CLINTON – When the International Harvester Farmall plant in Rock Island, Illinois closed in 1985, Stanley Reeg had to find a new life.
“I had worked with Farmall for 21 years as a machinist,” said the DeWitt security broker and analyst Wednesday from his office in Davenport. “[I] always had something I was working on part-time as well.”
Constantly on the lookout for the next opportunity, Reeg attended a career evaluation program at Clinton Community College and launched a new and successful career. He writes about his journey in his book, “Take This Job and Love It.”
“Several weeks after I became unemployed, I attended a week-long career and assessment evaluation class free of charge at Clinton Community College,” Reeg writes in Chapter 9. Scores from his dexterity, aptitude and attitude exercises suggested that he was most suited to be a securities analyst or a securities broker.
He pursued the latter. Reeg is currently an investment advisor at Baird Private Wealth Management in Davenport.
“What I really found out from that is… if a person goes through that kind of a process, you come out with what you are suited for,” Reeg said.
Writing a book about his life was not his idea, nor was he favorable to it at first. “For several years my oldest son had been telling me, ‘Dad, you need to record this story of how you did this,’” said Reeg.
He wasn’t interested. He thought it would be “too much work.”
A couple of years ago Reeg met Rich Wolfe at a golf tournament. Wolfe grew up in the small Clinton County village of Lost Nation, about 40 miles from Reeg’s hometown of St. Donatus, a town in Jackson County of about 135 people.
Wolfe knew of St. Donatus. His mother was from Otter Creek, about 16 miles to the southeast.
“St. Donatus, Iowa? You’re from St. Donatus, Iowa?” Wolfe wrote in the preface to “Take This Job and Love It.” “I couldn’t believe it. … Nobody comes from that small town.”
Wolfe, now living in Arizona, has written more than 50 books, Reeg said, most of them about athletics. Wolfe’s website lists books about legendary sportscaster Vin Scully, long-time Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Buck.
Reeg’s story of growing up in a small town, living through the closing of the factory that had supported him for more than 20 years, finding career advice at a community college and launching a new, successful career intrigued the writer.
“He said, ‘You know, you have quite a story. You should write a book,’” Reeg said. Reeg didn’t know how, but Wolfe said he’d help.
“It took us about a year to put it together,” Reeg said. The book was Reeg’s first, Wolfe’s 52nd.
Was it “too much work”? Some of the childhood memories were painful, Reeg said, and he thought he wasn’t going to have 100 pages.
“It’s kind of like peeling an onion,” Reeg said. Memories emerged. Stories flowed. Eventually he had about twice what he needed. His co-author and editor cut stories that the project to just under 300 pages.
“It’s got various things to it,” said Reeg. Growing up poor, becoming wealthy, work ethic, setting goals, working to achieve. “Luck is part of it,” he said.
The community college element is important for Reeg. His website takethisjobandloveit.org includes hyperlinks to CCC programs for career assessment “and that type of thing.”
Thirty-four years after Reeg’s new beginning, he’s sharing his story with the public. “I think that people can learn from how I approached getting retrained… [for] a different career that ended up being a big success for me.”
In the next couple of months, Reeg will be signing books at CCC and speaking to its business students. He’ll also be speaking at Scott Community College, he said.
All profits from the book will be donated to the Paul B. Sharar Foundation at Clinton Community College, Reeg said.
“Everybody thinks their kids have to go to a major university. Not everyone is suited to college” or have the money for it, Reeg said.
“I’m a big believer in community colleges.”