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What Does Santa Do The Rest of the Year? He Works at P1: Associate Profile on Jack Kobe

Pictured, above: Jack wearing his dad's original Santa suit; Below, left: Jack with son, Logan, who is now a freshman at K-State

There’s something indescribable about the way a child’s face lights up when they see Santa Claus – and P1 Construction Project Manager Jack Kobe has experienced that moment hundreds of times.

Jack Santa Son Logan

Jack is especially busy this time of year, donning his Santa suit and spreading Christmas cheer to churches, events, community organizations, and more.

Playing Santa is a family tradition that started with Jack’s father in Kansas City, KS, where Jack was born and raised.

“My dad was Santa for more than 50 years,” Jack said. “My mother made his suit, and I still have that suit.”

Even though Jack wears his own suit on his Santa adventures, he still has his dad’s suit, which he saves for special occasions. And the 60-plus-year-old belt buckle that goes with the original suit has its own tale to tell.

“The belt buckle I wear was smuggled out of the Leavenworth, KS federal penitentiary,” Jack said. “Father Jack O’Connor was a family friend who ministered to the inmates. He had them make the belt buckle for my dad, and he smuggled it out of the prison in his chalice bag, because no one thought to check a priest.”

Jack says his dad never charged money for his time as Santa, and Jack carries on that tradition as well.

“We’ve never charged for our time – my dad or me – I just do it for family, friends, charitable organizations, work functions – wherever I’m needed.”

Jack remembers reading multiple letters thanking the mayor or chief of police for having his dad come out to various events.

One letter in particular stands out.

Framed photos

“My family still has the letter from a mother who wrote about her son who went running to my dad’s lap,” Jack recalled. “The miracle of it was, her son had cerebral palsy, and hadn’t walked or talked in two years – until that moment when he saw Santa.”

Jack says he carries on the tradition of helping the community by finding opportunities to appear as Santa for those who appreciate it most.

“I’m really excited this year,” he said. “My sister is on the board of the Building Hope for Autism Foundation, and we’re doing a day-long event for kids with sensory needs.”

“We have quiet places for the kids to relax. Santa can come in, and the kids can see him in an environment that’s comfortable for them.”

Jack has also visited churches during children’s masses as Santa, taking a silent moment to kneel before the nativity, later livening things up after mass with candy and visits with the kids.

When he’s not playing Santa, Jack’s professional experience began in agriculture, and the egg industry. When the typically long hours required became too much, Jack found work with a friend in HVAC and plumbing.

“I didn’t have any experience, but it doesn’t differ much from how I’ve managed things in other industries – it’s process, procedure, and people – heavy on the people.”

Jack says he learns on the job by leveraging all the knowledgeable people around him.

His work took him to Iowa Falls, IA, but when his son Logan started attending K-State - Jack’s own alma mater - he started thinking about returning to Kansas.

Knowing where he wanted to go, a former industry connection suggested P1. Jack applied, and after several discussions and an in-person interview, he decided P1 was a good fit.

He moved his family from Iowa to Leavenworth, KS.

“I wanted to make sure I was going to be a good fit for P1, and vice versa,” Jack said. “I wasn’t going to move my family that far away to go somewhere that didn’t value the same things I do.”

“When you look at the safety record and longevity of the management team at P1, it tells you something good is happening here,” he said. “P1 has a good reputation out in the community, too.”

“The people I work with at P1 have been extremely helpful, and the onboarding and training has been incredibly valuable,” Jack said.

If you work at P1, you may have had the chance to try Jack’s smoked meats at the summer kickoff barbecue.

His backyard is home to one large smoker and two pellet smokers.

“When I was in the hog industry, my boss and I got into meat recipes – we tried a lot of recipes,” Jack said.

Jack says he has now been using the same recipe for 20 years because it works!

He started providing smoked meat for company events, but eventually went bigger, feeding the community and helping friends and family with special events, like weddings.

“It’s been a fun hobby. We did a church dinner with 500 lbs of pork loin one time – I can put that all on the smoker at once.”

Whether it’s smoked meat or Christmas cheer, Jack’s ultimate goal is giving back - finding ways to use his own talents to bring joy to those who need it most.

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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