The famous saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together”. Or in different words, organizations reflect their leadership: a leader with integrity has staff with integrity.
I was born & raised in north central Montana, 11 miles from the nearest town. The primary industries were farming, ranching, and oil production. The term “Hi-Line” is a region known to the few of us that have lived in Northern Montana. My ancestors were resourceful folks, and seemingly either hardy or a bit crazy. I’ve often wondered why they stopped the wagons there, rather than keeping them going on to milder country to the West. The wind seems to always be blowing, and the winter temperatures reach -40F every winter for a week or two.
I’ve recently discovered my family tree is filled with independent business owners for generations back. So it’s no surprise to understand why Dad quit Morrison Knudsen, and formed his own construction company in 1976. As with any new business, his took incredible amounts of personal effort to stay open, plus a little luck here & there. I was drawn into the family business at the age of 9 to help out (any farm kids will certainly know what I mean). From that point forward, it was digging ditches, repairing tires, servicing equipment, moving machinery, raking, grading, and of course, fixing everything possible on the weekends as we couldn’t afford other mechanics, new equipment or even the right parts in some cases. I was grease from head to toe most weekends from whatever service & repair work I’d been helping with.
I developed a natural affinity with operating heavy equipment, and became quite good with trucks, dozers, backhoes & excavators. At the same time, our equipment needed a lot of repair, so I became a pretty skilled mechanic over the years. I certainly had enough repair time under my belt to win an award by 17 years old, had there been an award to win. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I remember Dad sending me out to “fix” our push mower when I was really little, and I was able to get it into a few different pieces, but had no idea how to actually fix it! But if you stick with something long enough, some of it sticks back. Mom encouraged me to attend college, and I thought well, there must be an easier way than sun up to sun down. So, off I went to Montana State University. Looking back, considering everything that I was exposed to, I learned that I really loved to build equipment.
The family also instilled a sense of right and wrong in me (or maybe it was watching those John Wayne movies on TV Dad would fall asleep to). I know that I appreciate genuine people that say what they mean, and do what they say. As for myself, when I look in a mirror, I know the man looking back at me has done the best he could, and lived his life right.