30 Jun A farewell to my friends
This week concludes a 15-year journey. I started working for my dad at First Class, doing some marketing and graphic layout for a monthly newsletter. He was undoubtedly helping me more than I was helping him! It was part-time, and I never imagined I would still be part of the company this many years later, nor did I think I would develop so many close relationships with those I worked with daily.
Later, when my dad moved me into the role of President, I held our daughter Ashley in my arms as I worked at my desk. She is now almost 13 years old. So I owe a debt of gratitude to those who were part of the company in those days. I was now President and the SOO (Son of Owner, which is not always a good combination for the existing team!); I had a lot to learn about the bus industry. So many of you patiently endured and hoped I would soon “get it.” Thank you, you know who you are!
Over the years, we lived through many changes. Not the least was the passing of our founder and my dad, Lanny. He was more than a boss to many of you; he was a mentor, a friend, a surrogate father, and a gentleman. We saw many successes in the business and enjoyed many loyal customer relationships. When difficult and dark days arose, we closed ranks and supported one another like an elite military regiment. No one would be left behind. Through it all, each of you remained “First Class in Every Way.”
As this season comes to a close, I wanted to leave you with three values that I came to embrace, which a few of you helped me clarify for the team. These values were not aspirational but were already in our DNA as a company. They were what made us First Class. These values are who we are as a company. These values are still present. I see them regularly, and I saw them over the last two weeks as I traveled with many of our team to Florida and Mississippi.
Durability – I never liked the word, but I loved what it conveyed about our company. Durability is about strength, quality, and endurance. In your relationships, don’t be shortsighted; play the long game. Put relationships before profits. Take pride in going the “extra mile” and smile while running it! We built a durable team. I challenge you to remain durable; focused on long-term results.
Humbleness – Humbleness is a rare quality in our world. Unfortunately, the mistake made is to associate weakness with humbleness. A humble person is first and foremost a person of great personal strength who is comfortable in their skin. Humble people are perhaps among the most assertive, vibrant, and strong individuals who walk the planet. Among other qualities, humbleness greets criticism with open arms, embraces change with optimism, and delights in being coached and mentored to seek incremental personal and organizational improvement. Don’t let pride rob you of humbleness!
Passion – Passion is fuel. Sooner or later, your passions are revealed. I pray you will be passionate about your teammate’s success in their respective roles. In addition, I hope the “First Class” brand will inspire you as an individual to a higher performance standard. If these things don’t spark passion in you daily, revaluate your motivation and look for these opportunities to create passion in your life. Don’t let selfish interests overtake your passions!
Though we did not create shiny posters declaring these values, we each embraced them every day, and I encourage you to continue to live out these values in your personal and professional life.
My life is better, having spent the last fifteen years working alongside you! You have graciously supported me in times of uncertainty and happily gone the extra mile so many times for me, our customers, team members, and the community at large. Thank you for fifteen fabulous years!