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Where's The Pride?

by Ron Kitson

Ben Franklin said "A job worth doing, is worth doing well." With every task we set out to accomplish and every responsibility we take upon ourselves, we should remember Ben's famous words.

Not just because Ben said them, but because those of us who take pride in what we do, derive a great deal more satisfaction. A true artisan is as much concerned with his reputation as with his profits, knowing very well a good reputation will provide steady work and good pay as well as personal satisfaction.

My father took a lot of pride in what he did and only did what he could do well. This was not peculiar to my father, more so it was peculiar to the times. People would work for years as an apprentice at low wages to learn all they could about their chosen profession from its masters.

School teachers did not choose to educate because of salary, they chose to teach because that was what they wanted to do. They took a lot of pride in what they did and they watched their pride and joys grow into adults who would soon send their offspring into the same classrooms. I don't believe our teachers could have stood on a picket line knowing substitutes were teaching their students.

Companies were once proud of their contribution to their communities. They would brag about how many people they employed and would donate hefty portions of their profits for community projects.

I recall reading about Milton Hershey being taken to one of his construction sites and shown a new steam shovel they had purchased. When told "This machine can do the work of thirty men," he said "Then get rid of it and hire thirty men." Mr. Hershey believed an individual is morally obligated to share the fruits of success with others.

Hoarding millions or billions of dollars cannot possibly bring anyone the personal satisfaction of knowing you have done so much for so many people as did Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey Foods. As Charles Schwab said back in 1897, "The real test of business greatness lies in giving opportunity to others.

Pride it seems is quickly being replaced with greed and we are having trouble finding young people to train in the various fields of arts and crafts. It is difficult in this day and age to find someone willing to take on an apprenticeship. Even though for some time they would be a burden to a company, they would still get paid for learning and hopefully, become loyal and productive employees.

You offer such a position to a young person today and you will most likely be told "Hey, I can make that much at McDonalds." Some want a job but don't want to work. If they do decide to work, they think you're "nit-picky" if you want a job done right.

To quote Martin Luther King Jr., "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry."

While there are no doubt a large number of companies setting very good examples, many don't seem to share the same pride. Their founders may have earned good reputations by producing quality products at affordable prices, but many of today's CEOs seem more intent on developing cheaper ways to make their products, employing as few people as possible and getting richer.

They will import parts or products at a fraction of the cost and lay off many or most of their own employees, giving up the quality control they had but are willing to sacrifice this in return for bigger profits. Today, many corporate bigwigs don't give a hoot about their community and I don't understand that.

I can't buy a cigar from Communist Cuba (not that I'd want one) but I can buy most anything I'd want from Communist China and I don't understand that either.

I just threw out our plastic garden hose reel because the crank handle broke off. It was about three or four years old I guess. We bought one in the spring of 1970 with a metal reel, frame and wheels with rubber tires and it lasted almost thirty years.

I see mostly plastic ones now but managed to find a couple of metal ones. One I didn't care for at all so bought the other. The reel would not turn freely due to improper machining so I had to order a new assembly. It was all made in China but the new part came from a distribution center in the U.S.

How many large companies can you call and have a person answer? It is so gratifying to have a human voice ask "...how may I direct your call?" but it doesn't happen very often.

When I do reach a human voice, I'm apt to hear "Can I help you?" and I'm apt to answer "I don't know if you can or not but, if you meant may I help you, yes you may?"

Thanks for listening.

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