The Story of an American Dream, part two

“The American Dream is the heartbeat of our collective ethos. For generations it has promised that through hard work, each of us has the opportunity for success and prosperity- a social mobility brought about by our ability to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and achieve whatever our imagination holds.” July 2, 2014 Success.com, Jim Motavalli

 

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The old milk barn eventually became “Ron’s Body Shop” and Dad filled his time restoring vehicles and completing custom vans. In those days, passenger vans with custom paint jobs and upholstery were all the rage and he became expert at them. He spent countless hours before and after work, repairing cars and parking them in front of the house to sell or placing an ad in the newspaper. Then, in 1980, Dad and his closest friend, Duane Rupp, joined together in a new business venture to start selling used vehicles. The name? C&R Auto Sales- abbreviated from Croney and Rupp. A self-built sign in front of the house along the road known as Iowa String marked the official beginning. What was once only imagined had now become a reality, and now the pulling up of the bootstraps would begin.

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Times were not easy, and establishing a business was hard. With interest rates at 21%, and the country in the midst of a recession, it was not a logical time for starting a business. But, Dad realized he couldn’t keep up to both a full time job and body work, and so they took a leap of faith and entered the world of self-employment so that Dad could do what he loved. However, even after he quit Utah Power and Light to pursue a full time career in car sales, the days of working multiple jobs were not over. For much of the time, it seemed they were barely scraping by, and at different times he took jobs at Thiokol and La-Z-Boy to make ends meet. For a long time, our parents took a job as janitors at the school district, cleaning the natatorium late at night or early each morning. I remember watching MASH and the Love Boat to keep us awake until the pool closed so we could go clean!

Looking back at those early days, Mom said, “Our family being what it is, is in large part because Dad was here, working with the boys. Even though he worked umpteen hundred hours, he was right there- out in the shop in the backyard. I think it was him being here that allowed us to raise our family the way we did. In large part, I think the boys being who they are today is because of that.”

The long hours must have felt relentless to them. As a child, I remember waking up in the morning to see the lights on in the shop, a sign that Dad was already up and working. We went to bed to the glow of those same lights. Dad was the hardest worker we knew, and we all felt pride in that. He wasn’t able to come to a lot of our activities or games, but I never remember feeling like we missed out or that he didn’t love us. That feeling of pride in who he was is owed in large part to our mom, who never complained about his long hours to us. Instead, she would often tell us that he worked so hard because he loved us so much. I never felt anything but pride in my dad and who he was. He knew how to do a job and he did it well. We all grew up hearing Dad say, “If you’re going to do a job, do it right the first time.”

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