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                                               about philip

            This section will tell you where philip's business life has taken him                                  This section tells a little about his journey thru life

                        Where I've Been                                                          Philip's Story
   
My first full time job at age 17 was for a local newspaper....

I was welcomed into the Newspaper's "Family".... I was paid $40 a week for my 40 hr job... then learned that being a part of the "Family" entitled me to work 60 hours a week for the same $40. I learned from this to never join any "Family" again.... then after receiving a $5 raise each year for 2 years (now making $50 a week for my 60 hours)... decided to get married.... didn't get my raise that year so I asked about it... I was told that I had reached the top pay for my area.... I quit... scratched my ego when they had to hire 2 people to do what I was doing.... :) learned that people should take care of their employees and not use them.... (the year was 1955).

I decided to take my first big "risk" and go after my dream to be an actor... while working part time for my dad running his "office" ... I went to a lot of casting calls.... theater school... worked hard for my dad... had a baby and a pregnant wife... then the recession of 1958 hit and dad could no longer pay me... then the dispossess notice came because I couldn't pay the rent... I knew it was time to stop playing around with the dream and go get a real job... this time I scratched my ego getting into local little theater groups for the next 15 years. I learned that things don't always go the way I plan them and sometimes our dreams need a reality check.

I lasted 2 weeks selling stuff that people didn't need by manipulating them... fortunately discovering I could not do what they wanted me to do. I got a job in the City and spent the next 3 years commuting to Battery Park every day from New Jersey... each year I got a $10 raise on top of my $70 starting rate... I was now making $100 a week, had 4 kids and another on the way, was back working part time for my dad again... this was the slow boat to nowhere... so I figured it was time to make the big jump and get into my own business.... it was 1961. I had learned that I would never be content working for other people... mostly because I knew I had a better way to do everything anyway.. :)
My ego was big enough at that point that I no longer needed to scratch it.

I formed a partnership with my dad who was a sales engineer for a Chicago firm that manufactured overhead traveling cranes... we picked up other lines of materials handling equipment to sell and became Sales Representatives in that industry. It was 1964. I now had 6 children. We were losing all the smaller crane business to local iron works... so we started our own manufacturing business, fabricating structural steel and building the smaller overhead traveling cranes ourselves... up to 10 ton capacity. It was a big risk. It was a big success. By 1967 we had 35 people working for us. Things were great. Then all the people we began with, that had made it successful, started leaving for a variety of strange reasons. Not to worry. I was the great Phil Wolff. Just hire more people to replace them while I played big shot getting wined and dined by the sales reps for the steel companies that wanted our business. I learned very quickly never to be a big shot again... never stop working hard... never entrust your business to other people... not every one is honest..... not everyone has a work ethic... not everyone cares if you are successful...

In 1968 there was another recession... reliable employees were no longer available... strange things happened... lots of stories... culminating in a confrontational meeting with my shop crew.... they did not like what I said so they torched the manufacturing building... my wife also did not like a lot of things I said and did... never being home... leaving her to raise the kids and deal with all the issues by herself... I had torched my marriage... divorce procedures had started... my life had come apart.... I learned a whole lot-a-bunch of things out of that...

The good news was that out of the wrecked marriage and burned down building I had this collision with God that totally changed my life and started me in a whole different direction. We kept the business afloat for 2 more years... I had gone back to working very hard again... God actually showed me how He could raise up a very viable business out of the ashes... then told me that He was not going to do that and it was time for me to leave... so I resigned as President of the Corporation.... fully believing that once I had gone... the business would now be able to make it.... it didn't. Six months later it was all gone. I learned again that things don't always go the way I plan... and ... if you are an officer of a corporation and resign... then make sure your name is taken off the books.... I was the President of record... I could never own anything again for 10 years. It was 1970.

Ellen had come into my life... we were married in 1969... and we had a small apartment in New Jersey. We had started a small Christian bookstore on our kitchen table. After I resigned as President of our crane company at the end of '69, a friend offered us a rent free 400 square foot office above his real estate business for us to go public with our bookstore.... so off we went into another new venture. We formed a non-profit religious corporation and proceeded to learn several more much needed lessons.

I discovered that people need a reality check on all their great ideas. Just because we have these ideas doesn't mean they will happen overnight and be able to support us... once again I needed to get a real job... except people weren't hiring 35 year olds whose work experience was being self-employed... this meant starting yet another business in order to get some income. I had a friend who had been an executive in the oil industry who was in the same bind ... so we merged our gifts and started a company to install and service materials handling equipment. We worked together for 2 years, then I gave my partner my interest in the business .... (a bit of a transition story here of course) .... :) He was able to continue in the business for 30 years until he retired.... I went back full time in the Bookstore in June 1972.

Our non-profit corporation purchased a marvelous building between the bank and the post office and we moved the bookstore which had already expanded into a second office and was now 600 square feet! .... :) Overnight we went from that to a store front of 3000 square feet. I was also managing the rentals in the building... another 3000 square foot store front and four 6-room apartments above them. We were prospering. We added 3000 more feet by finishing the basement with a huge stairway down to even more bookstore.... and eventually another 3000 square feet beneath our tenant next door. It was huge.

In 1974, I was asked to set up a counseling center for a major Christian TV program... we built 20 telephone booths and made a room for them in the basement of the bookstore... I trained over a hundred phone counselors... we began taking thousands of phone calls every week. This continued for 2 years until I got involved in the leadership of a small church in 1976. We gave away our non-profit corporation which continued to run the bookstore for another 30 years or so....

I spent the next 10 years in the Church business... :) More stories! We had 3 congregations with a church planting in England and two in Vermont. It too was very successful. I began a domestic cleaning service as part of the church. It was very successful. We were doing a half million a year cleaning houses back in the 80's... serving our community with reliable, honest help to clean their homes. No one in our church was ever without employment... Then we shut the whole thing down in 1986. More stories.... :)

I ended up in the restaurant business for the next 8-1/2 years. I was now open to learn even more about how things really happen in the wonderful world of self-employment and owning your own business. I would love to tell you what it is like to spend 8-1/2 years learning just to trust God to send in enough business to make pay-roll each week and pay every bill in the house. My promise to never stiff a creditor again got tested every week for 8-1/2 years. I always had enough to pay the employees and the creditors with nothing left over for a personal paycheck. At the end... June 1994.... we paid off every creditor before we shut it down. I had never received a paycheck. We lost $55,000. I learned a lot of things... maybe some that could help you.

I spent a very important 5 years working one on one with handicapped kids in the school system.... it was an amazing time... although I wasn't self-employed... I completely managed my own time... I was accountable but not controlled.

Then in 1999... we felt it was time for Ellen and I to work together and started the Village Victorian Bed & Breakfast. It is a very successful little B&B. I think of an old TV program "The Naked City" where the promo line was.... "There are 8 million stories in the naked city".... there are sure lots of stories I can tell...

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In 1999 at age 64 I was just about ready to throw in the towel.

Back in 1968 at age 32 working on 33, I had a very dramatic religious experience that changed my life. With my new faith, my life changed from being an overweight, alcoholic, totally selfish womanizer, chewing on 3 packs of Camels a day, to someone who really wanted to get his act together and hopefully help others to do that as well.

I began a second 32 year journey with the understanding that I had been created body, soul and spirit and each was important to take care of. I saw that what I put into me, was what I would become. I needed to watch what food I took into each of these areas and learn how to become fit….. body, soul and spirit.

The church was taking care of my spirit needs. I began to change the things I put into my soul, what I was reading, the things I watched on TV, the movies I saw and how I thought about things. My worldview began to change pretty dramatically.

I began to run, first a few blocks, then finally a half mile. In a few months I was running 3 miles, then 5 or 6. I started racing until eventually I was running marathons. With that, we started to look at eating better, getting our veggies, watching the ice cream, taking vitamins and food supplements.

In the process, I discovered the more I ran, the more I could cheat. I got away with it until I hit 50. I would play some basketball or run a little harder and things started breaking down. Healing was taking 3 weeks instead of 3 days, the weight started going back on and you all know how that begins to go. Each year a little bit older, a little bit heavier, able to do less, running out of energy much earlier on…….and you start to give up a little. It's just old age setting in, I would say and you can't beat it.

I wasn't sick a lot, just discouraged because I loved all the physical stuff, taking care of my house, gardens and lawn. At 60 my knees had quit, I decided not to have the operation and just hang in there till I couldn't take the pain any more. We moved into our new house and seriously considered putting our bedroom on the first floor because I was sure that in 5 more years I wouldn't be able to climb the stairs any more.

5 years later, a whole bunch of stuff was happening in our lives. It was 1999, and I was getting tired of battling all the time. The roughest one was my wife coming down with rheumatoid arthritis. After trying the doctor, the medication being regularly increased and increased, my wife feeling worse and worse, we decided to stop the medication, and depend on prayer and nutrition. We made a commitment to each other that we would work together to change our lifestyle, primarily what we ate.

It worked. The doctor said Ellen would be deformed if she stopped her medication. She is not deformed. All the swelling, bumps, lumps and pain disappeared. We made some other changes, I came out of my depression and frustration and we were both very thankful.

I was still battling my weight, my energy came and went, I kept cutting down on my exercise regimen and going through a variety of muscle/ligament breakdowns as I did all the physical stuff connected with running our Bed & Breakfast. Then in January of 2004, Ellen started swelling up again. A friend of ours told us Jordan Rubin's incredible story of his battle with Crohn's Disease and how he started Garden of Life to help others find a life of wellness. We picked up a bottle of his inflammation product and within 3 days the swelling disappeared.

I was so excited for her that I started taking his products myself. Within a few months, my whole life was turned upside down. It has just consistently gotten better as the months roll by. I am full of energy, doing things I haven't been able to do in 15 years, no injuries to anything, no more struggle with the weight, exercising more every day instead of less, blood pressure is 120/80, cholesterol 167, no sugar problems, no prostate problems, no medications, no sickness (not even a cold since 1999) and full of excitement about being able to help others find what I have found.

This is being written at age 69*. Half my graduating class of 1952 are deceased. 65% of our population is overweight (27% considered obese, I was one of them). Every disease is on the rise. 4000 people are dying prematurely every day. I am convinced that it doesn't have to be that way.

 2007 Update
* A couple more years have passed..... I’m 72 now and it just keeps getting better. Ellen has retired from teaching to join me in this “great adventure” here! We enjoy our 1300 or more guests each year, have added a Lake Cottage to the adventure, our new Gift Shoppe, and our very exciting “afternoon teas”.....Ellen being here all the time now also makes it more possible for the old fella to get in 9 holes of golf between shifts :) What did she just say? How about putting our gift shoppe up online?

2008 Update
This year I will celebrate birthday number 73 with the only blip on the screen experiencing a cold for the first time in what seems like forever. With the addition of the ANNEX last year we came pretty close to 1500 guests that came thru, which translates into many 7am, 8am and 9am seatings for breakfast during foliage and holidays. I crashed for 2 days after foliage, kind of sick-tired and thought I was getting a cold but didn’t. Same thing happened when all the holidays guests left beginning of January..... only this time I got the cold. The good news is it left in 4 days. Ellen and I are really enjoying our “great adventure together”, the online gift shoppe is a reality and even bringing in some orders :) My golf game is improving. I am having a blast with my personal Blog and our new “together Blog”. Oh –0h - there’s her voice again.....something about “really working on fixing up the Lake Cottage this year”...... Oh well..... I guess we just need something to do to keep us busy. :)

2010 Update
The years do keep flying by... and we seem to be able to just keep flying along with them. I will turn 75 this year. Lots of crazy things have been happening since my last update on my story... :)  Check out our two recent Newsletters for some of those stories.... about business... about the Annex... about my health.... for a blow by blow report on the health front there is even more information on my blog.

I am looking forward to Spring and seeing how I am swinging the old golf clubs this year... can't hardly wait ... enjoying some renewed vigor now after getting my heart zapped back into rhythm 2 weeks ago.... continuing to have the time of our lives here running the B&B... the cutbacks are very good cutbacks... the gift shoppe is doing well both on and off line... :)  Ellen continues to do her Tea Parties. The Lake Cottage has been more than just "fixed up"... gotta love it!

2012 Update
Egads!  Celebrated my 77th and moving along thru my 78th year... still making the next 5 year plan each year... our health willing... which it seems to be as I write.... 

Life keeps changing. The past 4 years have been the most incredible years of my life... learning so much... seeing so much... things I never knew were possible... happy to share them with anyone... any time... just ask... 

Meanwhile, we have started to cut back. The past couple years we have been eliminating anything that was complicating our one task... the reason we are here... to run our little B&B in beautiful downtown Morrisville, VT.

Growing up during World War II, I was always a "wannabe" Marine... "Semper-Fi" and all that... well.. the battle cry these past years has changed to "Simpli-Fi"!  

We have stopped marketing the Annex... stopped serving dinners... stopped doing tea parties... stopped negotiating "special packages"... stopped everything except giving our guests the best possible experience when they visit with us...

hmmmm... wonder just how long the Lord is going to give us....????  Another one of those things that are not philip's department.

2014 Update
Here we are and two more years have passed.... still having the time of our lives... just slowing down a bit as I await the celebration of my 79th birthday and begin the 80th year of this great adventure called life!  The next step for us in simplfying our lives, has been taking the Lilac Room out of our marketable mix and turning it into our private quarters. It has helped us to stop living "out of a suitcase" and having a room to call our very own. No more packing and unpacking to the empty room... no more sleeping in the office.... yay!

We have also begun the process of testing the waters to sell the Village Victorian. Not sure how long that will take... we are not in any particular hurry... just thought it was time while we both still continue to have excellent health and see where it goes.  Could be months. Could be years. As usual we simply take one day at a time.

2016 Update

Oh my.... what a wild several years this has been....  :)