What I want to be when I grow up

If you could start all over again, would you take a different career path? It’s hard not to fantasize.

Heidi Schiller
   As children, we want to be astronauts, ballerinas, presidents and movie stars when we grow up.
   We usually end up a bit closer to earth, and those ambitions transform into hobbies or tucked-away dreams.
   But even as adults, we still tend to envision what we’d do when we grow up, and those fantasies give an insight to the person behind the business curtain.
   Here are what the following local business people would be if they weren’t a retailer, a banker, a restaurant owner, a roofer or a real estate agent.

Nancy Taylor

Nancy Taylor, owner of Dream On Furton, said that if she was to start all over again, she would make an eco-career out of her lifelong love of birdwatching.

   If Nancy Taylor were not the owner of Dream On Futon, she would be an ornithologist.
   “I’d rather be birding,” Taylor said of her passion.
   Teaching people about birds, especially about bird songs, is something Taylor would love to do if she weren’t in the futon business. Her store on Chestnut Street is approaching its 25th anniversary.
   She has been bird watching for almost the same amount of time —the past 20 years — when not running her store.
   She described her “trigger bird” — a term used by avid birdwatchers for the bird that triggered their interest in the pastime — as the harlequin duck.
   As she was kayaking near Larrabee State Park 20 years ago, she saw it.
   “It took my breath away, and from then on I was hooked,” she said. “A trigger bird touches your heart and takes your breath away.”
   Taylor was smitten, and since then has traveled throughout the United States, including Florida, southeastern Arizona and Milwaukee to bird watch. However, she said she is often content to bird watch in Whatcom County, especially at Tennant Lake and Scudder Pond.
   Her favorite birds are warblers, especially wood warblers.
   “They’re so bright and have wonderful songs,” she said.
   Taylor has already taught a novice birding course through the Audubon Society, and said she might teach again when she’s retired from the futon business, but not necessarily for money.
   Last year, Taylor participated in a count of purple martins — a type of swallow — where she got to hold baby purple martins and carry them in her pockets, she said.
   Birds are a signal of the environment’s health, and once people start birding, they inevitably get excited about preserving habitat, she said.
   She also enjoys the discovery of it, as well as the connection to other places in the world.
   “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” she said. “Some of these birds have flown thousands of miles.”

Brad Colglazier
   If Brad Colglazier were not the vice president of The Bank of the Pacific, he would be a high-end and classic car dealer.
   Colglazier has been a banker for 35 years in Bellingham, and he insists there is nothing he’d rather do. Nothing, that is, except find rare, classic and high-end cars for himself and his friends.
   As an admitted car enthusiast — he owns about 1,000 die-cast car models and several full-size classic cars, including three classic Corvettes — Colglazier’s fantasy job of finding and restoring cars may come true after he retires in the next few years.
   Corvettes are his favorite. In his Grand Avenue branch office, he displays about 15 Corvette die cast models in a wooden bookcase along with a framed photo of a 1961 Corvette painted red and white — his dream car.
   He also likes Harleys, and sometimes rides his Heritage Soft Tail to work on sunny days.
   “I’m just a big kid that likes toys,” Colglazier said.
   Colglazier’s father gave him his first car, a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Aire, when he was 14, and he’s been in love ever since.
   For his love of cars, he’ll often hit the road and go to car shows as far away as Syracuse, N.Y.
   “I’m a kid in the candy store at shows,” he said. “I’m just a big kid who likes toys.”

Don White
   If Don White were not the owner of Skylark’s Hidden Café, he would be a consumer advocate.
   As a small-business owner, White said he sees acutely the injustice of how large corporations make big bucks at consumers’ expense, and he would like to change that if he weren’t already consumed with his restaurant in Fairhaven.
   “I see it all the time as a small business owner,” he said. “You have to pay more for everything and get treated as a second-class citizen. Big companies get the deals.”
   White admits his fantasy job is fueled to some extent by the idea of getting paid to stand on a soapbox.
   Injustices that irk him include the way banks process checks in their own financial interests and the way credit-card companies don’t fully disclose their policies, he said.
   “It upsets me so much because I work in the service industry, and sometimes we screw up, but we work really hard to make people happy,” White said. “Big companies just aren’t responsive. Even if they don’t mean to alienate customers, they do because of their bureaucracy or internal structure.”
   Recently, White purchased a $2,500 freezer from a large kitchen-equipment company and it turned out to be a lemon. Now it’s taking the company months to honor their warranty and replace it, White said.
   “You know, if Red Robin got a bum freezer, they’d be responsive because they’d know a regional manager wouldn’t sign a contract for another thousand freezers,” he said.
   White said in an alternate universe he’d like to educate consumers about their rights and about companies’ responsibilities, and to work for small businesses to gain more clout in the world of big business.
   Like most of the business owners featured, White is perfectly happy running his restaurant in Fairhaven, which he has owned for 11 years, but he said he’s thought about going into consumer advocacy later in life.
   “Maybe I’ll do it as one of those crazy retirement things,” he said.

Winton Smith, owner of Western Roofing, said if he hadn’t taken over the business begun by his father, who started it in 1938, he might have entered the auto racing scene in some capacity, following what he called the sport’s ‘infectious desire to win.’

Winton Smith
   If Winton Smith were not a roofer, he would be a racecar driver.
   Smith has been a roofer most of his life, doing grunt work as a 14-year-old boy for his father, who started Western Roofing in 1938. Smith now owns the company on Irongate Road — he was the only sibling out of five who wanted to continue the roofing dynasty — but if not roofing, Smith would be racecar driving.
   When he was younger, Smith “twisted wrench” for a friend who raced as a hobby, meaning he worked on the driver’s team changing tires and oil during the races, and although Smith never raced himself, the sport has always appealed to him.
   “It’s infectious — the desire to win,” he said.
   But Smith is sure he won’t be switching gears any time soon to take up a career in racecar driving.
   “The roofing business pays the bills,” he said.

Lylene Johnson
   If Lylene Johnson were not a real estate agent, she would be a tax attorney.
   “I’ve come to realize I’m a little weird,” Johnson said of her passion for taxes. “I like the legal nuances, making sure the language is just right and how laws impact what you can and can’t do.”
   Johnson said she enjoys working with clients regarding their taxes as part of her current job as a real estate agent for The Johnson Team in Fairhaven, which she has owned with her husband since 1989.
   She also simply believes in the concept of taxes, seeing them as a way to achieve ends and solve problems.
   Johnson also enjoys knowing “the rules” and how to use them to achieve an end result.
   Despite this love of taxes and affection for the gradations of law, Johnson said she never considered going to law school as a young woman.
   She actually got a degree in home economics and education from the University of Washington and originally intended on motherhood for her main career.
   But after teaching for a few years, Johnson and her husband started doing real estate and she became passionate about the profession.
   She most likely won’t be going to law school any time in the future.
   “Maybe if I were 10 years younger,” she said. “It’s easy to think about it without living it.”



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