Friday, March 31, 2023

The End of an Era

We were married in 1976, both 19 years old, young, in love, happy and driven.
One year later, after living in an apartment close to Swan Lake, we had saved up enough to put a down payment on this lovely, and with the help of the best in real estate, my granddaddy, we purchased our first home.  

In 1979, we were expecting our first child and he was working 7 days a week 12 hours a day, at a company with side jobs to make extra income.  I was working too, in a job I HATED.  I couldn't wait to have our baby and QUIT to become a stay at home mother.  

Little did I know I really did not quit work, it was just more manageable and enjoyable.  
In that year, 1979, the same month we had our little girl in this tiny 900 square foot home we started our business, Alrac Electric.  We were very young and new parents, but had a tense dedication to make a buck and save.  I had high school accounting knowledge, a great accountant who mentored me, and he had the electrical know-how.  We started our business.  That first year it was a struggle but he worked non-stop and we survived.  About a year later we had to have employee help.  We had our first big job, a manufacturing building of which the wife of the man who owned it is/was still a customer of ours after 44 years.  The Hubby/Robert handled the work part and I kept my nose to the grindstone, crunching the numbers, making sure all the bills were paid.  One evening, in the middle of the job, he came home and was just beside himself, thinking we were done, we were not going to make it, that we were going to lose our shirts on this job.  His confidence had left him.  He just knew that he had failed.  I stayed up late into the midnight hours to again crunch numbers, what we were spending on the materials, payroll, etc.  The next morning I told him, yes it looks on the outside like we were failing, but in the long run, we will make a little money, we will be fine.  In the red on paper, does not mean we are losing our shirts, that is just on paper.  When you look out at the long picture, we will be okay.  He trusted me.  He seemed to exhale the fear out and went back to work and kept his head down, making it happen while I carried on doing the number stuff.  It has truly been a partnership in making Alrac Electric a successful company.

We kept at it day after day.  Every morning in that tiny little 900 square foot house with the baby asleep, we would get up, make coffee, have breakfast and wait for the employees to come in the living room, ready to work.  For 10 years we lived in that house, but it wasn't always the location of Alrac Electric.  

1983, we purchased a lot of land and built a building.  Again, with the help of my granddaddy he took us to his savings and loan in Broken Arrow, where he knew people, boy did he know people.  We got a construction loan.  Robert was absolutely TERRIFIED to do that.  He hates to owe money of any kind, I don't care if it is a dollar, he hates it.  I told him we would be fine, we could handle it.  Our tiny little company was prospering, we had work and we could not do it out of our little home anymore.  
We stayed in this location for 30 years, through many jobs, many employees and another baby.  The original building was added onto twice, and with each expansion more purchase of property.  After thirty years of business here we were bulging at the seams and landlocked with no hope of any kind of expansion.

For many years Robert had his eye out for another purchase of land or building(s). We had amassed enough money we could do that.  He had always loved this stone building and tried to purchase it once before but just couldn't make the deal happen.  He had a vision and I supported his vision.  He has never steered me wrong in what he saw.  So about 10 years ago we bought the stone building, with a massive pole barn building in the back.  We sat on the property for a few years to build up the money again and then...
built the building beside it, fixed up the pole barn and the inside of the stone building.  The added building has 4 units in it and we've rented out two of the units for several years with the last two, used for Alrac.  The old location we still own and it has been continually rented since we moved out of it.  The two units that Alrac used will be rented out too.

Today we say goodbye to Alrac Electric, a company we have nurtured and built to an extremely successful company that survived 44 years in the ups and downs of the construction industry and economy.
The stone building, the first floor is my new art studio and the second floor one of our son-in-laws has a music practice/recording studio.  The pole barn is his man cave, he deserves it!

Today we will invoice out the last invoice to the last customer and in the next few months I will pay the last of the bills, and collect the last of the accounts receivable.  My work may not be quite done, but his is.

I hope to see him this happy everyday from now on.  He truly deserves to be fully retired.  Oh it will be a bit tough for him as he is very driven person, but I don't have any doubt that there will always be fish to be fried up and a dance to be done by this guy.

Happy Retirement Robert, I love you!

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