We all know the window coverings industry is a people-oriented business. The relationships we form and nurture today can start a chain reaction leading to more and better business tomorrow. Some realize this is a pretty good way to live our personal lives as well. Bob Lee, Enhance Your Vision, Barrington, IL, is one of those people.
The last time we saw Lee he had just completed a 3,200-mile bicycle
trip across the United States as part of an awareness and fundraising
effort for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (see D&WC, August
2001, page 24). Since then Lee has returned to the industry with
his own, one-person custom window coverings business and has helped
his son, Scott, start Spectrum Window Design, Denver, CO, but he
hasn’t forsaken what he had learned earlier: There is more
to living than working.
Typical of Lee, that’s likely to mean getting involved with
a charity and do something different from his day-to-day activities.
In September 2003, Bob and Scott Lee took a break from work to get
involved in Face of America, a bicycle ride that began at the site
of the World Trade Center in New York City on the second anniversary
of September 11 and ended in Washington, DC. The event was sponsored
by World T.E.A.M. Sports, “a phenomenal organization,”
Lee says. “Their whole philosophy is bringing the abled and
disabled together, to have no exclusion of anybody—anyone can
be a member of the organization—and bring people from around
the world together in unity and peace.”
To illustrate that point, Lee says last year’s 280-mile ride
included cyclists from Kosovo, groups from Israel and Palestine
riding together, Vietnamese representatives, one of the largest
groups of blind cyclists ever riding together and amputees.
The event’s opening moments were particularly poignant. “To
start out getting into New York on 9/11 and seeing all the memorial
wreaths and seeing people still mourning their losses, to see the
towers of light go up that evening really was an appropriate time
to start the ride. It gave you time to reflect and to see what hatred
can do in this world,” Lee says.
The ride had special meaning for Lee personally. Two months prior
he had undergone colon cancer surgery and wasn’t sure of his
ability to complete the trip. It was enabling to have his son with
him. “I’ve helped him in the window coverings business,
getting him started in Denver, and he was able to help pull his
dad along, taking lead and making my ride a little bit easier,”
After doing more than 60 miles on a tough morning, the two caught
up with a group of eight other cyclists and together helped each
other through the afternoon—and the miles ahead. “I knew
I had 60 miles in the afternoon to go. We caught up with a group
of guys and we clipped along at 19 miles an hour for the 60 miles.
We had breaks, but it was that momentum, that team effort and working
together that makes life easier.” Lee says.
“It gives you a new perspective when you go back to work. When
you see so often how we paralyze ourselves and set limits for ourselves,
you realize you’ve got to push through those. Going into the
ride I didn’t know how I was going to do, but when you push
through something you feel very good that you were able to do it.”
ENHANCE YOUR LIFE
Work and life do have at least one thing in common as far as Lee
is concerned: the need to set goals and take on challenges. “Doing
something like a World T.E.A.M. Sports is a good diversion and a
good healthy challenge. Sometimes in business and life we don’t
challenge ourselves enough,” he says
Getting back into the window coverings business after leaving Eastern
Standard Corp., Baltimore, MD, in 1999, was a challenge Lee set
for himself, but this time it’s a little different. “This
is fun. I get to see a lot of homes and deal with a lot of lovely
people. The negative of it is that many of them are short-term relationships.
The positive is seeing the transition of bare, hard glass to beautiful
window coverings that are soft and energy-efficient and offer ultraviolet
protection. It’s fun.”
With a new focus on life and work, Lee finds he is both happy and
successful. “I’ll do someplace between a half and three-quarters
of a million [dollars in sales], but I can do that and not be reliant
on other people except manufacturing people. I can do my own paperwork,
I can do my own installing and I can do my own selling. I’d
rather cap things here and be in charge of my life at this stage
in life. I’ve climbed the [corporate] ladders and I don’t
need the ladders—except for my stepstool.”
Acceptance and Intergration
World T.E.A.M. Sports brings individuals
with and without disabilities together to undertake unique athletic
events throughout the world to encourage, promote and develop
opportunities in sports for all people. Team oriented athletic
events coupled with medical and educational outreach programs
stimulate the power of learning through participation.
The organizations’ principal aspirations and objectives
• Organize and host innovative and challenging sporting
events that encourage all individuals, especially those with
disabilities, to participate in lifetime sports.
• Selectively identify global issues, which complement
the mission of World T.E.A.M. Sports relying almost entirely
on participation of individuals with and without disabilities
from different backgrounds in challenge events to inspire media
coverage, discussion and educational outreach.
• Promote diversity and increase awareness, acceptance
and integration of those with disabilities.
• Create repeatable franchise events that combine the efficiencies
of our prior experience with the anticipation of success in
participation, performance and marketability.
World T.E.A.M. Sports
2108 South Boulevard, Suite 101
Charlotte, NC 28203
fax: (704) 370-7750
Face of America is an annual cycling journey
planned and organized by World T.E.A.M. Sports, a non-profit
organization committed to bringing diverse groups of people
together through sports events and happenings.
In 2003, Face of America was held during the second anniversary
of September 11. It was an event meant to bring all people together,
to show care for each other and that diverse and unified teams,
working together, can accomplish awesome goals.
Face of America is a fundraiser, but most importantly it is
a friend-raiser. Each participant paid a $500 fee to help defray
the costs of the event. Additionally, participants were asked
to raise a minimum of $1,000, which will go directly to support
ongoing outreach programs and activities.
The event began with an assembly of participants on Thursday
evening, September 11, 2003, in New York City at the site of
the World Trade Center. On Friday morning, after a kickoff ceremony,
the journey began on the shores of New Jersey and for the next
three days, traveled down through Delaware, Maryland and Virginia,
ending in Washington, DC, after approximately 280 miles.