What my dad taught me about business

For my regular readers, this post may be a bit unusual. But, for me, it is right on topic since much of what I know about business and what I share here originated from my dad. Allow me to indulge you with the tale of the Air Force vet, turned pilot, turned rodeo rider, turned computer whiz, turned electronics manufacturer, turned cabinet maker.

My name is derived from my dad – he’s Peter R., I’m Peter J. For most of my life, he’s been self-employed. My first jobs were working for his companies. Some were successful, some were not. For me, it was just a job to put gas in my car and hang out with my teenage delinquent friends (at the time). What I didn’t realize was that my father was the best teacher I’ve ever had. He may not even know this and his teaching was never in words. In fact, my dad is the master of the three word sentence. Unless you count grunts.

He taught me by example. By how he lived his life (for better or worse) and how he ran his companies. You see, Peter R. Monfre always operated at the highest levels of ethics. Whether he was operating the Greater Milwaukee Flying Club (12 airplanes!), working for Control Data, building high end custom cabinets or roping calves in the rodeo, he put his customers and employees first – often to his own detriment. He did the right thing always.

I don’t know how he did these things. He didn’t go to college. Yet he is an accomplished pilot (thousands of hours – even full instrument ratings), provided quality control for early computers (punch cards, anyone?) and even manufactured the first subcutaneous chip implants (long story). I’m not even going to try to explain the calf roping. I suspect he has a photographic memory. I know he worked his ass off.

Looking back over the years, there is a reason I’m where I am today. And that reason is probably hauling bales of hay to feed his horses in 4 feet of snow right now. I, too, have chosen the road less followed. I’ve been self employed my entire adult life. I see the world as a place of endless possibilities where anything is possible. I may have chosen college but the lessons I learned at Monfre Cabinets have been more valuable to me than any lecture I was forced to attend.

My dad still lives in Casper, Wyoming in a house he built at the base of 5K foot Casper Mountain (the third house he build for his family). He’s back to making the best custom cabinets you’ve ever seen for an exclusive clientele that doesn’t even ask “how much?”.  They know that Peter R. Monfre will deliver on the level of a true master craftsman and anything less will never see the light of day.

He still has horses (somehow he’s managed to train two wild horses) and he still raises and trains German Shepherd dogs. He still watches Fox News and wears a very large western belt buckle. He still punctuates his sentences with grunts and he looks like his father, Joseph Monfre whom I suspect taught him unknowingly. He still drives my mom crazy.

And he’s still teaching me. We talk on the phone once a week or so (he gets bored with phone conversations quickly) and I still call him to unravel the mysteries of why I can’t install a pre-hung door to save my life. But his values and work ethic permeate my life to this day and I hope that I can be as amazing as my dad and teach my son that integrity is the true measure of success.


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