Selling Your life Plans (Part 1)
Updated: Jul 11
When I was 9 years old we moved from the Suburbs of the big city of Topeka Kansas to the outskirts of the quiet town of Solomon Kansas. It was explained to me that we were moving because dad had got a new job. He had been gone for work a lot lately and we were moving so that he could be home with us more often. That was an oversimplification though.
My father had been sold to another company. More accurately put my father’s division had been traded to an associate company of the company he had worked for. The new company put him in charge of a project in Salina Kansas know as Mid-States Energy Works. Mid-States was a small shop that did maintenance for the municipal electrical systems throughout Kansas and the surrounding states. The business that dad was traded off to had recently purchased Mid-States and they needed someone to run it. Somehow, my father ended up being singled out as just the guy for the job.
With my father in charge, the project did well. It was bringing in more money than its operating cost which to put simply meant profits for that parent company. Unfortunately, the project was a low priority to the company. Before long they were borrowing more from the Mid-States project than they could afford to; ultimately bankrupting the project. My father believed in the small shop though. He and two of the other employees there pooled all the assets they could spare(plus a little extra) and took out a loan. Together they bought Mid-States Energy from the parent company and we moved to the area to be closer to Dad’s new business.
Dad’s spent lots of evenings covering the table with drawings and paperwork after dinner had been cleared learning the ins and outs of running a business and all the nuances of the shop he had never touched on in the short year that the other company had owned it. He used to take time to try and explain the things he was working on to me. Wiring schematics and three-line diagrams just looked like papers with random marks all over them to me though. Still, the time took its effect and I slowly learned more and became more interested in the goings-on of the business.
The Dad’s two co-owners both moved on from the business for their own personal reasons and one of the other employees bought some of their shares of Mid-States. All of us kids worked there part-time for at least two summers during high school. Sam learned Cad and helped with drawings. Alex learned the inventory system and helped with the bookkeeping. I worked in the shop and with the construction road crews.
After working for dad for a few years his programmer quit and I was given an option, keep working in the shop or take some classes. I took several introduction classes to PLC programming and moved from the shop to a desk. From that point on I had pretty much decided that my plan for life was taking over the family business. My senior year I did a work-study program and spent more of my second semester at the office or on the road with dad than I did at school. He taught me how to read and make drawings, build proposals and manage customers over weekends and school holidays. By the time I graduated college I was already a full-fledged employee.
I bought my first percentage of the business from him a year after I graduated confident it was the second-best investment (right behind Erin's engagement ring) I would make in my life. While I can confidently say I was right at this point I can also say that it did not pay out in the way I was expecting it to. But life is what happens while you are busy making other plans and last year on July 1st, 2020 my father and I sold our business...