Author: Charli K. Matthews, Founder & President, Empowering Brands
I have just returned from a trip out West inspired by one of my favorite connections… This story all started last March at the HI meeting when a few members went to eat after we closed down the tabletop reception; 2 of my favorite people ever, Henri Azibert and Christy Bermensolo, were among the group.
As always we had some great food, as is custom when Henri is around, and we talked about so many things… one being hobbies. As y’all know, I love to learn other people’s stories, and if you didn’t know already, hobbies say a lot about someone. Now Henri, as you might have noticed from the #FSAinAction posts, loves a beautiful hike. After seeing the amazing photos Henri collects, I was inquiring (actually it was more like campaigning) why I hadn’t been invited on one of Henri’s #FSAmember hikes that seem to be a regular outing these days. Throwing out “What?! You don’t think I can hike?!!” started a fun conversation with Christy Bermensolo about her adventures of backpacking New Zealand (another “must-visit” country!). Then she talked about growing up in Washington state and shared that her family had a cabin in Mount Rainier.
Little did Christy know, Mount Rainier has been on my bucket list (I have a panoramic photo from John Hayes, former employee at Vaughan Chopper Pumps, that has been hanging on my wall for the last 15 years). I have always told myself… I must see this Mountain! Long story short… Christy invited my family to stay in the cabin – HOW could I say no! And since we are knocking off one state on the “visit list”, I figured “why not drive and knock off a couple more!” So, I packed up the family in my Honda Pilot and we headed WEST!! What followed was an 18-day trip from Alabama through Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, back through Tennessee to finally Sweet Home Alabama!…Phew!
What did I learn from my road trip out West?… First, there is no service in National Parks, so… there was little work being done from yours truly… which had its pluses and minuses. I must say I am thankful for my ROCK SOLID team behind Empowering Brands with special credit to the incredible Cieana Detloff for managing the workflow! It was the first time I have truly been able to be on vacation in 6 years… thank you dearly, Cieana!
Second, each state has its own vibe, which getting to see so many in a span of two weeks was really cool! I’ll save those stories for dinner conversations, but you can also see from our photo gallery on Facebook.
Third, there is no substitute for surrounding yourself with good people, and Christy and Todd Bermensolo are really good people! It was amazing how they opened their homes, family (their children are now loved by mine!), and business minds to make sure my family had an experience of a lifetime. The hike in Mount Rainier Park will never be forgotten, but the time we shared with this family is treasured… especially my lesson in making sushi – Todd could charge good money for that!
In all this adventuring, I did not forget #PumpTalk! I visited with Instagram friends from H.D. Fowler and long-time client (#1) Proco Products. We also experienced many pumping systems, wastewater treatment, windpower farms, solar panels, engineering lessons, and plant sightings along the way… My kids point them out to me now which is great! I pointed out we would not be swimming in the water next to the wastewater treatment plant… sorry I’ve seen the lack of funding and reliability focus in this area. Always a good conversation around that one!
Lastly, I would like to say… we really need better signage for our plants/factories… I was asked over and over… what kinds of plant is that… I could make my best guess but I think it would be AWESOME for Industry to show off the “LIFE” we produce – I think this would go a long way in showing the public that pumps are vital to “their” life! Until it affects you personally, you just don’t get it… Unless we promote the heck out of it! So let’s do it!
If you don’t remember anything from this post, remember – talk to your connections about your hope and dreams… they may just make them come true for you! #memoriesforever