Years ago, when I first entered the working world, I saw a lot of how not to do things. I saw a CEO attempt to impose his personal values on all who worked for him. For instance, at a social business function he would turn his wine glass upside down and expect all with him to do the same. He didn't drink and, by golly, you shouldn't either. Likewise, if you didn't fully support the charity of his choice, you were told in no uncertain terms that raises and promotions were a thing of the past. I learned not to attempt to impose my personal values on others and not to be judgmental with regard to personal likes and dislikes.
I learned to live and let live, as long as the job was ethically getting done. The only judgment to be made is to the quality of the performance. I answered one CEO’s request on how to save the company money with constructive ideas, and he responded with no more free coffee and pencils. That was a real morale booster. I saw another CEO basically demand respect and loyalty from his staff. What I learned is that you don't demand respect; you earn it by your deeds and actions over a period of years. I saw how many managers made themselves unapproachable. I would never have dreamed of calling one by their first name or calling one at home to chat about business or personal matters. They always seemed to want to keep their desks between you and them.
As for me, I like to sit with my visitors. I had many people tell me you can't be friendly with the people that work for you or they will take advantage of that friendship. I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now. I learned how it was important for a manager to make himself approachable to the person working for him. I was determined that when I went into business for myself to do it differently.
Here, at Blessey Marine, everyone is on a first name basis. I frequently receive social calls on my cell or at home from our folks both on and off the boats just to talk. My wife, Jane Ann, and I consider many of them good friends. Over the years we have been fortunate enough to get to know some of their wives and children. We have had a drawing by one of our Captain's children on our refrigerator for many years now, and each year the boy sends us a new one.
We have become close to this young boy and his mother, particularly after we lost his father to cancer two years ago. He has said that he wants to either find a cure for cancer or be a Blessey Marine captain. Obviously, to him, our captains rate pretty high. We promised his dad that we would see that he had the means to go to college, and our fund is there to do just that. I know that when he was hiking with us in Montana, his dad was looking down smiling.
We had another tragedy in the office recently when a spouse had a horrific accident. I was so proud to see our people give so much financial and emotional support to them.
We are all friends. We are all family. And you know what? Everyone still does their job and works hard. I have found that friendship makes it easier to work together, not harder. The two-way trust is such an important asset. I consider the trust of my associates as one of my most precious assets. When a Blessey Marine family member has a problem, we try to close ranks as a company and take care of our own. At times I have heard concerns that I was going to retire. I have no intention of ever retiring, just taking it a bit easier. However, I am excited to say that I have confidence that my daughter, Laura, and her husband, Clark, will continue the company after me in the same mold with the same people values for years to come.
A very long time ago in high school, I read The Brothers Karamazov. As I remember the story, the main character led a pretty sordid life, lots of good and lots of bad. At the end of the story, he looked back on his life and concluded that when it all came down to it, the only thing that mattered was "little acts of kindness and love between people." Isn't that so true?
This section of the web site will show some of the good times that Blessey Marine employees have had over the years. It is a lot of what makes Blessey Marine a different kind of company.
- Walter Blessey, Jr.