Family and community are two things that Wade Hepner prizes above all else, and it took leaving the Franklin County area for work for him to find that out.

“My thoughts at that time were, ‘I want to go conquer the world and get out of Ottawa,’” he recalled, thinking back to his college days at Ottawa University. “And then, after I got out into the world, I realized that conquering the world wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, and that Ottawa had about everything that I needed. Growing up here, I took a lot of it for granted, but after I was away and came back, I realized that the qualities of Ottawa were very important to me.”

A lifelong resident of Ottawa, Hepner came back to work as a real estate appraiser with his father at Hepner Appraisals, a job that he has come to love for different reasons.

One is the out-of-office experience.

“As a real estate appraiser, you do spend some time at your computer, but a lot of time is spent out in the field. You get to view houses, meet people, have conversations with people about their houses and what they’ve done to them,” he said, noting the delight he takes in interacting with all kinds of people.

“It’s a funny business because you can go from a $300,000 house at nine o’clock, and at nine forty-five you can be at a $30,000 house, which is something I’ve always liked.”

A second reason, on a more personal level, are the people Hepner gets to work with.

“I’m very blessed to be able to work with a really good friend and my father [Jim] every day,” he said, smiling. “I try not to take that for granted, because it is easy to do. Dad has taught me a lot about being respectful to everybody, no matter their house, their situation; you just be polite, be respectful and do your job. Work hard, have a good work ethic.”

Outside of his family and Hepner Appraisals, Hepner is a driving force in the Ottawa Rotary Club.

“That’s the best thing I have going, outside of my family,” he said. “I really enjoy the Ottawa Rotary Club. Right now we’ve got an awesome group. It’s a mix of young professionals, mid-career people, and a few that are just into retirement. It’s a great mix. There’s a lot of enthusiasm to do service work.”

And with a motto of “Service Above Self,” club members’ enthusiasm for service work is something Hepner is excited about, he said. Hepner, who was the club’s president last year, is serving on membership and fundraising committees [as chairman] this year.

For Hepner, it’s all about connecting with like-minded people to serve the community. “I enjoy the camaraderie, the fellowship, people that are my age going through the same stuff with work and family and everything,” he said. “[I have] lots in common with them. They all have similar focus in service, and fellowship. It’s just a lot of fun.”