The first time I met this guy we were both 18 and incoming freshmen at Ohio State. We hit it off immediately. It took both of us 6 years to graduate (birds of a feather stick together) One year after graduating I built a pond at his family's home and three years later at his very first home for a wedding gift. He officially got bit by the watergardening bug!
As I was busy building Aquascape he was committed to making his own career working for an Architectural Engineering firm. He was always openly jealous that while I got to throw rocks around for my job, he was trapped behind a computer working a CAD program. When I got recognized for my work it was through the happy tears and accolades from a new client. On the rare occasions Mike got recognized for his work, it was when a line was off and the client was mad.
By 2006 he had had enough. He wanted to take his love of ponds as a hobbyist and turn it into a profession. I was more than excited to help my buddy do what I loved too! He began working part time on evenings and weekends for one of our Certified Aquascape Contractors, Steven Shinholser at Premier Ponds close by to him in Burtonsville MD. He loved it and Steve loved his passion and work ethic. The next year Mike joined the Premier Ponds team full time.
Today Mike is the head foremen for one of the largest installers of our products in the world. He's making more money using his hands to move rocks, than he ever did typing on a keyboard. And now he gets recognized almost daily for his work. However this time recognition for his work usually comes with a smile, a slap on the back and an offer to sit down and have a drink with a new friend, alongside what he just created for them.
I will always remember fondly the conversation I had with him on a cold and rainy day at the start of his first full season working for Premier Ponds. I asked him what he thought of the pond world now?! His reply assured me his dramatic career move was the right one. Mike replied "the best day in the office, doesn't beat the worst one in the field!" Amen to that I proclaimed and bravo to you!
There is nothing wrong with a desk job or doing anything for that matter for work, provided you can find fulfillment in doing it. Unfortunately, the Mikes of the world are more the exception than the rule. Mike loves what he does today and that's something everyone should be so blessed to feel. Agreed? While most people will answer yes, far too many of those that say so will also mumble "you still have to pay the bills though!" To those that say that I say this...
Life is too short not to do something that challenges you, that you can take pride in and ultimately leads to you feeling satisfied when you go home at the end of the day to "live your life"
The purpose of life, is to have a purpose, whatever that purpose may be.
As a businessman I'm impressed by what Mike's doing. As a friend I'm beyond proud to see him working and living the life he has created.