Simple Tools


My grandfather Durward was a plumber.  In the Forties and Fifties, he took his family all around the West so that he could work on projects as large as dams or as complex as housing projects.  For a good part of the year, they lived in a big wall tent. My Dad and his brothers hunted rabbits for Grandma’s stewpot while Grandpa worked.  From the pictures and the stories, life was right out of a novel by Stegner, or Steinbeck.   


I have some of Grandpa’s tools on my desk. When I’m thinking – as I’ve been doing a lot lately – I sometimes hold these tools just to feel them in my hands.  The truth is, I like to hold the tools because they make me think I can figure things out, even when at times the answers aren’t so obvious.  I say to myself,”Grandpa was a tradesman who used simple tools to do amazing things.”

Okay, yeah, it’s hokey.  But it helps.

To me, today – January 20th, 2009 – feels like the official start of the New Year. In any case, it’s the start of a new era, and I haven’t felt this hopeful in a long, long time. Part of this hope flows from the feeling that – beginning right now – we can match hard work with open-ended opportunity and in the process create something entirely new. Today, “innovation” becomes a by-product of “possibility,” rather than purely a response to “limitation.” Hope is a simple tool with rough, well-worn edges, and there’s no denying the weight of it when you hold it in your hand.

As is the case with most of the country, we at Pemba Serves had a challenging 2008. We had good challenges that came from opportunities and hard challenges that came from setbacks. We weathered each of them to the best of our abilities. We were largely successful, and sometimes – honestly – we failed. We lost good people, and brought some new people onto our team.  At times, the opportunities came so strongly it felt like we were drinking from the firehose. Other times, it seemed like we were just in over our heads. 

Still, we managed to get some things done. We took on large new initiatives and – surprisingly – achieved most of them. For 2008, we offer our thanks to our partners: We wouldn’t be here without you, and we’re glad you stick with us.

For 2009 and beyond, we have some new things in the works. First and foremost, we want to expand upon the “Done Daily” theme that we began to develop in the latter part of 2008.  To this end, we’re going to refine the ways in which we communicate with each other, our friends, colleagues, and customers.  (No secrets here:  This here interweb thingy will play a part in this.)  We’ve challenged ourselves to look at the standard clinic model and see if there’s a way we can do it more effectively. We’re going to find new ways to do what we do with an eye towards sustainability.  And, we want to open the conversation about best-practices in our little niche of the outdoor industry.

As always, we’ll have a few WAP’s, too. (That’s “Wild Ass Plans…”) Some of these actually stick, it seems.  At the very least, the wild ideas make our work more interesting.  Well, at least to us, and that makes it more fun to do what we do.

Fun, hope, good people, and some inspiring goals – not a bad tool-kit for 2009.  Now, it’s time to get to work…

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