Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Bad Goat Forestry Internship by Wyatt Trull
This semester, I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with wood. I’ve been milling logs into rough dimensional lumber and slabs. I’ve also been planing, edging, and trimming those rough boards into building materials. And, my culminating project is a storage cabinet designed to hold some of the woodworking tools I’ve learned how to use over the last several months.
But, as with most pursuits, I’ve spent most of my time learning about people. Not to bring a spotlight where it isn’t wanted, but the head honcho at Bad Goat Forestry is one hell of a guy from what I can see – and I’ve definitely been taking notes. Mark Vander Meer, a Kris Cringle looking figure who most often smells like he’s burnt down the elve’s workshop, has taught me a couple of things about how to run a business or any other group venture properly. The best part is he’s never articulated any of these things out loud to me, and funny enough I don’t think I could get him to if I tried. I remember once he said, “the only reason I’m the boss is because I got here first!” That pretty much sums up Mark’s deprecating wit – a tool he may or may not realize makes everyone listen ever more closely.
It seems like the more people I meet in missoula, the more people I meet who know Mark – and have a story to tell about him. Mark has huge network of acquaintances and I think it’s, in part, because he has a business venture for every letter in the alphabet. Today, he has a collection of employed people working under different sub-business which together can accomplish conservation tasks of almost any sort. He has found a way to keep the majority of the in’s and out’s of a project in a closed loop. In the long run, this means he keeps well-trained people around and makes them better and better at working together all the time. It also means that overall he can do more with a lot less because there’s less friction in the middle. All of this, tucked away in a hideout under the bridge, aside booming railcars, makes the people he employs, including me, feel like they are part of a pretty powerful thing – stripped of all the haughty and superfluous trimmings that power usually comes with.
Posted by Barefoot Bohemian at 10:34 AM