May of 2000 –
The glory days for the building profession – what a time to get started in the insane world of retail lumber sales.
There were developments going up everywhere – if you were a tradesman of any merit whatsoever you were working - and probably 7 days a week.
As a newbie sales guy I had no established accounts to speak of so the bulk of my time was spent on the road trying to find some. Back then I learned quickly that no builder wanted anything to do with a new guy – I mean what did I really have to offer of any value? In retrospect I didn't know squat. Personality goes a long way but the ability to really take care of an account is what counts.
To make matters more difficult, pulling up to a job site for a cold call is about as welcome to a builder as discovering a turd in his lunchbox come break time.
Hey – they're busy! They're already being supplied by someone else who takes great care of them – or the guy you end up talking to isn't really the guy you need to see. The guy you need to see is driving around in his truck hustling more work and putting out fires – good luck finding him anywhere and if you do he doesn't want to talk to you either!
He's upset with his current supplier – it happens, and now and then you'll call on someone who was just thinking about making a change. I landed a couple of accounts that way and they bore fruit in the following years.
More often though, the reality is that accounts won that way are short lived romances. The suppliers that were thrown under the bus will often come back to mend their differences. Often with a renewed respect for their fragile account and much better pricing to so as to hang onto it. So much for serendipity.
Why bother I wondered...........I need a sign I thought – any sign....and there it was.....
While driving around the fringes of a small rural mill town I saw a small sign on a tree at the foot of a long driveway.
The sign read: Stephen Carpenter – Builder
Carpenter? Really? I had to knock on his door.
The house was an impressive one story cape with tons of old New England vibe and lots of very nice appointments – thoughtful attention to detail and fine craftsmanship were abundant and I got the sense that this guy was the real deal.
The way he expressed himself through his work resonated with me and I had a good feeling about this impromptu visit. The door opened and a diminutive woman stood before me with that " I hope this isn't a Jehovah's Witness" look on her face. I introduced myself as a representative of the lumber company I was working for at the time and she welcomed me in without hesitation.
As luck would have it these were really nice people and Steve's current supplier had just gone under. His wife told me that he liked doing business with smaller companies and was looking for another possibility.
I made plans to come back when Steve was there and we had a very good meeting. He had several plans to give me – these were the booming years after all – I wound up making a friend and getting a great account at the same time. Steve and I worked on several nice projects together and that one call gave me hope that this job could actually work out.
Then I found Pinhead –
More Tales coming......