Pete / Papou was one of the best men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I learned more from him, especially in his last few years as he was battling his illness, than any course or textbook could ever hope to impart. The best way to honor someone who is not with us anymore is to continue living our life and keep their memory alive through everyday events or acts of kindness. Pete / Papou would have wanted that, and expected nothing less. You are and will remain profoundly missed.
“David, I have not been here in over a decade, and I am not sure they will know who I am,” Pete said to me as we prepared to enter the building to call on a potential customer.
We walk in. Pete takes control and introduces himself. From behind an office door, a woman rushes out with a big smile on her face, runs up to Pete and gives him a hug.
I was, like wow, so these people don't remember you!
We were ushered to the director's office where he and Pete remembered old stories and talked about where everybody is now and where everybody is going.
The gentleman looked me in the eye and said “One thing about Pete, he always is going to tell you the truth. Even if the truth does not serve Pete well, he is going to tell you the truth. If Pete says it, it is a fact! You are lucky to have him”
Pete walked out with the business (as though I were not there) and never gave him the price. I had personally called on this account for five years and had gotten nowhere.
Pete makes an appearance and gets the business without giving a price. Amazing!!
Pete taught me the most important lesson that day: people are searching for people they can trust and trust Pete they did.
During Pete's illness and at a time when he was struggling, I had a meeting with his previous employer. Pete not in any condition to travel – but he said there was no way he was missing the trip. Pete jumped on a plane and made the meeting. As we walked into Goodyear, the sea of people parted for Pete. You knew he was a legend – everyone was coming from different floors and different parts of the building to find Pete. When we went to the lunchroom, we had to change tables three times to get a bigger table to make room for everyone who wanted to sit with Pete.
When Pete came to work with me, he did not need to work. That was obvious, because he quit three times within the first four months. I once went to North Carolina to convince him not to quit. Luckily I succeeded. He was frustrated with my idiosyncrasies and with mistakes, big and small, that I made. Pete took it upon himself to guide me which he did. At least 3 times a week he would call me at the office at 8:30 p.m. (Central) 9:30 (Eastern)
Over time, we came to realize we were both passionate about work and took pride in performing the job well for our customers. That is why I loved being around and talking with Pete. Both Pete and I worked a lot of hours and would work well into every night. Pete, knowing I was still at the office, would call about 8:30 Central, 9:30 Eastern (Pete's time zone) at least three times a week. We would talk no less than 30 minutes. It was in these late-evening conversations that Pete won me over to his way of thinking. With each call he would touch on a subject lightly at first, then again and again and again. Before I knew it I was telling him what he was trying to tell me weeks earlier. He would end each call with “How is Hammer (my son) doing?” and then would give me updates on all his and Sharon's grandkids.
Pete had a saying, “I pick the fly poop out of the pepper” and that he did. From 500 miles away in North Carolina, going through cancer treatment, he would pour over all the data we emailed him and find mistakes. It was amazing – details that Pete shouldn't even know he was able to figure out and find where we screwed it up.
Pete was our safety net; he would never let errors slip by. He wore it like a badge.
Pete squeezed every penny out of every dollar spent. Once I mentioned I was buying a dishwasher. By the end of the next day, he had sent five emails, which included a comprehensive study of the every dishwasher sold by every major retailer in America, complete with attached coupon codes and free extended warranty information, along with credit card applications to make sure I got the extra discount for opening a credit card account.
This happened on numerous occasions – dishwasher, television, computer, cell phone. I once went against Pete's suggestion, actually more than a suggestion, on the computer. I paid more than he wanted me to because I wanted a lighter computer. He frowned on that.
He was so frugal on the purchasing side, yet not so cheap on the selling side – as though he had a split personality. He would always try to sell the tires for everything he could get for them.
His strength through illness was remarkable. Pete was in tremendous pain but continued to work and travel to take care of customers.
Throughout my remembrance of Pete, I have used the word “amazing.”
Everyone -- the manufacturer, the customer, his fellow workers -- trusted him. Pete never let them down.
When I started working with my dad I had plenty of confidence, because I knew I had a wall behind me (my Dad) that I knew I could not be pushed through. After my father's death, I believed my father had taught me enough that I had the confidence to start this company. I quickly learned that wall that used to be behind me was still there, but it was only as high as the back of my knees and was easy to fall backwards over. Running the business you have to make decisions daily, and you have no idea what the correct answer is. You live with a feeling of helplessness. I never had the feeling when I was with my Dad – I knew he would never let me be pushed though that wall.
That is why I loved those late night, phone calls with Pete – we would sometimes stay on the phone for hours. PETE BUILT MY WALL TALL AGAIN. He helped me make massive decisions. There were many decisions that we both did not know the answer, but we would talk and talk and talk them through until we both had the confidence that the choice we made was best the choice. We did GREAT at those decisions.
Pete and my Dad are both gone, and I still have my wall. It is not as tall as it was when Pete was around. But now, because of Pete, that wall is twice as high as it was -- and much harder for me to trip over.
I first met Pete when we started working together in Feb.,1994. Throughout the years we developed a close friendship that I now miss continually.
Pete was the blueprint of what a person should be. Dedicated to family, high moral values, hardworking and had a very outgoing personality. Pete was always upbeat and positive in all instances, including during his battle with cancer.
I will forever miss Pete, but he will always be in my heart.
"The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land."
We first met Pete Balsavias when our daughter Amy became engaged to his son, Peter Jason. We were instantly struck by his friendly and fun personality. He and Sharon made us feel a part of their family. Throughout the years our times spent together were always lively and fun. Pete could always make you laugh. We will miss him and our hearts are saddened that our shared grandchildren had such a short time to experience his easy smile, joking ways and the love he had to share with them. Our hope is that they will experience some of that love through Amy, Pete (their dad), and their Yia Yia Sharon. They can also now say they have an advocate in heaven, their Papou.
Pete/Papou was the best of the best. I carry him in my heart and look forward to the day our paths cross again. My life is forever changed for having the privilege of knowing him. These past months have been difficult for you and those who truly miss him. However there is peace in knowing he is no longer suffering and we will all be together laughing again one day.