus, the Guinness World Record tallest dog, owned by Kevin Doorlag of Otsego.

“Wow, Zeus is such an incredible dog,” said Puustinen, senior member service representative at KALSEE’s Mosel Branch. “He makes the three Great Danes that we have owned previously small in comparison.  It was so exciting to have the opportunity to meet such a beautiful dog and help support the local K-9 Units that really needed our help.  I am so proud of our community and how generous everyone was to help us reach our goal.”

The event was recorded by Hunter Mynheir, a senior at Vicksburg High School, and a videographer in Troy Smith’s class. Look for some of his work to appear soon on the website.

The Winter Olympics are over. And world records were set. But if you want to know what it is like to hold a Guinness World Record, just ask Gail, Matt, Heather, Beth, Susan, Wendy, Shannon, or Rudy in South County. They’ll be happy to tell you exactly how it feels to hold a world record.

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