Businesses, the very foundation of the economy. While the insides of businesses are often investigated, many forget about the most essential character in a business: the owner. It is due to these people that businesses exist; it is these people who carry the economy in a capitalist society. In today's world, large publicly-owned corporations are taking over the world's economy, leaving no mercy to small family-owned businesses. For these family-owned businesses, it has become a matter of survival. About a week ago, in order to investigate the world of owning a business, I interviewed the owner of a local family-owned business, Western Waterworks, to see what it is like to own a business.
Western Water Works is a large family-owned business located in Chino, California with five other satellite offices. The company sells everything from fire hydrants and pipes to valves and gauges. They also install these things in public and private places like parks, national parks, state parks, and nature trails.
The owner, Bruce Himes, said, "In college I was never interested in pipes; I just wanted to do something where I could know I was making a difference."
When I interviewed him on September 3 of this year, I asked what the hardest part of his career was. Himes replied saying that it was finding good people to hire. He said, "At Western Water Works we're always on the look-out for good, diligent people." Rather than hiring people based on their college degree or skill set, Himes decided to hire people based instead on their work ethic.
Himes also said, "My favorite part of my job is watching people grow." He said that he once had a gardener who was a really hard worker. Although he had no background or notable skills, Himes gave him a small job at one of the company's warehouses. That young man went on to become warehouse manager and eventually transitioned into sales. Today he is the company's number one sales representative.
When asked what an average day was like, Himes said that on an average day he gets to his office at 6:00 A.M. He studies there until six thirty, when people start to show up. Around 10:00 he starts meetings with his salespeople, financial advisors, and warehouse managers. His meetings end around 5:00 when his work day ends.
When it comes to owning a business, the most essential skill is leadership. Leadership is needed for training and motivating people, as well as many other things. In Himes's case, the quality of his leadership affects over seventy people. Creativity, quick-wittedness, persuasion, and money-management are all very useful skills for owning a business as well. Not much education is "required" for owning a business. However, it can still prove to be useful for things such as building a reputation.
According to Himes, more horrible than all the rest, the most horrendous obstacle is taxes. Like any other business owner, Himes has seen taxes skyrocket time and time again. In today’s sad world a small-business is robbed of more than half of its income by the malevolence that is taxes.
Still the company has miraculously survived, and even though owning a business is grueling work, full of trials and tribulations, Himes wouldn’t have it any other way.
And so, whether it’s a massive, publicly-owned company rushing in to buy you out, permits you can’t afford or obtain, or not making enough money due to half of it all going to the government, owning a business is a nearly impossible task. And yet even after all of these things, I’ve reached the conclusion that owning a business is still well worth it. Through owning a business you can personalize your company, you can be your own boss, you can be independent, and best of all.....YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.