Working with Family and Friends

by Scott Smith, originally written in 2012

I was talking to Rachel just last night about work.  It’s hard to even call it work sometimes. After 16 years I can honestly say I love coming to work more now than ever before.  Here’s the reason – family and friends.

There have been times when I’ve worried about how we will keep it going.  There is always changing technology, competition, the insane national economy, what will we make next, do we have any more good ideas left and so on.  After 16 years I have really stopped worrying about all that stuff.  The reason? We have the absolute best team there is.  I love the people at High Lifter.  We have the most creative and talented people of any company that does what we do.

Brian Smith, Engineering Department Manager

My little brother Brian heads up our engineering department.  You want to talk about two different personalities? We couldn’t be further apart in the way we tackle projects.  You would think that would lead to a lot of bickering and fighting, especially since we’re family.  However, we’ve got past that and now have a mutual respect for how the other does things.  Sometimes my hard charging, make it happen, no excuses way is the right answer and sometimes his well thought out, meticulous and methodical analysis is the right approach.  Either way, we are turning out some of the best products we’ve ever completed.

Because of Brian, James, Jesse and Charles, I have now stopped worrying about what we will do next.  These guys know no limit in thinking of new stuff to build.  Speaking of Jesse, he is one of the most talented and creative fabricators I have ever met, and I’m proud to call him a very close friend.  Sometimes it’s hard to walk the line between friends and co-workers, but as usual, me and Jesse buck the trend.  We often kid Jesse – aka Messy Jesse – about his personality.  If you don’t know him well, he can come across, how do I say this politely, grumpy!  In reality, Jesse is one of the kindest people I know and will do anything for a friend.  He will not be happy his secret is out, but it just is what it is.  I like to think his overly complex mind is just above the rest of us. So we don’t know how to communicate with him.  Probably not, but it sounds good.

There are so many good people here.  I don’t even think of them as co-workers, but rather as friends.  If I had a dollar for every time Charles Singleton has got worked up and called me a *&^*$ I could pave the road in gold.  But that’s the thing about working here.  We are family, and we can get mad at each other and fuss because in the end, it is always okay.

James is our anchor.  Level headed, steady and deliberate, he never stops moving forward.  Since James is our General Manager, many people don’t realize he has a sales background.  In fact, he started out in our sales department when he first started working at High Lifter.  A couple of years ago James and his wife Bridgett came out to my house to put up a few deer stands.  They have a lease just outside of town but wanted a place a little closer to home for those quick hunts when there just isn’t time to go to the lease. Being the ultimate opportunist I am, I offered the property behind my house with the “suggestion” that if they killed a deer I would get a little of it.  We set out to the back 40 and found a nice little spot with a pretty good view on a fire lane.  As usual, there were a few limbs and some scrub brush restricting the great view.  James struck out with machete and loppers in hand, cutting and whacking as he went.  Steady, deliberate and focused on the limbs he wanted to trim.  I watched until I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I fired up my Ranger and plowed head on into the thicket completely smashing and crushing all the bushes and saplings.  James looked up and smiled and said, “Well that will work too.” We are a great balance to each other in the management of High Lifter in much the same way. Sometimes I charge too hard and too fast, and James reels me in.  He is a great General Manager and a great friend.

There are so many more people here that I have great stories about. This is just the tip of the spare of amazing, hardworking people at High Lifter.