By Chris Clay (reprinted from spring 2009 newsletter)
Ron and Nathan Heim are log home builders and GLLCA members. Ron has been a long time member and his son, Nathan, is a new member. There are, within our association, several examples of one generation passing the family business on to another generation, and for the Heims some parts are like others yet some are notable.
Nathan started helping out at the log yard in high school and through college. He progressed through those recognizable entry level activities of general cleanup and log peeling, then onto scribing and putting everything together. That, by itself, would be a good foundation for moving into the business side of the company with an eye on assuming a leadership position. Nathan went beyond that for additional preparation and completed a Construction Management Degree at Bemidji State University. In a constantly changing business environment every bit of knowledge helps.
The role of citizen-soldier entered the picture when Nathan joined the Army National Guard just after high school, and it looks like a long term commitment. He served one tour in Iraq with an engineering company from Camp Ripley, Minnesota, and is currently training as a Warrant Officer candidate. That deserves a round of applause and our thanks. Serving one’s country is both an honor and a responsibility often shouldered in difficult circumstances.
Returning from Iraq, Nathan attended Ron Brodigan’s log building school then afterwards he and Ron built a spec log home. In January, 2005 they decided to work together in a full time business. When talking with them, they emphasized the same main points for successful transition. First are open communications and the importance of putting everything in writing so everyone knows the plan and misunderstandings are avoided. Ron looks at the transitioning as something where the next generation gets involved early on and takes on responsibilities to gain experience. Nathan feels his construction management background has been useful for working with clients and subcontractors. He sees the company moving towards general contracting of log home projects. He also finds there’s a balance of time commitments between the military, the business, and his personal life. Most of us recognize that as the kind of busy schedule productive people take on.
Nathan is overall optimistic about the future and wants to have the flexibility to take on different kinds of projects. To him that means investment in tools and the things which make different kinds of projects possible. It might include buying land for future development. “Every day is a new experience and new opportunity.” When Nathan attends GLLCA meetings, he likes seeing log builders of his generation and, at the same time, seeing the enthusiasm of older members. The challenge for one generation is passing on knowledge to the next, and this is a good group for that sort of thing. We look forward to seeing him at future meetings joined by other new members.
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