One of my best memories of a ready-mix plant at Christmastime occurred several years ago. On a cold late November afternoon, I was sitting in my office, making out my list of customers destined to receive the annual “Ambrose Thank You for Your Business Award.”

One of the plant managers knocked on the door, so I invited him in. He sat down in the chair across the desk from me and was quiet for a minute. I asked him if anything was wrong, and he replied, “Nope, not really. I just wanted to know who I can give this wish list to.”

With that, he handed me a piece of paper with a handwritten list of Christmas wishes. “The plant personnel and myself have been thinking about what to ask for next year,” he said. “You don't have to decide today. Just present them to the owners, and let's see what they say.”

I thanked him for his interest and suggestions, and laid his list aside to finish what I was working on. After completing my award list and taking a couple of telephone calls, I read through the plant's wishes.

Making Their List

Every year, I had asked the plant managers to come up with a wish list for things they needed to help them do their jobs. Along with their requests for new equipment, trucks, radio equipment, and vending machines, they added two very special requests:

Extra Wish #1: Our closest neighbor is ill and will require using a wheelchair for his recuperation. He needs a ramp from the driveway to his door, as he has five steps to get into his house. Could we donate the materials for the ramp? We have the labor covered.

Extra Wish #2: We are all very thankful for the food baskets we receive from the company every year. But we'd also like to add to this year's list a vendor's employee who delivers materials.

He just found out his wife is seriously sick and needs help. If not, we have a volunteer who will give away his own basket.

Their simple requests reminded me that our business is still personal. It's very easy to forget that it doesn't take a lot to make someone feel good. Many of us have so many responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, that we sometimes don't see the big picture and we overlook what is really important.

We supplied the extra food basket, and on the way to the office the next morning, I stopped by the neighbor's house and talked to him about his needs. After realizing that this was certainly a problem for them, I offered to make the proper arrangements to help them out. With the blessings of our company owners and a little good old-fashioned manual labor in the area of formwork, we provided the ramp they needed.

My Christmas Gift...

For years I've been wanting to visit World of Concrete. This year, my own wish comes true. I'm going to be set up in the Speakers' Corner located on the second level of Central Hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center. I'll be there to meet you and learn some of your own favorite “As The Drum Turn” stories. Read more about this next month.

jimambrose@aol.com