- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Sioux Steel Co. wanted to do something different.

Every two years, the Sioux Falls-based business takes its top-performing dealers on a trip. This year, the destination was the Dominican Republic.

For six days in January, hundreds of dealers, employees and guests were transported to the tropics.

But along with enjoying a vacation, they decided to give back.

“We really wanted to do something different, so we did a mission trip,” marketing director Juli Anshutz said.

With help from the nonprofit Score International, Sioux Steel developed several options for participants to spend part of the trip serving impoverished areas of the Caribbean nation. One group that opted for more physical activity painted churches and other buildings and poured concrete floors for houses in a village.

The company’s board chairman Phil Rysdon chose that one.

“We went down dusty roads to a village, and as we were going, we paralleled a river,” Rysdon said. “We found it’s subsistence living. The only food they get is the fish they catch in the ocean. And across the river there were condominiums. The contrast couldn’t have been more stark.”

Even before embarking on the mission, Rysdon, who helped in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was hard at work preparing.

“It was an interesting deal for me,” he said. “I do a lot of lists.”

In this case, he detailed the equipment that would be needed for an effective mission, including painting supplies, sanders, saws, work clothes and more. His dealers responded.

“We had 20 dealers say right away, what can they bring,” Rysdon said. “They were just super. We had a room absolutely laden with all this equipment.”

Some dealers brought five extra suitcases of supplies. One even brought used bats, gloves, balls and jerseys.

“Sports equipment down there is gold. They live for sports,” Rysdon said. “I think those kids were playing within a day.”

Bob Goodnow, owner of Bob’s Farm Service in Armour, has gone on the Sioux Steel trips for years but said this one left a lasting impression.

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