They say the only guarantees are death and taxes, but most Americans will add at least one more: Lawyers. The problem is trying to find one you can trust—or is it? In Phil West’s case, the problem was finding a way to be one in an increasingly secular world.
“I wear an engraved silver dollar with a design that ties several threads in my life together, including LIGHT,” Phil said, describing LIGHT as bringing Love, Inclusiveness, Grace, Holiness/Humility, and Tolerance into every interaction he has, every day. He found it nearly impossible to attain such a standard at times as a private practice attorney, partly because neither his fellow attorneys nor his clients held the same values. While working to do so, Phil met Doris Anderson, a cancer survivor.
Relationships Built on Trust
Phil assisted Doris with a wrongful termination suit, and then helped her set up her own company using the settlement money: America’s Preferred Home Warranty (APHW). “Doris had a lot of questions about how to run a business,” Phil said. He acted as her legal counsel for several years, and when her cancer returned and she could no longer keep up with the company’s needs, she met with a potential buyer named Randy Caltrider. They weren’t able to secure the deal, but all three stayed in touch.
Doris lost her second struggle with cancer a short time later. Her husband wanted to ensure the business would be in good hands, so he sold it to Randy. “I got to know Randy more closely then,” Phil said. “You have to trust your attorney, and Randy plunged in, showing his trust in me right from the beginning. We have been working together ever since.”
Randy’s faith changed APHW into the Christian company it is today—closely emulating the LIGHT Phil was striving toward. At their first Christmas party, Randy told Phil that he’d make APHW big enough to need him as in-house council. “I chuckled, half-believing it to be true,” Phil said. “And I told him, ‘You let me know, and I’ll be there.’”
Time For a Change
The company did grow over the years, and by April of 2017 had outgrown the building it was in. Randy invited Phil to the ‘groundbreaking’ of the building they were remodeling into an office space. “I came and saw all the plans they had and talked to Mike and Rodney [the VP of Operations and CEO] at length,” Phil said. “I realized that they probably already needed general counsel, whether it was me or somebody else.”
Phil mentioned it to Randy a few weeks later, reminding him of the conversation they’d had at that first Christmas party. Randy asked if he would be interested in the position—and the rest is history. But something was different about being an APHW employee vs. working from the outside. “Every day since, I have felt as if my personal goal [LIGHT] was actually a mandate, a roadmap for my responsibilities. It was easy to have the confidence and faith that if I brought LIGHT into our relationships, the result would come out right.”
And it has. More than a year later, Phil still considers his job to be an absolute Godsend. “There are many days when I almost have to pinch myself on my way to work,” he said. “[LIGHT] was almost impossible to make a part of my law practice before, and APHW has been so refreshing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe—I’m just so fortunate to work for this company.”
It’s Still Growing
APHW has grown again, and is currently renovating a space in the Lansing, Michigan area in order to expand their call center customer service capacity. As the company grows, Phil is working to ensure the APHW culture remains prevalent throughout. “It isn’t just the environment, but the feeling you get from the human interaction with everybody in the company,” he said, adding that the Lansing location being close would help nurture and reproduce APHW’s culture. “That was one of the deciding factors in having it be close by—so we could more easily demonstrate and continue our culture.”
Recruiting efforts are already underway to fill the new building. For more information about job opportunities there, search America’s Preferred Home Warranty on Indeed.com, or contact Human Resource Development Manager Susan Town-Richards at email@example.com or 1.800.648.5006 ext. 232.
“I have a hand in trying to make this a great place to work every day, and it’s such a joy to make sure our employees know that APHW is sincerely interested in their wellbeing,” Phil said. “I think we do a pretty good job of that.”