My grandfather, Jack Hilton, celebrated a milestone birthday this year (won’t say which one, he’d rather I not), and is still very active in business. Primarily, he has owned companies that distributed supplies for offices. The first I remember as a kid were stationery distributors, meaning we were set for pens, pencils, paper, etc. for a long time. Later, he moved into distribution and wholesaling for smaller office furniture manufacturers, at one point representing several Canadian manufacturers in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the US. Over time, he cut back to reduce his travel.
His most recent project is selling a desk of his own design. It is meant primarily for special needs students. It can be adjusted for both height and angle to allow the student easier access to the whole desk. Think of it a smaller drafting table in some ways. It is quite a clever design. You can read more about it at his web site for Circle H Agency.
The inspiring thing for me is that, except for a career in the military and a very small number of jobs early on, he has generally been self-employed, and depending on his own skills and abilities to pay the bills. For as long as I have known him, he has always owned and run his own business. In some cases, he would run multiple ventures. His busiest was years ago when we was running a wholesale and distribution company for office furniture, acting as a commercial real estate agent, acting as an investment advisor for investors from Japan, Hong Kong and Korea, and was doing sales and marketing consulting for the Federal Business Development Bank (now the BDC or Business Development Bank of Canada). Not bad for a ex-fighterpilot who never seems to able to retire.
At a time in his life when most people are content to sit around and talk about the “old days”, he is designing new products, learning about computers and the Internet, and trying his hand at adding the Internet to his marketing activities. Its an inspiration to me, since I suspect I will end up in very much the same boat: never quite retired, and always doing something. If I am half as busy as he is at his age, that will be pretty good.