The trunk of carpentry tools Henry brought with him still sits in the lumber yard. The small business dream started with Henry 98 years ago. There is nothing corporate about it but for us it is our American dream come true. I think Henry would agree.
After years of climbing the corporate ladder which included wearing a suit and tie to work every day, platinum elite status from flying numerous times a month, eating steak dinners a few nights a week, staying in a Marriott one hundred nights a year and staying at Holiday Inn’s another fifty nights or more plus a company SUV vehicle complete with a gas card, a tremendous healthcare benefits package and a lucrative salary with quarterly bonuses, three years ago my husband walked away from his career. We waited until after the company award trip to Cancun before he talked to his boss and he put in his resignation.
A month or so later, on a Friday night Nathan got home on a late flight home from Dallas. I met him at the airport and that was the end of corporate America for us. The next morning he turned in his computer, gas card and company vehicle, the Volvo XC90 I loved. We loaded up the last of our necessary contents of our house and moved west to the prairie. We looked a little like the Beverly Hillbillies of 2007. A classier version I hope. I was four months pregnant with Elizabeth and Hunter was going into the fourth grade. Our Chevy pick up was overloaded with our possessions. We were nervous about the drastic life change but had faith that the decision we had made was best for our family.
Last night we had a friendly reminder of the corporate world and all it entails as Nathan’s longtime friend, Eric came to visit us on the prairie. Eric and Nathan were colleagues for years and remain close friends. Eric was in our wedding and he has continued on the corporate ladder becoming extremely successful.
Eric and Nathan talked shop together, shared many good laughs and did a compare and contrast of Nathan’s life over the past five years. Eric told us about his hectic business travel, growing kids and busy family life. He raved about the peacefulness of the prairie and the life we have now compared to the rat race we would have experienced if we had continued down the corporate road.
Eric had been in Bismarck, ND, was driving to Rosebud, SD and today after a presentation was driving Rochester, MN. Look at a map to fully understand how many hundreds or one thousand plus miles that is to drive. Plus Eric flies more often than he drives.
It wonderful for Nathan to connect Eric and we will be lifelong friends. However, hearing Eric’s grind of a travel schedule confirmed for Nathan once again that our life choices were the best and continue to grow into a better life for our family than we could have ever dreamed of three years ago.
Yesterday morning this was the scene from our family owned business.
Grandpa Eldon, Elizabeth, Nathan, Hunter and Anika working together.
The girls and I visited our three generations working at the lumberyard. It was just a drive down the road and around the corner for us to visit.
Our business is building a strong work ethic in our son and giving him life lessons in business ownership and strong sense of purpose.
Even at age two, Miss E is learning business skills.
She worked hard yesterday on her sales savviness to sell her grandpa, dad and I on why she needs this fabulously pink carpet in her bedroom. It matches her bedroom walls. It is beautiful. She needs it.
The legacy of our family owned business started with Nathan’s great-grandfather, Henry Pinke, when he got off the boat from Germany in 1912 at Ellis Island, NY. He had a trunk with his carpentry tools with him and it stayed with him all the way to North Dakota. His son became a carpenter who fathered another carpenter genius, my father in law. Eldon is an engineering whiz who can design, build and general contract complex projects with out glitches. That passion was passed down to Nathan.
My favorite part of the transition from corporate America to our small business owning life is seeing the sparkle in Nathan’s eye with our youngest happily sitting on his lap on the above picture. No matter the perks the corporate world offered Nathan in the past, I alway said the lumber yard made his eyes sparkle.
As Nathan told Eric last night, instead of working for “the man” in Europe who owned his corporate America career, he now works for himself, his family and is continuing the business with his family name on it.