What generational gems of enduring success did you inherit?
It just hit me how rare it is to have parents married for 35+ years, who proactively perform – united in the very business they founded. The company’s inception began with a simple drive for excellence. Pro Weld, Inc. they named it fittingly. It was my dad’s hard-earned 401K, and my mom’s innate money sense (named Penny for a reason) that moved their vision to reality.
It is strange they have worked side-by-side for 20+ of those years, but have not succeeded in killing each other (yet). They work in a sea of sharp metals which comprises their Women Owned metal fabrication business in petite Southern Oregon. They have trudged through years of hard ground which cause most sane entrepreneurs to cry “uncle.” Yet they move persist forward undefeated.
To add to this rarity, they give us kids an open checkbook of opportunity to impact their company based on our aptitude, attitude and interest.
Eli and Jim Oberlander 1990s at Pro Weld
This rare family culture was passed on by two sets of biological great grandparents who found ways to be involved in every holiday, and birthday until I hit my early twenties. I admit at times the repetitive stories rung like the low-battery annoyance a fading hearing aid. But now, the very “white noise” survival stories are what I recall when I dig into our family and business history.
Their bouts of hard-times, the cruel world of small wages, hard-labor and the single orphaned piece of bacon sitting on a cold dinner plate between my malnourished great grandparents gives me great perspective. What was normal to them is now what I consider stories that sparkle in the light as true gems of courage and strength.
When I get a “wreck your day” gut punch of an email, I can only laugh. It occurs to me that everyone before me knew much harder conditions – and wore much thicker skin -while beating the odds in nearly every way.
Recalling the “Greats”
My two sets of great grandparents were born in the 19-teens. Their lives were lodged in a special time in American history. They were forced to accept the morphing world of upgrades from trusted horse to automobile, from family farm to foreign factory. My “greats” accepted those changes, and buckled down as the storms of banking, famine and heartbreak came back with increasing hunger for more.
Great Grandpa Don (Sr.) of “Oberlander Heating” in the 1940s.
And this is where the lessons I’ve learned from both my parents, grandparents and “greats” converge. They tell of years of worthless land values (properties worth less than their mortgages for decades), and hard markets. On my mom’s side I hear of small toy truck routes, on my dad’s side I hear of “Oberlander Heating, Co.” in Rochester, Michigan closing in order to start fresh in Arizona.
Inspirational Raw Grit
My greats, my grandparents and my parents have shown me with their lives the golden gems of success. Their raw grit, and Olympic-style resolve for better days provoke me to walk with an acute vision, integrity and a purpose to passionately change the world.
With the legacy of my “greats” in mind, I am honored to be featured in The Oregonian Magazine provided by OSU’s Austin Family Program for Excellence in Family Business. The golden lessons making Pro Weld an enduring success is an invaluable heritage forging our family legacy. This “raw grit” gene is a true inspiration.
Tanna Oberlander in the Excellence in Family Business Award Magazine, special edition published for the business section of the Oregonian Magazine.