1996. Doug and Barbara Manning decided it was time to move the InSight Books office to Oklahoma City from Hereford TX. It would probably be redundant to explain why one would move from Hereford TX, yes it smells like its name. They established InSight Books to publish Doug’s books in 1982 and had grown it into a successful business. There were many precipitating factors and they decided that it was time to make InSight Books truly a family business. And since Cindy and I lived in Oklahoma City and Kathy lived in Joplin MO and no one was willing to move back to Hereford, they packed up the entire enterprise and headed east on I-40.
Cindy and I scrambled around to find office space. This was completely out of our experience zone. I was a teacher union organizer and she had been a stay-at-home mom managing a home and 5 acres. Commercial real estate was not an area of expertise. But, we found a great office building with a wonderful building manager and, one fateful weekend, the trucks arrived and we moved everything in. Monday morning, the phones started ringing with people wanting to place orders. We had no idea what we were doing, but we just faked it until we figured it out.
Twenty-two years later, we are still there. Certainly, we have seen a lot of changes. Husband, Joe, moved his CPA practice to the office next to us twenty years ago. Our inventory has quadrupled, the mailing service business has grown to take over an entire office, Kathy moved to Oklahoma City soon after we set up the office, we hired several of our children to work in the packing room as they passed through while in school, and now have a wonderful woman who very efficiently packs our orders every day. Barbara died seven years ago, and we had to go through the heart-breaking experience of moving her desk where she had sat for fifteen years doing all the mundane stuff that none of the rest of us wanted to do. It’s been an eventful two decades plus two years.
So, imagine our surprise when we received a letter from the building manager a couple of months ago informing us that they wanted us to vacate. Our office is in a building owned by a credit union which is growing, and they want to expand into our office space and Joe’s office as well. What?? What??!!
After the initial heart stopping reaction, (which still hasn’t quite worn off, frankly) we got busy looking for new spaces. The first problem was sticker shock. We haven’t had a rent increase in years, so we had no idea what the going rate is now. It seems that rents have increased by $5-$8 a square foot while we were happily existing in our bubble with no lease. So that was disconcerting. And, Joe and Sunny want to move with us. Finding a space that can be configured for a CPA office and a book company with offices and an 800 square foot shipping room and dozens of shelves for inventory was a little tricky. Also, we are all a little spoiled because most of us live very close to the current office, and we weren’t ready to wander very far afield from our comfort zone.
We did a lot of looking. Finally, we found a space that would work, the rent increase is not as nightmare-inducing and a landlord willing to do the buildout that will fit the needs of both businesses. Then, the next major shock. They expect a five-year lease. Wow.
This brought up all kinds of existential questions. We are not spring chickens. Especially me, as my younger sisters would point out. The R word is looming on the horizon for all of us. Do we plan to still be doing this in five years? Probably. But when you have to make it concrete in black and white on a legal document, it feels very big. We all love our jobs. We have no model for retirement, as Doug will be 86 next month and is still working. Remember, he just wrote a new book, this year! (See a previous blog on Hospice)
But, it creates conversations about where we see the company going, what the next steps might be, what do we want to be doing in five years collectively and individually? We do not have any children who are interested in being 3rd generation book publishers, so what will the future look like? It was a deep dive initiated by a letter saying, “you’re being kicked out”.
So, on a Friday afternoon, Joe and I went to the new building and signed leases. It was kinda scary. It will be nice to be in a beautiful new building in a space that is custom designed for us. It will be challenging to deal with the costs of moving and the increases in on-going expenses. It will be a giant pain to figure out how to pack up this office and throw away 22 years of accumulated STUFF. It will be frustrating to endure all the glitches of moving computers, phones and mail. It will be interesting to see how life changes or adapts as we have now defined how long this commitment looks like.
And the fun begins. July 1st is move in day. We’ve got less than a month to get our act together and pack it in boxes. If anyone is interested in an antique scale, boxes of damaged books, old 3 ring binders or stacks of magazines, just let us know. We’ll be happy to send them to you. Otherwise, wish us luck as we begin a new, unexpected, interesting next step in the life of InSight Books. And, we would appreciate it if you would buy more books to help cover our new rent. Thanks so much!!
Glenda Stansbury is Marketing Director of InSight Books and Co-Founder of InSight Institute Certified Celebrant Program. She is also a speaker, a trainer, and an observer of life, and one of Doug Manning’s adorable and talented daughters. You may email Glenda at OrdersAndInfo@InSightBooks.com.