In early December, 1973, Jim Weiss, President of Elgin Office Equipment took a chance on a 19-year-old farm kid from East Enterprise, Indiana. Namely, he gave me a job. Now, almost 33 years later, I’m back from where I started.
The strange thing is, I always knew this would happen – always knew I would go full circle.
Three and a half years after working there, I left for two reasons. The first being I was going to get married. The second – I needed to make more money.
I think these are the only reasons why I left. I always enjoyed the work – doing a little bit of everything. Jim Weiss, sometimes through the fire, gave me an education in business that I have never forgotten. I have always consider him my first and best boss.
I left. I became a “real” businessman working for both private and public companies. I was successful and made a lot of money, working long hours over the weeks, months and years.
Jim and I always stayed in touch, mostly through phone calls. Once when I was Controller at a clothing manufacturer in Forest Park, he came out to visit me. Sometimes when I was downtown, I would poke my head into 810 Main Street to see what was going on. I always considered Elgin my roots.
Roots change sometimes. In October of 1997, I became tired of corporate life. Since a kid, I always dreamed of being a writer and decided to start taking it seriously.
I went to work for CityBeat, started writing a few stories for them, then developed the Living Out Loud Column. I wrote a book, did a cover story for the paper with more in the works and now I’m trying to develop this blog which is becoming successful.
But my roots I never forgot – and to flat out honest, being a writer doesn’t always pay the bills and it’s also very isolating.
So I’m back at 810 Main Street, downtown – again, doing a little bit of everything. Jim is still there, overseeing the operation. His son Allen – who I knew when he was a kid, is sort of running the show now. Debbie, the office supply person is a hoot and is totally on the job.
The business has changed a little, hell, what doesn’t change? Over a year ago, they opened an outlet store on the corner called Elgin Retro Furniture. It’s hot – during business like you wouldn’t believe. If you haven’t checked it out, you need to.
I think Jim and I are probably the two grumpy old men there now, but that’s all right. All these young kids running around being all creative in what they’re doing and selling is taking me a bit to get use to but that’s all right too. Even old dogs like me can learn new tricks.
Coming full circle feels right. Again, I somehow knew this would happen.
Come in. Visit. Say hi. We’re a friendly place. For me, I’m getting back to my roots and it’s good to be back.