In 2004 my parents, Pete and Sally, and I opened our first cosmetology school.


After my parents already long career in the beauty industry, they wanted to give back by starting a school.  Our vision together was giving people an opportunity to receive an exceptional foundation in the beauty business.  Sure, we wanted to provide a great curriculum, excellent equipment and terrific teachers, but more importantly we wanted to give back to others.

No one has done that better than my dad.

Pete Wells was a force of nature.  He was strong, handsome and had positivity for miles.  He has been compared on many occasions to the “World’s Most Interesting Man” perhaps because you could see his charisma from space.  My dad was not a licensed hair professional, but was its biggest cheerleader.  He was a huge fan of the business, mostly because how it has the power to transform people…clients, staff and student alike.

The beauty business wasn’t skin deep to Pete, it was soul deep.  I never met anyone who didn’t feel beautiful around him because he had a wonderful gift of being genuine, engaged, and made people know how important they are.

Pete died suddenly in September 2014.

As anyone could imagine, we were all crushed by this loss.  What would we do without his positive energy?  Or the warm giant hand on our shoulder?  The kind nicknames and words of encouragement?  Pete’s boundless generosity? His homemade chocolate chip cookies for students, staff, friends?  Those answers have come to us in interesting ways over the last 18 months.  Pete being the force of nature that he was, has shown me how big of an impact each one of us can make in this world.  Personally, he has given me a huge gift since he died…and that is the power of story.

On a daily basis someone shares a Pete story with me.  Sometimes I have already heard the story, the words ringing familiar in my memory.  Most often the stories are new to me.  They are these gifts of unknown; a behind-the-scenes look into a man I knew so wellThe points of the stories never surprise me, in fact they only reinforce the qualities of my dad.  He was kind.  He was generous.  He was funny.  And that’s why I have a story to tell.

My dad loved all things mechanical and especially if they had wheels.  He also loved moving things. On a regular basis I would find ways to poke fun at him about these two hobbies and ever since I was a little kid he would ask me to help him…

”Hey Stace, come over here and help me move this (probably very heavy item)…it will put hair on your chest!”

But this mental and physical toughness were two of the many traits he taught me.

One thing to always remember is that we all have the power within us to do anything.  That is why, many years ago, he bought a large covered cargo trailer.  Besides the fact he fell in love with its function and form, he fell in love with what the trailer could do.  I believe it represented power and freedom to him!

A trailer could do all that? Yes.

With that trailer he helped countless people move into first apartments or new homes.  He lent it out to friends starting businesses.  He allowed people to store items in it to help them through tough times.

The amount of things moved for our family, friends and businesses is immeasurable.

He had the entire trailer wrapped in our company logo, L’esprit Academy, in the biggest font possible.  He drove it to event after event, loading and unloading styling chairs, lighting, hair products, electrical, all to support students and staff on this journey of transformation and freedom.  Never once did I hear him complain about lugging heavy items.  In fact, his response was always to sing the praises of everyone at the events, always making new friends and bringing out the best in people.

We used the trailer to move our salon for the last time a year ago.  It was sad to not have Pete with us, using this movable freedom mobile to mark such a significant occasion.  We all commented how he would have loaded it up and how much he would have loved to be helping.


The trailer has been filled and parked in our main campus lot, chained up, for the last ten months.  Somehow it has always brought me peace and joy to see it there.  A movable monument to my dad, a reminder of how generous he was and what his mission in life meant to those he touched.

Last week when my mom came into our main campus she asked the staff where the trailer had gone.  We all racked our brains…when had we seen it last?  Did we lend it to someone? We quickly concluded it had been stolen.

My mom’s reaction was anger and sadness.  Such a visible and physical reminder of her husband of 50 years was snatched away off our own property.

My response was a little different, a bit nostalgic and philosophical.  It reminded me that he had a landscape trailer stolen from the same property six years ago.  He never stopped looking for it when he drove around.  He always put his mark on everything (those who knew him know the “PW” or “Wellco” brand he made with a Sharpie), so he figured he would run into it eventually.

I look at the taking of this trailer as a message.

Someone out there needed my dad’s energy, generosity and kindness more than we needed the trailer.

If my dad was around today and the person who took the trailer really needed it, he would have given it away.  In fact, he would have probably helped connect it to the getaway truck!

He was kind to the core and always wanting to change lives for the better.

It was Pete’s birthday a few days ago, he would have been 73.

He didn’t miss a minute in his life, so I am not going to miss a minute worrying over a stolen trailer.

I know the trailer has the power to help change people’s lives for the better as it already has countless times.  I want the thief to know that the power will not cease and will not relent just because it is no longer in our possession.  I hope all the beauty equipment that was stored in the trailer will be sold to people wanting to better their lives.  The trailer will be used to move things, store things, change things.

I want the thief to know I am grateful for taking the trailer back on the road, the movable freedom mobile will live again and therefore my dad’s gifts to us all will just keep on giving.

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