A Conversation with...Michael Leeming, Parker Boiler
PF: Were you destined to be in the boiler business?
ML: I think you’re right, that was fate. I originally wanted to be a fireman, cop or an FBI agent, but I grew up with my dad working on boilers.
PF: How does a person last 30-plus years with one company?
ML: Treat the company from Day 1 like you are an owner, and you pour your heart and soul into it. You have to be honest, don’t answer a question you don’t know the answer to, and be nice to customers and the people you work with and for.
PF: Your company services a lot of industries, but how different is the metal finishing industry to service?
ML: It’s one of our special niches as a manufacturer. Being able to heat tanks with water elevated above the ASME Section IV limitation of 250˚F and 160 psi lets us do the same thing some do other ways with a closed loop process system.
PF: You have six children who have never missed a day of school. How in the world does that happen?
ML: All six have never been late or tardy. This was a work ethic my dad taught me, but my wife deserves all the credit. She has a system down, and when I am not traveling, I try my best to give a ride to or from five different schools now. The two oldest now drive and have their own cars, which also helps.
PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?
ML: Never lie; it is too hard to remember two stories.
PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
ML: Delivering newspapers where I grew up. I think I was 12. Not only did you have to fold your own papers, you had to collect the money every month and account for it.
PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?
ML: I don’t think it could be anyone’s dream car unless you wanted to go up in flames when you got rear ended: a Ford Pinto station wagon with bubble windows. My dad had it as the service manager, and the company sold it to him for $1,000 in perfect condition. I spent everything I had on making it cool, because really, how cool is a Pinto with installed 232 cu in V6, 5-speed tranny, mag wheels, cool stereo and painted in black?
PF: Night owl or early bird?
ML: I don’t sleep much; probably both. I was at work at 6 a.m. for many years. Not too many people in the office, worked well for back east accounts with three-hour time difference. The boss told me that he only expected half days, and did not care which 12 hours I put in.
PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?
ML: In our back yard. I built a mini-Disneyland for the kids, including a pool. Being in Southern California with a Parker Boiler that can heat the pool and spa makes a 365-day-per-year playground for the family. We do enjoy the family cabin on Big Bear Lake only 70 miles away.
PF: How do you motivate yourself?
ML: I have a shrine in my office of photos of the family. I look up every time I get in a slump, and I remember who I am trying to feed and provide a great life for.
PF: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?
ML: Slow down, you proved you can do it, now just pick the projects you have the best shot at and skip the others. You cannot possibly close them all.
Get to Know Michael
Family: Wife of 29 years, Nancy; children Shaely is 19, Shaniya 17, Shaiyanne 14, Sharyden 12, Shane 9, and Shaylynn 7.
Favorite hobby: Camping, motorcycle riding, skiing, boating, riding bicycles, but I really enjoy working around the house now.
Favorite movie: Smokey and the Bandit; I am easily entertained, as you can tell.
Favorite book: The Firm; Pelican Brief is a close second.
What’s playing in your car CD/radio: Depends on which kid is in the front seat. If it’s just me, probably some 80s.
Originally published in the November 2016 issue.
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