Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Girl Who Worked With A Pig

Some of you have already heard the bittersweet news, but this Friday, the 31st, will be my last day at Nalls Produce.  Before you start frowning (or maybe even cheering!), let me tell you a story that brings us to where we are this week...

My friend Clare drew this for me when I got the job at Nalls

Nalls is not the first family business I've worked for, in fact, until this past year, I'd essentially been born working in a family business, my family's business.  My Da is certified Prosthetist Orthotist (I know, big, weird words, so suffice it to say he fabricates and fits artificial limbs & orthopedic braces, so things like the Paralympics and the scene in Star Wars where Luke gets a cool new hand were a big deal in our house) and my Mama is the Office Manager of the facility.  When I graduated from college with my Political Science degree, a whole series of events landed me becoming full time at their office as the Accounts Manager, which was always comical for a girl who was practically allergic to math.  In 2011, when the Mister and I got married and moved out here, my job came with me as I continued to work remotely from home, and it was wonderful...until it wasn't.  Changes to healthcare and just random blows to the business (oh hello roof, so glad you decided to pour water into the entire building) made it incredibly stressful and we were all looking for a way out.  About this time last year, that way out arrived in the form of a larger company that was willing to buy the business, but with one big caveat -- due to strong nepotism rules, I was automatically out once the ink was dry.  My folks struggled with the decision, and honestly, I celebrated in secret.  It was scary to think about a job hunt, was I even employable as the girl who just always worked for her parents?  But I'd let resentment build up so much and I'd lost my ability to see the good in the work that I was doing, so I saw this as my chance to be free.  We talked and I was given wings to hunt for another job, and I promised that I'd keep doing as much of my job for them as I could until the sale went through.  That same week I found out that Nalls, this local business that I loved and where I was one of those weird Crop Share members who got a little too excited about the produce each week, was hiring a new Marketing Director.  Did I have a lick of marketing experience?  NOPE!  But dangit if I wasn't one of those activist kids in college who could convince anyone why you needed to care about such and such a cause, so it's pretty much the same thing, right?  In the end I found out, yeah it kind of is, but man did I learn a lot, grow a lot, and challenge myself to do more than I knew I was capable of.  

My very first day at Nalls - I realized looking thru photos that much of my time there was documented via my feet, ha!

The sale of my parents business drug on and I founded it harder to evenly balance the two jobs, and in the end I let things for their business slack as I figured, hey the sale is going to happen any time now, it'll be fine.  Summer came and went, Fall arrived and a whole new slew of reports were needed for this company, so it must mean the end is close, right?  Then the week of Christmas my parents get the news...the sale is dead.  They were devastated at first, until they learned some pretty horrifying information on the real plans that this company had for our family's business and let's just say they were going to dismantle everything my parents had given their blood, sweat and tears to build, and everything that makes our facility one where our patients say they feel like they're with family.  That knowledge rekindled their fire to fight, but they waited to tell me until after the holidays so it didn't have to darken my door.  Early this month when my Mama told me, I knew immediately the only option for me was to return full time to the business.  Not out of a sense of blind obligation, or martyrdom, but for the first time I was able to see the value, the joy, and the honor of working for my family's business and I wanted it back, I wanted it back so very badly.  But...I've got this other job, that I really love...and there's a pig.

Penny loves my purple Chucks

I deliberated and prayed over a few days and then in my heart, I knew the answer was clear.  While I could try to juggle both jobs, or go super part time for Nalls, I knew how bad I failed at that trying to do the same thing but in the reverse this past year, and I also knew, I need to have just one job, just one, because I have a husband, and family, and friends, and just so many people I've yet to even meet to care for, and I need to have time to do just that.  So one chilly morning I broke the news to Valerie, and she was just beyond supportive and so gracious.  She's in the exact same position as me as the daughter of the Nalls, so we've shared a lot stories about the trials, tribulations and joys of gutting it out with the family business.  Sure, you know in the back of your mind, you could go anywhere, probably make more money, and certainly make a bigger name for yourself, but man, think of everything you would miss.  I tried a little of that adventure this past year, and while I would not trade any of my time at Nalls and the wonderful people I've had the chance to work with and to serve, I have so missed being a daily part of my family's business.

Monsoon season at Nalls

So, as I head into my last few days at Nalls, it's with a lot of mixed emotions.  I'm excited to get back into the fray with the family business and see if we can't just maintain things, but now even grow.  But I am so going to miss all of you, our customers who truly make working at Nalls a joy rather than just a job.  And yes, I'm going to miss seeing Penny Pig every day, because you really can't have a bad day when that little porker trotts after you and tugs on your pant legs.  D'awww!!!  Friday my heart will be rather heavy as I see most of you during Crop Share pickup, but know that I'm staying in the area and will continue as a Crop Share member, so I'll still see many of you, we'll just all be on the same side of the counter from now on.  And for the meantime, while my other duties at Nalls will fall away, I will continue here with the recipe blog, as I'm psychotic enough to enjoy this and I'm going to be cooking with the Crop Share every week any way.  So should you have the itch to get your feet wet (literally, absolutely literally, see above photo!) with an amazing local business, Valerie will be putting out a hiring call for my position soon, and you can download an application here and then hand it in or e-mail it to info@nallsproduce.com.  And as I said, I'm not leaving the area and I'm sure you'll all see me from time to time bopping about Nalls with my Crop Share and far too many succulents once Spring arrives, but for anyone who wants to keep in touch, feel free to contact me at tara@nallsproduce.com, and I'll give you my personal contact info.

It has truly been a joy and an honor to serve each and every one of you over this past year.  Thank you for all the wonderful memories and for all the ways you were bright spots even on the most frustrating or dreary days, and I covet your prayers and best wishes as I rejoin my own family in the great adventure that is small family business.  I won't say goodbye, I'll just say...see you around the Crop Share!

Admit it, your gonna miss this crazy face!

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