Here we are again—another Valentine’s Day. From the cynic’s view, it’s just another made-up holiday, created by greeting card companies, candy makers, and florists to get us to buy their romantic wares.
The romantic’s view, however, sees the day as an opportunity to share the depth of one’s love and devotion to that special someone.
I can see a bit of both sides; I suppose I’m what you could call a cynical romantic. Or would that be a romantic cynic? I understand the viewpoint that you should show your love every day and not save up the recognition for one special occasion. But for me this is always a big week. Within a space of six days I celebrate my wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and my wife’s birthday. Thankfully my daughter’s birthday comes in the fall or I might take a more dim view of Valentine’s Day out of fiscal self-defense.
If we look past the heart-shaped boxes, the supermarket coolers bursting with roses of every color imaginable, and the greeting cards that play Celine Dion when you open them (shudder), to me there is the simple truth that we should never miss an opportunity to let those around us know how much we care.
This year, this week is an even bigger deal than usual. Last Friday Draper held its employee service awards lunch. This annual event gives the company an opportunity to recognize employees who have reached a milestone divisible by five, and thank them for their service. I celebrated 15 years at Draper in 2014, so this year it was my turn to attend-along with moire than 160 others!
My job has changed quite a bit since I first started here in 1999. I was hired as a technical writer. For the first several months, I devoted my time exclusively to developing installation instructions and other technical documentation for our line of EZ-Fold basketball backstops. Over the years, all of Draper’s technical documents became my responsibility, along with media relations responsibilities.
Last year, I left all that behind. No more technical documents. I officially became Draper’s External Communications Specialist, responsible for social media, case studies, white papers, video scripting, and blogging, while retaining my media relations duties. I do still work with spec writers and vendors on things like specifications and Building Information Models, but pretty much overnight my job went from mostly technical to mostly creative. It’s a change for which I am grateful, especially considering what might be perceived as a risk for a company to make such a move.
So, during this time of talking about how and why we care for each other, let me give you five reasons to love Draper (and while we’re at it, you can enjoy some photos from this year’s service awards lunch).
-They listen. Over the years I’ve heard many stories about how certain policies were implemented after hearing from dealers, or certain products were developed after listening to dealers and installers. This morning I heard another, as one of our engineers described several key features in our new Access Fit projection screen which came from installer feedback.
-They walk the walk. Draper is known as a company of down-to-earth individuals who care not only about making money but also about their community and co-workers. There have been countless times when the company has quietly supported community projects without desiring any public recognition of their work. As for down-to-earth, I can get up and walk across the floor I’m on, go into the company president’s office and talk to him. If I worked on the assembly line the same would hold true. When people see him walk by they say “Hi John.” Or if I need to ask the person who hems window shade material a question, I can just walk out to the factory and talk to her. We’re all right here in Spiceland, Indiana, just like we always have been.
-They aren’t afraid to give something a try. Over the years, I’ve taken some cockamamie schemes to my boss, Penny, and to John Pidgeon, the company president. And most of the time they’ve gone along with them. Thankfully, in the end they seemed to work out OK. But the fact that they trusted an employee’s idea is important.
-They mean what they say. When someone in Draper sales or customer service tells you they will get something done, they will bend over backwards to make it happen. That doesn’t mean they can always work miracles, but there is a company culture of “customer first,” and it’s taken seriously.
-Even though they are rooted in the same small town, they don’t like staying put. Over my 15 years of employment here, Draper has introduced so many new products that I’ve lost count. They are always looking for where to head next, whether we’re talking AV products, such as screens, projector lifts, and videoconferencing solutions; solar control solutions; or athletic equipment. Just in the past couple of years, major new directions or improvements have included TecVision Engineered Screen Technology, solar control products such as Omega blinds and FlexLouver Rack Arm Systems, and Video Conferencing Backgrounds. Just to name a few.
So, there you have it. Five things to love about Draper. Your list may be completely different; share it if you like!
Meanwhile, back on the subject of Valentine’s Day, if you’re of the romantic persuasion, let me end this post with another list of five things: five songs you might not know, but to which you should listen this Valentine’s Day!
The Greatest Sum by the Avett Brothers