Years ago I replaced a lamp in the entrance hall to my home and ended up redecorating the master bath. That’s how it works: the lamp didn’t match the wallpaper, so we needed new wallpaper; the new wallpaper didn’t go well with the bedroom colors, so we repainted the bedroom and when we repainted the bedroom, the adjoining bath needed to be redone. With experiences such as this, I wasn’t surprised that Terri’s and my decision to renew our wedding vows led to the decision to repaint our living and dining rooms.
When we built our home, I was taken back at the amount of time spent on painting interior trim. The window and door casings, and the crown mold were sanded, primed and then finished. The interior wood doors also had to be sanded, caulked, primed and painted. When complete, the trim was as smooth as plastic; in fact, friends commented that they were surprised we used plastic trim.
With the amount of time they spent on our home, we got to know the painters pretty well. So, knowing they were good people who did quality work, we got in touch with them about painting our living and dining rooms – and now one family room wall; after all “once you get started…” It’s a sign of the times that the head of the company was interested in a two-room job and was able to meet with us the same day we spoke on the phone.
In 1926, Gary Meyers’ grandfather founded Myers Painting in Connecticut. Gary’s dad relocated the company to Florida and Gary now operates it and his dad works for him. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed visiting with them. They take pride in their work and the quality they insist upon garners interesting, complex and large projects for them. The other evening they were telling me about how they had spent weeks painting the complex trim on a 16,000 square foot home. In the midst of the story, Gary mentioned they had spent the previous weekend painting his Uncle’s home in Amelia Island.
Gary’s dad told us about the colors his brother-in-law, Joe Blanchard, had picked. He then recounted a bit about Joe’s life: that he was a retired Navy commander and a native Floridian. Now, like all native Floridians over 50 years of age, I take it for granted that I know all other native Floridians of a like age – after all, Florida was a much smaller state 50 years ago. So, when I asked where Joe was from, Mr. Meyers responded that he was born in Suwannee, Florida, and had a brother who was an attorney in Ocala. He responded yes, when I asked if Joe Blanchard’s brother was Dock Blanchard and was stunned when I let him know that my brother and Dock had been law partners. Small world, huh?
Later that evening I spent time thinking about our decision to hire Meyers Painting and my conversation with Mr. Meyers. I thought about the pride Gary took in his work and the result was a job that we also took pride in. I considered how Gary and his dad willingly share their enthusiasm about what they do; how it’s not just a job but a multi-generational family enterprise. I reminded myself that pride of accomplishment and enthusiasm are characteristics that lend to lasting relationships, repeat jobs and referrals.
I also thought about how even in a state with over 15,000,000 people what a small world it is. How each of us touch many people who touch so many others; that the theory about “six degrees of separation” may be more accurate than we believe. I realized that anonymity is rare; that our reputations extend beyond our immediate acquaintances; and that people we don’t know may judge our actions.
Pride and Enthusiasm
“If one takes pride in one’s craft, you won’t let a good thing die. Risking it, through not pushing hard enough, is not a humility.” -Paul Keating
“Fires can’t be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.” -James Baldwin