Creative Experiences, Thirty Collaborators


chris henjum

owner  |  Hydrafab Northwest  |  Spokane Valley

illustration: Don Baker

It was probably my first real business trip to Seattle. Must’ve been around 2003 or so, just a couple of years after I’d gone full-time with Hydrafab. We had recently completed a pretty big project for who was, at the time, one of our most important clients, and I was in town for a follow-up meeting with some of them. Sort of a debriefing.

After we wrapped up, I said, “Hey, let me take your team out to dinner tonight to celebrate.” Seemed like the right thing to do. So we go to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse – I’d never been before – and we sit down to a great meal: amazing steaks, some drinks, some wine, a lot of laughter…just a really good time all around.

And then I got the bill.

One look and I was sure that somebody had screwed something up. There were only seven of us at that table and it’s like $1,700. I’m thinking, This can’t be right. This cannot be right. But here I am, sitting in front of all these people – clients of mine, people vital to my company – and they’re watching me. What could I say? What could I do?

Pay for it, that’s what. So I took out my credit card and gave it to the waitress. And the whole time I’m thinking, No one at this table realizes that I just worked three months to pay for this meal. And I’m not about to let them find out.

It was such a defining moment in my life. That sudden realization that this is what business is all about; that sometimes you just have to say, “What the hell.” I understood even back then that it was all about relationships.

And it’s true. I still work with some of those guys.

“A metal fabricator comes in handy when you work on 3D projects. For more than 20 years, Chris’s company has been making components for our exhibits, displays, and trade shows – and providing expertise during on-site installations. He had about four people working for him when we first met. Now he’s up to 10 times that.”

ck anderson

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