Wadhams In The Community: According To The 3rd Generation
Growing up in a family business means that many early memories are forged in relation to the company and its employees. This is certainly true for those of us in the third generation Wadhams family. As Red’s grandchildren, we’d like to share some of our thoughts and recollections about growing up in and around the Wadhams’ company.
Growing Up at Work
Working for a family business – especially one that’s so close to home – definitely has its perks. As children, we’d get off the school bus right at my grandparents’ home, which is on the property of the corporate office. We’d be with my grandmother after school, and we could easily run over and go to the office. So, we all grew up in and around the business.
The Crossroads between Work and Family Life
The proximity of home also means that work is never far away, however, which can make it hard to maintain a strong work-life balance.
My cousin Gabrielle remembers traveling for hockey games with her brothers almost every weekend. She recalls that her father Steve was often on the phone, answering questions and coordinating work needs.
“That’s one of my biggest memories,” she says, “hearing all of the ins and outs of the business while he was on the phone and we were traveling to our next game.”
Investment & Return
My brother Peter has similar recollections of the long hours our father, Rick, invested, and of how clear and upfront he was about the challenging nature of the work.
“Early on he [Rick] made it very clear that if we were going to get involved in the business, there were going to be headaches and gray hairs and everything else. He told us in no uncertain terms that it’s not always fun, there are definitely harder parts to it.”
“Still, we always knew our father was proud of the work he was doing. I don’t know how many times I’d go for a ride with Dad in the truck, when he was going out to pick-up [milk at] a farm because so-and-so couldn’t make it in that day,” Peter continues. “You take a lot of pride in it when you’re driving down the road and you pass a truck with your name on the side of it. It feels good to help out your teammates, to step up when you’re needed, to get down into the nitty gritty of the business.”
A Sense of Connection & Legacy
Anyone from the Wadhams third generation will tell you there was never any pressure to go into the family business; we were encouraged to try our own paths – and we did. Andy studied civil engineering; Anthony was in video production and communications technology; Gabrielle got a Master’s in art education; Peter studied sports management; I studied hospitality and communications; and Jeffrey completed a degree in Regional Development.
But what drew us all back was the strong sense of belonging that the business has offered us, as well as the sense of pride and closeness of amongst the Wadhams employee team. As my cousin Gabrielle says, “Even today, there are people in the business who held me when I was a child.”
Likewise, Anthony remembers working in the trailer shop over summer holidays, and seeing some our “stereotypical mechanics – big guys, into Nascar and cars, covered in grease” spend their break time glued to the television… watching their favourite soap operas! Says Anthony, “It wouldn’t surprise me if the tradition continues because a handful of those mechanics are still with us.”
Working in ETW, Peter also has the honor of working with employees who have been with the company for several generations. For him, seeing the pride that many of these employees take in their work is a huge motivator. “I just had a driver make a comment today that she’s so appreciative that when she goes around the community and she’s doing things outside of work, that she hears nice things said about the Wadhams family – and by family, they mean the whole organization,” Peter shares.
For us, the third generation of Wadhams family staff, this business is inextricable from our childhood memories, our careers, and our lives today. Being a part of a family business comes with its own set of rules, pressures, and challenges – but we wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like being a part of something – a community – that has evolved and grown, and yet remained true to itself, for so long.
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