To all of our fantastic customers and employees:
It is with a combination of sadness and joy that I am announcing our Director of Operations, Gary Conkey, is retiring effective this Friday, September 4th! To say that Gary played a critical part in Senvoy’s success over the last 22 years would be an understatement. It is impossible to quantify the effort and dedication Gary has shown over the previous two decades. Senvoy owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude. His influence on this company will be felt as long as Senvoy is around and operating.
Many of you interacted almost daily with Gary over the years. Some have only known him for a short time, but others have worked with him for decades. I know it has been Gary’s absolute pleasure meeting and working with so many of you, and that all of you, like us, will miss him picking up the phone and fixing your problems. I can tell you that customer satisfaction was what drove Gary, and nothing less than your satisfaction was his mission.
Gary and my relationship started somewhere in 1989-1990 when he came to work for me at American Messenger. I was the dispatcher, and Gary started as a route driver, and then as an on-demand driver. It was not too long before Gary moved into management, heading up the routed system in Portland. Gary quickly fit right in with his passion for work and his love of sports, especially basketball. That made him a favorite of everyone who played because the dude could hit the three all night long!
When I decided to branch out and start a new company in 1998, Gary was one of the first employees. I clearly remember him going out and cold calling customers, doing whatever he could to try and get some business through the doors. We grew quickly in those early days, and Gary was right in the middle of it. In 2002 when our largest competitor went out of business, the whole office was working 20 hour days, going home for a few hours nap, and coming right back to jump in again. Gary never missed a beat.
Running a diverse and complicated company like Senvoy means there is never a dull moment. Just when you think you have seen everything, something new pops up. Gary has not only seen the worst this business can throw at someone, but more times than not, he was the one dealing with it. And as always, we could count on him to deal with it immediately and without complaint.
When it comes to work ethic, Gary is indeed from the old school. I don’t know that the guy missed a day of work in the 30 years I worked with him. Maybe one or two at best, but pretty phenomenal. And on the days when he twisted an ankle playing basketball or was exhausted from building a new wall at his house? The dude just came to work. No questions and no complaints.
If Senvoy had more employees like Gary, it would not need nearly as many as it has; he is that good. Fortunately, we have been training Mitchell Driggers to step in after Gary leaves, and we believe you will all be in good hands. Mitchell has done just about every job we have and has managed our night operations for the last two years. He has been working with Gary directly, and both Gary and I are confident in his abilities.
Mitchell would admit he has a lot to learn before he is comfortable handling Gary’s responsibilities, but he will get there. After all, Gary invented and built most of the systems that Senvoy uses every day.
For me, personally, this is incredibly bittersweet. Gary and I have worked side by side over the last 30 years. Since neither of us misses a day of work, we spent more time with each other than our spouses. You don’t work side by side with someone, through thick and thin, and not develop a healthy relationship. That is precisely the case with Gary and myself.
My wife Kathie and I count Gary and his wife Catherine amongst our closest friends. It seems surreal looking back on all the things we have done together over the years, which seems like they just took place yesterday. All the Super Bowls, the NBA championships, the years of Senvoy sponsored rec league basketball, and just meeting at the park after work for some pickup games. Then there was the softball, the boxing matches (especially when Tyson bit off Holyfield’s ear), the Trail Blazers, and of course, Gary’s beloved Ducks. Not to mention the trips we took, Cancun and Vegas come to mind.
All these great memories, both good and bad, come flooding back as Gary is approaching his last days.
It seems like yesterday we were sitting in my office setting a date in late 2020 for him to retire. That was in 2018, and September 2020 seemed like it was a long way away. Life is like that, unfortunately. Gary has a son, Mike, who works for us and is now in his 40’s. I remember him coming out to play pickup games with us when he was 11 or 12 years old, and I had just met Gary. My kids weren’t even born when Gary and I started working together; they are now 23, 21, and 19 years old. Gary’s wife Catherine, who is a fantastic photographer, did all their senior pictures.
I really thought we had more time.
Life will go on, of course, it always does. Senvoy will continue to operate just like it always has. It is said that no one person is bigger than a company, and I believe that. That doesn’t mean Senvoy will ever be the same. There is no replacing someone like Gary. You cannot replace the stubbornness or the outsized sense of humor, the sarcasm, and the ability to laugh when life is ugliest. The IMMENSE amount of knowledge that can be instantly recalled.
Describing Gary as thoroughly as possible, I would say the following: You will never find a harder working, more loyal human being than Gary Conkey. I have been blessed to have worked with a couple of people that fit this description, but there has certainly never been one better.
Speaking personally, I am so happy for Gary and his retirement. While he has earned the rest, knowing him, he will be busier in retirement than he was out of it. He has definitely earned the time off. I am humbled to have been able to spend the last 30 years with him. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to share so many experiences, both good and bad. So grateful that he came to work at that little messenger company I was working at when I was 21 years old. Life is amazing that way. A chance meeting, a shared work ethic, and a common interest in sports turned into a 30-year journey unlike any other.
I will certainly miss working with Gary every day, hashing out what, or how, or when we should do something. But more than anything, I will miss my friend.
Please follow the Leave Gary a Comment link if you would like to wish him well or simply make a comment. I know you were all very important to him.
With equal parts sadness and joy!
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