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  Chairman's Message

'Honor Your Family' Month

Posted 2/2/2007
By Charlie Elder, AAM, Chairman

Charlie Elder February is a cold month for most of our members. During this season, weather extremes can cause vehicles to malfunction, which can affect business volume for our members. Snow and ice create opportunities for collision and mechanical shops.

Even with a full schedule of work, gloomy weather sometimes creates gloomy, grumpy people.

To brighten up February, we have Valentine's Day with bright colors and chocolate for all. We honor our sweetheart and try to be nice and sweet for at least one day. Of course, the children get involved because they don't want to be left out of anything that involves candy. Valentine's Day becomes a family event.

Our members are family-run businesses and often employ several family members in the same business. This can be stressful at times because there is no clear distinction between family and business. Family and business times are often blended together. Have you ever taken business issues home with you?

Even if you have no family member working in the business, your family is not exempt from the pressure of a small business. Long hours at work steal our family time. And when you come home from work and are stressed from employee or financial issues, it impacts your family.

When I went into business in 1972, I made a decision not to take work issues home with me. I wanted my home life to be free of workplace issues as much as possible. In the early years, my wife, Joanie, taught school and then came and did the bookkeeping for our business.

One spring afternoon she came into work and I was test-driving a car. When I returned, one of my technicians told me, "I wouldn't go in the office if I were you!" That seemed to be a curious statement but no less a warning. Since I like to face things head-on, I went directly in the office with a bright, cheery smile and said hello to my wife. As she raised her head from her work, I could tell she had "that look" on her face. You know the one; very upset about something you have no clue about. As I stood waiting for a response, she said, "What happened to the back wall of the shop?" I responded, "We're expanding." Her look never changed. I quickly said, "I told you we were expanding, didn't I? I'm sure I told you we were expanding." "No!" she replied. Quickly, I said, "Guess what? Business is great and we are expanding."

Even not bringing work issues home can affect your family. Since then, I've tried to strike a better balance in my communications at the urging of my wife.

Our families are a large part of our success in business, so I would like to expand on Valentine's Day. As ASA chairman, I proclaim February as "Honor Your Family Month." We can take the entire month and be nice to each other, be courteous and honor each other. Do something special together and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Many of our employees become extended family, so include them also if you like. If we each focus an entire month on being nice to each other, it may continue throughout the year.

A family and workforce in harmony is a great thing. We could turn gloomy February into the highlight of the year.

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