For various reasons over the past two days I’ve been thinking more about true craftsmanship, what it is, why it is important, and why people don’t appreciate it as much as they should. As I was considering these questions I started thinking about examples of craftsmen that I personally know and/or admire and I thought it would be fun to periodically highlight those whom I see as true masters. (BTW – in the absence of a better gender-neutral word I’ll continue to use craftsman/craftsmen in reference to both men and women that I highlight.)
I have known Bill Scheffler for a year or two now. Bill owns a company in Wheaton, Illinois called Pure Prairie Organics. A year or so ago I enlisted Bill to take care of my lawn. He’s not a mower, he doesn’t trim the bushes or spray the trees. He’s a lawn doctor, a good one.
When I first tried to contact him about getting a quote we had a hard time connecting. We played a little phone tag, but Bill made it clear in his messages that he would be out of the office, so to speak, for the next two weeks. He was attending an organic gardening/farming convention in Wisconsin. It was the first indication I had that he really took his business/his craft seriously.
After I finally received his quote and signed up for a year of his service I started seeing more examples of his craftsmanship. Within a short time I think I recall receiving a welcome note and newsletter. Bill produces newsletters a few times a year and drops them off each time he comes to the house, and they are remarkable. As an example, in his latest newsletter (a 4 or 5 pager if I recall correctly) Bill discussed: expected local weather trends, his approach to organic lawn care, unfortunate upward trends in cost on some of his raw materials and some of the possible economic drivers, mowing recommendations, organic weed control, aeration, growing grass under trees, grubs, soil testing, etc. It’s like a short course in organic lawn care, and though I never imagined I would ever find such a topic interesting, Bill’s writing style and passion consistently make me want to learn more.
I am also lucky to have met Bill on a couple of occasions when he was visiting my home. On each occasion he took the time to talk with me about what he found in my yard, any changes he recommended, and any tips on taking care of my shrubs and bushes. He didn’t seem anxious to run off to another house and I think he would have given me a personal half-hour class on organic lawn care and gardening had I asked. Again, Bill’s enthusiasm, passion, and depth of knowledge came through and it made me very confident that I had chosen someone who would really keep my lawn looking great and educate me in the process.
Bill is a true master craftsman. Take a look around you. Do you know any master craftsmen? Write about them and tell your friends. More importantly, let them inspire you to be a master craftsman in your field. Bill definitely inspires me.