A few more miles: The Corwin story


“…we boarded the bus early every morning and spent our days walking the rows, braving heat and humidity  and occasional rainy days and mud. Cancellations were cheered, though rare; Corwin’s definition of “rain” was far different than mine!”

A few more miles: Seed development (February 20, 2018)

All of us grumbled about Corwin. One particularly rainy day, the morning bus ride’s buzz was that day’s detasseling effort would certainly be cancelled. Gray skies showed no indication of clearing. It rained off and on the entire ride. The field would be a muddy mess.

By the time we arrived, Corwin had already assessed conditions; he assured us the field was, though perhaps a bit damp, certainly walkable. And, he cheerfully noted, the rain was not expected to last all day. So we dejectedly readied ourselves for the day’s work and watched Corwin prepare for his own field investigation. After donning heavy-duty rain boots, rain pants, and a hooded raincoat suitable for Niagara Falls, he disappeared into the corn. His mild admonitions that the field was “a bit damp” and “the rain was not expected to last” contradicted his own preparations. That’s how I remember his actions that day, and how I described them to my dad that evening.

At Dad’s going-away party, before starting a new job in Wisconsin, he told “the Corwin story.” (I suspect that Corwin laughed the loudest.) Dad claimed his son would always remember it, and he was right.

Back then, we viewed Corwin as a crusty old farmer, stingy and ornery, a stern taskmaster. I now realize, though, he calculated many things beyond that day’s weather and teenage opinions: the long-range forecast, fields and acreage still needing attention, remaining days before pollination began, and the fact that nature moves on its own schedule, whether fields are ready or not.

I’ve also learned about Corwin the person, not the caricature, over the years: married to Thelma for 68 years, four children, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. A lifelong farmer, an active member of several agricultural organizations, active on church committees to top it off. Not bad for the crusty old farmer—though for the record, I no longer use “crusty” to describe a spry young man of 60!

Relationships matter. That is why we make the effort at Mead & Hunt to know each other beyond our job descriptions. We are gardeners & chefs, outdoorsmen & athletes, dog lovers & horse whisperers; more significantly, we are spouses & children, parents & friends. We are Mead & Hunt, a community of individuals with a common understanding of our values: We take care of people … We do the right thing … We do what makes sense.

Our common culture provides an empathetic reserve to draw upon for rainy days, literal and metaphorical: a work plan goes awry; a new task is assigned at an inopportune moment; feedback seems unnecessary. Understanding each other as individuals helps smooth over the inevitable bumps, if only by realizing that such pressures result from performing complex assignments within tightly defined schedules and budget limitations. Much as Corwin responded to nature’s demands and impacts on the corn crop, in our work we respond to design and construction demands to fulfill our clients’ expectations.

Simply put, doing the right thing and doing what makes sense is hard work. They are, though, the essential building blocks of taking care of people. It’s what we do.

In future blogs, I hope to uncover and tell stories of how Mead & Hunt fulfills and sustains our values. With a 118-year history, there must be thousands of them!

What is your story? How does it exemplify Mead & Hunt’s culture and values?


Jeff Gaard

About the Author

Jeff Gaard, AIA, is an architect and project manager for our Architecture & Building Engineering group, and specializes in aviation architecture. He writes about project management and the intersection of Mead & Hunt’s culture and history. A lifelong cyclist, he searches for unexplored routes and vernacular architecture in rural Wisconsin.

Other blog articles by Jeff include:

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