Parking Lot Dreaming

Hi, it's Debbie Green with Minutes Matter. I received this article from Mary Ann Plumlee and just had to share it with you. As a business owner, I have had these same thoughts. We tend to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations of our business, but we should never forget that our impact is far greater than we realize.

~ Article By Mary Ann Plumlee ~

As I stood in the parking lot a feeling of pride came over me. The move was complete. Supplies stood on neat shelves overlooking the machines and worktables. The new sign announcing “open for business” could easily be seen by cars blasting down the highway in front of the new commercial location. As I paused to stand there, a sentence of satisfaction played over in my head, “Now, this is what it’s all about.”

My employees, who had delivered furniture for reupholstering to this new location, had been telling me how nice it was. They had been telling me how excited Linda of “Linda’s Upholstery” was at the prospect of moving out of that cramped leaky roof afterthought of a building she was working in. Now I could see why.

For years I had passed that little sign on the little rent house with the little workshop in the back. The homemade sign didn’t really reveal who was inside. The sign kept a secret, never revealing that a 3rd generation upholstery craftsman lived and worked there. Someone who learned from her father and grandfather the fine art of bringing lost furniture back to life. Linda is a little woman in her mid 50’s carrying on a family tradition. I often wonder how she wrestles furniture that outweighs her into submission.

Over the years my customers often asked about upholstery. Even though I knew there was a demand I never ventured into upholstery because, quite frankly, I was neck deep in window treatments. When my own business grew to the point of adding designers to my staff, they wanted to offer upholstery. As it turned out, the market for upholstery was larger than even I had imagined. We average 15-20 pieces a month, all of which go to Linda. The work we send to Linda from my company helped her move to commercial space. The new location increased her exposure and drew in even more business. Now she has a new employee to help wrestle furniture. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Linda just bought her own home as well. I take pride in that. We helped her do that.

Growing my own company for twenty plus years from nothing more than idea to what it is today, I never thought about how my business would have a meaningful effect on the lives of others. I imagine, like most people growing a business, I was concentrating mostly on the task at hand. But as I stand in my own parking lot, I take pride in the fact that there are three brand new cars amongst the cars driven there by my employees. Another employee recently bought a home. Two more are working and paying for college.

As business owners we do affect more than ourselves. Our dedication, hard work, and often sacrifice radiate outward, often farther than we know. As I think of my own little company it is amazing the number of people that we support or help support. A small glimpse can be captured on Wednesdays when checks go into the mail. Every invoice we pay represents even more people who count on us, if even in a small way, for their future.

I love this industry. I love the fact that a little girl like me, or should I say a little girl like I used to be, could dream a dream, make it come true, and by doing so help so many others realize their dreams as well. ~

Mary Ann Plumlee started her business with $50.00 and a home sewing machine in 1985. Her company now employs 12 at 2 locations. Mary Ann writes “from the workroom” a regular column for D&WC magazine. She is currently launching a national trade association specifically for workrooms including those who fabricate bedding, window coverings, and upholstery. Learn more about Workroom Association of America LLC at http://www.workroomassociation.com/

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