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Monday, April 4, 2011

ok. here’s the story…

Some of you have been following along at my Facebook page, my current life saga and my choice to take an new(old) job again. I have been pretty cryptic about it on there, with the promise that I would write about it here. so… here.

15ish years ago I dropped out of university and moved halfway across the country to move back in with my parents. I searched for a job when I got there and got mixed results. I started working for a wood furniture manufacturer but shortly after got a job in an office products store selling desks and chairs. A few months later I went to Merca and stole my wife away, and a few months later we moved to Calgary as I had been recruited by a big office furniture store.

I spent the next 2 years at that store, then a year at a really small company doing the same thing (selling office furniture) then I ended up at McCrum’s Office Furnishings. I kinda begged for my job there as the guy I worked for for the previous year was a total asshole and he did nothing for my reputation in the industry.

I spent 5 years at McCrums learning all sorts of lessons about people, sales and when to keep my mouth shut (usually after not keeping my mouth shut). I liked it there, and am still very good friends with many people from McCrums. I spent 5 years there, but started to get an itch that I could do better. I thought I needed to run something on my own, to create my own identity. I left there (under no bad terms really) for a competitive store, that had promised me a lot of autonomy in my dealings. Wow, what an eye opener. I really started to hate the business.

I started going to small business seminars and reading how to books on running my own company. Traci and I looked at all sorts of ways to get a company started, and we finally decided to open a company called LeeDavid Business Furnishings.

We didn’t have any cash money tho. That was a problem. I wasn’t loving the industry at the time either. So what to do now?

Well, we were pretty good at Landscaping. Afterall we did build this yard (ours)


 Let’s start a landscaping company. Ok! Oh Hey, Dad, do you want to be a partner in the company? Yeah? great, lets get started.

So we did. LeeDavid Landscapes. We are the best landscapers that we know.


We sort of sucked at business running tho (me, actually). It just ended up too tough to do everything. We under-capitalized at the beginning and were chasing money every year. Oh, by the way, Landscape construction is a DUMB business to get into in a climate where the ground is frozen solid for 6-7 months of the year.

Really dumb.

5 years we ran the company, the first 3 were ok, but before the 4th year we tried to grow with the acquisition of some new equipment and a larger crew. Do you remember what happened to the economy in the spring of ‘09? Anyone? Yeah it tanked. We actually had a HUGE project to start that season and 3 days prior to starting, the customer went bankrupt and we we left chasing bad business all year just to keep the hounds off our heels. Spring of ‘10 started well enough, but in a conspiracy type scenario we had 3 months of our 6 available for outdoor work be rained out. Yeah. 40days and 40 nights. Twice! We struggled through the season as best as we could, still turning out amazing projects when we could actually work, but the writing on the wall was getting more clear for us. Finally back in January of this year Dad and I decided to pull the pin. We owe some money, but rather then go bankrupt and cause a ton of grief for our families and vendors, we are committed to paying off out debt (over time) and rebuilding our careers and credit.

Dad is mad skilled in all things construction and is interviewing at a few places, and I had decided to start the Website and Social Media Business. That started well with a quick contract and a website build, but with limited resources (read:cash) I couldn’t squeeze my own network of friends and family enough to make an immediate living from it.

As you know, we are selling the house too. Too much house for the 7 of us. (Me, DW, DS, 2 a-hole dogs, 1 sweet old cat and a really dumb fish). The final straw for me, regarding needing to look for a big boy job was the fact we were required to re-qualify for the mortgage we already have when we switch to a different house.  So I made the call to my Friend and now VP over at McCrums.

Me: Hi Bob? It’s Neil
Bob: Hey! I was just thinking about you.
Me: You looking for sales people?
Bob: Yep, when can we meet?
Me: tomorrow at 1!

And that was it. A formality at best and I was back in the world of corporate office sales, at McCrum’s Office Furnishings. And you know what? I am very happy about it.

When I was there 7 years ago for 5 years, I felt appreciated, I was supported both professionally and personally, I made lifelong friends, and I made a whack of cash! I didn’t realize how good a place to work this was until I figured out that life without them was so much harder and suckier(professionally) in general. I grew up a LOT in the past 7 years.

As soon as I signed the offer, it was like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders. As of now I have emancipated myself from the landscape company, and I couldn’t be happier. The management at McCrum’s are going to be so pleased with the different salesman I am now, and how much more money they are going to make off me. The big difference for me is the perspective I have on life in general. I am a Dad now, I have ran a company, I can see the deals from all sides now, and I know how to say no.

Saying no is a HUGE skill in sales. Sometimes the deal is just wrong. I can now say no, and save everyone a ton of time and money when things don’t fit.

I gotta buy some suits… dang

I haven’t been running for 3ish weeks. Just too much other stuff. Sometimes it’s ok to look after other parts of life. Really. Especially when it comes to looking after your family. Traci is making me go for a run tomorrow tho.

Anyone up for a run? 10-ish slow k? 6:30pm?


  1. Hey, no worries buddy. Chalk it up to another life lesson. It sounds like you landed on your feet though!

    Now, about that run, count me in.

  2. That landscaping work is stellar. Impressive that you had the nerve to give it a go, and more impressive that you know when to move on. Good luck :)

  3. Congrats on the new old job! Nice to see things are looking up.

  4. Congrats on the new old job! (That sounded familiar?) Seriously though, I hope things go well for you. Tomorrow I'll run here in 90 degree Phoenix and you run there in the frozen tundra then we can swap notes.

  5. The secret to being happy is being grateful. Good for you.

  6. Glad to hear the whole story. Your landscaping gardens are beautiful - you've a job sorted here pretty quick with that work and the weather is amazing!
    Will be with you in spirit on your run ;-)

  7. congrats (in a way...) and best wishes with your adventures at your new (old) job! I am certain with your life experiences you will have a totally different prespective on things now :)

    As for the suits, why not just wear running gear? Im sure you could make an argument for it...

  8. Beautiful work! I think you made a wise decision though. All the best with it.

  9. Your gardens are beautiful! But it's important and wise to know when to move on (or move back). Really happy for you Neil...sounds like you made the right decision!

    Happy running :)

  10. Congrats!! You are the definition of a 'man'. You are going to do great!! and if you're ever bored you can come landscape my backyard, K.

  11. My 1st visit to your site - and I'm so in AWE of your landscaping skills!!! But anyhoo, best of luck in your new position - sometimes the hardest thing in life is seeing the writing on the wall and actually letting go. And you did it!!

  12. Glad to hear you are going for a run. Take it easy.

    And watch this video, because it is the coolest pick yourself up and dust yourself off video there is.

  13. Wow Neil, you've been through some ups and downs. Your landscaping work is beautiful! I can only imagine how you would have taken off if your climate was a little more conducive to outdoor work!

    Sounds like you made the right choice and you know you did if you felt the weight come off your shoulders.

    No doubt you will be very successful at whatever you chose to do! Likeability is a huge factor of sales too!!

  14. Congratulations!! I love how things work out sometimes. When we are ready for what life hands us :) Great photos by the way!

  15. Good for you. The weight lifted usually means you did the right thing.

  16. Thanks for sharing, Neil. Many blessings on your new journey!

  17. I so rarely get on FB so wasn't following online with the ordeal; but I'm glad it all worked out and you're going in with a new attitude and ready to work. You're going to do great. And if you're ever in Denver, I could definitely use some landscaping done!!

  18. Thank you for such a wonderful post. I enjoyed every bit of furniture