I pulled up into the familiar driveway, past the goodbye rock, and next to the sandbox my kids grew up playing in. It’s funny how life does that, move slowly, meandering through each and every day until the next when you wake up and five years have flashed by in an instant. The driveway was filled with cars, the garage busy with activity. Anna grabbed her overnight bag and jumped out and said, “I’ll see you later mum!.” The same little girl who used to get sand in her eye in their sandbox had straightened her hair, put on makeup, and dressed for a friend’s trip to the mall. I smiled and waved to her. I turned to the backseat towards Libby and said,”get used to it, you are slowly becoming an only child.” There was a knock on my window. I put my foot on the break and opened my window to say hi. Bill stood in front of me proudly wearing his Buoy Bat t’shirt with a wide grin on his face. He looked good, happy, less stressed than I had seen him in a while.
I could hear Bill talking and I nodded as he did but for some strange reason I started adding up the number of businesses Bill and I have started as individuals. We only knew each other for a handful of them but had often shared stories of past ideas and how we had went about making each one happen. In the height of my entrepreneurial push, Bill and I became close friends, he was like a brother who I could sound off my craziest of ideas to and never feel judged. We seemed to think and feel the same way about business and living outside of the box, forgetting that it was even there on some days. I’ve always admired his tenacity of spirit and ability to fashion anything from nothing. He is the original MacGyver and I’ve always wondered what would happen if he hired himself out as a solution to all manufacturing and production dilemmas. He just has that sort of brain that can look at a problem and see the solution almost instantly.
When I first met him, I had just started The Little Hat Company and he was working on building Mr. Sandbox. During my run with my company, I watched Bill move in and out of ideas and product development including the Portsmouth Pickle Company (Anna’s favorite) and finally onto Buoy Bat. The idea came to him like most of the best ones do, from the spur of the moment, picking up something unusual out of necessity, to do something you’ve always done. The story as I remember him telling me was that he was walking on the beach near his parent’s house in Maine and noticed a washed up buoy on the shore. Bill not letting anything in life go to waste, seized the moment and picked it up and started playing a game of Buoy bat with his daughter using pebbles from the sand. I can only imagine that it took seconds for the idea of a reinvention of coastal baseball to plant in Bill’s mind and travel past every imaginable place he could take such a unique business. It happens to a lot of us, an idea for a business pops into our minds and for a short moment we wonder, “what if”. It’s only a rare few that seize that moment and begin taking actions to make the idea come alive.
That was nearly five years ago, I think, I’ve lost track of time since then. Time has sped up and it seems like I’m always just doing my best to remember to breathe these days. Bill is still at it and as I pulled into his driveway I saw the signs of a growing business, busting at the seams just waiting for the next level of expansion. I looked up at Bill and said, “you need help with your marketing.” I remember how hard it was letting go of being in control of each aspect of your start up business, handing the reigns of each of its parts to another to manage. He said, “I know. I talked to someone yesterday.” I smiled. That was a huge deal for Bill because in addition to being an incredible product guy, he can market the hell out of just about anything. He is multifaceted in his own talent pool and that makes the Buoy Bat story even more interesting. He waved goodbye as he followed Anna back into the house, I’m sure he was getting ready for a number of shows and thinking about which item in his product line to reinvent or streamline. That used to be my life, a crazy whirlwind of business and activity swarming my home and each waking hour. Seeing Bill made me miss it just for a moment, appreciate it for all that it taught me, and respect him for making it work and staying with it as long as he has.
I have little doubt that Buoy Bats from South Berwick, Maine are going to become a national pastime, even recognized worldwide as one of the favorite of outdoor parties and games. That’s just the kind of guy Bill Page is, resourceful, driven, and ingenious when it comes to creating something out of nothing. I just wonder if Bill really did come up with the original Buoy Bat or if the idea came from his days of reading comic books late at night under the covers in Hanover. Either way, check out the amazing world of Buoy Bats for yourself on Bill’s website. It’s just a click away!