We’re certainly glad to close the door on this year. There are a few weeks that we’d like to erase completely, a patch that we don’t even remember, and some we’d like to declare a “do over”. We aren’t skinnier, wealthier, fitter or more beautiful at the end of this year, but we’ve weathered many storms together, so I suppose we are “richer” for those experiences.
It became obvious at the first of the year, that Advanced Waste Automation was not going to be a long term option. We were a dealership and service center for a company that was sold. The new company (Labrie), had an existing service and sales relationship in Oregon that they chose to continue instead of including AWA. Scott’s customers were beyond disappointed and we were devastated (irate, miffed and betrayed), but we were powerless in the situation.
“Knock Knock”, another door opened. In April, we bought Buck’s Sanitary Service—a business we previously owned. Summer is the busiest season for Buck’s and we went from a mellow, halfway predictable life to chaos. Add a 2 hour commute each day and there wasn’t much time for sleeping or laundry. We were in a primal existence mode for most of the summer and are finally able to catch our breath and dust some cobwebs (who am I kidding?). Sten was terrific help, and the girls did their part, holding the outhouse doors open or restocking toilet paper and soap. Strange that none of these people can change an empty roll of toilet paper at home, but they have no problem changing hundreds of rolls for Bucks! Huh?!
Sten is a senior in High School. Not a fan of academics, Sten has been resistant to higher education. However, he is entertaining the idea of College, possibly an agri-business degree through Oregon State at their LaGrande campus. His passion is farming. He excels at mechanics, welding, and an industrial common sense. He increased his hay production by 150% this year. After spotting a John Deere cutter (mower) discarded next to a barn this Spring, he tracked down the owners who were uncertain of its mechanical status. Sten purchased it dirt cheap, fixed the minor issues and it has been an incredible addition to his hay operation.
Milah entered Junior High this year and is thriving. She loves the options and the freedom, the challenges and the larger choice of friends. Milah is a dedicated student and is intent on maintaining a 4.0, which she has achieved. She checks her grades multiple times/week to make certain that she is on track. She continues to be a soccer fanatic and participated on a few teams this year, typically playing in the forward or midfield position. She desperately wishes for a growth spurt and complains about the “short” genes she’s been dealt. Milah is the quietest one of the bunch. She is helpful, sensitive, organized, responsible, and conscientious.
I found myself working nearly full time at Bucks this spring/summer—answering phones, selling toilets, and interjecting my creative 2 cents whenever I could:) Scott and I work well together—I never once slammed a door or threw a shoe at him. Ok, I wanted to (sure it crossed his mind too). Our working relationship works best when we stay out of the other’s area of expertise. I don’t tell him what to do with the employees/equipment (except when he’s wrong) and he doesn’t tell me what to do with company branding/design.
Scott has worked physically harder than he has in years, and he’s wished his body was a bit younger. As the owner/operator, the loose ends and extra work get thrown in his basket. He is the CEO, the mechanic, the public relations persona, the human resources department, and the grunt. It’s impossible to close the door at 5pm and hope everything gets accomplished—this business is extremely competitive and if we don’t meet expectations, the customer has other options. Our goal is to hire a few more employees so Scott doesn’t have to work as much, but it’s difficult to find the right people for the job.
This summer, Heidi and crew came to the States for a month. The cousins were together everyday and it was hard to see them go. In the past, intense fights have broke out, complete with hair pulling and lots of tears—but they were a rambunctious, loud, hungry, loving group this time. Puts a little ache in your heart that there are so many miles and an ocean between us.
Scott’s Grandma Patty (Leslie’s mom) passed away in October. We will miss her pleasant, cheerful spirit, but know that she has gone onto her reward.
As always, we look forward to hearing from each of you. Happy Holidays . . . until we meet again.