Jerome Willis regularly reads the Max Ehrmann poem Desiderata. From this poem he finds inspiration and solace. His favorite lines are the following:
As far as possible,
be on good terms with all persons.
These words have guided the current new equipment sales and industrial accounts manager, through a successful career at Sims Crane. He started working for the company in 1982, when Southeast Lift Equipment was owned by Sims. The company specialized in boom lifts and forklift rentals. In time, the company joined what is now modern day Sims Crane and Equipment Company.
Since the beginning, Jerome has been in sales. This he finds surprising, given how he started out. When he recalls one of the first sales calls he made, he has a wide smile on his face. “I remember going to this big job and there were cranes on it and boom lifts and forklifts. And I walked in and shook the guys hand and gave him my card and told him what we rented. He said in very colorful language, ‘What’s wrong with you? Don’t you see I have forklifts and cranes all over?! Get out of here. You’re wasting my time.’ I remember wondering, my god, is this how it is?! I might have picked the wrong deal. But I stayed with it and kept going. Eventually people started renting from me. I realized the qualities it takes to make it. I like to think honesty is one and I guess perseverance is another one. And really it’s likeability.” He pauses a moment, smiles wider. The funny guy soon shows his face, “It’s character, and god knows I’m a character.”
All joking aside, it’s clear to see Jerome Willis is a man who truly embodies honesty, perseverance and likeability. He also values relationships with people, living by the old adage, ‘treat people like you want to be treated.’ If you do this, you will always be rewarded. People like dealing with individuals who are looking out for their best interest. There’s no doubt his loyal clients at Mosaic would agree.
This sense of obligation to the people around him drives him. He believes in delivering quality service no matter what time of night it is. But this dedication can be challenging thanks to technological changes. “It’s challenging for guys like us who grew up on a handshake and your word was good. In today’s time you have to have a zillion contracts and I mean it’s never ending paperwork. Computers were suppose to make paperwork go away but it’s increased it. Now we also have new technology and phones that do everything. And then there are iPads and computers. It’s a whole other way for guys who’ve been in it for so long doing it the old-fashion way. Part of the challenge of the job is also understanding how some of the younger people think and what motivates them.”
To help him along the way of better understanding the generational differences are his two children, Jenna and Joshua. The 20-something year olds still take time out of their schedules to spend time with dad. Jenna is studying to become a nurse. Joshua is in the Air Force and based in Alaska. Josh followed in dad’s footsteps.
Before coming to work here, Jerome was stationed in Germany at an Air Force base in Spangdahlem. So he took time to see the world. He’s traveled most of Europe including, England, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Lietchenstein and Italy. These different experiences only add layers to who he is as an individual. But to him the single most defining moment in his life came as a result of losing a dream he held so dear to his heart.
The ‘Great American Pastime’ defined his teenage years. His childhood dream to become a professional baseball player was part of every waking moment. He lived and breathed the game. But it came to an end after a shoulder injury sidelined him. Even today, he still thinks of what could have been. But as he puts it, “life goes on and you have to go with it or be left behind.” These are wise words from a man who has lived the experience.