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In Time for Father’s Day: Important Lessons From David Bigelow, A Father, A Role Model, Co-Chair Bigelow Tea

 

Hopefully it happens other times during the year, but Father’s Day (and the whole weekend) is a time when we appreciate what our dads bring to the table. They’re role models, they keep us on the right path, and they pass on their own experiences so we can thrive in the world. Whether you’re sitting over a cup of Bigelow Tea discussing old family stories or simply driving home – talking about what’s new in life – it seems every moment can carry some nugget of wisdom (or, at the very least, a few dad jokes).

It’s tough to say which is more important, showing appreciation for our fathers or sharing those moments that make them so special. The good thing is, in today’s busy life, taking some time out to spend with dad can be both. And chances are, whether you have a laugh or learn something new, you come away with just as much as he does.

As a family-owned company, Bigelow Tea owes much of its success to the patriarchs who have been leaders and advocates for the company (in concert with the matriarchs, of course!). It started with Ruth Campbell Bigelow’s husband who supported his wife in every way possible with what would become his family’s now third generation business (painting tea canister labels in their living room in the early days was one great example)! Today, Co-Chairman David Bigelow (pictured with president and CEO and daughter Cindi Bigelow) – one of only two people who know the secret Constant Comment blend – helps to support the company, ensuring the quality of our teas and the well-being of all employees.

Fathers have played an important role in the history of our business, and nowhere is that more apparent than for Cindi Bigelow, who has shared several stories and memories of her father – and his influence – for Father’s Day. Check it out, and from our family to yours, have a wonderful Father’s Day on Sunday!

Cindi Bigelow: Lessons my father taught me

During my first week on the job in our family business, my father taught me a lesson I never learned at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

I had just received my MBA and was proud of that accomplishment. I immediately started work as the family company’s cost accountant and was ready to set the world — and Bigelow Tea— on fire with my bold ideas and innovative concepts.

On our first PC, I was putting together the company’s first bills of material, and I couldn’t wait to show the CEO — my father, David — what I had accomplished.

On my third day, he came down to see me.

“How’s it going?” he asked.

“It’s going great,” I said, and was about to explain the project when I noticed he was preoccupied with my “out-basket.”

“You have envelopes going out,” he said.

“Yes, they are my bills that need to be mailed.”

“But they don’t have any stamps on them.”

“I know,” I said.

He paused, reflected a moment and replied, “Gee, Cindi, if you don’t put stamps on your envelopes, then why should the other employees put them on theirs? So why don’t you go buy some stamps and put them on your mail.”

It was the first of many lessons I got from David Bigelow about business practices … and humility. And it was also a lesson in leadership, the kind of leadership that my father exemplified.

Over the years, there were hundreds of similar occasions that emphasized one of his foremost principles: The boss sets the tone, he/she sets the standard. The boss determines how high or how low the bar is for acceptable performance based on his/her personal actions.

You see, he was very democratic in the way he ran his business, and the employees revered him because he had a common touch. I should add that he displayed the same values and integrity as a father.

I’m not engaging in hyperbole when I say my father was a saint. Anyone who knows him always says he’s one of the finest men there is, although he would certainly disagree. To my biased thinking, he’s one of most giving, loving, intelligent and humble men I’ve met — in addition to being a great father. That’s quite an accolade from a daughter because it is even harder to be a successful parent than it is being a successful businessperson (and that is incredibly hard!).

The most important thing any father can do is give his children the assurance that whenever they turn around, he’ll be there — providing, protecting, advising, loving … all the things fathers are meant to do. And that is exactly what my father did for my sister and me. ​ All the years he was running the company, he never missed having dinner with us, and whenever I needed him, he was always there.

He never put his business before his family, and I’ve tried to be as conscientious in raising my own children.

Every Sunday after dinner, I’d ask, “Dad, can we get ice cream?” And the answer was always “yes.” Then, he’d take my sister and me to the local Carvel in Westport and buy us soft-serve cones.

He always offered support, and if he had to teach us a lesson, he did it by example and not criticism. Whenever I came home with a report card, he’d look at it and exclaim, “Cindi, oh my gosh! All A’s! I was lucky if I got C’s when I was your age.”

That praise made me one of the proudest girls in school. Years later, when I visited his alma mater, Avon Old Farms School, to watch as he received a lifetime achievement award, I discovered that he was far from “average.” He had received all the top awards from students and faculty, and then went on to Yale. However, he never bragged about the honors or used them as an opportunity to one-up someone else.

I would often sit in executive committee meetings and see him handle volatile issues with a higher level thought process and insight. Most importantly, what impressed me then and continues to impress me was his sense of fairness, not only as a father but also as a businessman. If there was ever anything that even hinted of unfairness, a whole new David Bigelow would show up at the door. This, even more than things like profit margins and marketing, motivated him. He’d get feisty if he thought someone was being wronged, either customers or employees. Many times, I’d hear him discuss company decisions and one of his first questions would be, “Is that fair for the employees?”

He raised me to have same sense of fairness as my moral compass in all aspects of my life. Another lesson he taught me was that leaders should do the right thing even when no one else is supporting them. Sometimes that means staying firm when you know what you’re doing is right and have the confidence that it will play out properly in the long haul. When he wanted to build a new plant but still stay in Connecticut, everyone said he was wrong for many reasons … wages, taxes, utilities. The list was endless. He went against all the members of his team because he knew if we wanted to maintain our outstanding manufacturing work force, we would have to rebuild and stay in state.

Thirty years later, I look at our Connecticut plant and see the most engaged and passionate workforce. They are the definition of the perfect plant. And we owe that to him.

He also taught me to be successful without being successful at someone else’s expense. ​For my father, the highest calling is to be a good, decent human being. He lives by that in business and with his family. He never compromises.

Over the years, he continues to be an inspiration as chairman of the board, a father and a husband.

Everyone should be as fortunate as I am, because one of life’s greatest blessings is to have a father committed to doing right in a world that often confuses right and wrong. His philosophy is very simple: be honest, be fair, be concerned about others more than yourself and remember that success has many different definitions. His always valued being able to look back at his accomplishments and know he thought of the greater good.

Thank you, Dad, for your many invaluable lessons and more importantly, the power of your example.

A Note From Cindi Bigelow To Her Father, David Bigelow:  Thank you, Dad, For Your Many Invaluable Lessons!

bigelow tea cindi bigelow and dadAs the third generation CEO of family-owned Bigelow Tea (and daughter of parents who will be honored as pioneers by the Specialty Food Association on June 27 for the significant impact and positive influence they have had on the American specialty food industry), I was recently asked for special reflections this Father’s Day.  I wanted to share them with you.

The most important thing any father can do is give his children the assurance that whenever they turn around, he’ll be there – providing, protecting, advising, loving … all the things fathers are meant to do. And that is exactly what my father did for my sister and me. ​

He raised me to have same sense of fairness as my moral compass in all aspects of my life.  He also taught me to be successful without being successful at someone else’s expense. ​For my father, the highest calling is to be a good, decent human being. He lives by that in business and with his family.

Over the years, David Bigelow continues to be an inspiration as Chairman of the Board, a father and a husband.

Everyone should be as fortunate as I am, because one of life’s greatest blessings is to have a father committed to doing right in a world that often confuses right and wrong. His philosophy is very simple: be honest, be fair, be concerned about others more than yourself and remember that success has many different definitions.

Thank you, Dad, for your many invaluable lessons and more importantly, the power of your example.

With my warmest Father’s Day wishes to dads everywhere,

cindi bigelow sig

Father’s Day Gifts for 2009 to Thank Dear old Dad!

Father’s Day is upon us on June 21st this year, and you may be surprised to find that it’s not much of a world-wide event. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honored by their children, and it was not until 1924 that President Calvin Coolidge made it a national event. So for the 64.3 million fathers in America today, Bigelow Tea salutes you on your special day!

It’s not always easy being the Dad, as famous comedian and father Bill Cosby wrote:

“If (dads) feel bewildered and defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.

So, on the third Sunday of every June on Father’s Day we thank Dads for their valiant efforts with gifts, and maybe dinner with some good family time. But why it is such a struggle to get “Dear Old Dad” a present more interesting than a new tie? Well, let’s look and see how Bigelow Tea can help…

bigelowgolfbag-6-12Its Tea time for Tee time on the golf course! Dad will love this cool Bigelow Tea sporty cooler, including traveler tumbler, snacks and quart-sized bags of Bigelow’s Perfect Peach Iced Tea. A hole in one!

fathersday-gifts-bigelow-6-12

And if Dad double-bogies on the 18th green, he’ll want to relax with our Bigelow Tea spa treatment; with everything for a great at home treatment, and 80 assorted flavored tea bags!

fathersday-3-bigelow-6-12For Dads with a sweet tooth, how about this Gift tray filled with an assortment of cookies and more great Bigelow Tea. We hope he shares!

I wonder which 2009 Father’s Day gift Cindi Bigelow will get for her dad, David C. Bigelow to celebrate Fathers Day? It’s a great day indeed, and a great time for Dad as well as the whole family who can be your oasis in these challenging times as Cindi has stated. The very best of the day to you and your family this Fathers Day, from the Bigelow Tea family!

Pickup the perfect Gift for Dad

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. ~Bill Cosby. Source: The Quote Garden

Don’t make your Dad pretend this Father’s Day; forget the socks and ties and soap-on-a-rope, even if it’s his favourite scent. Deciding what to pick up for your Dad can drive you crazy but you can put on the brakes and stop at Bigelow Tea for the gift he’s sure to truly love.