One of the great aspects of June for me is a renewed appreciation for my father. He started out as a mechanical engineer and eventually became a Managing Director and Executive Vice President for a worldwide engineering/construction company. He has since retired and in his mid-80’s, and having survived a minor heart attack resulting in a very successful bypass surgery this spring, he’s healthier and happier than ever.
I’ve never met a harder worker. He would be up early and off to work, but he would always take time to visit with us and always had time to coach my basketball teams or take my brother to a skateboarding tournament when we were growing up. I always got the sense that the reason he worked was to provide for his wife and children. We’ve gone on family vacations for the past 40+years and continue to do so with my brother and sisters with their families getting together for our annual family vacation at the beach. I learned the importance of family from him and my mother. It’s no accident that I started a family business and that I feel at home working hard on projects.
At some point, my father started his own company but he couldn’t quite make it work and the company went out of business. About the only story I remember hearing about his experience was how he wouldn’t rest until everyone they owed money to was paid back in full, even though it took several years to do. That taught me a lot about responsibility and integrity.
He worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and with NASA during the Space Race of the 1960’s. He was in charge of procurement for the first spacecrafts to land on the moon. He knew the ins and outs of government contracts, and made sure the contractors weren’t ripping off the government with $500 hammers. I’m sure that I learned the importance of contract language and pricing strategies from my father.
When my dad was ending his career with thousands of employees below him in the organizational chart, he would treat his employees with respect. I remember hearing from his secretary that he was a favorite of the support staff as the one EVP that knew the secretaries names and would treat each of them as he would like to be treated. When he was in the hospital recovering from bypass surgery, he was his usual appreciative self and got to know the nurses by name. Everyone matters to him and he treats everyone with respect. I’d like to think that on my good days I have learned some of these lessons from him.
He’s someone that keeps his promises in his life, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why our company considers each project deadline as a promise to be kept and why we’ve never missed a deadline.
When we designed our company logo, we purposefully included a cursive font representing how my father signs his name to inspire us to do our best as my father would. Whenever people talk about heroes, I think of my father. My father has guided me in ways too numerous to remember through the years and June always provides me a renewed opportunity to appreciate how lucky I am to be his son.