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The Good Stuff

Nikki and I randomly ran into Eric and Lisa the weekend before his accident.

Get along while we can
Always give love the upper hand
Paint a wall, learn to dance
Call your mom, buy a boat
Drink a beer, sing a song
Make a friend, can’t we all get along

Kenny Chesney / Josh Osborne / Ross Copperman / Shane L McAnally

Eric Ferdinand died in an accident on March 7, 2020, but he truly lived every day.

I’m not often a man of few words. I can say I’ve gotten myself into trouble more than a handful of time because my mouth often works faster than my brain. This is one of those times though were my brain is working faster than my mouth. I feel I wouldn’t be doing justice to Eric if I didn’t spend a little time talking about him and his bride Lisa, and it is something I can’t get the words to say, as much as I can through writing.

There are certain people that just just have the “it” factor. It’s not something you can learn in school, get in a seminar, or read in a book. That “it” is the ability to get people to follow your lead, and make them believe in themself. Eric had “it”, but before he showed it, he had to be shown others believed in him as well.

Eric would typically let everyone else eat first at company functions, but he didn’t miss the food.

Eric’s story at Buechel Stone almost never happened. He told me this story once when we were at a concert (more to follow), and his brother Stephen remined me about it. Back when Eric was done with school, his dad told him to go out and get a job at a different local stone company in Fond du Lac. Well, 18 year old Eric applied at Buechel Stone, the wrong company, and was hired on the spot. Little did we know we won the lottery with Eric.

When Eric started, he quickly worked his way up. He was a pretty typical young guy. Back in those days, Jason Zahringer and I would have to ride him about being at work on time, and of course it never failed. Hunting would come up, and he’d suddenly be sick. It was like clockwork. But we got him to understand the value of being a leader, and he grew out of those habits pretty quick.

Eric and Dick Daun – what a pair!

Eric expected great things from people, and he was able to help others see that in themselves. I could go on about the great things he did at work, and how he was tireless about helping others.

More food

I can still remember being in the office, and several people were talking about going to the Kenny Chesney concert on June 5th, 2016 at Miller Park. We were going with several people on a small bus driven by Ralph the Driver. Eric purchased two tickets, and had no idea who to take. One day he said, “guys, I have a date for the concert. Her name is Lisa, I used to go to grade school with her, I looked her up and she said yes!” Such a story. You could see his excitement in that shit-eating grin of his.

It was a great concert. Like Eric said, “Kenny never disappoints.” He was right. The ride home was so fun – everyone laughing and dancing on the bus. I’m sure Ralph had enough of us. What was really the story of the ride home though was Eric and Lisa. It was so funny. They were making out like school kids on a heavy date. Even though we all just met Lisa – we could see she and Eric had a connection that was more than just a fling. We dropped them off in St. Cloud – neither one of them had a care in the world… or a car for that matter. If I remember right I think his dad picked them up later that night.

Eric had a thing for fluorescent shirts and cut-off sleeves.

Time went on. Eric was growing into a central figure in operations at Buechel Stone. He was taking on more responsibility, and was getting really good at saying, “well, we can try it,” where earlier on he probably would have said, “can’t be done.” I had to laugh, Brad Karls told me Eric’s new response was, “well, we might as well give it a try because Mike’s going to say you have to do it otherwise.” Progress – small victories we don’t celebrate enough in the daily scheme of things.

Kenny – Round 2

Kenny came around again. Eric and Lisa were pretty serious at this point, to the point where Eric was seriously discussing proposing to her. We were all in… there were plans to get shirts made, make it a huge event…. I honestly think we ended up scaring Eric! For a guy that can take a lot of pressure, he sure had a soft spot in his heart for her. I’m not sure if it was his neves about being in front of such a big group or just that he wanted it to be a little more intimate, so he decided against asking that day. We all did a good job and kept our mouths shut the whole day. It was another great concert! We had a big spread of food outside, so big a bunch of young punks thought they could just come up and take some. Eric wasn’t having! Eric was a man of large stature. When he told them to “get the F#c& out of here…” they didn’t hang around long.

Grillmaster Eric making up the brats and burgers for the crew.

Eric and Lisa’s wedding was one of the most fun weddings I’ve been to. They had such a great day – from start to end. Hearing their friends and family tell their life story and about them on a personal level. It was heartfelt speech after speech. It was so great. They were true love. It was something special.

Well, Kenny is coming around again in a month. Everyone got tickets right away. We were all set to have round three be something to remember again. The night Eric died I got a text from my brother Luke saying Kenny Chesney is playing at the wedding he’s at. Floored… I sent Eric a text jokingly – Eric and Lisa had purchased front row tickets for the concert. I jabbed Eric a little with a picture of Kenny on stage, “I bet they paid a little more than you guys did for you’re front row tickets for Kenny…”

Eric replied, “Omg. That is awesome.”

“Money can buy you happiness…” I texted back.

“So they say. But Happiness is what you make it.” ( Eric)

“True Story,” (I couldn’t agree more)

My last text from Eric

“My happiness. Good Friends,” Eric responded with the picture above.

Eric got “it” when it came to life as well. Work Hard, Play Hard, Live each day. Cherish your friends and family.

I know, I’m probably not the best person to tell a part of the story of Eric Ferdinand. He was so much more to so many people. His story was one I always liked though – how he almost never ended up working here, his great love story with Lisa, all of it. I’m glad I got to be even a small part of his life.

Eric’s Friday lunch buddies – one last lunch to celebrate Eric with Sundrop and a Tommy Burger

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