It was 7 years ago that I stood at the podium and tried to find the words to say in front of friends, family and coworkers. It was not a graduation nor was it a birthday or retirement. It was the funeral for my father, Gary P. Williams, the founder of Southwest Truck Driver Training, Inc.
I had several days to prepare a eulogy and think of some ways to convey and express how much my father had impacted not only myself but everyone who came into contact with him.
I’m not sure what I said that day, it was like being on auto pilot or in the fog of a dream state and today is remembered as just a blur. I’m sure I forgot to say how the founder was an embodiment of the American dream. I wanted to regale them with stories of lessons taught by my father such as having humility, always respecting others, and the value of hard work but my mind couldn’t muster the thoughts at the time. It mattered not. Everyone who was there reflected on their own experiences they had with my father, the silence told the entire story.
It became apparent that no words I could have chosen that day would do justice, only actions. The best way to honor the founder was not going to be found in the most impressive eulogy but in the actions we took moving forward, never forgetting the valuable lessons he taught. My Father would say, “The student is everything to us, without them, there is no reason for us”. He would always remind us that by doing the right things and treating our customers with respect, success and all other things would fall in place. He was right.
This year we celebrate 20 years in business. Dad is gone but never forgotten and his legacy and values live on. Sean A. Williams, Gary’s son has taken the helm as captain, and using the same principles and values as before, grown SWTDT into a strong company even the founder would have never been able to imagine. Now SWTDT is employing a 3rd generation of family with the founder’s granddaughter joined the SWTDT family.
I know the founder is looking down right now and is proud. Not just because of the thousands of people that we have helped since his passing. Not just because of the amount of employees that we have been able to help and make family along the way. No, the founder is proud because the hard work and dedication he put forth has laid the foundation to continue helping and changing the lives of our customers for generations to come, and that is what the founder wanted.