Friends and Neighbors:

Mike and Denise Petko


Dakota Kuhns/Western Nebraska Observer

Michael Petko, Jr., left, stands with Denise and Mike Petko at Kimball's Wolf Automotive. They are managing the local dealership for the family business.

"Small Town Strong" is more than a motto, it's a way of life and for Kimball's Mike and Denise Petko, it's the way of life demonstrated in every way throughout the community of Kimball.

Born in Anaheim, Calif., Mike Petko came to Nebraska when he began his career as a rising football star. At the age of 18 Petko packed up and headed to Lincoln on a football scholarship to play for the Huskers.

During his freshman year at UNL, the first time he saw his wife Denise and told his friends he "needed to go meet his future wife." The two were married in 1991 and following college he was drafted to the New England Patriots but took a different path, moving into the corporate world of business.

The Petko's have been associated with Wolf Automotive for years initially joining as investors. According to Mike, the game plan for quite some time was to eventually have Mike and Denise take the reins of the family business, moving from the back seat to the front seat after some time and letting his father and mother in-law, Dave and Billie Wolf, begin enjoying retirement and doing the things they enjoy more and more. Next step is for Mike Jr. to eventually take the ball in his court in the future.

Mike and Denise have been married for 26 years and have three children. The couples twin daughters recently graduated from the University of Alabama and are currently living in Nashville,Tenn. Their son Mike Petko, Jr. is the Finance Manager for Wolf in Kimball.

Their association with Wolf Automotive began years ago, initially as investors. A little more than a year ago Mike made the move from the corporate world to start the "planned transition," as he calls it, purchasing a farm and ranch in Scotts Bluff County.

Mike said he is so thankful for the opportunity and training in the business world he received.

"No looking back, I'm just so thankful and grateful for the community here. It's certainly not a challenge-free environment, but I wouldn't change it for the corporate world, ever," he said. "This is the heartland of America. This is really the heart beat of America; this is the blue collar of America, where real work still gets done. It's phenomenal to see people coming into town with blood, grease, dirt, and oil on them, coming in from the field, because these people are what makes America grow and what makes America thrive."

When you think of the word work what comes to mind? Is it a man in a suit out in California, or New York? Work begins right here at home for Mike.

The words "small town strong" isn't just a saying to Mike and his wife Denise – they believe it's a "way of life" and representative of Kimball and the surrounding communities. "It's our hope that people in the Kimball community give Wolf a chance and shop local. When you support the local businesses, it helps keep folks employed, brings in new businesses, and adds tax revenue which can only strengthen Kimball" said Mike. "It may be easier to shop online but in the long run, it's not great for our community," he added.

Mike's wife Denise, is extremely proud of the way Wolf gives back to the community. "Between all our locations, we've been able to give back somewhere around a million dollars, which is something we are very proud of". With a background in fundraising, Denise started "The Small Town Strong Scholarship" three years ago. "The Small Town Strong Scholarship is a scholarship available to high school seniors in the communities where we do business," said Denise. "The idea is to provide additional means to high school seniors who want to further their education and hopefully, one day return to our small towns where they will work, have families of their own and give back in some way."

"Nebraska is one of the biggest beef states in the nation, and feeds a great percentage of the United States," he said. "The people who wear it on their boots, literally, are the people that I have a heck of a lot of respect for. This is what makes America work."

The saying "Small Town Strong" is very true when it comes to everything Mike and Denise appreciate about the community of Kimball and surrounding areas. He encourages everyone to keep our small town strong by using services in Kimball as often as possible.

"Shop local to help put the money spent back into your community, this also helps keep jobs, businesses and bring in new," he said. "Sometimes it might be easier to shop online but in the long run its not great for the community."

"We are very proud of what we can do for our community and would of course love to be able to do more," he said. "We want to encourage everyone to give the home town guy a chance to serve all of your needs to shop local. We need to take care of our own."


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