Volume 10, Issue 5 - September/October 2008

Trainer’s Corner

Heroes and Role Models
by Dale Malcolm

WHO WE ARE AS PEOPLE OR professionals has a lot to do with our heroes, role models and all the experts we meet in between. As I reflect on the passing of my father this past spring, the difference between them has become clear to me.

I remember having heroes like Mike Nelson (Lloyd Bridges from the TV show “Sea Hunt”), Jacques Cousteau and all the astronauts who went from Mercury to Apollo. Our parents are also our heroes from a very young age. They are given the job of role model the day we are born. Some parents are better at it than others. My parents did an outstanding job. My mom demonstrated time and again how to stay calm and clearheaded in an emergency. More than once she coolly drove me the seven miles to the local emergency room as I was growing up.

My father, who worked for Skil Power Tools at the time, nurtured my love and aptitude for all things mechanical. (Unfortunately, I never did get that clock to run right after I took it apart to see how it worked.) When my dad’s job was eliminated, my parents worked as a team when at age 55 he started a new career in politics. He was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives and served four terms working on local and state issues in which he believed.

Once, over dinner, I told him how difficult it was to transfer state inspection stickers at the glass shop I managed. He asked some questions and asked me to outline the problem in a letter to the head of the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles. A number of weeks went by and he asked if I could meet him at the capital with my boss for a presentation ceremony. He explained that the state was now going to license glass shops to be able to replace existing inspection stickers and my shop was going to be license number one.
That procedure went on to be the model for several other states in the Northeast. I learned that one person with a passionate cause can make a difference and you never know what is possible until you try.

Meeting the Greats
In 1994 I joined the NGA Auto Glass Certification Committee. I was honored and intimidated to be in the room with people like Karl Alberti, Glen Moses, Bob Beranek and Al “Captain Carlite” Girard. These were the people I knew by their articles and reputation. Long before the Internet, these people and others like them were the only way to get current information. They knew “everything” there was to know about auto glass and they became my new role models.

As I spent more time networking with the committee members and working on the board of directors of the Glass Association of New Hampshire, it became easier to acquire the information crucial to my job. I met people like Jack Aho from General Motors, Len Stolk from Ford and Russ Corsi from PPG and I was honored to be able to go to them for information.

Who Are Your Heroes?
Who are your heroes today? The ones that easily come to mind are our police and firefighters. We also hear stories from wars past and present of a soldier that gives their life to save the lives of others. These are my true heroes. My role models are people like Leon Gorman, Burt Rutan, Aurtur C. Clarke, Herb Kelleher, Steve Jobs and Soichiro Honda. These are people whose visions have reshaped entire industries.

Who are your heroes and role models? What kind of role model are you for younger co-workers or employees? Do you speak positively about your customers when they are not around? What example are you setting for those around you? Have you ever taken any of your frontline employees to an industry event to expose them to a broader view of their industry? I knew a glass shop owner that told me he didn’t take his installers to local trade shows anymore. He said it was because when they get back to work, they want to try “all these different, new ideas” in the shop.

Here’s another idea: take a new employee to a local trade show or vendor open house. Seek out the counsel of true industry experts and share their information with others in your business. Be a positive role model to not only your employees or co-workers, but your competitors as well. Be grateful for the true heroes in our world—they are the most humble of all and they walk among us.

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