“I have been lied to. I have been cheated. I have been kicked around. I have been cursed. I have been called every filthy name in the book.”
Bold start to today’s blog, perhaps, but the topic warrants an introduction. The above quote comes from my grandfather, Eddie A. Knight and founder of E.A. Knight Construction, when I asked him what he wanted his company to be and how he hoped to mold it during its adolescence.
Working in corporate construction for years in California, then shifting to residential construction with the start of his new company, Edd had seen the vast array of ways to be a leader, business owner, and, in general, a human being. One hot button of Edd’s is how his brother-in-law wrote him bad checks every Friday for payroll and another previous employer made my grandpa pick his check up from a bar. It’s easy to feel unappreciated when your employer doesn’t match the level of effort that you put into working for them, and my grandpa felt fully unappreciated every time he went to that bar.
Of course, there were many other things that my grandpa had dealt with before starting this company, as you read at the top of this article. He’d been lied to, cheated, and stolen from by the same people he worked with.
“It didn’t take me very long to decide that I was going to do the very best job that was possible. I know how to do the work, but I also know how to treat people. Treat them just like how I want to be treated. I treat the customer the way I want to be treated when I buy something,” my grandpa said. Yes, the Golden Rule! The key to good business, as my grandfather sees it, is by following this one simple rule. Of course, it takes even more work on his part than simply being kind.
“I want you to tell me what you’re going to do, and then I want you to break your back and do it! And if you’re going to make a million dollars off me, that’s fine. If you lose your shirt, I don’t care. You said you were going to do this job for this amount. Do it.” This paradigm has actually led to legislation that Ed got passed in the state of Illinois, but that’s another story for another blog.
At this point in my life, I have never had a professional relationship with my grandpa, and I likely never will, but I must speak to his character when I believe every word he said. He is determined and hardworking, like the rest of the employees at the company. As evidence, Eddie brought the conversation back to bad checks.
Edd locked eyes with me and wagged his finger, then said, “I will say this, and it is bragging, but in forty years, I have written one bad check. That was early on and I forgot to transfer the money from my general checking account into payroll account…” Then he laughed, remembering how new he once was to the world of business.
Even those who give their best effort to be good make mistakes.
Thanks for reading!