Pat Beach- In Memoriam

 In Memory of Pat Beach

 10/23/1947 – 01/15/2016

Posted on 01/22/2016 | by The Orbitform Blog Team


Can you remember the first time you met Pat Beach?

I sure can. It was in 1993. I met Pat at a Trade Show in Chicago. She was working in the VSI booth. At that time, VSI was the dominant player in the niche industry of orbital forming and riveting. We had already poached a few good people from VSI…of which Pat was well aware.

As she approached me I can remember thinking “This is the Pat Beach everyone has told me about? This diminutive gal, with red hair and the look of a librarian…was the person everyone told me was the heartbeat and the energizer bunny of VSI?”

But after about 90 seconds the picture became clear. Her questions of natural inquiry, her soft but confident voice of command in the subject manner, her quick reference to common customers and applications… where we had prevailed in winning over VSI, her uncommon ability to get into “your space” without being intrusive, and her heart….yes her heart…that radiated her immeasurable love for life and for everyone and everything she interacted with…all removed any doubts about the strength and impact this little lady wielded.

With Pat, even though you may have been a competitor, you were never an enemy.

It took us about two years before it seemed to make sense to attempt to pry Pat away from what was a near 20 year career with VSI. It was still a risk on our part to add additional personnel to our sales and customer service team. We really didn’t know exactly what she would be doing. We certainly didn’t know at that time, in the words of Phil, how best to measure how she was going to ADD VALUE!

But it wasn’t only risky for us. Imagine how risky it must have seemed to Pat. Leaving a 20+ year career, moving from Auburn Hills area to the hinterlands of Jackson, working with a bunch of mostly guys who mostly talked about things like hunting and fishing, and going to work with a self- professed, hard core conservative. Which reminds me, Pat regularly told me I was the only Republican she ever voted for.

Risky indeed. And oh, by the way, Pat accepted a rather material pay cut in the process.

Why did Pat make the move? I believe it was because she saw two things. First, she observed that the customer service culture at Orbitform more closely aligned with her philosophies…even though our execution had much room for improvement. Second, I believe Pat saw an opportunity to help a young company further develop this notion of customer service excellence and she knew she could play a key role. That might be an understatement.

If you ever interacted with Pat, unless you were dead, you learned something. Those of us who have had the privilege to work with her a lot….learned a lot!

In Matthew 20:26 the Bible explains what the attributes of leadership or greatness are….“He who is greatest among them is first servant of all”.

Orbitform is blessed with terrific leadership. At all levels. Virtually everyone has some leadership traits in them that can be developed and nurtured. But greatness, that’s another level.

I don’t know about you, but I have not met anyone in my life who exemplifies “servant leadership” better than Pat. She demonstrated this for us every day for the last 20 years, three months, and 12 days.

She was forever buying something for someone or crafting something for someone….all intended to lift and encourage. Who can forget the creative greeting cards she routinely shared. Where she found these cards….that were always “spot on” for the celebration or life situation at hand…was yet another demonstration of how hard she worked….for the joy and benefit of others.

She was always giving something away. Even when we knew she didn’t have it to give. Most of all, she gave of herself.

Pat was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. She remembered customers by name and applications by industry…and personalized these at every chance. She not only created a feeling of “home” for fellow employees, but for customers as well.

We can confidently say that Pat was responsible for hundreds of customers choosing Orbitform over our competition. She lured them in with her warm, confident phone demeanor, secured their interest with her depth of knowledge and unique ability to ask probing questions, and convinced them to partner with us…because she made them feel like they were a part of our team and we were part of theirs.

Pat was a story teller, a culture framer, an historian, and a legacy builder. There is no way to understate the impact Pat has had on our jobs, our careers, our business, and even our families.

She loved as big as her stature was small.

What many may not know is that Pat suffered significant and often severe health issues throughout her life. She never complained, always kept a stiff upper lip, and was eternally optimistic with the uncanny ability to inspire others thru her challenges and illnesses.

She was strong and courageous…….right up to the end. Her nurses repeatedly commented on her resilience when it looked like the end was near. Even in her last days, even when she couldn’t speak, she did her best to cheer those who visited.

Kind hearted with everyone she ever interacted with…to many of us Pat was a heavenly angel walking among us here on earth.

It was a blessing when God finally called Pat home.

But somehow that blessing seems to pale in comparison to the blessing she was to us.

Mike Shirkey