Lyme’s Steve Scott rides the waves and launches new business
Editor's note: This version corrects a misspelling.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to find one’s direction in life. Or in the case of avid sailor Steve Scott, re-plot the course he was already on.
A high-powered attorney traveling between corporate and private clients in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Scott got the wake up call when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012.
Just a year earlier, he had left the nonstop pace of his life in Fairfield County to return to the quiet rural location of his parents’ (now deceased) home on the Connecticut River in Lyme —where they had moved while he was in college. Indeed, visitors must literally slow down to get to Scott’s home at the end of a long country lane traversed by horseback riders and an occasional car.
When one of the worst storms in the history of the Northeast hit the region full force, the house lost power. After attempting to move an old 150-pound generator to the house from a barn on top of the hill that he then couldn’t start, Scott recalls, “I noticed I was having some difficulty; I was very tired.”
So he lit some candles and went to bed. He woke up at 3 a.m. with pain in his chest. He thought it could be muscular due to lifting the generator, so he took some Advil.
“All of a sudden I could feel pain radiating out of my left arm. I’d been an EMT in college, so I said, ‘Oh, this is bad,’ hit 911, and it took a while for them to find me down the long, pitch-black road,” he says.
“They finally came and I was hoping it wasn’t something else,” Scott continues, “but as soon as the guy took my blood pressure, he hooked me up to an IV, gave me nitroglycerine, and told the driver to bring me to Lawrence + Memorial — the best cardiac unit in this area. It was the fastest trip to New London I’d ever taken.”
Bottom line, it was a heart attack. Scott had to stay very still to avoid popping a plug out of his femoral artery, and so he spent a month convalescing at his sister’s house in Philadelphia.
“During that time, I thought to myself, ‘What do I want to do now?’ I had become tired of feeling like I was working 24-7, seven days a week and getting a call on a Saturday afternoon, interrupting my entire weekend,” he says. “I’d been incredibly active, played tennis, walked, sailed. I had to put pretty much everything on hold and took a year off to figure out what I wanted to do.”
It dawned on Scott that he didn’t want to continue with his law practice, which was creating the most stress, and so last year he resurrected a business venture he began several years earlier that had been on autopilot.
Navigating his way
Today Scott is happily entrenched in his second, more simplified career, creating customized etched glassware using the longitude and latitude of specific locations.
The idea for the business, North by Northeast Enterprises, came to him when he was looking for a gift for good friends who had just moved to a new home and he couldn’t find anything that struck him as particularly interesting or unique.
While driving to his family’s summerhouse on Fire Island, he says, “I had navigation on in my car and was thinking about how great GPS is and how bad it is because people become dependent upon it — both sailors and drivers. I learned to navigate in a couple different ocean passageways where we had a sextant, used nautical charts, followed evening and morning stars, and it all came into my brain at the same time. ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll have the latitude and longitude to their house engraved on a glass.’ That was really the genesis of it.”
He shared his idea with some other friends and they encouraged him to pursue it on a larger scale.
“I had to learn an awful lot, and there was a lot of trial and error. I think I went through probably 72 glasses before I came up with one that was even close to being saleable,” he admits.
Scott had some wonderful mentors, including an engraver who taught him a lot of the tricks of the trade and a graphic designer who helped him translate customers’ information onto the glass.
And Scott employs his own navigational expertise to find the coordinates people want engraved on the glasses, from a private house to a boat on a mooring to the place where a couple was engaged, married or spent a wedding anniversary — anywhere that holds a special meaning.
He works with a few different types of mapping software and uses Google Earth to get a screen shot as close as possible to the location, which he will send it to the customer to make sure it’s accurate.
“That’s what I do,” he explains. “I’m good at that because of my sailing experience and I was also a private pilot. My father was a navigator in World War II — he owned Danbury Airway; we all learned to fly, including my mother. So between the sailing and the flying, I just love navigation. I love charts and finding locations.”
Today Scott’s home-based business is taking off with orders of glasses for wedding favors, Father’s Day and other holidays, as well as for corporate and client gifts.
He says the business has grown 300 percent in sales since launching his website just over a year ago.
So, how does Scott keep this new venture from becoming stressful as it continues to grow?
“I can do it at my own pace,” he responds. “I have an eight to 10-day cushion to (fulfill) orders. I get up early in the morning and process orders — and look at this view! I love playing with the mapping software and talking to the customers, and it’s really fun for them, too.”
Scott chose the tagline “Never Lose Your Way” because it has a lot of different meanings that he relates to as a sailor and that reflect his recent life changes.
“If you’re on a powerboat, you need to maintain way to steer, so ‘way’ means that,” he says. “‘Way’ is also a pathway; for me, never lose your path. And in navigation, you have to have what’s called way points — a set of coordinates that tell you where you’ve been or where you’re going. And it’s a nice slogan for people to think about when they’re buying (the glassware) because if you look at the coordinates, you’ll always find your way home.”