Everyone’s Favorite Employee

I have often said, and always on the record, that Cody is my favorite employee. I'm pretty sure everyone here knows that. And in a half-joking way I normally follow-up that statement with "...not necessarily my best employee, but definitely my favorite."

As I write this I am trying to remember just how long ago Cody reached out to me for a job....

I just checked my Gmail Archive and found this from him in October of 2013:

"Hello again Mr. Unruh. This is Cody again and I was just curious if you had available space at this time. If so can I call you. Thank you."

Cody was an 18 year old kid who didn't get much out of school and decided to enter the working world a little before his peers. And he was pretty bold for an 18 year old.

He kept emailing me asking for a job.
I kept telling him I don't have any room for him.
He kept checking back with me to see if anything changed.

(Back then Unruh Furniture was just me and Rob working in the Blue House on Main Street.)

I eventually got tired of putting him off and decided to give him a job helping Robb finish the furniture. I had just hired Jacob so now there were four of us and Cody was by far the youngest. He was treated accordingly for a while. It's fun to think back on that time.

On Tuesday of this week Cody came into my office, pulled up a chair and asked to talk. There was no Mr. Unruh this time as we are now friends:

"Sam, Jacob is killing me! He keeps coming into the finish room and telling me how to do things. And I think I can handle being in charge of the finish room by myself. I want to be the Finish Foreman."

The context is I now have 12 employees and Jacob is the overall Shop Foreman. Cody and two other guys work in the finish room under Jacob's supervision.

I told Cody no. I didn't think he was old enough to take charge of the whole finish operation. The other two guys in there are older than him and I just wasn't sure he was ready... But I couldn't stop thinking about it either. A couple hours later I sat down with Jacob and Cody and we all decided to let Cody run the finish room on a trial basis.


For starters, he is my favorite. (And everyone else's favorite for that matter.) But also because of his boldness. It was his boldness that first got him a job and his boldness again that got him a better job.

I am realizing that as a business owner I am allowed to let my particular values influence. I value boldness. I haven't been in business long enough to have any idea whether or not boldness will translate into profitability. But I value it personally. And so I made a business decision out of that value. I like that perk about owning a business. I'll let you know if it holds true.

By Sam Unruh

I started Unruh Furniture in my garage in 2012 when my wife was pregnant with our first. Today I have 4 kids, 20 employees, and plenty of fires to put out every day. It's a great life and I am a happy man.

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