Quint Studer Addresses CMPA Board (08-03-11)

Below is the transcript of the speech Quint Studer gave to Pensacola’s CMPA Board on August 3, 2011.

You know I don’t come here alone today. I come here with some people with me.

First of all, Admiral Jack Fetterman – Nancy was nice enough to give me Jacks wings when he passed away. I am still committed to this park and actually have not given up on the Maritime Museum just yet. I am convinced we can still make certain things happen.

I’m here with Mayor Emeritus Vince Wibbs. One of the last things he said the night he called me because I think he knew that as a young guy I wasn’t used to some of the stuff I may be going through but I think he had a pretty good idea having been through it before. He told me to hang in there and finish the job.

And lastly, I have Gwen Appelquist with me. There is not a day gone by since February when Gwen passed away that she hasn’t been with me in some form or fashion. Gwen was a wonderful woman. One thing, she was engaged. I couldn’t help but think when I saw the newspaper this morning how I would have gotten a call this morning. She would have said, “I am so mad and so angry – I’m going to go down there right now and talk to them!” And I’d say, “Calm down Gwen, just calm down.” What a gift she was and how excited she was about her baseball team and this Maritime Park.

Drexel University years ago did a study about human beings and they found out there are three types of human beings.

There’s a type that when they are all done, come up with a win/win and feel only good if it’s a win/win. There are types that come up with a win/lose and just can’t conceive a win/win. There’s got to be a winner and a loser. And sadly, there are people that come up with a lose/lose. They are more interested in someone else loosing than anybody winning. In fact, in this study, they went up to people that lost and said, “Well, you lost”. And it’s really tragic because that means your bankrupt and you lost your business – losing was terrible. And they said, “Well how do you feel?” And their major comment was, “Yes, but they lost too!”

We want to walk out of here today, hopefully, and I am encouraging a win/win because I think that is what this community needs to do – this type of thinking.

This is one of those moments when we should be celebrating. My wife and I, four years ago, started funding something called Better Pensacola Forum because we thought this community needed a survey that wasn’t based on blogs, based on letters, based on emotional phone calls, but based on scientific data on what the community thought and what the people thought of our community.

When we started this out, four years ago, the first year we funded it, our community perception was quite low – one of the lowest they’ve ever seen. Just released yesterday and today is the data that shows we probably have a more engaged community, feeling good about the vision of our city, good about the leadership of our city and eight in 10 of those respondents said that with all that’s going on, still said, this waterfront is important to us.

And I know it’s important to you and it’s important to me – particularly to so many young people we have here who will inherit the city in the next generation.

So today is a little character building rather than comfort. It would have been more comfortable to figure out if I could find some more money. It would have been more comfortable not to call for this public meeting. It would have been more comfortable to try and do some deal somewhere else, but I just couldn’t do that.

I have something else in my hand besides the wings on my lapel and that’s a little coin I carry with me. As many of you know, and if you don’t, just read the paper. My name is Quint Studer and I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’m proud of that.

Not proud, but grateful for it. Grateful because for the grace of God and fellowship that I will have 29 years of sobriety this year. Now you might say, well what does that have to do with this – it has everything to do with this.

Honesty is not a luxury. Honesty is something I have to have. You see, if I’m not honest, it’s not that I lose a bet or I lose a park or I lose a team – that’s not important when it comes to my sobriety.

If I’m not honest, then I can’t look in the mirror. And if I can’t look in the mirror, then there’s going to be a problem. You see, and then one day I don’t drink. And to drink doesn’t mean that I just wake up with a hangover, it doesn’t mean that I wake up with remorse, it doesn’t mean that I wake up humiliated, it means that I wake up without a family and eventually I wake up without a life.

So I, in my heart of hearts, feel it was one gift and always one gift. It was much more than just a paper, or a comment or an article. It was truly in my heart of hearts.

I regret that we’ve gone through this. I regret that any of us in this room – and I mean any of us in this room – have to have this happen to them and their families.

It’s real difficult. Because I know that when my family gets hit with blogs, and some of you have been hit with blogs, I know how you feel.

It’s real difficult today when you get a message from your daughter who doesn’t know if she wants to live in this town anymore because of what she reads about her family. It’s really difficult when my son gets embarrassed saying his last name because he’s afraid he might get teased.

What’s even worse is when you come home at night and your wife comes home early from work and she’s laying in bed because she doesn’t know if she can live in this city anymore. So I deeply regret what we’re going through. I wish it wasn’t there.

I hope some good can come out of it because I think good can come out of everything and that good is we can learn. We can certainly learn better communication, better validation, better documentation and better working relationships.

I have a partnership at the Studer Group. My Partner is BG Porter and he owns part of the company. We have a Partnership agreement that says if we ever have a disagreement, we talk first. We try to solve it that way. I certainly know that in hindsight, that’s what we all wish would happen here.

Years ago, there was a fellow by the name of Red Adair who made a lot of money. When an oil well would start burning inside, they’d call Red and he would fly in and put out this horrendous fire and they’d all give him a lot of money and a lot of applause. We don’t need any Red Adairs. What we need are people that prevent the fires, prevent the burning and prevent the pain.

So let me move on.

For me, today will not be a bad day. Number one, I won’t drink. If I don’t drink – that is the number one thing in my life. That is it. If I don’t drink, a lot of other good things will happen.

It will be a good day because I live in a community that is open and transparent, and Mr. Merrill, thank you so much for holding this meeting that I requested because I respect you and I respect the Board Members and that’s what we wanted.

To me it’s a good day because we have so many people in this community engaged. One way or the other, for or against, at least we’re engaged, at least we’re there and at least we don’t have to hide anonymously, we can come out in public and express our opinions.

We can also walk out of here with process improvement. The Studer Group won the Malcolm Baldrige award. Very few companies do that. What you learn is when something happens you regret, you don’t have retribution, you don’t punish people, you don’t beat up on people because then your employees don’t want to bring anything up.

You create an environment where you can do process improvement. You say, “What did we learn so this will never happen again?” I know none of us want this kind of disagreement again.

My wife and I have always tried to be responsive. We’ve tried to be responsive from the very start. People might wonder and ask, “How did you get here Quint?” “Why did you choose this?”

Well, I didn’t choose you – you chose me. My wife and I were living in Chicago and I was invited down as Administrator of Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida to improve patient care. It was a very hard move for my wife and I. And then our children, 18 years old, had decided to stay up north and not come down.

Now that didn’t mean a lot to me at the time because I didn’t know how long I was going to be here, plus, I didn’t know I was going to have six grandchildren. They all live up north.

The thing I wish today was that Katie Grace was here. Katie Grace is my six-year-old granddaughter and it would be nice to get a hug on a day like today from someone who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt and just says “I love you Grandpa.”

So, we tried to be responsive at Baptist Hospital. We did our very best. Then I was lucky enough when people said can you help us and we tried to be responsive to hospitals around the country and what we did was start the Studer Group.

People asked me why I didn’t put it somewhere else. Well I didn’t put it somewhere else because of the outstanding school district in this area. I feel we have good education and my children were benefiting from it so I didn’t move.

Then I wanted to be responsive to my employees. We went from a few employees to 129 employees and if we have too many employees, we would have to uproot and move if we would ever leave our company.

The exciting part is we have big plans to expand more and more and more because our healthcare reputation continues to grow. In fact, it’s nice to see Pensacola and Gulf Breeze in the news in healthcare.

We tried to be responsive then when we were fortunate enough to do better financially. I never inherited money. My Father worked at General Motors for 41 years as a mechanic. My Mother is a teacher’s aide. Rishy and I never had anything in a savings account until we moved to Pensacola, Florida for the first time.

So when we got the money we wanted to help others. If Autism called, we tried to answer. If Snoozelyn called, we tried to answer. If PACARA called, we tried to answer. If the Council on Aging called, we tried to answer. The PACE Center for Girls called and we tried to answer. Pathways for Change called and we tried to answer.

I think if you look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we’ve been fortunate enough to donate and gift in this community, you’ll find we delivered on every single gift.

Trust me, if I felt it was two gifts, I would do everything I can – everything I can – to make sure it happened. Honesty is so forthright with my sobriety and must come first.

We tried to be responsive in downtown Pensacola. We tried to commit ourselves beyond the Park, whether that meant purchasing the Rhodes Office Building and doing a bit of improvement to make sure it was a good place for tenants.

And we got a call from the Neighborhood Association of Belmont De Villiers saying that a lot of people talk about it but you seem to walk it. Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is and invest in communities other people aren’t investing in and my wife and I bought the corner of Belmont De Villiers and you’ll see the Five Sisters Restaurant and an opportunity for minority businessman to do quite well.

We also purchased some lots in the area to protect our investment, but more importantly, there’s a future place for residential living in the Belmone DeVilliers which is desperately needed.

Lastly, we heard Ray Gindroz, of Urban Design, talk about how important it is, for instance on the corner of Main Street and Palafox Street to have vibrant corners when you are creating a vibrant city. Gallup shows that in order to keep the young talent, like we have in this room, you have to have a vibrant downtown and they said that corner was paramount to the future of Pensacola.

After years of seeing nothing going in on that corner, my wife and I bought the building on the corner of Main and Palafox. Of course, we hope to open up an Olive Oil shop, a coffee shop and a dress shop. In fact, I even now I know the names of them. I won’t do an advertisement but I hope you shop them when they open.

So, we try to be responsive in everything we do and try to be good community citizens.

I’ll finish with this.

I’ve always watched old TV shows. My one son, Michael, knows that if “Leave It to Beaver” is on, we’ll be watching it. If “Andy Griffith” is on, I’m there.

I was watching “Andy Griffith” not too long ago and there was a show called “The Suspicious Stranger.” It was about a fellow named, Eddy Sawyer.

And by the way, as I think of that, I am very grateful that Ed Gray saw it as one gift, Eddy Todd called me three times this week to share with me that he saw it as one gift. I’m grateful for Ed Fleming and Ed Spears, because we’re going to get through this and we have a chance in fellowship to walk out in unity and in hope. That certainly is my wish.

In this TV show, Eddy Sawyer always wanted to live in a certain type of town. It’s funny, when I won the Chamber of Commerce award one year, I got up and spoke and said, “you know it’s funny, I’ve never lived further south than 143rd street in Chicago before I came here but when my feet hit the soil in Pensacola, I felt like I was home.”

And maybe that was a mistake on my part. Feeling so much like I was home, maybe I got too pushy. Maybe my need to be liked made me too aggressive, too helpful, trying to do too much and people became suspicious of what I was trying to do, saying, “There must be something in it for him. This is too good.”

Well, now the TV show and I’ll end. So Eddy Sawyer came into town and he had always wanted to live in Mayberry. He got a subscription to the Mayberry paper and he studied the city before he got there. And when he moved there, Floyd got very nervous because Eddy know his name right away.

Eddy would help people with groceries going across the street. Eddy was so helpful that people started investigating him thought that something must be wrong – this guy’s too good to be true.

Finally the sheriff got involved and he thought something was wrong too and he called Eddy Sawyer into the Sheriff’s office to question him and Eddy told him, “I just want to live in Mayberry. I just want to be a good citizen. I just want to make a difference.”

When he walked out of the room, a bunch of angry citizens were really hard on him. Today, they wouldn’t rally around him, they would probably throw out an anonymous blog at Eddy. They surrounded him and finally the Sheriff came out and Andy Taylor said, “Stop, stop, stop. Don’t you understand what is going on? Here’s a man who chose to live here. Here’s a man who’s been hopeful. Here’s a man who’s been responsive and helpful and all we’ve done is be suspicious. If we’re going to create the right community here in Mayberry for people to live in, we’ve got to have a community that trusts and isn’t suspicious.”

So I’m grateful today. I’m grateful. You might wonder why, well, there is a thing we say that is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.

Number one, I’m grateful for Rishy. Rishy has been through this more than you could ever imagine. And I apologize, Rishy, for what you’ve been through. I apologize to my children. If I had to do it over again, I don’t know if I would. It’s just been too painful.

And to my Mother – my mother one time happened to read a letter to the editor and just couldn’t believe what was going on with her son. So I regret the pain I’ve caused my family. I regret any suspicions I’ve caused in any of you – that would be suspicious or question my intention or my honesty, because certainly, that was not something I ever intended to do.

But I don’t regret that I live in a community that is willing to have an open honest communication like this. I don’t regret that we can learn from this and be a better community when we all walk out of here. And I don’t regret, that I’m able to live in Pensacola and I hope you don’t have any regrets that I live here also.

Thank you very much.

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