Just over 10 years ago, newly engaged and in the middle of a cold winter, Dan and I sat in a little Italian restaurant on Belmont Ave in Chicago and discussed our plans for the future. We both felt stuck where we were at, despite the fact I was at an exciting school studying Art and Poetry and he had found a reliable job in landscaping and liked his coworkers. We knew we wanted to move somewhere and try a brand new life in a brand new place. So, where?
Since our early dating days, when we dated long distance between Peoria and Chicago, Dan and I were showered by rain every time we saw each other. Every. Time. And the weekend I moved to Chicago to live closer to him? It poured buckets for two days straight. Rain was our thing. So the luscious Pacific Northwest seemed appropriate.
Dan had never been out there, but I had been to Oregon for a handful of 1 to 2 day trips, spent largely in hotel rooms. One of the worst weekends of my life was spent in Portland but suddenly that didn't matter. Portland was appealing in that it was much smaller than Chicago, was pretty quirky, had a milder climate, and there was much to do in the great outdoors within a short reach.
By summer, Dan opened up the Portland area yellow pages and started calling landscaping companies. By sheer luck and down-to-earth charm (I am sure) he lined up three interviews. We flew out over the 4th of July weekend. The third interview of the trip was The One. It was with Randy McManus (President, CEO) at Willamette Landscape Services
. Shortly afterward, they offered Dan a position and he accepted.
Dan just celebrated his 10th anniversary with the company recently and shared the following post on Facebook:
"10 years ago I moved to Oregon. I started a new job, and had no idea what I was getting into. I was getting into the most awesome job I could have fallen into. I have helped the company grow. I have helped myself grow. I have mentored other people to grow. I have planted plants all over the PDX area. I have also made some very great friendships with my coworkers. What a great job, and I can't wait to see where we are 10 years from now!"
Words can not express (even though I try) how incredible WLS has been to Dan and our family. From the very first Thanksgiving dinner we were invited to by the office manager, Gayle Sepulveda, to the adventurous outings we participated in as a company family, to the generous bonuses and unique willingness to let Dan develop his skills and evolve within the company and become a well rounded professional who could in turn give back and help WLS grow and succeed.
When Matt Triplett (Vice P, CFO) broke the news to Dan's associates during their production meeting Friday the 19th, the entire room was utterly shell shocked. But you know what they did? They shook it off and immediately began to think of a way to help. And help they did. They took our untouched yard around our newly constructed house and designed an outdoor haven for Dan to enjoy with his family. And then completely installed it the next weekend. And gave him his highly coveted Traeger grill. You know, because, why not!?
All photos of the Operation documented by Kevin Karpiak here
Thank you Randy, Matt, Gayle, Glenn, Warren, Greg, Jesse, Alice, Steve, Tom, and all the crew who helped all weekend.