Our Start 1980


You all know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with Jackie. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. There has been great times and there have been some rough times. I remember my first day at Henderson’s downtown in Edmonton near the hookers and street people. Going into the office for an interview as I needed a job at the time as Marshall Wells had just gone broke. That group of people   still today is my one of my favorite groups. Lorne Schreiner( Nelson Lbr Mgr) , Al McKenzie,( Windsor Brandon) Ron Best,( Ferche rep)  Dick Wilson,( deceased) Gary Cunningham,( JW edm) Murray Burdett ( JW edm)and later Rollie Wannagas.( M+M edm) . Another group that I really enjoyed was my 10 yr stint with Sterling Dist with  Bob K ( weiser) Gary Leedahl( JW semi-retired) Don Bentham( Mac+Bloe retired)  Lloyd Meyers ( Deceased) and Earle Pollock ( JW) . A fair numbers of these guys I still hear from regularly.
But here it is the ‘ back nine’ of my life and it catches me by surprise. Did I forget to stop at the snack shack. ?How did I get here so fast ? Where did the years go and where did my youth go ? I remember vividly seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that ‘ I was only on the first hole’ and the ‘ back nine’ was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. I was nice to be the “young” one of the group. The youngest rep at Sterling, Marshall Wells and Henderson’s until we hired Rollie. A long haired bearded 20 year old I was giving a thick catalogue , company car and told here is your territory , go sell. Willing to work long hours to get the job done. Leaving Ft Mac at  9pm to a 4 hour drive home as I had to be at Trail Building Friday am’s. Travelling without a cell phone in the peace and solitude of our cars. Trust me when I first started at Henderson’s the first trip I made I thought what did I walk into as it was a branch in turmoil. Luckily a new branch manager , new sales desk and systems helped us move into a better place quickly. I remember the after work parties we used to have. When we made our first milestone dollar month, when we made our first milestone month x 2 month and so on, Christmas parties etc. I had the entire sales staff help me finish my basement in St Albert so we could have a Christmas party downstairs. The drywall taper laughed and said we used more screws than he had ever seen. LOL  ( cost me extra to fix)

Some best memories:

  • Travelling with Gary Leedahl to Van and TO as my navigator. We had some fun times.
  • Manager meetings at Al Martyszenko’s place
  • Losing Stephen Rector at a strip club
  • Fly in Fishing trips up north with Sterling reps.
  • Budget meeting with Steve S and “discussing” uniforms VS cell phones.
  • Manager meeting at La Quinta Palm Springs
  • Group “hugs” at Henderson’s Edmonton
  • The tons of wings and beer every Friday with Ed Buhnai and Darren Wood
  • Hubcap and plywood pricing situations at Henderson’s Edmonton with Rollie and Murray
  • Players Tournament at TPC Sawgrass
  • Vegas holiday with Gary Leedahl and Al Martyszenko and going on the rides on the top of the Stratosphere. Gary says to me the card and necklace they give around your neck is like a toe tag for identification after falling 1000 ft to the ground.
  • Henderson managers meeting at Hy’s Vancouver ( $100 ounce cognac and cigars) Larry Geddes coming down with slippers to the trade show after a good(bad) night
  • Meetings with Al M at Hy’s downtown Calgary on his regular branch visit. ( 24 oz prime ribs)
  • Christmas party at the Keg in Edmonton( I am just fine, perfectly fine)
  • Darren Woods tie in the shedder ,his truck stuck in the middle of the road , sleeping at Mary’s Inn

And customers that were more like friends, Ray ( Totem) Roger,Barry, Gary ,( Regal) Gary ( Trail),Jules,Jack ( FT mac HH)Les ( HH Stettler) Fred ( Northern Eau Clair) and many others I thoroughly enjoyed working with such as Joel( Dirham)Don ( HH ft mac)George (Lealta), Aaron ( regal) Brian ( Foretenn)Tim ( HH Red Deer) Kevin,Koyne( alpine) Denis, Manfred ( nelson) Gary,Peter ( Trail)  and many more.

My friends are getting OLD , some retiring and some getting very grey. Some have passed on and enjoying a whole new life. I look at my friends and colleagues and I see an older person now. Old is good in some ways, old movies, old songs and especially OLD Friends. Some are in better and some worse shape than me, but, I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant . . . but like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become.  Most of my peers at JW are over 55 years old and some over 60. We did a great job in training old dogs new tricks with Blackberry’s and laptops.  I always thought the FREEDOM 55 was a great marketing idea. I missed that target but am content with my decision to leave now. Young enough to travel, enough energy to do most anything, young enough to play with my grandchild but old enough to know what my limits are.  Enough money to last( hopefully), enough to enjoy a few great trips and enough to enjoy the freedom of not working. Stress, travel, customer care, customer demands, corporate policies , certain departments, and individual agenda’s and personalities slowly erode the “fun” out of doing a job I love.

There are very few things that I wish I would have done over the years. I was extremely blessed in every aspect of my life. There are more things I wish I hadn’t done but no real regrets.  I know, that though I’m on the ‘ back nine’, and I’m not sure how long it will last, this I know for sure, that when it’s over on this earth . . . it’s over. A new adventure will begin !
So, if you’re not on the ‘ back nine’ yet . . . let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly ! Don’t put things off too long ! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the ‘ back nine’ or not ! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life . . . so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past . Mend those fences that have been built. Pettiness, pride , jealousy, anger, selfishness, righteousness only keeps someone from experiencing valued relationships.

I want all of you to think about the why you are working. I am sure the bulk of you will say money or lack of. Please consider all of the above plus this. $1 million in the bank but not enough time to watch or play with your grandkid or visit your elderly parent or friends isn’t rich. Richness is enjoying company, helping others, listening, watching, being loved and giving love and most of all it is health. Why do we spend money we don’t have in search of happiness we can’t buy. We spend 35% of our income on a mortgage for a house and spend a 1/3rd of our day working away from it. We spend 10K on a 2 week vacation and work 50 other weeks to pay for it. Financial freedom has little to do with how much money you make or have saved. Financial freedom comes from how you think about yourself and your money.  Remember the average lifespan of a Canadian male is 81 with the last few years being in poor health. Did you know for every hour we sit each day our risk of a debilitating event increases by 15%. In our cars or in our homes think about how many hours we sit. Don’t wait too long playing roulette on your time here on earth. We all know a better place is ahead but you may as well enjoy yourself on earth while you can. God didn’t create rivers, mountains, flowers and friendships for us to just pass by and not dwell on their unique beauty. You have to have some trust that things will work out. Life is short. It’s much shorter if you only live it on weekends. Retire at 65 and that only leave 16 summers to enjoy if you are lucky.

We all need to learn to live more. Don’t be caught up in the media hype that you need this much money to retire on or that you need to work to be fulfilled. No one will be bored if they chose not to. How much money do you really need if you give up on wants and deal only with needs. Stop listening to the news. News is all about the bad in the world. Ignorance can be a blessing as you will be looked after. Don’t let DEAD be your retirement age.

JELD-WEN has been a fantastic company to work for. The owners using the golden rule as their measuring stick had it right compared to a lot of other companies. But again there is lot more to in this world than work and most people go about their daily chores not thinking about what is really important. It is important to remember we shouldn’t be judged by what we do but by what we are. A title, a mansion, a Benz really doesn’t define anyone’s worth. Their daily actions do. My new job  will be “re-engaging” not re-tired. Remember you don’t want to retire away from something rather than to something. Retirement shouldn’t be an escape. If you’re viewing retirement as an escape, then you’re in the wrong job in the first place. Retirement should be an opportunity for you to spend your time doing the things which are important and productive for you. Make it a fantastic one .Luckily my list of important, productive and enjoyable things is long. So long I don’t know if I will have time in my new job ( re-engaging) to accomplish them all.

Some of my things to do:

  • Spend more time fishing with friends
  • Find more fun roads like the Beartooth.
  • Spend more time golfing
  • Travel land and sea
  • Help my family with different projects required ( landscaping, basement development)
  • Read more ( just downloaded 4700 books to a kobo)
  • Relax, sightsee, engage, sit on my rocking chair in Phoenix
  • Visit friends , cook more , golf 100 times per year , catch a 25 lb pike
  • Help others in any way I can.

Over the years I have honed and polished my sales skills in the Alberta Traffic Court. Most people struggle with one thing or the other .I can’t stop speeding. I have had well in excess of 100 speeding tickets. Above is just one abstract.( pic 16) If I take 100 tickets as the number I have successful reduced or eliminated 80% of them. I remember one time in a Red Deer court the judge saying during sentencing- “Mr Willard, I believe, you believe ,you were not speeding but the facts are, you where speeding, the question not answered to everyone’s satisfaction is by how much.” ( a lot of research on laser radar for this one) She reduced it from $210 ( 4 demerits) to $60 and (2 demerits). As I removed myself from my collection of muscle cars ( 63 Nova SS, 67 Camaro SS/RS, 68 Dart GT, 69 Dart GT, 69 Nova SS, 70 Monte Carlo SS, 71 Monte Carlo, 71 K5 CST, 77 Corvette) I started to reduce the number of tickets each year down to about 3 to 5 per year. 2013 resulted in only three tickets. Yahoo ! Soon I will drive the right speed for my age. LOL

I do hope over the years all of you would say Larry always paid his share or more than his share and he was generous in most things including gifts and donations. Please understand when I say “that will change”. LOL   My hope is to still pay my fair share but to be selective in what I am paying for. I.e. paying for another golf course when I have a paid membership at my home course within reason. My hope is to still have nice gift choices but on the frugal side. I like the word frugal vs. cheap.  On a  fixed income with no salary coming in this is needed to maintain our standard of living we desire since we are leaving a little on the early side.

Remember it is the thought that counts.

I didn’t want this to sound like an eulogy but it is in a way as I leave my 40 yr work life behind. Here is a list of my proudest accomplishments some job and some life related.

  • Marrying my soul mate Jackie. My ( Edmonton Sun)Sunshine girl even today and still the most beautiful woman I know.
  • Having two incredible identical twin girls Jessica and Victoria
  • Being raised by two of the best parents that anyone could ever wish for.
  • Watching my grandson grow up
  • Winning first place as a soloist out of Alberta at the Kiwanis Music festival
  • Winning first place as a violinist in a quartet in Alberta at the Kiwanis Music festival
  • Winning “Rookie Franchisee of the Year” award at our fast food franchise.
  • Nominated twice and Winning “ Most beautiful Restaurant “ award (out of 2000 stores in 15 different countries)
  • Nominated twice and Winning “International Franchisee of the Year” award at our fast food franchise( out of 2000 stores in 15 different countries)
  • Being the first and only ever Henderson salesrep to sell over 1 million dollars in a month in a single territory.
  • Taking a non-performing Henderson branch and in the second month being able to hit a milestone sales number never achieved and then doubling that soon after.
  • Having the opportunity to manage three branches at one time with Calgary/Lethbridge and a new start up branch Kelowna
  • Getting a HOLE IN ONE at the Speargrass golf course May 27th 2009
  • Having the opportunity to re-engage earlier than 60.

I know one week after my leaving the company I will be forgotten. That’s just human nature and the cycle of business. But my hope is that I will be remembered by a few for my actions. I hope I was able to make most of the people I worked with ,work life a little easier. I hope that a few people will say “ Larry was a great boss to me, he helped me, he taught me a few things, he had patience with me and he looked out for me”  I do hope the odd customer will say “I miss dealing with Larry, he always helped me”

If any of the above happens I will feel like I accomplished something worthwhile.

Most of you I will never see or hear from again. Trust I will remember you and wish nothing but the very best for you in your futures.

If there is anyone that thinks or believes they may owe me money please free to let me know how much and your repayment plan as now is a good time for me to have some extra.

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.


~Your kids are becoming you . . . but your grandchildren are perfect

~You forget names . . . But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you !

~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything . . . especially golf

~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.

Numbers 8:23–26
The Lord said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.”

Re-engaging is my “hole in one” of work.  I appreciate very much the support of my peers in the sales organization. You made my job an enjoyable one. I appreciate how well we worked together as a team and how much extra work you all did without asking or complaining. You guys are a first class group that I will miss working with. One of the most admirable qualities of the Alberta sales group is their ability to forge strong relationships without having to be  that “drinking, partying, loud  sales guy” that really when it comes down to it, is only the “guy that pays the bill” .

Thanks to everyone for all of the enjoyment, fulfillment , support and knowledge I have learned over the years.

Check out my new blog page www.larrys-adventure.com  for updated info on Jackie’s and I journey into re-engagement. As I was frugal and didn’t pay for a search engine, save the address in your favorites. The page will not be the typical blog format as it wasn’t created to let our creative juices be released, nor earn money, but simply a platform to engage friends and family in.

Larry Willard –

JELD-WEN  ( 1987-2014-       27 yrs)

Marshall Wells ( 1985-1987-   2 yrs)

Sterling Dist ( 1975- 1985-      10 yrs)

Nelson Lbr ( 1972-1975-            3 yrs)