In June, 2011, Dawn Baker and I were invited to visit Cambridge’s home office in the bustling metropolis of Fairfield, Iowa. The journey required two planes, a bus, and a long rental car ride in a pitch-black downpour. We finally arrived at our Bed and Breakfast around midnight.
In the morning we saw a town that could be a set for The Music Man. It had an old-fashioned town square with a gazebo in the center, Victorian and craftsmen homes, a lovely City Park, and a HyVee grocery store, which we later learned was the place to see and be seen in town.
“Perhaps we ought to give Iowa a try,” I told Dawn as we turned onto Pleasant Plain Road.
Now Dawn is an even bigger musical theatre geek than I, but she must have been worried about taking a wrong turn. Peering through the windshield, she gripped the steering wheel and smiled politely. The town fell away. Corn and soybean fields surrounded us. Corn grows really high in Iowa.
“We must have missed it,” Dawn said.
Just then, the fields parted like the forest in the Wizard of Oz. A couple of low craftsmen style buildings appeared. Staff members greeted us warmly and guided us through the unpretentious building past the words “Kindness, Commitment, Flexibility and Integrity painted in six foot script along the walls of the tunnel connecting the buildings. These are the tenants by which Cambridge employees measure their actions.
We were visiting during the celebration of Cambridge’s thirtieth anniversary. At some financial service companies such a celebration would be an excuse to spend lavishly on a big bash in an exotic tropical locale. At Cambridge, they erected a smart black and white striped tent on the front lawn and served barbeque. It was almost like the Fourth of the July exercises in The Music Man except all the speakers got to finish their remarks.
I’d not only found all the tools my clients could ever want, but I’d found people who could understand them. My clients would have loved that party. Although I do believe they might have argued about who had the best barbeque sauce. Since then I have never been sorry that I gave Iowa a try.