500 Families - Dario Kerkez
The Chamber’s 500 Families Initiative and “500 For The Future” highlight “livability” in our community, aiming to attract and retain professionals to live and work in the Elkhart area, strengthening the strong base of community-minded leaders. UPDATE: Since January 2014 through March 2015, there have been 422 new professional households move into the Elkhart area.
Dario Kerkez and his wife, Dr. Sladjana Kerkez are moving into their new Elkhart home, laying down roots after having lived in Chicago.
Sladjana is a medical doctor in internal medicine working for Beacon Health Systems at Elkhart General Hospital. She was seeking the right employer in the right community after starting a family with Dario. She loved the people she met here.
But that wasn’t good enough for Dario. He wanted to make sure that this was the right place for both of them to live and to raise a family.
So, Dario did his homework before they committed to make the move to the greater Elkhart area. He had investigated the community by going to City Hall, reaching out to the mayor, and speaking at length with Arvis Dawson, executive assistant to Mayor Dick Moore.
Then he visited the Chamber to find out more about the business climate and the political climate.
Although he’s been in the finance, insurance, and real estate industries for 12 years, he was also in Serbia in the early 1990s during the Serbian - Yugoslavian - Bosnia - Kosovo wars. He remembers being 13 years old and having a 500 billion dinara bill that could not even by a “Happy Meal at McDonalds,” he says.
“People were in line to buy bread - as much as they could before their money became worthless,” he says. “The inflation just went crazy. Paper money was worthless.”
During that time he saw both of his grandfathers who owned land, produced food, owned forest acreage, made their own brandy, and did not suffer financially the way most of the population did.
That’s the experience and mental foundation on which he was able to build a successful career living in Chicago working in finanacial services and investments, even serving as vice president for a large firm.
Now, in Elkhart, with MetLife and along with a senior partner, he is doing investment management for families, estate and college planning and corporate work, including employee benefits.
While preparing for a possible office relocation, Dario is still managing his Chicago book of business - and making Elkhart home.