This month we are pleased to present Ron Clark for our Spotlight Feature. Ron is a clever wordsmith, family man, and passionate advocate for higher education. Ron has had a successful career in agriculture and we are extremely grateful to have him as a part of our team. Please enjoy reading more about Ron in this month's Contractor Spotlight.
How did you get involved with DCI?
I worked with an agriculture company that transitioned their customer service and installation function to the DCI team, I made the transition with two of my peers and have been here ever since.
Tell us about your background:
In the last century, I was a high school teacher facing some choices, I elected to return to production agriculture by working in retail agronomy. I then moved to an international, basic manufacturer of insecticides and herbicides for many years.
What is the best thing about being a DCI Contractor?
Working in a titled position for most large corporations requires a major commitment of time and dedication. Generally, you are well rewarded for your contributions, but part of the rewards are the "golden handcuffs", a little like riding a hungry tiger. There are risks and rewards of staying on the tiger or choosing to get off of the tiger - I chose DCI because I can have a life while making a living!
Tell us about your home and family.
I was fortunate to be chosen as my wife's husband. She has put up with my "warts and all" for many years past the 50-year goal line. Our two daughters brought home husbands whom I am pleased to call son. All four children are busy in careers, so much so they apprently skipped school on the day of the grandkids lecture - my wife and I frequently discuss assigning demerits for that truancy!
When you are working, what are you driving?
A no-nonsense pickup, steel blue in color, with 4 doors. A tonneau cover keeps the supplies needed for my contractor role safe, clean, and dry in rain, dust, sleet, and snow.
What was your first job?
My first paying job was measuring land for acreage compliance programs for USDA.
What are your hobbies and interests?
Some years ago, we acquired a piece of ground that had been used and abused. My hobby is getting it in better shape than it was when I got it. More recently, the kids gave me several new beehives (empty) with instructions to fill them and put them in service. I will say opening a hive filled with 75,000 bees, putting in my hands, and pulling out a frame covered with bees took some measure of courage the first time. For less excitement and more quiet, I am learning to have my SLR digital camera live up to its potential. I have not mastered portraits which are more challenging than I imagined. I am still working with still lifes and landscapes. I have been rewarded with some nice pictures of birds while on birding trips. One of my favorites is a stop action shot of a Harrier doing a helix dive on a flock of Prairie Chickens in southern Illinois.
What do you do the first hour of the morning?
In the dark and quiet, I can read until time for the shave-shower-breakfast and out-the-door routine. Sometimes I choose tech manuals or biographies or histories. Been years since a novel has been on the table.
What is your greatest achievement?
With a most discreditable first quarter start in college, I was able to meet my goals while in grad school. Without a doubt, that milestone had the most rewarding effects on subsequent life choices.
What are you ordering for your favorite meal?
I can find pleasure in almost any menu item at a white tablecloth restaurant. The meal I most look forward to is my wife's swiss steak slowly simmered in an heirloom cast iron skillet with a cast iron lid. Bathed in tomatoes and slivered onions, it comes out tender enough to qualify as fork-tender with mouth-watering flavor. The drippings make a gravy to cascade over mountains of mashed potatoes. Freshly shelled green peas from the garden and hot, whole wheat rolls with an ample supply of apple butter along the side makes living easy. After the table is cleared, a warm apple dumpling with coffee helps prepare you for whatever the week brings.
What are your favorite sports teams?
I have given up on pro sports. Even my beloved Buckeyes football team has tarnished! Still yet, The Ohio State marching band halftime show will catch my eye and ear and cause my pulse to quicken.
What is the happiest memory of your life?
I do not feel comfortable spotlighting just one which diminishes others! One vacation trip I would like to duplicate was a motor home trip through the Great Smokey Mountains. The kids were in grade school and slept in the overhead bunk. Mom and I heard miles of chattering and giggles from up there (traveling up there was not ruled unsafe back then). We did see a crowd of people circling around a mother bear and her "darling" and "cute" cubs which were "so sweet" - we stayed in the motor home and watched. Many people were surprised at how fast an unhappy bear can move! Great opportunity for teaching about not messing with a mother bear and her cubs.
Tell us about your favorite pet.
I never had a pet. It was not in the cards.
What was the first concert you attended?
My first concert was Mannheim Steamroller.
What 3 people (living or not) would you invite to a dinner party?
Probably a lawn party because finding a room large enough to accommodate the egos would be difficult. I would look forward to sitting across the table from Martin Luther, Adam Smith, and Joseph Stalin. Listening to their beliefs, opinions. and perspectives would be fascinating.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Filching a bite-size SNICKERS bar from my wife's candy dish.
What historical figure do you admire most?
James Madison - though Jefferson gets fame for writing the Declaration of Independence. Madison used current thinking from his recent experiences in France and modified them for the colonial situation. Madison sought neither fame nor glory for the intellectual foundation for the American Constitution and its first amendments. As a wise preserver of his family assets, Madison viewed as his, the responsibility of caring for and preserving the intangible legal and political assets of the new nation.
What is something most people do not know about you?
I am a saver. Perhaps a hoarder! I still have one of two white dress shirts purchased with one of my first checks as a full-time employee. It is still in the original wrapper, safe in a dresser drawer after nearly 60 years.
Where in the world are you dying to visit?
Switzerland and the area known as the Palatine before being annexed by Germany.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Get an education. It neither rots nor rusts, can not be taxed, can not be stolen, and the government can not take it away. Following that would be an admonition from my mother to me when I was a four-year-old - "Pick up that penny you see on the ground. When you get a hundred, you will have a dollar".