I guess it's my DNA
Updated: Apr 9
They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and in my case, at least I hope that's true.
Today, I'm starting a series of stories about people who inspire me to "Work Hard & Be Your Best". So here's a story of someone who had a huge impact on who I am today.
My father, Harold Johnson.
He was hard-working, humble, and he loved people. He treated everyone with kindness and respect, and lived every day of his life as an incredible example of his strong Christian faith.
He was well-known our community as a grounded, honest, and fair businessman. He's one of the people I admire the most, miss the most, and wish to emulate the most.
Please allow me to share a little about him.
I came from a long line of hard-working entrepreneurs. My grandfather, Orie Johnson, opened a fruit and vegetable stand in Wichita, Kansas in 1928, and later partnered with my father, Harold Johnson, to open Johnson's Garden Center in West Wichita. The small, simple structure is still the same building (with updates and additions) that houses a thriving nursery business run by my brothers and their families today. It's grown into multiple locations, including a landscape division.
My 3 brothers were always involved with my dad and grandpa in the business, but I didn't really "dig" the dirt that much, and steered clear of anything that would get my little white tennis shoes dirty.
However, when the store turned into a full-on Christmas wonderland in November and December, I LOVED hanging out there, helping decorate the trees and making bows for customers. My version of heaven!
Looking back, I don't think I fully realized the valuable lessons my father was teaching me all along.
I didn't fully appreciate the sacrifices he made with the choice to be an entrepreneur and work hard to build a business that would support our family.
I didn't understand how much courage it took to stay optimistic when the business took it's natural downturn during the slow and cold winter months.
I had no idea how many families that our family business supported, giving them the opportunity to earn a living and provide for their families.
And I certainly didn't understand that his hard work, and that of my grandpa's, would ultimately leave a legacy long after their passing.
My dad has been gone 25 years, and today, I understand and appreciate these lessons so much.
I think this is why I love supporting other entrepreneurs today. I know it takes sacrifice to go after your dreams. It takes grit, determination, and resilience.
It takes believing in yourself and your vision more than you believe in other people's opinions. It takes courage to keep going when you're exhausted and tired.
I love this picture of my dad with a customer in the store in November of 1973. Even as the owner, he loved greeting and helping customers, and everyone loved him.
I don't have many pictures of him working in the store, but this one is pretty special. See those Raggedy Ann & Andy ornaments in the upper left corner of the picture?
Yep, those little vintage ornaments are the only ones I still have from my childhood, and they adorn my tree every year.
Those little happy, smiling faces remind me that there's a little piece of my dad that is always with me.
Next time you have the choice to transact business or buy a product, I hope you will consider supporting a small business owner and entrepreneur. By making this choice, you're helping families put food on the table. You're helping fulfill dreams. And you might just be helping contribute to what might end up being a beautiful legacy.