You Are Known by the Company You Keep

The contacts and friends you make in this industry can become lifelong confidants.

This one’s personal.

As the saying goes, this is not my first rodeo, but amazingly I’ve come through with very few of life’s saddle sores. Now in my 40th year in the industry, I’ve worked for some amazing people, learned many valuable lessons, earned a bunch—thanks to several great companies—and made it through the tough times with a little help from my friends.

One of those lifelong lessons I learned occurred a few years back during what seemed like a tremendously long period of time. In reality, it was less than 90 days, but it covered the one and only time during my career that I was unemployed. Thankfully, my faith was rewarded by just two of the hundreds of contacts I’ve made throughout the years. The point of this blog, though, is not to dwell on “those who didn’t,” but rather to focus on those who did.

The caring and inspirational encouragement of these two golden friends was just what I needed to carry me through the past 10 years. As a result, I began to see things differently. The first point I learned is cherish and never forget random acts of kindness.

This past fall, I was fortunate to be in a position to continue paying back that kindness—not to those who helped me, but to two others who needed a job and a fresh start. They had the requisite skills, but guess who had the connections?

I called my “treasured two” friends and told them it was only possible for me to help others because of their kindness. Thank you Stan Tedder, vice president of Kenan Transportation, and thank you Clint Comwell, general manager of sales at Buffalo Rock Pepsi. You guys are the best.

Inspiring Greatness
The second point I learned is that when you seek and accept assistance there is an implied obligation to pay it forward. People have been telling me for years things like, “you’re not as young as you used to be,” or “slow down,” etc. True to my stubborn Irish nature, I’ve ignored them all. However, I have now come face to face with the enemy, and it is me.

Surgery for a herniated disc has forced me to accept (temporarily) some of those changes. Thankfully, the inspiration I previously mentioned led me to an employer that over the past 10 years has provided everything one could reasonably expect, and so much more.

During this month-long period where I have literally been down and out—a period that has seen me take more sick time than in the previous 40 years combined—not only have I not missed a pay check, but I’ve received more genuine caring, prayers and encouragement than I ever dreamed possible.

Owners and senior management always set the tone, but rarely succeed in building a truly great corporate culture. It takes years, and more importantly, it takes the right people. I am proud to provide a private glimpse into the people at George H. Green Oil and show what it takes to achieve the true success earned by this 86-year-young, third-generation family business.

I’m sure that somewhere George Green is smiling proudly at the oil company that bears his name and his family that still guides it.

My final point: Corporate greatness has much less to do with size than it does with principle. It has far less to do with profit than with pride. And I’ll take stability over flash anytime. Darned if I don’t keep great company.

Jim Callahan is a 40-year veteran of the convenience store and petroleum industry and currently serves as the director of marketing for Geo. H. Green Oil Co. in Fairburn, Ga. He can be reached at Jfcallahan@greenoilco.com.

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