Friday, August 19, 2016

Finish It Friday: A Job Well Done

This is not a typical Finish It Friday post. It is not about quilts, although there just might be a glimpse of a quilt toward the end of the post. It's not about me, although I have been fortunate to witness the journey.

Rather, this is about my husband, Mark. Yesterday he retired from working in kitchen design and cabinet sales for the last thirty years, all for the same company.

First of all, in this day of fast food and short cuts and short attention spans in nearly every area of our lives, the thought that someone would be at the same company for thirty years is mind boggling.

When he started back in June of 1986, our son was 8 years old. And now our son has his own 8-year-old (and nearly 10-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-year-old!). In those first days, it was just two of them, Herb doing the office work and Mark out in the wild, cold calling, drumming up as much business as he could.
Those were the early days of frameless modular kitchen cabinets, and they purchased their cabinets from a company in Canada, Kitchen Craft. People told Mark and Herb that no one would ever buy modular cabinetry here in the Central Valley. Mark felt differently. And, in my humble opinion, he became the face of modular cabinetry in the Fresno area. He developed dealer sales throughout California. He was out of the house and on the road most of every single week during those early days, from the Los Angeles area to the Bay Area around San Francisco.

As Lowes and Home Depot opened up, the dealer market kind of dried up, as people would buy directly from the big box stores and often eliminate the middle man--the kitchen design dealer.

He was on the road less, at least out of town, as he developed relationships with all the local contractors in town--the ones who build the big tracts. He has worked with most of them for about 25 years. During that time, he also did countless remodels and custom homes as well.

He has earned customer loyalty because he has remained "old school." What do I mean by that? In this day when most employees work their job from 8 to 5, Mark went the extra mile, often going many extra miles. He was at work early and stayed late. He worked nights. He worked weekends. When customers, who worked full time themselves, could only meet him after they were off work, he didn't say, "I'm sorry. Our business closes at 5 p.m. And no, we are not open on the weekends."

He met them on their time schedule, no matter that it often meant putting in 50 to 60 hours of work per week. If you are in sales, that is what you do. You sell. You don't lose a sale because you are off the time clock.

He still found the time for his family, because they mean more to him than anything.
Mark is old school in so many ways. To him, "customer service" means you are serving the customer, solving their problems, making sure they are happy, admitting when the mistake is yours and not passing the blame to someone else. It means that you actively listen to what the customer is saying and then do your best to make them happy. It was never "That's not my problem. It's not my fault...."  It means you meet them in person, deal with them face to face, do your best to solve the problem.

For 22 out of those 30 years, he was a part owner. But whether he was owner or employee, he gave it his all.
Last weekend, Mark and I cleaned out his office. Wow, so many memories. I always made sure he was supplied with pictures of family, especially grandchildren who are the lights in his life.
We cleaned out shelves, took pictures off the walls, including these two quilts made by me that have been on his wall since 2001. These are actually two quilt blocks that I made and framed after deciding that the gorgeous border print that inspired the quilt below was not actually going to be part of the quilt.

Wednesday night, his coworkers held a party for him. It was fun. Laurel made him a fabulous cake that looked like kitchen cabinets.
They all autographed a cabinet door.
And gave him a certificate of retirement.
Yesterday at 4:30 p.m., I drove to the office to pick him up. For the first time in 30 years he no longer had a company vehicle. Or keys to the office. Such a weird feeling.
I had to wait a few minutes because he was finishing up an order. He literally worked to the very.last.minute.

And last night was his retirement dinner. It was a lovely evening. Dinner was delicious, from the spinach salad with fresh fruit and candied walnuts, to the halibut and risotto (me) and filet mignon (Mark) to the super rich chocolate dessert.
We were in a small, quiet room that allowed us to visit with everyone there--the owners (his former partners) and key coworkers, as well as Aaron and Christa.

Herb, Eyon, Will, Chris, Ivette, Mark, Lisa, Miguel, Scott

This is the family Mark has worked with for the past 30 years--the father, Herb, and two sons, Chris and Will. 
Chris, Katie, Herb, Joan, Mark, me, Chrissy, Will

The evening was filled with funny stories, from the first days of trying to get the business off the ground, to memorable clients and incidents that happened in the span of those 30 years.

I can't even begin to put into words how proud I am of this man I have been married to for the past 43 years. He is a man of high principles, integrity and a work ethic that now seems unusual instead of the norm. We have adventures planned...spending time drinking coffee in the morning, on a weekday at the zoo just because it's such a cool place,
  spending time with grandkids during the week,
going on a trip that has been on Mark's bucket list for ever--a cruise through the Panama Canal. He will keep busy with reffing and reviving his fused glass business. I will keep busy with quilting.

And we will enjoy spending extra time together. We have both been looking forward to this new phase in our lives with anticipation.  I can't think of anyone I would rather share that time with.

32 comments:

  1. Congratulations Uncle Mark! What an accomplishment! Enjoy your retirement doing all that you hold dear!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations, Mark! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations Mark! Cindy has it right! You are quite a guy and we enjoy both of the kitchens you designed for us.
    Celebrate each day and enjoy the freedom of retirement.
    We hope a trip to Minnesota is on your bucket list!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations! Enjoy this new phase. Cherish every moment! It's well deserved!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations! After a year of retirement, I can tell you it's awesome especially when you have so much more time to be with your best friend. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very cool! What a legacy. I wish you both a wonderful retirement together!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Have a wonderful retirement! I have worked for the same company for 25 years and my husband has been at his location for 39 years. . . so there are "long timers" out there; it's just that we are of a "certain" age! LOL

    Enjoy all the great adventures you can have together!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations! Enjoy the retirement phase. Both of you deserve some time for yourselves for all the years you have given to others.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a lovely and loving tribute! I'm so happy for you and Mark, congratulations on all you've accomplished. Enjoy your freedom, Mark!
    PS: Love the family photo!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Congratulations to both of you!! And when you get to Seattle, let me know and we will do lunch like we did in NYC so many years ago. I'm now right in downtown so easy to connect with! Cindy, I follow your blog regularly and love your posts on FB. As an aside, I had lunch yesterday with Lucy & Eddie and Faye & Mike. Cathy

    ReplyDelete
  11. Beautiful tribute. Definitely an anomaly! Congrats and enjoy your new life together.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congratulations, Mark and Cindy! It is a big step to retire and literally start a new life! One that fills dreams and offers new challenges. As the "old school" retires, we have to get used to being served by the younger generation... a big adjustment! And now the fun begins... Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations Mark! What a wonderful reflection on his career and it sounds like you all had a lovely evening. I'm sure your whole family will enjoy having many more adventures! Xx

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a nice blog post! Hope retirement suits both of you, and I'm sure it will! My husband retired a little ways back and we enjoy it thoroughly!
    But what really hits me is your cruise! That has been my dream, too as I have a great grandfather & grandfather who worked on the canal and for the canal co afterwards. My mom & brother were both born in the Canal Zone, but I have never been there. And we just recently booked a cruise as well for January! When are you going? We'll have to compare notes!

    ReplyDelete
  15. As the daughter of a contractor who worked that same way, I can say that what Mark did is a very big deal. He helped make houses into homes. I hope this next stage of life is even more rewarding for you both.

    ReplyDelete
  16. He has earned every minute of retirement, Cindy. I know the two of you are going to make the most out of it too.

    It's so seldom that you hear of anyone staying with the same company for that long. He's one of the oldies but goodies!!!

    We'll all be looking forward to the fabulous trip and then all of the weekly outings.

    Congratulations, Mark. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a lovely post and tribute to your husband. Mine is self employed and seems to be a lot like yours. congratulations Mark!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I wish you and Mark the kind of retirement my husband and I have. We worked hard, and now we enjoy our days together. Being able to help out a daughter with a new grandson and 2 year old for the past 3 weeks is one of the benefits of retirement. Best wishes to your family.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Happy retirement! Wow what a great story. Enjoy retirement because it is so enjoyable. God bless to your family.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congratulations! What a wonderful time of life you are at....I can hardly wait! I hope you enjoy the more relaxed pace of life and find a new rhythm to your days.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bellissimo post! Have a good future with Mark and best wishes to your big family.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Congratulations to Mark and great wishes for enjoyment of your next chapter in life together.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Congratulations to both of you. My husband and I retired 10 years ago and the travel is so fun. We have also been very happy to have the ability to share life with the grandchildren. I wish for you the travel you desire, the fulfillment of producing things you love and the joy of family time.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Congratulations on your retirement, Mark! What a wonderful look back. How lucky to have had a successful career that you liked and can feel proud of. Enjoy all the fun things you have planned including that amazing cruise!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Congratulations on your husband's retirement. Hoping you enjoy every minute of the next chapter. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Congratulations to Mark on his retirement. It makes me a bit sad to see the end of an era. I wish more businessmen had his work ethic. The world would be a better place for sure. Enjoy every moment of the time you can now spend together. You have earned it. Both of you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. What an excellent write-up about your husband - he should be glowing about your personal review. How nice to retire! A very weird feeling to walk away without the keys, eh? I just retired in May, and my husband was to have done so as well, but his company talked him into another 2 years. Sigh. I think he's ready now, though. You guys enjoy your new life!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Congratulations to Mark on all his achievements. A celebration with his coworkers and friends was a fitting tribute to his departure. Loved that cabinet door birthday cake and signature piece. So clever! I do hope you both enjoy yourselves, and also manage "me" time, which will become more important the longer he has been away from work. For now, it will likely take many weeks until he adjusts to the fact that he no longer has to rush off to do anything! Revel this new phase of your lives. I can vouch for its wonderfulness!

    ReplyDelete
  29. That's so wonderful! Congratulations to you both. Why did I think he was a dentist? Lol.
    You have 6 grandkids? Enjoy every minute and maybe we will see you up here in Canada one day ; )

    ReplyDelete
  30. This made me cry. (Good cry). I feel the same about my husband, and I love reading words from a woman who gives her husband such honor and love. It's a rare thing these days!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wishing you both a lovely time together. Enjoy your coffee at the zoo.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I tried to comment on this one when we were traveling, but it ate my comment (which is why I left a comment on IG). I'm going through old blog posts and realized I wanted to leave a comment to say Job Well Done, or something like that to Mark, for, as you describe it, he was the last of those kind of employees who really worked hard for a living, giving it his all. I hope you have a lot of lovely things planned, as well as good memories to carry away with you. Congratulations! to both of you.

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead--be chatty and leave a comment: