My brother lives in Costa Rica, so I went for a two month visit and really like what I found. It was like stepping back in time to the 1960s, no rush, not important today, good food, good scenery, and very nice people.
I remember one of my first encounters with a typical Costa Rican family, my daughter and I were on a quad trip and we stopped for refreshments at a small house on the side of the road. A young man about 8 years old offered us a bottle of coke and a boca. He was dressed in a very clean white shirt and presented himself in a perfect business manner. He showed us his house and family, his mom had the dirt floor house spotless.
I made up my mind that I would like to visit Costa Rica more often. The business went up for sale and in about two years in 2007 it sold. I stayed and worked with the new owner to help him get going and I still work there if he needs my services and when things are slow in Costa Rica.
I am slowly heading for full retirement, but I have many years left to help people with their service needs. I hope to hand off the business one day to my wife’s children. They are hard workers and will make good managers as the business grows.
I quit smoking 5 years ago and think that I should have done it many years ago.
It is odd how you remember were you were when earth shattering things happened.
I was in school in New Brunswick when president JFK was shot, and was at SAIT working on a irrigation install when the World Trade Center towers came tumbling down. I was in my plumbing class at SAIT when the Challenger blew up.
Genus was doing well, our revenue hit very close to one million dollars one year, not too bad for a service company. We could expand by adding managers, but I was getting a little tired, my blood pressure was high and I smoked like a chimney. My doctor told me to change my ways or get my affairs in order.
That was a shock for someone who has new been in a hospital except for minor injuries. So I did what he asked me to do, slow down and take some time off. Taking time off is fun but the business will suffer, so I decided to sell before the company lost too much revenue.
Genus had a much better bottom line during the 90s. We added Genus Property Services to our portfolio and we really learned how to keep track of the hours of production and the hours paid.
I believe this is the time that we became professional. We did a lot of repeat business. The quality of our workers and our accomplishments were very good.
Our customers liked us.
I completed my Master Plumbers course offered by the Alberta government in partnership with SAIT. We also had SAIT as one of our values customers and we won more irrigation and property service tenders that increased our yearly revenue.
We kept adding to our customer list of property management companies because of our reliable and on time service arrangements with them.
New large irrigation installs were not at the top of our preferences.
We preferred working for management companies that was more constant and also recession proof.
This period was the peak time for Genus Irrigation and Property Service.
Genus managed to survive somehow with about 3 commercial customers and a handful of residential customers.
It was a slow progress to expand our work opportunities as there was not much in the way of new construction or consumer spending in the early 80s in Calgary.
Its funny how things fit into place sometimes. We had zero work booked for the whole year and then the phone rings. A small 18 hole country golf course needed someone to supply and install a manual irrigation system. I worked on this site for the whole summer.
Things started picking up again in 1987 with Calgary hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics.
We added a new travel van to our fleet and started to fill our winter months by offering Genus Travel and Action Canadian Tours, including ski bus trips to Montana and white water rafting to British Colombia.
The travel business never really made a profit, however it kept us busy during the long winter months waiting for the irrigation spring start up weather.
Genus Irrigation Systems LTD. was formed in 1978 when I resigned from working with Xerox of Canada. A few of us at Xerox had the bug to start our own businesses.
Genus Irrigation started out by subcontracting from Able Irrigation and the first high profile irrigation job we landed was the legislative building in Edmonton Alberta. This was a big job, big enough to obtain two used large trenching machines that I used and repaired for many years after.
We managed to get the Premier of Alberta wet by an accidental zone turn on, and we finished this complicated hydraulic system just before the snow started.
The company expanded very quickly as things were booming in Alberta at the time. We added three crews in one season and had to turn down some work. This is when I learned the hard way to be an effective business manager.
The economy was in overdrive, we bought and leased trucks and more equipment, then all of a sudden things came to a very abrupt stop in 1980, the oil industry was in trouble.
Our family owned business almost lost everything including our house, but we survived with the help of mom and dad. An important lesson was learned, not so big so fast, keep an eye on the current world events and planning is essential.