July '20

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IN THE TRENCHES R I C K W I L L I A M S 1 0 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M M y son, Sloan, was less than two years old, but he was already pay- ing attention. One evening, after a quick shower, he saw me dressing and the little guy knew what came next. Sitting on the edge of the bed to put on my socks, I noticed him disappear into the closet just a few feet in front of me. When he came out, the boot he was dragging was nearly as big as he was, but it was the right boot, well one of them anyway. "Sloanie, that's very good. How smart and strong you are to get that boot for me," I said encouragingly, and I really was impressed. He set the boot down at my feet and then went back into the closet. Sure enough, in a few seconds, here he came huffing and puffing and dragging the boot's mate in my direction. "Wow, what a good helper you are, little man!" Toddler Sloan must have felt proud of himself, because before I could finish putting on both boots, he retrieved an- other boot, then the mate of that one, and even produced a third pair before I could convince him his work was done. I was reminded of that incident, and this little glimpse into human nature, when last week Sloan, now 38, brought a zero- turn mower from across the street at our powder-coating operation. He spent a lit- tle time mowing the large yard out behind my shop and managed to get the mower stuck in a wet area. He had to pull it out with a larger trac- tor, which happened to have a bucket, and I asked him if he would go across the street again and bring a load of gravel that I knew we had over there so I could fill in the part of my driveway near the back of the shop that had become rutted and muddy. I merely asked for the bucketful of gravel and assumed I would spread it out later. But when I came in from a late sign install, just before dark, I drove over a perfectly smooth driveway and then admired it closeup after getting out of my old bucket truck. It crossed my mind to right then send him a text, and in that text, I told him he had done a good job repairing my drive and that I sure appreciated it. It amused and reminded me of toddler Sloanie, when after work the next evening, I noticed that he had been back with an- other load, and this time he'd worked on the drive up near the parking lot and had it in good shape as well, and this was done without me even asking. Whether acting as dad, employer, or both, human nature is human nature; when people are told they are appreciated, and their good performance is not taken for granted but pointed out, it tends to produce more good performance. This is true of an 18-month-old kid, an 18-year- old kid, or a 38-year-old kid. (They're all kids when you're 60… well, 65… oh al- right, 66, but who's counting anyway?) And we are all the same about this. Last week, I received an email from a customer and former part-time employee asking me to send him a vectored version of his logo. Being helpful, I emailed him two versions of his vectored design, then re- ceived a nice reply back. Josh, now about 30 and five years into running his own business, wrote that he ap- preciated the art files, but more than that, he wanted me to know that it was his time working at the sign shop while attending a local junior college that inspired him to be an entrepreneur. Praising the example he'd been shown and remembering how much he enjoyed being a part of our small business helped him decide to go into business him- self. And he's now a good customer of ours. No different than Sloan, or my employ- ees, his words of encouragement put a smile on my face that lasted the entire day, and reminded me once more that I should not be slow in expressing to our staff members how much their dependability and produc- tivity are realized and appreciated. So, Frances and Heather at Rick's Sign Co., and my sons Sloan and Slade, and all their excellent crew at our sister company, WPC Services, Tyston and his team at Royal, plus Amy and Amber who do the accounting for it all put together: thanks for keeping us solidly in business after 45 years, even during this crazy time we're all going through now. I can't say thanks enough. And to my Trenches readers, I hope your shop is doing well, your crew is at the top of their game, and everyone is aware of how much their contribution is appreci- ated. If all those things are true, you and your business will have a great month and many more to come. RICK WILLIAMS owns Rick's Sign Company, a com- mercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business and Sign & Digital Graphics since 1986. Contact Rick via email at DRIVEWAY INTO HUMAN NATURE My driveway to human nature. (Image courtesy Rick Williams)

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