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Recreation


Although he still hits the shop floor, Wysong admits that he’s slowed down a touch—but not too much. He says he doesn’t have the patience for a pastime most men near his lake home enjoy: fishing. “It’s too slow for me. I guess I never caught enough to appreciate it. I find myself waiting and waiting on a bite; I like to move fast and get stuff done.” Rather than invent the new sport of speed fishing, Wysong prefers to captain his fast boat pulling family members on skis or a tube. He also indulges in a relaxing round of midweek golf. “I really enjoy doing that. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have dared to play golf in the middle of the week, but now I can,” he says. Make no mistake; he’s not close to playing hooky. He often works at Wysong Enterprises into the night. (He was on the floor until 11:30, the night before our interview.) But he admits his mornings start a little later these days. Wysong gets his morning rest because he plans to “go for a number of years doing what I do.” There’s another good reason he can start his day at a reasonable hour or sneak in a round of golf: “I got good guys here that I can count on to take care of things,” he confidently says.


Hiring


Those “good guys” don’t appear by accident. Wysong knows what he wants in his employees and hires accordingly. “I like people who don’t worry about quitting time, but ask questions. Someone who takes time to ask questions because they’re not worried about leaving will learn more,” he says. The lessons don’t have to happen at the end of the workday, but can happen at any time. For example, “I took some employees out to lunch and I noticed them taking notes. I asked them why they were writing everything I said down. They answered that I was telling them good stuff from my experience that they didn’t learn in school. I like to hire people who want to learn. You go to school to get your basics, but when you graduate to the real world, there’s a whole lot more to know. I like to hear questions. Sometimes when somebody doesn’t ask questions, I wonder if they think they know it all. I want them to ask before they get into trouble on something.” So, here’s a free tip; if you have a job interview with Wysong, you might want to ask a few questions.


Another attribute Wysong wants is flexibility in his employees. “I want to hire people who are not set in their ways because I want them to do it our way. I’d rather have somebody with less experience who’s eager to learn our ways than someone more experienced who’s only going to do it their way.”


RODNEY


Until now, we’ve not touched upon perhaps the most potent part of this profile: Wysong is proudly his late son’s dad. Rodney Wysong succumbed to cancer in April 2016 at age 35, and the father has fond memories. “From the time Rodney was old enough to go to the office with me, he was tagging along and learning the business. We went to countless cities, trade shows, and events,” Wysong remembers. At those trade shows, Wysong humorously recalls learning how fast a founder is forgotten, for Rodney after high school had become “the face” of the company. “People would


16 July/Aug 2020


come by our booth looking for Rodney. If he wasn’t there because he was out meeting someone else, they’d be disappointed and ask me, ‘Who are you?’ I’d answer that I was known as Rodney’s dad,” he smiles with a tear. “It made me really proud that Rodney built up his reputation following my guidelines. He was really good about following up with people and answering their questions,” Wysong says.


Wysong is a man of strong Christian faith and draws upon that reserve when coping with his family’s loss. “I’m sorry we didn’t have more time together, but as a believer (in Jesus) it wasn’t God’s timing for Rodney to stay with us. I know I’m going to see him again in Heaven one day because during his cancer fight, he told me numerous times that he was a believer. That’s a nice thing to know. When industry people ask how I’m doing after our loss, I get to tell them about my and Rodney’s faith.”


Steve Wysong, consider your story of business, family, and faith told…up to now.


Steve with his daughters Holly and Kelly at the TN/VA Tech football game at the Bristol Motor Speedway


Left to right: Holly, Rodney, Wife Kim and Steve


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