“It was a critical moment . . . a turning point . . . and most of all a tragedy that day in 1997. I lost a best friend who had become like a brother to me. When Bill Brackman passed, he left behind his wife and children, his work, his stellar reputation, his business, and a void in the place where he had made such a good life. I still miss him.”
In 1999, Bill's widow, Judy Brackman, approached me and asked me if I would help her. Our families had been good friends for years, and I knew she was having problems. Her sons were young, and she didn't know what to do. At first, in my mind, I thought, "No!" After much contemplation, several reasons to the contrary came rushing in: I was between jobs, and I realized that these people were my friends, part of my extended family! Judy was a real lady and a best friend to my wife.
The Finishing Touch was the concrete business Bill had started back in 1976. Bill and his company had an outstanding reputation, and Judy was a part of that business for many years. Of course, I inherited a couple of young, eager boys; Matt was 18, and Andrew was 15.
When I decided to take it on, Judy always supported me. When I had to "remind" the boys of certain realities, she'd say, "That's what Bill would say!" She'd always backed me.
I don't think she expected it, but I asked her to resume her relationship with the customers, and she was good at that. She had an easy, understated way with people, and she'd sit down, often with the lady of the house, and she'd help them make decisions on the decorative side of the project. She had a great sense of color, pattern, design and a natural rapport with people.
In '03-'04, Judy and I decided to sell some of the equipment to Matt and Andrew, starting with a skid-steer and a pickup. The Finishing Touch had limited equipment at the time. Bill had used only a skid steer, a trailer, a pickup, and a dump truck for many years.
This was the beginning of Brackman Excavating. Although the natural face may be hidden in the family lore, it's the story of the time the whole family was thought to be indoors. Suddenly, there was a crashing sound outside, and they all rushed into the backyard to find two-year-old Matt stuck up on the woodpile, sitting on a stalled-out tractor with an innocent expression on his face!