Grist Columnist: 29 and holding…

Some years ago Jerry Lee Lewis had an uncharacteristically mellow song that described a fellow who was “39 and holding – holding everything he can.” Well, that’s a melancholy 39, and frankly that looks quite young from my 59 years. So when SouthStar hits year 29 next January 1, why, we’re still youngsters!

The truth is, time does fly when you’re having fun and it seems like just yesterday that co-founder Bill Starks and I opened the doors at SouthStar. Not that some days haven’t seemed awfully long, but the years have just clipped on by.

Our first office was in a spot of town so bad that we were broken into three times in a year – even with steel doors and a burglar alarm. The manager of a paper recycling business across the street was kidnapped one afternoon when he was locking up, forced to drain his bank account at an ATM, then was part of a getaway that included the hijacking of a city bus before he was finally released, unharmed but with quite a story to tell.

We had some very slim days in those early years that involved skipped paychecks for us owners and at one point, suggesting to our very first employee Robbie Matthews that he apply for a job at the Wal-Mart store, a fairly new business in town then that seemed to have more upside potential. Now 29 years later Robbie’s still doing shipping for us part-time and a better man you’ve never met, so I’m glad Wally World didn’t get hold of him.

Sadly our next hire, Evalene Wilson, was not with us long, succumbing to an illness in our second year. She was a joyful and loving soul, one who made it fun to show up at work. She died on the same day, in the same hospital where my son was born. Which says something about the cyle of life. And reminds me, though you’ve got to make money to stay in business, you don’t remember each dollar; but if you’re lucky, you’ve got a lot of good people to count along the way.

John F. Rebrovick

SouthStar’s new Bulletin #252 is now available. If you are a current customer or a recent addition to our mailing list, it should be showing up in a mailbox near you soon. If not, you can request a copy by writing us or click here to download a copy. Thank you!

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