Aaron J. Crowley

Crowley’s Granite Concepts

A father is supposed to teach his children, but last weekend it was the other way around.

We took a trip to the Oregon Coast and wow, we were treated to awe-inspiring sunsets and natural beauty.  We also watched beach-goers, surfers and fisherman drive out onto the sand and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

On our way out of town, my daughters convinced me to drop them off with my wife so they could peruse the local thrift store and art gallery.

Having watched all manner of vehicles drive out onto the beach all weekend, I figured I’d take the boys and drive down onto the sand and kill the time watching the waves parked just out of reach of the surf.

As we left the asphalt and ventured out onto the sand I flipped the switch to 4x4-High and we slow rolled by a row of SUVs already on the beach.  Making a wide turn to face the water I felt the back end of the rig sinking and our progress slow to a halt.

No worries I thought, I’ll just switch it to 4x4-Low and get going.


At this point my son piped up, “Dad…”

“Just a sec, son, I think we’re stuck!” I said before he could finish.

I tried forward, reverse, left, right, gunning the gas and feathering it before I finally got out to assess the situation.  The rear end was buried up to the axles!

The thought of calling my wife to tell her we were stuck on the beach and they were stranded in the thrift store compelled me to drop to my knees to feverishly shovel sand away from the rear tires.

Climbing back in to repeat the steering wheel flailing, gas pedal stomping routine, my son tried yet again to tell me something but I cut him off.  “Not now, son, I’m trying to think!” I barked.

I jumped out and began circling the truck, utterly puzzled by the fact that our big tire’d, big engine’d outfit could be buried in the sand when the answer jumped right off the front wheel and hit me…I hadn’t locked the hubs to engage the 4 wheel drive! 

15 seconds later I was back in the truck explaining my discovery while effortlessly driving up onto the sand when my son exclaimed with understandable exasperation, “Dad!  That’s what I was trying to tell you the whole time!”

As the designated hub-locker on the farm, out fishing or rafting, he knew all along what the problem was!

This humbling lesson really got me thinking about how I manage the business and lead my employees.

It is so easy to get so focused on a problem that I don’t hear the input from our staff.  In some cases it’s even worse, and I become unwilling to even listen!

To think about the time our company has spent stuck in the sand while I flailed around in frustration compels me to consider a couple New Year’s resolutions.

I hope you will join me.

As we begin yet another year leading our crews, departments, or divisions, let us resolve first to remember that our employees are very often more qualified to solve problems than we are and let us actively seek their input for the solutions.  Second, let us resolve to express a sincere appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices and contributions they make in our businesses.

Oh, and Happy New Year, to you all!

Aaron Crowley is a stone shop owner, author, speaker, and inventor of stone safety products. Contact Aaron by email at aaron@fabricatorsfriend.com.