I had a restless night, unusual because I usually go to sleep quickly and don’t get up much during the night. For some reason I got to thinking about the thirty-five years of my life I spent as owner and president of Glenstone Block Company. The brain, after all, is a renegade that lives by its own rules.
I was with Hallmark Cards in 1972 when my dad called to ask if I would move back home and take over his business so he could retire. He was 62 and tired. He had managed the company for twenty-seven years. I accepted and reported to work at Glenstone Block on the first Tuesday of February, 1973. With deep regret, Sandy gave up her job as a high school counselor at the end of that school year and joined me in Springfield.
In 1973, the company had one location, at 928 South Glenstone in Springfield, Missouri. It manufactured concrete blocks for the construction industry. Over time I expanded the company. We added a block plant in Branson, a hardware store in Branson West, a precast concrete plant in Springfield, a distribution center in Camdenton, a hardware store in Kiser, and three more hardware stores in Springfield. Sandy and I also added a gift store, Gamble’s Gifts.
Last night my mind was full of memories of those years, the good people who make the company successful, customers who became friends. I was always proud of our program to help employees go to college by paying part of their course costs. More than one graduate went on to new careers. I was writing and publishing, but many of the awards I got during those years were for my involvement as a business man in the community. I loved our newsletter, filled with contributions from employees, including poetry. We held company picnics. I was dunked in water tanks more than once. I served on a lot of boards and groups, from the better business bureau to public television, to citizen advisory committees for three universities, and more. The company itself received recognition for the environment it created for both employees and customers.
I sold the company in October 2008 and began writing twelve hours each workday. When Sandy retired from our gift store in 2018, I shaved my workday to seven hours. Last night for reasons unknown, the long hour belonged to Glenstone Block Company. I didn’t begrudge it.