After 43 years in construction her five business lessons are classics

Mary Ed Cain was supposed to be born a boy. That was the first time she surprised everyone. The second time came on a daily basis during her 43-year career at Star Building Systems. With her short stature and classic smile, she may not have looked like the woman who could do it all. But she can. And did.

Since May 1971, Mary Ed has worked in nearly every department under the Star roof. She initially came to Oklahoma by way of Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Connecticut, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Illinois. Then she came to Star.

“I thought, ‘I’ll go to work for a little while and make a little extra money,’” says Cain. “I never left the building.”

Mary Ed started in the engineering department. Soon, she moved to the drafting department. Then the customer service department. Finally, she spent 1987 until her retirement in July 2014 in the Technical Services Department.

All of that time, no matter where she was, she served as an eyewitness to a changing industry. She watched as the business world welcomed women…as long as they wore pantsuits. She was there for the technological shift that revolutionized drafting, from paper to PC. And she saw a few trends, from big hair to skinny phones, from mail carriers to You’ve Got mail, come, go or change ever so slightly.

Through all of it, Mary Ed learned a few classic truths in business that never age and never go out of style

Get disconnected.

“I think people can be too connected. They’ve got phones in their ears. They’re instant messaging. There’s a point where you do yourself a disservice. You don’t take a moment to enjoy what you’ve done in the day. You go from busy office to busy home. In my humble opinion, you need quiet time. Turn off the phone.

It’s still all about customer service.

“Despite all our technology, customers are still people. You need to treat them as you would a very special person. In the end, they are what matters.”

 Take it easy.

“You don’t have to be in a hurry. Efficiency is more about how you use your time not what time you used. Be thoughtful about how you use your time because you don’t get to reuse it.”

Embrace new beginnings.

“When you start a new chapter in life, it’s important to be content with what you’ve accomplished and then to move forward. Put the same energy into this new chapter, whatever it is, as you did the last because you are the same person. And you’ll be taking the same talents you had in the last chapter into the new one.”

Take pride in your accomplishments.

“Think about how you feel at the end of the day. Are you fulfilled? Did you have a good day even if it was a hard day? For myself, there’s a point where you realize you’re retiring and you look back. When you can say to yourself, ‘What I’ve accomplished is satisfactory,’ then it’s a good day.”

All the best wishes on your retirement Mary Ed! We’ll miss you.

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Star Building Systems

Founded in 1927, Star Building Systems has seen and done it all, from supplying tool sheds for oil derrick drilling sites in the early oil boom days to hangar buildings during World War II. We set the industry standard for innovation and technology. Most importantly, we have the best builders in the business.

1 Comment

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    Reply September 12, 2014

    Robert Smola

    I just read the “story” about Mary Ed. Karen & I were just talking about her a couple of weeks back. I want to tell her that she is great and hope she has smooth ride on the “retirement highway”. We wish you the best. Bob & Karen(Wey) Smola.

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