Every year during the holidays I try to personally sit down and share a few thoughts with you about our country’s past, present and future. This year has been extremely busy as we are growing exponentially, taking on new products, and launching our brands into new industries, markets. As a result, I failed to get a post up for Memorial Day, but I’m not missing the 4th of July!
So first I would like to say that while I did not get a post up on Memorial Day, I was able to spend some time reflecting, remembering, and being thankful that I am an American. Never forget the men and women who have sacrificed their lives and continue to risk everything to protect our Freedoms.
July 4th 2017
A few days ago I was talking to a retired farmer, and if you’ve ever been or ever known a farmer you will understand the irony—There is no such thing as a retired farmer, they just keep on farming. As we were talking he was telling me how he has been helping out other farmers, custom operators, as well as continuing to grow crops on his own farm. We also discussed how hard it is to farm and be self-employed. There is no one to offer insurance or aid in retirement. There are no paid days off or holidays. In reality, there is an extreme lack of benefits of any kind, BUT there are still farmers. Why? Passion. As this farmer and I talked, I began to understand why you can never take farming out of a farmer. Farming isn’t a job, it is not a means to an end, it is simply a passion, a way of life.
Sitting here, reflecting on that conversation I stumbled across a comforting thought- Where else in the world are you free to chase and follow your passion? The reality is that there are very few places on Earth where an individual is able to follow their passion. Sadly it is equally true that many Americans overlook and take this gift for granted every day.
Let me tell you a story.
There was a farmer from central Wisconsin who spent most of his free time reading about different countries and cultures and thinking about world travel. Now, this young farmer went to college, graduated, got a job, but he never forgot about all those other places and people he had read about. One day at work fate introduced this farmer to another farmer, but this farmer was from Germany. They stayed in touch and it became clear- they had the same vision.
The German Farmer was Walter Wagner, owner, and founder of Wagner Spezializeschmierstoffe. And you might have guessed that Wisconsin Farmer was me, Wes Kolbe. When I met Mr. Wagner he had been in business for 20 years and his oil company was doing business all over the world. A year later I founded AET Systems, Inc. and now three years later we are doing business all over the world. The people and cultures I read about as a kid I get to interact with on nearly a daily basis and the places I dreamed about I get to visit occasionally because AET is doing business across 3 continents.
Circle back to the 4th of July
Our country, The United States of America, was founded and liberated by people who were passionate about being free and being in charge of their own fate and they succeeded. Now, a lot has changed since 1776, I would almost guarantee the Founding Fathers would not recognize the USA today, but one thing has not changed. We are all in charge of our own fate and we are able to follow our passions. For some, this might mean raising a family, being a farmer, racing cars, cooking, designing buildings, traveling, being a police officer, or being a soldier, but whatever your passion is—You are free to follow it, create it, and live it.
The one take away thought—America gives anyone the opportunity to follow their passion, create success, and find happiness, but it is up to Americans to have the courage and drive to do so.
Happy 4th of July, and thank-you to all who have or currently serve in the armed forces.
Wes Kolbe and the Team at AET Systems, Inc.