Once upon a time, I stepped off of a small plane in Warroad, MN and was greeted by a “stranger” who I would later discover to be a role model, decorated serviceman, dedicated husband and father (now grandfather), close personal friend and, most importantly, one of the finest human beings that I have ever had the privilege to know. This “stranger” is none other than our good friend, Mr. Tom Amiot, of the Marvin Windows & Doors Tours and Training staff.
I know what everyone’s first thought is going to be… oh boy here goes Ben on another one of his “I love Tom Amiot” stories, but the truth be told, I do love Tom; for the man that he is, for what he has done for the countless people who have come to know him on a trip to Warroad, and especially, for helping me become a better person.
Why I am writing about this now? For those of you who haven’t heard, Tom has decided to tender his resignation and will finish his work for Marvin on September 30.
I have lost count of the number of Warroad trips I have taken in the 25 years I have had the privilege to work for Hastings. More than 50 would be accurate, but beyond that, would be a guess. What I can tell you is that in the past decade, I can only think of one tour in Warroad that was done without Tom (with the exception of some of the specialty tours/courses).
The “Tom Amiot” Experience
So how did I come to appreciate the “Tom Amiot” experience? I am not sure I can put my finger on one answer, but let me share just a few reasons that come to mind.
- He has always greeted every one of my groups the same way. We sit down, he introduces himself and allows everyone in the group to talk a little about themselves, where they are from, what they do and what they hope to get out of their trip to Warroad. Seems simple enough, right? Every tour guide does this, right? Yes and Yes. However, there is something about the curious smile, the interested questions and genuine concern that Tom exhibits that goes beyond just “the facts.” He would record either on paper, or more likely in his memory, that information and use it throughout the course of the visit. For example, we meet first thing Monday morning for our introduction. On Wednesday morning, you would hear something like, “Now Joe, on Monday you talked about wanting to know how we bend our round-top frames. If it is a standard radius, here is how we do it; a custom radius/shape, we will do this way.” I had likely already forgotten what I had for breakfast that morning, never mind what Joe wanted to see while he was in Warroad. On another occasion we had a young lady in our group who had never been to Canada. Guess where we went the second night after the training for the day was done? Not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He wanted people to leave feeling a connection to Warroad/Marvin and to achieve their goals for their trip. After all, this is still very much a people- and personal relationship- driven industry.
- As with many new things, there can sometimes be a learning curve. One of the very first days that Tours & Training decided to bring meals in for lunch, rather that going out, the quantity of food needed was underestimated. Wouldn’t you know that Tom, the host of the group, went home that night and prepared some homemade food with his wife, Cyd. He brought it in and shared it with the group the next day. This was Tom’s way of saying, ‘”Thanks for being patient with us – I am sorry that this happened.” Again, not because he had to, because he wanted to. He wanted the group to have a positive impression of their trip to Warroad/Marvin.
- Over the years Tom and Cyd have “adopted” at least 3 elderly people (and that number could be higher) from the community into their “family.” What do I mean by adopted? Tom and Cyd, and often their family, visited these elderly friends either at their home or in a nursing facility daily, took them shopping, to appointments, to church, fishing, and more. My family and I were fortunate enough to meet Sally, one of these friends, during our trip. Sally also became one of our treasured friends until her death. All this not because they had to but because they chose to.
- Tom traveled out to New England to learn more about our market. He wanted to see and understand the “environment” here – how it differed from the dealer direct market in Minnesota, how Marvin products were brought to market, how a sale was influenced. He wanted to be able to “relate” with our guests. He did.
- After the events of September 11, 2001, my oldest son, Nick, wanted to help raise funds for those families most affected by the events of that day. He and some friends decided to make what he called “Freedom Bracelets” – red, white and blue ribbon wound together with beads. He asked for $1.00 donation for each. Somehow Tom found out about this, and the next thing you know, an order for 20 showed up! Along with the order, Tom enclosed a heartfelt letter to my son in which he thanked Nick for what he was doing. It made a huge impression on a young boy, as well as his family.
- Several years ago I brought my family to Minnesota and to Warroad. I had spoken extensively to my wife and sons, and my parents, about my trips, and about Tom. I wanted them to see what I had seen and experienced. My parents were getting along in years, and I wanted to make the trip with them while they were still very active. My father had been the head of the Carpentry Department for one of the State Technical Schools in Connecticut so I knew he would enjoy seeing the Marvin factory and manufacturing process. I called Tom for some advice on a couple of things pertaining to our trip. The next thing I knew, he was taking personal vacation time to meet me and my family part way on our drive to Warroad so that we could follow him and Cyd the rest of the way. He took time off to personally give us a tour of the Marvin factory, and had us out to his house for meals, visits, and ice fishing. Why? Not because he had to, but because he wanted to. Do you sense a common theme here? A common theme that is not so common in today’s world.
In closing I would like to also point out that Tom took a leadership position within the Tours & Training Department with Integrity Training shortly after it was introduced. This came at a time when it wasn’t necessarily popular to do so, and we didn’t have a formal outline for “Integrity only” training in Warroad. Tom once again worked side by side with us to develop a curriculum for a 2 ½ day “Integrity only” training. Thanks to his guidance, it of course went off without a hitch.
Thank you, Tom, for always looking out for the best interests of Marvin Windows & Doors and balancing that with the needs of your guests. Thank you for your guidance, your knowledge, your advice, your time, your talent, and most of all, for your friendship. We are blessed to have worked with you, and blessed to know you.
We all hope you enjoy the next chapters of your life with Cyd and your family.
Integrity Brand Manager