The best on Worst

SHAWN GUST/Press Three generations of the Worst family, from left, Allen, Chris and Ken, are celebrating the business's 60th anniversary.

Three generations of the Worst family, from left, Allen, Chris and Ken, are celebrating the business’s 60th anniversary.

R.C. Worst & Company is celebrating 60 years of business in Coeur d’Alene this year.
“If R.C. Worst came strolling in here today, I think he would be really proud,” said R.C.’s grandson and part owner of the company, Ken Worst, who is in charge of the company’s accounting and technological development.
R.C. survived the Great Depression by fixing cars in Kellogg. Eventually he built himself an automotive business in Hayden.
In 1953, R.C. Worst bought Brown Construction from his father-in-law, Fred Brown, and named his business R.C. Worst & Company. In the early 1970s the general contracting business became a regionally reputable distributor of water and wastewater systems. R.C.’s wife of nearly 60 years, Geneva Brown, was the company’s accountant.
Together they raised a family and business simultaneously.
Today the business is a fourth-generation success with 18 employees as well as a sister store in Spokane.
The company is expanding its marketplace by selling its products throughout the Inland Northwest, the U.S., and now Canada. “Our inventory is the largest and most complete in the Inland Northwest,” said Ken Worst on the company’s website,
“When Worst is your last name and your business name, you have to rise above that connotation to really do the job right the first time,” Ken Worst said. “That’s probably the biggest thing we do. It’s not just gouge them and go on to the next relationship.”
Allen Worst, Ken’s brother and grandson to R.C. Worst, is also an owner in the family business whose primary role is sales.
“We’d like to continue serving our customers in expanded areas that we see fit, but our goal is not to necessarily have branches all across the country and become the McDonald’s of pumps,” Allen Worst said.
“True,” agreed his brother. “We’re not owned by General Electric or something; we’re a local business.”
Allen and Ken Worst attribute the company’s prosperity to their predecessors.
The brothers remember their grandfather showing them how to hold a wrench and how to use leverage with tools. At times they recall him as “gruff” and “hard to please,” but he was always present and practical. They remember how their grandfather’s primary concern, despite the day and time, was to help a client. “He’d hop up and help anyone,” recalls Allen Worst. “He had a passion for helping people.”
Jim Worst, R.C.’s only son and father to Allen and Ken, started working for the company during his summers in between school years. After completing his engineering and business degrees from the University of Idaho, Jim returned to Coeur d’Alene to his apply his education to the family business.

He excelled behind and beyond his desk, with handshakes and with details.

“Our values are what have kept us in business so long. We’ve tried to have integrity with dealing with people and be fair with billing so we’re not burning bridges. We’re not willing to take advantage of people,” Allen Worst said.

The underpinnings of the business are extremely technical in nature.

“A real quick and dirty way to describe what we do is water and wastewater systems,” Allen Worst said. “That covers the mechanical and electrical sides.”
When a customer calls, the Worst brothers are confident in their experience and knowledge, as well as their highly trained staff. “The values of the company carry through the technical nature of product lines,” Ken Worst said. “We try to break things down technically. We pride ourselves on having more knowledge than anyone in the area.”

“We have the knowledge so we don’t guess,” added Allen Worst.
In the Worst tradition, a man acts upon his words.
“We have a high level of trust with each other. We know that we will do what we say. And we make decisions with the business in mind, and not ourselves. We have employees that rely on the business and we think of that when we make decisions.”
Customers come first, business and employees second, owners third. That’s the Worst way.
“It rings a bell and people remember us because we’re R.C. Worst on Best Avenue,” Ken Worst said. “Business is picking up. We’re not in it to get a ton of money out of people. We’re in it for them to get what they need, and they do.”

Love 1, Fear 0

City celebrates ‘Love Over Fear Day’

SHAWN GUST/Press Jackie Gedeik reads the mayor's proclamation designating May 1 as Choose Love Over Fear Day during a gathering at Human Rights Education Institute Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene.

Jackie Gedeik reads the mayor’s proclamation designating May 1 as Choose Love Over Fear Day during a gathering at Human Rights Education Institute Wednesday in Coeur d’Alene.

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

COEUR d’ALENE – Surrounding the Human Rights Education Institute in a half-circle, several dozen people gathered to celebrate the city of Coeur d’Alene’s first “Choose Love Over Fear Day” Wednesday.
The festivities were aligned with the 10th annual Global Love Day.
Event organizer Jackie Gedeik read a proclamation from Mayor Sandi Bloem to the crowd.
“This is the first Choose Love Over Fear Day in Coeur d’Alene,” said Gedeik. “And at this very moment we are literally connected with thousands of people all around the world who are celebrating this day as we are in our own loving way.”
The day was inspired by Harold W. Becker, an American speaker, author and president of the nonprofit, The Love Foundation.
“That’s where Kathleen Lamanna and I got the idea back in January,” Gedeik said. “We thought this is a community where we need more love and less fear, so we came up with this Choose Love Over Fear Day. This day is a platform to get together, to be open, to love, and to put love into action. And the form love takes is less important than its intention.”
Gedeik asked how citizens can make that difference in themselves and others. Of course, she had the answer.
“We can give someone the precious gift of time,” she said. “We can buy a lottery ticket for a complete stranger. We can put some coins in someone else’s parking meter. Sincerely compliment at least five people today, including a stranger. Leave an encouraging note on someone’s car window, or your child’s lunchbox, or your husband’s briefcase.”
Later Wednesday, students from North Idaho College, in recognition of Choose Love Over Fear Day, offered random people hugs downtown Coeur d’Alene.
Tony Stewart, secretary of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, also spoke at the event.
“After hosting 1,800 PBS TV shows, and a teaching career of over 39 years, and the honor of presenting lectures across the U.S., I have come to the harsh realization that humanity has great difficulty in fully comprehending what is the true meaning of love,” said Stewart. “Fear has found a fertile field in which to flourish, unfortunately.”
Stewart attributed great citizens of the world, like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi, with “showing us a path to unconditional love.”
“Not long before her death,” said Stewart, “Mother Teresa was asked a very important question: What is the greatest problem that the human race faces? And she identified that as loneliness. That’s the greatest problem that she has seen throughout the world. I would suggest the fact emerges from a shortage of love.”
Stewart concluded: “It is not loving to remain silent in the face of hateful or degrading actions against anyone based on their race, nationality, color, origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. True love for humanity does not allow for prejudice, for bigotry, or for discrimination directed toward God’s children. It is about action. And true love demands actions of love.”
Sean Moller, 21, Coeur d’Alene, happened to be walking by the Human Rights Education Institute at the time of the event.
“I saw the banner and just started listening,” Moller said. “It’s nice to see the community is moving forward with the thought of love. It’s reassuring that there’s a piece of humanity that has hope left, too.”
Karen Mello of Coeur d’Alene planned on attending the event as soon as she found out about it.
“I felt relieved that something’s happening in Cd’A like this,” she said. “It’s like with the whole thing that happened in Boston, we can focus on the two people who did the terrible stuff or we can focus on all of those people who were helping each other.”
Mello thinks Choose Love Over Fear Day will prompt community members to do more good.
“Isn’t this amazing?” asked Mello. “I hope it’s going to be a yearly event. We got too much prejudice and separation. I’m happy and I brought six of my friends, so I am like yes!”
Organizer Kathleen Lamanna believes Coeur d’Alene is a testament to standing up against inequality and discrimination.
“So many people here dug very, very deep through the years and stood for what is right and good and powerful as an incredible example not only to the state but to the world.”