I live and work in southern Maine, and many folks tend to think that the sort of social blight that plagues much of the nation has missed “God’s Country” up here. Sadly, that’s not the case. Our problems may be on a smaller scale, but they’re just as serious.
Just as much a reality in Portland, Maine – and smaller towns like mine – are problems linked to drug and alcohol abuse and, for our HVAC and plumbing trades, greatly reduced numbers of inspired young people.
Several years ago, I decided I couldn’t stand on the sidelines and watch it happen. So, I dove in. Maybe you should consider a more energetic role in your community. By the way, I’ve found it’s good for business, too!
As contractors and leaders in our communities, we have important roles to fill. That’s because we can help to provide sustainable futures for the youth in our communities as well as our neighbors, children, and grandchildren.
Look around. Our world is upside down, and our country has become weak. Just about every problem we experience today can be traced to the breaking apart of the nuclear family and a loss of hope among young people.
New generations are also losing sight of the importance of giving. So, I’ve geared myself and my company to be a beacon of hope by giving back to the community in every way I can.
An important facet of education is the need to educate our youth with life and social skills. We must help to build well-rounded youth with a strong sense of hope and entrepreneurial spirit. After all, how else will we grow the new leaders of this great country?
SMALL SCALE, BUT I’M TRYING
I run a plumbing & HVAC company in Biddeford, Maine. At just over 20,000 people, Biddeford is the sixth largest city in Maine. We’re 15 miles south of Portland and 90 miles north of Boston.
I have to get 20 men off to each of their jobs from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. six days a week. The calls never stop, especially during the rigors of winter, when home and business owners are often urgently in need of help.
We have a dire shortage of skilled labor here. I could easily give 20 more guys work. You may find it odd, but I’ve found that my best stress relief comes by getting involved in my community. I’ve found there’s no better feeling than giving my time and experience in support of to my community.
This sense of responsibility and individual and corporate giving has warmly spilled over into my family life and here at work, too. My wife, Lynn, understands. She helps me through my long hours and greatly supports all of the various community projects I’m involved in.
I’ve become deeply involved in Rotary Club, which boasts a local focus that’s truly inspiring.
Also, I serve as development and curriculum coordinator for the Center of Technology trades program that serves three municipalities. We’re currently remodeling an old home that required a lot of demo work. Now, in the rebuild, students are getting hands-on experience with framing and construction, electrical, and HVAC. I run the entire project and work directly with teachers and students.
The Red Ribbon Committee of Biddeford/Saco Rotary club is an endeavor I’m emotionally invested in. A few years ago, I challenged the club to help me make a difference with substance use and misuse. Soon after, we formed a committee to educate and promote healthy choices. Since then, we’ve brought in speakers and counselors and have strived to provide direct mentoring with a curriculum that works.
I’ve seen 45 friends die from drug addiction — many of them past students and athletes who went down the wrong path. Among those friends are a father and son who overdosed on the same night. It rocks your world.
I developed a Facebook page for our Red Ribbon that provides educational information on substance use. This catapulted us into a much bigger role. Now, families with addictions have been reaching to us for help; in turn, we provide the resources and connections to get them into treatment programs.
We’ve since joined the Coastal Healthy Coalition Project Alliance and local coalition on substance use and abuse. In essence, we’ve become the catalyst to providing care for loads of people in the community who’re looking for help.
Here, back at the office, this sense of responsibility is just as important. After all, there are 20-some families whose lives are tied to the business. For my employees to give their very best to the customers we serve, they need to feel secure in their work, and to be rewarded for the incredible job they do year-round.
I’ve learned that it’s good not only to manage the business closely, but also to build close relationships with employees. Part of that comes from learning from their day-to-day experiences, so I routinely join them in the truck and on the job.
We also take great care of our employees with a maximum 401(K) match and excellent wages with profit-sharing bonuses. We also provide the full cost of health insurance. These are important parts of their sustainable futures.
My day often begins at 4:30 a.m. with yoga and then a sunrise walk with my dog at the beach. So it only makes sense that, when I head home at 5:30 p.m., I usually end the day with another long walk on the beach.
Publication date: 2/13/2017