The other day I was going through some old things at Stortz Tools and saw what I believed to be a German passport from 1844.

I could barely decipher the worn cursive writing and the parts I could make out weren’t even English. It felt like I maybe stumbled upon something awesome and it filled me with a sense of wonder.

Whose was this? 1844?? Was this the original John Stortz’s passport?! It made me think about the journey he may have gone on, what times were like back then, and how much has been lost in the near 200 years since it was used.

Then it occurred to me that maybe my dad or uncle already knows the answer. Maybe my grandfather showed this exact passport to my dad when he was a kid as a cool artifact and explained the story behind it. I have no idea.

But these thoughts impressed upon me that for a family business with 170 years of history, we haven’t done a good job of recording it (to my knowledge). I’ve spoken with my dad and uncles a number of times about my grandfather (I never met him) and what the company was like in the decades before my arrival, but those conversations have been pretty brief. And I know next to nothing about the first and second owners of the business.

Ultimately, when my dad and uncles pass, there will be a century’s worth of knowledge lost. So a thought crossed my mind that I initially felt was stupid, but the more I consider it the more I think it’s a good idea:

I want to record a podcast(s) with my dad and uncles about the history of the family and the business.

A long conversation about what the business was like, the family dynamics, feuds with vendors or internally, what they know about the business from before they arrived, etc. These are questions that I have super vague ideas of, but nothing concrete or written, and I feel like once the opportunity to ask is gone, I’ll regret not having done it.

I doubt anyone else would care, I assume not, but I feel like if this business continues for a few more generations, these would be treasured. I would kill to hear an interview with the original John Stortz or the 2nd owner. There’s so much I wish I knew.

You have to start somewhere!