A Note from Our CEO
In early summer of 1961, I was very impressed, being 13, when my best friend Pat announced that he had a job delivering newspapers after school for the local community newspaper the Dixie News. It wasn't long after that, 2 or 3 months, when I was set to have an interview with Mrs. England for a similar position as a territory opened up. I had been highly recommended for the position by none other than Pat, himself. As the interview neared, I was quite puzzled when I learned my parents' presence was required during my interview, at our home. As the interview progressed, I learned that the paper route included 265 homes across rural Boone County, many of these homes being local farms. Each paper had to be neatly folded, placed on their porch, and never left in a mailbox, because it was against the law.
As the interview continued I learned – as did my parents – that summer paper delivery, absent school and homework did not cause Mrs. England and/or most parents concern. She was looking for a commitment through fall, winter, and early spring leading up to summer break. I quickly and happily looked her in the eye, shook her hand and landed my first paying job. I delivered newspapers every Tuesday a 1 cent per paper, for 3 to 4 hours every week, which netted $2.65 a week. While the wage doesn’t seem like much, today, that income allowed me to attend Wednesday night Scout meetings and follow it up with a trip to United Dairy Farmers for a Hot Fudge Sundae – topped with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry – that I would enjoy as I walked the 2 miles back to the subdivision where Pat and I both lived. Life was great!
Fall ushered in cool temperatures and early night fall, making the 200 to 300 foot gravel drives leading to most farm houses appear longer and colder. Winter made things even worse. Sloughing through ice, mud and snow drifts greatly extended my work schedule beyond my usual 7 pm, and had me arriving home at 9 pm cold, hungry, and tired.
At some point late winter, I had just about all I could manage of the $2.65 paper delivery job, and decided to call it quits without further thought. The following Tuesday, when my dad arrived home after work, it did not take long for him to notice I was not out delivering newspapers. His question was simple and pointed: "What the hell are you doing home? I thought you delivered papers on Tuesday." I told him I quit. Now, I can't remember my exact excuse of a better opportunity, but his reply was immediate and has stuck with me every day since.
"Did you not look Mrs. England in the eye, shake her hand and promise to work through the school year?"
What happened next was a life lesson I will never forget.
My dad looked me straight in the eye and said: "When you look someone in the eye and shake their hand that is a man’s bond. That is your bond. I suggest you call Mrs. England immediately and beg her for your job back, whether she has hired your replacement or not. If you are lucky enough that she will accept your apology, you will continue to walk the paper route every Tuesday – paid or unpaid – come hell or high water, until the end of this school year, because that is what you promised."
Mrs. England graciously accepted my apology and I made good on my handshake. The promise I made to complete work, was the promise I kept, rain or shine, come hell or high water. That was a very, very long year. But it was one that I’ll never soon forget. It provided a lesson that has served me well my entire life!
When you provide a service, and create a company that is based on service, you work with promises. I created NOR-COM based on the notion that our promise is our bond to you. We go the extra mile, sometimes quite literally, to ensure that you receive everything that you need, when you need it, in the way that was promised to you. You are our priority, and keeping our promises to you is not something we take lightly.
-Dan Van Meter