Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THOUGHTFUL GIFTING. This week, Bob carefully considers the act of gift-giving.

A couple weeks ago my wife Cyndi and I were waiting at the airport and began talking about the season, which led to thinking about holiday gifts. As we were talking Cyndi and I looked up at the nearby television, and we saw again the devastation of Staten Island, New York, parts of Queens and New Jersey, along the path of Hurricane Sandy. And here we were, warm and comfortable, waiting for an airplane that would take us to our warm, dry home -- quite comfortably discussing holiday gift-giving.

We looked at one another, and both agreed that this year we must include a holiday gift for the people on the East Coast affected by the storm.

When Katrina destroyed so much of Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, Shamrock people got together to raise money for those affected by the hurricane. We have a special employee committee that plans events to raise funds for organizations that serve the needs of people in our community. But sometimes, as in the case of Katrina in 2005, and now, in the aftermath of Sandy, this committee plans events to provide assistance way beyond our immediate community to include our distant neighbors.

To raise funds for Katrina, the committee arranged a Dunk Bob Tank Day. We've all seen these tanks filled with water and a chair. The designated person sits in the chair and if he or she is hit with a ball by one of the participants, the designated one splashes into the water. For Katrina we raised $10,000. (Someone suggested we do a Dunk Bob Tank Day for Sandy. I vetoed this idea, since right now it's darn cold outside. But, the committee is planning an event for the holiday season that will raise funds to assist the people on the East Coast.)

While the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi was similar to the devastation in areas along the east coast, there are also differences. Especially in the parishes affected in New Orleans, many of the people hit by the storm had very little to begin with. Simple things such as clean, warm, used clothing were very meaningful to them. The needs on the East Coast may be somewhat different. I believe we should be sensitive to the different needs of various people when thinking about gift giving.

The same holds true for holiday gifts. In addition to gifts for the East Coast survivors and their families, our employees will receive a holiday gift and we will still have a holiday party -- as always. And as always, our planning team will think carefully to choose a gift that will be of equal joy to every recipient. So the gift must be something that can be used by everyone, from those who work on the floors of our warehouse to those who sit behind the doors of management team.

Thinking about the right gift takes time, but when you make the right decision it's priceless!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

OWNING THE SEASON OF GIVING THANKS. Bob shares some of his special family traditions this week.

Since I was a kid, Thanksgiving has always meant the congregation of family. More than any other holiday, the values and traditions of Thanksgiving have had a tremendous impact on my life.

I remember how the entire family would always gather around my grandparents' table. My grandparents owned a dairy farm with plenty of work to be done. But, when Thanksgiving came around, the chores were briefly forgotten and grandma began the loving task of preparing the holiday table. Of course, grandpa chipped in and helped as much as gram would allow. The most important thing, was that my grandparents took ownership of Thanksgiving.

My grandparents lived a long fulfilling life, and when they could no longer prepare the Thanksgiving table, my wife and I took ownership of that loving task. We always enjoy doing it; after all, traditions need a leader to survive.

Part of our family tradition is to remember the "giving" part of Thanksgiving -- or any generous act -- is a gesture from the heart, with no thoughts of "how will our guests give back what we've put forth, or will I be remembered for my generosity to the local Foodbank?" Actually, everyone in our family has a role to play in the Thanksgiving celebration; each person brings their traditional dish to the holiday table.

The people of Shamrock are also my family. Here, too, everyone has a role. And here, too, I take the initiative, but I choose to ask everyone to share in the preparation of making Shamrock among the best places to work. And I'm blessed to have this wonderful, extended family in my life. They are a significant part of my success.

Like my personal family, my Shamrock family shares the traditions we've established through the years. For example, we have a saying here: "If you're not proud of it, don't ship it." We often ship boxes based on an equal number of items per box. A wise woman in shipping discovered one box among many was short several printed pieces, and one box was over the same number. I told her it was okay to ship, since we weren't shortchanging the customer. "No," she said. "I can't ship it, because shipping is my responsibility, and we promise to ship the same exact number per box. I can't say I would be proud to ship this job, since the numbers per box are wrong.

I guess I "raised" her with the right set of values and traditions. And I was proud of her... and a bit proud of myself, too.

Traditions and values need a leader to make sure they thrive from one generation to the next. This is true for personal and business families. I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the gift of sharing in leadership before the next generation takes the reins during this season of Giving Thanks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

MOTHER STILL RULES. This week, Bob reflects on what he's thankful for and a special thought about Sandy.

The first week in November gave me jolt and I was thankful. While many of us were beginning to make plans for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, Mother Nature has some plans of her own.

Old Mother Nature cut off power at our corporate office in Westlake, Ohio and we had to shut down for several days due to the storm. Thankfully, no employees were around when the power went out. And thankfully, no one was hurt in the wake of Storming Sandy. Although, some of us did face power failures and some storm damage that is, luckily, fixable. Mother Nature still has the final word!

Right now, I'd say knowing that everyone I know is safe following this major storm is what I'm mostly thankful for.

Of course, there are certain things I'm always grateful for. My childhood, thanks to wonderful parents, leaves me with warm memories of growing up with love, a good education, clean clothes and lots of fun. My parents weren't pushovers. We had to do well in school, or feel their wrath. While not as strong as the wrath of Mother Nature, I'd never want to be on my mom's wrong side! I also was blessed to grow up with both grandparents who guided me, gave me strength, and taught me right from wrong.

When I met my wife, I inherited another wonderful family. Unlike my parents, who were more reserved, my wife's family is made up of huggers. At first, I was uncomfortable, because this was so new to me. My wife's family is more outwardly affectionate; they hug at family gatherings and also greet visitors with a hug. But I soon learned from them the value of a warm hug, and easily learned not to fear affection.

After graduating college, I also was blessed to find a job that was challenging and fulfilling, and also provided the resources to build relationships with business people who showed me how to carve a path to success, and develop a business of my own.

Today, I am lucky to be surrounded by my own family, my family of employees and my family of business peers who continue to provide sound advice and ample support.

There is one last group of people for whom I have the greatest affection, and I give thanks for this special group every day. They are Shamrock's customers. Some are my very first customers, many have been with us for years, some are new to the Shamrock family, and I have a special affection for each of them. All have been honest with me and helpful in providing me with the tools to make my business better and stronger. A special shout-out to Blaze Coraretti, one of my first and fondest customers, who worked at Reliance Electric. From that start in the 1980s, Reliance Electric became our first large customer. Our relationship from the beginning was built on a mutual respect for one another. To this day, Blaze is at the top of my list of people I've been thankful to know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

THANKS TO VETERANS. This week, Bob gives thanks to veterans old and new.

I like it that November, the month of Thanksgiving, begins with a tribute to veterans who are gone and those who are with us today. Without these people in service, it's likely that the freedoms we hold so close to our hearts might be different than they are today.

As a young college student, it was my hope to follow in my father's footsteps and help save our country by enlisting in the U.S. Naval Air Corps. My dad was part of The Greatest Generation. He left his job and family to fight for our freedom at one of the most critical times in the history of our country.

Unfortunately for me, I was not able to serve, so I have had to live my military life through my father, and more recently, through my son-in-law, Scott.

On October 31, Scott became a military veteran, after serving 13 years as a navy pilot. He served 4 years overseas and most recently spent 7 months in Northeast Africa, involved in counter-terrorism action. Scott can tell you firsthand that terrorism is on the rise and focused primarily on the United States.

If you fast-forward from my dad's generation, I believe we, as a country, have a very complacent attitude toward our military. I believe strongly that our country's strength will only continue through a strong military!

Reflecting on this Veterans Day, let's stand together and pledge that our freedom should never be compromised, and give heartfelt thanks to the U.S. military and the veterans young and old who are vigilant about protecting our freedom.

Did you know that the first Federal holiday commemorating Veterans Day, (legislated as part of the Uniform Holiday Bill), was signed on June 28, 1968? Under Gerald Ford, the original date of November 11th was designated as a Federal holiday, unless the date falls on a weekend. In that case, such as this year, it is observed on the following Monday (November 12, 2012). Veterans Day continues to be a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.