Retirement: Looking Back & Looking Ahead

After 33 years with the same company, and 35 years with the same product; it was time to move on to the next phase of my life.

Recounting a long, fulfilling career

I retired on October 15th, 2019 ending my working career with CertainTeed, a good company to work for where I met some great people; fellow employees as well as customers.

Back in 1984, I started working for another company experimenting with ideas using PVC shapes. We designed many lawn and garden products and eventually, around 1996, became one of the original PVC fence manufacturers in the USA.

I have had a wonderful, fulfilling career, working in various positions including customer service, product design, sales and marketing, and installation training. I implemented various fence training programs throughout the US and Canada.

My work took me to every state in the US several times with the exception of Alaska. Most times I was a stranger, going to a strange town to work with people I had never met before. Our one connection was that we were all involved in the fence industry.

One of the things I admired about the industry was that a large percentage of the companies I visited were family run businesses. I envied the entrepreneurial spirit of the people involved. I visited large and small companies to run training sessions and give presentations. I enjoyed learning about the history of the companies and their vision for the future. One of my favorite questions to ask was: “Where do you see your company in 5 years?” The answer was a good guide to how the company saw their future growth.

I promoted our product line and trained installers on some of the more challenging aspects of using PVC in various applications. I also worked in the field with our salesmen on the in-depth features of the products.

My work with the industry led me to become an installation trainer for the American Fence Association and the North American Fence Contractors Association. This I did for over 18 years, including volunteering to replace fence at Arlington National Cemetery each year (see my Arlington National Cemetery blog post) with some proud fence men and women that wanted to give back to their country.

Life as a small business owner

Around 1993, I started my own craft business called Across the Miles, making garden products with wood and PVC. I sold them through craft shows and mail order catalogs. I was doing well and enjoying the creativity. My day job became more demanding of my time and I ended up putting my other business on a temporary hold, eventually closing it down.

But, as they say, “you can’t keep a good man down” and my creative juices kept flowing.

I re-opened my business in 2011, this time calling it Sadler Garden Collections. I had no fear of getting bored in retirement because I knew this would keep me very active and allow me to still interact with people.

Retirement days

So, how does retirement feel? Fast forward to April of 2020, and I have been retired for six months. I got off to a good start with some pleasure trips, including fishing on the west coast with my son, visits to England and to Greece. I had not really “stopped to smell the roses”. I was still in full steam ahead mode when suddenly the coronavirus hit and I was grounded like never before.

All the plans I had made for the upcoming year were crushed, along with everyone else’s plans. Initially, I was lost in the fog of news reports, speculation and predictions that would scare the heck out of everybody. We sat back, glad that we didn’t have to leave the house except for the weekly food shop. We grounded ourselves to be isolated until further notice. 

However, even in isolation I have disciplined myself to keep working on my craft projects. All my upcoming crafts shows have been canceled until 2021. The only place you could see and purchase my products until now was on Etsy. 

ETSY SHOP: www.myretirementgig.etsy.com

Launching our new website

But my daughter has been working on developing this website for my business and we’re very excited to have launched.

As we are currently situated, my Etsy site carries all of my small products such as bird feeders, birdhouses, lanterns and planters. These are items that are easy to ship via USPS.

This new website shows all of my larger creations such as mailbox posts, patio planters, feeding stations, and lawn sign holders, plus many other customizable options. These can be purchased by phone or email.

I am excited to have released our new website and hope you will enjoy the way it’s mapped out to allow you to follow along and find what you like. There are also multiple links to the Etsy site and you can purchase products from there or contact us for the larger products. 

Our points of distinction

The one thing that makes us different is our use of low to no maintenance materials. In other words, the products that we make and sell should last you for a very long time, with no maintenance necessary except for the occasional cleaning.

Another aspect of our business is a CNC machine that allows us to create custom and stock engraved signs, and of course the material we use for these is also maintenance free. You will see many examples of the engraving on our sites. Currently, because of social distancing restrictions, our custom engraved products will take on a longer lead time.

While we wait until life returns to normal (or as close to it as it can get), I am still enjoying producing products and trying to be creative in these uncertain times.

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