Growing up, as my dad would drive us around, he would be pointing out various places, and telling us that he remembered when it was a farm, or a field, or a cool little drive-in. Part of my kid-self was fascinated by the cool places that used to be, saddened when I started to witness the changes myself: my friend’s old farmhouse home torn down to build a Haggen’s, the Farmette replaced by McDonalds, the goats in the middle of town ousted by the QFC. The other part of my kid-self rolled my eyes at him.
Today I was reminded of this as I drove by the Second Chance, someone’s home bequeathed to the Camano Center in the owner’s will, because that’s what we do on the Island, take care of each other (to learn more about the Second Chance, check them out here, and please support this local organization). In their parking lot is being erected a new building. I imagine that when that new beautiful building is done, the Second Chance’s building’s second chance will be done, and it will be demolished to become a parking lot. It made me kind of sad. That building is quirky. I love hunting through its nooks and crannies looking for treasure, the way the floors creak, and how stepping in is really stepping through the front door. It feels homey. I always imagined a family living in the house, seeing the rooms as a bedroom, the kitchen, the dining, etc. I’m sure that I’m not the only wistful one about this change. The folks who make Second Chance and the Camano Center happen on the daily must be wistful, too—and excited. Who wouldn’t be? A new beautiful facility, one that will be big enough to house everything, even level floors that aren’t a tripping hazard. I was thinking about how it takes a special kind of leadership to know when it’s time to let go of the way it’s always been and try something new—exciting, better—to facilitate growth. I’m grateful that there are people in the world with good leadership, because maybe I’m just too old-fashioned to be good at facilitating change.
But driving past that Second Chance building today and thinking about big changes reminded me of some of my own. Some of you may know that after 10 amazing years of working as a middle school teacher at LaVenture Middle School in Mount Vernon, I resigned my position there in June. It was time. Splitting life between teaching, 3 kids, and helping Mike to run Stilly River Mechanical was not fitting into 24 hours. Resigning was like setting off a domino chain. Once I started picking up more at Stilly, Mike and I realized that something had to give, because this just isn’t a baby company any more.
I so value being a small town company. I know that people like to be able to call Mike, to talk to him. But if you’ve ever called Mike more than once, then you know that when you’re calling the guy who does all the repairs, scheduling, sales, ordering, inventory, account receivable and payable, and answers the phone that you’re likely to get a voicemail. And, honestly, it’s more than one person should be doing.
So…changes. We got a landline. The phone rings in the office, and we have people who work in the office (Me and Nicki). Now, you can be fairly certain you’ll get to talk to someone. We also went digital the rest of the way, which is facilitates our techs getting out to our customers much easier. These have been huge changes in our company, on par with knocking down the building and erecting something new. And you know what? It’s awesome. Today I spoke with a customer who told me that I should be proud of my husband because of his strong ethics and customer service. He just couldn’t say enough good things. There is nothing to brighten my day like talking to happy customers. And if we’d never made these changes, I wouldn’t get to do that. And with these changes, I get to have even more happy customers. Maybe even the old-fashioned can facilitate change.
In the meantime, I’m here in the office, waiting to talk to you. Give me a call, and we’ll get you fixed up. (