Choice Mindsets

Choice Mindsets

“Not above scrubbing the toilets”
-Choice One Engineering interview evaluation sheet


We don’t mind doing dirty work here (considering Matt’s expression, some of us maybe even enjoy it). In fact, based on the line above from one of our interview sheets, it’s a requirement to work here.

The list of least-loved tasks here at Choice One is long and adverse (depending on which whiner you talk to here, of course). Perhaps the best example is the move 13 years ago from the Ohio Building to our current Sidney location on Hoewisher Road. That event was so dreaded that two employees made up “excuses” to get out of it-Brian Barhorst and his wife Chris had a baby, and Jeff Kunk got married (seriously, what kind of excuses are those?!).


But just because we don’t always like the dirty work (like Matt obviously does above) doesn’t mean we aren’t remarkably willing to roll up our sleeves and jump in to help each other out when the time comes. Indeed, some of our most memorable moments come from the laughter of shared, unpleasant experiences.


Just ask Kaye, when her head was smashed against a wall while trying to lift a heavy box with Brittany, whose “fingers were going weak” from laughter.

“The real question is, ‘sometimes $#!% happens, but why does it always happen to Ryan Francis?'”

-Tony Schroeder

For some reason, Field Surveyor Ryan Francis seems to regularly be the victim of bad luck, accidents, and embarrassment here at Choice One. For instance, he has:
  • Backed a survey truck into a power pole. In the middle of a 50-acre field.
  • Routinely gotten the survey truck stuck on job sites.
  • Broken the back door window out of a truck when he “opened the back door and did not see another guy standing there holding a sledge hammer over his shoulder.”
  • Dropped his cell phone in a manhole.
  • Had a survey instrument and tripod blow over in heavy wind.

You get the point.

Luckily, he has broad shoulders (both literally and figuratively), so he generally takes all the ribbing he gets in stride. Unless he’s hungry. Then, by all means, stay out of his way.


When something bad happens, it’s easy to ask “Why me?” and feel gloom and doom about whatever predicament is at hand. But there’s another option: to look at each bit of adversity as an opportunity to learn, improve, and/or try again.


Granted, when unfortunate stuff happens to Ryan, there may not always be an obvious lesson for Ryan to learn, like “measure twice, cut once,” or “wait 30 minutes after eating to swim.” But it does give him the opportunity to learn to laugh at himself (which he always does), no matter how unlucky he is. And it gives the rest of us here (and now you, as well) the opportunity to laugh at him…er, laugh with him… too.


We just hope his abundance of misfortunes come to an end. For his sake AND ours.


“What happened to the Canteen?! It’s like a grocery store before a blizzard.”
-Greg Albers
You know how it is: the weatherperson reports that a “blizzard” (read: two to four inches of snow) is coming, and everyone rushes out for groceries in a panic in case they can’t get out of the driveway for three days. The last to the store might find that all the staples–bread, milk… beer–are gone, and that poor sap is left to choose between a questionable jar of pickled eggs and a dusty case of Milwaukee’s Best Light (unsurprisingly, one of Tony’s favorite beers, not because of taste, but because of frugality).
Brian Barhorst operates the Canteen here at Choice One, an honor system “vending machine” that gets a little barren occasionally. Since we all know that Brian hikes Canteen pricing up for profits to fund personal trips to tropical places, we know he’s not unprepared (for fear that he might lose a sale to the gas station down the road). He just hasn’t been to Sam’s Club in a while.
Being prepared for every outcome is impossible (and exhausting), so at Choice One we try to act as a Boy Scout would, and pack our pocket knife and matches: responsiveness, a sensible, realistic outlook, and lessons from past experiences.
Now, if only that Canteen was stocked with some of that dusty Milwaukee’s Best Light today so that Tony wouldn’t have to drive down to the local carryout.

“It’s the easy connection that’s leaking!”

– Tony Schroeder

The new coffeemaker at Choice One has been a bit of a…challenge, we’ll say, to install. Our resident plumber, Tony, isn’t the most experienced, but who knew hooking up a coffeemaker would entail so many trips to the hardware store? (If you’ve tried to plumb something yourself before, you may agree with Tony’s further statement: “No matter how many parts you buy beforehand, you NEVER have the right one.”)


Often, tasks that are supposed to be “easy” are the most challenging: think of the top competitor losing to the supposed-to-be-terrible,
-seeded NCAA basketball team (there’s a little free advice for your bracket next week, my friends). Sometimes the easy connection leaks because making that connection is taken for granted.


For instance, Choice One has designed hundreds of projects, but each one needs specific details and attention, even the “easy” ones. We can’t design cookie-cutter projects for the sake of time or laziness, because that’s when the “easy” details are missed. We circumvent this phenomenon by having plans reviewed by engineers not involved in the day-to-day design to look for obvious “leaks.”


Thankfully for Tony’s sanity (and ego), the coffeemaker is now up and running. (As you can imagine, every affected employee gave Tony a hard time about his ineptitude at plumbing. And the lack of coffee.) And thankfully for those of us who sit near said coffeemaker, it’s up and running without any faulty water valves thrown in frustration.

“Guess I’ll have to get over my fear of heights.”

-Mary Borchers


It may sound like an oxymoron, but our 5’-11” administrative assistant Mary is afraid of heights. And not just the looking-over-the edge-of-the-Empire-State-Building kind of heights. She’s even nervous when climbing a stepstool to hang some signage at the office.


When facing our fears at Choice One, we certainly go at it head first (I mean, that stepstool Mary is on is a good two and a half feet off the ground). But in all seriousness, even if we each face our personal fears in baby steps, we collectively commit to helping each other when things get tough. When an individual makes a mistake, we all take responsibility for the failure. There is no “I” in the Choice One Team. Well, except for the “i” after the “o” in “Choice,” but you get the idea.


Taking baby steps is easier when you have friends to catch you if you fall. Mary may never overcome her fear of heights (apparently spiders freak her out too), but at least she knows that if she stumbles, all of us at Choice One will be here to catch her. Or at least point and laugh before helping her up. 

“What did we do for entertainment before we hired Brittany?”

– Holly Fannon

Yep, if Brittany dares Kaye, those long, goofy legs WILL fit in a cardboard computer box.


Having fun at work is important to the people at Choice One. We regularly do ridiculous things to make each other laugh, and as Holly has pointed out above, Brittany is no exception. Having fun and enjoying our jobs develops lasting relationships, breaks tension in challenging situations, and helps what could be mundane workdays pass a little more pleasantly. We like to think that the fun we create at the Choice One offices spills over into our relationships with those outside of our organization that we come into contact with.  And hopefully this makes Choice One a more enjoyable company to work with.


Choice One will be without Brittany for the next few months, as she and her husband Mark welcomed their son, Hudson, into their family on February 6. If that means that someone else will have to dare Kaye to fit into a cardboard box, rest assured there will be no lack of available instigators at Choice One.