Today we are joined by the friends and colleagues of Rick Norling to honor and remember him.
Rick Norling was one of the original founders of Structure Tech, back in 1987. Before he passed away, he was a full-time radon technician. He also founded Operation HighGround, an organization that identifies and implements strategies to help Veterans with housing, employment, education, and transportation.
The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Larry: Rick Operation HighGround then is a non-profit that exactly does what?
Rick: What our goal is is to help returning service members reintegrate into society.
Bill: Welcome everyone. You’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always, your three-legged stool coming to you from the Northland, talking all things, home inspections, houses, and anything else that’s rattling around in our mind, so on today’s episode, we’re stepping aside from the conversations that we normally have in our three-legged stool today is made up of 2,4, 6, 8, 10, 11 people. But we are missing Tessa. So she was unavailable today, but we have a special episode we’re recording in memory of Rick Norling, a dear friend of us, Rick was the original owner and founder of Structure Tech, and unfortunately he passed away here a couple of weeks ago, and we wanted to bring together the team and just talk a little bit about Rick and who he was and what he meant to this whole organization, and so that’s what we’re gonna do today, and let’s see, if you hear the wavering in my voice, I’m sorry, but Rick was a… He was a… I’m sorry, but Rick was a this really cool dude, and I’m just…
Bill: There’s too much to get to right away, so I’m gonna hand this up so I can kinda compose myself because one thing was for sure, when you met him, you were immediately struck by his energy, he was a really good guy, he was super positive and for Reuben and Neil, I don’t think there was a bigger champion of this company, he was… All things Reuben, all the time, and all he wanted to talk about were all the great things that Reuben was doing, and of course, Neal he loved you to death, but anyway, let’s do this. Reuben, I’m gonna let you talk, I’m just over here, quivering away, kind of being an emotional basket case, but I tend to do that because I don’t do well with sadness, I’m gonna turn over it to you and let me set the stage. Tell us a little bit about Rick and why he meant so much to all of us.
Reuben: You think I’m gonna do any better, huh? Okay.
Rick: Well, it’s not my plate.
Reuben: Yeah, I’ll take a stab at it. I might just have to pass it on to the next person… As long as I keep my eyes closed, I don’t look at anybody, maybe I’ll be okay here. My dad bought Structure Tech back in ’97. That’s when I first met Rick. I was reflecting on this, Rick was my age when I first met him, crazy how the time flies. And I remember meeting him for the first time, we he went to the office over on… What was it? Lilac Drive in Golden Valley. And he was just the warmest, sweetest, nicest guy. And this was back in ’97, and I probably thought, Well, he’s tried to sell the company. Of course, he’s gonna be nice, but no, that was just who Rick was, and he never changed that’s who he was his whole life. As long as I knew him in the 24 years that I knew Rick, that’s who he was every day, he probably is the sweetest, most caring person I’ve ever met.
Reuben: He always had a smile, he was always so positive, he would find the good in every situation, and every time I’d see him, he’d say something uplifting, he’d love to say, Come and put his arm around your shoulder, he’d say, Reuben, have I told you today how special you are? Or has anyone told you today how much God loves you or how much you’re loved, or he just have this way of cutting through and he always asked that question, just being genuine, so warm, and that’s boy why it’s hard to believe that somebody like that isn’t with us anymore.
Reuben: The world was a better place with him here and oh boy, I’m gonna miss him, it’s funny, for radon, he was the guy that we had to always schedule for longer stops, you’d set up Bethany or John to be at a house for 10 minutes and for Rick it had to be 30 minutes because I might be exaggerating a little, but we all know that Rick could not… If there’s somebody home, Rick cannot go into that house, set a radon monitor and pick it up and leave, he’s gotta chat people up, he was such a talker, he would go in and he would sell the heck out of Structure Tech to anybody he would see. He was our number one cheerleader, he just… He loved what he did, he loved being a part of the team, and he was an evangelist for Structure Tech, not only that, but my goodness there’s so much good that he did in his life outside of Structure Tech with Operation HighGround. And that’s really why we have producer Larry on the show today. Rick is the one who introduced us to producer Larry because Rick was doing a podcast for Operation HighGround, and I don’t wanna do it injustice, and I don’t know if I’m gonna keep it together here still, but maybe I can just throw it over to you next, Larry, and you could share a little bit about what Rick was doing with Operation HighGround, you heard a lot more of the podcast, or much more intimately involved in that project than I think the rest of us were. So if it’s Okay, Larry, I’ll throw it over to you next.
Larry: Alright, well, I did work with Rick for many, many years on different projects, both in video and in the podcast world. And he was my go-to person. He had such a sense of humor, all the things you said he did for Structure Tech, Reuben, he did, but he was so much more, I guess, to me. I remember my father-in-law was a farmer and every morning he would, Monday through Friday, he’d get together with his friends in a little place up in Wahpeton, North Dakota called The Fryin’ Pan and they would discuss politics and religion and all kinds of things. Well, Rick and I had that same relationship even though it was over a phone and for the last five years, we didn’t miss a morning. We would talk and discuss and I tell you when he passed away, the next day I just felt so lost. There was nobody there to have that conversation. But Rick was the kind of guy that even though he wasn’t military, he had a heart for PTSD vets coming back from Afghanistan or Iraq or somewhere and he started this program. It’s a non-profit Operation HighGround where he was helping these vets find resources to get their lives back on track. And he was doing that for many years and then most recently, he turned his attention toward the first responders, policemen and others that are everyday heroes and he wanted to do the same thing for them because he heard that there was a lot of PTSD.
Larry: So Rick, he is going to be missed. He was a fellow that always made me laugh. I don’t know if you ever heard any of his voices that he did, but he could’ve worked for Disney in the cartoon division, he was so good.
Larry: So Rick was one of my best friends. He’s gonna be missed.
Bill: Wow, Larry, I didn’t realize. Every day you guys had a conversation?
Larry: Every day, every day. And it wasn’t just a five minute, “How are you doing?” kind of thing.
Bill: That was impossible with Rick.
Larry: I’d look at my watch and I’d go, “My goodness, we have been at it for two hours.” And Rick would always say, “If we had this recorded, it would make a great book.” And it would’ve.
Bill: That’s awesome. Neil, we should pull you in. You and Rick had an early connection in the home inspection industry doing what you did and seeing the future of this whole thing. What do you remember about the first time you met him? Or how did you guys end up crossing paths and getting in the business together?
Neil: Well, great question. I actually wrote out a few pages. I figured it’d be easier for me to just read what I wrote, so it’ll just take a couple minutes here. I found out about Structure Tech from a business broker who was selling the business in 1997, so that’s when I met Rick and I purchased the business from him and his partner, Brett Cook. And Brett was the home inspector along with Dwayne Erickson and Rick did everything else from answering the phones, scheduling, bookkeeping, assembling the reports, radon testing and on and on. And then after selling Structure Tech, Rick worked with his partner, Brett, in the construction business for a few years and then had the desire to help, like Larry said, hurting vets and he developed Operation HighGround Ministries trying to connect the hurting vets with the churches and vice versa. And then in 2012, I asked Rick if he’d like to come back and work with Structure Tech and he jumped at the chance and he started helping Lisa in the office and then transitioned to doing the radon testing and he’s been working with us ever since.
Neil: So I have a few close friends. Rick would come up to the cabin. We’d spend many hours talking about life, praying together. Rick has two children whom he felt very proud of and he’d let them know how much he loved them in our times of talking together. We spent many hours talking about our childhoods, our memories and our parents’ influence in our lives and who they were in shaping who we are today. We spent time fishing, shooting guns, jet boating, chilling on the pontoon, riding four-wheelers on the trails next to the cabin. And one thing Rick loved was cooking. He always wanted to bring up a surprise meal for me and cook it to perfection. That was his treat. A few years ago when I painted the cabin, Rick came up and he spent three days helping me paint the cabin. He was just a giving guy. When we were not up north, Rick loved spending time just hanging out with his buddy Neil. When I remodeled my daughter’s basement, Mindy, a few years ago, he’d come over and just give me a hand with whatever I was working on just so we could spend some time together and that was Rick’s way of always wanting to give.
Neil: So when I reflect upon words which describe Rick, this is what comes to my mind. Kind, he always followed the Golden Rule. Gentle, he had a sweet spirit, never really prone to anger that I ever saw. Compassionate, he wanted to help those who were hurting in his ministry as one example. Giving, he gave of his time to help anyone he could. I know he was involved with the Military Honor Guard for one example with his motorcycle. Caring, he loved his wife, children and his late dog, Sparks. Rick loved talking and sometimes too much, we all know that, but that’s what we’re gonna remember him for. He loved meeting new people while dropping off and stetting up radons, like we’ve all shared and he’d take that opportunity to convert them over to the Structure Tech way. He’d tell people how he sold me a shovel and we turned it into a backhoe. Rick would always, like Reuben said, end our conversations with, “Who told you today?” And I’d say, “You did, Rick.” I love you too, Rick, and I’m gonna miss you, my good buddy. Thanks, Bill.
Bill: Thank you. That’s pretty good, Neil. Wow. [chuckle] It’s a hard act to follow. Who’s stepping up? I think there’s eight more who get the razor. [chuckle] Milind, let’s throw it over to you. You’re the, what, third longest tenured person in this place so there’s a lot of Rick tracks around you.
Milind: Rick was definitely… It is hard to follow that. Love the man. It’s hard to crystallize how certain people make you feel better after interacting with them every single time and he was one of them. I don’t know how he did it, but… Hearing everyone’s stories over the past… The past couple of weeks, I thought, “Boy, how did… I thought I had all these special moments with Rick” but he had special moments with everybody. It’s just amazing. He’s a good man, a tremendous friend. And he will be missed.
Bill: That is for sure. Okay, Lisa, I wanna throw it into your court because you had some close times with Rick and for all the smiles, there was sometimes… He also sometimes slowed down our progress so, but in a good way. Anyway, so… What do you remember about… What do you remember about Rick?
Lisa: Rick was such an amazing man that I had the good fortune to know for nine years. When I first started at Structure Tech, I worked really closely with Rick. My first… I remember the first time calling Rick, we needed someone to do water testing, and Neil said, “Lisa, give Rick a call.” And I called him and he just… He was so excited to come back on board at Structure Tech and to help out… He just… He was was like, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” So he did water testing, and then when I needed help in the office, Rick started helping schedule inspections, and Rick touched everyone he spoke with. And sometimes it would take them 15, 20 minutes, a half hour to schedule an inspection, which really just slowed the process down.
Lisa: So then he went into radon testing, which really was his niche, because he could take his time and really just make an impact on the world, and what I’ll remember most about Rick is his pure, and pure un-selfishness and his compassion and love for people. When I would talk to Rick and ask him how he was doing, he’d say, “Lisa, we don’t need to talk about that. I wanna know how you’re doing.” He truly cared for others and he really touched my heart. I am a better person for knowing Rick and Structure Tech was so lucky to still have him a part of the organization.
Bill: That’s for sure. Well, said.
Bill: Yup, yup. Larry, you pulled your mic in, did you have something you were gonna pull up there?
Larry: You know, I had wrote a blog, I read a daily blog, and I wrote it a while back, just right after that same week, and I called it “When You Have a Friend Like Rick,” and I… It reminded me of what Neil was doing, and you wrote down some nice things, but here’s five things, if I can just be… Have the freedom to read these. These are the five things that Rick taught me, and he truly taught me these five. Number one, he never withdrew from any ideas that could make a difference in the lives of people, or presented the opportunity to tell the story of the gospel. Number two, he had a heart for the hurting, being hurt himself, he used his pain to help others. Number three, he had a playful spirit, which is what I loved about him, he made me laugh every time he would do his impersonation with his voices. He was very, very talented. Number four, he was insightful on politics, religion, and ministry. This caused us to have wonderful daily conversations about all three. And number five, he always came alongside people to assist them in whatever they were doing. The latest was the IMF Conference on Chaplaincy, where he MC’d the event and being a huge contribution of it’s success. He just taught me those five things, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.
Bill: Yeah. Wow, thank you. That’s awesome. I wanna hand it over to Mindy now, ’cause Mindy, you’re… As everybody who knows Structure Tech knows that you’re in the office and you had a lot of dealings with Rick. Just like Lisa did over the years. So, what do you have for us?
Mindy: Yeah, so I also wrote something… ’cause it’s easier that way. So I’ve known Rick since I was eight years old. He’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always thought of him as Uncle Rick as he’s been so close with our family for so many years… Rick was always so easy to talk to. He knew how to brighten your day by saying the most uplifting words of encouragement when you needed it. He would listen to a 20-minute story if you needed the time, and never made you feel like you were taking up his time, and he definitely had some really good long stories to share. I can’t think of a time in the last 24 years that Rick has said, “no,” to lending a hand in a time of need. My dad was remodeling our basement a few years ago, and he needed an extra hand without question Rick came over for the whole day and he helped out.
Mindy: If we needed a last minute request for work, Rick was always willing to say yes if if it meant that it was helping the Structure Tech team and the other employees. Rick was devoted to his work and he always left a positive impression on everyone he met. He had the chance to interact with so many different people day-to-day as a radon technician, and it wasn’t uncommon to come across an upset seller with questions about a radon test. Rick knew just the right things to say and had the ability to connect with just about anyone and turn them into a fan and supporter of both Structure Tech and Rick. It was a gift that Rick had, and I don’t know many people like that, so we were blessed to have him part of the team. Last year, Rick was at the cabin with my dad when my daughter was born, and he was a rack of a support system for my dad during a very uncertain time.
Mindy: I’ll forever be grateful for the uplifting prayers that Rick gave during that time. Almost every time I spoke to him this past year… Sorry. Oh, geez. Sorry, guys. He would mention that God had something special planned for that little girl and he truly believed it. I’m so glad that he was able to share that with me and with our family. Rick’s life was taken too soon. And I will deeply miss his bright smile, uplifting spirit and kind heart. I know he can hear us right now. We love you, Rick.
Bill: Thank you. That was very nice. Wow. Everybody on Zoom is not doing well, but we’re still here. So Peter, I wanted to kinda hand it over. You spent your fair amount of time dealing with Rick as well, ’cause on the weekends, you two were kind of partners in crime, so to speak.
Peter: Yeah. This Saturday was hard, ’cause he wasn’t… It was a strange Saturday if he didn’t call. And I thought about how fortunate I was, not only to know him through Structure Tech, but I also… A lot of people may not know this, but I was also very briefly a radon technician, and I went out with Rick for a day. I mean, early, early on in my time here, I think I went with a different inspector to do different things, and he just blew… He blew my mind. I mean, I’m sitting there for a whole day, driving all around the Twin City, he’s doing these radon tests. And just his stories of his father being a musician, I think he was writing a musical, he was writing memoirs. He talked to me about what I was doing. And he did, he just loved… He just loved to talk. We joked around that… I can’t even imagine him being a scheduler because he would have talked for so long to each and every person.
Peter: But the thing that I always… I guess, I would say I admired so much about Rick on top of just the innate kindness that he had was… We’ve said a lot about how he was… He was a talker, and man, he really was a talker, but he was as much a listener. When he would call me on Saturdays, he usually called me, honestly, just to ask me a question about something that he knew the answer to. “I can’t find the lockbox.” It’s like, “Well, it’s in… You know, there’s a front and a back door. It’s on the back door on the house.” But it would be so that… Then he would tell me these stories. And I know that he talked about Structure Tech and was a champion for Structure Tech with these people, but he had that ability to get people to open up about themselves.
Peter: When he would talk to me on the phone, he’d be telling me about these clients and like, “Oh, this one… And I met the client’s son. He got a scholarship for football at this thing and blah, blah, blah. And he’s telling me about his favorite Viking players. And I was like, “This is the son of a client of someone you’ve never even known, and you know this whole story about him?” He talked to somebody about a neighborhood and they would tell them about a neighborhood that he and Rick used to grow up in. And it was just… It was always so impressed me that this… Here’s this person who just… He just loved people so much. He just adored people. And I think that was to me what makes Rick so interesting in terms of what he loved to do in life, in terms of… It sounds like his ministry and the non-profit that he was doing. But also he was writing a book. And like I said, he was writing a musical. And part of the reason he was doing all that stuff was just because he just… He couldn’t go through life without engaging in people at the highest level. And even though sometimes it was like, “Oh my God, I’m so busy, Rick, I just can’t… I don’t got the time to listen to this story.” I just thought it was so beautiful how… After I was done talking to him… I don’t remember, I think it was Melinda just said that he always made you feel uplifted. And it was an uplifting sense of connection with the human community.
Peter: I mean, I remember being kind of like one day when he’s telling me about talking with a… And he must have talked with a woman for 35 minutes just about life while driving off a radon test. And then he would tell me… He was telling me about it and I had to be like, “Sorry, I gotta get going after a little bit.” But I remember thinking like, “How incredible is that that he just walked into a house to do this completely banal thing of setting a test, which takes five minutes, and he probably left that person feeling amazed. He told me their story. I got to feel a sense of him, and I just… I remember sitting there later that day and being like, “Yeah, it’s just an incredible experience to be this person, to just have this human connection.” And that’s just what I always… Always admire about him. I feel very fortunate that I was chosen to be his Christmas gift partner this year, ’cause that was actually really fun. I got him something to cook with, and then I was able to get him a book that he said he really appreciated. And that was really fun. But I’m gonna miss him a lot.
Peter: Like I said, last Saturday was not… It was not a good Saturday, ’cause it’s just… There was like… It just dawned on me just before work, I was like, “I’m not gonna hear from Rick today or again.” But he’s one of the reasons why I love working here, ’cause it was… It’s an amazing… It was an experience knowing him and I’m really proud to know him. So that’s what I have.
Bill: Thank you. Yeah, proud to know him. I like, you used the word beautiful. It really kind of describes him. And it’s not often guys get called beautiful, but he really was a beautiful person. Wayne, I’m gonna toss it over to you now and just see what thoughts you have.
Wayne: For me, I guess I would have to say the thing that comes to mind is stop and smell the roses. ‘Cause it was always in the middle of an inspection, you’re going 100 miles an hour, you’re trying to get everything done before the client gets there, and Rick would show up and everything was just like, “Okay, we’re gonna take a minute, we’re gonna stop, we’re gonna talk to Rick.” You had to. There was no way around it. Chaplain, therapist, he had that way. Just always felt like, “Boy, I could just lay down on a couch and spill all my guts and tell him my whole life story.” And this is the guy you wanna tell it too, just the way to draw out more information from you and just show a real interest. Listening, yeah, he tells stories. But yes, he did, very much, he did listen. He definitely was a therapist at heart. Yeah, it was just always wonderful to see him and I think my biggest regret is that I’m transitioning into radon, and he was just saying, how much he wanted to work and glad that I was gonna be part of it. And just… I’m just sad that I’m gonna miss out on that a little closer connection to him. So…
Bill: Yes. Yes, thank you for that, Wayne. I agree, it was… Maybe that’s the thing I feel is this… Obviously, we’ve lost him, but I feel like I missed this opportunity to say thank you and… That’s the hardest part. That’s the hardest part. So anyway, Trina, we’re gonna bounce over to you because I know you spent some time with Rick as well. So I just wanted to give you a shot to share some thoughts.
Trina: [chuckle] God, already? [chuckle] Holy Schist, I should have went first.
Bill: Well let me ask you this…
Trina: Oh my gosh, okay, yeah.
Bill: No, this is really… This is really good stuff. I mean Trina, you’ve known Rick for what? One year.
Trina: Yeah, that’s why I feel bad ’cause it’s like, you guys have all known him for, oh my gosh, so long, but one of the… One of… The thing that… What an impression he made on me. He wasn’t just a co-worker, he was… Exactly, a therapist, your chaplain, he loved talking about that because I have military my family, he was so proud of the coin that he was given at his last conference. So we talked about that up until the day before he didn’t start feeling well… He was sending me pictures. He was so proud of going to that conference and that they… They… Somebody I can’t remember the whole thing and now I feel bad, but someone gave him a very important chaplain coin.
Trina: And it was like a huge thing and he was so proud. And so he and I would just talk. Every time the caller ID would come up, I’d… It would be a joke like, “Oh man.” He talks a long time and I’m a talker, so we are doomed for this call ’cause it’s never gonna be less than 30 minutes, but it would be about work and how he was out drumming up more business, but then he would always ask me how I was and how my dog was and just everything. He would remember our last conversations, and then he would call back in 10 minutes and we’ll be talking about something else, and it was like a whole new conversation, everything was just so exciting for him, and he cared about every single conversation that you had with him. So I just feel lucky and blessed that we all had Rick part of our day.
Trina: And I had told Mindy, but I made this little thing, when I’m feeling kind of like, “Oh man, these clients or these agents.”, and made a little card that says, “WWRD. What would Rick do?”. He would turn it around and just make lemonade on the lemons or something, he would… He wouldn’t let the… The last impression be bad. He would try to make everybody leave with a smile, so… I don’t know, I just rambled on kind of like Rick does so, I just loved talking to him. And it was some of my favorite parts of my day, Wednesday and Thursday, and he would call for no reason sometimes on Monday and Tuesday too just to talk, so…
Bill: [chuckle] Larry, are you familiar with the coin that Trina was referencing?
Larry: You know, I’m not. I know he did get it at the conference, he was emceeing, but I’m not familiar with it, no. I’m sorry.
Trina: Yeah, it’s a very big ordeal to get a coin like that. And he was just so excited about that. So if I can find that picture and my text messages or somebody else can even just to show you, Larry, he was so proud and also so proud of being part of The Patriot Guard too. He said I should sell my motorcycle, but then he wasn’t sure if he could ride with them or not, so it was another thing that he was just so proud of, so we’re just all better to have him in our life as we did, so… Thank you for letting me talk, Reuben.
Reuben: Thanks for jumping on, Trina.
Bill: Neil are you familiar with the coin?
Neil: I wish I could tell you more details. He totally described it in very vivid details to me and I totally forgot it ’cause you know, he went on and on about it, but it had something to do with one of the head guys in the military chaplain sea has an opportunity to give this coin for a special reason, and I wish I could tell you the specifics, but he gave it to Rick and it meant a lot. Yeah.
Larry: I do remember this part of it, that special person was the head chaplain of the US Army. His name is Tom Solhjem. And Tom was the speaker at this conference that Rick was emceeing and a general, he’s a general. So the general has this opportunity of giving a special coin to someone that has done something very unique and somehow Rick got that coin from it.
Neil: Yeah. Thanks, Larry.
Bill: Can you guys… You are probably more familiar with this, but what was the pathway to the pastor lifestyle that Rick led, or how was he called to that and when did he actually take that training on?
Larry: Rick has always had a desire, as we’ve been saying all along, to help people, and the gospel was very important to him, and he just wanted to… He spent a lot of time with me, and I’m a pastor in the Twin Cities. We worked together in a ministerial association, and there was always something that Rick wanted to do and his ideas were always right on. They always were about what can we do to get more people informed about the good news, and I guess that’s what drew my heart to him. But he just knew a lot of people and that was where his heart was at.
Bill: That’s awesome. Does anybody remember… His father, he told me this story so many times, but was it Buddy Holly that his father played music with or he knew somebody in that era really well. And his whole family had access to these stars, and he was just so proud of all the people he got to run across.
Larry: Bill, I think it was the big band era.
Larry: So it was more of that ballroom dancing style.
Peter: Yeah, I thought it was Benny Goodman.
Peter: I thought it was something like Benny Goodman or one of the… Or one of that, the big band.
Bill: Gotcha. Oh yeah. Gotcha. Well, this is some good stuff. I mean, I have just… I have really fond memories of him. I mean the last real, the times that we spent together talking were, he was very interested in this town in South Dakota called Doland, South Dakota, that he wanted to use this place to help former military recover, and he was like, Bill they’re giving the town away basically, if you wanna take one of their buildings and promise to fix it up, they’ll just give it to you, but let’s do something… Let’s do something out here cool and fun. And he’s like, Let’s go out there. I wanna show you Doland, South Dakota and I was like hey Rick, that’s not fitting in my schedule right now, and I swear he called me 15 times and tried to get me to go out to Doland, South Dakota sometime.
Bill: And it was really interesting, and I didn’t know that Hubert Humphrey was from out that way, and of course, that was a lot of the story that he shared with me, but it was just kinda oddball stuff that you’d run across in conversation that I just enjoyed so much and so… And for me, I never… Many of you mention him as a uncle, and to me he was an uncle as well, I didn’t really have a grandfather, but I grew up in a bar where there’s all these old people sitting around having conversation all the time about nothing, and I’m not saying Rick’s conversations were about nothing, but he reminded me so much of my childhood and these just coffee clutches of great conversation that just led to from one place to the next to the next and he just took me back to a place that was kind of cool.
Reuben: And Tessa was not able to make it on to the podcast live, but I met up with Tessa ’cause she definitely wanted to have a chance to say a few words about Rick. Tessa, go ahead and take it away.
Tessa: Well, you know, when I was first starting out inspecting on my own, after I’d finished training, I was still working on building up some confidence, and I remember I would run into Rick, he would be setting raid on machines, and I’d run into him and he would always… I remember this one time I was on a roof and he yelled up at me, “You are such a rock star, you’re just a rock star!” And he would say that every time I saw him, and he would also tell anyone else who was on the site, the same thing, he would tell that to agents, he would tell that to my clients, and I appreciated that because I’d come into the house and everyone thought I was awesome, and I didn’t have to do anything, so Rick was just such a caring, thoughtful person who always had ample time to connect with you and hear how you were doing and just genuinely care so… Such a beautiful person, and I’ll really miss him.
Reuben: Thank you, Tess. Appreciate it.
Bill: Next, we’re gonna throw it over to Dwayne Erickson. Dwayne is… Well, we’re pulling Dwayne out of retirement for this, just so everybody knows but Dwayne was the most senior inspector on the Structure Tech team. He came with Rick when Neil and Rick decided that they were going to do a deal. And Dwayne was with us till 2018. So he spent a very long time and he knows Rick very well. So Dwayne, why don’t you go ahead and give it to us?
Dwayne: Okay, thanks Bill for the intro. Yeah, I have known Rick since back in 1996, when I first applied for a job at Structure Tech. Very sad news to know that he’s gone. And especially with the pandemic taking so many people so close. So I think back to that day when I first interviewed with him and Brett, it was kind of a nervous to go into a job interview but Rick is such a pleasant personality, it was very easy to meet him and he put me at ease right away, and we had a great conversation, he has such an infectious laugh and great personality that I felt really good, and when I got home that day, I told my wife, I said, I hope he offers me more than a dollar an hour because I would really like to work there.
Dwayne: So as it turned out, we began working together in March of 1996 and known him for a long time. The nice thing about Rick is that that man had a lot of integrity and a lot of support, he gave me a lot of confidence and to be able to love and do the job. If you had somebody come back in and say they didn’t agree with me, he would pretty much let them know that they were incorrect, he would do that, and so you felt a great support system, and it felt really special with him behind you, it gave you the confidence to go out and really just concentrate on the job you needed to do.
Dwayne: He was also very good about sharing information about the company overall, so it was really good that you felt part of the whole system, and that pretty much continued for many years, and that was when he wasn’t even with the company. He was still… Neil was there instead, he had bought Structure Tech so him and I worked there together for a lot of years, and Rick had kept in touch with me and finally brought him back into the company to help out and it was such a joy to have him back filling in, doing different things and you meet him at Christmas parties or the summer get together, and he was really a really an outstanding person, and I had the opportunity to talk with him a lot about the Operation HighGround where he dealt a lot with debts and other things too. So he was really an inspiration to a lot of folks. I know he’ll definitely be missed by those who got to work with him on a day-to-day basis. It’s very sad to lose such an important person in all of our lives.
Reuben: Next, I wanna turn it over to Bryan. Bryan you got something to share?
Bryan: Rick and I loved music. During an inspection, we would talk about obscure jazz or deep big band, and mostly just the cool stuff we’d seen or heard recently, he was a bright guy, and I mean that in two ways, besides the fact that he was smart, I mean he could talk about anything at length with anyone like he knew them for years. He was also a really bright presence, I always felt a little better after he visit with me for a few minutes. I think he had that effect on everyone, he was a really rare kind of person. And you miss those people. Godspeed Rick.
Bill: Thank you, Bryan. I think we should put a wrap on this episode, it’s been fun to just sit back and reminisce a little bit, we work at a special place and it wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the foresight of a guy, way back, I don’t know what, 30 years ago already Neil it’s been a long time, we just wanted to really appreciate Rick for who he was, and thank you for everybody for tuning in, it’s been… You know, I’m back to my crack voice again because I don’t know why it just… It feels right to end it on a stumbling cracked up voice. So thank you everybody for listening. You’ve been listening to structure talk, a Structure Tech presentation. We will catch you next time.