I have to laugh at the commercial that is currently running on TV where an employee is sitting at her boss’s desk- giving her FIFTEEN year notice of retirement. Then her boss says that her announcement is catching him completely by surprise. Then the employee says that she better start cleaning out her desk because 15 YEARS will sneak up on you! That commercial cracks me up. But is there any truth in the commercial plot? Maybe so. The message is that time does fly and you should start preparing for retirement early because it will be upon you before you know it.
I know- I did not give a 15 year notice but I have announced that I will be retiring in early January 2016.
I have been very fortunate to have been employed for 42 years since graduating from college. I have spent all of these years in the truck, truck leasing, truck equipment industries. Not many people these days can say when they retire that they spent their business life in one industry. I have great love for trucks and all things associated with the industry. I have said for years we think we are the big cheese of the industry and the automotive world and everything truck is the center of the universe. Yes, some of that is true. The automotive industry and truck industry in particular is massive but then you open a newspaper, open your laptop, take a trip and you recognize or talk to many people you have been associated with directly or in association with over 42 years, the world is really not that big.
I have always been curious of all that surrounds us in what we do in the automotive industry. I was very fortunate to be offered a job with International Harvester‘s Truck Division when I graduated from the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. I was a trainee in the Truck Division out of the Twin Cities Region. It was a great organization to work for during that era- working for people who would shape and mold you for future endeavors. It was a good time. I reluctantly departed International but joined up with this new industry called “leasing”. I was able to be on the ground floor as automotive leasing took off at Gelco in Eden Prairie. The average age employee in the leasing industry at that time in the late 70’s was well under 30. It was a bunch of young people, doing things because we could. There were not many rules to break because there were not many rules in place. I have said many times, if you would hire all of the people who left the leasing industry at that time, you could be in the leasing business overnight! I worked at Gelco and Dart and Kraft for a number of years, then transitioned from the specing and designing of trucks and truck applications to jumping to the other side of the industry and the actual building of work trucks.
I started at Auto Truck in 1986. I was hired to build and run Auto Truck’s Fort Wayne Fleet truck upfitting operation. I was GM of this facility for 14 years. What a great experience! The last 16 years I have headed up the Sales Department of Auto Truck Group. I have had a great career the last 42 years. I was able to grow both in business and industry knowledge and personal advancement.
One of the highlights of my career was to be associated with our industry organization, the NTEA. I was fortunate to be on the Board of Directors from 2003 to 2009. I held Executive positions including President from 2008 to 2009. This is an extremely well run organization and serves their member base very well. I always plugged the NTEA in any of my Cup O’ Joe articles. I believe in the NTEA and all that it represents. If you are not an NTEA member- Join today!!
The name of this article Cup O’ Joe, comes from my hope that readers would sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoying reading this piece. Nothing more than that. There is an old saying that you need to be careful what you say and do because someone might be listening and watching. I found out many times that is true. I have walked into numerous dealerships over the years and someone in the office or shop would yell out, ‘hey there is the Cup O’ Joe guy”. If I was at an OEM Pool Meeting or dealer event, the same thing would happen. Somebody from across the ballroom would yell out, recognizing the “Cup O’ Joe guy”. It is amazing how many times that situation occurred. I thought nobody would read that piece. So be careful what you say or write!
So in ending, I want to thank all of you for a great run. I have truly enjoyed meeting all of you and enjoyed your friendship and conversation.
I wish I had some impressionable remarks or words of wisdom for you. When thinking of parting comments, I revert back to the words spoken by Bud Grant, Minnesota Vikings Head Coach after his retirement speech at the Metrodome. Bud’s closing remarks were this-
"I just want to say, thank you for not smoking".
That's it. That's all he said.
I guess that pretty much summed up Bud’s thoughts.
I don’t think I can top that.
Thanks for the ride!
See you on the water, “waving a stick in the air”.