Twenty years ago I started working for a company, Marion Merrill Dow, that not only shaped the course of my future career path, but became the standard by which I would judge all future employers. (btw, no other employer has come close). The eight years I worked for this organization also produced life long friends.
Marion Merrill Dow was the second generation of Marion Laboratories, a Kansas City landmark company. Started by the late Ewing Kaufman, original owner of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, the legacy of Marion Laboratories still influences the local business community today through the numerous companies started by “associates” (the term used to refer to employees of the company) and the inspiring work of the Kauffman Foundation.
When I began working for the company, they were embarking on an international systems implementation project which I was very fortunate to be a part. Our team traveled frequently to many places in Europe preparing local operations to use the new SAP software. During that time, I personally traveled to Europe nine times in nine months, many of those trips 2 weeks in duration.
Dave did a tremendous job of holding down the home front with our three small children (ages 7, 4 and 1 at the time) while I lived in hotel rooms, ate out every meal and had my room cleaned by a maid each day.
I am pretty confident I had the easier job.
Our project lasted for several years and resulted in close friendships between many of us. No other place for which I have worked have I kept in such close contact with so many colleagues. I have often wondered what was the unique set of circumstances that caused this bond to form, was it the stress of the complicated project, the traveling to foreign environments for weeks at a time or the culture of the workplace that encouraged respect for each other.
Or maybe it was just all those mandatory team building meetings such as the toga parties, work days at Towster’s house, happy hours in the lobby of the Syltr Hof Hotel in Berlin, or the little piano bar in Lisbon, Portugal. More than likely, it was the sum of all of these things.
We all have stories we could tell about our days traveling and working on the DOWFAS team, but the most important item we accomplished were the relationships we built and have kept over the years.