Twelve years ago today, Mike and I got up very early in the morning, (after getting home very early in the morning) to drive to St. Louis Park and open our store to the public for the very first time.
It was the result of months and months of hard work, and it was a really fun day. Lots of people came in to wish us well, in our crazy venture. We had two little simulators, and the screen was just a large monitor on one of them, and a projection type image on the other.
My how things have changed!
I really can't believe it has been 12 years. So much has happened along the way.
1. We welcomed Charlie into our lives.
2. I left Target, and ACES became our sole source of income.
3. We added more simulators
4. We survived the sales dive after 9/11. (no, the terrorists did NOT train at our store.)
5. We built and installed simulators for Lockheed Martin.
6. We built and maintain simulators for Farnsworth Elementary.
7. We moved to the MOA, and added WWII simulators.
8. We plan to survive the current economic slump!
We had a party at the store tonight for our employees, one of our employees has just taken a corporate job with Menards, and we wanted to wish him well, and also say goodbye to a long time employee who left us this fall for a real, career type job. We brought in food from Bubba Gump, and I made a birthday cake complete with candles. They brought their wives and girlfriends, it was fun to meet them. Then they flew all night, as that is something they rarely get to do in their job!
We have had so many incredible employees through the years. And some not so great ones. That is the nature of retail. We hear from old employees all the time, and often someone will leave, and find out they aren't fond of their new job, and ask to come back.
We do not have a conventional manager/employee situation at our store. We train our staff to be able to do all of the jobs, and to make good decisions, and to be responsible for each other. Mike and I don't live at the store. Mostly we just check in, and fix what needs to be taken care of. Because we are confident that the people we hire can handle things, without us looking over their shoulder. But if they need us, for anything, we are just a phone call away. And most of them respond really well to that kind of environment. And if they can't, and prefer having a traditional manager, they don't stay with us very long.
A big thank you to all of you reading this who have played a part in ACES success: starring in our TV commercials, providing advice and encouragement, cleaning our house, taking care of our child, buying flights and merchandise, and telling all of your friends and acquaintances. We can never adequately thank you, but please know how important all of you are to us.
So today is just another milestone in the idea that became ACES. What a ride!