‘Exactly where I want to be’

Michael Wages, left, and his son Tre, 17, assemble a garage door piece recently in a new garage construction project in Strasburg. Wages quit his job as a safety director for a trucking company and bought Valley Garage Door, so he could be his own boss and have more time to spend with his family. Rich Cooley/Daily

EDINBURG – Mike Wages is a man of faith. That faith is at the core of who he is and was the driving force behind his taking over of Valley Garage Door Company. A former account manager and later an area risk manager for J.B. Hunt, Wages had a stable, well-paying job with the shipping company but said his faith intervened and drove him to make a change.

“This is crazy,” Wages remembered thinking. “I’m exactly where I want to be, for this to happen and I told (my wife) Jen (Wages), ‘I think this is Satan that’s trying to tempt me: It’s obvious you need to go in this (new) direction, but I’m going to do this to make you go, ‘I don’t want to go in that direction because I like this.’ … I couldn’t get it out of my head that this is what needs to happen.”

Patty Wooster, who sold Wages the business, described the moment where the seed was planted in Wages’ mind.

“I was at their home and I said, ‘I think I’m selling the business. If you’re interested let me know,'” Wooster said. “It was kind of just in passing because he had a job. A week later he called and said, ‘Let’s talk about this.’ It was so perfect, it wasn’t even funny.

So Wages, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, decided to pull the trigger and take over the business from Wooster.

Michael Wages, right, and his son work on assembling a garage door in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We made a decision,” Wages said. “This is what we’re going to do. … I started training and learning how to do everything. … I used all my vacation time to learn. I had to keep all this secret at work, unfortunately, because if they found out, I would’ve been terminated.”

Wooster said the death of her husband prompted her to sell her business and move to Washington. She said she’s confident in Wages’ ability to continue the business she started.

“My mind is at peace that a 30-year business is going to do very well in his hands,” she said. “Things happen the way they’re supposed to. I’m still there for them any time they have a question or need to know the customer, (and) he doesn’t have any problem giving me a call. We’re friends also, so it’s perfect.”

Wages said that once he started training to take over the company, he realized he had made the right decision – a big one, but the right one.

“It was pretty crazy,” Wages said. “I loved it, though. I immediately fell into it and it was like a fish to water. I understood all of this. I just had so much fun.”

A father of four, Wages said that being able to spend time with his children and provide for them was all that mattered. Once he determined that his new livelihood would allow him to do that, he knew he had to make the change.

“I had to make sure that I could take care of my kids,” Wages said, with two of those children draped over him, jockeying for prime cuddling position. “I need to make sure that they have clothes, food and a roof over their head. That’s the most important part.”

His decision has benefited his children in more ways than one, Wages said. He said his oldest son, Tre, 17, has taken to the work as well, and Mike Wages hopes to grow the business with his first born.

“The bills are paid,” Wages said. “My kids are fed. I’m not rich. I haven’t even paid myself back for the money that I had to put into it to get everything going, but I don’t care because the bills are paid and the kids are fed. I’m making enough so that we’re doing fine. Would I like to do more? Yeah, I’d like to build upon it and put it back to what it was when GARY had it. … Not huge, but I do want to get another truck so that my oldest son (can work with me). He loves it. I take him with me here and there to help out. He really enjoys it.”

Wages said that he’s had to adjust to the sporadic nature of the business, but said that he’s getting more used to it and called it the best decision he’s ever made.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “The phone’s not ringing sometime, but that’s just the way it is because it’s piece work. I’ve got to get used to that.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.