“I didn’t even consider the fact that every time that limb made me step aside, it was — quite literally — pushing me deeper into community”

~ Hank Balch

Founder & President, Beyond Clean

Mind Your Head, Not Your Business: Lessons Learned from the Community Tree

Author – Hank Balch of Beyond Clean


It might have been the very first thing I really noticed when I first set foot inside the Candy Factory. Of course, I saw the iPad, signed in, and got a parking pass — but none of that would leave a lasting impression on me.

What really caught my attention (and almost caught me flat in the face) was the annoying tree that just so happened to be sitting directly in the walkway from the front door through the first-floor coworking space and up the stairs to the second floor. I could tell that I would not have been the first head to make an acquaintance with one of this tree’s limbs, because there was a nice little sign hanging there to warn the passerby to “Mind Your Head.”

It was a creative little warning for an annoying little tree, I thought. After a couple of weeks of consistently catching myself not paying attention and almost paying the price with a limb in the face, I even began to wonder why no one had thought to move the thing. “Maybe,” I murmured to myself, “it’s too heavy for one person to move with all the soil. Or perhaps there were no other windows available that provide enough sunlight for it.”

Whatever the reason for it being right in the path of the shortest point from the front door to my shared workspace, I basically made up my mind to deal with it. It was a part of the Candy Factory before I was, so it had squatter’s rights.

And that’s the moment when one of those little flashes of realization hit me, the ones you’d see in a Hallmark movie or something. What if this tree could teach me something about what it really meant to work in community? What if my annoyance had more to do with me and less to do with the tree itself?

You see, I was primarily irked because I viewed that 1/2 second side-step around the tree as an inconvenience to ME, on MY way, to the work that I had to do. I didn’t even consider the fact that every time that limb made me step aside, it was — quite literally — pushing me deeper into community (since there was almost always other coworkers sitting there in the 1st floor workspace). Instead of being able to zip in the front door, with my head down, and make a bee-line up the stairs, this community-generating tree was giving a subtle, yet consistent reminder that this space is not ultimately about me and my work — it is about us, and our work as fellow members of something bigger than each of us.

While I’m no arborist, or even a very good historian, I know that people and trees go way back. All kinds of very important things have happened when the two things get together. Just ask Isaac Newtown. So I figured it’s worth a little humility on my end to be willing to learn what I can from them.

Although I know the temptation to come in and “mind my own business” won’t leave me anytime soon, the Community Tree in the main hall will be sitting right there, with limbs outstretched to give me a gentle nudge in the direction of the other cool humans who call the Candy Factory home. And if I ever forget, it may whack me in the head for good measure…


Our new fig trees are from a local hotel/restaurant who was getting rid of them. The trees where saved thanks to Candy Factory Members Joella of Gnomesy and Grace of SuperNatural WellBeing, LLC. Because we LOVE our plants, we decided to give them a new home here at The Candy Factory. We’re currently in the process of repotting them into larger planters on wheels. Joella and Grace along with other CF members including Rob Gallagher who has a background in construction are hosting a Build A Pallet Planter Workshop on Dec 7th for members. The goal will be to move them around our Main Hall during the year, but for now, mind the trees! 🙂


Hank Balch is the Founder & President of Beyond Clean. He began his career in surgical instrument reprocessing as a frontline technician in 2009, and has served as an Instrument Database Specialist, Department Manager, and System Director for various SPD departments across the US.

Hank is an award-winning Sterile Processing leader, winning the 2016 Healthcare Purchasing News “CS/SPD Department of the Year”, twice nominated for IAHCSMM President and founder of two state-wide IAHCSMM chapters.

He has written over 150 Sterile Processing articles, with his work being published in journals and publications across the globe. His passion is using disruptive technology to see frontline Sterile Processing professionals equipped to #FightDirty, every instrument, every time.

Join our coworking community!

he Candy Factory is a coworking space established in 2010 and located in the heart of Downtown Lancaster PA. We are a community of professionals who have found a new way to work. Coworking and shared workspaces help promote business growth, creative thinking, shared brilliance and collaboration while offering an affordable office solution for small businesses, freelancers, remote workers, and non-profits. 

Jelly Bellies NOW OPEN

 We love our little munchkins, but we also understand the struggle all parents feel trying to juggle work and childcare. Sometimes you need a place to get work done, meet with a client, network, or just take a deep breath. That is why we are excited to announce jelly bellies, a supervised play facility located at The Candy Factory. Schedule a tour today!

Welcome Arianna

We’d like to welcome Arianna to The Candy Factory and The Sweet Core team as our Jelly Bellies supervisor and facilitator of fun!

She will be responsible for watching over and organizing fun activities for your kiddos.