We never stop learning!
Christian strode into the office this afternoon with an excited and satisfied grin on his face. Ok, I thought, this could be good or bad- either a some beautiful timber has arrived or Christian had spent money on his boat!
I frowned questioningly at him only to be told, in a whisper, that Peter (our newest and youngest Apprentice) had found some Ancient Red Gum in the racking down stairs and had asked would he be able to keep it. Now sharing the grin, I knew we were also sharing the same thought – we had chosen Peter wisely and that he would be a valuable asset not only to our business but also our lives.
Peter was showing the same enthusiasm for timber that Christian had as a youth. Like proud parents, it dawned on me that we have two young families – our 2 biological young sons and our 3 older apprentice’s 17, 19 and 22.
Each apprentice is very different in nature and at various junctures in their young lives. Like many young men growing up in a sometimes challenging world they have problems with the “small stuff” -girlfriends, money, cars and less often the “big stuff” -broken homes and family issues. Each one, however, shares an obvious characteristic – self respect and respect for others.
On reflection, whilst not consciously employing these boys because of this wonderful trait, we have chosen wisely for both our business and for our own lives. They are in essence preparing us for when our sons are in their late teens and early twenties and we hope as their employers we can bestow upon them more than a trade and a wage each week.
Just as our own children evoke many emotions such as; pride, frustration, angst etc, so to our “boys” at work. We’ve learnt over the years to remember the significance of the issues in their lives and how it impacts on their work. These issues often account for the times that they aren’t concentrating or completing tasks as we would expect of them. To help our apprentices reach their professional potential we need to acknowledge the stuff they are dealing with in their everyday lives.
Christian and I, when designing and building our factory premises at Coburg, were very conscious of creating a nurturing environment for those who work or visit there. Our pet chickens free range on the grounds, whilst a 20, 000 litre underground, concrete tank supplies water to four large raised vegetable gardens and a number of fruit and olive trees. Our boys help maintain these and in turn freely take fresh eggs and vegies home regularly.
Our communal kitchen and living area is bright and open and fully equipped with all amenities. We eat together every morning tea and lunch, seated around the table in our customary spots. Dale is on the couch because he likes to SMS his girlfriend and play Angry Birds in peace, Peter sits at the start of the long timber table, showcasing his families Greek recipes in his “Ya Ya’s” art deco bowls and Dan sits on the other side of Christian, quietly lamenting the few too many beers he shared with his mates the night before. Then of course there’s us older folk – me relaying the mundane details of getting a 6 year old to wear something other than shorts in the middle of winter, whilst Matt (our Foreman) and Christian feverishly check Sea Change to ascertain when the conditions are ideal for fishing. The chatter starts slowly, sometimes just pleasantries and quiet reflection. Other times deeper conversations where the challenges of life are thrashed out and advice given freely. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Thinking everyone had left for the day; I bounded down the stairs and found Peter, still at work and in his own time, enthusiastically sanding his newly acquired piece of Ancient Red Gum. Through firmly attached ear muffs and the whirring of the sander I asked “what are you doing?” As if under some spell he took a moment to respond then enthusiastically replied through his gorgeous smile, braces and all “Check this out. It’s Ancient Red Gum and Christian said I can get it Carbon dated”. He informed me that he was going to Google how and where to get such a procedure done and grudgingly posed for a photo. No doubt he’ll share that information with us at Morning Tea tomorrow morning.
Until next time.