Paul Woods; Husband, Step Father, Friend, Veteran, and Founder of Pavement Stencil Company, LLC was also a man of silence. In silence is where much can be revealed.
I’ve been trying to write about Mr. Paul Woods for months now. When I had the thought, I decided to interview those who had a few life experiences with him. Every person I interviewed thought they didn’t have much to say about Paul. Mostly, because he was so quiet. While reviewing all the interviews, it hit me like a wave! The fact that he was so quiet was the loudest thing I could say about Paul. He taught everyone a tremendous amount, saying very little. How many people do you know like that? I’d guess not many. In today’s society everyone wants to be heard, so much so that they often never hear anyone else. If I were a betting woman I’d bet Paul heard it all! Maybe that’s how he came to the life conclusion that silence is golden?
Who Paul was to employees.
Willie Richardson, Pavement Stencil’s Bus. Dev. Representative recalls a moment he got to work directly with Paul. “I worked alongside him for an entire hour and only heard him say a few words but I learned a better way to use the machine we were working on”. Watching his ways spoke so much more to Willie than any words Paul could have conveyed in that moment. Austin Beverage, Pavement Stencil’s Shop Foreman recalled a moment that Paul observed him working. It took Austin a total of 20 minutes to create a stencil on the computer and then cut it on our machine. This was a surprise to Paul, so much so that the only words he decided to speak to Austin about his observation were; “What just took you 20 minutes took me a few hours when I started the company”. I would say that was a compliment and a teaching statement all in one. The compliment being, look how far we’ve come, the teaching moment being; don’t forget where it all started! How many of you know, no matter how far you go in life you can never forget where you came from?
Who Paul was to family.
Paul was also a very caring man! However, to the visible eye most would say he was a gruff man. Beth Bell, Pavement Stencils owner and Business Development Manager recalls a time when she saw his soft heart first hand. Without any words spoken, Paul would simply make sure the Sand Hill Cranes had food when they would visit the Florida shop every day. He understood the connection, they were hungry and he could help! Beth also noticed that all animals LOVED Paul. As we all know, animals are a great judge of character. Again, with no words Paul spoke loudly!
Then there’s Calvin Bell, owner of Pavement Stencil’s perspective of Paul. Calvin is Paul’s step son and probably the one closest to him other than Paul’s wife Anne. During my interview with Calvin, I could tell he wanted to say something special to honor Paul. However, he didn’t feel like he could find the words to say. He did say what most others said which was; he was quiet and didn’t have much to say. I’m not sure if Calvin realized just how profound and honorable his description of Paul actually was! One story he shared was when Paul was in Vietnam during the war. He lived in a village with the indigenous people called the Montagnards. They fought alongside each other against the Viet Cong. The Montagnard’s befriended Paul and one man in particular gave him an ivory carving of a bridge. It took the man an entire year of his life to make. This was a sign of friendship, love and honor towards Paul. All Paul would really say about them was that they saved his life. What I think about when I hear that story is that Paul had no idea how to speak their language. Wow! Another moment in time when Paul did not have to use many words to live a very important part of his life!
Who Paul was to me.
Personally, I was always intimidated by Paul’s calls. I wanted so badly to speak to him but he was strictly business. Day after day he would call and ask for Calvin by saying “Calvin Please”. I’d always try to say Hi Paul, how are you!? In my sweetest voice possible. His response was always, “Alright, Calvin around?” I would always stay hopeful, and then one day he finally humored me and began a conversation. He asked me about the weather and how business was. He even commented on how well Calvin had mentioned I was doing. At long last I finally received the validation I hadn’t realized I was even searching for. A “job well done” from the founder of the company I work for. However, if I had known Paul, I would have realized that no words were great words. Now I realize that the one “compliment” I received was very truly meant! Paul wasted no words and only spoke if it was worth saying. How humbling to realize that what you thought was a sign of disapproval was actually one of the best interactions you’ll ever have with a person.
Who Paul was to customers.
As for Paul’s interactions with customers, some would say he was short and to the point. He only needed the basics to get the job done. What do you need and when do you need it? With that he made sure to do his best to get all his customers taken care of! There were the few that grew close with Paul. Those select ones I believe looked at him more like family or a great buddy than just their stencil provider. Paul was that and much more! Paul Woods, Business Owner, Buddy, Stencil Provider, Step Father, Veteran, Friend and Husband, but most of all, above all else, Loved.
Thank you Paul, for being a part of all our journeys. Whether you or we realized it or not, you helped pave our way, even in silence. You’ve taught us that silence is golden but I hope you know, so were you!