Page 10 - Rockford Living Magazine 2020
P. 10

By his own admission,
“I’m an easy crier. I tear up and get emotional.” What triggers the tears? “When I see people going through tough times. Or social injustices.
Or things that affect my family; interactions between myself and my boys and my daughter.
I can weep very easily.”
In directing the Rockford business nearly 40 years, “I never fired a single human being.”
When working for the
U.S Army in Washington, D.C., he had clearance to know about “top-secret” activities. When locals asked about a particular operation rumored to be taking place nearby, Floyd would tell them that “We’re training monkeys to drive Jeeps.”
He’s not exactly a movie buff: “Golly, I’m not too influenced.
I watch ‘em and forget ‘em.”
He designed the home Sharon and he continue to live in, located in Grand Rapids. It boasts a quirky door that reads, in German, “Kaffe Macht Freunde. Bier Macht Blahungen.” Translation: “Coffee Makes Friends. Beer Makes Flatulence.”
               Floyd was honored as “Executive of the Year” when he was Vice President of Special Markets for Federal Home Life Insurance company and featured in their annual report.
for the summer on his uncle’s farm at $1 a day. During high school, he was employed as a soda jerk, janitor and shoeshine boy. As a student, he had the uncan- ny ability to perform accounting and arrive at the correct answer without entering any data in his workbooks. After graduating, he entered the U.S. Army — he never attended college — serving mostly in Korea on a security detail.
After his stint in the armed ser- vice, he endured what he terms “slave labor” in his hometown’s flour mill, heaving 100-pound sacks about and ending the work- day so filthy “you took a show- er with your clothes on.” When he was laid off on a Friday, he boasted to co-workers that he’d be
working again by the coming Monday. When challenged, he wryly pointed out that “I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but the highway through here has two lanes.”
Sure enough, he went to Minneapolis that weekend and by Monday was working in the insurance industry, after answering a blind newspaper ad. Within a year, he was a man- ager in charge of training inductees. He even- tually transferred to Michigan, and ascended to a vice presidential post with an income he admits was “off the chart.”
In 1979, now in Grand Rapids, he was pulling double duty as owner of The Melting Pot in downtown Rockford, and still working in the insurance industry. “Not many people knew it back then,” he recalls, “how in the back of the store, I had a suit and tie and pair
of wingtips, and I’d often leave to go out and recruit and appoint agents and develop mar- keting concepts.”
At 62, he traded in the suit for an apron full-time and worked The Melting Pot, but also used some of his assets during that era to buy, remodel, and rent out commercial buildings in downtown Rockford. Over time, he had 18 tenants.
Rather than rent to the first prospect across the threshold, he preferred to explore what sort of enterprise they planned to launch. What made Floyd immediately memorable then — and has become part of his persona — was his penchant for talking some people out of their intentions.
“That’s true,” he says. “I spent more time telling people they should not pursue a cer- tain dream” and then he’d help them under- stand the pitfalls of business — not only the rent, but the impact of taxes, insurance, employee expense, advertising, creating foot traffic and more.
“I used to say ‘You pay me on the first of the month, or you’re out. If you can’t pay me, come see me, but to be honest, you’re proba- bly out, for your own protection.’”
Some people listened and some didn’t. Some succeeded despite his cautions, and oth- ers failed, wishing they’d heeded his prophecy.
“He tells it like it is,” says Kimberly Smith, who rented space from Floyd early on and then bought the building from him in which she now offers fine women’s apparel. “He’s very good with numbers, and has a great abil- ity to predict who’s going to make it and who’s not. If he’s ever butting heads with anyone, it’s probably because he’s telling them the truth, and it’s something they just don’t want to hear.”
Photo by Michelle Wise
Floyd roasts coffee beans with his son, Doug. The Coffee Ranch (a business he purchased from another family) has been in continuous operation since 1901.

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