Ian Rudick: I Am My Father’s Son

My dad met my mom through a newspaper, although it’s not like you think. If I understand the story right, my mom-to-be and dad-to-be first met from separate rowboats in a Prospect Park pond. My dad-to-be asked my mom-to-be, across the water, if she was done reading her newspaper. She was, but she charged him five cents to buy it from her. Since they were in the middle of a pond, he paid it. Even if this isn’t exactly right, the story works for me.

I met my wife-to-be through a newspaper, too, but in different circumstances. She replied to an ad I’d placed for a teacher/counselor to work at a group home for people with developmental disabilities. My boss screened the applicants and, based on her cover letter, told me to hire her. It was one of the few times I listened to a person in authority and was glad I did.

My dad-to-be introduced my mom-to-be to his best friend, Sid Cohn. I introduced my wife-to-be to my best friend, Frank Hunter. My dad and I always had an easier time nurturing others than ourselves.

My dad bought a raincoat business called Weathercraft, which he turned into a wholesale business selling church vestments. He also had Hopkins Company which was a retail business selling church vestments. Additionally, he had Ian Roberts Company and SherMar Uniforms. I never knew what they were or if they were active businesses when I was a boy. I did understand they were named for his four kids: Ian, Robert, Sherrie, and Marilynne. When the Catholic Church became too liberal for him, he created additional income by investing in the stock market, buying and selling stocks as they came onto the market. He was a serial entrepreneur before and after my birth.

I started Come From the Heart in 1994, selling discounted long distance to benefit non-profit groups. The business has evolved in more ways than I can write in a short paragraph, but the themes were always to demonstrate a model of win/win mutual benefit as the preferred way of doing business and to use business as a tool for social good. I was a serial entrepreneur before his death and continue to be one today, after his death.

When I was young, I worked as a stock clerk for my dad, climbing bins to find cassacks (the long, close-fitting garments worn by priests) and boxes for shipping to retailers (using a Hopkins mailing label) or to a church (using a Weathercraft label). I’d also take boxes to the post office, although most went via UPS. I got to keep any change from the purchase and check the mail (something I still enjoy doing to this day). When I worked during the summer, fringe benefits included a malted from the soda fountain down the street from my dad’s office. Today, I enjoy smoothies made from soymilk — they’re reminiscent of the malteds of my youth.

When my kids were high school age early in the 21st century, they earned their cell phones by working for their dad (me). I had them do data entry, which is this century’s version of the stock clerk. I paid them residual income if any of the names they entered became sales. Many years later, I discovered my daughter Marcie had entered Rite Aid on a database as a contact, thus enabling her to share in any profit that might come to be. In May 2012, I was part of a team that met with Rite Aid to sell them reusable bags wherever there is a ban on one-time paper and plastic bags. Five years later, I’m still waiting for Rite Aid’s answer…

When I was a young man, my dad would type out letters on his typewriter — he had terrible penmanship — which he called his waiting for UPS letter. He knew that UPS would come eventually, so while he waited, he filled his time productively with a letter to his son. Today, I type on a computer when I have some time, and I often write things to share with my son and daughter. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Generations by Si Kahn

We are not the first, and we won’t be the last

For the threads wound too tight to unravel

If we stare in our mirrors, and never look back

We won’t see the roads we have traveled

Generations, like a rock beneath the water

Generations, more and more….

Behind this good writer is a great editor; Mark Bloom. Learn more about Mark’s talents at: Mark Bloom: Words that empower your business.