Highland News Leader

Know Your Neighbor in Highland: Kurt Vonder Haar

Innovative, enthusiastic and energetic, Kurt Vonder Haar is visible and involved in most every aspect of Highland. In fact, some reference him as the “man about town.”

Easily recognizable in his bright purple Dodge Charger he calls his “Cheetah Mobile,” no Highland resident ever knows when they may be the next featured person on Kurt’s Facebook Live “Cheetah Chat.”

Kurt is the eldest child of Allen and Jo Vonder Haar, born Dec. 22, 1976, in Greenville. Kurt has a younger brother and sister. Having grown up on a farm, he said he liked to “do stuff with my hands and tinker on farm machinery.” He noted both parents and grandparents were hardworking people and passed that concept onto him and his siblings.

When only 11 years of age, Kurt said he felt like a “big shot driving the family’s tractor down a real road.” He also regularly milked cows. As a teen, Kurt could be found flipping hamburgers at McDonalds, but when they assigned him to a closing shift, his mother put her foot down due to being concerned about his safety.

Kurt graduated Greenville High School in 1995 and proceeded to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he earned a degree in marketing in 2000. His father had since acquired an agriculture related business working with the tall blue silos; Kurt became employed by him.

During one workday, Kurt inadvertently almost amputated his thumb, necessitating approximately 25 stitches. He said after that experience, he decided to stick to “the business side of things.” He then completed his internship with Lucent Technologies and then spent the next 15 years in corporate marketing with Express Scripts.

He was responsible for organizing trade show programs across the United States, planned thousands of private events and was an all-around kind of business entrepreneur with a penchant for precision. Approximately five years ago he relocated to Highland and quickly made his presence known.

Cheetah Mobile Device Repairs, live interviews

By June 2017, Kurt saw a need in Highland for a cell phone and tablet repair business. Some of the most frequent complaints included a cracked screen, lost photographs and data, connectivity issues, activations, cameras and batteries. Thus, Cheetah Mobile Device Repairs was born. Kurt said it took very little time before it became a brisk business. He chose the name “Cheetah,” because the jungle cats are fast. Kurt said most repairs can be completed in one or two hours.

A study done by Bartleby revealed how cell phones have become so important in our culture. “We now make ourselves available every minute of every day. Many people don’t even have home phones anymore. Cell phones have become more of a necessity than a want. In the United States, cell phone usage has increased from 34,000,000 to 203,000,000 in the last 10 years. Besides conducting business and staying close to loved ones, many want to view their cell phone as their own personal safety device, especially if living alone.”

While Kurt stays busy with a five-star rated repair business, he has another pastime which is quickly growing in popularity. It is named “Cheetah Chat” on social media and it is a live video-taping and always features a surprise guest.

Categorizing this on a weekly basis in episodes, Kurt always initially appears in his all-too-familiar Cheetah Mobile. Segment one suggests he is about to give a ride to a hitchhiker. As he pulls over, the hitchhiker turns out to be Highland Police Chief Chris Conrad, who is also Highland’s public safety director.

After a brief biography, Kurt encourages Conrad to share aspects of his vocation and areas where the community can be helpful to law enforcement. The chief complimented residents for “being supportive of local law enforcement and the tight-knit atmosphere presiding among neighbors.”

Episode two featured Highland City councilman John Hipskind as he discussed changes and/or issues concerning Highland residents. Hipskind was quick to mention the “community spirit in Highland is unmatched. Everyone is genuine, kind and welcoming.”

Part three is Kurt’s interview and discussion with the Kirchenfest 2019 Chairman Joe Horstmann, who details the activities and features folks could expect at this year’s venue.

Kurt’s personal side

Kurt’s family includes two sons, 13-year-old Kohl and Karen, who is age 8. But wait, is there a Mrs. Vonder Haar? Kurt responded “there is not. But make sure when you write this article, you let it be known I can be found on Facebook.”

So if you are casually strolling around the square, biking down a sidewalk or walking to your automobile or a business, and the bright purple Cheetah Mobile comes to a screeching halt beside you, you just might be Kurt’s next special guest on Cheetah Chat.