As many of you know by now, I was chosen as this year's recipent of the Ralph
Macchio Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was given at an awards ceremony during the Louisville Expo. Bob Kendall,
the founder of Cole Publishing, the company that publishes Pumper, Cleaner, and four other magazines as well as organizing
Expo, describes the Macchio Award as the Superbowl of awards... the top award you can receive in our industry. The photo shows
me receiving the award from Bob Kendall (left) and Ralph Macchio. The other photo is of the permanent plaque with the names
of all the recipients. They are all huge leaders in their segments of this industry, and have given of themselves incredibly
unselfishly for the betterment of our great industry.
When Bob first notified me that I had been chosen for this
tremendous honor, my first reaction was that I was so shocked my jaw hit the floor. There are many people who are so deserving
of this award that I am totally humbled by it.
When Pumper first started in 1979, we
all worked very hard to fill it with useful, readable information. My pet topic was and always has been Customer Education.
When the trade shows started in 1981 we all worked very hard to have only the best equipment and products for the septic industry
to see, but we did everything we could to have meaningful educational programs to help people enhance their businesses. Out
of that has grown Education Day at Expo, that had over 60 quality seminars and classes to attend this year.
Bob handed me the award he said some things that reminded me of some things we have done since 1976. when we started in business
with septic contractors.
*"Rick has written countless articles (in Pumper) and presented many seminars
(at Expo), mostly on customer education..."
"Rick placed his first ad in our very first issue, and he has never
missed an issue of Pumper..."
"I have met many of Rick's customers and I have never met any who
did not like working with him..."
*"He has enhanced our industry through his efforts, and he is a worthy recipient
of the award..."
Even though it made me a little uncomfortable hearing all those lofty things about myself,
the honor was something I will always cherish. And it got me reminiscing about some of the other things in our history that
have impacted the industry (or are a least interesting).
*Most people don't know that when we first went into
business with pumpers there was no Pumper Magazine. There wasn't even a mailing list for any septic contractors.
We built the first national mailing list for the septic trades. In order to do this we acquired every
telephone directory in the United States. Almost 5000 books. It took 6 months - no computer.
*We have advertised
in EVERY issue of Pumper. Pumper was started by one of our customers in Wisconsin, Pete Lawoon,
and his friend Bob Kendall. Pete was trying to sell a truck. We said we'd advertise in what we knew would be their one-and-only
issue. That was 1979, almost 350 issues of Pumper ago. Pete is no longer in the publication, but Bob has done an
amazing job giving all of us a forum to help grow our businesses.
*We have exhibited in EVERY Expo.
From Nashville to Biloxi to Ft Worth to Nashville to New Orleans to Louisville. In that time Expo has grown from about 40
exhibitors in 25,000 sq. ft of exhibit space at Opryland in 1981, to over 400 exhibitors in 660,000 sq.ft of exhibit space
in Louisville this year. It has been quite a ride.
*Joyce Gresh, our Director of Operations, joined
our team in 1981 to cover the office while my partner at the time, Lewis Garston and I attended the first Expo.That was the
only Expo that Joyce has missed, and she has become my right hand in implementing our visions of "Better Business
Through Customer Education."
*We were recognized as one of "25 Industry Pioneers"
who were honored at the 25th Expo in 2004.
*Our facility burned to the ground in 2002. We have
an incredible staff who worked around the clock to get us back up and running so quickly that it was seamless. We were pumping
CCLS within a month after the fire. Most people are unaware that we even had this disaster, which is a testament
to the people who worked so hard to get us back in business.
As great a personal honor as the Macchio Award is,
I feel that it is a validation for our program of "Better Business Through Customer Education." And
it is recognition of the place that bacteria products hold in the industry. But we couldn't have done ANY of this without
YOU, our valued customers and friends. We have always said that business is about relationships, and we cherish the relationships
that we have with all of you. We're all in business to make money, but an unexpected benefit in this business is
the friendships that we've established with so many of you. So "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!" You
are all part-recipients of the Ralph Macchio Lifetime Achievement Award.