Associate Spotlight: Dave Aeilts

Dave Aeilts - Ag JournalistWith decades of agricultural journalism experience under his belt, VistaComm journalist Dave Aeilts swiftly and effectively captures our clients’ thoughts and puts them to paper. In 1993, Dave recognized that cooperatives and other agri-businesses might need assistance articulating their messages to the producers in their trade territory. Dave knew that a printed newsletter was the easiest and most direct way to reach out to the producers. He’s been writing newsletters on behalf of agri-businesses ever since.

How long have you been with VistaComm?
I’ve been with VistaComm for 16 plus years and 20 years ago started Vista Publishers, which became VistaComm when the Byrne Companies purchased it in 1997.

Where is your hometown?
My current home is Bloomington, MN. My wife, Nanci, and I, and our son Chris, moved here in 2000 from Aberdeen, SD where we lived for over 30 years and founded Vista Publishers in 1993. I grew up in Groton, SD and was born in Britton, SD.

What is a typical day like for you working on the road for VistaComm?
Early morning commute out of the Twin Cities, which is great because I’m leaving when most of the traffic is coming into the city. Arriving on-site at 9:00 a.m., I get my marching orders from my client and begin a series of interviews for the stories they want in each issue of their newsletter—or each page of their website. I take photos on the fly, trying to illustrate whatever information I pick up with good photos. Copy with good photos is always better read.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a journalist?
I got a BS sociology degree from Northern State College (now University) in 1973 and went to work the next summer for a new radio station KKAA in Aberdeen as farm news director, because I had experience at the campus radio station and knew something about agriculture. When they found someone with a better radio voice to the do the farm news, they transferred me to the company’s print division—Dakota Farmer Magazine—where they taught me to write stories. (Actually, I honed my writing skills on all the sociology papers I wrote in college and by writing a county planning document during a college internship. From then on, I was hooked on print communication.) When the IBM PC replaced my Royal typewriter, I was in heaven since I could correct my mistakes without resorting to copious applications of White Out. In the fall of 1977, I became member relations director for a large local cooperative, South Dakota Wheat Growers, where I published a monthly newsletter, wrote news releases, managed public relations and corporate advertising, and performed other communications related tasks for 14 ½ years when I turned 40 and started Vista Publishers.

Who is your favorite fictional character?
It has to be Bilbo from The Hobbit or his nephew Frodo Baggins from the JRR Tolkien trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Both had many adventures. My life has been a series of adventures. My wife now calls anything new that I’m involved in my “big adventure” and I see life the same way. My recent big adventure was hiking the Grand Canyon (last fall) from rim to rim.

If you were a superhero, what would your powers be?
Photographic memory. I’ve always been an “in the moment” and “forward thinking” kind of guy. Unfortunately, that means I do not retain a lot of detail in my memory. While that may be good with respect to mistakes and poor choices I would rather not remember, I would love to have the depth of feeling about the past that comes with a really good memory.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever visited?
The inside of the Grand Canyon, hands down. There’s nothing I’ve seen that compares to sunrise inside the Canyon. It’s a blaze of colors. I have never seen anything like that in all my 60 years. I’m in the process of writing a book on the experience of “A First Timer’s Guide to Hiking the Canyon Rim to Rim.” My first rim to rim hike was 18 miles—south rim to south rim. Next fall I plan to hike the Canyon north rim to south rim, a distance of 24 miles.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
From my father and my sister Jane who both encouraged me to place my trust in God’s offer of forgiveness through his son Jesus Christ. It’s advice I’ll never be sorry I acted on and as I approach the end of my physical life, it means more and more to me.

What are some of the projects that you consider to be your greatest achievements with VistaComm?
Every project where the client asked me, “What would you do, as a professional communicator?” and then acted on my advice. That is so gratifying, to be trusted for the wisdom and experience God has given me to help others communicate well. That’s why I started Vista Publishers—now VistaComm.

What is your proudest VistaComm moment?
Every day. To know the company is continuing beyond me. . . beyond the idea I had back in 1993 that offering contract or ala cart communication services to small and medium-size companies had merit. I’m so grateful that the Byrne Companies purchased Vista Publishers in 1997 and has grown VistaComm to its current size. I’m so grateful, too, that VistaComm has allowed me to continue doing what I feel I do best—helping our clients present a professional image to their customers.