I have spent more of my life building the Advantage than not. For some, there is work; for others, there is play; but, for us, there is building. Fortunately, building has, for me, meant a full life of rewarding work and play.
As the Advantage turns 35 [and I turn 60], we find ourselves doing what we always do: taking down walls, building stores, designing websites, starting new businesses, and creating chaos and disorder at every turn. I’m pretty sure they’re not teaching that approach at Wharton, but there’s no denying it has worked wonders for us.
2012 proved to be our most remarkable year of building ever. There is only one reason for such success: we have had our most efficacious group of leaders ever. They’ve made it both prosperous and enjoyable. This year’s catalog promises to not only illuminate the 30 thriving business enterprises of the Advantage Co, but to introduce you to the leadership which provides the energy and vision necessary to bring it all to fruition.
This past year we have been busy building an Infrastructure As A Service [IaaS] for the Federal Government’s new cloud initiative. Now, how unexpected is that? We actually won the GSA’s IaaS award, as well the authorization to operate, while competing against some of the more notable giants of the tech world [who failed to win one of the 12 coveted awards]. We are now a teaming partner with Microsoft, Red Hat, and Autonomy – to name just a few – providing coveted access to the internet for all Federal agencies. We are an integral part of the Federal Government’s Cloud First mandate.
And, of course, there was the usual building going on at the Walker Center: the new Nantucket Shop, the long-awaited kid’s store – Tiny Walker, and the introduction of Gift Giving Registry. Along with the new shops, we also expanded Body + Beauty, our Jewelry store, and our Vera Bradley shop [while I spent most of my time at Giancarlo’s]. Speaking of Giancarlo’s, we also hosted Ariana and Sam’s wedding there in October. It’s seems like only yesterday that Ariana was a newborn baby fast asleep in our apartment behind the original shop on Main Street.
As with any year, there were the various pitfalls, failures, and disappointments. This past year was particularly painful as I lost my best friend of 50 years to heart failure. Some things come too soon, while others never come at all.
The circle of life, however, did provide me with the anticipation of my second grandchild. I’m looking forward to a grandson to go along with his cousin, my beautiful granddaughter, Francesca. Every newborn is a piece of magic [and, sometimes, like Coach and Kelly, you get to double up on the magic]. At the Advantage, we have been on a baby boom for 35 years. Building families has always been more than a part of our journey, it has been the essence of it – and what a journey it has been….
And, throughout it all, Western New York has been both our home and foundation.
As I turn the corner at 60 and head for home, I’m banking on at least 20 more good years before they put me out to pasture. I’d like to think the next 20 years are going to be as great as the past 20 years, but that might be asking for a little too much. Regardless, I can’t help but believe the next 20 years are going to be even better – and I’m counting on you being there every step of the way.
See you at Giancarlo’s.