He’s lucky he wasn’t elected governor in 2010. Shawn Moody dodged a bullet there, but he learned a lot as an independent gubernatorial candidate, won the respect of many voters (including those who didn’t vote for him), and hasn’t lost his interest in contributing more to the future of our state.
We’d be lucky if Moody is elected governor someday, because he is an amazing, smart, personable guy and a natural collaborative leader. Plus, as he says, “I’m just wicked tight.”
He’s applied that tightness with a dollar to his businesses, made impressive improvements in energy efficiency, engaged his employees and given them a big stake, and still found time to step up in several ways to help our state.
For example, this year he was the first person ever to be named to the boards of both the University of Maine and the Community College systems. And he didn’t go to college.
Self-made in every way, Moody leaped right from high school to ownership of a horrible, stinking, eyesore of a junkyard. And he turned it into a major recycling business, “when recycling wasn’t cool,” he notes. Eventually, he sold that business and turned his attention to his current successful enterprise, Moody’s Collision Centers, with facilities scattered around the state. His newest collision center is in Augusta.
Moody established an employee stock-ownership program, giving his workers a great incentive to work efficiently and deliver good customer service. But it is in the area of energy that he’s really shined.
Talking with him at the Climate Change Expo at the Augusta Civic Center in March, I was impressed with Moody’s genuine enthusiasm for energy efficiency. He outfitted his collision center spray booths with energy efficient motors that lowered his electric bill by 20 percent. He has figured out that doing the right thing for the environment can increase his profits — a message he takes all over the state in talks with other business owners.
“We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to be energy efficient,” he said, noting that “40 percent of our carbon footprint in Maine is buildings.”
“Lighting is the easiest improvement with the best payback,” he told me, gathering steam as he talked. I understood about half of what he was saying. He’s even discovered that, “Good lighting improves the quality of work and morale.”
Moody worked with Efficiency Maine on some of his projects and is enthusiastic about that program, emphasizing that education is a very important component.
Our discussion often returned to one of Moody’s major themes — that we need a lot more collaboration among towns, legislators, business leaders and others. He made the same point in an interview with columnist Bill Nemitz last spring.
And he made clear in his talk with me, as he did with Nemitz, that he has an obligation, as a business owner, to his employees as well as his customers. “Businesspeople who have the biggest boat in the lake while they don’t even provide health insurance for their co-workers — I’m not OK with that. That’s not right,” he told Nemitz.
That statement reminded me that Moody had to rush off from our talk because he was actively helping to reconstruct the interior of the building that houses the Augusta Collision Center. And yes, he had on his work clothes, ready to get dirty. In fact, he seemed quite eager to do that.
Moody often quotes his mother. Nemitz reported two of my favorites. “She used to say to me, ‘Shawn, you can try hard to grow to be the tallest tree in the forest, or you can take a chainsaw and cut all the other trees down.”
This quote should be posted in the campaign offices of every Maine candidate this year. Save gas. Put the chainsaws away. Or you will never be the tallest tree in Maine’s forest.
The other quote from his mother that I’ve heard Moody mention more than once is, “A mind is like an umbrella. It only functions when it’s open.” Boy, couldn’t we plaster that one all over the state and national Capitols.
There was one other quote in Nemitz’s column that I especially liked. This one didn’t come from Moody’s mother. It came from him.
“Looking forward, I really think I’m going to be compelled to run — not this time, but in 2016 or maybe in 2018 — for a high-level position.”
Something to look forward to, after this year’s ugly partisan, disappointing campaign season is over.