Dave and I wanted to change the world in good ways and we went “all in” to help develop people by purchasing a manufacturing plant and moving it from Cape Cod to Cookeville, TN. Newly married after divorces where we had left all savings and possessions behind, at a point in life where most people are thinking about their retirement, we felt so gifted in love that we needed to do something to give to others. We were long standing manufacturing geeks, so purchasing a manufacturing operation and moving it to an area of economic need became our mission and quest. We thought it would be tough — but it was a lot tougher than we imagined. Duped in the purchase, we learned “trust but verify” has consequences as we started at the bottom and then dropped.
We moved from Cape Cod to Cookeville in 2 weeks — that’s 50 plus flat bed trucks and a whole manufacturing operation out of 40,000 square feet into 55,000 square feet of an old manufacturing building in need of much. Afloat through SBA loans and signing away everything, we were treading water and bobbing for air. Many experts looked at our books and said “there is no way you’ll ever climb out of this… leave this, now… know when to quit.” And then, Dave found out that he was very sick, draining him of energy and requiring much attention from doctors and such.
We have a tradition on 11/11 — we go away for a strategy day and plan our future with fun, reverence and prayer. By 11/11/2017 we had been struggling weekly for payroll for two long years. On this day, we asked the question of God — “Are we clinging to this for You or for ourselves? Do You want us to lay this down? If You want us to continue, please give us a sign.”
And we went home — and in the mailbox there was a sign. Dave had received a check from a previous employer that was at best unexpected and at worst a big error. It was a big check — nearly $90,000. It would have been enough for us to shuttle into an account and begin again… walking away from our little manufacturing plant where 30+ families depended on us.
Our friend and coworker, Sandi, could see the books and talked with the hungry suppliers daily. She loved us and it took a strong stomach to look at those books every day and summon a smile. But she did that, most days. But on the day that we came back from our retreat, she met me with a frown. “It’s time. You both have tried — but Dave is sick and you guys just can’t do this. It’s time to give this up.” I told her about the check. “This is an answer for you — take it — put it in the bank and start again.”
And this was the check your game moment. Our mission was unchanged. Our faith was intact. And we had asked for a sign and gotten it. It didn’t feel like this was our money, but money for the thirsty business and the people counting on it. One of them was a surly professional who didn’t respect us at all and let us know it — but we respected him and felt like part of our mission was to help him leave his legacy. “That money won’t last two weeks here” Sandi said. And she was right. But it provided two weeks of payroll, two weeks of payments to suppliers and two critical weeks to get funds and customer deposits to keep going.
We took that check and put it in the business. We continued to live on Dave’s social security which he had started drawing early to give us income. And we had faith.
That faith wasn’t immediately rewarded with more raining business and cash… in fact, we went through even deeper dips after that moment. But putting that money kept us “all in” in this game. And it helped strengthen our faith. We couldn’t do this — it was an impossible business model. An impossible recovery. But God makes the impossible, possible. And in giving everything up, He has provided each week — exactly what we needed. Not much more than a dollar more, but every thing we needed. And we’ve learned to trust Him and enjoy the ride.
Today we’re not making ten year plans or even forty year plans, but working on 100 year plans that will employ and bless people for generations. Our check your game moment — holding a check and deciding to run for cover or using it as a very temporary umbrella — was a pivotal one.
We were bold that day. And we’ve been bolder since. Because we walk by faith and not by sight. Because God has planted (given) these dreams in us and we can depend on Him, who began this good work, to actually do it. We’ll keep paddling and enjoy and learn as we go.
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Lisa has Nominated (N) or Introduced (I) the following:
Recently I met with another small business person -- "You've been through it haven't you?" "I felt like I'd made myself a prison with no escape." she said. "But now you're on the other side of it aren't you?" I asked. "I'm getting there." she said. Faith. One step at a time.
And if God has planted a dream in you, claim it and never give up. Count on Him to do the good work that He has started in you. Don't be afraid of anything -- but greet each challenge with gratitude -- the Great Trainer is giving you the chance to build some special muscles.
My business card
Franklin Fixtures, LLC
We develop people and our products do the same -- they go to libraries, bookstores, museums and colleges. Our products create spaces where people learn and come together. And they are the best shelves --- made in the most sustainable ways -- that exist.
My typical customer
Independent bookstores, libraries, museums, college stores seeking display solutions.
Visit my website: https://www.franklinfixtures.com/