Friday, November 12, 1999

For movers, no place like home




BY JOHN JOHNSTON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Scott and Susan Mustian will tell you the old adage is true: There's no place like home.

[dart]
Everyone has a story worth telling. At least, that's the theory. To test it, Tempo is throwing darts at the phone book. When a dart hits a name, a reporter dials the phone number and asks if someone in the home will be interviewed. Stories appear on Fridays.
        The couple met in 1983 when both were business majors at the University of Kentucky. Scott found work in Cincinnati after graduation, and Susan joined him here in 1987, the year they married.

        They took an immediate liking to the area. It was roughly midway between their families (Scott is from Hopkinsville, Ky.; Susan, from Charleston, W.Va.); the climate suited them; they enjoyed having big-city amenities in a small-city atmosphere; and it seemed a nice place to raise children.

        Greater Cincinnati felt like home. Which made it all the more difficult to leave 10 years ago.

        “It was a career decision,” says Scott, who enrolled in an MBA program at Indiana University.

        Thus came Move No. 1: to Bloomington, Ind.

        “He promised me, "We'll get back to Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky,' ” Susan says. “It took a little longer than we thought.”

        After earning his MBA, Scott accepted a job with Whirlpool Corp. Which led to Move No. 2: St. Joseph, Mich.

        Some of his co-workers were positioning themselves for possible overseas assignments. That wasn't Scott's goal, although it sounded intriguing.

        “My international career really started because I turned right instead of left down a hallway,” he says.

        That's when someone asked if he had time to help with a project involving the Asian market. It eventually led to a transfer to the company's overseas division. And then the company asked him to open an office in Japan.

        By that time, the Mustians had two boys, Samuel, 2, and Nathan, almost 1. One advantage to living in Japan was that Susan would be able to stay home with the children.

        So Move No. 3, to Tokyo, occurred in the summer of '93.

        They were the only Americans in a neighborhood comprised mostly of Europeans. Before long, the Mustians soon were introducing their new friends to such grand traditions as Halloween and trick-or-treat.

        Their expected three- to five-year stay was cut short when Whirlpool asked Scott to transfer.

        Move No. 4, in September 1994, was to Singapore. Their third child, Sarah, was born a few months later.

        Susan describes Singapore as “a slice of heaven” — safe, clean, modern, with a wonderfully repetitive weather forecast: sunny and warm, with a chance of an afternoon shower.

        What's more, Singapore didn't feel foreign. They could easily find a Kmart or TGIFridays. Street signs were in English.

        They hated to leave in November 1995. But Whirlpool needed Scott back at the home office. Rather than move back to Michigan, though, Move No. 5 took them to nearby South Bend, Ind.

        A week later, 5-year-old Samuel asked, “Dad, we're living in America now; what country are we going to live in next?”

        A fair question.

        Through his travels, Scott had met people who had spent much of their lives moving for the company. “They were not from anywhere,” he says. “Their kids were not from anywhere.”

        Indeed, “The farther we got from having a place to call home,” he says, “the more it seemed important to have a place to call home.”

        The Mustians knew that place.

        It wasn't South Bend. Or Dallas or Chicago or Minnesota. Scott could have followed leads for jobs in any of those places.

        “We said, maybe if we just hold our ground, something will come up in (Greater Cincinnati),” Susan says.

        And it did. Two years ago, Scott landed a job at Hill-Rom, a subsidiary of Hillenbrand Industries in Batesville, Ind. He's director of international marketing and sales.

        With that the Mustians made Move No. 6, to Hebron.

        They've settled in now. The kids have made friends. Susan is PTA president at their school, and is active in the Northern Kentucky chapter of the UK Alumni Association. Scott's job requires frequent travel to far-flung places, but it's always nice to get back. To home.

       



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