Celebrating Jerry Sweet’s Retirement
On April 7th, customers, friends and employees gathered at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City to celebrate the retirement of Jerry Sweet. Jerry has led the establishment and expansion of the Gator Gypsum yards in Florida since 1984. If you drive through Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, Lakeland, Orlando, Ocala or Gainesville and take a look around, his influence is in the offices, homes, hospitals and stores that Gator Gypsum products helped construct. That in itself is a great achievement but if we look a bit further we find his true legacy: the friends that he gained as a result of doing business the right way. These friends range from 30 year employees to 30 year customers. I can’t think of many businesses that could boast either of those achievements.
In comparison, I have been here a relatively short time (2 years). I was in the Army and I can tell you that other than my military service, this is the best team with whom I have ever worked. The dedication and ideals that Jerry Sweet instilled in 1984 have proven to be the basis for a successful business that always puts customers first. Our respect for each other has developed because of the common values that we share. In some places it is called the “hard right over the easy wrong.” It is easy to leave a piece of trash on a jobsite if no one else is there, but it is not the Gator Way.
In the short term, this is not always profitable. Sometimes if a customer forgets to order a box of screws we send out a truck to deliver it. We earn business by working harder and longer than our competition and that is because Jerry Sweet made the rules and lived by them during his tenure. Change is inevitable and in most cases there is a fear of the unknown. Gator Gypsum will endure another 33 years because Jerry’s leadership will live on with every delivery that we make.