In 2001, I was working with Mike Dalton, selling and implementing an accounting system. A few years before, we had met when Mike had come aboard to help the company I was working for at that time to keep going when it had lost its founder to an accident. We worked well together and transitioned to a second company as a team. When Mike announced one day that he and his Maureen (already a 20-plus-year closing veteran) would be launching Monarch Title Company, he asked if I would come along as the accounting manager. I was happy to be involved in getting Monarch Title up and running. Only a year later, the company would begin expanding to other locations in Missouri.
Throughout, I continued to gig as a guitarist and mandolinist, and when I released my solo guitar CD “Sometimes a Guitar is Just a Guitar” in 2003, I spent a few years focusing on performing, composing, and teaching. I had also joined an old-time/ragtime group called The SkirtLifters, and performed in Belgium, Switzerland, and Ireland. Then, in 2006, I learned that Mike was facing some medical issues and I had the opportunity to repay him for what he had done for my prior company. Returning to Monarch Title felt like a homecoming, and Mike, Maureen, Jon, and Julie always felt more like family than anything. Chuck and Sarah would come on board around then too. Tricia returned a bit later and Wes kept moving up. At least half of us have been with Monarch Title for at least half of the life of the company, and along with so many others who have joined the Monarch Title family, we’ve navigated a remarkable decade of changes and challenges.
As the accounting manager, I’m one of the least visible of the group, but in my back-office, I feel like I’m in my element. In junior high algebra, when some kid asked “when will I ever use this?” I was the kid who really enjoyed working out the solutions. I’d still rather do a math puzzle than a crossword (I even worked out my own solution to the Rubik’s Cube after nineteen years of effort. Nerd, nerd, nerd!). For me, compared to the challenges that our closers and title professionals have to work out for a successful closing, with competing interests, legal documents, and changing regulations, the “daily grind” of bookkeeping, spreadsheets, and auditing feel more straightforward and solvable to me. They tell me they don’t want to swap jobs either, so I guess we’ve all landed in the right spots.
I have kept gigging throughout, and still do, though it’s been on hold so far in 2020. I’m still writing songs, and recording when I get the chance, but I have many friends who are professional musicians and storytellers who are struggling to get by and get back to gigging. Working meaningfully from home, or coming to an office that is staying together, staying smart, and staying busy is a privilege I don’t take lightly.