Thursday, May 21, 2009

To Touch a Company

(Houston TX)
Having been self employed all my life, in 1997 I suddenly found myself working for someone else for the first time in my career. Although I continued to run my funeral homes (along with a few others) and was continuing to serve families I had known all my life, I found myself in an unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable situation.

You just don’t take a small town country boy and throw him into the waters of a large publically traded company without some struggles for the country boy along the way.

When I look back I had no idea the career opportunity this move would eventually afford me. And I certainly had no idea of the opportunity I would have to become friends with folks from different parts of the country who would change my life.

Not long after I had sold my businesses, I received a call from a man from New York City. I have to tell you in those days New York City seemed like a long way from Reynolds GA. I was in my office one day and found myself not only talking to a man a long way away but also one who talked a little differently than me.

Actually that would be a lot differently.

He was questioning me about a decision I had made about a casket I had ordered. I could not understand how a man from NYC would care about my casket order. To be honest, after running my businesses all my life to that point, I didn’t think I needed assistance from someone in NYC in what casket I needed to order. And after a lengthy conversation, I told him exactly what I thought.

I would find out later John Roefaro had a huge job in our company as head of revenue services for the Eastern United States. I would meet John a few weeks after our phone conversation in Houston at a training school. John was one of the facilitators of my training. I was smart enough to know I needed to introduce myself to him and make amends for our previous conversation.

But before I could do that, John introduced himself to me.

He told me had heard I was a humorist. And then John began to tell me one joke after another. As you might imagine, I had a few of my own as well. And before we knew it, we both were laughing. And I mean really laughing.

And in just a few short minutes, this stranger who had made me feel so uncomfortable a few weeks earlier had made me feel very comfortable.

In the past 12 years, John and I have not only been co-workers but more importantly we have become friends. And for a man who I didn’t think had much to offer me during our first encounter over the telephone, he has taught me much and has been a mentor to me.

I could talk about John’s experience, his presentation skills, his leadership skills, his humor, his integrity and many other traits and attributes I have come to appreciate about him over the years.

But the greatest lesson I have learned is about the distance from Reynolds GA to New York City. It is not nearly as long as I once thought.

By the way, John is celebrating his 40th year with our company this year and yesterday he was honored by the officers of our company for his outstanding career. I can tell you I was glad I was there and was able to witness the presentation.

“Most of us have had the opportunity to touch some folks,” someone said, “but John has an an opportunity to touch a company."

I can tell you I am glad to be a part of the company he keeps... and touches.


Judy S said...

God puts people in our lives for a reason.

Anonymous said...

He is as nice guy

Anonymous said...


Your not getting any shoulder turn in your golf swing.


Anonymous said...

John has been out Market director for years and its been a pleasure working for him. He has a great sense of humor and is always willing to listen when needed.
Kudos to you on your 40 successful years with SCI. Many more to come.