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Making little things count big
Brad Eilts grateful for townspeople he serves
City Manager Brad Eilts takes to the podium at a past Larned City Council meeting.
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The best part of my job is working with such great people that work hard every day
-- Brad Eilts

LARNED — It’s the little things that count, usually. Sometimes it takes more than a little to get them done.

No one knows this more than Larned City Manager Brad Eilts. It can be as little as getting a new string of lights for the city water tower. It can be as big as finding the money for two very expensive fire trucks. Most times, it’s the thing in between, but they all have the same message.

“It takes a village.”

“The best part of my job is working with such great people that work hard every day and, rightfully, take pride in what they do and in serving the citizens of Larned,” Eilts said. “In many ways, it is a thankless job, and they deal with a lot of abuse; but they stay focused on what they are doing and where they are going. They inspire me every day. I love them, and am proud of them. They make it worthwhile and enjoyable.”

Early Larned memories

Eilts spent his formative years in Wichita, graduating from Wichita Northwest High School in 1981. Leading up to that point, however, Eilts remembers summers spent at his grandmother’s house in Larned – from the row of shops on Broadway, to the swimming pool with its fountain in Schnack Park – and the hustle and bustle of Wichita living fell away until autumn approached and school resumed.

His mother, Phyllis (Clapham) Eilts, grew up in Larned and his father, Walter Eilts, grew up in Great Bend.

“I always had great memories of Larned as a child,” he said.

Eilts graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in Business Administration in 1999 after marrying his wife Janet on April 21, 1990. He received Economic Development/Finance professional certification from the National Development Council in 1998 and his master’s in public administration from WSU’s Hugo Wall School of Urban Public Affairs in 1999.

The Eilts have three grown boys: Ryan, 25; Birmingham, Ala.; Matthew, 23, Kansas City; and Brett, 22, who is attending WSU.

The business of business always appealed to Eilts, who served as assistant city manager in charge of economic development for the City of Chanute until 2008; then as director of the Montgomery County Action Council, a countywide economic development organization based in Independence, until Oct. 12, 2012.

From October 2012 until June 2015 he served as executive director of McPherson Industrial Development, focusing on business retention, expansion, business recruitment and other activities relating to business in the community.

In 2015, he began his own consulting firm in McPherson. It was in this capacity he got the call from Larned, in need of a city manager.

The Larned City Council voted to extend a contract for employment to Eilts in April 2017. 

With Brett still in school in McPherson, Eilts and Janet then had the discussion about his making the long commute.

The road to Larned

With Brad working in Larned during the week, Janet remained in McPherson, at their home on 16th Ave. Most weekends they could spend together. For their 30th wedding anniversary, on an April Tuesday in 2020, Janet sent him a video of her playing Brad’s three favorite songs on their piano at home.

Six years into his tenure as City Manager, Eilts is grateful to be involved with the people, in projects large and small.

“I am fortunate to work for a good and progressive governing body and a great mayor with a solid vision for Larned’s future,” Eilts noted. “Together, they have focused resources on improving Larned’s heartfelt amenities – the swimming pool, the Schnack Park fountain, the duck pond, the golf course, Jordaan Park, and relighting the water tower. We have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure and are positioning our community for the future.

“It is gratifying that I can be part of the great things we are doing and the positive momentum we are experiencing here,” Eilts said. “I am confident that my parents would be proud.”

Community Connections is a regular feature of the Great Bend Tribune, showcasing people who live in the Golden Belt. We welcome readers to submit names of individuals who are active in the community that they would like to see featured in a future story. Send suggestions to and explain their “community connections.”