On busy Route 100 in Pittsfield, there's a business that has no sign, and none's needed. The reputation of the owner speaks for itself -- his word is his word.
"I like to be busy and I don't like to wait," said Mel Colton, the owner of Mel Colton Excavating. The business is a family affair -- both son's, Dave and Chuck, work with their dad.
He's built a business by knowing his customers, and they know him. Except for a three year stint in the Army, he's never been anywhere else. The machinery has changed through the years, but his work ethic hasn't. He gets up at 5 a.m. every day and walks across the road to the garage. He rarely takes a day off.
"I was born in the house across the road in 1928," Colton pointed out.
On this day, his 84th birthday, it's just today another day -- no presents, no cake.
"Well, we're going to have a blueberry pie, that's his favorite," said his wife, Barbara. "I don't bake as much as I did cause he doesn't need it!"
"Fed me pretty good I guess," Colton added.
Barbara and Mel have been married for a long time. They met roller skating in Rochester.
"She was always a good person. It wasn't my money all those years," Colton said.
The Colton's have been happily married for 60 years, but in late August another woman came into Mel's life, and her name was Irene. Tropical Storm Irene caused havoc in much of the Route 100 corridor -- Pittsfield wasn't spared. The town was shut off. Both ends of the town lost sections of the road. Mel had never seen anything like it before. The Colton family got to work.
"I spent a lot of time alone here after Irene," Barbara said.
They worked all fall, either fixing town roads or private driveways. Mel put in over 50 hours a week just on the roads. "I worried about him a little, because you know, the type of work he does," Barbara said.
Mel said they are finally caught up with pre-Irene projects. The corporate office is the kitchen table. No computers here, just a hand written ledger.
A lot has changed in Pittsfield since he was a kid. Farms dotted the landscape and Route 100 was dirt. Now, it's a challenge to cross the road.
To Barbara, the idea of Mel quitting is almost unheard of. "He would be very cross if he quit. He's always worked," she said.
A working Vermonter, who loves his job and his short commute.
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