There are those who aim to make a difference in the world by making it to the top.
Others, though, know they can be just as influential in a smaller setting.
Steve Stockland has spent the last 42 years serving Vermillion and surrounding area as part of Herren-Schempp Building Supply.
“I was interviewed here back in ‘75 and was hired on,” he said. “I liked it so I stuck around. When Scott Schempp took over the business they kept me on so I intend to stick around as long as they’ll keep me. I didn’t really figure I’d be here this long. I wasn’t really interested in any other jobs.”
When Stockland was first hired on he spent most of his time taking deliveries and unloading trucks.
“Now I wait on customers and give them the materials they need,” he said. “I’ll still take out a delivery if I have to and put stuff away if I need to but I’m more or less up front now sitting behind a desk and ordering different things.”
Usually the first one there every morning, Stockland has been commuting from Volin since he started.
Dedicated to his job, Stockland says he is just happy to be there and happy to have a job.
“I’m an old country boy, raised up on a farm,” he said. “I think it boils down to work ethics more than anything. You show up to work and do your job as best you can.”
And there are plenty of things to do every day.
“I like to place a few orders and put things away on the shelves and stuff and deal with lumber,” he said. “The customers are pretty important too. We try to take care of them as best we can. I get along with pretty much all of them.”
Being in the area for so long, Stockland has seen many changes in Vermillion.
“When I first started here there weren’t a lot of houses on the Southeast or West part of the high school,” he said. “That really has expanded a lot. There was nothing but a field there back then. Of course back then in the 70’s and 80’s we did a lot of work by hand unloading trucks. We had a forklift to unload some but a lot of it was by hand. There wasn’t a lot of machinery on the job sites like there is now.”
The changes, in Stockland’s opinion, are a good thing.
“We need more development and land,” he said. “Things are just kind of placed different. On my way of thinking when they first built the city of Vermillion I guess USD was kind of the center of all the activity. It really hasn’t expanded out to the North like it should. There’s not really a lot of area to expand as far as houses unless you get into the country. And the main street isn’t really store-oriented or cafe oriented. There’s a lot of bars. I don’t frequent any of them anymore.
We do need more housing land around the area.”
As long as building happens in Vermillion, Stockland will be there to help.
“We just try to stay busy here providing service to everybody we can and hopefully people will still move in and build and find their right spot,” he said. “We have all kinds of stuff that any kind of lumberyard would have. We can get just about anything that anyone would ever need.”
So what’s the secret to getting along with so many customers as Stockland has been able to?
“Communication is more than anything,” he said. “You have to be honest and speak up and tell them what you have and what you know. Tell what you believe on what they’re trying to do. A lot of people do not know even what a two-by-four is so they come in and you try to teach them that kind of thing and explain what that is. That’s basically what it’s all about. You just have to do more explaining and fulfill their knowledge about what they’re trying to do.
Stockland enjoys helping people figure out how to complete their projects.
“Sometimes it’s hard to understand different things but you just have to listen and see what we can do for you,” he said.
Though Stockland has been at it for a long time, he said there’s always something interesting.
“Sure I’ve been here 42 years but I don’t know everything,” he said. “I learn things every day. I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff I used to know. You’re learning things every day and trying to retain what you’ve learned. Sometimes it’s tough. Every day is different.”