How My Life is Like Indiana Jones’

Wow, I can’t believe the year is ending already! At the beginning of this year it looked like it would take forever to get through it. We had a lot of challenges to overcome, even more than we knew about at the time. It has been an amazing year to me and I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I’ve always loved a good adventure. Not just the kind where it’s all fun and games and you get to go home with an empty wallet and a smile. That kind of adventure is called an “amusement park.” I like real adventures, where there are challenges and roadblocks and problems to solve.

Think about the classic adventures of Indiana Jones: He’s just a regular guy who teaches at a university. His life would be pretty “blah” if he didn’t come up with some big goal, and then strike out on an “iffy” path to achieve it. He takes huge risks to achieve his goal, but the belief that it’s possible drives him to keep moving forward. Every once in a while he runs into an “impossible” barrier that he must overcome in order to keep moving forward. He rises to the occasion over and over, until he achieves his goal, kisses the girl, has a cold beer, and then strikes out on his next adventure. You know…as if rescuing the Ark of the Convenants from the Nazis wasn’t enough, why don’t we go steal the Holy Grail too, right?

If you think about my life, it’s a lot like that. I set big goals for myself, and then strike out to achieve them fully knowing that it won’t be easy. My mom and I had a little conversation about this year a few weeks ago, and she said my description of it resembles every year of her life. That’s when I realized my parents’ lives are a lot like Indiana Jones’ too, and that’s where I learned to be this way.

While I’m not going into the gory financial details of this year, this year’s adventure really started off late last year. My goal was to build a big tall steel building “before winter set in.” Oh ya, and we had to do it while keeping the concrete batch plant in full operation. Simple enough, right? Hire a crew of good people, give them good equipment, and guide them through the process and the challenges of the project, then sit in front of the tree at Christmas being proud of the accomplishment, right? Well, in true Indiana Jones fashion, it didn’t work out that way, and the adventure began.

The three week building project worked out to be six weeks. The weather set in as soon as we started setting steel, and didn’t let up until long after the project was done. I put every resource Amerivet Services had at its disposal toward the project, and the weather won. By the time the project was finished (and yes, we DID finish!), I had lost a big pile of money on labor and equipment rental, and Amerivet Services’ core equipment had been damaged beyond repair. On paper we were out of business and it was “game over.”

Like they say, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and luckily I don’t know very many fat ladies that know how to sing. Although I was pretty upset about the situation (ask Tammy how rough around the edges I was), I knew that I was creative enough, and smart enough, to find a way to recover. I had the support of some very smart people, and I polled them all for ideas. I took all of those ideas under careful consideration, and then developed a plan that included a few of them, along with a lot of ideas of my own. Luckily within a month, Amerivet Services was starting to have a heartbeat again, but the adventure wasn’t over.

We had a catastrophic failure of the truck’s computer module, which took it out of service for two weeks. It was amazing how patient and understanding our customers were, and how supportive our suppliers were. I was able to hit the ground running when the truck came back on line, and was still moving forward, aiming toward the goal of not only overcoming the year’s losses, but showing a minimum of 30% growth in the business as I do every year.

On the personal side, a series of incidents led to Tammy and I taking over guardianship of two of our grandkids, and there was a huge physical and financial adjustment to accommodate. I’m very grateful that things seem to be settling in on that front, and it’s been reasonably drama-free.

During the summer I took on a project that turned out to have a little “Indiana Jones” in it as well. We rebuilt an aircraft hangar door from the inside out while keeping it in service, and discovered many challenges that weren’t part of the plan along the way. Then we replaced every screw in the roof of the same building (I have a blog entry about that coming up) and resolved what amounted to 20 years or more of roof leaks.

The cool thing about the hangar story is that it’s typical of a lot of projects I’ve taken on in my life: “Go complete this huge task while the equipment and mission stay in operation.” I’ve repaired many pieces of mission-essential equipment while it was being used, or found little snippets of normal downtime to make huge repairs. It’s really the foundation of what makes Amerivet Services unique. It doesn’t matter what needs done or what the roadblocks are. We’ll find a way.

So here I sit in my office on the morning of Christmas Eve, all alone for a little bit, and I have this opportunity to reflect back on this adventure and be proud that Amerivet Services has met my 30% growth goal this year, and we’ve increased the tool and equipment inventory substantially so that we’re reasonably prepared to meet that same goal next year. We’ve also met quite a few long term goals. So many that I need to sit down and establish some new ones.

Then, tomorrow I expect that I’ll kiss my wife (well, I’ll probably kiss her before then too) and have a drink and some fun with all of the friends and extended family members that will drift through the house. And by January 1st I’ll be off to pursue next year’s adventure! Maybe I can get Harrison Ford to stop by and give me a few pointers….

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and hope that you all have fruitful and rewarding adventures in the coming year. If something makes you stumble, just remember that it’s part of a ride that’s much more rewarding than any amusement park.

To all those who have been so supportive this year and years past, “Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart.” It means the world to have such incredible people behind me.