HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami)- Mentors can come from the unlikeliest of places, even a fruit stand.
That’s how it started a number of years ago at the South Florida landmark business called ‘Robert is Here,’ where the bond between an employer and an employee blossomed into something extraordinary.
It’s been called the Disney World of fruit stands. Some say it’s a must see stop on their family vacations.
For Robert Moehling, it’s a daily reminder of passion and perseverance.
“My soul is getting out, what we do is getting out,” said Moehling.
It started on a Saturday in November 1959 with a 6-year-old Moehling selling cucumbers in Homestead. Nobody stopped.
“My mom said maybe they didn’t see him there,” said Moehling.
Mothers always seem to know best.
With a giant hurricane shutter marked “Robert is Here,’ now, nearly 60 years later, Moehling’s little cucumber stand has grown beyond expections.
“Don’t know what or if any, who can say they started at 6-years-old in this spot and then 59 years and 4 months later I’m still here,” said Moehling.
It’s an inspirational success story, but often, many of the best stories are the ones that unfold other stories.
To work at the stand, everyone has to follow the same process.
“We have a policy here that you take a math test,” said Moehling. “Then, I give you an application.”
“So when I came in they told me all I had to do was take a math test,” said Qaasim Brown, an employee at the fruit stand. “Robert saw how fast I did on my second day, he just told me to come back and I’ve been with them ever since.”
Ever since graduating high school to be exact. Brown is now almost 22-years-old.
One of six siblings, Brown’s already big family is now even bigger.
“They’ve always looked out for anyone here. The staff, some customers,” said Brown. “I don’t even treat some of the customers as customers anymore, extended family.”
Like family, they take care of each other through medical emergencies.
“One day here, it got so bad, I couldn’t move, incapacitated. Couldn’t see straight. Robert went out of his way to take me home,” said Brown.
Like a father, Moehling makes a lot of the rules, even when Brown bought his first car.
“Rule number one, nobody drives the car. Makes sense. Rule number two, it’s because the insurance just in case anything happens, if it’s not you then I’m just screwed,” said Brown. “Rule number three, nobody drives the car.”
It’s these daily life lessons that make the job more than just a job. That makes Moehling more than a boss, especially for Brown, whose father lives in the Virgin Islands.
“It’s like he’s more than just a father figure. He’s a father figure, a role model. He’s a good friend,” said Brown.
Moehling says he has learned a lot from Brown too.
“He’s taught me calmness. Calmest kid we’ve ever had work for us,” said Moehling. “He’s not just a sales person here, he’s part of the soul.”
But perhaps the one downside to loving your boss like a father and loving your employee like a son is when the day comes for them to move on.
“When I have to leave they’d have to fire me. No way I’d probably leave this place willingly,” said Brown.
If you know you’ve taught them well and you believe in them with your whole heart, perhaps there is no greater feeling than to watch them soar.
“He still pushes us to go out and do better things,” said Brown.
Through it all, Moehling will continue to believe in Brown.
“With your talent you have right now and what you’ve shown us, you can go anywhere you wanna go,” said Moehling. “It’s your world out there, everybody loves you.”
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