24 years: a look back and a look ahead
I was two months into my sophomore slump at Kent State University. I was arguing politics – back when that used to be fun – with some floormates. Like today, there was an election about to happen.
Unbeknownst to me, about 30 minutes north, in Hudson, an entrepreneur was launching a company from her dining room table. I should say, luckily for me, she was doing this. Because that company is one that I’ve been able to call home for 20 years.
As we celebrate 24 years, it never ceases to amaze me that I’m in a small percentage of people who can say, without a doubt, that I owe my whole career to one person. Because, aside from all she’s taught me, let’s face it – if Jan doesn’t decide to create akhia, we’re not having this conversation.
Every anniversary is special – as any business owner will tell you – but this one … well this one is going to stick out. No, not because it’s the Opal anniversary (I had to look that up) – but because we’re in a pandemic! (What did you think I was going to say??)
It sticks out because the things I keep talking about as being critical to building a sustainable business – relationships, taking care of each other, service – are those same things that our company was founded on. Think values matter? You never know when you may need to rely on them to get you through the tough times.
Just look at what Jan said when I asked her if she had any way of knowing if those values she built the company on would be so important today:
“I had two notions in mind for akhia: one – create a company that focused on extraordinary customer care and two – create a company that took really good care of its employees. The rest, I believed, would take care of itself. And it has – as 24 years of success, even through difficult times, has proved. After 24 years, we still put clients and employees first. That’s more critical, perhaps, today, than at any other time in our history. Relationships with clients, and with each other, see us through. They help us with our work, but they also bring us joy. They can be counted on, trusted and cherished.”
“They bring us joy” may be my favorite part of that quote. How much have you heard about joy this year? But Jan’s right – the shining moments that have gotten me through working from home have been the opportunities to see a client’s face, to talk to them about how they’re doing – truly doing – and how by simply “being there” during the early months of the pandemic, we were living our values.
24 years ago, someone saw the joy in service – and all the great things that can come from it. Thankfully it will never go out of style.