My Dad started Lehman’s in 1955. 55 years later, he’s still at it.
My Dad’s an amazing and talented guy. He’s made his way successfully through some huge challenges. He grew up in the Great Depression. He helped rebuild post-war Europe. He faced down loaded guns held by drunken soldiers in Congo. He refused to give in when corrupt agents of the Kenyan secret police threatened to arrest him.
I’ve never really gotten an honest answer from him on why he started Lehman’s. When you ask, he trots out the same old clichÃ© every time.
“No one would hire me, so I figured I’d have to start my own company,” he always says with a laugh.
I have to admit, that’s a little unsatisfying. I don’t know what the real answer is, but I’m pretty sure he would have had no problem finding a job.
I suppose part of the reason he can’t really put into words why he started Lehman’s is that he doesn’t know. He was in his 20’s then. Do we think much about lifetime goals in our 20’s? Probably some folks do. I think that for Dad, it was mostly about taking on the next challenge.
These days, he thinks a lot about his legacy. At 49, I’m starting to realize that “legacy” is pretty important. The older I get, the more I worry about what I’m going to leave behind when I leave this world.
Dad’s 80, so he’s a little ahead of me on the legacy planning. Most of his heavy lifting is already done. Dad’s already made the most important part of his legacy. He helped Mom build a loving family. He helped shape our faith and values. He demonstrated the importance of integrity, hard work, purpose and giving.
Right now, one of his joys is restoring antiques. If you’ve ever come to our Kidron store, you know that it’s decorated with hundreds of rare antiques. Dad’s been spending hours collecting dusty old machines and tools from every corner of an old storage shed we just call “the hut”. He cleans, paints, polishes and lovingly re-assembles them.
I guess that for him, the loving family, importance of integrity and living faith weren’t concrete enough. I’m guessing he wants a physical legacy, too. And, filling our maze-like store (which stretches quarter mile long from one corner to the other) with an amazing collection of antiques fits the bill!