By Beth Borrego / Published November 2019
Being a small business owner has its rewards and its heartaches. Occasionally, they are one and the same. As business owners, we become personally attached to our companies and to the staff who work hard for us. If we’re truly lucky, we’ll have some very special clients who touch us through kind words and small deeds; and over many years, they become a part of our extended family, too. We watch them age and see their children grow up and go off to college. Of course, for our clients who love what we do and truly appreciate our hard work, we see them many times over a span of many years. Everett Abrams owns Deck Restoration Plus located in Shamong, NJ. On Monday, July 1st, Everett received some very sad news. One of their long-time clients, Mr. Lou Jennis, was dying of brain cancer and had two to three months to live.
Everett shared this story gladly and was honored to be a part of the request. “As business owners our goal is to run a profitable operation to provide for our families, and if you have employees, to help them provide for their families. Along with that, there are many other goals, and if you are doing it right, your services help others. For me, providing wood restoration services has been some of the most rewarding work I have done. Sometimes we do not even realize how much we impact others. Today that is so true for me; you see, this is where the story gets interesting.
“I got a call a few years back from a guy who had a wood shop in his garage, was very handy, and loved working with wood. He built his own deck and had a lot of pride in it. One day he decided to use Behr stain on the deck after using a Cabot product. Anyway, it was a mess, and it was a solid and did not bond well because the deck was not prepared well. Obviously, he was not a stainer of wood.
“He went on Facebook and obtained several recommendations about me. I went to his deck and stripped, brightened, and re-stained his deck, getting all the way back to the natural wood. He said he could not believe it and that it looked like it did when it was new again. Since then, we have taken care of the deck and love these customers. Today, we got a call in the office saying the husband is dying of brain cancer, and we were told he has two to three months to live. One of his dying wishes was to have his wife Donna call me and ‘have Everett restore my deck before I die.’ I am honored and humbled to get such a call. Sometimes what we do is beyond just business and is about how we impact others. Appreciate your business relationships, and try to impact your
customers positively whenever possible. You just never know how you may impact the lives of others!”
“This particular homeowner is a hobbyist who is extremely talented as a carpenter. He built the deck that he entrusted to Everett to care for many years ago. So naturally, that’s whom his wife called for help at his request. There are all sorts of metaphors that could apply here, like ‘cream rises to the top,’ or ‘separating the wheat from the chaff,’ and of course, ‘giving is far better than receiving.’ Mr. Abrams has been out of the field for a number of years now, but adamantly said, “This one I’m doing myself.”
There is no transaction here that involves currency and no money exchanging hands. This one is a gift and comes from a deeper, more personal place. It’s a gift meant for enjoying the remainder of his life and to make his home better for his wife before he passes. Deck Restoration Plus, and others, all seem to have the same idea. This job will come at no charge. “Some may not understand this or be in a position to do this. I have been fortunate over the years and have a business model that is high end pricing. I am profitable, and this is money that is out of ‘my’ pocket, so to speak, and I can’t think of a better way to spend ‘my’ money!” Everett says.
Every year, many contractors receive calls asking for financial support for a variety of charities and children’s sports teams. If your company regularly makes donations such as these, then perhaps you can see how something like this is possible to do. Set a little bit of money aside for community goodwill. Giving back to your community and to those who have been good to you is just the right thing to do. At the end of the day, when you walk away from completing a job that you are not getting paid for, you won’t mind when you see how your work touched the lives of those who are enjoying the benefits of it.
It’s not about the money if you love what you do. The money is a means to an end; and while, yes, it does pay your bills and your staff, if you are doing the right things within your business, then so also will you be able to do the right things for your community. This particular client has, of course, referred many others to Deck Restoration Plus over the years. Everett and Mr. Jennis have a special relationship, perhaps even more today than before the call came in. Everett believes that “You can’t ‘not’ afford to be charitable! As far as business goes, we all are in this to be profitable, otherwise it is not sustainable. The fact that I have been successful is because of customers like these. There are times in our lives when we all needed a light in the dark. I hope that this will bring a little light to their remaining days together.”
Stargazers know that we are but a tiny pinpoint in the cosmos. Our own world is limited to the area we become familiar with in our own lifetime. We’re stewards of our planet and of the people whose lives we touch each day. If we leave our world a little better than we found it, and if we perform acts that are truly meaningful and enriching to others, then we are doing good things. If we are fortunate enough to make a living doing things that touch our hearts as well as those of others, we’ve done well.
If you tell yourself that you can’t give and that it will have a negative impact on you and your company financially, then you’ll never fully understand what it means to be successful. There is a genuine joy that goes along with doing things that just feel right to you. And at the end of the day, you’ll sleep better, too. But if you’re asking yourself, when do you truly know if you can make a difference without losing your shirt? Everett confesses, “We have always done this and mostly kept it under the radar. We have restored wood and fixed playground equipment for parks, and provided house washes as well as some work for churches.” Everett wanted to make sure that as others read this story, that he made one point extremely clear. “Please treat customers as we would guests in our homes. Don’t treat them as a ‘check’ or ‘payment,’ and you will see that the rewards are limitless. In the end, your business will actually perform better. It is just what happens when a good deed is done.”
The season of giving is usually kicked off at Thanksgiving and lasts throughout the Christmas holidays. We are raised to always be thankful and to keep the Christmas spirit all year, giving generously to others and expecting nothing in return. But as we work throughout the rest of the year, this is often easier said than done. Everett’s demonstration of kindness, giving, and selflessness is what it means to keep the spirit alive all year long. This is walking the walk. Thank you, Mr. Abrams, for giving back in such a wonderful way and for inspiring each of us to always work hard at being just a little bit better each and every day.