Saturday, May 26, 2007
And I'm Giving it to you Straight
Ray’s Paint and Body has a catchy phrase on their ads - We Give It To You Straight. In other words you bring in a crashed vehicle they will give it back to you just as it was before you crashed it. And they will. I will give it to you straight right here. I promise not to beat around the bush. And if some of you young readers pay attention to the next few paragraphs - what you read might just motivate you to forget the excuses and take responsibility for your own actions.
Ray Tiencken and I go back a long way. In fact all the way back to elementary school. He is a successful businessman who happens to have a heart of gold. I have no doubt if I needed Ray at any hour of the night for whatever reason no matter where I happened to be he would come to my rescue. He can buy whatever he wants. And he can write a check for it. He owns a house in Florida and one in Georgia. And he has earned every dime. Trust me nothing was ever given to him. He pulled himself up by his own boot straps. His story is a story that should be told and a lesson that should be learned.
Ray’s dad Bill was one of the best body men you could possibly find. Bill had a body shop next to his house when Ray was growing up. He could definitely give it back to you straight even though he couldn’t stay straight himself. Bill was an alcoholic. But even with that problem he taught Ray everything he knows about body work. Maybe Ray had to finish the jobs because his dad couldn’t but for whatever reason Ray learned how to do body work at a very young age.
Ray was driving by the age of 13. It was nothing to see him drive to school when we were in the 7th grade. He was the school bully and nobody messed with Ray Tiencken. In those days Ray would rather fight that eat. And he got in more than a few fights along the way. As I look back on it Ray was an angry kid and probably was taking his plight in life out on other kids. And he was tough as nails. Even after he became an adult he still loved to fight. He entered the first tough man competition at the Macon Coliseum years ago. There were no rules and no weight divisions. Ray weighed 180 pounds when he entered and had to fight a guy who weighed 230. Although Ray says he got the snot beat out of him he refused to go down and refused to give up. He lasted all three rounds.
And in life he refused to go down and refused to give up. After working for his dad as a young man, Ray ended up working as the body man at several different car dealerships. And just like his dad, Ray had the reputation of being the best body man around. About 20 years ago Ray went in business for himself. And it was the best thing he ever did. He worked hard and quickly used his talent to build a good business. He made money and invested his money back in his business. When he finally moved the business back to his hometown of Reynolds some 17 years ago, he had a booming business.
Early on Ray married his high school sweetheart, Martha Ellen, and they had two children. It was obvious that Ray was determined to make it much easier for his kids than he had it growing up. And he did.
And just like his dad did years ago, Ray trained his son Toby in the same way he was trained. And if you pull up to Ray’s Paint and Body Shop (like I did yesterday) you will quickly notice this immaculate facility is not your normal paint and body shop. It is obvious that Ray has put a lot of money in the facility. He takes pride in the way his business looks. You will also quickly discover to the delight of his dad, Toby runs things now. Ray is still around to give advice and help out when he and Martha Ellen are not at their vacation home in Florida but Toby is the man now. But I have a feeling that Ray and Martha Ellen won’t be too far away for a while because Toby and his new bride made them grandparents a few weeks ago.
As I talked to Ray yesterday it dawned on me that he is not a man who is mad with the world anymore. He is not looking for a fight or even an argument. He is at peace with himself and at peace with the world. And he is at peace at where he is in life.
Ray never went to college. He was already working when the rest of us left for college. But trust me he did get an education. He worked his rear end off and learned a skill that eventually made him a lot of money. And I would venture to say he has made more than most folks with advanced college degrees. The lesson here is that anyone can overcome obstacles to find success if they are determined to find it. And in the end there are no excuses. We are responsible for ourselves.
Like the rest of us Ray came to a crossroads in life as a young man. He had the choice to take the wide road and join the throngs of people with all the good excuses walking aimlessly through life just trying to get by. Or he could choose the narrow path of doing whatever it takes to make something of himself. Ray chose the narrow path. And as always the road less traveled was the right path.
I can tell you this. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to have known a lot of successful business people in my life. But there are none I respect more than Ray Tiencken.
And I’m giving it to you straight.