This sounds like a depressing topic. I mean, who wants to read about that? Not me—that’s for certain. Unfortunately for me, it was all too real. My partner, Doug Carpenter, who I founded Paragon Steel with back in 1988, was one of the great guys. He had a great family, friends and while we were partners, no one I met ever said an unkind word about him. We were partners for more than 25 years and I had been the one with medical challenges my whole life. Diabetes, heart disease, three organ transplants…

Not Doug.

In 2012, it came as a big surprise when he was the one who fell ill and ultimately passed away in May 2014. I was horribly saddened by the loss, as was our entire team. Together, we had built Paragon Steel into a successful steel service center, with an emphasis on service. We also developed a close friendship and bond that would last until his final days.

But then the question remained of “What to do after he was gone?” Should I continue to operate the business as we had in the past all the while knowing that it would have been Doug’s desire? Or should I simply recognize the reality that without Doug’s influence and collaboration, it would never be the same? We could have a path forward, but it could never be the same path I would have walked with Doug by my side.

I struggled. It was like a quote I once heard about what it was like when Frank Sinatra died: “The band continued to play, but the music never sounded the same.”

For the past few years, I’ve felt torn. I’ve lived and worked on, wondering both what Doug would have wanted and what I had to do to keep the train running. Because ultimately, it is the Paragon Steel train with all of its loyal customers, vendors and most of all, employees who have the true stake in OUR future together. I believe that through all of this adversity, we found a mission, a purpose to prevail. Because in the end, that’s what building a business is all about: creating and fulfilling dreams. We know that there will be hurdles and bumps along the way, but that’s why they call it work. We have built something truly unique at Paragon Steel—a legacy to live on for and to be proud of. I’m sure Doug would also be proud.

Thank you for your continued support.