Chapter 12: Forever Young

Adam Raczkowski looked out his door and into the open work area. It was fairly empty out there and he could hear music coming from the conference room. This morning he had noticed quite a few “ugly Christmas sweaters” and several employees with necklaces of flashing Christmas lights. One brave soul had even sported plush reindeer antlers. Now, THAT’s office casual, he had joked.

Chris Jacobi and Adam Raczkowski

He glanced at his watch. The party had officially started about 15 minutes ago but he had been caught on a call. Adam knew he’d better stop working and go join the fun before someone yelled at him. Still, he lingered a bit, leaning back in his chair and watching out the window as the evening began to darken and the Christmas lights twinkled on the tree near the edge of the parking lot.

125 years. It was a long time for any business to survive and prosper, let alone a family business. He had been the first President of the W.F. Young Company who didn’t bear the surname — now he was CEO — and he took that as both an honor and an extra responsibility.

Though several key players at the company were not Youngs, it made Adam happy that there was no shortage of drive coming from the descendants of Wilbur and Mary Ida Young.

Take Sean Black, for instance. Jamie Young’s son, Sean was completely dedicated to the business and a total pro in shaping and targeting marketing and communications. He brought a deep knowledge of the family history and the family business to his position as Digital Communications Manager and had great instincts for the nuances of messaging.

Jessica Young, Tyler’s daughter, was another family member who was leading the company forward with enthusiasm and new ideas. She had joined the business with serious marketing experience and it was Jessica’s passion for animals shaping the company’s direction and tone for pet care with The Missing Link brand. The expansion into the pet sector was proving a profitable and stable part of the W.F. Young’s bottom line. It was a good feeling knowing it is being driven forward by a family member’s passions.

Adam flicked on a desk lamp and walked down the hall to join the party. On his way to pour a decaf coffee, he stopped to chat with several people, before returning to lean against the tinsel-trimmed doorway where he could survey the scene.

Jamie McKinley and Adam Raczkowski

Jaime McKinley, Vice President of New Business Development, was at the far end of the room, laughing at something as she talked with Chris Jacobi, the President.

That, right there, thought Adam. That’s the future in action.

Jaime’s contributions to the W.F. Young Company were hard to overestimate. She was a dynamo: passionate, organized, a great marketer, and a born sales person with keen consumer insights. And the company couldn’t ask for a better president than Chris: he was a natural leader, who had already shown he could motivate and inspire. He was also a lifelong competitive horseman — an accomplished show jumper — and that simply burnished his aura as a natural leader.

Chris Jacobi and Hangtime

Come to think of it, Jaime and Chris were like many of the great pairings of Youngs with non-Youngs through the decades. Adam thought of Harry Caswell and three generations of Youngs he had assisted, and how key their skills, knowledge and support had been to family members.

At the core of this company, Adam thought, is a mission that burns like a torch, handed down from generation to generation: provide the very best products to care for animals.

125 years. It had been great so far, but Adam had a feeling 126 was going to be even better.

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