Father planting tree with son.

Planting Trees

 “Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say todaybut the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” – Dale Carnegie

This year marks my 52nd year of marriage to the same lucky gal and 51 years in business.

When Shirley and I got married in 1968, I was working for Lampton welding company in Wichita repairing acetylene torches and regulators and delivering tanks of various gases and small welders. It was a good job and I sincerely enjoyed working for the family owned business. Marcel Lampton founded the company in his garage in 1946. His son, Marvin was probably around my age and they had a good working relationship. Marcel retired in 1985 and his son went on to grow the business to over a hundred employees. Although I only worked there a short time, I have always felt proud of working there and as I reflect on that time, I realize that their family business became a model for the way I wanted to do business.

Shortly after our first daughter Paula was born in 1969, I had the opportunity to purchase a small office coffee company. My dad encouraged me to buy it and loaned me the money. He became my mentor and helped me set up the books. His number one rule was that if you don’t know the score, you can’t play the game. He was a numbers guy and instilled in me the need to know the numbers of the business. We would meet once a month on the 5th and go over the books for the previous month. That was before computers. He opened his books to me and helped me set mine up the same way. I admired my dad and felt honored that he would help and encourage me.

My wife’s dad was a rancher and farmer in Hamilton Kansas. He too was a numbers guy and kept detailed records of every cow, seed purchase, and tool. When I asked for his blessing and for his daughter’s hand, he cried. Not for happiness, but because he didn’t want his daughter marrying a Catholic. Over the years, we became close and I grew to appreciate his humor and work ethic. He would always ask me to say the blessing over our meals and made sure our gas tank was full when we left the farm to go home.

I have many stories that I can share about these three incredible men, and maybe I will in this blog. But the point that I wanted to make today is that they intentionally nurtured me. Like a farmer who plants trees in the Kansas pasture even though they may never benefit directly from its shade and wind block, they invested so those who come after them could enjoy the fruit of their labor. It is simply the right thing to do. It is what makes them special. I hope that I can provide that kind of legacy to my children, grandchildren, employees, their families, vendors, friends and customers.