Business 1.0 March/April 2021

August 13th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

A Father’s Day

By Lyle R. Hill

Sitting next to a warm fire sipping a cup of chamomile tea, I looked out the window and was a bit surprised at how bad the weather had gotten. The gentle snowfall that had started just an hour earlier now  looked more like a blizzard. The scene outside caused me to shiver and I moved closer to the fire. As I did so, the cell phone on the table next to me began to ring. The caller ID notified me that it was a call from my son, Patrick.

“Hey Pat, What’s going on?”

“Just living the dream, Dad, and where are you and what are you doing?”

I know my son pretty well. At 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, he’s in business mode. He’ll switch gears in a couple of hours but the tone of his voice and the time of the day let me know this was a serious call.

Helping Hand

“I’m reading the newspaper in front of a warm fire and sipping some tea. What do you need?”

“I need your help, Dad. I’m in a bit of a bind.”

“Ok, Pat. What do you need me to do?”

“I need you to get dressed in some warm clothes and shoes and get over to the shop as soon as you can. You gotta help me do a job. I’ve got a piece of glass that has to be installed today and it’s too big for one guy and especially so in this wind. The weather has really messed up traffic and the crews are having a hard time getting back to the shop. I promised the customer I’d have this thing installed by 5:00 today. It’s the last weekend before the holiday and they’re pushing me hard to get this thing in. It’s the opening next to their main entrance and it has a board up in it.”

“I’ll be there in 15 minutes, Pat.”

Patrick, like his older sisters Amy and Beth, doesn’t like to ask for help. All three of them run businesses and take some amount of pride in their independence.

“And Dad,” Pat began after I had told him I was coming, “Can you bring your own suction cup?”

About ten years ago, at a Glass TEXpo Show, I dropped one of my business cards into a glass bowl. One such card was to be pulled from the bowl on the last day of the show and the attendee whose card was picked out would win a Wood’s 8” vacuum suction cup. To my surprise, my card was pulled. That cup has been stored in my car’s trunk ever since. I’m going to guess it has been used maybe 25 times since that event. Other than sliced bread and the polio vaccine, few things can compare to an 8” Wood’s vacuum suction cup.

Hard Conditions

As I drove into the parking lot at my son’s shop, the snow was falling faster, the wind was blowing harder and the temperature had dropped significantly. The truck we were going to take was already running and as I approached the front door of the business, Pat came out and signaled we were going to leave immediately. The job was in Bloomingdale … a good 45 minutes away in the snowy weather. We were in the truck only a few minutes when our conversation began anew.

“Can you turn on the heat, Pat? I’m freezing!”

“Heater doesn’t work, Dad. We’re only using this truck because all the others ones are out on the road.”

“Ok, then could you at least roll up your window?”

“It’s up as far as it goes, Dad. It’s stuck.”

We arrived at the site about an hour later. We quickly got the board-up down and after just a little prep work on the frame, set the glass in place. I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes as we pushed the gasketing in place to complete the installation. There was a fair amount of broken glass mixed in with the snow and part of the job included cleaning that up.

“Dad, you start the clean-up while I find someone to sign off on the paperwork. There’s a shovel, broom and garbage can in the back of the truck. This should only take a few minutes.”

He returned 20 minutes later. I had finished the clean-up and was now curled up on the front seat of the truck. I could no longer feel my legs. He jumped in and soon we were on our way. We drove in silence for about five minutes before either of us spoke.

“Dad, your face is a funny shade of blue. Can I stop and get you a warm coffee?”

“I just want to go home Pat. I really need to get home.”

“Ok, Dad. I’ll get us back to the shop as soon as I can. And Dad, what do I owe you for today?”

“You mean like money-wise? You want to pay me for this? I’ve helped you out before and we never talked about getting paid for it. So why now?”

“Dad, I couldn’t have gotten this done without you and to send a couple of guys up here on overtime tonight would have cost a ton of money. And I had promised the customer this would get done before 5:00 today. This weather thing is pretty brutal too.”

“My son, you need to know that I respect you and am quite proud of you. You have built a solid business from scratch in less than five years and there is a unique feeling that a father gets when he is able to help one of his kids out in a time of need. I’ll always be here for you. It’s just part of being a good father.”

As we drove on through the blizzard with snow blowing in through the open window it went silent.

“I appreciate that, Dad and I know Amy and Beth do too. So can I ask you just one more question?”

“Of course my son.”

“So what are you doing tomorrow?”

Lyle R. Hill is the former owner of a window film company in the Midwest. He also serves as president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years of experience in film and glass-related industries and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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